Last year, the primary focus of my column was the importance of community on a college campus. More specifically, I focused on the lack of community at CWRU and why that should change.
In my Oct. 4, 2013 installment, I wrote “the sentiment of community has been hibernating in Case Western Reserve University’s doldrums for too long.” I talked about community like one talks about objects one keeps locked away in an attic for storage. Last week, our community came alive. Last week, we dusted off the cobwebs of apathy and displayed the brilliance of our ability to come together.
But would such a unification would be possible without last week’s tragedy? Sadly, I’m not so sure.
For the summer issue I wrote directly to the freshman class with a professor about the importance of being a realist. We talked about the beginning of any semester and the power of novelty. If I follow my own logic, I am obliged to ask if CWRU will retain its newfound sense of community two weeks, one month, three months from now.
I am of Lebanese descent on my mother’s side. We have a seemingly infinite number of cousins here in the states and abroad. To name them all would take more space than the words that compose this column. In fact, I don’t know many of these relatives by anything other than in name. Because of this, there is an old joke in my family which essentially says the only time we see cousins is at weddings and funerals, a statement in which there is some truth to this adage because of the sheer number of us.
If we tailor that statement to community at CWRU, it might look something like the only time we see a strong sense of community on campus is during celebrations and tragedies. Given that I’ve spent a number of years at this school, I can say that this commentary is not posited in vain.
When the snow starts flying and we become radically re-absorbed in our own lives, our own pursuits with all their challenges and triumphs, will we forget those four young men who we lost last week? Will we forget about the importance of being a unified campus community and slip back into all-American hyper-individualism?
The opening week of this semester is a testament to why a strong sense of community is of the utmost importance to the wellbeing of an entire college: students, faculty, staff and administrators alike. My fear is that it will only exist during distinctly anomalous periods of shared intense affect.
I really hope my fear is irrational and we foster the vibrancy that was borne from chaos. The Office of Student Affairs’ theme for 2014-2015 is community. Let us all embrace that concept and not wait to build the CWRU community.
“Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealized purpose. Not when they are escaping to some wild west. The most unfree souls go west, and shout of freedom.” —D.H. Lawrence