Pomp and Circumstance

On April 11, I was lucky enough to attend Kent Chabotar’s inauguration. The event was a great experience, and I’m glad I attended.
When Ruffin Hobbs strolled into the Field House playing bagpipes, I’ll confess that I was a bit ruffled, but I got used to the sound after a few moments and watched the procession. Some of the robes they draped around the bodies of the alumni and faculty were … interesting to see, particularly the hats.

These outfits made quite a sight coming through the aisle between the chairs, especially since I had to pay close attention to all these details for The Guilfordian.

Guilford supposedly follows a tradition of simplicity – what was the purpose of that ceremony in the Field House? It was lavish, decadent, and all those other adjectives that describe something done overmuch.
Honestly, do we need to put up metal scaffolding, draperies, and swirling lights to officially welcome a new president? Wouldn’t a reception on the lawn in front of Founders work just as well, without spending all the money Chabotar was discussing in his speech?

There’s a lot of that on campus, though. We spend money where we don’t need to and neglect the things that really need our attention – the front door in Milner, for instance. The door looked and smelled beautiful as unpainted wood, yet we coated it in a smelly layer of white glop. How does that fit in with Chabotar’s plan?

I digress, though; on to the speeches. Jim Hood’s welcome to Chabotar sounded more like one old friend teasing another for something out of their past. Even Joseph Bryan’s speeches were less impersonal and formal than I expected.

Almost everyone who got up in front of the microphone sounded cool and poised, but human enough to smile or crack a joke, especially the man of the occasion. Chabotar was relaxed enough to pull a few faces at members of the audience while the processional was going on, and he laughed along with the audience when speakers poked fun at him. I’ve never seen anything quite like it; in my experience, speeches are formal, reserved things instead of the lively, comic words Guilford heard.
I guess it’s because of the atmosphere here; I mean hell, we call professors by their first names, everyone is treated as an equal in discussions, and things are done by consensus. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that our speakers take an unusual approach when coming up before the mike.

Finally, thank God this president wants to clean up Milner! I’m sitting here, in my dorm, trying to make the rusty old piece of junk spit out something besides lukewarm air, and I think how wonderful it would be to have working cooling systems in the hall. If Chabotar gets rid of the air conditioners in Milner’s windows and replaces them with something better, I’ll graduate with my faith restored in the goodness of humanity.
Kent, be advised – you’ve got three years to make good on your promises to this freshman. My advice: keep up the good work.