Laying the Foundation

August 24, 2020

Campus is looking different already, and nostalgia is rampant. We miss our organization events, our cafeteria, our parties. 

It’s said that nostalgia is not a good thing; its literal meaning is, “the disease of memory.” But it happens. Humans can’t avoid it. What we need to do with these feelings of missing “how things used to be” is try to remember Millikin pre-COVID with intense clarity.

We need to remember the bad things as much as we remember the good things.

There are truly good parts about Millikin: education, community, support-systems, and so much opportunity that it can be overwhelming.

Elements of Millikin also perpetuate systemic racism. There is homophobia, transphobia, and many different types of prejudice. Students overwork themselves into burnout and compassion fatigue. There is sexism and rape culture.

Even if Millikin is “better than some/most universities,” having these traits means that coming to Millikin can damage peoples’ minds if they are not careful: if they meet the wrong friends, go to the wrong party, find themselves in the path of violence.

Upperclassmen can do the remembering. 

Think about all the lessons you’ve learned. Don’t leave this university without sharing them. Share your stories and realizations with underclassmen because they will be the ones tasked with laying the new foundation of this University.

Making Millikin better will have national benefits. If Millikin finally snuffs out the flames of toxic culture and creates a healthy environment after COVID-19 has passed, thousands of students will someday attend a Millikin that will be better than before.

Freshmen can’t know how to change the world until they know what to change. 

Upperclassmen: you can give them an idea.

You can also show them what Millikin has taught you: a good community can make a world of difference. Still practice what you remember. Welcome freshmen with open arms. Give them hope because they will give you hope. Continue to make memories, even if they look different than how they were before.

Millikin’s story won’t stop.

Millikin has made it through the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, both World Wars, the Vietnam War, and the Recession of 2008. 

So has the Decaturian. We have been here from the beginning, and we don’t plan on going away. In fact, we’ll be ramping up. We will be doing our part to keep telling Millikin’s story.

Without the paper, students are more likely to suffer in silence. They will learn about fewer of their fellow students. They will not be in-touch.

The Decaturian will be changing, too. And we have a team that will simply kick ass.

We have wonderful returning writers who now have years of experience working with our staff. We have new writers who will learn and teach us as we work together. We also want to welcome anyone else who wants to join — the more the merrier. 

And we have seniors on our staff who refuse to leave without working hard to give Millikin the best student journalism you’ve ever seen. This includes Sports Editor Jordan Diver, Arts Editor Caleb Kelch, and Editor-in-Chief Athena Pajer (yours truly).

Each of us has been working for the Decaturian for nearly three years. We have made mistakes, we have failed, we have needed to take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror and asked, “Is this the right thing to do?” Through all of these things, we have only become more sure of how important students are to the world and how important it is for your voice to be heard.

We will be those upperclassmen to share our lessons. 

Read your student newspaper. You can learn about what your community is up to even if things aren’t like normal. Even if you aren’t on-campus at all. 

All of our articles will be going out online, but we will also have print issues once every two weeks, featuring our top articles. 

The Decaturian staff would also like to take a moment to give you one final message before the semester begins:

If we practice here, making a more inclusive, more open, more equal, more caring, supportive and understanding environment at Millikin, we can go out into the world and do the same thing. 

The way to start is by showing every single person on campus that you care about them by practicing as much safety as you can. A culture of compliance is not the same as a culture of conformity. By following the rules now, we will be able to experience more freedoms sooner.

We are extending our warmest regards to our readers — students, faculty, administrators, alumni and others — in this difficult time. We hope that you remain safe and have a fulfilling semester.

And to all freshmen, from the bottom of our hearts: Welcome to Millikin.

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