Wilson College welcomes first male undergrads in 144 years - abc27 WHTM

Wilson College welcomes first male undergrads in 144 years

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For the first time in nearly 150 years, Wilson College welcomed male students into their undergraduate programs.

Despite protests from alumnae, struggling finances and lagging enrollment led to the decision to bring in the boys.

The incoming class was busy climbing high ropes and zip-lining through treetops at the Diakon Wilderness course in Boiling Springs on Thursday.

"There was a lot of obstacle course stuff we had to do, so it was a lot of trusting," said one student who represents a cross-gender orientation that wouldn't have occurred a year ago.

Patrick Fox is making friends quickly. He's an English major and one of only three male students pioneering the school's co-ed future.

"Everyone has been very welcoming; the students, the staff, the professors," he said.

The integration of men is only part of the equation, according to Brian Speer, Wilson College's vice president of marketing. "It's really a holistic plan to help bring enrollment up and we are expecting that our new student enrollment will be up 15 percent each year."

Speer added that facility renovations, increased marketing and a student debt buy-back program are all included in the factors spawning school growth.

Fox and the two other men will have to commute for now. Men will not be provided with on-campus housing until next year. Once that happens, Speer said the school is expected to see another boost.

So why would a man chose to go to a traditional women's college?

"From the other colleges I looked at, it had the best education program," Fox said.

"We are all trying to learn the same things. Working together, communication, those basic skills. It's building a family. It's not something that is based on our gender," added one of Fox's female classmates.

Before the decision to go co-ed was made, the school had already accommodated male graduate students over the age of 22.

A quick check on social media will show that many alumnae are still asking the Board of Trustees to reverse decision to go co-ed. An online petition continues to earn signatures.


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