Lesson Learned:Check!by: C. Deen ‘13
Editor, The Tiger:
Over the past two weeks our beloved campus has seen a tide of student involvement that has no parallel in our few years on the Hill. The student assembly on the lawn on Venable forced the administration to recognize that a level of student discontent had finally been reached that could no longer be ignored. President Howard responded swiftly with an open session in which he offered explanations and the students offered both questions and criticisms of both a policy and the process by which the policy was created. The issues at hand were grave enough that a long standing Dean of our College found himself on an administrative leave the next morning. The campus calmed as our student leaders met with the administration and our concerns were apparently being addressed. With very little exception, the scene was proof of the solidarity of the brotherhood of Hampden-Sydney College and our own willingness to approach a difficult issue with civility.
On Sunday, March 4th we again heard a response from the administration that a certain Dean’s leave would end and he would return to his position in the same capacity. Regardless of your feelings for this last response, we cannot forget the lessons learned during our initial response. On a campus accused of being sleepy and inactive the students proved that beneath that exterior lies a heart deeply concerned with the well being of our beloved College. Our students and student leaders also proved that in a world filled with Occupy movements, partisanship, and ad hominem attacks there is still a place where a sense of community and honor trumps the radical tactics we see all around us. The initial response from the administration proved that a responsible student body, refraining from the tactics filling our national newsfeeds, is an effective student body. We proved that outrage can be voiced through means which prove vandalism, violence, and refusals to hear the other side as ineffective in the light of civil action and discourse.
As we move forward, it seems to me, we would do well not to forget the lessons we have learned so far. Remember that a united brotherhood of Hampden-Sydney men does not need to sully our good name by stooping to underhanded and dishonorable tactics. Remember that in the modern world few things are more surprising to our opponents than responsible consideration of positions we may detest. We have seen what we can do and we have seen that by honoring our traditions of gentlemanly conduct we can push back in an effective way. It may seem like nothing has changed, but what was shown on the Venable lawn that day was that the Hampden-Sydney man remains dedicated to serving his community and dedicated to doing so in a way that does not violate the principles he believes in.