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Douglass Residential College environment: Good? Bad? In between?

TimeCruncherTimeCruncher Posts: 243Registered User Junior Member
edited April 2008 in Rutgers
I need some frank, no-nonsense "inside" information about Rutgers' Douglass Residential College. I do not intend to disparage Douglass, and I apologize in advance if my post offends Douglass affiliates. I am well aware of Rutgers' excellent academic reputation, but I know next to nothing about Douglass, which is why I am writing. I need this information for my daughter.

My daughter is a self-motivated and hard-working academic high-achiever who intends to take her education to the Ph.D. level in preparation for a career in academic research. Her academic and career goals are well-defined. She has been reared with post-feminist gender-neutral values, so she feels neither "entitled" nor "restricted" because of her gender. She does not consider her gender to be an educational, professional, social, or personal obstacle.

My daughter has always attended public schools where half of her classmates and most of her teachers have been male. She has never attended gender-segregated classes; even her P.E. classes have been integrated. She has never felt intimidated by her male classmates or male teachers, and she has faced gender discrimination only once, by a social activist male middle school teacher who expected students--especially female students--to regard him as a "guru." My daughter makes friends easily and gets along well with both male and female classmates, although her closest friends have been male (because many of her female classmates have been either back-stabbingly competitive and catty, or overly-emotional and air-headed). She has preferred her male teachers for similar reasons; none of her male teachers have dissuaded her from applying to selective colleges, from pursuing her intended college major (in which women have been and remain underrepresented) or from pursuing an academic research career.

My daughter did not apply to gender-segregated colleges, and she intentionally refrained from playing the "gender card" (or any other "card") when applying to her prospective colleges. She was thrilled to have been accepted by Rutgers (all three campuses) and by Rutgers' Honors program. Rutgers awarded my daughter some generous merit-based scholarships, and a need-based financial aid package (of loans and work-study) which--unfortunately--still leaves Rutgers unaffordable for her as an out-of-state student. She has recently been contacted by Douglass Residential College, and invited to apply for Douglass' scholarships. She will be applying for these scholarships, which might provide the resources she needs in order to be able to afford to attend Rutgers. However, she has a number of legitimate concerns about Douglass.

My daughter is concerned that as a Douglass resident, she will not only be geographically isolated, but will also be academically and socially isolated from Rutgers' main campus. She is concerned that the Douglass environment will be either stridently feminist (she does not consider men to be The Enemy), or touchy-feely feminine (she does not need gender-based "motivation" and "nurturing"). She has no problem with single-gender housing, but she is concerned that gender self-segregation at Douglass will be hard-line to the point of anti-male bigotry. She is concerned that Douglass residents will be cliquish and elitist, and hostile not only to non-Douglass residents but also to fellow Douglass residents who associate with non-Douglass residents. She is concerned that she will be required to participate in "collaborative" group-study sessions (she prefers to study and work independently), unnecessary tutoring sessions, intrusive "personal growth" sessions, and excessive community service/outreach and "leadership" activities. She is particularly wary of Douglass' academic and career "mentoring" programs. (She recently learned that one Douglass academic/career-themed dorm's academic coordinator's educational and career goals are shockingly--perhaps intentionally--in conflict with the goals of dorm residents.)

If Douglass provides my daughter with the ability to afford to attend Rutgers, then she will become a Douglass resident. However, she needs to know if her concerns about Douglass are justified. If she has the opportunity to choose between Rutgers/Douglass and other colleges where she can also afford to attend (but can do so without committing to a gender-segregated environment), then she needs to make an informed decision about which college is best for her.

Please tell me about your past and present Douglass experiences, whether good, bad, or in-between. Thank you
Post edited by TimeCruncher on
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Replies to: Douglass Residential College environment: Good? Bad? In between?

