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It’s Almost Unfair How Nice the Weather Is

I went out to lunch today to The Porch (which, if your students have not discovered, they need to. Great tex-mex and the best queso in the city).  It was the first time I had been out of my building today, and the weather is absolutely glorious.  What’s it like, you ask?

Sunny.

Light breeze.

Trees are in bloom.  Pink flowers on the prettiest of them.

Daffodils popping up everywhere.

Students in shorts and sundresses, with flip flops and sandals.

You see lots of happy faces – the way you get when it’s such a nice day it just seems to make everything better.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

poll shuttleSo I urge your Deacs to get outside and enjoy this weather. And for those who registered to vote in NC, today is primary day, so I hope they will get to their polling place.  Our College Democrats and College Republicans have a shuttle to take students registered to vote in NC to the voting spot – shuttles run from the Benson Center circle every half hour until 7 pm.

One of the goals of a Wake Forest education is to prepare students to lead lives that matter and to go forth and do for the good of humanity. I would argue that voting matters a great deal and we want our students to be engaged, involved citizens who are voting.  (I don’t even care if you vote for my candidate – I just want you to vote, period!)

Have a Super Tuesday wherever you are, Deac families!

— by Betsy Chapman

Welcome Back!

Spring Break seemed to go by in a flash for us – did it for you and your Deacs? Happily, they are coming back to a campus where spring has sprung. If you drive in the main entrance off of Silas Creek Parkway and Reynolda Road, you can see the start of a carpet of daffodils popping up, and creeping phlox. It makes for an especially pretty picture.

We’re jumping right into the week with announcements about a few opportunities for your students to engage in meaningful ways.

Global Wake Week 2016Global Wake Week:

This week is Global Wake Week, and there are a TON of activities, as you can see at this link.  One change to mention, due to the possibility of rain, the Zuzu African Acrobats will perform at 7 pm tonight in Brendle Recital Hall.  Also – for those of you who have Deacs who love dogs, tomorrow there is a Rent A Puppy on the Mag Quad from 1-4 pm.  Hope your Deacs will take advantage of the many, many fun activities planned.

Voices of Our Time

This Thursday is a Voices of Our Time event: “Aging, Health & Longevity in the 21st Century” with S. Jay Olshansky, PhD. It will be held Thursday at 6:00 p.m. in Farrell Hall, Broyhill Auditorium.  His research focuses on the upper limits to human longevity, health and public policy implications associated with aging, and the pursuit of the scientific means to slow aging. This will be a wonderful opportunity for students to hear from a leading voice in this field.

From the Dean of Students office:

Finally, this one is an opportunity for Deacs who want to be involved in campus leadership and the work of the Office of the Dean of Students:

Are you looking to give back to WFU at a higher level? Have you been searching for a meaningful way to help others?  If so, these advanced leadership opportunities are for you! 

Apply today to be a student member of Wake’s Judicial Council (JC), Honor and Ethics Council (HEC), or Board of Investigators and Advisors (BIA). Information about each position and the joint application are found on our website at http://deanofstudents.wfu.edu/conduct/honor/apply/.

Applications are due Friday, March 25, 2015 by 5 pm.  Information Sessions will be held on the following dates from 6-7 pm in Benson 410

– March 16, 2016

– March 24, 2016

Lots of ways to be involved, stretch your mind, learn something new.  Make it a great first week back!

— by Betsy Chapman

Senior Orations – Alexa Erb (’16)

Today is the last weekday of Spring Break – so our empty-feeling campus will be populated with your students very soon.  Hope you enjoy one last Senior Oration, this one by Alexa Erb (’16).  Here is “Lessons from My Mother…So Dear.”

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In 182 years, you can accrue quite a bit of wisdom. Mother So Dear has never been stingy sharing it with us. In my time at Wake Forest, I have had the immense privilege of being taught some of her very best lessons. As I get ready to leave this beloved home of mine, I’d like to thank you, Mother So Dear, for three lessons in particular. Lessons that have not only defined my time here at Wake Forest, but have transformed me and my trajectory forever.

