Friday, October 19, 2018

Tradition and Spirit: Necessities not Present at Trinity

This past weekend was Parents’ Weekend, a time when Trinity becomes a picture-perfect college. Parents, mostly from New England, come excited to see what the College has to offer. During the weekend, one can see suited fathers and elegantly dressed mothers smiling and admiring the collegiate gothic architecture of the campus. Students put on a guise for their parents to convince them that they are in fact not in the heat of midterms and are stressed beyond belief. And one cannot forget the cocktail receptions, those Gatsby-like gatherings of parents who are served hors d’oeuvres and mingle with President Berger-Sweeney and members of the alumni affairs committee. What a joy to attend a school so professional and caring!

Students will respond: what vanity! The appearance of the College during parents’ weekend is not its usual appearance. But on a usual school day, students do not experience this. First, the administration is rarely visible to the students. Second, students are not often told about what the College is doing well. In summary, communication between the administration and the students of Trinity is lacking. This makes for a strained relationship between the two, and thus a growing culture of apathy. Students’ apathy results in a lack of spirit.

For example, at the Long Walk Societies reception for philanthropic parents on Oct. 20, the President asked a series of questions, as if campaigning: “Raise your hand if you are an alumnus. Raise your hand if you are a current student. Raise your hand if you love the Bantams!” What ensued from the last of these questions was only an ironic display of half-hearted cheers and smiles of enthusiasm, especially from current students. It was almost as if a genuine, unironic display for our alma mater was not warranted and even feared. If the same series of questions were asked at large universities such as University of Alabama or Syracuse, the response would have been much different. Granted, these are larger schools so the chance of encountering spirited students is greater. But what these colleges have that Trinity does not keep up with is a sense of tradition. It seems that all too often students’ sense of “tradition” at Trinity amounts to it being a capitalistic, elite, white school that hosts some of the wealthiest people in the country who continue to live in a bubble, sheltered from the realities of actual struggle.

What about pro ecclesia et patria, and “‘Neath the Elms”, and the lemon squeezer? Where is our tradition? How can students have a better outlook on the college? A response to this problem can be easily laid out. First, the administration must communicate better with the students. The College must give students tangible benefits directly. This will help students’ opinion of Trinity in the minds of current students and consequently benefit the College in the long run by increasing the chances for large donations. Second, the College must instill a sense of tradition again. Tradition cannot just be revealed during First-Year orientation week.

Ultimately, the College needs to communicate better to its students in order to reveal the good in the College, just as it is shown to parents during parents’ weekend. By better communication, students will feel more connected to the administration and thus the school. Increased connection to the school means a better connection to tradition and, in turn, a closer college community. The College can easily take action to reach these goals and form a better, happier Trinity.

Leave a reply