  • lorelei2702lorelei2702 Posts: 2,103Registered User Senior Member
    I would recommend that she do the interviews and applications, and at the same time, she should talk to advisers in her anticipated major about how the location and non-academic elements of Douglass Residential College might impact her experience. If it makes the difference financially, it is well worth considering. If she plans to major in the sciences, she may find that the location presents some logistical problems with labs, etc. Rutgers is an excellent educational value and experience, and the trade-offs need to be evaluated from both angles, academic and financial. Good luck.
  • njdnjd Posts: 100Registered User Junior Member
    She could always go on facebook and find any of the Douglass groups and simply ask about whatever concerns she has.
  • TimeCruncherTimeCruncher Posts: 243Registered User Junior Member
    To lorelei2702: Thank you for your perceptive post, and for your straightforward, common-sense advice. The issues you raise pertain to my daughter's intended course(s) of study. She will follow your advice. Thank you for your information and encouragement.

    To njd: Thank you for your reply. My daughter and I are relatively unfamiliar with Facebook. We will investigate Facebook for Douglass information. If it is necessary to hold a Facebook membership to communicate with existing Facebook members, I will open a Facebook account. Thank you for your suggestion.

    To others who have (or who will) view my Original Post: I need as much information about Douglass as I can get, as soon as I can get it. It doesn't matter to me if you are female or male, or if you are a current or former Rutgers student (or student's parent), a Rutgers faculty member or administrator, or a Douglass College-affiliated externship/internship mentor/employer. If you can provide any information about Douglass--however significant or insignificant you think that information might be--please state your honest opinion of Douglass, whether favorable, unfavorable, or in between. My daughter is highly motivated to attend college out-of-state, and as of this date, Rutgers is her preferred out-of-state choice, based upon Rutgers' excellent academic reputation, as well as upon the much-needed scholarship assistance she might be awarded by Douglass. Douglass could provide my daughter with an invaluable academic opportunity, and she needs to know how such an opportunity might impact her life. So, please feel free to provide any information you have and/or opinions you hold about Douglass.
  • DouglassinfoDouglassinfo Posts: 3Registered User New Member
    I would be happy to address your daughter's concerns about Douglass Residential College and answer any additional questions that you may have. I think that this could most easily be achieved over the phone. At your convenience, please call me at the Douglass Recruitment Office at (732) 932-9500. I look forward to speaking with you!
    Sincerely,
    Jennifer Dudeck-Lenis
    Assistant Director
    Douglass Recruitment Office
    Douglass Residential College
  • TimeCruncherTimeCruncher Posts: 243Registered User Junior Member
    To lorelei2702: Thank you again for your assistance. I appreciate your interest in this matter.

    To Douglassinfo: Thank you for responding, Ms. Dudeck-Lenis. My daughter and I will discuss your response. She and I will formulate specific questions before calling you.

    My daughter and I will both be available to speak with you when I call (no earlier--and perhaps later--than the week of April 7-11, 2008). I must work around my daughter's school attendance schedule, as well as your business day schedule, so my call to you may come either very early or very late in your business day.

    Thank you again for responding. My daughter and I look forward to speaking with you.
  • DouglassinfoDouglassinfo Posts: 3Registered User New Member
    Wonderful! To give you another option for calling, I will be working in the office this Monday evening until 8:30pm and you're welcome to call sometime Monday evening. If you have an idea of exactly when you might call, please let me know ahead of time so that I can make sure that I am available to receive your call (otherwise, it's possible that you might call during a time when I may have step out of the office).
    Thank you, and I look forward to speaking with you and your daughter.
  • TimeCruncherTimeCruncher Posts: 243Registered User Junior Member
    To Douglassinfo: Thank you for your post #7. Monday evening sounds good. I will discuss this with my daughter, and I will contact you either over the weekend (by posting on this thread) or on Monday morning (by calling/emailing you) to let you know when she and I intend to call. I am mindful of the time zone difference, as well as the fact that you will probably take dinner a dinner break sometime between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM EDT. Thank you again.
  • Dad23Dad23 Posts: 37Registered User Junior Member
    Dear TimeCruncher,

    May I ask, have you and your daughter visited Rutgers? If not, I think it is imperative that you do so before you make your committment. You will get a much better feel for the place and probably have your questions answered if you speak to current residents on Douglass campus.