Lesson 1: Look for the Love

Being at a Top 30 university, excellence is expected—from the institution, from the faculty, and from your peers. Those expectations can lead to amazing discoveries and a vibrant, intellectual atmosphere. They can also lead to too many all-nighters in a row, caffeine addictions, and anxiety-induced meltdowns. I have had my fair share of all of the above. But Mother So Dear, you have never stopped reminding me to look for the love in the midst of overwhelming stress. The understanding professors who extend a deadline after a tear-filled meeting, the mid-study Cookout runs with the windows down and the radio all the way up, and Miss Roz’s smiling face as she hands you your fourth cup of coffee before noon.

Since starting our Wake Forest journeys, the class of 2016 has seen a lot of heartbreak in the world. The European Refugee Crisis, the attacks in Paris, the Peshawar School Massacre, the lack of justice for individuals like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Sandra Bland, and hundreds of mass shootings in this country alone. In the moments of despair, you urged us to keep our hope alive by noticing all of the love around us. In the pledges of solidarity tied to the trees on the quad, the flowers outside of Imam Griggs’ office, and the moments we take to hug the ones we love a little bit tighter.  Love is everywhere on this campus. You’ll find it in Ms. Mary’s greeting as she swipes you into the Pit, in the music of the carillon on the first sunny day after a rainy spell, and in every roll of toilet paper lobbed through the air. You’ll find it your classrooms, your extra curriculars, your residence hall. Mother So Dear, thank you for always pointing it out when we need it most.

Lesson 2: Nobody’s Perfect

Right off the bat, this lesson seems like a no brainer. Of course nobody’s perfect, Hannah Montana taught us that in 2006. Nobody’s perfect, Mother So Dear—including you.

Racism exists here. Sexism exists here. Homophobia, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, classism, elitism, ableism, entitlement, drug addiction, mental health issues, sexual assault. All of those dirty words we sweep under the rug when prospective students come around or when another university gets called out in the media—those things are here.

As heartbreaking as it was to find out that these things were living in my Wake Forest, their presence has played an integral role in my life. In the midst of your imperfections, I have had the opportunity to stand up for what I believe in, to teach, to debate, to discuss, to learn, to grow.

You didn’t shield us from the tough stuff, Mother So Dear. But you didn’t teach us to just endure it either.  You taught us to be bothered by injustice, even if you were the one perpetuating it. You taught us to get up and do something. Without that push, we wouldn’t have student led initiatives like Campus Kitchen, Trailblaze, Not on My Campus, or Campus Climate Town Halls.  With perfection comes stagnation. With your flaws came the inspiration to strive for change.

Lesson 3: You Can’t Stay Forever

Teachers, the good ones anyways, give you all the love in the world, all the resources you need to figure out who you are and where you’re meant to be, and when it’s time, they let go.

Mother So Dear, you were there for all of my milestones—the big ones and the seemingly insignificant. You were there when I kissed my family goodbye for the first time. You watched me timidly enter into a world of uncertainty. You smiled knowingly as I was united with the people I didn’t even know my soul needed. You patiently observed each time I thought I found love and when I finally stumbled upon the real thing. You beamed with pride as I made the transition from “undecided” to “I have found my passion.” You were there for the very moment that a terrified little girl realized this was exactly where she was supposed to be.  And now, Mother So Dear, it’s time for me to go.

I know that I can’t stay here forever. Soon, another class of Deacons will arrive and start writing their Wake Forest stories. It’s time for me to write the next chapter of mine. The thought of leaving this place is a scary one. A sad one. But also an exciting one. Maya Angelou writes, “You will be surprised that these years of/ Sleepless nights and months of uneasy/ Days will be rolled into/ An altering event called the/ “Good old days.” And you will not/ Be able to visit them even with an invitation/ Since that is so you must face your presence./ You are prepared/ Go out and transform your world.”

That’s a tall order. But thanks to you, Mother So Dear, I think I’m ready.

 

Senior Oration – Camry Wilborn (’16)

Today’s Spring Break coverage of Senior Orations features the work of Camry Wilborn (’16).

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On the Wake Forest Admissions page there is a section referring to Pro Humanitate. It reads:

It’s not about you. It’s about us, and the greater meaning of what it means to be human. Our motto, Pro Humanitate (For Humanity), is a calling to use our knowledge, talents and compassion to better the lives of others. It can mean donating time and resources to our communities or simply a lifelong commitment to pursuing our best self. No matter your personal interpretation, it’s an opportunity to leave the world better than we found it.

