Hampden-Sydney’s Most Cherished Tradition: Student Protests

Dylan DelliSanti ’14 and Tarun Sharma ‘15

            Hampden-Sydney, more so than other institutions, places a special emphasis on its traditions. The Honor Code is held in high regard and posted in each classroom; tailgating has likely been the same since football players started wearing leather helmets; and despite over two centuries of existence, the school has managed to retain its old Southern charm. However, there is one tradition that has not received the respect it deserves: student protests. While protesting is not typically associated with Hampden-Sydney students, it is a rich part of our history. Throughout the College’s storied history, protests have been an effective and important method of protecting student and College interests, and should continued to be utilized in appropriate situations in the future.

            One of the main reasons that protests are appropriate, insofar as protecting and improving the College and its traditions, is because student happiness and collegiate life have a symbiotic relationship. Students have an interest in promoting the social fabric of the community because the College is part of each alumnus’ individual legacy. Motivation aside, as young people, they tend to have more “local knowledge” as to what is happening in pop culture and in social life. This knowledge allows for students to define their college experience, which the social interactions between classmates and guests weigh into heavily. At the same time, the faculty and administration can provide a nice counter-weight in trying to promote education, an almost equally important element to the college experience. This has guided past protests, like the Dance Protests in 1904. It is a well-known fact that the College was once directly affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. History tells us that when Presbyterians took control of the Board of Trustees in 1904, they immediately banned dancing due to the fact that it was considered to be an “immoral” activity. This resulted in a lack of dances or yearbooks in 1904 or 1905. Students responded by painting the President’s horse and various slogans on buildings. The student body found a likely ally in Maj. Richard Venable, who organized dances in the house in which the Hampden-Sydney Museum now stands, which was then off-campus and known as the Comity Club. Another example is the access of female guests to dorm buildings. In the 1960s, when students across the country were burning down administration buildings in protest of the War in Vietnam, Hampden-Sydney students camped out in the lawn of Atkinson Hall for most of a week. Eventually, administrators acquiesced to the students’ desires, and students were allowed to bring female guests to their dormitory rooms, a privilege that students still place a high value upon today. Students used quite docile protests in order to keep Hampden-Sydney’s social values and traditions up with the times.

Moreover, students will one day become alumni and will likely wish for their children to attend the College. Thus, they might know which traditions and institutions are worth preserving better than faculty members and administrators who do not have (or do not wish to have) a long-term connection to the College. This can be seen in the undistinguished legacy of President Leutze, who in his short tenure between 1987 and 1990, attempted to motorize the process of ringing the Watkins Bell Tower. Scaffolding was erected inside the Bell Tower so that the ringing could be mechanized. However, students went to the structure in the middle of the night and dismantled the scaffolding, reassembling it on the front steps of Middlecourt. The plans were promptly disbanded, and the bell is still manually rung today. Leutze did not have a great context of Hampden-Sydney’s main bell that, as General Sam says, calls Hampden-Sydney’s sons back to the Hill. He did not understand that not only did students value the tradition of the bell, but that it is considered an honor amongst the Buildings and Grounds staff to be chosen to ring the Bell Tower. Traditionally, the longest tenured housekeeping staff member is in charge of the manual ringing of the Bell. Thus, it is in the College’s best interest for students to determine some traditions that are maintained throughout the tenures of multiple Presidents.

So we find that it is sometimes necessary for student protests to occur, especially if student demands are being ignored. Not only can students curb wrongdoing that are committed by higher-ups in the administration, but preserve traditional values that the College and its sons still care deeply about, such as the aforementioned manual operation of the Watkins Bell Tower. At the same time, students are able to update social values that may be lagging due to Hampden-Sydney’s isolation. Protests have a long history of being successful on the Hill, and it is important to continue to value them going forward in events of student misgivings about occurrences because it is vital to the legacy of alumni and the future of the College. 

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There’s a New Sherriff in Town

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Traylor Nichols ’17,  Guest Writer

Ever since the beginning of the semester, there has been a general uproar over among the students over the appointment of the new Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, Jeffrey Brown. The rumors spread like wildfire that he was from the dry campus Christopher Newport University and was planning to bring the same ideals to Sydney. Even more rumors spread of how he came here and why he was here. Theories of President Howard demoting Chief Gee because of opposing interests, or because of unfortunate incidents in the past years came to play.

