Thousands gather to support Nichol

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February 13, 2008

12:35 AM

p. Students filled the Wren courtyard Tuesday night to show support for College President Gene Nichol after his official resignation this morning, which was the result of the Board of Visitors’ decision not to renew his contract when it expires in June.

p. Mallory Johnson ’10, Justin Reid ’09, staff member Anne Reppeta and Nichol spoke on the steps of the president’s house, and then participants sang the alma mater.

p. Reid said he felt the BOV was unfairly secretive in their voting, and Reppeta thanked Nichol for “how much he cares about all of us.”

p. Reid also said that a new website supporting Nichol — www.tribeunited.com — will release the e-mail addresses of BOV members and that the website will post student letters online.

p. Volunteers passed out candles for supporters and collected thank-you notes from attendees to give to Nichol and his family.

p. “When Justin [Reid] spoke, he said that I was one of you — that is the highest compliment,” Nichol told the crowd. “The notion that I would not be your president in the coming months and years is one of the deepest wounds I can imagine.”

p. Nichol urged the crowd to make the College the single most engaged university in the country, and he talked about the students in his Gateway program. He said that many Gateway students were wearing t-shirts that said that if Nichol is not welcome here, then they are not welcome here — but Nichol said that the best way for them to honor the Gateway initiative is by staying at the College.

p. “Live life by doing things in which you believe,” he said. “Think of the alternative — people do [live a life they do not believe in] all the time, but it is not for you. It is not for the young women and men of the College of William and Mary.”

p. “You have taught me much more than I have taught you,” he added. “I cannot say how much it means to have you here in tremendous numbers.”

p. Following the alma mater, Nichol hugged and shook hands with students.

p. “I was in the Sunken Gardens this afternoon, and the students there were very articulate and passionate,” Swem and geology librarian Karen Berquist ’83 said. “I was just really glad to see students following in the model that Gene Nichol has set.”

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