A house divided cannot stand
February 23, 2008
p. As students and as leaders of our respective campus organizations, we are disappointed by the manner in which the Board of Visitors chose not to renew Gene Nichol as president of the College.
p. I am joined by Council of Fraternity Affairs chairman Joseph Andrews, Inter-Sorority Council president Laura Sauvain, Class of 2008 president Nick Faulkner, Student Assembly Senate Public Affairs Committee chair Sarah Rojas, VA21 representative of the SA Jesse Woods and Miss Teen Virginia USA 2006 Samantha Casey.
p. For many students who interacted with Nichol on a daily basis, he stood as a voice representative of our campus, our needs and our progress. He is a man loved by many and criticized by few.
p. On the day of his resignation, thousands packed the Wren Courtyard in honor of his service. Today, more than 2,000 members belong to a pro-Nichol Facebook group. These examples of resounding student opinion highlight the BOV’s utter disconnect with the community it represents.
p. Nichol was always the students’ champion. From his first day on campus, he captivated our community with his charisma, inspiration and unparallelled ability to instill hope and motivation in our student body. A prominent figure on campus, Nichol could often be found pacing the sidelines at athletic contests, hosting lunches and dinners with students and faculty, teaching seminars on constitutional law, delivering acceptance letters to Gateway Program students and leading the pep band in the Alma Mater. His presidency was one of openness and, for that, he was admired.
From this context of openness, we feel slighted by the BOV. It is our opinion that the BOV did not hear the students’ testimonies and neglected to include both our Student Assembly president (an ex-officio member to the BOV) and the student voice in its decision-making. If it had, regardless of the final decision, the College community would not have experienced the fractures of the past two weeks.
p. We urge future decisions to be transparent and all-inclusive — qualities extolled by Nichol. We call upon students to demand their inclusion in the decision-making process. We look to our own leadership to remember and reinforce why the College is a wonderful place. Our house has been divided and we must work to bring it back together.
p. As current students, tomorrow’s alumni and future donors to the College, we ask for this inclusiveness from our BOV. We look forward to the BOV’s visit to campus as one of the first of many, ensuring an open and constant dialogue between every member of the College community. Together, we can continue to work toward a successful future for our beloved institution. Nichol was more than a figurehead, he was the drumbeat of this Tribe. We were proud to follow his leadership and are committed to carrying out his legacy, together.
p. Though the loss of Nichol as our president is painful, we welcome Interim President Taylor Reveley with open arms and with great anticipation. His courage in taking on this job at this time is a testament to both his character and that of this institution. In this time of uncertainty, we will look to him and ourselves for stability and stand by him to preserve the College as “great and public.”
p. Go Tribe! And continue to hark upon the gale!
p. __Brett Phillips, co-founder of the Student Chamber of Commerce, is a senior at the College.__