However, when I talked to President Howard, I found out that he didn’t have a hand in the matter. Dr. Jones, the Vice President for Strategy, Administration, and Board Affairs, was the head of the board that decided Chief Brown be put in his position. President Howard refused comment on personnel matters or decisions, such as the causes for Chief Gee to be demoted, merely saying that he believed Chief Brown to be competent or else he would not be in the position. When asked about rumors that he tried to get Assistant Chief Gee to quit his job, President Howard once again sternly refused comment, saying “Rumors are just that, rumors aren’t really based on anything… I think I carry myself in a professional and thoughtful way at all times and treat people with respect, and I think rumors are just kind of sad sometimes.” When asked why the position was changed from merely “Chief of Police” to “Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police,” he stated that ever since the shooting at Virginia Tech, there has been a larger emphasis on the side of Public Safety in all institutions. “And I would say that Chief Brown, as shown by his work at his previous institution, has demonstrated the skills and ability to lead in that realm, as well as just campus security or campus policing.”

I talked to Dr. Jones, who agreed with President Howard on Chief Brown’s ability to lead. Dr. Jones was the head of the Senior Committee, also composed of Chuck Ironmonger, Wes Lawson, Mike Smith, Jennifer Vitale, and Dr. Heidi Hulsizer, which was tasked to be in charge of filling the position of Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police. There were 151 applicants from all over the country, all of which were reviewed, and Chief Brown was selected as the best candidate. He is the graduate of the FBI academy, a member of the Virginia Criminal Justice Services Board, and has served for the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. He has also created innovative programs, such as police aid programs where students work with police. Jones says that recently the need for police with more skills in public safety has risen. “We have an environment where people expect more,” he says, “so we doubt that we will have any more Virginia Tech’s.” He mentions the incident with the ATM’s this past summer and this fall as an example of how the police can react to occurrences. Jones says that the campus police are trying to modernize their structures, procedures, and efforts so that they can respond to incidents faster and alert students, such as through the new system for email and text alerts after emergencies.

This ENS, or emergency notification system, was one of the things that was put in right in place after the Virginia Tech shooting, says Tommy Shomo, the Director of Marketing and Communications. For three years, the system was never even turned on, other than for testing. However, in recent years, Hampden-Sydney has dealt with shots fired on Atkinson Avenue, the first residence hall fire in a hundred years, along with a number of other issues that nobody would have thought the school would have to deal with. “So,” Shomo says, “one of the issues that I think was under discussion here was the level of preparedness of the department to deal with the unforeseen.” Regarding Chief Brown, “He was hired, in my opinion, and based on the statements we put out, to deal with those issues of preparedness and response to emergencies or to critical situations.” Shomo commented “remember that Chief Brown is not in a policy making job, and neither was Jeff Gee… He is responsible for administering whatever policy is set.”

I decided to talk to Chief Brown, who would be carrying out these policies himself. When we got down to business, he tells me that the first twenty years of his career were in municipal law enforcement. His first job was as an officer in the City of Riverdale Park, right outside of Washington D.C. When he moved out of the area and moved to Blacksburg in 1982, he quickly progressed through the ranks and left Blacksburg in 1990 as a Lieutenant. He served as the Chief of Police in the City of Covington and then as the Chief of Police for Prince George County before serving at CNU for 13 years.

I asked Chief Brown directly about several concerns that many of us share. When asked if he was planning of changing anything, he reminded me that he was not a policy maker, and was just going to be carrying out Hampden Sydney’s previously set policies. When I asked him if he was planning on enforcing any policies more than in the past, he said “I’ve found our officers to be extremely competent and capable, and at this point I have told them to continue policing as they have. At this point there has been no stricter enforcement or less enforcement.” When I suggested the idea that he would come in and start changing things, he seemed to laugh at the idea, and talked to me about his ninety day evaluation program that he is doing where he is meeting with all of the staff, student leaders and other law enforcement and public safety officials in the area to see what is going good or bad before making decisions. And when I brought up the possible repression or banning of alcohol Chief Brown, again, laughed at the idea. He said “I’ve heard a lot of those rumors and speculations, that there’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s from CNU, and that was a dry campus.” He went on to explain  “What they had was no alcohol in residence halls, but there was alcohol at tailgating events, and there was alcohol at performing art events…so I don’t know where this ‘CNU is a dry campus’ comes from, because it’s not.” Chief Brown also says that he has no intentions of making Sydney a dry campus because it is not the policy of the college. “Alcohol is part of a developmental process that students go through, it’s experiential, it’s not something that a police chief comes in and says ‘I’m doing away with it,’” Brown says. When asked about the rumors of police officers going into fraternity houses and handing out tickets for underage drinking, Brown says that this is not happening, and encourages anybody who knows about that happening to let him know.

