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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Idle chatter ]

Idle chatter

The extinction of the Oxford Hildabeest...

IT’S TAKEN 115 years for the final bastion of single sex education at Oxford University to open its doors to men. This October, the Hildabeest, as the female only students of St. Hilda’s College have been nicknamed, will no longer roam the college corridors in all female herds. But with the first mixed intake of male undergraduates will they in boyish bullishness challenge to take over the senior positions?

According to a retiring academic from the college I met last week, who had steadfastly voted against men joining, she feared they would. She believed that women only colleges were imperative to safeguard the rise of women through academic ranks. But the truth is that fewer and fewer girls have been applying to St Hilda’s as their first choice. Undergraduates have been voting with their UCAS forms, and possibly wisely, for all the current research shows that it is a myth that girls do better in single sex institutions.

But then she went on to add, “and girls need a refuge”. And that I thought might be the real rub. That still, with fifty per cent of the intake of Oxford from the private sector, and many from all girl schools, there was an idea that girls somehow needed to be protected: that having boys around was a distraction from the serious pursuit of knowledge.

I only stayed a term at my all girls school. It was on the first day that the Headmistress told us that, “she hoped to make men of us”. But I missed having boys about. I missed the fun of the chess club, and playing football at break-time, and flirting on the way home on the bus. I missed playing in a mixed orchestra and their deep voices in the choir, I missed them in the classroom discussing poetry and fighting over who was going to light the Bunsen burner. The only place I didn’t miss them was in the drama society, where I was indeed made into a man, and finally got to play most of the best parts.

Like living through the Thatcher years, or having a female monarch, one of the arguments for single sex education for girls is that we get to have positive role models: women in charge. And this was true, all the top jobs in the school bar the Bursar were done by women, but that argument never impressed me. For surely, as women we can only truly test our talent and abilities when we pitch them against men.

No doubt, there will be those who mourn the passing of the Hildabeest, who will argue, perhaps rightly, that the single sex environment has done much to raise the standing of women in the University and female scholarship in general. But I am pleased to see it go. We cannot ask for equality and then promote protectionism. But for those who still seek a nunnery of knowledge there is always Cambridge.


(Source: Cyprus Mail)



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