Dear Editor,

The idea that a college owes no con­sid­er­ation to the opinions of its stu­dents is just as dan­gerous as the now-popular idea that it should cater to their every whim. I have kept this belief of mine in rel­ative silence throughout the last year and a half, within which Hillsdale College undertook some sig­nif­icant endeavors without gauging the thoughts of stu­dents or faculty. Last week, however, I was truly dis­heartened when I saw a piece in the Col­legian written by Jenna Suchyta entitled “The College Pursues its Mission with a Chapel. We Should Too.”

Suchyta makes the claim that the stu­dents of Hillsdale College (who are the reason for the institution’s exis­tence, lest we forget) are not entitled to any kind of rep­re­sen­tation in the deci­sions made about the future of our school. Her next argument, however, demon­strated a mis­un­der­standing of Hillsdale College’s purpose. In an effort to illus­trate her point, she com­pares the stu­dents of this insti­tution to nothing more than cus­tomers at a com­mercial mega­store.

Glossing over the offense that Hillsdale might feel at being por­trayed as a Walmart, the argument is pre­pos­terous. One does not become a “Wal­martian” by stopping off to buy snack food and bottled water for one’s dorm-room refrig­erator. One does, however, become a Hills­dalian by par­taking in the school’s enriching edu­ca­tional tra­dition. We have all heard Pres­ident Larry Arnn’s iconic refrain at fundraisers, ori­en­ta­tions, and parents’ lun­cheons: “College means part­nership.” Our school claims that, as stu­dents here, we have joined the insti­tution as partners, not sub­jects. We have become a part of a com­munity for the rest of our lives.

The stu­dents of this school have a vested interest in its future, and they are more a part of it than harried cus­tomers who thought­lessly flow in and out of auto­matic doors. We are not here for the benefit of the faculty, the admin­is­tration, or the donors. They are all here because they believe in for­warding the mission: to benefit the stu­dents by fur­nishing us with “a lit­erary, sci­en­tific or the­o­logical edu­cation.” This school is meant to prepare us for self-gov­ernment, but can it do that without allowing us into the con­ver­sation?


Pearce Pomerleau