A long time ago, as an eager high school student attending tours at various colleges, I remember not feeling too fantastic about one college, whose tour guide could only come up with ‘painting a fence” for the school’s biggest tradition. Well, I guess UR isn’t too far off, considering our tendency to paint things (rocks, tunnels), but I’m pretty sure we have a few other traditions somewhere around, as well.
Speaking of traditions, Meliora Weekend might just be one of our largest. One main event, the unveiled statue of George Eastman on the Eastman Quadrangle celebrated another huge part of University history the big man on campus himself.
Maybe it’s because I’m a self-professed history nerd and I may be alone in enjoying tidbits about Rochester history in lectures but I appreciated the notion of the ‘Who’s George?”campaign, as much as some other usual staples of the weekend, just because it prompted many students to find out exactly who George was.
Since it was so successful, I would love to see more campaigns publicizing some of our past, just like ‘Who’s George?” did. It certainly worked for the occasion it publicized, but I feel several University offices can find a few reasons to publicize their achievements, along with campus groups.
Understanding history allows us to contextualize the present. By learning the major impact one donor had on the University, we can begin to recognize the role alumni truly play in shaping UR.
Sometimes the University (or, more generally, people) is so focused on the next big thing and what’s to come, that we lose sight of what’s around.
Although it in no way affects my studies at UR, I take pride in having the largest laser in the world, Rochester being the home of the garbage plate, I. M. Pei designing our humble Wilson Commons. Small facts like these bring a sense of pride and enjoyment of the rich culture even a university can provide.
Making people feel connected in an institution as large and decentralized as many universities is a challenge in itself. It’s difficult for students, Ph.Ds and alumni with hugely different lives to feel like they are a part of the same place.
It’s likely our only commonality is University history and its achievements. So, while we continue to look forward, we should always remind ourselves of what preceded. Change is good, but only when we respect and honor the tradition we already have.
The University focuses on what is and what’s to come but sometimes we just need to look back in order to understand our place. Sometimes you just need a little dose of the past to help with the present.
Leber is a member of
the class of 2011.

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