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Inquiring Minds: New, elitist honors ceremony is an improvement

The new format of the spring convocation ceremony is selective, exclusionary and, in fact, elitist.

Under the new system, only 60 of Eastern’s most promising juniors and seniors will be recognized for academic excellence at a special dinner and ceremony on February 17. The event will not be public. All the other hundreds of Dean’s List, Recognition List and Templeton Honors College students won’t be invited anymore.

Using the spring semester event to recognize excellence isn’t new, of course. The old Honors Convocation singled out students as well, including a few for awards aimed at only one or two students out of an entire discipline. The guest speakers, then as now, were invited to the event to speak on academic excellence and the Christian faith.

The recognition of high achievers – in the old way or the new – benefits the community. Those chosen are students who represent what every student ought to be aiming for: quality work and a dedication to academics.

Knowing that some students out there are achieving such things may encourage others to do the same. And knowing that hard work is recognized by the Eastern community may be the incentive some students need to begin applying themselves.

We believe that the new honors system will do more to advance these goals than the old convocation did, for two reasons.

First, the old system did little to foster such awareness of academic success. It was about as non-public as a recognition could be, because so few people attended – even among those being honored. “Requiring” attendance at the convocation only made the event the subject of student jokes.

Through this new ceremony, Eastern’s best students will actually be recognized. They will be the obvious guests of honor, outnumbered heavily by their invited guests and the entire faculty. And, presumably, the names of the honorees will be released to the Eastern community – in a readably short list.

The second reason the new system is an improvement is that it raises the standard to which we hope students will excel. When half the school is honored, the goal the college sets for students to target is very wide indeed. When only 60 students are, the honor is much more meaningful – and creates higher expectations of everybody else.

Sixty students, out of the entire undergraduate institution, is an elite. But in this case, elitism is a good thing.

Inquiring Minds is the collective opinion of the editorial staff and not necessarily representative of the entire staff. It is written by the managing editor and the editor-in-chief.

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