A Century Of Connection: Early History At The College Of St. Benedict[VIDEO]
ST. JOSEPH — Today marks a historical moment for The College of St. Benedict. The incoming women will be the first freshmen class of the school’s second century.
In segment one of our five part “A Century of Connection: The College of St. Benedict” series we go back 100 years ago.
The college opened its doors for the first time to its first freshmen class in 1913 where they had just five students enrolled at the time.
The college consisted of one building which served many uses including classroom, dorm and recreational space.
Women were required to dress in full uniform which included long skirts, hats and gloves. A strict curfew was enforced for all women including the upperclassmen. Freshmen students had to be in their dorm by 7:30 p.m. Senior students were able to stay out until 10:00 p.m. and were allowed one late night per week.
Men were not allowed in the facility unless under certain circumstances for male relatives. Annette Atkins is the author of the book, “Challenging Women Since 1913: The College of St. Benedict.”
She says the college saw it as their job to watch over the women and act as guardians.
The college started to grow quickly. St. Ben’s was one of the first women’s colleges in the country to have a gymnasium.
Atkins says they didn’t play basketball but just having a space for recreation like dance and gymnastics was a big deal at the time.
St. Ben’s also offered a variety of majors including math, science, English and education. Many of the women attended two years at the college. Atkins says it was rare for a woman to complete her four year degree.
Eventually women were enrolled in school than they college had dorm space for. The sisters decided it was time to expand the college. However, The Great Depression hit them hard. They were forced with the decision to expand or pay off the newly built St. Cloud Hospital.
The founders thought having a hospital in the community was more important at the time.
By the 1950′s the college was finally able to build another dorm space to keep up with their growing demand.