Honoring the Brotherhood

March 17, 2011
Nathan R. Ryalls '11

RyallsOn February 22, members of the Hampden-Sydney College  community gathered to discuss what our brotherhood means and how we measure up to those ideals.  The "Honoring the Brotherhood" Symposium started with an open-forum featuring four panelists and moderated by Reverend David Keck.  Nathan Ryalls '11 started the symposium by presenting a definition of brotherhood at Hampden-Sydney and urged the community to not be discouraged, explaining that it is time to enter a discussion on "why we have not lived up to these ideals and when we have surpassed them."

SublettBilly Sublett '74 offered some answers to the question "Who is the Hampden-Sydney Man?"  Mr. Sublett shared his own experience coming to Hampden-Sydney as a freshman in 1969.  He "was very small not only in terms of my stature for the football team, but in my thinking."  He explained to the audience how he had changed his values while at Hampden-Sydney.  He ended with this challenge to the audience: "when we go forth into this world, what we have to do is be worthy of the code and oath we have taken."

HarrisJeffrey Harris '90 shared his experiences of being a black man on Hampden-Sydney's campus and noted that while "it was difficult enough being a black person, I couldn't have imagined being out on this campus."  Mr. Harris was honest and open about his experiences, giving the audience a clear sense of the extent to which his time at Hampden-Sydney was difficult.  He told the students, faculty, and staff that "brotherhood is what you make it," and said that his best advice for his Hampden-Sydney brothers [for Hampden-Sydney students, past and present] was simply to "be yourself."  Mr. Harris noted how happy he had been when, after coming out to his Hampden-Sydney friends, "not a man turned [him] away."  He ended his presentation with the statement that "I think of each of you as one of [my brothers] whether you think of me as one or not."

LundThe final panelist, Dr. Anne Lund, the first female professor at Hampden-Sydney College, spoke about the early years of her tenure as the only female faculty member and how many friends felt she had lost her mind when she accepted the position.  However, she said, I believe I am a part of this community."  She noted her objection to the "men are men and women are guests" bumper sticker and stated that she never felt like a guest inside or out of the classroom.  Dr. Lund believes that "the diversity [of this community] enriches the brotherhood beyond measure."

The first half of the "Honoring the Brotherhood" symposium ended with an open discussion in which the panelists fielded questions from the audience.  The topic most frequently raised dealt with the need to continue the discussion about the nature of the brotherhood.

ShultzLater that evening, Dr. Tammy Shultz, Director of National Security and Joint Warfare and Professor of Strategic Studies at the United States Marine Corps War College, spoke on "Traditions: A Double-Edged Sword?"  Dr. Christopher Howard, a colleague of Dr. Shultz in the Truman National Security Project, introduced Dr. Shultz.  Dr. Shultz warned the audience, "If I don't offend you, then I'm not doing my job."  She spoke on the decision to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, explaining why, in her view, the Marines are the most resistant of the military branches to opening their ranks to gays and lesbians.  She noted similarities between the Marines and Hampden-Sydney College beyond their shared birthday.  She noted that both institutions are slow to change because of their traditions.  Dr. Shultz argued that traditions create the positive sense of "we-ness," but at the same time negatively define who we are by forcing us to define who we are not. 

The "Honoring the Brotherhood" Symposium was the start of a discussion of Hampden-Sydney College's strengths and weaknesses.  This discussion should continue as we try to understand what a Hampden-Sydney Man is and how members of this community can live up to our ideals of brotherhood.