On Thursday, I ate lunch at the Little Pub with another student named Matt. He and I are both deeply interested in and committed to solving social problems and socio-political issues, but we felt we had ideological differences in terms of our approach and even assumptions about the nature of the problems which we hoped to resolve. We planned to have lunch together so that we might more carefully listen to one another and discuss these issues face to face.
We had initially met one another at a campus-wide Strategic Planning Meeting a few weeks ago, a meeting in which Hamilton students, faculty, staff, and administrators came together to discuss the outline of the "Strategic Plan." The decisions of the Strategic Plan would directly impact the college for at least the next five years, and thus, have inspired students like Matt and myself to really reflect on and offer our own suggestions.
I am very interested in these types of conversations with friends because I feel that they bring us closer together. If we were to remain silent about the implications behind certain words such as "diversity," a buzz-word at Hamilton College, we could never truly grow as educated individuals. And experiencing the full spectrum of such education is technically what going to a liberal arts college like Hamilton is all about. It's significant that a place like Hamilton, which is very small, residential, and where the learning does not only happen within the walls of the classroom but in the dining halls and dormitories, can openly involve the entire community to discuss, disagree, and suggest solutions to the issues raised in its strategic plan.
Issues relating to race, for example, are very sensitive in the United States because of the institution of slavery, as I have explored in my African American History class. Undoubtedly, a place like Hamilton is susceptible to the outstanding ramifications of this period in American history, as is the entire country. On a very interpersonal level, it is so important, as I have recently experienced, to sit down with someone and just actively listen to what they have to say about particular issues that they are passionate about. This is the purest kind of learning and the first step towards experiencing a true sense of community.