    The reason I pose this question is because in your post you mention Douglass being "isolated" from the "main campus." There is no main campus at Rutgers NB. Rather, there are five campuses, all different and inter-connected by a bus system.

    Having said that, my son is a current student at Rutgers. I haven't heard much about Douglass, but I have never heard anything about the women there being anti-men, or anti-non Douglass residents. But, I will be happy to ask my son for his feedback.

    This year, as it happens, there were men housed on Douglass due to housing shortages elsewhere.
  • musicmommusicmom Posts: 2,283Registered User Senior Member
    TimeCruncher-
    As Dad23 mentions, you daughter would not be isolated on Douglass.
    All the campuses are interconnected by bus and students take classes on multiple campuses.
    Our son is a senior at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers and lives on Cook/Douglass campus. He's been very happy with the academics and at Rutgers. The apt he shares with 3 others is not luxurious but it is convenient , clean and very functional.
    Son often takes buses to visit friends on other campuses, it's not uncommon.
    We attended a recital on campus tonight. There are Rutgers students walking down George St and throughout New Brunswick. No one seems isolated at all.
  • TimeCruncherTimeCruncher Posts: 243Registered User Junior Member
    To Douglassinfo: My daughter and I will phone you this coming Monday, April 7, 2008, at 7:00 PM EDT. If you see this post, please acknowledge it. If I do not see an acknowledgement post from you, I will follow up this post with a Monday morning email and/or phone call to your office. Thank you for agreeing to speak with us.

    To Dad23: Thank you for your post.

    No, my daughter and I have not visited Rutgers, nor have we visited any of the other universities to which she has applied (for compelling reasons, not for lack of interest). I am very familiar with the East Coast--including New Jersey--but I am not personally familiar with the layout of the Rutgers NB campus.

    My use of the term "main campus" goes back to my own college days. (My school also had several campuses distant from each other and from the Main Campus, where most students lived and attended classes, and where my school's departmental and administrative offices were located. I spent my freshman and sophomore years at one of the distant campuses--which provided shuttle service to Main Campus--but after transferring my residency to Main Campus as a junior, I realized that I would have been better off residing at Main Campus for all four years.) With regard to Rutgers, I should have specified "Busch Campus," which is where my daughter would be attending most of her classes, using departmental facilities, meeting with faculty and academic advisors, attending departmental functions (such as lectures and seminars), and spending most of her time. As an incoming SAS Honors student who would be matriculating with a significant amount of AP course credit (which would enable my daughter to bypass a number of freshman core courses), my daughter's appropriate housing site would be Busch's McCormick Suites. She and I have researched Rutgers' shuttle bus service, which doesn't appear to provide convenient service between the Busch and Douglass campuses, especially late at night and on weekends--the times she would most likely be traveling alone (with books and equipment). If she resided at Douglass, she would have to schedule her Busch Campus classes around the shuttle bus schedule--an obstacle she would not have to contend with if she resided on the Busch Campus.

    Yes, I would be interested in your son's information. My daughter and I are aware of the controversy regarding the formation of Rutgers' School of Arts and Sciences, particularly Douglass' resistance to academic reorganization. (For example, two years ago, Douglass posted a "Save Douglass College" banner, over which someone else threw a bedsheet stating, "Get Back in the Kitchen," which was clearly hostile but... hostile to all Rutgers women, or just to all Douglass women?) I think of the old phrase, "You're known by the company you keep," and I know my daughter would not want to "keep company" with anyone who is hostile--or who might be perceived as hostile--to people like your son.

    Thank you for your information about the housing shortage. My daughter and I will keep an eye on that.

    To musicmom: Thank you for your post.

