President Beck Gives a Call to Action-clr COMPLETE ARTICLE IN 9/26 ISSUE

Cory Robertson

President Beck’s convocation speech on Thursday revealed once again her devotion to the age-old ideals of a liberal arts education. Quoting the likes of former Lawrence presidents Nathan M. Pusey and Henry Wriston, Beck drew for us a scholarly but simple construct of her Lawrence proposal.
The first two tenets of a Lawrence education, she said, are individualized instruction and the holistic possibilities inherent in the combination of college and music conservatory. The third, and newly proposed, tenet is altruism, expressed in community service and by acts in which the giver is not the “primary beneficiary.”
Perhaps Beck set forth some needless and didactical definitions and quotations, and perhaps this convocation speech was not as flashy as others have been, but her message was clear and highly relevant. She proposed an inclusion of emotional intelligence in our mission as a university, something Wriston defined as a “necessary component” to education. Emotional intelligence is made manifest in altruistic acts which we give forth to the world for the benefit of others, for the enrichment of our own lives, and for the usefulness of our place in the community. In an age where liberal thinkers generally leave moral standards to the individual, insofar as the individual’s standards are not harmful to others, Beck has adeptly chosen one moral standard universal and vital enough to be included as part of our very own institution.
Beck cited the pervasive involvement of Lawrence students in community service, but what she did not cite was the pervasive uninvolvement of Lawrence students in volunteer work and in the community at large. I think it is safe to say that most Lawrence students are active in volunteer work to a certain extent– if they are not currently involved they either have been in the past or are involved intermittently. But many, including me, are largely uninvolved, and what is even clearer is that we as a student body do not have strong ties to the Appleton community.
This is where terms such as the “Lawrence Bubble” and the “Lawrence **in**difference” come in. We’ve all complained about these things in the past, and I think nearly all of us have a nagging drive in the back of our minds to someday take our place as citizens of a community and do something, as big as we can manage, to help the world outside of ourselves and our socioeconomic peers. So Beck’s proposal is especially pertinent for many, if not all of us. The time we have here at Lawrence to learn should not be an isolated experience. We can begin to give of ourselves, of our growing knowledge and abilities, right now. If Beck’s proposal is accepted, we can begin to do away with the Lawrence Bubble and Lawrence apathy once and for all.

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