Princeton grad faces backlash after telling female students to find a spouse at school

Princeton graduate Susan Patton
Princeton graduate Susan Patton advises female students at the prestigious university to find a spouse while at school.

(CBS News) A Princeton graduate is causing a stir on and off campus for saying young women attending the university should start looking for a husband while they're in college. And that husband should be a Princeton man.

When Princeton graduate Susan Patton wrote an op-ed for the student newspaper, she says her intention was to give female students advice on living a balanced life.

The letter says in part, "Here's my advice for the young women of Princeton, the daughters I never had. ... For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you."

A mother of two Princeton sons, Patton suggests Princeton women waste no time finding a husband. But the recommendations don't stop there: Patton advises women to only marry fellow Princetonians, to avoid disappointment later in life: "Ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn't as smart as you."

Patton graduated from Princeton in 1977, placing her among the first classes of women ever admitted to the prestigious university. She wrote the letter after meeting a group of female students at a women's leadership conference.

Patton wrote, "I asked all of them do any of you think you want to be married and have children and everyone raised their hands. And I said to them -- let me tell you what nobody is telling you, find yourself a husband here before you graduate."

But Patton's motherly words of wisdom aren't echoed by the entire Princeton community. Jill Dolan, director of the university's Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, wrote: "Her rhetoric encourages current Princeton students toward a version of higher education that was popular in the 1950s."

There's been a backlash on Twitter, with some users calling Patton's views "elitist," "sexist," and amounting to "intellectual snobbery."

Patton, who is recently divorced, remains undeterred. She says her advice isn't meant for everyone. "This is what the women's movement has afforded us," she said. "It's empowered us to the point where we can make whatever choices we want. You don't want to take my advice? Don't. Don't."

Watch Norah O'Donnell's full report in the video above.

One of Patton's critics is a fellow Princeton alum, Lisa Belkin, a senior columnist for the Huffington Post. In an interview on "CBS This Morning" Monday, she said she thinks Patton's intentions are probably good, then added, "I think it's not wrong to say the most important decision you make in your life is who you're going to spend it with. ... The way she says it is 1950s stereotypes, it's ignoring the fact that 21-year-olds don't always know who they are or who they want to be with, that the only quality in a spouse is not their SAT scores. There's so much wrong with it. I don't know where to begin."

For more discussion with Belkin on "CTM," watch the video in the player below.

The topic of women finding a life balance is something people like to keep talking about, Belkin said. "We do feel like...that this can be fixed, that that's an answer to this life mystery and there is no answer," she said. "I think that's it. Your life is messy and the decisions you make have ramifications and you look back on yours and think you might have done thinks differently, but there is no answer. And this certainly isn't the answer."