Monthly Archives: January 2011

Lessons from Martin Luther King Jr. Observance


Smith Chapel filled with students and faculty for Monday’s ceremony

Simpson held its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Observance on Monday, January 17 in Smith Chapel. Whether students attended for course credit, to check a forum event off the list or simply out of interest, it would have been hard for any student to walk away without a fresh perspective.

Arguably, the keynote address from Ed C. Barnes, executive director of Willkie House, Inc., provided the most moving and memorable piece of the event. Central to his speech, Barnes challenged the audience to find truth, oppose wrong, protect innocence, promote good and do right, five principles outlined by King.

Hearing this challenge led me to question exactly how we, as a Simpson community, can live up to these five values. My answer: take advantage of the small opportunities to do good. Classes, jobs and commitments keep us all busy and it remains a daunting challenge to truly incorporate King’s five principles into daily living. However, it’s not hard to find small opportunities to live out these values around Simpson’s campus.

On Saturday, January 16, RLC held the Five Dollar Formal and Beggar’s Banquet to raise used clothing and canned food to donate to SIFE’s (Students in Free Enterprise) food drive for Campbell’s “Let’s Can Hunger” project. Students were encouraged to attend in a $5 outfit, making it a fun and quirky way to contribute. While final numbers were not available as of this posting, an estimate from Erin Guzman, the chapel intern of spiritual formation and celebration, shows that the event raised over 200 items of clothing.

If you attended and contributed, congratulations for being a part of an important cause. Whether you did or did not attend, keep your ears open in the future. Next time you get word of a group or organization on campus hosting a philanthropy or community service event, organize your own group and friends and secure as many people as possible to lend their support. Time and again, this “grassroots” method works for SGA, Greek chapters and other groups, so you might be surprised by the response you receive.

Consider it a small opportunity to do good.


Fun Fridays: Three reasons I’m glad I took literature classes


Literature can seem like a real bore at times

I’ve decided that each Friday, I’ll be running an installment called “Fun Fridays.” It’s really just an opportunity for me to share some more personal thoughts and perspective, however, I hope you find it interesting as I’ll always try to relate it to the Simpson community.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about another complaint I hear frequently. Many of my peers don’t seem to understand the need to take literature courses as part of their liberal arts education. I’ll be the first to admit that at times during both the literature courses I’ve taken here, I’ve cursed the books I had to read, their authors and yes, even the professors (anything negative I ever thought about a professor I took back soon after). Yet, after two consecutive semesters of literature, I’ve come up with three reasons I’m glad I took the courses.

1. Literature has solidified my philosophies
Literature is an excellent outlet for presenting new ideas and stimulating discussion and thought. In the Women’s Literature class I took last semester, the class read a non-fiction graphic novel dealing with the tragic and confining life of a closeted homosexual father entitled, Fun Home. In discussing the characters, plot and culture surrounding the novel, I found myself viewing my own reality through a new lens. I now have a guidepost I can point to when I go to the polls to, for example, vote to retain justices who support the constitutional rights of minorities. Literature is one of the best tools for developing this type of moral compass.

2. Literature helps me relate to my professors
There’s a reason why they’re our professors. Most of them are extremely smart, cultured and well-read individuals. One of the best aspects of attending Simpson College is that we, as students, have the opportunity to develop relationships with these professors that may even have benefits in the future. Taking a literature course ensures that next time a professor makes an off-the-wall literature reference during class, you won’t be left in the dark. Also, several times professors have used vocabulary that would have been incomprehensible to me had I not encountered the words in a literature course.

3. Literature helps you know a little about a lot of things
I find this extremely important as my girlfriend’s mother holds a Ph.D. At the dinner table, several different topics usually come up and often times I can come up with a smart sounding response using knowledge learned in a literature class. It goes a long way. I’m sure you can think of situations in your own life where this type of knowledge might be useful.

So those are my three reasons. I hope next time you are faced with signing up for a literature course, it won’t be so scary. Thanks to all those writers out there providing us students with even more homework and all those professors who want to help us enough to assign it!