Vassar College

Convocation Remarks, Sam Charner, V.S.A. President

Thank you, Cappy.

Today marks a passage for all of the students here: freshmen become sophomores, sophomores become juniors, and juniors become seniors.  For us seniors, we technically become alumni, but I would prefer to ignore this fact for as long as possible. To put this off, we have our class picture right after convocation and then we head over to alumni house.

Over the past few weeks, I have been remembering a lot of things from my four years here. Do you remember the day you moved into Vassar? Do you remember the first time you went to the mug? Or saw a squirrel carrying a bagel? Or the first time your roommate “locked you out of your room”? Do you remember campus before VPrint? Or that one glorious week before facebook hit Vassar? Do you remember the deli, and ACDC before ancho chicken wraps?

Do you remember the time when you didn’t know how to pronounce “hegemony”? Do you remember Bob Saget standing exactly where I’m standing, and thinking to yourself “Ahhh, that’s Danny Tanner”? Do you remember when there were no round a bouts?

Do you remember yourself, freshman year. Would you recognize yourself? Would you be friends with yourself? What would you say to your freshman-year self? I would say, “Hey Sam. Why aren’t you involved in anything yet? Go… Go out and do something!” But really. Think about how much you’ve changed since freshman year.

These are the experiences that have marked our time at Vassar. Isn’t it strange to think that most of us only get four years here? That each of our mailboxes will be given to a member of the class of 2012? Our rooms have already been given to someone for next year. Other people will take the classes we took and write the same papers we had to write. But no one else will have those experiences that have made our time here unique.

We can now take what we have learned in the last 4 years, leave Vassar, and enter the real world. Equipped with our degrees, and varying levels of caffeine dependency, we can strive to make a difference in the world.

    Vassar is unique in the opportunities it provides for us, both inside and outside the classroom. And we are unique in how we have used them. There are people and professors who have changed us and taught us a great deal. Think about how these people have impacted you.

    I have also been thinking of what Vassar will be like in 50 years. How will it change? And how will it stay the same? How will the institution tackle the problems of tomorrow? I strongly believe that we must re-dedicate ourselves to a multi-disciplinary curriculum. This is where we will find the solutions to today’s problems.

    This has been a somewhat unusual year, both on campus and in the national political scene. My prediction in the fall that each party would have a nominee has not come true. And no one is sure when this will occur. The college and the students have been challenged in many ways this year, bringing to light the need for more cooperation between administration, students, and faculty. As an institution, we must dedicate ourselves to asking the big questions that can slip away in our busy lives, to thinking before we act, and using the best available information to make decisions.

We must also act together. Every single part of the college, every office and every person

is here to fulfill our mission. Which, according to our mission statement, is to provide the means of a thorough, well-proportioned, and liberal education. Only when departments and offices work together will we be able to accomplish this mission. No office or department owns a part of the mission, it can only be fulfilled by cooperation and a willingness to put aside territory and turf and work together.

    This also means recognizing the important role students play in the governance of the college. Including students in important decisions is vital to fulfilling Vassar’s mission. As we are who the college exists to serve. Because of the changes to room draw relating to the closing of Davison, VSA elections have not occurred and thus I have no successor to pass the gavel to.

While I will not be able to pass on the gavel and the official VSA pink bobbling headband today, this will happen in 8 days. I encourage you to vote in the spring elections, which begin tonight at 8pm. I have great faith in the candidates, and know that next year the VSA will be in good hands. Remember to vote!

    I must now thank two sets of people. First, to the executive board this year: Morgan, Summer's-Grace, Jess Cho, Jimmy, and Jess Wong. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I could not have made it through this year without you and I wanted to acknowledge all the hard work you have done this year.

    Also, to the senior class officers: Colin, Perkha, Becca, and Kara. Thank you for all the time you have spent planning great events for us this year, and I am looking forward to senior week in a few weeks.

    To our class: the next 25 days are about us. It is time to celebrate our accomplishments.

We have produced theses, written hundreds and hundred of pages, read more books than I care to count, and overcome many challenges. Have fun at Founder’s Day and senior week. This is the time to enjoy our last few days at Vassar.

    Congratulations!

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