Having known Chief Brown for the past 14 years through conferences, Assistant Chief Gee says that Chief Brown is a great guy, and that he has all the respect in the world for him. “If this thing had to happen, I can’t think of any one I’d rather have in this position than Jeff Brown” he says. Commenting on the changes under Chief Brown, Gee says that there will be no changes in campus lifestyle or living. However, campus police will be better equipped and funded than ever before under his supervision. And as far as Chief Brown’s policing style, Gee doesn’t think there will be much of a difference. He sees more structure in the police force in the future, but sees his and Brown’s philosophies as very similar. As far as Assistant Chief Gee’s role, he said that it hasn’t really changed much, despite the change in title. “I just have somebody to answer to” he says to me, adding on jokingly that it could be a good thing. Jeff Gee has served for eighteen years, as of this November, on the police force at Hampden-Sydney, of which fourteen of those have been as police chief. An exemplary officer, Gee says that he has never received less than an “excellent” on a performance evaluation. Both President Howard and Dr. Jones thank him for staying. Quoting President Howard, “I have a deep and abiding respect for Jeff Gee, and I thank him for his continued service before this date and going forward. I thank him for that, and hold him in high esteem.”

To the students of Hampden-Sydney, Gee had these words: “Whatever has happened has happened, and we can’t go back. I’m still committed to making HSC and keeping HSC safe and the fine place that it is. I’m still here, and with the backing of Jeff Brown and with us working together, there is no way that we can’t accomplish some great things. I appreciate everyone’s support through the years and I hope it will continue. Chief Brown is the man now and he needs everyone’s support as well, and he most certainly has mine.”

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Local Eats: The Bakery

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Damien Sharp ’15, Staff Writer

          For ten years, Philip Fenaux, a Belgian immigrant, has brought the atmosphere of a small European bakery to the town of Farmville. The Bakery, located on Main Street in Old Town Farmville, offers some of the freshest and most delicious food in town.

            Offering a light breakfast and a wide variety of lunch items, The Bakery is known for its unique and sophisticated menu. For breakfast they offer omelets made with local eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a assortment of decadent pastries—ranging from rich chocolate croissants to classic cheese danishes.

            I can say with confidence that you will not find sandwiches like theirs anywhere else in the town of Farmville; their sandwiches go above and beyond the typical ham and cheese. The Bakery brings a twist to the typical sandwich shop menu, offering items from ham and Brie to smoked salmon with cream cheese, chopped onion, and capers. As well as a favorite among many, the fresh tomato and mozzarella sandwich is served with fresh basil, coarse sea salt, and vinaigrette. Each of their sandwiches is served on your choice of one of their homemade freshly baked breads

            Their cheese assortment is incomparable and partners well with their large selection of wines—domestic and imported. The Bakery offers wines from Argentina, Chile, France, German, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, and Spain; who knew you could become so vastly cultured ten minutes from campus? However, I am sure that the Hampden-Sydney men also reading this review could care less about their wide selection. For you gentlemen, The Bakery also offers an array of imported beer, so when you are ready to splurge beyond the classic Natural or Keystone Light, I suggest you indulge in the offerings at The Bakery.

            Entering into The Bakery is more than just walking into your typical restaurant. If the warm and inviting atmosphere is not enough to bring you in, the wafting aroma of freshly baked breads surely will. I am pleased to write that The Bakery is among one of my favorites in the town of Farmville. It offers something rare and unique in this town that ought to be appreciated as such. I highly recommend that you let your palate experience the great items The Bakery has to offer; it is a favorite among many and I am sure you will enjoy it too. With that said, until next time—cheers and happy eating. 

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Code of Conduct Cases – Tiger Fall 2013 – Week 6-8

10/1       A student was sanctioned for simple assault.  His sanctions:  Reprimand for two semesters and meeting with the Student Court Chairman.

10/8       A student was sanctioned for a UPA and DIP.  His sanctions:  AP for two semesters and  health and wellness education.

10/16     Three students were sanctioned for causing damage to another student’s property.  Their sanctions:  Restitution for damages incurred.

10/16     Two students were sanctioned for being in a verbal altercation.  Their sanctions:  Reprimand for two semesters and meeting with the Student Court Chairman.

Reprimand: A written censure indicating the likelihood of more severe disciplinary action in the event further infractions occur within a specified period.

AP – Alcohol Probation:  A specified period during which a student may neither possess nor consume alcohol on campus, nor may he return to campus after having consumed alcohol.

DIP – Drunk in Public

DP – Disciplinary Probation: A specified period during which a student’s conduct will be closely scrutinized. Certain privileges may be suspended. Violation of the terms of the probation or of the Code is likely to result in suspension or expulsion from the College.

UPA – Underage Possession of Alcohol.

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Classical With Attitude

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Jonathan Campbell ’16, Guest Writer

On Thursday, October 17, the pianist, Barron Ryan, performed his concert “Classical with Attitude”, a mix of ragtime, jazz, and classical music.  This approach not only allows Ryan to mix genres in a new and creative way, but also allows him to blend the different kinds of music that he loves. Ryan’s style, while influenced by composers and musicians such as George Gershwin, Nikolai Kapustin, and Oscar Peterson, also introduces listeners to types of music that they may have never heard before and in a way that is also new to those who are familiar or even fans of the music.

