As I was walking to class the other day, I realized how important this past week has been for Springfield College.
Just a week ago, the President released the school’s new logo and message. Our new Peace Pole was planted securely outside Weiser Hall where it will stand for many years to come. And Tom Waddell Day, an emotional, thought-provoking, and inspirational tribute to one of Springfield College’s greatest Alums. He was a three sport athlete, a physician, a paratrooper, and a father… and he happened to be gay.
Add in the 16 wonderful professors who are retiring this year, and one could almost argue that Springfield is entering a new era.
This re-branding has given Springfield College a great opportunity to reclaim much of its past. Many people, including myself, weren’t even aware of the amazing social justice and civil rights stories that our school can claim. Glenn Olds, the maverick president that, despite much pressure, openly invited MLK to speak at the 1964 commencement There’s also the women at Springfield who pushed and pushed until they too were allowed to play sports. Mary-Beth Cooper, our thirteenth president, is a woman and many would agree that she’s doing a pretty great job.
And while these old stories are important for so many reasons, we have some new stories as well. Rob Kearney, a strong presence on campus and world renowned strong man competitor, came out as gay this past summer. Also, the school’s diversity inclusion survey was a big indicator that we, as a whole, are moving in a positive direction.
From day one I felt like part of this community. Springfield is a friendly place with an amazing mission statement (if you don’t know it, you should). However, we are not perfect. I’m a heterosexual white male. I’ve felt no prejudice, I’ve never been oppressed, and while I would love to say that everyone who has attended Springfield College has had the same awesome experience as me, I know it’s not true.
There’s no one to blame specifically for this. You can’t point a finger at a higher up on campus, it’s not necessarily there fault. Springfield College is a school heavily rooted in tradition, and sports. You can’t forget the sports.
For years when issues of race and sexuality were brought up, I can only imagine that it was brushed under the rug and forgotten about. Tom Waddell, one of the most accomplished athletes; arguably, to ever play here was not inducted into the Springfield College athletic hall of fame until 1990.
So, where am I going with all of this? I’ve laid out more than enough examples, but why does it matter? It matters because I feel proud to be a part of Springfield College, and I’m sure many of you are too.