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Prof. Briggs: Class and Charter Day's and the Old Days

May 17, 2008   

In what he said will be his final address at Hamilton College, former professor of English Austin Briggs delivered the keynote address at the annual Class and Charter Day ceremony last Friday in the Chapel.
He began by announcing that he was not going to present Hamilton’s earlier days as the most brilliant of shining lights. There were racism, religious superiority, classism, and sexism via the absence of female professionals and students. All of these “isms” were common at a time in which legal segregation took place around various parts of the United States. Briggs took the time to acknowledge that Hamilton College has in fact improved over the course of the fifty years that he has been affiliated with the institution, but noted that we can still do better to be more accepting of issues of diversity.
Not only did Professor Briggs strike all of the right emotional chords in my heart, but he really inspired me.  He said that he wanted his message to pertain particularly to issues of class and socioeconomic diversity.  I agreed that it was important to discuss and to remember our history on a day in which traditions mean so much. I think Professor Brigg's raised important aspects of college life which often get overlooked. I am grateful to Professor Briggs for his message and I encourage us all to live by the statutes he outlined.  Hamilton is a fabulous school, but only as a unit of diverse parts can we continue to create the environment for which we strive.