Frozen In Time: College of St. Benedict [VIDEO]
ST. JOSEPH — This year marks the College of St. Benedict’s centennial year. Since opening their doors in 1913 the college has gone through a variety of changes and has kept many long standing traditions alive.
In 1913 there were just five women enrolled at the college, today there are more than 20,000 alumni.
The first graduating class consisted four women. Author of, “Challenging Women Since 1913 The College of St. Benedict,” Annette Atkins says at the turn of the century it wasn’t common for women to attend college let alone receive a degree. In fact, she says of those that attended college it was common to complete a year or two of school and never attain her degree.
Despite the college’s size, the founding sisters had a bigger vision for the future. They offered a variety of courses from English and education to math and science.
All freshmen students had to follow strict rules regarding curfew and dress code. First year students had to be in their dorm room by 7:30 p.m. Second year students were allowed to be out until 9:00 p.m. with seniors having the most freedom of a 10:00 p.m. curfew.
Students weren’t allowed to leave their room without wearing their full uniform which included hats, gloves and heals.
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.
At one time there were more women enrolled in school than they 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.
Today the women continue some of their founding traditions like the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in December and honor the sisters that were the pioneers for women’s education.
See a video with Annette Atkins below.