And although it is on the admissions page, I did not actually encounter the phrase “Pro Humanitate” until I had begun attending the school. It was probably during one of those dragging sessions during freshman orientation. You know, one of the many, many that we’re required to go to. This philosophy however, was nothing new. Since I was a little girl, I was groomed to embody Pro Humanitate. I watched in amazement as my mother gave of everything: money, time, herself. And she watched her mother do the same. They never complained, just kept giving, and giving, and giving.

My entire experience as a black woman has consisted of being regularly told, it’s not about you. See the humanity in others. Fight for others. Be superwoman. Never be empty. It’s not about you.

The dilemma in being told it’s not about you arises when a group is not included in the “collective us”. Historically and currently speaking, black women are the bloody lambs sacrificed by the gods of white supremacy and patriarchy. I remember the first time I was exposed to the horrific truth of the feminist movement, which I, as a feminist, had idealized. That horrific truth is that feminism itself was whitewashed. Black women were not included. I enrolled in an Intro to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies course, which would later become my second major. In learning about the feminist movement, starting with the first wave, I became aware of the ways in which black women were persuaded to fight for the greater good as a part of the suffrage movement, though the suffrage movement barely fought for them.

The exclusion did not end there. My thirst for knowledge around my racial identity led me to see firsthand the exclusion black women feel in relation to movements surrounding race. The Civil Rights Movement is often credited to two black men: Martin and Malcolm. Depending on where you fall on the radical totem, you are likely to choose one over the other. It wasn’t until I joined a book club sponsored by the Anna Julia Cooper Center that I learned about the influence that Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hammer and Daisy Bates have had.

I noticed a pattern. Despite black women being excluded, they continue to embody Pro Humanitate–they see and serve humanity. You see, to be black and woman means to constantly see the humanity in others, while people refuse to see yours. It means that you are not included in the collective us. Even if you’re respected, you are labeled as a queen, goddess–everything else except human. But when we place ourselves at the center of our stories, it’s self-indulgent. This is what I know to be Pro Humaniate—to serve. History validates it and the world affirms it. I am here to serve others. It’s not about me.

I’ve known that I wanted to attend Wake Forest since I was about nine. In fact, it was the only school I applied to. Looking back, that was kind of risky, but I’m here now. When I got here, like many other girls who look like me, I struggled to find my place. When social environments weren’t welcoming, I turned to the only thing I knew, service. My involvement with service has truly made my Wake Forest experience. It was my safe space—where I was comfortable. Safe spaces are not frivolous, they’re imperative, and the service community was mine. And through it, I have been able to give back to the city that raised me. However, just as the national arena ignores black women in favor of black men and white women, I began to believe that the motto Pro Humanitate was reinforcing that.

My classmates want to save little girls who look like me. They build them desks, tutor them and give them Halloween candy but ignore black women in the discussion surrounding sexual assault on our campus. Humanity is forgotten when black women are labeled as stereotypical tropes and never allowed to be multi-dimensional beings. Humanity is forgotten when a party theme is offensive, discriminatory and institutionally protected. Humanity is forgotten when we stop fighting for you and fight for us. I began to feel like I was for Wake, but Wake wasn’t for me. Humanity wasn’t for black girls like me. I was taught that seeing the humanity in everyone, despite myself, is what would guide my journey as a black woman in a white space; and that thinking wasn’t enough for me anymore. How long do black women have to serve before we’re allowed to be human? To feel. To fail. A precondition to serving humanity, should be to be seen as human first.

Fall semester of my senior year, I had the opportunity to attend the White House for a Research Summit on Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color. This conference was co-hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls and our own Anna Julia Cooper Center. Stakeholders from academic, nonprofit, government, and philanthropic sectors came together to discuss the issues facing women and girls of color. I must admit that, despite writing a myriad of research papers and presenting the information at conferences and symposia, I’ve never liked research. The act of investigating independent variables to establish a conclusion never aroused any sort of academic curiosity within me.

However, the conference surpassed all of my expectations. I have never been in a room with that many black female academics. It was refreshing and affirming. No triggers. No microagressions. No need for safe spaces. It was all safe.

