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Freshmen Mary Kate Boyle, Madeline Hedrick, Ian English, and Sara Garfinkle (L to R) helped revive the Fair­field Society, writing a new mission statement and con­sti­tution for the club.

The Fair­field Society is being res­ur­rected from its time of inac­tivity. Freshmen Mary Kate Boyle, Madeline Hedrick, Ian English, and Sara Garfinkle have been handed the reigns of the society that began more than 20 years ago on Hillsdale’s campus.

The Fair­field Society, named after Hillsdale’s first pres­ident, Edmund Burke Fair­field, began around 1995, and for many years was a strong orga­ni­zation on campus. John Somerville, pro­fessor of English, and John Willson, an emeritus history pro­fessor, were the original faculty advisors for the Fair­field Society, and Somerville is still the faculty advisor.

Somerville said that the society orig­i­nally began as group dis­cus­sions with stu­dents and pro­fessors talking about serious issues. Most of the original members grad­uated in the late ’90s, before Larry Arnn was pres­ident of the college.

“There was a group of stu­dents and some faculty who would be eating in the cafe­teria, and they would be talking about issues… The spirit was very col­legial, har­mo­nious,” Somerville said.

The original group that started Fair­field Society focused on the­o­logical issues.

“Overall, we were looking for an expression of the­o­logical reflection that wasn’t pre­sented else­where,” Jonathan Den Hartog, the 1996 – 1997 Fair­field Society pres­ident, said. “Many early members didn’t believe the admin­is­tration did enough to cul­tivate thoughtful Chris­tianity, while other student groups encouraged piety but not deep intel­lectual engagement.”

The group wanted to pre­serve those col­legial and har­mo­nious dis­cus­sions, Somerville said, so they gave these dis­cus­sions the for­mality of a club and called it the Fair­field Society.

“The intention at the beginning was to try to maintain, to con­tinue to cul­tivate this kind of oppor­tunity for dis­cussion of serious matters,” Somerville said.

For years, the Fair­field Society was active and had dis­cus­sions, and for some time weekly meetings. The Fair­field Society occa­sionally held panel dis­cus­sions on important issues, many the­o­logical dis­cus­sions, and even some movie nights. But in more recent years, the Fair­field Society began to decline, and ceased to be the active presence on campus that it once was.

Within the past several months, however, some freshmen began dis­cussing how they wanted a group on campus that would promote dis­cussion among all stu­dents about a variety of prevalent and modern issues. Freshmen Ian English and Madeline Hedrick spear­headed this ini­tiative. Around election time this past November, English and Hedrick talked about how they wanted to promote con­ver­sation about important issues in our society among the many dif­ferent per­spec­tives on campus.

“We had the idea to form a group that would talk about these things and bring about con­ver­sation and not be one per­spective, but bring about all per­spec­tives,” English said.

They planned to start a brand new club, but then heard that the Fair­field Society was still tech­ni­cally in exis­tence and its original purpose was to promote dis­cussion and con­ver­sation like this. They then decided to take over the Fair­field Society and try to revive it.

“There’s already funding, there’s already some name recog­nition among pro­fessors and speakers, so we took we took over in January and have been trying to rebuild the club since,” English said.

The team is now writing a con­sti­tution and mission statement for the society because it had existed for years without either.

“In order to improve the hearts and minds of Hillsdale stu­dents, the Fair­field Society seeks to foster dis­cussion from a variety of per­spec­tives on civic, philo­sophical, and the­o­logical life as it relates to our mutual pursuit of truth,” reads the newly-for­mu­lated mission statement.

The Fair­field Society is also putting on events. Its first event is a film viewing of “White Helmets” at 7 p.m. April 6 in Lane 125. “White Helmets” is a doc­u­mentary about vol­unteer rescue workers and the dangers they face daily in Syria and Turkey. The Fair­field Society’s second event is a panel dis­cussion on the legal­ization of drugs, and will be held April 20.

“The Fair­field Society encourages all stu­dents of all per­spec­tives to come and par­tic­ipate,” Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Director of the society Mary Kate Boyle said. “It’s some­thing that is applicable to everyone. No matter what your views are, you are welcome, and we’d love you to par­tic­ipate. And we are really focused on rel­evant issues. We’re talking about things that people actually care about.”