As we close down the week on campus, the air is getting a little cooler, the trees are getting a little more color in them, and it is beginning to feel more and more like fall is coming. Fall is a fantastic time on campus – an explosion of color, breezes that lift the leaves and toss them down the sidewalks, and time for jeans and jackets to replace the everpresent shorts and tshirts. Fall feels good.
This weekend your students will have the opportunity to see a meaningful and very timely theatre performance, The Laramie Project. The Laramie project is described as follows: “In October 1997, Matthew Shepard was beaten and left to die tied to a fence post in Laramie, Wyoming. Techtonic Theatre Project traveled to Laramie to talk to the town in the murder’s aftermath. This moving and insightful piece of theatre resulted from those interviews. Join us and visit (or revisit) these townspeople as we hear and reflect on their personal stories and our own . . . fifteen years later.”
The reason this is especially timely is because Wake Forest just experienced a couple of acts of vandalism on our campus. One of those was hateful graffiti being written on the sign for our LGBTQ Center. I have a great deal of admiration for the Center and the work of its talented and compassionate staff. They are there to help and support students in all ways and in all walks of life, regardless of sexual orientation or identity. Dr. Angela Mazaris heads the LGBTQ Center and wrote this moving piece in response to the graffiti. I urge you to read it.
This past week’s message for first-year families was about new environments and new people, and it encouraged students to branch out of their comfort zone to try and meet new people, attend different types of on campus events, and be open to new ideas. One doesn’t need to be a member of the LGBTQ community to visit their office during their coffee hours. One doesn’t need to be a theatre major to go see The Laramie Project or other performances. One doesn’t need to be an athlete to go to a football game. But when our students go to those events – both the familiar ones and the ones that drag themselves out of their comfort zone – they are connecting to other people on campus who they might really like and respect and want to know. But they won’t know unless they try.
So I would urge your students to pack the house for The Laramie Project. Show support for this campus in a week that wasn’t our best as a community. Be present. Be interested. Be open. Be yourselves. And be the best community we can be.