Letters to Loyola: Welcome Back to Campus
August 19, 2021
I’ll be doing my best this year to write to you every week with my finest attempts at wisdom, or failing that, some thoughts and questions to make us think.
This week marks the beginning of our academic year, the moment when students move into campus housing and we begin to teach our rituals and our values at Wolf Pack Welcome and graduate and law orientations. I love watching the students arrive with their plastic bins and pillows, full of determination and excitement. And I am forever moved by the poignant mix of emotions on their parents faces as they try to find a way to let them go. (Luckily my nine-year-old daughter Lucy promises never to leave me, so I won’t have to face that moment. Right?)
All of our normal beginning-of-school jitters are fueled by far more complexity this year, as we begin a second academic year in the shadow of a global pandemic. For the first time, we get to truly come together in person – the vast majority of us protected by vaccines from serious illness. But we are donning the masks that we thought we might have gotten to permanently put away. We are reminded of the uncertainty and anxiety that we thought we had overcome.
The pressures of this moment in our history have proved divisive for so many, but I hope we at Loyola will continue to choose a different route. We are going to lean in with empathy, especially for those with whom we disagree. We are going to debate the critical issues of the day – that’s the joyful part of being in a university community – but with actual attempts to persuade. As enjoyable as self-righteousness and sarcasm can be, I’m pretty sure it has never once convinced someone to change their mind.
It is beyond our power to make our campus a bubble from pandemics, but we have far more power to make it a place of real community.
For all of you who are new, we promise the beautiful weather will come soon (if October counts as soon) and that you’ll make your friends in colder climates jealous come the winter.
Prayers and blessings,