Every year, during the first week of class, a special event called Convocation takes place. Convocation is the time when students, specifically freshmen, join the faculty and the rest of the campus community to set the tone of the school year. It’s the unofficial moment where new students truly become a part of the Valpo community. It’s held in the Chapel of the Resurrection, which is honestly enough of a reason to go, if only to look at the gorgeous architecture and stained glass.

One of the things I really appreciate about Convocation is it shows just how important tradition is to Valpo. Every year, the incoming freshmen walk up in lines to the front of the Chapel to sign the Honor Code Book. Even though they’ll be writing this code so many times on all of their assignments that they will have it ingrained in their minds until the moment of their deaths, they still sign it here on this one momentous occasion. This is the first time they sign their name after the famous line: “I have neither given or received, nor have I tolerated others’ use of unauthorized aid.” This seemingly onerous act is actually a defining moment of what it means to be a Valpo student and the integrity that comes with it.

Along this same line of thought, I think it’s great to be addressed so personally and directly from both the university and student body president. President Mark Heckler and student body President Hussein Shahine did an amazing job this year in their addresses. It’s the first time that the freshman and new faculty can put a face to the two names. This adds a level of personal touch to the ceremony and increases the intimacy of the overall community. I don’t know if other universities do something similar to this, or have other addresses like these, but I know that for this community to be able to see and hear from these leaders in the school, it bears so much more significance.

I know that when I look back on my own Convocation from my freshman year, I will forever have in my memory what it was like to sit in the Chapel next to my new peers who I was just meeting, going up to sign the Honor Code and being in awe of the speeches given by two important figures to the student body, faculty, staff and Valpo community.

For me, it was slightly confusing and annoying due to the high humidity that we endured on the day my freshmen class had our first Convocation, which contributed to everything seeming fuzzy after sitting in the Chapel for a long period of time. Despite this, I can still appreciate and value having the presidents speak to us honestly and openly, as well as the tradition that motivates this ceremony.

While the Opening Convocation can become incredibly crowded and no one can really keep track if you attend or not, it’s a really memorable event in Welcome Week each year. There’s no way anyone could ever want to forget this gathering, especially for freshmen or students experiencing it for the first time.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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