Final note from a senior

by HB Elam
Letter to the Rambler

On the inauguration of President Owen Williams, I was moved to reflect upon my past four years, specifically my time with The Rambler as both a photographer and the photo editor. On the advent of our last issue I wanted to remember the past four years as a student, as a sometimes-writer and as a photographer and offer advice to those who will continue to be here after my graduation.

In a cliché move, I offer a quote — one, no less, from Asinius Pollio, a writer among other things during the rule of Augustus Caesar: “Non est enim facile in eum scribere qui potest proscribere,” which translates, “For it is not easy to write about him who is able to proscribe.” To proscribe, or the act of proscription, if you do not know, is the putting of a person’s name on a list, allowing anyone to kill him, often for an award. Pollio lived during a time when the establishment in Rome could and did kill men for going against the state.

We live in interesting times, too. The governance in Old Morrison is experiencing a shift not seen by many, perhaps since the 24th inauguration 27 years ago. I must take care here to clarify my words. The administration does not (I hope) have the right to kill any students. But something might be even worse than that; people in high places, perhaps not even in Old Morrison but other buildings on campus, have the ability to make life difficult for students should they so choose for dissenting against standard practice.

Future academic lives could be at jeopardy should the deviation be large enough. Working on The Rambler, I recall one instance where I have seen a student being put down by certain people on campus for expressing what may be seen as an unpopular opinion. The Rambler itself has in the past experienced problems for decisions we have made that we thought were in the best interest of the students. Indeed, it is difficult to write about those who have some sort of power over you. However, I would like to offer two things.

The first is that we, as students, as well as faculty, staff and a community of lifelong learners, are apt to make mistakes. It is from these that we learn. We must seek to understand the world around us, growing into a thoughtful, understanding citizen of the world. It is my belief that we should not be chided for such mistakes, but instead, through educative conversation, develop further appreciation of and insight into the world and its systems.
And from this, the second is that The Rambler is a perfect place for such conversations to happen, though it is not and should not be the only place for this to occur.

To students, we should not act and speak in fear of retaliation, for without expression of our opinions or ideas we cannot discover how well we have formulated them or learn the ideas and opinions of others.
To faculty and staff, I offer the above, as well as adding that, as students, we ask that you remember that we are students and relatively new to the world and its ideas, and as such, we want to test our hypotheses and opinions to gauge their legitimacy. Consider this when you converse and teach and administer us.

As a community working together, perhaps we can move forward instead of backward in this new era, creating a better Transy for those that follow.


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