by Mary Morrison
On August 26, students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in All Saints chapel to welcome the new academic year. Student Government Association President John Cochran (C’15), St. Luke’s Community President Joe Woodfin (T’15) and Order of the Gownsmen President Nate Foster (C’15) all spoke on their goals for their organizations and Sewanee in the coming year. The speeches culminated with Vice Chancellor John McCardell’s speech, before adjourning to an “old fashioned picnic.”
Cochran, as SGA president began his speech by asking “What does Sewanee mean to you?” He espoused the Sewanee community, as opposed to the “sense of community” found at other schools. Popular events like Office Hours at Shenanigans, said Cochran, enforced the Sewanee community. Woodfin, President of the St. Luke’s community, the student body of the school of Theology, followed Cochran. Though theologians and college students often seem separated from one another, he expressed he was “thankful for the shared history that makes a shared present possible.” Woodfin also challenged students, both collegiate and theological, to respect the time honored virtues of charity and integrity that Sewanee stands for.
OG President Foster urged students and faculty alike to wear their gowns with pride, saying, “the gown represents more than a GPA or a benchmark to be reached.” He also encouraged the class of 2018 to strive academically immediately prior to welcoming McCardell.
McCardell opened by thanking Physical Plant Services, Library and Information Technology Services, the Dining Services, and others who worked over the summer to prepare the University for the new year. He continued to deliver mostly good news, including a 93% employment rates for the Class of 2013, fundraising successes and the completion of the first year of the Infrastructure Revitalization project.
McCardell provided an update on Rebel’s Rest, which went up in flames in late July, though the structure still stands shrouded in a blue tarp. McCardell stated, “Any new or renovated building on the site would need to comply with building code requirements. Thus, even if we desired to replicate the old building, we would be prohibited from doing so.”Fears about the status of Rebel’s Rest are not new. In a 2005 New York Times article entitled “In Desire to Grow, Colleges in South Battle with Roots,” author Alan Finder wrote, “Some traditionalists say they fear that the name of the university’s guest house, Rebel’s Rest, will be next to go and that a monument donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy commemorating Edmund Kirby-Smith, a Confederate general who taught at the university for nearly 20 years, will be removed.”
The picnic afterwards provided fun, games, and food for the entire community. Highlights included the life sized fooseball game and Sewanee Admissions’ ALS ice bucket challenge.