A map in yesterday's Metro section incorrectly located Hampden-Sydney College. It is in Hampden-Sydney, near Farmville, Va.
At Washington and Lee University, registration week traditionally has climaxed in Freshman Rush, a rollicking Friday night introduction to the glories of fraternity life.
But this past Friday night found John B. Lewis, student body president and maximum fratmonger, gazing morosely into his beer glass. "They're making too many changes too fast," Lewis groused. "I love this school . . . and I feel betrayed."
Washington and Lee, a small but comprehensive liberal arts college in the Shenandoah Valley, has for 200 years invested young gentlemen with rigorous academic credentials and a muscular Southern civility. Its alumni and old-boy network are legendary across the South, and its 700-course catalogue is the envy of many larger institutions.
But this year the W&L "tradition" has taken a one-two on the chin.
Faced with a declining number of male applicants, the school, one of the nation's last all-male college bastions, yielded to the economic and social realities of the 1980s. This year, despite the strident opposition of many students and alumni, Washington and Lee admitted 105 women freshmen, along with 10 upper-class transfer students, to its 1,350-member student body.
"This is going to be the saving of this university," exulted one faculty member. "You know why I was so strongly in favor of admitting women? I was worried about the Washington and Lee gene pool. Now we can recruit from the brightest women in the country."
But while faculty and administrators are convinced the good times are just beginning, there are some students and alumni who say the thrill is all gone.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," said senior class President Townes Pressler, summing up the disbelief of students that their school was in trouble. "This is a coed school on the weekends, anyway."
"People come here to have fun, people come here to be free," said Lewis. "Why change a good thing?"
"People have been asking me would I have come here if it had been coed back then, and I tell 'em: 'Hell, no,' " Lewis continued. "I don't know how I'm going to make the commencement speech."
In fact, say administrators, W&L was "broke" -- or at least perilously cracked. Dean of Admissions Bob Hartog said the staff had been increasingly concerned for some years over a "recognizable erosion of quality."
"Surveys we did showed that the main reason those who turned us down did so was that it was a single-sex school," Hartog said. "The flip side of that was that of those who came, almost none would say they came here because it was all male."
But with the announcement a year ago that women would be accepted, applications shot up 81 percent to more than 3,000 -- including 700 women -- for slots in a freshman class of 400. Moreover, the average SAT scores of the Class of '89 went up 65 points over the scores of the preceding class; the number of students receiving advanced placement tripled.
"Not only that, but the number of students who were president or vice president of their class, edited the school newspaper or the literary magazine or captained a varsity sport is overwhelming," Hartog said. "For the first time in a long time, a dimension called 'energy' has found its way back into our evaluations."
When the women moved into the dormitories last week, the campus newspaper reported the telling presence of pink curtains and teddy bears. Associate Dean Pamela Simpson, who chaired the coeducation committee, was damned by a junior classman as a "knee-jerk feminist," and the president of the alumni association, during his welcoming speech, noted approvingly that the admissions office had picked a "cute group."
"That's okay," said one freshman woman, returning the stares. "There's 13 of them to each of us."
There are actually two institutions battling within the W&L community: the intellectual and the social. Founded in 1749 as a Princeton prep school, the initial concept was to offer a gentleman's education -- one that supplies, as history professor Taylor Sanders put it, "all that a gentleman needs to know and how to use it."
The school changed under the rectorship of Robert E. Lee, whose desire to rebuild the South led him to institute practical training in journalism, architecture, engineering and the like. It added Lee's name and became a mini-university, evolving into what senior Chris Elliott calls "a prep school for graduate programs."
Socially, W&L has cultivated a magnolia-styled gentility, of after-dinner conversation and the traditionally formal Fancy Dress Weekend; of Tommy Dorsey dances and weekend dates from Hollins and Sweet Briar and Randolph-Macon. The long association with such nearby women's colleges meant that W&L men have always had, as English professor Sidney M.B. Coulling put it delicately, "the pleasures of female companionship at their own convenience."
That is the image, Coulling said, that many of the older alumni still treasure. In recent years, however, the schizophrenic combination of academicism and socializing may have gone to the students' heads. The admired upper-class lifestyle now seems to be a cheerfully exhibitionist mix of preppy prosperity and acquired redneck chauvinism.
For example, a senior fratman, speaking of rush parties, said last week, "We ought to hide the cars; they really look bad." He was talking about a dozen BMWs, three Porsches and the odd Saab.
An invitation to a skeet-shooting party elicited the response: "Is it bring your own shotgun?"
But as the naysayers may discover, the women have come to Washington and Lee for many of the same reasons as the men. Nearly a quarter of them are children of alumni, and many of them are from cities where the W&L old-boy network is legendary.
"I wanted the good academics," said freshman Laura Carty of Denver, daughter of an alum, "and I wanted to have fun."
"I toured all over the East Coast: UNC, Duke, Dartmouth, Harvard, Vanderbilt, U-Va.," said freshman Lucy Anderson of Houston, great-niece of a former trustee. "I wanted a rural campus, because the urban ones are so ugly; I wanted a small school, because there's more personal attention; I wanted good academics, and I wanted that sense of history, because Houston doesn't have much tradition.
"And I like all the partying and stuff." Anderson said she would never have applied to a women's college, because, "even at a really good women's school, you can't just go without a social life."
The decision to admit women to W&L may hit the women's colleges in the valley hard. With the admission of women to the University of Virginia in 1970, and the inevitable drain of eligible escorts from W&L, students at Randolph-Macon, Hollins, Mary Baldwin and Sweet Briar are more dependent than ever on the remaining two all-male schools, Hampden-Sydney and Virginia Military Institute, which adjoins W&L.
In its painstaking preparations for the controversial gender-blender, W&L has indeed made a lot of changes.
There were ruffled feathers when the venerable Cockpit student tavern was renamed General Headquarters. The fight song, which was commonly sung, "And we'll roll old Sweet Briar on the sod," now officially targets the U-Va. Wahoos.
And Lee's terse description of the only institutional rule -- "the code of the gentleman" -- has been amended to include all students.
Meanwhile, the emotional Reconstruction goes on. According to history professor Sanders, his big challenge will be to prove that Robert E. Lee is a suitable symbol for all Washington and Lee students.
"When he left for West Point, his mother, who was an invalid, wrote: 'What will I do without Robert? He's been both a son and a daughter,' " said Sanders. "Now what better role model could there be?"