I am writing this article not only as a leader on this campus, but also as a student of both Westhampton College and the University of Richmond. I am writing this article not only as a student who has heard from both sides of the story, but also as someone who understands the criticisms of the proposed changes to Ring Dance.
I am writing this article not only as a student who had a fabulous time in a white gown at my Ring Dance, but also as a student who suffered the entire time over the fact that my father was not present.
I am not writing this article to support or criticize the changes that have been made for future Ring Dances. In February 2012, I celebrated my return from studying abroad at Ring Dance with my family and friends. I proudly wore the same white dress that I wore for my high school graduation.
Although my father was not around to walk me down the staircase, I was so lucky to have my grandfather do the honor. Last semester, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer; Ring Dance will remain one of my last special moments with the man whom I consider a father. However, I recognize that so many women do not have that father figure in their lives as I no longer will.
My request? Please stop commenting on the alterations made to Ring Dance in ways that can destroy the feelings of our students. Like most Americans, I am a fond supporter of the First Amendment; however, I am also a fond believer of not insulting others for situations that they cannot control, such as family circumstances or socioeconomic statuses. Although we have all been raised with the “sticks and stones” mantra, I personally believe it is nonsense; words do more than hurt; they can destroy.
A few weeks ago, a brave Westhampton College student wrote an article defending those members of our community who do not have a typical paternal relationship well-suited for the current format of Ring Dance. I have to admit, I found myself incredibly disappointed in some of our students’ and alumni’s comments on her article.
Sure, I may be part of the 10 percent of students who suffered quietly that entire night because her father was not there, so maybe I took it personally. However, I’d like to think there are more than 10 percent of students on this campus who care about my feelings and would hate to see me hurt over this issue.
I urge everyone to put themselves in the shoes of those sharing opposite opinions and think about how you would want to be treated if that was your viewpoint. This advice does not only pertain to this certain situation, but also after you leave Richmond.
Please consider the feelings of your friends whose parents are not around before commenting on this article. Please consider the feelings of your friends whose families barely made ends meet after allowing their daughters or granddaughters to have the Ring Dance they imagined. If you take the time to look around, I believe you will realize that those students are not just a percentage on this campus, but some of your very best friends.
Although I am certain that no one has meant their words to offend, enough is enough. We are better than this, Westhampton College. We are better than this, Richmond College. We are better than this, University of Richmond. We are a top-ranking university, both academically and socially.
The students on this campus and the alumni that have graduated from our university continue to amaze me every day with their never-ending knowledge, enthusiasm for their university and kind-heartedness. The world will not end when Ring Dance changes in 2015; however, the insensitive comments that are made to members of our Spider community will last with students for a lifetime.