First male residents at Wilson College look to break stereotypes

Wilson College welcomes first male undergrads, who hope to fit in
By Amber South, @AESouthPO on Twitter

CHAMBERSBURG >> Albert Bruce wants to break the stereotype associated with men’s treatment of women, and hopes his male classmates at Wilson College will do the same.

They make up the 24 men who are the first to live on campus at the private college in Chambersburg, according to a statement from the college. After first accepting male students for the undergraduate program last school year, this semester is the first time the formerly all-women’s college is allowing men to move into campus dorms alongside female students.

Bruce, a second-semester freshman from Doylestown who came to Wilson for the equine program, said it may be challenging at first for the male minority to achieve trust among the female majority but that he hopes behaviors demonstrate positivity. “So especially for this first year, it’s really going to be, for the guys that are here, how are we going to deal with the stereotype, how we are going to be perceived in the female population and how are we going interact with each other as students,” he added.

With 124 new female residents as of move-in day Wednesday, men make up about 16 percent of the new resident population, according to the statement. Female students moving in were not worried at all about the male presence.

“Boys are in high school, so why not college?” said Victoria Kauffman, a freshmen from Lancaster. She came to Wilson after being courted by the softball coach since her sophomore year of high school, and will study in the veterinary medical technology (VMT) program.

Joining her in the VMT program will be Brooklyn DePalmer and Stephanie Webb, friends from Biglerville who transferred to Wilson from HACC. They came to Wilson because it seemed the best choice in their hopes to become exotic-animal veterinarians. They “don’t care” about the coed atmosphere.

“I think maybe it’s a good thing to expand, offer men the same (opportunities) in the VMT program,” DePalmer said.

Wilson does not anticipate any issues arising from women and men living beside each other besides the same ones typically had when the residence program was women-only, according to Sherri Sadowski, director of residence life. She said any increase will only be the result of the increased number of students on campus; according to the Wilson statement, the number of new students is the largest since 1970, when there were 157.

“I think a lot of our female students are really kind of gung-ho this year about we are going to fold in the men into our kind of women’s-centered perspective and they’re excited about this prospect,” Sadowski said. “Men should understand that women-centered view, what that world view looks like. I think they’re seeing it as a challenge but it’s a good thing.”

All of the men will live on one floor in Davison Hall, Sadowski said. The original plan was to mix men and women residents throughout the dorms — but also have one floor each exclusively for males and females — but the number of bathrooms compared to the number of men and women who would need to use them on each floor did not allow that to happen, she added.

“We couldn’t go as intermixed coed as we had intended but that will solve itself as we continue to grow and continue to level out,” Sadowski said.

Christian Wagner already has a foot into the girl-world, since his girlfriend is a Wilson student too. But the main reasons he choose Wilson were its business management and computer science programs and because his grandparents and other relatives live in Chambersburg, which is about an hour away from his hometown of Frederick, Maryland. A freshman, he will play golf too.

“So it’s basically a perfect fit,” he said. “It was great that they were opening it up to (men). I don’t really mind being the first class (of men) to stay on campus.”

A number of the male residents transferred from other colleges to Wilson to form the new men’s basketball team. One of them is Zach Gasper, a sophomore who came from Keystone College, La Plume, and will study elementary education.

“Seeing how the guys do here with all the girls, that will be pretty interesting,” he said.

Amber South can be reached at 262-4771.