News Remarks by Jonathan Jones '11
Before I really begin, I would like to say a few words about something that has been on my mind of late; namely, the disparity between the values of the institution of Marlboro College, and the community of Marlboro College. An institution should never be confused with the community; nor should the people who make the institutional decisions be excluded from the community. It is the people that matter, but too often their persons are overshadowed by the thing they are a part of. The community, of which those people are a vital part of, is alive and strong. The institution is damaged and faltering. Whether it be the puzzling double standard apparent in the enforcement of our values, or the hesitancy and inability to address racism, sexism, and bigotry on this campus in a satisfactory and uniform manner, or a grading policy, seemingly unfair to many students, that can take the individualism fostered here for four years and, in a final contradiction, squash it under an unspoken normative curve, the institution of Marlboro College is failing the community of Marlboro College, systemically and steadily.
Those are probably harsh words to the ears of those here not directly a part of this community. Know that they are spoken from a place of love for a school that, with all it's faults, allows me to so openly critique it; that is not to be ignored, and I commend its willingness to hear the voice of its students here, on such a public stage. I am a student, after all, and so to critique is to admire, to respect, to want to improve. But it is the community, that thriving organism made of students, teachers, staff, and administration, that I will address now, in hopes that the next words can help us all move past the wrongs we have done and received in our years here, and celebrate each other as people, and as friends.
We will all of us spend most of our lives searching. For love, for understanding, for family. As we speed through life on trajectories as yet chaotic and unknown, we will falter and grasp and not know why we fail to find what we seek. In our flailing we will inevitably strike those we care for; this is very human. And yet, we often forget that every failure, every crumbling toehold, is merely an obstacle in the path, a minor slide that begs a slight divergence. It can be easy to despair at our failures. But we have a constant coach, a shadow that tries tirelessly to remind of us the impermanence of failure. See, we are creators. Every one of us walking across this stage today is a creator of something magnificent, something born of ether and electricity and the frustration of failure after failure. We reached deep within ourselves, plumbed the vastness of our potential and we created this thing we call Plan; what, then, can stop us from reaching deeper still and creating all we seek ?
I say that nothing can, and I believe that we already have. We search for love, and yet if you glance ever so briefly around this room you will see people who love you. We search for understanding after spending four (or more) years learning how to have it, and to give it. As far as family, I challenge anyone to spend even one week on this hill and tell me we aren't one.
What I am trying to say can be condensed into three words spoken frequently throughout the first twenty-one years of my life by a very wise man, who often stumbled, and never fell. A man who understood that no inch of ground can be tread without walking in someone else's tracks; that as dark and lonely as life may seem at times, there is always a friend with a light and a hand. What we have done on this mountain is walk over and over in each others' footsteps, extend countless hands, light countless candles. Because of this, we can never be without a friend, even if just a memory of a moment. Wherever our feet take us, they have all touched the same mud and grass, and that is a bond that cannot be undone.
We will all fail. But we will succeed as well. And today we celebrate a monumental success, together, borne on all our backs. Wherever we go from here, we must remember this day, and our new family, and, in the presence of whatever hurdle we come across, exclaim "It's All Good." and step forward. So, on behalf of all of you, my brothers and sisters in thought, and in honor of all those who taught us, I part my lips, and I take my step. It's All Good.