President Patrick White kicked off the second semester of Chapel Talks Thursday by reviewing the previous semester and talking about the College’s future.
He reflected on the difficulties of the fall semester, including the death of a student, and the subsequent conversations he had across campus in the weeks that followed. It was the discourse with Wabash students that fueled his excitement and enthusiasm for the future of the College, he said.
“I heard accusations and arguments,” the President recalled. “I heard students ask what is proper Presidential power.” He recited a list of topics.
“It was through those discussions I heard the echos of your experience in the liberal arts,” he told the students, faculty, and staff gathered for the weekly talk. “I heard you take Wabash seriously and passionately. I cheered you even when you were furious with me. I felt your anger and confusion but I’m proud of your passion and proud of your ownership of this College.”
The President, along with deans and faculty members, met with 13 different groups of fraternity and Independent men over meals throughout the fall. He said the conversations, though at times contentious, strengthen Wabash.
“Wabash Always Fights is one way of engaging in verbal disagreement. We do not fail Wabash when we fight. We let each other down when we stop trying to understand and be understood.”
He urged students to think critically about the College mission statement they frequently hear.
"Remember our mission goals to think critically, act responsibly lead effectively, and live humanely. This mission is not an abstraction. It is lived out every day in who you are as citizens and Gentlemen.
"Critical thinking counts for nothing if the only things we think critically about are things that we do not care about. Act responsibly is just a hollow slogan, if when we are faced with the need to act we turn away.
"Leadership is nothing but demagoguery, if those we lead constantly agree with us. And living humanely is not much of a challenge, if everyone thinks alike.
The full podcast of President White’s remarks should be online before the weekend.