DR. KRISTINE YOUNG BLOG POST: "HOW TO BE A SCHOLAR (POST ELECTION EDITION)"

11/14/2016

Latest Blog Entry from SUNY Orange President

I've spent many hours contemplating my role as president of an institution of higher education in the aftermath of our presidential election last week.

Earlier today, I finally discovered the words I wanted to share with the 5400+ diverse students of Orange County Community College.

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Dear students,

Many of you voted in your first presidential election last week.

I remember when I voted in my first presidential election.

I cast my first presidential ballot as a freshman in college. Over the course of my undergraduate years, I had discussions with professors, participated in clubs, had deep (and shallow) conversations with newly made friends, read and interacted with course material, talked with my internship mentors, and yes, sometimes had some quiet moments.

By the time I cast my second presidential ballot, I understood more deeply why I held some beliefs as profoundly as I did and why I had voted as I had four years prior. But some of the opinions I had held four years prior had been obliterated and replaced, usually by full subscription to viewpoints that I had not known existed or that I had not previously grasped their meanings. I also had a large number of topics on which I held multiple, sometimes conflicting opinions. For those, I took comfort in the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

How fortunate we are to be associated presently with SUNY Orange, a community of scholars, where learning and thoughtful discourse in the pursuit of learning is cherished, valued, and essential.

I appreciate that within our incredibly diverse student body that there are those among you who are filled with great anticipation and hope for a better world based on the outcome of the election. There are also others among you who are genuinely despondent and afraid for your safety, welfare, and future. There are others among you who don’t care or are trying not to care and just want to get through the semester. And there are still others who don’t fit any of these descriptions.

To all of you, I say: grab on to the opportunity college gives you to make sense of the world around you and to clarify your points of view. Engage our professors, staff, and administrators. Use your club memberships to promote your stance on issues and involve others. Talk with your classmates. Challenge yourself to consciously use class assignments for their intended purpose - to expand your knowledge and wisdom. Reflect.

And above all else, seek input from those with whom you share opinions, and hold respectful dialogue with those who hold differing viewpoints. Understanding and appreciating diverse opinions is most critical to maintaining the healthy, tolerant and inclusive community we collectively demand at SUNY Orange.

There are those who would say that civility is dead and those that shout the loudest rule the day. Both represent the antithesis of what it means to be part of a community of scholars. It’s not the way we learn, generate knowledge, or advance our communities. SUNY Orange promises you a safe and welcoming environment. Now, you go out and do the tough work of being a scholar.

Sincerely,
Dr. Young

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940
845-341-4728
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