By Laura Carr
When I think of ways to market Denison, I almost always jump to the word “community.” This isn’t because I actually think there is a tangible sense of community, but because that is one of the words that is most frequently used in admissions paraphernalia.
In light of the passing of Wendell Jackson ‘17, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Denison community. We come together in times of great tragedy, but once those feelings of grief subside, we don’t necessarily remain as a united front.
Last Tuesday, I attended an orientation for leaders of campus organizations where the topic of synergy was discussed at length. We weren’t talking about synergy across campus; we were talking about synergy within our own organizations.
I left the meeting wondering about The Denisonian’s values and how the editorial board, as a group of students, could achieve better synergy. One such idea involved The Bullsheet, an organization that The Denisonian staff was once at odds with.
As a group of seven students, the positive relationship that their staff has with each other is evident. It is not uncommon to find Bullsheet’ers lounging inside their office on their comfy couch, blasting music through their new speakers and watching YouTube videos. I think their relationship is what the admissions pamphlets are trying to capture.
Over the last two years, our relationship with The Bullsheet has gone from openly hostile to a friendly rivalry. One could even go so far as to say that we’ve built a familial bond with their staff. I have had some of my most stimulating conversations within their small office space in Knapp 108. This is the kind of growth I would like to see on campus –– where two groups can not only coexist, but can flourish at the same time with help from one another.
If we can’t get along within our own, small organizations, how are we supposed to create a welcoming campus environment? The first step is to recognize that there is an issue. Denison is a small school, and a lot of high school-like cliques tend to form. We need to break this mold and find common ground–positive common ground. In Knapp 108, where both of our offices are located, we have found common ground because we are both part of the free press, but in different ways. The Bullsheet is satirical, and The Denisonian is more traditional.
We should break out of our comfort zones; this could be something as small as taking a nap in The Bullsheet office rather than on The Denisonian’s couch (please ask first, though).
Like any change, this will take time. In order to change the attitude of a community, you need to start with the youngest members of that community. We need to impress upon them that they will not find the Denison that they wanted to go to unless they contribute to that vision. Above all, everyone here needs to want change.