    There are a lot of ways to become isolated--geographic isolation is just one of them. My daughter and I are most concerned about the academic isolation from students and professors with whom she would be studying on the Busch Campus. We are also concerned about the social isolation of Douglass residents, and especially, the social indoctrination of Douglass residents. My daughter is neither the "Rah Rah School" nor "Save/Serve The World" type of student Douglass appears to prefer, and she would strongly resist any efforts by Douglass to "consciousness-raise" her into becoming someone she's not.

    To Everyone: My daughter and I are still gathering information about Douglass. I thank everyone who has posted to this thread so far, and I look forward to reading additional posts, if any.
  • BomberBomber Posts: 62Registered User Junior Member
    Dear TimeCruncher,

    I really don't think you need to worry about any indoctrination happening at Rutgers. I don't think of Rutgers as a place filled with ideologs. Rather, it is a matter of fact place where students can be involved or not involved, in practically anything, with no judgements.

    Busses are a way of life at Rutgers. There is no way around that. Rutgers is a huge place. There is no way around that.
    Yes, you will probably schedule your classes around a bus schedule. That is the reality.

    I cannot stress enough my opinion that you should visit before your daughter decides to enroll.
  • TimeCruncherTimeCruncher Posts: 243Registered User Junior Member
    To Bomber: Thank you for your post.

    I don't know if I am responding to Bomber the parent or Bomber the student (I believe there are two relatives who post under the same username), but I thank you for your input. Of all the posts I have received, yours has been the most thought-provoking. I will respond to your points in reverse order.

    It is not possible for my daughter to visit Rutgers (or any of her other prospective colleges) before she enrolls. Her inability to make pre-application and pre-enrollment campus visits has been and will continue to be due to compelling family circumstances which I will not describe in this thread.

    My daughter was aware of Rutgers' size before she decided to apply (to all three locations and to the Honors College); however, she also knew that at Rutgers NB, she would be spending most of her time on the Busch Campus, which would also be the logical place for her to reside. My daughter has realistically unfavorable expectations of dorm life, and having experienced dorm life when I was an undergrad, I think my daughter's realistic outlook will cushion her against avoidable frustration and unnecessary disappointment. On-campus housing is expensive; in exchange for that expense, each resident receives a small, bare-bones living space (shared with possibly incompatible strangers) with fallible security, little solitude, and no privacy. Time and travel convenience (physical proximity to classes) is the only justification for expensive on-campus housing. However, Douglass housing is inconveniently located for those Douglass residents who must spend most of their time on another campus. If my daughter were to reside at Douglass (and she would be required to do so for one full year), she would be paying on-campus housing (and dining) prices while contending with the inconveniences of being a "commuter" whose dorm room and dining hall would be inaccessible to her for most of the day, almost every day. We are city people. My daughter is a seasoned pedestrian and public transit rider, and she doesn't see the sense in riding buses to and from class when she could (and should) live close enough to walk.

    It is always necessary to worry about indoctrination. I know that from experience. My alma mater was a huge East Coast urban public university much like Rutgers, and I had some classes taught by ideologues (such as the liberal sociology professor who hated students he perceived as rich and/or Republican, the conservative speech professor who hated students he perceived as poor and/or Democrat, the radical English composition professor who graded students on how well they wrote socialist diatribes, and the sectarian history professor who inquired about students' religion on the first day of class and spent the rest of the semester trying to convert non-Roman Catholics to her religion). My daughter's elementary and secondary public school teachers have more often than not used the classroom as a soapbox from which to push ideologies, and sometimes that pushing has been heavy-handed enough to approach indoctrination level. At least, my daughter has not yet had to live among ideologues, but she would find it difficult--if not impossible--to avoid them at Douglass. I agree with you that Rutgers is not a place filled with ideologues, but Douglass does appear to be filled with them. The Douglass philosophy is based on feminism, globalism, political and social activism, community service, "character," and "leadership," and its so-called mission includes "shaping the lives of women" by providing women with "transformative" experiences. Moreover, Douglass provides residents with "individualized attention" to "help" them find their "own path." My interpretation: Douglass individuals are relentlessly velvet-hammered until each internalizes the Douglass philosophy, conforms to the Douglass mission, and performs as Douglass dictates. That sounds like indoctrination to me.

