Boys in the Hood

Hood College dorms go coed with male students admitted as residents this semester for the first time

Hood College dorms go coed with male students admitted as residents this semester for the first time

October 05, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

FREDERICK, Md. - Alaska native Craig Callender grew up in a state where the male to female ratio is 8:1. That table turned when he moved to Hood College in Frederick.

Callender is among 43 men in a residential student population of 455.

Hood began allowing men to live on the campus this fall for the first time in the 110-year history of the private college. The decision was expected to bolster revenue in the face of dwindling enrollments - the vast majority of female undergraduates today attend coed schools - and to add more diversity to the classroom and residential experience.

Freshman Alicia Heist, 19, of York, Pa., says she wouldn't have attended an all-female college because she likes to experience different viewpoints.


Although the move to full coeducation met with some resistance from students and alumnae who mourned the loss of the all-female residential tradition and the sense of sisterhood it fostered, most students interviewed recently expressed satisfaction with the residential transition.

"I bumped into a few girls who didn't want us here, but nothing huge," says John Gaughan, 19, of New Jersey.

"We're adapting to it," says Linda Cross, 19, of Baltimore. "It's a new beginning."

"The boys are fun," adds freshman Jwan Jenifer, 17, of Bowie, Md. "I think it's a good atmosphere."

"They're all little brothers," says Cheryl Banks, 19, of Baltimore. "We look out for them on campus."

Freshman Collin Kenny was a bit wary of enrolling in Hood's first coed residential class, but he's had no problems.

"At first I thought, 'Wow, I'm going to be in the minority.' Now I don't even notice the fact for the most part," says Kenny, 18, of Frederick. "I've loved everything so far."

In addition to excellent financial aid packages, Kenny and Gaughan say they've benefited from Hood's small class sizes and friendly atmosphere. Gaughan's only complaint is a shortage of male bathrooms, he says. Kenny is most aware of the gender imbalance in choir class - in which he's one of five men in a large group of women - and in his dorm.

Hood's resident males are housed on the third floor of Memorial Hall and in one wing of Coblentz Hall.

"It seems like my floor (at Memorial Hall) is a little louder and crazier," Kenny says. "There's a lot of basketball players."

The addition of the state's winningest high school basketball coach, Tom Dickman, to Hood's athletic staff attracted a number of male students to the college, says Dave Diehl, director of Hood's Office of Communications and Public Relations. In addition to basketball, new NCAA Division III men's sports at Hood include swimming, tennis, cross-country and golf.

The basketball program drew freshmen Darnell Edmonds and Brian Morris to the college, they say.

"We're the first of everything," says Morris, 18, of Walkersville, Md. "I thought it would be a fun experience."

But the men have resisted some Hood traditions, including the one that calls for freshmen to stand on their chairs in the dining hall and sing the college anthem on demand.

"We try to follow them as hard as possible, but we don't always do it. It's just a new experience," says Edmonds, 19, who played basketball for Dickman at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick. He now lives on the floor that sophomore Catrinia Cecil called "home" last year.

"They took my home," says Cecil, 19. "It's been an adjustment, but it's OK."

She and other Memorial Hall residents recently met to iron out some kinks in their new living arrangements - including noise issues, Cecil says.

"The boys liked to bounce the basketballs in the stairwell at all hours of the night," she says.

Men might be new to Hood's dorms, but they aren't new to the college's classrooms. Hood opened its doors to male commuter students in 1971 - but women still significantly outnumber men. The school's current undergraduate class of 855 students includes 127 men, and the graduate class of 902 students includes 295 men, Diehl says.

Junior Chad Samarra and freshman Nathan Whye, 18, of Middletown, Md., say Hood's male residents seem to bond faster because there are so few of them.

"It's very inviting," says Samarra, 21, of Marbury, Md.

Though he's been impressed with Hood's strong academic programs and his financial aid package, freshman Gregory Bender says the bond between male residents feels "somewhat forced."

"The men are generally in clusters," says Bender, 18, of Grantsville, Md. "I think it would be better if there were more guys here, honestly."

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