Campus Commentary Events

By: Caison Gray

Professor Quillen on “Being human”

Professor Quillen spoke on September 3rd about how she, personally, believes that storytelling is the key component on attempting to answer the question of “What makes us human?” Within her lecture, she discussed how listening to and sharing various narratives connects people, allowing them to see the humanity in others. Professor Quillen took an interesting standpoint on the terms of liberalism. She pointed out the insufficiency of focusing on the concept of “all equal” and of reason, which we discussed in relation to Locke’s philosophy. The generalized language choice dehumanizes those who are seen as “alien.” Professor Quillen concluded her lecture with the possibility that a liberal framework is valid but only if we focus on listening to stories as well. By doing this, we are able to respect all of humanity and recognizing the differences between us. Overall, this lecture taught how by respecting various opinions, it would be possible to resolve conflict in our society which is filled with unnecessary issues.

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5

On September 24th, I attended the Davidson College Student Orchestra’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. I very much enjoyed how the conductor provided background information about the piece and about Tchaikovsky before the music began. I also found it interesting how the conductor made the point in mentioning how we could never exactly know the thought process Tchaikovsky had when composing his music. Therefore, throughout the concert I attempted to listen to musical keys that would potentially explain what Tchaikovsky was feeling while he composed different sections. In high school, I was honored to have played Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. However, by attending the concert from an audience viewpoint, I was able to have a new perspective on the music that I was unable to have while playing. I could hear how each instrument built on each other to get the overall picture Tchaikovsky wanted, versus on only focusing on my instrument, the clarinet, part. Overall, I was impressed and blown away by the talent and maturity my peers had while playing such a demanding and intensive piece of musical literature.

Raymond Santa

On November 14th, I attended the Raymond Santa talk. Raymond Santa was a member of the Exonerated Five, who was jailed, at the age of 14, for 6 years. This false imprisonment was after the Central Park Jogger Case. It was an overwhelming experience to hear Santa’s personal experience through the interrogation, trial, imprisonment, and eventual exoneration. I had also watched Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us, which allowed me to fully comprehend the horrors that the falsely accused boys endured. When I had first watched this show, I was horrified at the lack of humanity America had for these young boys, simply because of their ethnicity an upbringing. Eventually though, the boys were freed from jail thanks to a confession from the criminal and DNA testing. Santana described the impacts of the 11-year civil suit that finally gave the men compensation for their wrongful imprisonment as “Even though we have won, we still lose because at the end of the day that gap is gone. How do we keep moving, keep living? They controlled the narrative of our story.” What surprised me the most was the light and hopefulness brought to us despite everything that he had endured. He was nothing but positive and supportive of our role as the next generation of voters, activists, and leaders. His words were incredibly inspirational and moved me to feel as if I could truly help to create change. “We found out we had a voice. We gotta use this platform to save our children. All of ’em…You have ideas. Use them. Live life to the fullest and go to the grave empty…March the truth. Don’t cut the corners. Occupy those spaces. Shoot for the top.” He ended his speech with the powerful phrase of “I’ll see you on the battlefield.”

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