We all love Hillsdale. If we don’t, we get out of here. The school is growing more selective every year. The more it stands by its mission and motto, expands the core and opposes grade inflation, the more self-selective it becomes as well. Much of the student body knows why they came here, and what keeps them here. It is an undeniably charmed existence we lead here.
It has become fashionable, however — and human nature being what it is implies that it has always been fashionable — to be cynical. It is a hardly surprising but no less sad state of affairs when students so soon out of high school — even seniors are only four years removed, a small enough passage of time growing relatively smaller with age — decide that by some magic the blinders of adolescence are off and that whatever criticism they have for authorities in their life are not only legitimate, but also comprehend the whole of the matter.
Being 17 to 20-something should hardly be considered grounds for further confidence in your ability to grasp the motivations and intentions of another person, especially one who has been given a far greater responsibility than yourself.
Idiosyncrasies of community are inescapable, all the more so in one so small and tightly-knit as Hillsdale. We students know the peculiarities of the faculty, staff, and administration of the school because we have been given the privilege to know them. The visibility of those tics and oddities evidence Hillsdale’s particular humaneness.
It is easy enough to become frustrated with the administration, to suspect its faces of incompetence or mild mischief when you don’t understand a policy or ruling. It doesn’t make sense, and I know better, never mind I sit here from a classroom desk, you think. You may be right; you may know better at times and there may be mundane human depravity at work in whatever legislative solecism you find so unconscionable.
But at the root of things, it’s a person who you’re mad at. Hillsdale has an administration that may at times behave bureaucratically, but it does not have a bureaucracy. The dean’s office, et al. are made up of people you have the privilege to know, and the burden of being upset by. Dean of Men Aaron Petersen, Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé, Associate Dean of Men Jeffery Rogers, and the rest of them will inevitably upset you. House mothers, following orders or by their own volition, will upset you. Be grateful you have the opportunity to be upset by human beings, not memos.
To be cynical, to ignore the wonder of the community of love and of shared loves you are a part of here — if you have forgotten what that is, or if you are a freshman, I beseech you to read or watch on YouTube last year’s 2014 senior class president Josh Andrew’s commencement address — is an inexcusable pride. You acknowledge another’s humanity when you acknowledge and accept their apparent failures. Read Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:4 – 7, and try to hear it as the first time:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Instead of turning to cynicism, and judging the motivations, which you cannot know, of those in authority over you here at Hillsdale, attempt to love, in whatever the circumstance, whether that be food service or off-campus housing permission. Be patient. Honor authorities as they are. Flee anger. Forgive wrongs. Seek the truth before passing judgment. Protect the community you have adopted. Believe that those in authority seek to perform their duties well. Hope that they are and will do so. Persevere in every frustration of life together. In that spirit of love, a word of question and correction can be given in humility.