Letter to the Editor: Regarding The School of Theology move to “central campus”

By Marion Sprott-Goldson (T’19)
Contributing Writer

I have called Sewanee my home for almost three years now. I matriculated in the Fall of 2016, signed my name to the dotted line in All Saints’ Chapel, and then celebrated with my new colleagues in Convocation Hall. When I made the decision to attend Sewanee for seminary, I had several other options for my official training to become a priest in The Episcopal Church. And it was only after traveling here, drinking in the beauty of the campus, and breathing in that cool mountain air that I was sold on this place.

While I can point to several things that helped guide my way to the Cumberland Plateau, a conversation with a mentor stands out. He told me that he had never understood the concept of “home” until he moved to Sewanee for seminary. Something about the way in which he talked about this place was enticing, exciting. I wanted to experience the same sense of belonging.

Since being here, I have had the opportunity to fully understand what being at “home” in Sewanee means. The primary way I feel at home is through belonging – belonging in this community. Not only the community that is formed from attending class week after week with the same people for three years, but the community that exists beyond Hamilton Hall.

The community that exists at Stirling’s on a Wednesday afternoon when it is sunny and we are all clamoring for a table outside. The community that exists on the third floor of duPont library when we are all trying to be as quiet as possible. The community that forms when we all unit to help rescind the honorary degree awarded to Charlie Rose. The community that exists when we all want to talk with a research librarian before the paper is due the next day. The community that exists and dances with each other at Harvest Hootenannys at McClurg. We all love this community that is formed in this place.

The current dialogue concerning the move of The School of Theology back to central campus has caused me to reflect on the multiple ways seminarians and undergraduates coexist in this place we call “home.” Unfortunately, I feel the editorials I have read in the Purple only indicate that there is a lack of communication and a lack of understanding about the community as a whole and the School of Theology’s place within it.

In Max Saltman’s opinion piece published on March 12, Saltman states, “College students and seminarians often exist in different social circles not because they attend class far away from each other, but because most undergrads just aren’t inclined to seek out seminarians to hang out with. I can’t speak for divinity students, but I’d imagine that the sentiment is similar.”

While Saltman raises the point of social experiences in which we do not interact, I would like to uphold the ways in which our spheres overlap. For instance, did you know that many of our spouses are employed by the university? You can find them in the library, in McClurg and in Bishop’s Common. They are support staff, they are professors, they are deans. We, as seminarians and our spouses, may not be at the parties on Parent’s Weekend, but we are driving the vans to make sure people get around town safely. We may not be partaking Bloody Marys on Alumni Weekend, but we are the ones pouring them.

The proposed move of the School of Theology back to central campus may continue to be in the works for many years (It was a conversation when I first looked at Sewanee), but I contend that no matter what change happens, we need to take a deeper look at who comprises the community in Sewanee. For if we are truly to live into Ecce Quam Bonum, we must take the time to understand what “dwelling in unity” actually means for those of us attempting to do just that in this place we all call home.

In peace,
Marion Sprott-Goldson T’19