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
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