Fairfield University freshmen urged to be agents of change

Taking a cue from Fairfield University’s 2014-16 theme of water, Dr. Yohuru Williams, associate vice president for academic affairs, urged students to be part of “the cooling rain of human care” wherever they see injustice during his 2014 Convocation speech on Sept. 9.

Looking out at the Class of 2018 and other members of the university community gathered on Bellarmine Lawn, the Fairfield Prep and University of Scranton graduate said he deeply appreciated Jesuit values he embraced during his education as they “require you to open your hearts and minds to the possibility that you could be agents of change.”

In a speech that touched on the violence and unrest from Ferguson, Mo., to the Middle East, Williams remembered the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and marked the 25th anniversary of the brutal murder of six Jesuit priests at Jose Simeon Canas University in El Salvador.

The priests and their housekeeper and her daughter were all killed during a decades-long civil war, in which right-wing leaders had been critical of what they saw as the university’s support for rebel forces.

“They had a choice,” Williams said. “They could have chosen to flee. They didn’t. They stood powerfully and purposefully for justice.”

He challenged students to live considered lives and face powerlessness with much more than indifference.

“You are the ripples of hope,” he said. “Live humbly for love.”

Dr. Lynn Babington, senior vice president for academic affairs, and Alexander Cucchi, president of the Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA), both called on the students to step outside their comfort zones and take the University’s living and learning message to heart.

“The entire world is your learning laboratory,” Babington said.

The university Glee Club serenaded the students with American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life” and Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” before Allison Scheetz, co-chair of Student Programs and Leadership Development, presented them with their class Gift of special bookmarks to mark the occasion.

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