468 women arrived on campus on September 5, 1972. While we have no proper statistics on the racial makeup of the class, it is clear from documentation in the Archives that the College made a particular effort to recruit Black women as part of the first group. Women like Lorna Hill who was one of the first women to graduate from Dartmouth, finishing her course work in December of 1972.
The initial reception by the men of Dartmouth appears to have been mostly positive, though a few early incidents indicated problems were brewing, but the creation of a Women’s Center in January appears to have really kicked off a negative backlash against coeducation by a vocal minority. Winter Carnival, which was traditionally an event when Dartmouth students invited dates to campus, resulted in a number of vitriolic exchanges between men and women students that were precursors to worse incidents to come.
An article in The Dartmouth titled “Carnival Finds Most Coeds Dateless; Women Plan Weekend Boycott" resulted in a number of vitriolic exchanges between men and women students via letters to the editor.
Things got off to a rocky start right early on when on September 26, a group of male students invaded Woodward Hall, an all women dormitory. They shouted rude comments, seized one woman and began to carry her away, and damaged property until the police were called. The students in Woodward noted that this was not the first instance of harassment at the time. Feeling the need for solidarity in the face of these attacks a group of women formed a new student organization, Women of Dartmouth.
Women students at the time recounted having snowballs with rocks thrown at them and being rated on a scale of 1-10 as they approached the dining hall. In April highly offensive letters were shoved under the doors of women living in Woodward Hall that referred to the women students as “cohogs.”
Despite these negative events, many of the women in the first classes later reported their pleasure at being at Dartmouth whether it was for their final year in higher education or if they entered as freshmen with the class of 1976.