When I imagined my senior year of college, I had visions of spending bittersweet time with friends, an impending sense of both fear and excitement, and a growing sentimentality for my time spent here in Searcy. I thought of the many lasts that were to come: last times sitting with my friends in chapel; last times going to Midnight Oil with intentions to study, but then seeing everyone I know; and last times as a semi-adult before being pushed into the “real world.” I imagined hugging my friends and sharing meals together, not waving at them from across a room. I imagined spending time in professors’ offices, soaking up their wisdom before I carried it into the world – not simply saying, “Hello,” as I passed them in the halls.
Life looks different than what I dreamed it would be. And it would be a lie to say that I’m not disappointed with the way this final chapter of my college career is looking. You, yourself, probably feel it too.
When the world abruptly — and a bit traumatically — shut down this past spring, everyone looked to the future with hope and optimism, excited for the day when we would wake up and return to life “as it should be.” As the months dragged on, though, it became increasingly apparent that perhaps this is just how life is now. When I was elected as SA president last spring, a large part of me hoped and planned for a school year that was just like any other. Our council persevered in planning and brainstorming and hoping for the future ahead of us — a future that we now recognize is still to come. The SA has been forced to adapt, and, in doing so, has been opened to change.
Typically, the role of the SA is simply of connection: helping to bridge students to faculty, and vice versa, and working to advocate and empower by linking the different areas of our campus together. Because of both the physical, emotional and social differences between many of us, simply connecting is not always enough.
We promised to “make conversation” this year, and that is what we humbly believe we have begun and still plan to do. We, the Student Association, believe that having true conversation often leads to great change and progress, and it also cultivates the best community.
That community is, at its core, what I was most looking forward to this year. It’s also the thing I am most afraid of losing in this year that looks so different. This past week, however, the Lord has humbled me to recognize that deep community, led and nourished by the Holy Spirit, is something that cannot be destroyed. It, like the world around us, learns to adapt and move on — it knows how to survive. And, I’m starting to realize, so do I.
As SA president, I commit to being transparent and honest. I commit to listening and learning, to being humbled and to speaking truth. But, my fellow students, in order to have these kinds of conversations and this type of community, I must ask you to commit to doing the same.
In this spirit and as we begin the year, I ask of you a few things: If you have a problem with the Student Association or policies/programs we do or don’t enact, I ask that you come visit with me and not jump to smear our organization on social media (I am in my office in the Student Center on MWF 11-1 p.m. and TR 12-2 p.m.). When you leave your respective homes and enter into our shared community, I ask you to wear a mask and hold your distance. When you look around at your fellow student body, consider those around you for more than just what’s on the surface; be willing to sit and listen to their experiences, recognizing that they are just as valid as your own. And, as we live in this sweet place we all call home, treat it and the people in it like the blessings of God they are.