The end is near.
According to the logic inside my head, it’s a statement that doesn’t need to wait until next year’s Mayan maybe-apocalypse. After this edition is published, the last of the semester, logic tells me it’s time to kick back, focus on finals, and start looking ahead to Christmas break. After last year, though, I know better than to lose my focus and voice at this point.
One year ago this month, as classes were ending and exams were about to begin, I got a call from Pierce Greenberg, then Vision sports editor. That call set the tone for the semester at the Vision and around Belmont: Lisa Howe, the women’s soccer head coach, had been dismissed from her post days after coming out as a lesbian to her team. The exit – to clarify, both Howe and Belmont officially call her departure a mutual agreement – was something the school should have seen coming after it broke ties with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Now don’t get me wrong. No one could have predicted the way things fell out during that first December week when Lisa Howe left Belmont. No one could have predicted the flood of media coverage from hundreds of media outlets, the hectic press conference after days of university silence, the student demonstrations, and the eventual change in the employee nondiscrimination policy that came the following January. But a controversy like this, one that would further define the new direction Belmont would and could take, was going to happen sooner or later.
Since Belmont left its official connection to the TBC, the university has moved away from denominational theology. Indeed, the university’s persona has seemed to sway on a tightrope as it tried to balance a conservative Christian tradition with more moderate or liberal leanings from much of the Belmont community. These feelings have also been shown in the expansion of the campus, graduate programs, and the student body in general, even though Belmont makes its still fairly small size a selling point.
While this balancing act may bring a number of temporary benefits and allow a variety of views to be expressed and discussed, this is not a place the university can stay forever. Whether through Lisa Howe’s exit, the hiring of Alberto Gonzales, or something we as a community haven’t seen yet, the university still must find a way to define itself as a school keen on expansion yet still holding fast to its Christian roots. That means we probably haven’t seen the last of the controversies. With each one of them though, Belmont will start to figure out who it is and where it will go for the near future.
This era of transition also provides a major opportunity. We, as a student body, have as a role bigger than ever, and one that has one of the greatest chances to impact this school for a long time. Whether we all agree on these issues or not, we have a voice, a voice that can and should be listened to.
Let’s use it.
Vision editor Brian Wilson is a junior journalism major.