For our oral history project this year, we’ve been asked to interview alumni from the 1960s, about their time at Royal Holloway College or Bedford College.
This decade saw a huge change come to the colleges, as in 1965 male students were admitted for the first time, forever altering the dynamic of the colleges. Suddenly there was potential for relationships with the opposite sex and finding a partner on campus, and within that, a potential for a whole lot else. This coincided with a time of sexual liberation and second-wave feminism, and women for the first time were openly embracing their sexuality and becoming able to take control of their bodies through contraceptives, such as the pill, becoming available, as well as an increasing acceptance and visibility of LGBT+ individuals. There was an increasing acceptance of sex outside of traditional heterosexual marriages, and I’m fascinated as to what effect this had on students at the time. Especially students who were at colleges that had been single sex for so long. The male students were confined to halls that kept them a good distance away from the women, but were they all creeping around campus at night and sneaking along corridors? Or was the sexual revolution kept out of college life? What was the reaction of their parents to them being at a now co-ed college during this time of increasing sexual freedoms? Was sex and sexuality openly discussed, or still kept behind locked doors?
Throughout my own time at university I’ve campaigned around these issues and rights, which are hotly contested around the globe to this day, and I can’t wait to hear what opinions were about sex and sexuality in colleges that had just become co-ed during the age that is famed for its sexual freedom.