Nate Sterling ’14
When addressing the historic mission of the College to educate “good men and good citizens in an atmosphere of sound learning,” is the presence of the new voice, the voice of female students, in the classroom a requisite for the sound learning environment and necessary for the formation of modern Hampden-Sydney men? First, I should clarify the distinction between the presence of female students as opposed to the presence of a women’s voice in the classroom. The voice of the opposite sex is present on our campus, thanks to our professors, and even women who have bravely graduated from our all-men’s college —since 1970, seven women have earned a Bachelor’s Degree from HSC. But Hampden-Sydney focuses on creating a system that is designed to make good men and citizens without opening the College’s gates to women. Having established that there is no bias or exclusion of the women’s voice from the classroom, let’s look into what exactly it is that men’s colleges are doing.
The success of all-male education has been shown in the research of Dr. Edith Simms, who cites stronger graduation rates and better preparation for leadership roles in society than men who graduate from coed schools. Dr. Simms reports in her speech “The Single-Sex College: Educational Treasure or Antiquated Artifact,” data from the Educational Trust that two all-male Colleges, Wabash and Hampden-Sydney, graduate over 60% of their students in 4 years. The national male average for coed private colleges is 46.3%, and to reach the 60 percentile, coeducational private schools require an additional two more years. Then there is also the success of Morehouse, another all-male college, which graduates “over twice of its African American males compared to the national four- and six-year averages.” These three men’s colleges do something which results in an astonishing graduation rate. Let us not forget the positions of leadership graduates obtain following their college years. As Dr. Simms claims, “H-SC alumni from recent years currently hold the positions of president of the Virginia Bar Association, president of the Medical Society of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, etc. University of Virginia and Virginia Tech alums have not claimed these roles in state leadership.” She goes on to point out that 12% of Wabash and 10% of HSC “graduates are either presidents or CEOs of business and corporations.” Each of the three colleges had alumni in 2012 elected to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives: Todd Rokita and Like Messer (Wabash), Robert Hurt (Hampden-Sydney), and Cedric Richmond (Morehouse). It would seem that men’s colleges provide their students with the tools necessary to obtain positions of leadership.
Success within the single-sex program itself reveals the greater truth of the matter—single-sex education for men works. This rebuts the idea that Hampden-Sydney College is outdated in its single-sex educational methods. The evidence of the statistics cannot be ignored. HSC has proven to be more successful than coed private colleges in graduating male students, who later become leaders in society. Hampden-Sydney men could be seen as a group of stranded boys isolated from society in the dense shrubbery of the Hampden-Sydney woods, but the voice of women has reached us and we are not blind to their ideas. The voice is not excluded from our pocket in the woods but rather included. Standing by a single-sex policy acts as an effort to focus the energies of the men at our College to perfect their ultimate goal of becoming good men and good citizens.