Opinion: What Is Our Purpose?

Benjamin Saint-Jean

Benjamin Saint-Jean

What purpose does Southwestern Adventist University serve? In taking Sociology with Dr. Robert Gardner, I have had the privilege of learning about the origins of many social behaviors, and societies that were common throughout the history of the world. However, in studying the various forms of governance and the many types of societies, I could not help but think about our student association that we have at Southwestern Adventist University.

Many of you will think that I am talking about the Student Association, which includes the president, executive vice president, social vice president and so on. However, in order to continue this discussion, I need to change the way we view the phrase, “Student Association.” The Student Association that I am talking about consists of you and me. It consists of all students working together to reach a common goal.

What is our common goal and what is our “telos,” our purpose?

I believe that in order to discover our true purpose in this university, we need to revolutionize the way that we, as students, think about the university and our role in it.

The purpose of a university is to increase student learning and to educate.

On the Southwestern Adventist University website our mission, vision and values are stated as the following: “Southwestern Adventist University commits to educating a diverse student body in a Christ-centered environment shaped by Seventh-day Adventist Christian beliefs for service and leadership.”

Have we forgotten about service? We cannot shy away from this word as it is important to life as a student and life as a Christian. In the same way that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, we need to wash the feet of residents of the community that we live in. We have built a wall around this University, and although it was not intentional, we need to tear this wall down so that the Christian soldiers within can go out and serve Keene and the surrounding communities.

These acts of servitude begin with ourselves. As a student body, we have forgotten our purpose of servitude.

Call me crazy, but I believe that we are obligated to serve the city of Keene.

We need to stop asking what this University can do for us and start asking what we, as students and as Christians, can do for this University, for each other and for our community.

However, this is not to say that all blame should be placed on students. We as a community, which includes not only students but faculty and staff, need to reevaluate our purpose in this community. We have the doctrine and we have the tools to become the light of the world and a city on a hill, we just need to realize this again. If we as a community want to reach our goal to become a city on a hill, then we need to look to making service as our top priority in this institution.

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