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ONE OF 73 >> Local man is a freshman at Randolph College Former women's college welcomes first male students

August 21, 2007 12:35 am

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A welcome sign hung on Adam's door when he arrived. 0821randolph3.jpg

Adam Brown, 18, reads fortunes to his new friends (from left) Charlene Davison, 18, Christina Hua, 19, Lily Tang, 21, on Sunday. All are students at Randolph College, the former Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg. 0821randolph1.jpg

Adam Brown, 18, gets to know his new hall mates on move-in day at Randolph College, the former Randolph-Macon Woman's College. Adam is a member of the first class with males to attend the college in Lynchburg. 0821randolph4.jpg

Adam Brown and his parents survey his new dorm room on Sunday morning as he was moving in for his freshman year at the Lynchburg school.

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

LYNCHBURG--On move-in day at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Adam Brown wore a small black earring, a blue wristband and black jeans with a chain attached to a pocket.

The King George County High School graduate's long, sandy brown hair was tinted green.

After making his bed Sunday, he unpacked an assortment of stuffed animals, including a teddy bear with a red bow tie and Kermit the Frog.

He wasn't afraid to make random jokes. Standing in a silent elevator, he said, "Some good music in here."

Brown, 18, said his personality set him apart from many others at his high school.

But how would he fare as just one of 73 men at the newly coeducational Randolph College, formerly Randolph-Macon Woman's College?

Brown had watched some videos on YouTube in which students protested the school's decision to accept men. He's one of four males in the Fredericksburg area to enroll there.

"You have to change at some point because the same thing doesn't work all the time," Brown said. "In essence, I want what they're going for, which is an education and a place to make friends and have a great life."

Brown and his roommate in Main Hall, Michael Potapoff, 18, of Raleigh, N.C., are the only two men on their floor, called Peace and Diplomacy. Students interested in politics and international affairs applied to live in the wing.

Potapoff will play for the school's first-ever men's soccer team.

"Did you say the only guys on this floor?" Brown asked another student after hearing the news. "There are no others? I must see this."

His mom, Ainsley Brown, replied, "Remember, dear, that's not why you're here."

Later, Adam Brown confirmed, "That's a fantastic bonus but not why I'm here."

As he straightened out his room, a young woman peeked inside and introduced herself as Nicole.

"I'm across the hall," she told him with a smile.

Not a bad start.

Soon after, Kate Descoteaux, 21, stopped by and mentioned a sensitive topic for some of the hall's women.

"We're going to have to talk about bathroom policy tonight so everyone is comfortable with it," she said. Students in the hall share a bathroom with two showers.

Descoteaux said she's accepted the fact she'll be going to school with men: "You can't just put a stereotype on them. It's not fair."

By midafternoon, Brown still hadn't had any awkward run-ins with women. He invited one girl into his room to scope out his stuffed animals.

"Oh my God!" she exclaimed as he held up Kermit the Frog. "That's just awesome."

"He likes to get along with people," his mom said. "He's interested in other people."

Brown was happy to see two women from China, whom he had talked with on a networking Web site. He's been studying Chinese and plans to take several courses about China.

They taught him how to say "Good afternoon" in their language.

A couple hours later, Brown, his two international friends and 18-year-old Charlene Davison of Massachusetts hung out in a nearby dorm.

"My mother left me a bottle of holy water," Davison said with a smile as she handed it to Brown.

"This should burn me," he joked.

The three seemed entirely at ease with one another as they listened to music, including Chinese hip-hop.

Brown played a game with Davison, Christina Hua, 19, of Shanghai, and Lily Tang, 21, of Beijing. Using a deck of cards, he predicted who they'd end up marrying.

"Ironically, I learned it from my ex-girlfriend," he said.

By the end of the day, Brown's dorm room had been hooked up with all the essentials--a TV, computer, microwave, entertainment systems and air conditioner.

But most importantly, he had already made friends despite the controversy surrounding the school.

"It feels good here," he said.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Email: jbranscome@freelancestar.com


Randolph-Macon Woman's College was named after John Randolph of Virginia and Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, both prominent politicians. The current student body is made up of 665 undergraduates. About 227 are new students, 73 of whom are men. The college boasts seven local students--four men and three women.



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