By: Sheridan Kate Murray, Co-Editor in Chief
On Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, the staff of the Old Gold and Black met with President Nayef Samhat to for a question and answer roundtable. Questions were posed that included the future of Wofford, community engagement, sustainability initiatives and Samhat’s own presence on campus.
Samhat began with an opening statement detailing the role of Wofford students in campus culture. “We as a college have a unique responsibility to discuss the issues occurring in our country, effectively modeling civil discourse to demonstrate that we can all have different perspectives that allow us to engage in a dialogue defined by civility, respect and dignity,” says Samhat.
When asked about his plans for continued involvement with the college, he says that he “plans to stick around until people ask him to leave.” Samhat likened his time at Wofford to the length of a typical college student’s stay on campus, acknowledging that he has “formed an attachment” with the campus and student body at Wofford.
“I can tell alumni now, I’ve been living on this campus for four years now, and that’s how long alumni lived on the campus, so whatever emotions they’ve developed during those four years, Prema and I have also developed. We hope to stay as long as we are welcome here,” says Samhat.
Staff writers asked Samhat about his opinion on the best way to break out of the “Wofford bubble” and engage with the greater Spartanburg area. He responded, stating that college campuses are unique environments, and the “bubble” mentality is somewhat typical. He added that he believes Spartanburg’s success is important to Wofford’s well-being, and that students should consider increasing their presence in community organizations.
He mentioned the Jolly Foundation as a possible avenue for student involvement in Spartanburg. This initiative involves Wofford students serving as mentors for middle and high schoolers in the surrounding community.
Samhat was prompted to speak about sustainability ventures on campus and attempts to improve the efficacy of recycling services. Samhat acknowledged progress on the Northside residence hall, intended to be a living learning community for first year students that will incorporate sustainability and civic engagement curriculum into the residential facility. Additionally, he mentioned interest in a student-led comprehensive recycling program that also focuses on providing locally sourced foods.
Samhat concluded the roundtable discussion by emphasizing the growing role of students in creating the type of college education they hope to receive. “Empower yourselves to create the kind of campus environment that you want. I think students should be informed of the power they have and the decisions they can make. Fundamentally, my point is this is your campus and you shape the culture.”