Out of all of the speakers that day, only one white man spoke. That gentleman was our Provost Rogan Kersh, someone that I was lucky enough to have a relationship with before the conference. I learned that day that Wake Forest University would be partnering with twenty-three other schools to collectively give 18 million dollars to support research for women and girls of color. Yet, if I were to walk into the pit and ask a white male about the experiences of black women I would not be surprised if I were met with a mediocre colorblind answer or complete silence. There is a disconnection between commitment and practice. Though we committed to providing money and institutional support for research, I want to see these concepts of equity and the experiences of black women explored on our campus. I want to see more students visit my website, The Angry Black Collegiate. I want to see the cultural diversity requirement improve. I want to see mental health initiatives focusing on the alarming rates of depressions amongst black women. I want to see more women who look like me in front of the classroom. It’s not enough to commit money to research, if that research is not going to inform our own policies.

Therefore, I am leaving this stage with a challenge. We, the community of Wake Forest must not only commit to living out Pro Humanitate,  we must practice that everyday—as black women have been doing for a long time now. It’s time to center the experiences of black women like me. It’s time to make it about me. After all, I’m human too.

Senior Oration – Leah Haynes (’16)

Today’s Senior Oration is entitled “Islands, Trees, and the Self-Directed Life,” by Leah Haynes.

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College can make you feel lonely. And so, when you first arrive, there’s a lot of emphasis put on finding your “place” here: clubs, organizations, the student-involvement fair, etc. This is all well-intended; administrators and faculty know that the transition is hard and they seem hell-bent on making sure you don’t have to face the next four years alone.

An uncomfortable truth: you are alone.

I know the push-back I am going to get for that statement, but stay with me.

College famously teaches you about communal living. Over the course of our stay, we get really good at operating in groups. We live with strangers who become our friends and join teams and do group projects until we practically identify ourselves exclusively in relation to groups.

An example: at this point, we have mastered the ten-second, self-description: “So, tell me about yourself,” “I’m Leah Haynes; I’m an English and Communication double-major. I am a Sports-Marketing intern, Reference assistant, Student Adviser, PREPARE Student advocate, and a member of the Wake Forest Women’s Club Soccer team.” Everybody has one of these little capsules of what we’ve done with our time here. But here’s the point: each of those identifiers that I listed situates me within a group. I think that’s a problem. It works wonders for a résumé, but learning how to be a part of a group is not enough.

What we don’t focus on so much, is whether we are learning how to be alone. I don’t just mean living in a one-bedroom apartment by yourself—though for some of us that will be part of it—what I do mean is something more like what it means to live your life on your own, to do it yourself. College brings us the obvious self-directed tasks: homework, getting to class, doing your laundry (although here at Wake, you can have someone do that for you too, but that’s a whole other can of worms). However, there’s another set of things that you have to do alone. That list is more subtle, or maybe just less talked about. I like to think of these things as the building blocks of a self-directed life.

Who is it that can do the little things for you, day in and day out, that it takes for you to be a good friend? A good lover? A good parent? A good, decent human being?

What about thinking? Listening? What about really, truly, giving a damn about something or someone when no one’s looking and it won’t be on the final exam.

These are tasks you must do alone. There’s not a place on your resume for them. You can’t delegate them. There’s no google doc or sign-up sheet to pick your shift. No one makes t-shirts.

No one else can love for you. No one else can be happy for you. Someone may set an example for how you might go about doing those things. Maybe it’s through experiences, education, religion, a really good book, or some small, innate voice. But regardless of where you got the blueprint, you’re the only one who’s going to move those blocks.

That goes for the flip-side as well: no one is going to be awful for you either. That’s on you. So is complacency, apathy, cruelty…

I don’t have some single moment of revelation to share with you. There isn’t a time that I can pinpoint when I figured out that I have to be the one to live my life. I suppose it came from the small, mundane things I found myself doing alone. Walking, eating. Have you ever noticed, among all the many errands and activities we do by ourselves each day, that eating alone in public makes you acutely aware of your aloneness? If you really let yourself eat alone—without scrolling through Twitter or pretending to be working on something on your laptop—there’s nothing to distract you from the fact that you are living, breathing, thinking, being in your own skin. That kind of aloneness is, I think, the foundation of a self-directed life.  It’s not contingent upon whether people are there. It’s more active, more conscious than that. How often are we really thinking about ourselves as a singular? And if we do, how are we feeling about it? Is it suffocating? Liberating? Incapacitating? Empowering? How are we supposed to “do” life if we aren’t comfortable with the one person we have to do the whole thing with?

