Wabash, Hampden-Sydney Journalists to do Exchange Visitby Patrick Smith '08 • September 21, 2006
Four Wabash students will travel Oct. 12-13 to Hampden-Sydney College (HSC) in Virginia to explore life at the only other traditional all-male college in the United States. The trip, over Wabash’s mid-semester break, marks the first collaboration between the Bachelor and The Wabash Commentary. Three Hampden-Sydney students will spend time on the Wabash campus Oct 16-17.
"The idea of the trip is that we can begin an informal working relationship with another all-male college," Commentary editor Brandon Stewart said. "We are an endangered breed and we need to learn from and support one another in the future. Hopefully this first trip will open up the possibility of more such trips."
Stewart developed the idea after a conference of Wabash and HSC female faculty, hosted by Cheryl Hughes and Lucinda Huffaker, concerning the place of women at an all-male school. His initial plan, a conference of advocates and administrators of all-male education, evolved with input from the Wabash’s Public Affairs staff to the exchange visit.
"I also spoke with Dr. (David) Blix about my concerns and he counseled me to pursue something more informal to get the ball rolling," Stewart said. " I had sought him out specifically, because he taught at Hampden-Sydney for a short while in the ’90s."
Public Affairs director Jim Amidon noted that Stewart’s project provided an opportunity for Wabash and Hampden-Sydney to have some contact.
"We've been looking for ways to get students from Wabash together with students from Hampden-Sydney for years," he said. "When Brandon Stewart came to us with the idea we began to get excited about the possibilities of what has become a 'journalism exchange.’"
Amidon also was interested in the overall function such an "exchange" would serve. "One of the more intriguing aspects is both schools have agreed to publish the stories of all seven student-journalists. Reading how men at another men's college view us should give us an interesting perspective."
The students venturing to Hampden-Sydney include two representatives from the Bachelor and the Commentary. Brock Johnson ’07 and Campbell Robbins ’09 will be the Bachelor reporters. The Commentary will send Stewart ‘08 and Sean Clerget ‘09.
The Wabash Commentary is a private, student-published conservative journal. Since its founding, it has not collaborated with the Bachelor on a project. In keeping with its mission statement to advocate for a traditional Wabash, the Commentary is approaching this trip as an opportunity to solidify all-male education at the College.
Stewart hopes that cooperation with another, similar school will provide answers to critics of the College and advocates for coeducation at Wabash.
"I hope that it brings more solidarity to the two schools," Robbins said. "I think that it’s important, as one of the three all-male schools left, that we’re able to support each other."
"But we have nothing, other than the care and devotion of Wabash’s loyal sons, keeping us all-male," Stewart said. "And we have seen time and time again throughout the College's history that that is rarely enough to prevent some from attempting to change that."
Among the students who will be going on the trip, there is anticipation. Many Wabash students know of Hampden-Sydney as the "other" all-male school in the nation, but few have known more than that. Morehouse College at Atlanta, Georgia, is also an all-male school, but allows its students to take classes at Spellman College, an all-women’s college in Atlanta.
Robbins is excited by the trip. "I honestly don't know what to expect, and that's really the most exciting part for me," he said. "I think not going in with any expectations will allow me to really look at everything with both eyes wide open."
Smith is a staff writer and Opinion Editor for the Bachelor.
In Photo: The Hampden Sydney Watkins Bell Tower was built in 1934 replacing an older one. The bell is rung by hand to begin and end classes - a 150 year HSC tradtion.