The Compass Friday, Novembers, 1995 5
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ECSU freshman hold the “flames of wisdom” during Fall Convocation Candtelighting Ceremony. Held every fall, this tradition is a memorable experience for
incoming students. photo by Jamle Jordan
Chancellor Burnim urges freshmen
to ‘remember why you are here’
by NaKeisha Sylver
"Why are you here?"
With this simple question ECSU's In
terim Chancellor, Dr. Mickey Bumim,
began his address at the Freshman
ceremony on Sept. 24,1995.
To dramatize his question Bumim
told a story of two men who went with
a third man to catch a train following a
night of drinking. The men arrived at
the train station only to discover that
the train was leaving the station. One
of the men jvmiped aboard the train,
and another grabbed onto it and was
pulled aboard. The third man didn't
make it onto the train at all.
When an observer, who saw the man
laughing, asked him why he was laugh
ing, the third man responded with,
"The joke is on the other fellows. They
just came to the train station to see me
"They had forgotten why they were
there," Bumim said, to the chuckling
crowd. "What is the sigruficance of your
being here at ECSU? Why are you here?"
While the members of ECSU's class
of 1999 pondered this question, Bumim
continued: "I can almost hear some of
your responses. 'It's a requirement for
my class. Or I need a marketable skill.'"
Burnim suggested, however, that the
students' purpose for being at ECSU
went deeper than that.
"Our individual purpose may be in
extricably linked to the purpose of this
104-year-old institution," he said, add
ing that the school's mission statement
challenges the University "to provide
a challenging and supporting environ
ment to prepare students for respon
sible leadership in a constantly chang
Bumim discussed social ills facing
the planet, such as poverty, racism, sex
ism and "wars that pit brother against
brother." These are the challenges
which threaten our civilization, he
"That is why we are here," Bumim
concluded. "Our ultimate goal is the
preservation and survival of our civili
Burnim charged ECSU's freshman
class to accept the responsibilities and
challenges which face them at ECSU
and in the world beyond. "What you
get out of your experience here is in
direct proportion to what you put into
He urged students to look beyond
material gain and narrowly defined
goals, and to consider their obligation
to the larger society.
"In life every man has twin obliga
tions to his parents, wife, children, his
people, his community and his coun
try," said Bumim, quoting South Afri
can President Nelson Mandela. "Real
leadership always exacts a price."
The Interim Chancellor also issued a
challenge to ECSU's faculty: "Faculty,
we are here to prepare our students for
responsible participation in leader
Following the address, members of
the freshmen class had an opportunity
to demonstrate their capacity for
Monique Boyce, Mark Mwaura,
Ronel Brewer, Chashia Washington,
Santiel Creekmore, and Shina
Hemingway conducted the ritual of
lighting their candles. The candles rep
resented hope, awareness, youth,
beauty, truth, faith, love, and the eter
nal flame of wisdom. The students ex
changed poetic dialogue with SGA
President James Cherry.
"It's better to light a candle than to
curse the darkness," said Cherry.
"Yes, light a candle," said Boyce.
"That sounds good, but even a small
flame caimot be made of nothing. What
have I to give?"
Freshmen participants said they were
touched by the ceremony.
"It was better than I expected be
cause I left with knowledge," said Tonia
Spmill, a freshman from Edenton, NC.
"I came expecting nothing, but I left
What some freshmen remembered
most about the ceremony was Vice
Chancellor Helen Caldwell's admoiu-
tion about returning to their dorm
rooms with their candles still lit.
"Traditionally, only those students
who arrive at their dorms or homes
with their candles stiU lit are supposed
to graduate with the rest of the class,"
said Caldwell, with a smile.
"I just hope I can make it to the dorm
with my candle lit," said Chastity
Kinsay, of Enfield, N. C.