John Donne taught us all that no man is an island. I’ve always loved that assertion. And it’s a helpful reminder here that my aloneness doesn’t relieve me of my responsibility to the rest of mankind. He writes: “Every man is a piece of the continent/ part of the main.” True, in a way; but I’ll be honest with you and admit the image doesn’t sit comfortably with my sense of individuality. So let me posit the supplemental metaphor that I think reconciles my discomfort: instead, I am a tree, growing within a forest.

Sure, I exist in a larger collective, but even still I am just a tree—self-contained, with borders, with a beginning and an end. There are billions of other trees—some like me, but many very, very different. Trees before me have grown and fallen, and trees after me will grow and fall. And though they’ve done it all before, none of them can sprout leaves or weather storms or chase the sun or face the inevitable fall for me. My roots are, of course, tangled up in a big mess of interconnectedness—dirt and worms and other roots—but I have to suck up my own water, find my own light, and grow.  Me. Alone.

You have to go to bed each night and wake up each day with yourself. You have to spend your entire life inside your own head. You won’t always be interacting with a group, but you will always be with yourself. So, as important as it is to make sure you can play nice in all of the group situations life throws at you, it’s equally important to make sure you’re getting along well with yourself.

An uncomfortable truth: you are alone. Don’t worry; so am I. I suppose that’s why being alone doesn’t have to be lonely at all—when you realize everyone else has to do it too.

Senior Oration – Tori Tschantz (’16)

Hope you are having a great Spring Break (maybe with your Deac home with you, along with his/her friends?). Since it is quiet on campus, we’re continuing our feature series on Senior Orations.  Today we hear from Tori Tschantz (’16).

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It’s 5 o’clock-ish Somewhere

There is no question that Wake Forest University is one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States. The perfectly manicured lawns, the picturesque red brick buildings, the rows of Magnolia trees and the quintessential Wait Chapel all combine to create the place that I have called home for the past four years. I will never forget my first visit to Wake Forest. It was early November of my senior year and I was on the hunt for the perfect college; this college would set me on the life path that I had always dreamed about. Coming from a competitive high school that specialized in advanced science classes for pre-medical students, I had taken a full course load geared toward insuring that I would get into the medical school of my choice. I was positive that Wake Forest was the perfection that I’d been searching for that would guarantee my success.

The only thing that I found unsettling about my first visit was the carillon. Before my parents and I left for the day, we made our way to Hearn Plaza for one last look at Wait Chapel. At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary; I was completely captivated by the beautiful chiming of the bells. However, when I looked at my watch, it read 5:17 pm. That couldn’t possibly be right, I was sure that I was told on my tour that these bells rang precisely at 5:00 pm. Why would the bells not be ringing at their normal time? Everything about Wake Forest emanated perfection – from the grounds to the students, nothing seemed out of place. The imperfect timing of the bells just didn’t seem to belong. While at the time it struck me as odd, I quickly pushed the thought to the back of my mind and made way for what I was sure to be my perfect college experience.

My beginning at Wake was exactly how I imagined it would be: I made friends, joined organizations, and did well academically. I had my Health and Exercise Science major decided and my next four years perfectly planned out. Everything was going smoothly until I truly failed for the first time my freshman Spring. At first, it was a single Organic Chemistry test, but then everything began to escalate quickly. I felt alone in my failures and imperfections while the campus around me maintained its flawless composure. Suddenly I began to question everything I had worked so hard for. I continued to soul search when I went abroad sophomore Spring to Venice. The balance between classes and exploration was challenging, but this study abroad experience gave me the confidence to take advantage of the world around me. Upon my return to campus, I marched into Wingate Hall and declared a second major in Religion as I had been captivated by my divisional Religion classes. This change of plans also came from my realization that if I was going to do the whole medical school thing, this might be my only chance to broaden my horizons and study something outside of science.

As I began my journey as a Religion major, I almost immediately regretted my decision. Not only did I have little experience with the subject matter, but I felt totally out of my element in a small discussion-based class. The majority of my educational experience had been spent in the science routine of lecture and lab, and I quickly realized I didn’t have the adequate reading, writing, or class participation skills necessary to keep up. I had every intention of dropping the class until I went to talk to my professor, Dr. Annalise Glauz-Todrank. She helped me realize that my biggest problem wasn’t my lack of experience in Religion classes, but my automatic expectation of perfection from myself and fear of failure. She convinced me that the class as a whole benefited from my input regardless of whether it was perfectly crafted or not, the important thing was that I was trying.

