Dr. Howard Addresses Studentsby: Spencer Conover ‘10
President rallies students’ spirits at town hall meeting held in Kirby
In his historic address to the student body last Thursday, September 10th, President Christopher Howard charged the student body to “protect this house.” Professor Warner Winborne ’88 guessed that no similar address had happened in at least twenty years. What Howard did last Thursday was, truly, unprecedented. “It was a great way for him to break into the general student body population,” according to Honor Court Chairman Will Moss ’10.
When asked for his reaction, one member of the faculty responded, “He’s concerned about the student body and this sort of culture of irresponsibility here.” Following years when student substance abuse has dominated headlines, when beer bottles thrown at students, nooses tied in trees, and damages to buildings and grounds have all marred the reputation of Hampden-Sydney’s gentlemen and citizens, it’s no surprise that the president called such a meeting.
On Thursday, Dr. Howard opened with a video montage from his 2003 induction into the Academic All-American Hall of Fame. According to Howard, he didn’t show this only because he liked to see nice pictures of himself (and his mother with an awe-inspiring afro), but also because he sincerely believes that every Hampden-Sydney man is capable of the same success. Howard inspired the student body to strive for the highest levels of success, while pointing out a few areas that would need improvement for this to happen.
Dr. Howard commended each of us for being a Hampden-Sydney man, but he urged us to remember that it is not the croakies, flat front khaki pants, bowties, belts, or topsiders that create a Hampden-Sydney man. Rather, it is our common experiences and our common toils on this Hill that bond us together. In what IFC Chairman Jimmy Wood ’10 called “the highlight of the speech,” Dr. Howard showed the famous St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V to illustrate this point.
He elaborated on our brotherhood, reminding us that while there is such a thing as a Hampden-Sydney man, we must “always respect that there are Hampden-Sydney men.” We must bring the Hampden-Sydney man, Howard says, into the twenty-first century. He offered ways to do this: less Halo 3, less Facebook, less Jack Daniels, and more library. And, don’t forget, more “ubuntu”—a Zulu concept that can be translated as a combination of individual and collective responsibility for both personal action and the success of the whole.
Howard’s address can be boiled down to a few important topics: modernizing (or broadening) the understanding of a Hampden-Sydney man, seeking help for and curbing substance abuse, respecting the College’s facilities and staff, upholding the two commandments of the College, and being your brother’s keeper. Howard was able to weave these topics into an entertaining, inspirational, and effective address that had Senior Tony Rawls “walking out of there literally pumped up, thinking, man, this dude is not kidding!”