All Male College


IMG_6487 Willem Aartsen
Willem Aartsen in 2016

Willem Aartsen begrijpt ´t: als je zelf met een aardig verhaal komt heb je grote kans dat ´t geplaatst wordt. Hij schreef “this is another contribution for our 50th Anniversary Reunion web site: see if you like it. It is an opinion piece. Some of it is tongue and cheek. Edit and add to it if you like”.

oranje leeuwinnenI could not have been prouder to see the Dutch Lionesses with their 2nd place finish during the World Cup Soccer this last Sunday. They lost the final match against team USA, my new Nation. You may guess twice who I was rooting for. The girls showed what determination and sacrifice can achieve, while exhibiting much joy and camaraderie in the process. The girls put the final dagger to what remained of my last male chauvinism in one fell swoop.

Which brings me to the subject of my opinion piece. I have been talking to friends and family members about attending the 50th Anniversary of my year at Nijenrode University. This invites the question: “What College did you attend?”. I explain that I attended an “All Male” International Business College, which was located on the grounds of a Medieval Castle with a moat and a draw bridge.

nijenrode kasteel slotgrachtOf course that description conjures up images of a rather archaic and elitist institution. An image not unlike that of Harry Potter. Seeing the damage I have caused to myself, I rush to add: This was 50 years ago and the College went co-educational the year after I graduated. But nevertheless I put some of the seeds of self doubt in my own mind. In all honesty those 2 years at Nijenrode were the best years of my life.

1971-03-13 rugby HEC-RCN in Parijs-06
Bob Schwartz en Willem Aartsen rugbyen voor Nijenrode in 1971

Yes. The school was all male and let’s be honest, we were all in our late 10’s or early 20’s and the campus was an incubator of male testosterone. We were in our prime. We lived in small quarters – 4 guys to a room of no more than 400 sq. ft. I cannot imagine having to share that room with female students. No wonder then, that during the weekends most students flew the coup to be with their girls friends or pursue other male exploits.

So what made those years at Nijenrode so special? Part of it was male bonding and part of it was the stage in our lives. We were breaking away from our traditional roots and growing into young adults, while learning about Marketing and International Business. The campus forced us to live together and form our own exclusive Society with Heeren V, Campusraad etc. thus finding out how we fit into this brotherhood.

Still this “All Male College” would be a hard sell in today’s Society. Male Chauvinism and Misogyny are not really looked upon as virtues. So, we were privileged to have lived those 2 years in male seclusion. I certainly found out a lot about myself and left this College with much more self confidence than I entered it.

oranje leeuwinnen-02Now; Could we not have accomplished the same result with women participating on this Campus provided we could find secure housing for them away from us predators and Alpha males? Certainly!! I would have to admit that the years probably would have been as enriching and it would have taught us to appreciate and respect women in business more than just seeing them as the object of our lust. We still had to learn how to deal with women in Business after we graduated. To that aspect of my life I received “home schooling” by Kathy my wife of 45 years.

But that being said: “It is what it is!!” Or rather: “It was what it was.” We were not politically correct, but we had the time of our lives. We don’t need to make any excuses for having had a fun learning experience while we were at Nijenrode those 2 years. For now: Let’s celebrate our Lady Lionesses 2nd place finish at the World Soccer tournament.

Reactie Erik Hemmes: Mooi verhaal over onze insteek in 1969 op Nijenrode. Reëel en overdacht geschreven. Herkenbaar. Dank Willem!

Ben je ´t eens met Willem? Of kijk je er heel anders tegenaan? Laat het weten en stuur je reactie via Contact, in het menu bovenaan deze pagina.


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