I felt torn between wanting to learn all of the new things the Religion major could teach me and fear of failing. With a tough decision to make, I did what any well-educated individual would do, I called my mother. She asked me to think about what I wanted out of a Wake Forest education, causing me to recall my first time on campus and the bells. My memory of the carillon was so vivid because as a prospective student, I was looking for, and expecting, perfection. When the ringing didn’t happen at 5 pm exactly, it stuck out. I realized that over the past few years I felt like I stuck out due to my imperfection, just like the bells. However, Dr. Glauz-Todrank gave me the key to overcoming my fears. By encouraging me to take small steps, she demonstrated she fully believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She convinced me to go forth with the class and the major despite my fear. Although that was only one class, it drastically shifted my mindset about learning and my expectations for myself.

The best way to learn is by making mistakes and taking chances; otherwise, there is no room for improvement. If I wanted to explore my full potential, I needed to push past my imperfections and see what else I was capable of. On paper, I may look like I followed my perfect plan by becoming a pre-medical student and leaving college with a medical school acceptance; however, there is so much that Wake Forest has taught me that I could never have planned for. Instead of expecting perfection, I now welcome imperfection as a place to grow and improve as a person. Four years ago, I scoffed at the imperfect timing of the bells. Over the course of my Wake Forest career, the bells, whenever they ring, have become a source of comfort and inspiration. While I will miss hearing the carillon every day at 5 o’clock-ish, the bells and lessons I learned at Wake will continue to ring, at all times and beautifully, in my mind for years to come.

 

 

 

 

Senior Oration – Darius Williams (’16)

During Spring Break, we conclude our coverage of our Senior Orations.  Today we have Pro Humanitate and the Rhetorical Importance of our Interpretation by Darius Williams (’16).

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Pro Humanitate. For Humanity.  A wondrous motto; a simple phrase.

We are privileged, as heirs of Mother So Dear, to inherit such a simple phrase.  Inherently tied with its rhetorical wonder simply because we bleed old gold and black.  We are Pro Humanitate; we are For Humanity.

I stand convinced the most important lesson Mother So Dear taught me is this one: how I interpret Pro Humanitate is more important than my association with it.  Because, as an heir of Mother So Dear, I, through my words and actions, embody Pro Humanitate.  Understand: when people interact with us Deacons, they gain a small glimpse of Wake Forest.  Thus, whether we want to or not, everywhere we go, we interpret Pro Humanitate for the world.

I love Wake Forest traditions.  Hit the Bricks.  Lovefest.  Wake n’ Shake.  But Project Pumpkin is by far my favorite.  I’ll never forget my first Project Pumpkin experience.  I remember standing behind InterVarsity’s tiny little booth, trying to hide behind massive buckets of candy.  Thinking to myself, “what the heck am I doing here?”  Tinkerbell had just violently pushed over Captain America.  And with a disturbing delight, a laughing Winnie the Pooh was chasing a crying Minnie Mouse across the quad.  To say I was “trying to find reasons to justify my escape” would be an understatement.  If I remember correctly though, the only reason I stayed behind that booth was because a beauty stood two feet away.

She loved service.  I “loved” service.  So, there I was, practicing my best pick-up lines when the Incredible Hulk tugged on my hand.  This child’s unusually deep voice still rings in my ears, “Hey, Mister!  Who you supposa be?”

He’d caught me off-guard.  I didn’t technically have on a costume.  Yes, I was wearing something—a white collar shirt and tie.  But I loved dressing up.  A mere coincidence.  The Hulk kept tugging.  I quickly scanned my surroundings.  She was watching me out of the corners of her enchanting eyes.  So, I played it cool, “Uh… I’m Barack.”

“Barack, who?”

“President Barack Obama.”

“Nah!  You ain’t even smiling like him.  And my president supposa be light-skinned!”

Let me clear: his assessment of my smile was a hundred percent correct.  My presence had no joy.  How can I serve anyone if my heart didn’t want to serve at all?

And after that first reality hit home, a second smack soon followed.  My mind awoke to the bigger picture when he re-emphasized every syllable of my president, with a sassiness that echoed the voices of my aunties.  His unfiltered words had just the right amount of conviction and concern.  In that moment, I realized my heart was in the wrong place.  And it was through this child’s unfiltered words that I acknowledged my own ignorance.  He’d expected me to unconditionally be there for him.  His words warmed my cold heart.  Before I could blink, I was having such a great time with the Hulk, tossing rings and passing out candy, that I was missing class.  Before I could think, it was time to say goodbye.

