Like the African drum ensemble that greeted the Class of 2020 as they walked into the Ithaca College 2016 Convocation ceremony, the speakers who addressed them conveyed an upbeat attitude toward the upcoming year.
After the celebratory performances, speakers addressed the crowd at Convocation, held Aug. 22 in the Athletics and Events Center. Linda Petrosino, provost and vice president of educational affairs on an interim basis; Tom Grape, chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees; Marieme Foote, president of the Student Government Association; and President Tom Rochon all spoke of a promising year ahead for students at the college.
Petrosino spoke first and encouraged students to be comfortable with the unknown journey ahead of them and to embrace their college community.
“Together, we have the power to enrich the world,” Petrosino said. “So, Class of 2020, powerful moments await you. All you have to do is engage with those experiences and with each other.”
Grape ’80 listed three reasons he loved the college in his speech: the support the faculty gives its students, the collaborative environment the college provides and the strong network of alumni connections students can benefit from.
He said students should become involved in shared governance initiatives, which are in the process of being improved; in the presidential search; and in the celebration of the college’s 125th birthday this year.
Rochon encouraged students to embrace people in their community from different social classes, sexual orientations and religious beliefs.
“Given the structure of our society in general, this might — might — be the most diverse community you’ve ever lived in,” Rochon said.
He also spoke of the core values the college was founded on. He referenced the college’s commitment to education, engagement, dialogue and learning.
“I hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunities to learn from each other,” Rochon said. “It’s not complicated.”
Foote was the last speaker to address the freshman class. She emphasized that students should become engaged with the college’s community. She brought up the protests from last year and told students they have the power to make change on campus.
“This will without a doubt be a year where we are challenged to realize what this community can be,” Foote said. “And it is absolutely imperative that we need to continue to question and critique the existing power structures that exist here at the college.”