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Women's Rules

Women's Rules

Soon after the first women students entered the university in the 1890s, administrators began to devise separate rules to manage their behavior. Inez Koonce Stacy was the first adviser for women students. Largely due to her lobbying efforts, the first women's dormitory, Spencer Residence Hall, opened in 1925. She was succeeded by Katherine Kennedy Carmichael, who became the first dean of women at UNC. With a separate honor system and student council and different admission standards, housing regulations, and rules, women generally operated as a separate college within the university until the late 1960s.

Women's rules, detailed in the Women's Handbook, required that dormitories have a housemother, a sign-out system, and curfews. Visits to fraternity houses were at first banned, but the rules were later amended to permit them with a chaperone. Any parties in women's dorms had to be chaperoned and approved in advance by the dean of women. Women students had to wear skirts or dresses for everyday wear, and suits for football games. The rules applied off campus as well. Women students could spend the night in town only with parents. They had to register a full itinerary with the university before traveling and were expected to adhere to all of the university rules wherever they visited. Except for the overall Honor Code, no similar additional rules applied to male students.

In the middle of the century women began to push back against the rules. In 1963 the Women's Council declared it would no longer enforce the "apartment rule," which banned women students from visiting a man's apartment unless another couple was present. Dean Carmichael vetoed the council's vote but eventually eased the rule in the face of massive opposition. Perhaps the most notorious example of the double standard occurred in 1965. The student body president and his girlfriend were sanctioned for spending the night together in his fraternity room. The male student received an official reprimand through the men's honor court, while the female student was expelled through the separate women's honor court.

The uproar against this wildly uneven standard eventually led to changes. The dress code was eliminated in 1967, as were curfews and dorm visitation regulations a year later. Still, it took the passage of Title IX in 1972, one outcome of the women's movement, to completely do away with separate systems and regulations. The honors courts were combined in 1974, as well as the student government.

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