Aug. 29, 2018
Just like that, it happened – campus is once again buzzing with the arrival of students. The quiet of a summer filled with open roads, empty bike racks, short lines and plentiful parking is gone. Today marks the start of classes and it’s truly amazing how everything changed in practically an instant. Having some 50,000 students return in the last few days makes a pretty big impact around here.
While I might lament the loss of a quick commute home or a short lunch line, I really do love the start of a new school year. There’s something nostalgic and also exhilarating about the new beginnings happening all around me. I purposely ate at a dining hall the other night so I could feel some of that nervous excitement I know new Spartans are feeling. Just seeing their fresh faces and catching snippets of their conversations re-energized me and reminded me why I do what I do. For these new Spartans, it’s not about our past, but their futures.
I always get emotional about the start of the school year but this year is even more poignant. It’s no secret – it has been an incredibly tough year to be a Spartan. Whether you are a student, employee or alumnus, the realization of what happened was painful, distressing and horrifying. While it is important to support survivors, it is equally important to commit ourselves to ensuring nothing like that ever happens again here or anywhere. Walking away or giving up is easy – staying and fighting for a better MSU is what really matters.
A colleague and I were asked yesterday to finish the phrase, “On most work days I feel…” She said, “hopeful.” She’s right. There is a true hope that we rise from the past and create better tomorrows. We hope that new Spartans arriving on campus with their own dreams are granted every opportunity to see them come true. We hope that we all learn from our mistakes and find solutions for the future. Frustration and anger is easy and valid, but it is finding hope in new beginnings that will heal us.
If you have the opportunity, talk with a new student. I promise you’ll come away with a renewed sense of optimism. This new generation of Spartans is going to do big things, I’m certain of that.
Khari Willis is a senior, majoring in interdisciplinary studies in social science and also a member of the MSU football team. This past summer he was selected by Coach Dantonio to speak at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago. He captivated the crowd as he spoke of inspiration, opportunity, good choices and giving back. Read excerpts from his speech in the STUDENT VIEW: Let your light shine, to find a little inspiration of your own.
Providing relevant opportunities for students is something Zachary Kaiser, an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Letters, is very familiar with. He was one of the first faculty members hired for the Experience Architecture program and used his real-world experience to inform curriculum. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Shaping curriculum, to learn more about XA and why he aims to help students create “the kind of society they want to live in.”
There are so many more academic and other opportunities now than when I was a student, it almost makes me want to do it all over again.
Instead, I’ll continue to keep doing my job here, blotting my tears at the start of a new school year and offering up unsolicited advice. In the past, I’ve offered what I think is some pretty good advice for new students that I still stand by in “Free Advice.” This year, in addition to things like being grateful, bold, genuine, open, collaborative and proud, I’ll also add, “hopeful.”
I don’t mean that just for incoming freshmen, but for all Spartans. There is room for hope, even when things seem dark. Look around and take in all the new beginnings you see. Grab onto that energy and use it to fuel your determination. Face tomorrow with Spartan fortitude. There’s always an opportunity for new beginnings. #SpartansWill.
Photo by Kurt Stepnitz