Had I never acknowledged his tug or voice, I’m sure his childlike view of Pro Humanitate would’ve been replaced with an image of my selfish indifference.  Through that child came a lesson I’d never forget.

Since that day, I’ve found myself walking on chalk.  Upon the resiliency of weary voices.  Their confrontational cries bursting with frustration towards a family that won’t hear tears.  Tired of being dehumanized by their peers.  By brothers and sisters who yik yak without an emphatic pause and listening ear.  Whose silence define a Pro Humanitate that forgets humanity.  Opting to “other” for the sake of self-comfort.  These voices have been tugging since 1834.

During the 2014 Senior Orations, Melvin Washington ended his memorable speech by declaring “Pro Humanitate means nothing… if not unconditionally applied right here at home.” His words still tug on my heart.

When our community can’t hear the violence in statements like “All Lives Matter” or “Make America Great Again”, unable to think about the humanity of our black, brown, and Muslim family; when fellow heirs reject our sister for speaking against an offensive Hip-Hop party, threatening her life instead of uplifting her courage; when those who bleed old gold and black trash the room of an openly gay brother, telling him “fags aren’t welcomed here”—our motto, For Humanity, becomes meaningless.  Replaced by hate.

As a Wake Forest family we’ve come a long way.  Every page of our history has been a beautiful display of rediscovering the wonders of Pro Humanitate.  Chronicles from R. J. Reynolds to Ed Reynolds to Suzanne Reynolds.  Never forgetting; always looking forward.  Entrusting this institution’s quintessential progression For Humanity to us.  In this very moment.

Therefore, our Pro Humanitate can’t merely look like our beloved Wake traditions; like the incredible work of the Pro Humanitate Institute; like the numerous student leaders and organizations fighting for the advancement of humanity; like President Hatch and Mrs. Hatch’s disappointed faces as they stood silent under quad trees rolled after Eric Garner’s “no indictment”.  While these are significant steps towards a better tomorrow, our Wake Forest must make Pro Humanitate personal today.

Our wondrous motto must be embodied as a community and as individuals.  Not just by some of us, but by the sum of us.  We all must walk with integrity amid our imperfections.  Exercising an unconditional Pro Humanitate.  One that becomes well-acquainted with that annoying tug on our hand, unafraid to answer the convicting question of the dejected voice, “Hey, Wake Forest!  Who are you supposed to be?”

Black, brown, yellow, red, white, and blue; conservative and liberal; straight and LGBTQ; theist, spiritual, and atheist—as heirs of Mother So Dear: We are Pro Humanitate.

For Humanity.

We must rediscover the wonders of such a simple phrase.

Spring Break Fever

Slogging through midterms is no fun. And it had been so beautiful and warm at the start of the week, but yesterday and today have been cold by comparison (high 40s instead of the high 60s/low 70s we’d had). So your Deacs are probably more than ready for some fun times at Spring Break.

In honor of the upcoming week off, I took a peek in our photo archives for some of the fun, lighthearted times on campus. Maybe your Deacs will have some of these kinds of good times next week.

And if your student is comng home for break, expect to climb Laundry Mountain, have him/her sleep a lot more than you expect, and maybe eat you out of house and home 🙂  But I bet you will be REALLY happy to see your students!

— by Betsy Chapman
Wake Forest students enjoy the carnival on Davis Field, part of the annual Springfest celebration, on Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

Carnival on Davis Field

Wake Forest students, faculty, and staff attend the Arrive to Thrive event on Manchester Plaza on Tuesday, August 25, 2015. The event highlights different ways of maintaining an healthy lifestyle on campus. Rae-Ling Lee ('17) blows giant bubbles.

Thrive event on Manchester Plaza

Wake Forest students enjoy the carnival on Davis Field, part of the annual Springfest celebration, on Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

Carnival on Davis Field, part of the annual Springfest celebration

Wake Forest students enjoy painting outside on Davis Field, part of the first Campus Canvas event on Thursday, April 23, 2015. Vanessa Cancio ('16), foreground, and Emily Pariseau ('16) work on their paintings.

