Op-ed: A New Beginning
by Dr. Maurice Scherrens | President of Newberry College - February 1, 2021
Dear Newberry College Community,
We've just experienced an unprecedented year, full of challenges, division, and violence. As many of us spent the holiday season in a very scaled-back manner with a limited number of family and friends, we witnessed a most deplorable act as the U.S. Capitol was ransacked. Property was damaged and destroyed, individuals were injured, and unfortunately, five people died. This criminal act reflected the polarization that has been dividing our country. It was a most embarrassing day for us as a nation. Moreover, the violence was an attack on our democratic form of government.
Today signals a new beginning. Now we begin a new year, a new semester, and hopefully, a new era, filled with light rather than darkness. Today we reaffirm our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Empathy begins with respectful, civil discourse, listening more and judging less and realizing that getting out of our comfort zone is at the root of all growth and learning. Now is a time to listen to one another and treat each other the way we want to be treated. We have many, many miles to travel before we achieve equity and eliminate discrimination — be it of gender, race, ethnicity, social status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The list of types of discrimination is endless. But this is our time, and we can make a difference.
In the inspirational words of the 22-year-old poet laureate Amanda Gorman, recited at the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, "We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free."
We have said this often on campus and it means more now than ever: “the winner in this race of life is not the person who crosses the finish line first, but the person who carries the most people across the finish line.” I invite you to carry this thought with you as we begin this new semester.
For those of you who have arrived on campus, it is great to welcome you back. Our faculty and staff are dedicated to providing you with another great semester here on campus, in the classroom, where there is not a more effective teaching or learning environment.
Take care of each other this semester. Please do not take any chances with this virus. Mask up, continue to socially distance, and avoid large gatherings. Above all, continue to treat one another with respect, compassion, and care. Let’s enjoy this semester together. We are Newberry strong!
Maurice W. Scherrens