Speaking to Hampden-Sydney's newest students, Dean of Admissions Anita Garland offered what would perhaps prove to be the most applicable advice for their first days on campus: "If you are being introduced to someone or are introducing yourself-look them in the eye, shake their hand, and tell them your name."
The new Tigers had only just finished matriculating on Friday, August 18, 2017, as they sat with their families and classmates on the Venable lawn-the very site upon which their class will graduate in May of 2021. The assembled crowd was fatigued from a morning spent signing forms and moving clothes, books, refrigerators, and futons into the freshman dormitories. Despite the collective exhaustion, a resounding cheer arose as Dean Garland presented the newest Hampden-Sydney Tigers to President Larry Stimpert.
The 312 members of H-SC's class of 2021 were joined by 14 transfer students. They hail from 17 states and the countries of Germany, Guatemala, Ecuador, and the United Kingdom. The majority of the new students call Virginia home, with North Carolina coming in second, followed by South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Maryland. And, as Dean Garland pointed out to the crowd, the most popular name in the freshman class is William.
Dean Garland's advice about proper introductions was put into practice throughout the new students' first day on the Hill as they met College officials, faculty members, academic and resident advisors, and, most importantly, each other - the classmates with whom they will live and learn for the next four years. After a busy day of meetings and moving, the class of 2021 literally rang in their college careers at the Bell Tower before bidding farewell to their families - an occasion that warranted a few tears. But the day did not end there.
As has been a first-night tradition for many years at the College, freshmen and transfer students attended evening small group sessions to learn about the Honor Code from student court members. Following these primers, the students were led by their RAs to the Honor Convocation in Johns Auditorium at 9 p.m. There, wearing coat and tie and surrounded by their classmates, they stepped forward, one by one, and signed the pledge of the Hampden-Sydney Honor Code, officially joining the brotherhood of Hampden-Sydney men.
For the remainder of their first weekend on the Hill, new students were busy with rhetoric diagnostic tests, hall meetings, community service projects, and a presentation about the legal issues most often faced by college students in the United States. In between official activities, the freshmen and transfers sampled the menu in the Tiger Inn, got lost on the way to the TigeRec fitness center, played Spikeball and cornhole on the student center patio, and discovered new roommates' music preferences-genre as well as volume.
By Sunday night, the rest of the student body had returned to campus, and at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, August 21, Hampden-Sydney men new and returning headed to class, marking the beginning of the 243rd academic year at Hampden-Sydney College.