Campus Canvas event

Wake Forest students, faculty, and staff attend the Arrive to Thrive event on Manchester Plaza on Tuesday, August 25, 2015. The event highlights different ways of maintaining an healthy lifestyle on campus. Students play with a puppy from the Humane Society.

Thrive event on Manchester Plaza

Senior Orations – Part II

We continue our look at the Senior Orations read during Founder’s Day Convocation in late February.  Today we have two that were read in Wait Chapel:

The Case for Generalism”, by Robert “Tripp” Maloney (’16)

Tripp” Maloney

Even as I approach the end of my time here at Wake Forest, I sometimes find myself still asking, “Why am I here?” Leaving the existential side of that question to more philosophical minds, I look instead to the “why?” of the university as an institution. What is it for; what purpose does it serve? Given my background in linguistics, I am of course tempted to find a clue in the word “university” itself. The word’s etymology is relatively simple, but the root meaning is nonetheless surprising. Universite, the Latin originator of our “university,” translates to “the whole.” Read more »

The Unexpected Chaos of Life as a Deac”, by Aishwarya Nagar (’16)

Aishwarya Nagar

To my younger brother,
I’m so excited that you’ll come to see me graduate! You always ask me what my time at Wake Forest has been like, and I’ve finally found the words to do the explanation justice. I know that 11th grade, the IB program, and the SATs are really stressful for you, especially at our competitive international high school in New Delhi. I understand the chaos of your life in Delhi, full of after-school tutoring, cricket tournaments, and SAT prep courses – not to mention the inherent stress of growing up with our strict, Indian parents. You’re looking forward to the great adventure of going to college – to experience the world and find some control, order, and self-made success in your life. Read more »

There are seven other Senior Orations still to go, and we’ll pepper them in the Daily Deac through the rest of the semester.  Congratulations to our seniors!

— by Betsy Chapman

 

Spring Break Safety

Spring Break is next week.  The break comes right after midterms, and students will be ready for a break.  Some of them might come home to you to visit, others might go to the beach (either in the US or the Caribbean).  Some will go on Wake Alternative Break for service projects.

If your Deacs are planning to travel for Spring Break, you probably want to talk about spring break safety with them.  University Police and other campus offices are hosting a Safe Spring Break info session this Thursday, March 3rd (see details).  If for some reason your Deac can’t go to the Safe Spring Break program, we surfed the web and found some resources and advice below.

General info: the web site youngadults.about.com has some guidelines for things parents and students should discuss well before spring break.

Personal safety: the parenting web site Sheknows.com offers some good guidelines, covering topics such as:

“Stick with friends you know and trust. Never go out alone or leave a safe place with strangers. Even if you meet people or locals on your trip and they seem friendly, they might not have the best intentions. While indoors, also be careful of going into closed spaces such as elevators and stairwells by yourself.

Be a stranger. Don’t give out personal information, or tell strangers what hotel you’re staying in or where you’re going.

Drink responsibly. If you consume alcohol, make sure you get your drinks directly from the bartender or a person you know and trust. Don’t leave your drinks unattended.

Go with your gut. Be aware of your surroundings. If you feel like something is amiss, trust your instincts. If you’re being followed, the Office of International Education at the University of Richmond suggests, “Step into a store or other safe place and wait to see if the person you think is following has passed. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask someone to double-check for you to see if all is safe. Display confidence. By looking and acting as if you know where you’re going, you may be able to ward off some potential danger.”

Lock up. When going to the beach or pool, leave important valuables and documents (especially your passport) in your hotel’s safe deposit box, not in your room.

Stay safe in your hotel room. A spring break safety tip sheet from Longwood University recommends the following: “Ensure there is a peep hole in the door and that the dead bolt and other locks are in good working order. Never open your door to anyone you do not know. If the person states they work for the hotel, call the front desk and confirm this before allowing them entry.”

Choose transportation wisely. Use recommended shuttle services or buses to get around. Only use reputable, licensed taxi services.”

And from me  – don’t forget the sunscreen!  Getting a bad sunburn now can be very bad for your health later in life.

Finally, a reminder that not everyone leaves campus for Spring Break. If your Deac is staying here, he or she should take note of the Dining Hours of Operation, as dining venues and availability are adjusted.  There is also a Grocery Store Shuttle this Friday.

Power through those midterms, students! Relief is coming this weekend!

— by Betsy Chapman