Whether you call it “that Honor Council thing” or by its official name, Rise Up for Honor seems to have a profound impact on those who are able to attend. Sure, gathering outside at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning when all your boxes still need unpacking may not generally be everyone’s cup of tea, but taking the time to commit or recommit to Southern Virginia University’s standards is a crucial part of launching the new academic year.
After all, it’s Southern Virginia’s unwillingness to sacrifice its ideals that draws many of its students and faculty members here in the first place. I don’t know about everyone else, but I didn’t move to Buena Vista for the party atmosphere and roaring night life. I think most of us are here because this university sets standards that lift us up, empower us, and prepare us to succeed.
Dr. Karen Walker, director of the academic success program, focused her speech on three things: “First, everyone has a story. Second, everyone has a struggle. Third, everyone needs help.” This idea struck me (as did Bubba Eisenhauer’s “I would love to fight dragons,” but not necessarily in the same way). I feel that we students sometimes need to be reminded that the Code of Honor isn’t merely about dressing in a particular way or remembering to shave. Its true, fundamental aim is to enable us to lend a bit more honesty and virtue to society and to supply us with the principles we need in order to better the lives of those around us, both now and later in life – you know, once we’ve delved into that vast unknown we call “the real world.”
When I asked this year’s student vice president of honor, Kaitlyn Fife, why she cares so deeply about the Code of Honor, she said, “I want my fellow students to see the Code of Honor the way I do. It is not something meant to confine or to hold people back – it is a tool for moving onward and upward, for preparing to succeed in a world where our personal standards will set us apart from our peers. The 2014-2015 Orientation theme, ‘Believe,’ is a great basis for that idea.”
And this, I think, is a sentiment that was shared by all who were involved in Rise Up for Honor as they stood and pledged that they, too, would stand for the principles in the Code of Honor. These “rules” are instruments that, if used correctly, can allow us to create the sort of lives to which we aspire.
Following Rise Up for Honor that morning, students split into groups and executed service projects on campus and in the community – essentially wasting no time before applying the concepts in the Honor Pledge. Weeding in the sweet, sweet humidity of Virginia’s summers is a lot less miserable when you remember why you’re doing it and are surrounded by others who understand what service, honor, and life at Southern Virginia University are really about.
(Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ‘16. Photos by Bronwyn Himes ‘17.)