From the very first song, Nikolai Kapustin’s “Prelude” from his “Eight Concert Etudes, Op. 40, I was impressed by how many notes could be played on the piano at one time.  Although Ryan admitted to me after the performance that he struggled a little bit through the first few pieces, from my point of view his performance seemed nearly effortless.  The audience’s reaction to Ryan’s performance was immediately apparent; not only did the applause drown out Ryan’s “thank yous” in between pieces, but he was even called back for an encore after a standing ovation.  Parker Dunaway even said that, “In the time I’ve spent as Dr. Salvage’s assistant, I’ve never seen one performer sell that many CD’s.”  What truly struck me about Ryan was not only his unique take on music and his own style, but also his friendliness.  He was not only quick to answer questions, but also to explain each piece, including the origin, a few words about the composer, and how the piece fit into the genre as a whole before he sat down to play.

Ryan started playing piano when he was four years old, inspired by his father, a professional musician, and his mother, who also plays the piano.  Ryan believes that the piano is “one of the few instruments on which you can play every part of the music you have” (a quality of the piano that was very apparent in Ryan’s performance, especially apparent to me in “Prelude” by Nikolai Kapustin from his “Eight Concert Etudes, Op. 40 in which the bass notes jump in and out of the piece while the right hand almost nearly solos at times with the treble notes).  “I try to speak to what I think people know… and I try to be approachable.”  Ryan also said that, “I want to make it so that it’s fun and that it’s relatable.”  Later in my interview with him, I asked Ryan what his advice was to aspiring musicians or artists of any kind, he offered a very interesting take on the question: “Develop a story that’s genuine.”  Ryan believes that this doesn’t just mean that an individual should develop his or her own story, but also be able to place his or her art within the discipline as a whole. “Always be in a position to learn,” Ryan said. “You are never at a point where you know everything and where you can’t benefit from somebody else.”

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B-Room – Dr. Dog

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David Williams ’14

3 stars

B-Room

Dr. Dog

Dr. Dog’s seventh studio album is a new start for the band. Recorded at a new house and studio in their hometown of Philadelphia, this new album does not break the mold the band has built with their last two albums. Continuing to look back at the 60’s and 70’s surf and psychedelic bands, B-room sounds like the soundtrack to a 70’s movie. However, this album lets you down when compared to past albums, like We all Belong and Fate, by not producing a take away hit. There is simply no song on the album that you’ll remember and hum as you walk.

In losing the horns and branching out into the psychedelic, Dr. Dog has lost some of their soul. The older albums had a sense of reinventing the tired surf rock and British invasion-era pop that so heavily influenced the folk rock that the band used to create. There is nothing really new about B-room, and that’s truly the problem with the album. Instead of listening to Dr. Dog’s take on the Doors, it’s easier and more rewarding to listen to the source of inspiration. Dr. Dog lost their spark for creating and experimenting with old sounds, and in doing so, has lost the drive in their songs and produced an album that’s enjoyable to listen to, but not a memorable experience.

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Improvement through Abandoning American Exceptionalism

David Williams ’14, Staff Writer

Many people in the US maintain the belief that the United States is different from every other country in the world because of our beliefs and foundations. This belief, termed “American Exceptionalism”, has morphed into a way to proclaim that the United States of America is the best country in the world. However, this set of beliefs is dangerous to hold at a time when this nation is on the edge of a systematic change in the function of our government.

With the recent government shutdown, it is easy to see that at least one of the systems we rely on to run our country has fallen to a point where we can no longer claim that we have created the best government and culture in the world. By insulating ourselves in an intellectual comfort blanket, we are losing the ability to adapt our government system, economy and culture. Without looking to other countries for successful methods of dealing with the problems that have been plaguing our country recently, we cannot expect to maintain the high level of functioning that we have at least perceived during our country’s existence.

If you look at the statistics that the CIA collects and publishes in its World Fact Book, it is easy to see that the US does not have the best policies when looking at certain factors. Most damning to this perception of our supposed dominance is the fact that 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. It is clear that we have a system that is broken if we are leaving behind 15% of our country at a point when we classify them as in need of assistance to maintain their needs. While we maintain the largest economy in the world, we have a distribution of ownership of funds that is similar to that of a lesser developed nation. The United States has the 41st most concentrated income distribution in the world. The top ten percent of income earners in our country maintain 30 percent of the wealth. We have to look to other nations and their ways of promoting income distribution in order to renew the ability of the United States to continue developing our economy and maintain our standard of living.

The current strain of “American Exceptionalism” is a dangerous belief. By putting ourselves so far above the rest of the world, we prevent ourselves from realizing the policies that are best for creating the country that we envision ourselves living in as well as improving the country that we live in now.

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