50th Reunion, class of 1973


In this interview, Martha Banks, Joan Betesh, Nancy Clarke, Jane Desmond, Lynda Durfee, Phyllis Fineman Schlesinger, Lillian Lim, Patricia McMillen, Nina Peskoe Peyser, Marian Weber, and Lucy Winner, members of the Brown University class of 1973, share their memories of their time on campus in honor of their 50th reunion.

The first half hour of the interview is spent on introductions including each interviewee’s concentration, career path after Brown, and family life. The interviewees go on to discuss the summer of 1969, just as they were preparing to enter Brown. Peyser remembers watching the Apollo 11 moon landing while studying at the University of Leningrad. Peyser and Schlesinger both discuss the value of the new curriculum – the elimination of core requirements. Desmond mentions the significance of the deaths of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy as well as going to the Woodstock Festival.

In speaking of their time at Brown, they talk about access to the birth control pill on campus, fear around getting pregnant, and assisting friends who needed abortions. They also discuss their experiences with sexual assault and harassment. Note that some identifying information has been redacted from this portion to maintain privacy of those being discussed. They go on to remember the Kent State shootings that resulted in the killing of four and wounding of nine unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard on the Kent State University campus, setting off a wave of student strikes across American college campuses, including at Brown. They also talk about posture pictures – a eugenics practice that included taking photos of nude students under the guise of checking for scoliosis.

While thinking about lighter topics, Lim talks about being a co-founder of the Asian American Student Association; Schlesinger, Clarke, and Durfee talk about gym requirements and courses; and several discuss the significance of fashion. On the whole, the group credits Brown for teaching them how to question norms and build their leadership skills.


Recorded on March 15, 2023 via Zoom
Interviewed by Amanda Knox, Pembroke Center Assistant Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: 50th Reunion, class of 1973. Interview. By Amanda Knox. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. March 15, 2023.


The Brown University class of 1973 entered in 1969 under President Donald Hornig and Pembroke College Dean Rosemary Pierrel. They were the last class to enter as Pembroke students with admissions offices, dormitories, and parietal rules separate from the men’s college. They were the first class to enter under the new curriculum, now called the open curriculum. They were also the largest Black class up to that point in Brown’s history. The class of 1973 joined their cohort just after Apolo 11 landed on the moon and after the Woodstock Festival. Other national events that impacted their time on campus include the start of the military draft lottery for the War in Vietnam, the Kent State shootings that led to nation-wide student strikes, and the emergence of second-wave feminism.