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An Addition to the Conversation on THC: A group of Templeton Honors College students respond to the ongoing discussion of elitism in THC.

By Ellen francis, Sarai Gonzalez, Lindsey Thompson, Carlie O’Keefe, Matti Veldhuis &
Zack Wilson
ellen.francis@eastern.edu, sarai.gonzalez@eastern.edu, lindsey.thompson@eastern.edu,
carlie.okeefe@eastern.edu, matti.veldhuis@eastern.edu &
zachary.wilson@eastern.edu

I will never forget the day Mr. P, at the end of another long discussion, directly addressed the class as we stood to leave. We were freshmen, barely four weeks into our time here at Eastern, and had little grasp on this strange and extraordinarily difficult thing called discussion. He slowly leaned back in his chair, feet dangling precariously off the ground.

“How many times did a woman interrupt a man?” he asked, and held up the number zero. He met each of our gazes around the room. Silence.

“And how many times did a man interrupt a woman?” he asked. This time, he wanted an answer. Knowing glances were exchanged among peers; a few uncomfortable giggles permeated the otherwise still silent room. Again, he met each of our eyes. He nodded.

“Many.”

“You may go.”

I wish I could tell you that after that day, interruptions ceased to exist. But we are fallible human beings, still learning to discuss, to be charitable, and to be just. If only living virtuously were as easy as Mr. P’s chair acrobatics. But what I can tell you is I was later approached by a male classmate who apologized for the way he had interrupted me. That, to me, is indicative of the Honors College.

A recent Waltonian article made a number of claims about the nature of the Templeton Honors College (THC) and its students. The author’s experience struck many as contrary to their own, and, in light of this, six THC students have contributed to this article, writing
not to discredit her experience, but to provide the Eastern community with another perspective.

Communities exist to push their individual members, and the THC does so intellectually. However, Templeton classes rarely include tests or exams, and professors place little to no emphasis on grades. Conversations between Honors College students often include terms and concepts learned in class, just as nursing students might discuss their clinicals. Because THC courses are discussion-based, it is natural that these conversations
carry on outside the classroom. Such shared experiences are a feature of any community. Students in LFP, the baseball team, or the math department, for example, also have a common language developed from common experiences. In fact, the entire student population of Eastern University shares a common experience, setting it apart from others.

Many students come to THC from all parts of the country—in fact, the authors of this article alone represent five different states: California, Colorado,
Arizona, Tennessee, and Florida. Students from various religious and economic backgrounds form a body of peers and faculty with similar interests, which can do the soul a lot of good as we grow together. Reflecting upon her time in THC, senior Sarai Gonzalez says, “Being a lower class Hispanic woman from California, I wasn’t sure what coming to Eastern would mean for me as I faced different cultures, practices, and traditions. Although it was a big culture shock, THC faculty and students welcomed me in and were sincerely interested in learning about my Mexican culture. They also helped
me acclimate to and grow in a new and unfamiliar place, as I faced various cultural and personal struggles, while embracing my own culture. Yes, my thoughts and opinions have been challenged in conversation, but with the goal of better understanding what I have to say and how it contributes to understanding the question at hand.”

In Templeton, some have been empowered and learned their voices matter; some have learned to actively listen to other’s voices. Many have been pushed, pulled, and stretched, but above all supported—academically, spiritually, and personally. THC senior Lindsey Thompson says, “You can always go to Mr. P’s office and cry when you need it, you can always count on the student aid fund when you need it, you can always count on professors to
give an extension when you need it.”

Anyone is welcome to join the conversation: register for or audit THC classes (with permission from the professor), grab coffee with a student, or come to weekly Friday forums (barring COVID-19 restrictions). Templeton is not perfect, but its professors and its students form a community thankful to be a part of Eastern University.

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