    I have started only three threads on CC, and two have been for serious matters. I consider this a serious matter because at the time my daughter applied to Rutgers, she indicated no interest in Douglass. She was admitted to Rutgers months ago, and Rutgers quickly followed up its admissions offer with merit-based scholarships and a need-based financial aid package. Then, it was time for her to wait and see which of the other colleges to which she applied offered admissions and scholarships/financial aid. Now, she has suddenly been solicited by Douglass. The fact that there was a months-long delay between the time my daughter was admitted to Rutgers and the time she was solicited by Douglass indicates to me that an overwhelming majority of Rutgers' female students do not want the "Douglass experience," and Douglass is now scrambling to fill program/residence vacancies with higher-tuition-paying out-of-state students who might be lured by the prospect of Douglass-sponsored merit scholarships. My daughter's Douglass application paperwork is still sitting on our computer desk; she might never complete and submit that paperwork. On the other hand, she might decide to do so. This is her decision, because she will be impacted by the consequences of this decision. Central to her decision is the issue of whether the "price" of resisting Douglass' ideology is worth the "payoff" of being able to afford to attend Rutgers.

    When started this thread, I expected a great number of responses--from glowingly positive to rock-bottom negative--because the Rutgers area of CC is exceptionally active. Still, I have received only a handful of responses, and no responses from anyone identifying herself as a current or former Douglass student, or as a Rutgers/Douglass applicant, or as the parent of a current or former Douglass student. This tells me my gut-level suspicion that Douglass students are "isolated" is correct. If Douglass students weren't isolated, many of the Rutgers students and parents who post on CC would have first-hand experience with Douglass, or second-hand insight into Douglass, or at least an opinion of Douglass, and therefore, might have been inclined to respond to this thread. I am particularly surprised at the lack of response from current and former Douglass students, given that CC is a magnet for admissions-competitive high-achievers--the sort of student Douglass claims to number among its graduates and current residents. Again, this tells me that admissions-competitive high-achievers are deciding to pass Douglass by. The more my daughter and I learn about Douglass, the more convinced I become that my daughter will decide to pass Douglass (and possibly--out of financial necessity--Rutgers) by, as well.

    I thank you again for your post, Bomber.
  • martharapmartharap Posts: 467Registered User Member
    I was a student at Douglass 30 years ago, so unfortunately I have no current information to help you. At that time, anyway, Douglass had a better academic reputation than Rutgers College! I have no idea how things stand now. Let me just say that I took all my classes at either Douglass or Rutgers College, all the classes were coed, my teachers were fabulous, and I never once felt that I was isolated or at a "woman's college." Kids at all the schools took classes together, so I never really knew who was a Douglass student, Rutgers, Cook, etc. I lived off-campus (between Douglass and Rutgers College), so I have no information on dorm life. I regularly took the bus from Douglass to Rutgers, and that was no big deal at all. Douglass gave me a great education!
  • TimeCruncherTimeCruncher Posts: 243Registered User Junior Member
    To martharap: Thank you for your post. Even though thirty years have passed since you were a Douglass student, it's good to hear something positive about Douglass from someone with first-hand experience. This is a difficult situation for my daughter, who was admitted to Rutgers College (which has been absorbed by the School of Arts and Sciences, as has Douglass). Your post now raises the issue of whether my daughter can "belong" to two SAS residential colleges concurrently--something I will ask Ms. Dudeck-Lenis when my daughter and I phone her later this afternoon. Thank you again.
  • DouglassinfoDouglassinfo Posts: 3Registered User New Member
    I look forward to speaking with you and your daughter tonight at 7pm.
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