An excerpt from senior speaker Nayla Tohme ’18.
I stand here today in utter disbelief, feeling immense gratitude to you, Conn. At a time when political tensions are rife and discriminatory conservatism grips the West, I have found in you a haven
of liberalism and inclusion that allows an Arab woman, not only to be, but also to thrive…
…It’s alarming and endearing to think how different we were back in our first year. Since then, some of our many individual accomplishments have included promoting reproductive health, living adventure-filled semesters abroad, starting a clothing line and managing a band. As a group, we have been active locally, organizing for social change and working towards the prevention of sexual assault here on campus. We have acted globally, addressing pressing environmental issues around the world, and tackling the refugee crisis in the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. In all our efforts, such as our recent collection of aid for hurricane victims, we have embodied Conn’s values of collaboration, justice and respect for nature.
Indeed, Conn has equipped the class of 2018 with the skills to think critically across disciplines, and with the tools to build communities that work together with integrity and compassion. We have the confidence to challenge what we cannot accept, and the creativity to imagine a different world. Conn has prepared us to be responsible citizens and the global leaders of tomorrow.
Nobel Prize novelist Toni Morrison, advises us: “When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that because you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”
So, fellow camels, let’s carry Conn’s Honor Code outside its walls starting tomorrow. Let’s remain committed to acting with integrity, courage and empathy as we strive to empower those who have no voice. Let’s hold on to our cultural curiosity and remember how interconnected and interdependent we all are. Let us not reduce a complex situation to a single narrative of “good or evil”, of “with us or against us”, but continue instead to be well informed and impartial as we advocate for social justice and equity.