Thursday, September 29, 2005

Back to school

It's fall. Kids are back in school, and students are back on campus. It's a good time to consider why they're there.
Just a few weeks ago, I read in the D about PJ Halas, Class of 1998. His great uncle George founded the Chicago Bears, and PJ lived up to the family name, co-captaining the basketball team his senior year at Dartmouth and coaching at a high school team following graduation. He was also a history teacher, and, this summer, he was arrested for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old student. These stories demonstrate that it takes more than a Dartmouth degree to build character. As former Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey said, at Dartmouth our business is learning. And I’ll have to agree with the motto of Faber College, featured in the movie Animal House, “Knowledge is Good.” But if all we get from this place is knowledge, we’ve missed something. There’s one subject that you won’t learn about in class, one topic that orientation didn’t cover, and that your UGA won’t mention: character. What is the purpose of our education? Why are we at Dartmouth? ... As you begin your four years here, you’ve got to come to some conclusions about your own character because you won’t get it by just going to class. What is the content of your character? Who are you? And how will you become what you need to be?
In this particular selection, what's omitted by the elipsis (...) is pretty telling and the author is getting flack for that at least as much as daring to mention criminal acts by Dartmouth grads. I'll try and quell any claims that I'm a hypocrite by stating that if the author had been of another faith and used it to make his points, I would not find that offensive; it would be a learning opportunity. I'm curious to know what others think - especially you typically religion shy Canadians out there.

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