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feature

on campus

Back to the Future:

Hermesian Society Re-formed on Campus

by Tim W. Jackson

“It’s amazing to think about people debating the great issues of the day 150 years ago and today we come under the same banner and debate, fundamentally, the same questions. That’s a great tradition.”

History and tradition are not lost on the members of

one of Emory & Henry’s newest student organizations—

Christensen said that the group’s main function is to

years ago and today we come under the same banner and

one with a history that dates back to 1841.

sharpen oratory skills. “The literary part comes in

debate, fundamentally, the same questions. I think that’s a

presenting classical texts and relevant literature as part of

great tradition.”

concept,” says Colin Christensen, a rising senior from

the debate,” he added. “I think it operationalizes everything

Strasburg majoring in political science and economics. He’s

the liberal arts stand for. It puts all of what you learn to

participants must have completed at least one semester

the president of the newly revived Hermesian Literary

work in a venue that is adversarial, where you have to be

at Emory & Henry and have at least a 3.5 grade point

Society, taking up where the organization left off in the

sharp and on your game.”

average. In addition to this relatively high standard,

1960s. “I have a lot of respect for the Emory & Henry

Christensen points out that there is no academic credit for

students who came before us. We want to re-instill that

the premiere social outlets on campus in the 19th century.

the students involved.

tradition in the College.”

Over time, the Greek fraternities and sororities and sports

teams took on more importance and the popularity of the

intellectual and social capital you gain. We hope that it

new Hermesian Society discovered the group, as well as

literary societies waned. Today’s founding students believe

encourages students to go above and beyond in their

the old Calliopean Society, after rooms dedicated to the two

that there is a place for the Hermesian Society amid the

were renovated on the third floor of Byars Hall. After a bit

high-tech, fast-paced world of today’s students. “Hopefully,”

of research, students worked with faculty to be officially

Christensen said, “it’s something for students who may not

recognized as a student organization. The initial induction

know what they want to do. It provides a theater to sharpen

ceremony took place in November 2012 and the group’s first

skills and find a sense of direction.”

two debates happened in the spring semester of 2013 in the

Hermesian Room.

relevance of the issues, Christensen adds. “It’s amazing to

“For me, at least, there is a lot of gravity to that

Christensen and the other founding members of the

While the organization is called a literary society,

think about people debating the great issues of the day 150

The old Hermesian and Calliopean societies were

Colin Christensen, president, Hermesian Literary Society. Previous page and above: Emory & Henry students Kyle Boden and Mary Ruth Pruitt help to kick off the revival of debate on campus.

The group’s constitution states that prospective

“We’re doing it for the sake of the act. It’s for the

classwork so that they can become part of the society. And moving into the future we hope it helps to discover a spark in each student and shape their academic trajectory in a positive way,” Christensen said.

Tim W. Jackson is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Asheville, N.C.

As important as the facts in the debate is the

10 / SUMMER 2013 / E&H Alumni Magazine

E&H Alumni Magazine / summer 2013 / 11

10 / SUMMER 2013 / E&H Alumni Magazine

E&H Alumni Magazine / summer 2013 / 11

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