By Kristen Layne
Unlike you, I went to Convocation.
I say this knowing that yes, a handful of you did go. If you are a Furman Singer, a Tri-Delt, an enthusiastic freshman, a member of the senior order or a member of SGA, feel free to ignore this column.
But the rest of you–what were you doing? I’m curious. Sleeping in? Doing homework? I also know that a trumpeter was practicing downstairs in the music building–I know this because a lovely set of trumpet arpeggiations rose up from under McAlister stage and wafted over the first few rows of the auditorium.
Perhaps my antagonism comes from a sense of impending nostalgia. As a reluctant senior, I don’t have much longer as a Furman student. I’m not as sad about no longer being an English major, or a resident of the Greenbelt, or a member of the Paladin Newspaper staff. It’s the Furman experience as a whole that most moves me.
Time I’ve already spent away from Furman has nuanced my experiences here. I spent this summer studying at an Oxford college, surrounded by a centuries-old legacy of rich, enthusiastic academia. The pomp and circumstance of university events is a source of pride. The Bodleian (Oxford University) library gift shop even sold one volume which contained pictures and explanations of the regalia donned by professors, administrators and students at university events.
It has always struck me as odd that the Furman campus as a whole seems to view Convocation as a bit of a joke. It shouldn’t be that way. Frankly, it makes me sad that we can’t find one hour out of an entire year to quit being athletes and students and professors and academics to be Paladins.
The heart of my critique is directed toward the faculty, because we take our cues from you. As the line of faculty walked by last Thursday, professors were engaged in discussions and banter, pausing to talk to people in the audience and waving to others across the auditorium. Once the proceedings began, most slowly lost interest, checking their watches, yawning, gazing aimlessly around the auditorium. One professor covertly read a book while onstage. Another took a blatant, head-back, mouth-open nap during President Smolla’s speech.
Most telling were the number of faculty not in attendance.
The administration has done their part: classes were cancelled. The Furman community was free to come together, recognize some of our own who have excelled in their time on this campus, and commence another year of academic study.
And yet there were as many empty seats in McAlister as filled ones.
As I watched five of my peers receive prestigious awards and recognition, it struck me that I did not recognize a single one by name. If we had more moments like these, where the entire campus can come together to celebrate ourselves, would we feel more like a family?
If we concentrated less on our individual lives and more on what it means to come together as one, a team of individuals with a staggering variety of talents and ambitions, would we not all be stronger for it?
I truly believe so. At the very least, everyone would know the words to our alma mater.