Plenty of whales in the sea
I’d just finished drafting my weekly Spectrum post last night when I came across an article so arresting that I now find it inappropriate to write on anything else.
The article in question was published yesterday by a student at Dartmouth, and I urge you to read it. The column is not without controversy, regarding both the author’s character and his gut-wrenching claims concerning Dartmouth’s Greek life and campus culture in general.
And just as sickening are some of the responses to the article, mostly by Dartmouth students and alum, many of which could be described, at best, as heartless.
If I am sure of one thing, I am sure of forgiveness. And when I claim to know anything about it, it’s because I’ve needed it often and known a fair share myself. Forgiveness can change lives. It can change relationships, and campuses, and cultures, and nations. In it is a capacity more powerful than judgment.
But what’s all this got to do with us Columbia kids? In light of this article and the many others from other colleges in recent semesters, it seems to me that an icy climate has spread across our campuses—indeed, the Big Ass Blue Whale might be bigger than we thought.
The specific problems at Dartmouth might not look quite the same as the problems at Columbia. And yet it almost feels as if a veil is being lifted back, or rather ripped back, on the same dark monster whose reach extends across campus borders.
So, while I know that we’ve certainly got our own share of issues, I hope we can also include other campuses in our vision for change and renovation. For our fates are most certainly connected.
When our President addressed the Nation on Tuesday, he spoke of a country made great because “we get each other’s backs.”
And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our union will always be strong.
I have faith in my fellow Columbians. Already we’ve seen the great leadership and courage Columbia students posses in facing theses issues. The formation of the CU Student Wellness Project is just one example.
So to students on this campus and across the nation, my hope is that we will continue to seek new definitions for our relationships, which aim to support each other and build each other up in courage and compassion, instead of abandoning each other in isolation to cruel apathy and cold judgment.
And finally, to the University Presidents and Administrators across the country, I offer a challenge. Honestly, I’ve not been impressed by the official responses (or the lack thereof) to recent student dialogue and action on these issues. Presidents and administrators, you need to do more. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the great women and men in charge of our institutions didn’t merely respond, but charged and led alongside us in the work to improve student wellness and campus cultures? Wouldn’t it be spectacular if University Presidents and Deans formed their own initiatives and held trans-campus meetings, and summits, and conferences, to address these issues for their students across our nation?
Administrators, please, there’s a big ass blue whale on the loose! And it’s got a big ocean to swim in, so we’ve all got to do our part.
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