Column: Lux and Libertas and still wanting more
Have you ever really listened to campus at night? If I could tug its sounds down from the Polk Place air, I bet I could show you why I do.
In the past four years, whenever I have felt the nagging of a useless negativity in the evening — be it about grades or politics or any other thing — I leave the library I’m probably slouching in and head to the empty quad.
I wander past old Playmakers theater or those weird UL benches to sit on one of its two imperial ends: at South Building or on the jagged steps of Wilson. Both facing each other, both facing the empty space between the buildings where I took classes a few hours before.
That empty space takes a kind of purplish tinge late at night.
And when I breathe in that special brand of quad air, somehow lifted of petty concerns or anxieties, I remember how wildly blessed I am to study good governance at the oldest public university in the Republic. And to live alongside such compassionate people.
I listen to the quad’s emptiness, tracing the outline of that borderline pretentious dome on top of Wilson. And I remember the ideals of this campus — lux and libertas, and the liberal arts — which it doesn’t always historically live up to. With every Plato reading group with Professor Goldberg, every event held by passionate volunteers, and every conversation with an excited scientist, I remember why I hold such bullish devotion to these promises.
Being a Carolina student is a kind of citizenship. We don’t pay money and extract from Carolina an education. Instead, we do our best to respect its ideals and live them out a little better than they were before; we take gorgeous memories and try to give service, and hopefully a few nudges toward a more just university.
My relationship with my University is a lot like my relationship with my nation’s politics: I love it, I believe in it, with such fervor that I’m often frustrated. When I graduate in 17 days, I hope that someone else will sit on those steps and breathe it in for me.
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