Denison has always strived to create a sense of community, but can we honestly say that this strive is continuous or is it only situational? Is it only when a detrimental event takes place that we start to notice what we lack as a university? The topic and idea of community was discussed last week in my communication course, “Listening, Thinking, Being.” We were asked to identify issues pertaining to common concerns on campus that affect us as students. Which triggered me to question whether we are worthy of being labeled “a community?”
We define ourselves as a liberal arts university, creating community, teaching students to be critical thinkers, study inter-disciplinarily and make an impact on the world. However, think about it, a host of events occur weekly on campus, but do you go and support these events? A vast amount of funding and resources are invested in concerts, comedians, speakers, and productions by the theatre department, meant for the student body. Why waste money? There are events that occur on campus that hardly receive any support and this creates vexation, especially when fellow Denisonians coordinate these events.
Our community is seemingly moving in an upward trend toward unity, yet it’s easily noticeable that we are not creating a community but creating “mini-communities”. It does not matter if race, age group, social class or personal interest divides the communities, separation is amongst us as a university. If we consider Denison a place that creates opportunity for community, then why does a disconnection exist amongst students? This disconnection creates division in a place that is meant to create unity and togetherness.
Our community consist of faculty, staff and students, thus everyone collectively shapes Denison. The never-ending battle between administration and students is meaningless. There must be some sort of mutual agreement that can be made to address these issue because at the end of the day, we aren’t all that we portray to those individuals on the outside looking in. We wear a mask as a unified body, symbolizing as representation of us sweeping serious issues under the rug, when they really need to be confronted and addressed.
Community is the ability to establish togetherness through diverse perspectives, personalities, and cultural backgrounds. There is no way that we should have a home women or men’s basketball, football, or any other sports game, and not show up to express our school spirit.
When we buy apparel from the bookstore, are we purchasing the items because of school pride or just because its fashionable? If the excuse is, “We don’t win,” save it! Support brings encouragement, energy, and excitement. Choosing whether or not to support the athletic department is not circumstantial, but plays a role in the Denison experience. Has anyone noticed Mitchell? That shows the impact and role athletics play. These are the type of questions that need to be presented to the Denison faculty, staff and students.
Now, how do we address the issue of community on campus and moving forward to becoming a better-unified body? First, we must take individual responsibility for our action and the role that we share in this issue. Second, make a decision to contribute to the construction and establishment of an authentic community that goes beyond the four corners of the classroom. Although, comparison amongst colleges and other universities can be quite insightful, lets switch the focus from those institutions and focus our lens on our campus. Denison is a unique place; a campus of opportunity and community should be valued as well as respected by all students, faculty and staff.