Together, One


The return of a common hour supports unity in diversity, doughnuts in gallery.

The common hour is back, and I’m for it. A four-semester experiment that began in January sets aside an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays for “community interaction at midday.” That could range from meetings to lectures to performances to religious observances, up to and including doughnuts in the Lilly Family Gallery with President John Kuykendall.

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There was no official common hour during my student days, which fell between required chapel, which ended in 1969, and that tradition’s short-lived reincarnation as “The 11th Hour” in the early ’90s. In the ’80s, we students did troop daily en masse across Main Street to ye olde Post Office, but that quaint trek has gone the way of the dodo. Or at least the way of Alvarez College Union on the other side of this fully wireless-accessible campus.

Yet I retain enough old-school principle to see strong value in an hour for students, faculty, and staff to come together face to face—for a common goal, in a common spirit, and sometimes, yes, just over a common doughnut.

Common, communication, community, communion—all share the same Latin roots for “together, one.” I would suggest that it is more important than ever at Davidson College in 2011 that we know each other personally by sight and sound, not just by online avatar and tweet. Together, one. Unity in diversity. I can further report that today’s students are setting a good example for the rest of us in terms of real acceptance of and inclusion of all their perspectives. Not just a lifestyle sop to “tolerance,” there really does seem to be a place at the table for everyone here, and if there’s not, they will make one. Sure, birds of a feather often flock together on this campus, just like anywhere. But the feeling I get from my workaday conversations and observations is that these young men and women identify as Davidson students first and members of any particular “affinity group” second.

I know some people think a common hour taken away from our busy individual pursuits is a waste of time. I disagree, and that’s okay.


—John Syme


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