Staff Editorial: Reconnecting with our roots

It is a sacred place with the ability to create and sustain community. It is sturdy in its wisdom, down to its very roots. It is a rustle of leaves in the cool autumn breeze and a well-trodden path made for soul-searching. It is the Guilford woods.

It is a place that has been under question lately. The unity it creates has recently given way to a tense and heated debate between Guilford College administration and students. Over the course of this debate, the woods have been labeled “trashy,” a place of loud, late-night, drunken parties.

If a stranger to Guilford only read the headlines or only listened to the casual conversations floating around campus, this stranger would most likely place the picture of the Guilford woods right along with the party scene of college.

Have we forgotten the greater significance of our woods?

The plain and simple truth is, no, we haven’t.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Eva Lawrence recently published a study in the Journal of Environmental Education entitled, “Visitation to Natural Areas on Campus and its Relation to Place Identity and Environmentally Responsible Behaviors.” This study focuses on the relationship Guilford College students have with natural areas on campus.

“Participants reported that their primary reason for visiting the lake or woods was to enjoy nature,” said Lawrence. “At least among the participants in this study, partying was a very rare reason. Only 2 of 85 said that, and it was not their primary reason.”

This can tell us where our true values lie. The woods are a unique and vital part of the Guilford family. Guilford is one of the few colleges in the nation that actually claims a natural wooded area as part of campus. These woods hold a power that dates back to the times of the Underground Railroad and continues to inspire spiritual connection today.

“Those who visited the lake or woods more frequently reported that they felt attached to those areas, and were also more likely to engage in environmentally friendly behaviors,” said Lawrence.

It is this sense of connection, this awareness of being a piece of the greater whole that drives Guilford students to be good stewards of their natural surroundings. The woods are not defined by trashiness. They do not solely serve as a party place for students. In reality, they are a part of our unique community, a part that has been underappreciated as of late.

Whether we admit it or not, we crave the connection. So, here’s a challenge that will prove most unchallenging. Reconnect. Dare to see the woods in all their splendor. Explore the wooded path that awaits you. Who knows? You may fall in love with nature all over again.

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