On May 3rd 1990, students struck back against the institution’s decision to go co-ed. Hours later, students effectively shut down the college and eventually brought statewide media outlets and talk shows to cover the campus. All campus facilities were closed through the semester as students continued to protest against the Board of Trustees’ decision to admit undergraduate men to a women’s school. Students were seen wearing slogans that stated “ Better dead than co-ed,” and from 400 protesters resulted in the shutting down of five buildings as administrative officers were prevented from entering their offices. The institution had no alternative but to place a sign on the Richards Gate saying “Closed for Repairs.” Faculty members in support of the students provided outside lectures to accommodate students and the Mills Alumnae Coalition provided food and supplies in support of the squatters. On the 6th day of the strike, the Trustees began working on a new proposal that would allow Mills to remain a women’s college.
Today, Mills is recognized the “first in its nation” institution that changed its policies to allow transgender students to enroll. The Huffington Post wrote, “For the first time in its 162 years as a school of higher education, one all-women's college will consider an application from any individual who self-identifies as a woman.”