Pomona College Magazine
Volume 41. No. 2.
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Pomona College Magazine is published three times a year by Pomona College
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Online Editor: Mark Kendall

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End of the Weigh-In
Change/ Undoing a Dubious Tradition

The summer before I started college, I received a letter from my sponsor, Chris Bailey, telling me about life at Pomona. Among other things, she warned me about the football team’s tradition of weighing and measuring incoming freshman women.

On the afternoon of the day we moved in, as we were all settling into our rooms in Mudd-Blaisdell Hall, the word went out that the football team had arrived. Several of us locked ourselves in one room and watched as the football team grabbed one after another of the incoming female students, including one from our hall. We were amazed to watch her actually adjust the measuring tape around her chest! She later reported that the guys couldn’t even do that right.

The team stayed in front of Mudd-Blaisdell about an hour or so, and then moved on to one of the other dorms. Those of us who had barricaded ourselves in our rooms waited another hour or two to make sure they weren’t coming back.

Two years later, my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I were two of the first co-sponsors of a co-ed sponsor group. As I got ready to write letters to my sponsor group, I remembered the letter I had gotten from my sponsor—and its warning about the weigh-in. I had a hard time thinking about writing letters talking both about the forward-thinking college and its integrated sponsor groups, and then warning the women about the weigh-in. After some thought, I made an appointment with Dean of Students Jean Walton. I told her of the dilemma I faced in writing to the incoming students. Her reaction was wonderful—she said that she had been waiting all her years at Pomona for a student to do something about this barbaric practice.

After talking for a while, we determined that we would pose the issue to the whole group of sponsors during their training—held the week before the freshmen arrived—and ask how best to confront the football team. The sponsors (men and women alike) agreed that the practice was humiliating, and that it should be ended. We decided that all of us should meet with the team and talk about how the weighing and measuring made the women feel and ask the team to stop. This meeting was held the next evening. The football players talked about how it was all “really just fun,” and that it was a longstanding tradition. But in the end, they gave in and acknowledged that even traditions can come to an end. There was no weighing and measuring in the fall of 1972.

The next summer, Dean Walton called me to talk about whether we needed to do anything with the football team again at the beginning of the academic year or just work on the assumption that the tradition was dead. We decided that we had been very effective the year before and could leave well enough alone. We were wrong.

On the day the freshmen arrived, Dean Walton had lunch in Frary Dining Hall with a group of parents. As she left, she saw a group of football players with a scale and tape measure grabbing an arriving female student. As she described it to me later, she put on her most “Stern Dean” look, walked over to the students and told them that the scale was college property; if it wasn’t returned to its proper place very quickly, they would all be reported for stealing it, and furthermore, she knew all of their names. She then marched off.

I was having lunch in Gibson Dining Hall with a group of newly arrived students and their sponsors. My by-then fiancé had graduated the year before and arrived during lunch to visit. He found me in Gibson, told me that there was some weighing and measuring going on across the street from the entry to Mudd-Blaisdell and went off to get himself some lunch.

I was furious, jumped up and stormed out to where the weighing and measuring was going on. The team had just grabbed an incoming student who looked terrified. I don’t remember all of what I said to the football team, except it included “humiliating” and “dehumanizing.” I was livid; those who had followed me from Gibson, expecting to have to rise to my defense, instead were able to watch from across the street as the football players folded up shop and left.

According to reports, they tried to set up in front of the other dorm, but were run off by the sponsors and RAs, both male and female.

This was the end of the Pomona College weigh-in.
-- Helen Hutchinson '74

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