When I think through the primary events on campus this semester, the word that screams out to me the most is growth. I’ll explain.

Budget Cuts – Students, faculty, staff and administration all dealt with budget cuts in some way; some departments took harder hits than others. Some painful cuts occurred, but it was less dramatic than many anticipated. One of the overarching changes I noticed was a campus-wide desire to incorporate sustainability practices into the budget cuts. A good example is the native landscaping project. An interesting trend I’ve noticed is people’s initial interest in the subject, but frequent complaint that our campus may look untidy and unkempt with the addition of native grasses and forbs. To me, the native landscaping project shows the need for our campus community to grow in our definition of beauty from a more traditional definition to one that incorporates the wildness of the natural landscape.

Egypt Study-Service Term – Our SST program continues to grow. We have now successfully ventured to the Middle East with competent guidance from SST Leader Tom Meyers, who led the first SST unit to Egypt this semester. Thankfully, nobody was left accidentally locked in a pyramid. Meyers even granted special permission for one student to complete her service term in Amann, Jordan, so she could connect with her family roots. Through the semester we’ve been privileged to read e-mailed perspective articles from the Egypt SST students, providing an on-campus window to the personal growth occurring every day in Egypt.

Violations – This has been a topic of controversy on campus. There was an increase in the number of drug and alcohol violations this semester as well as a number of off-campus police arrests, as one of our news articles reported last week. Some students are outraged at how some violations were conducted, while others—RA’s in particular—struggle to manage this issue on their floors in a peaceful manner. In the midst of this touchy subject there are plenty of changes for growth, spanning from how we approach the topic in conversation with others to how we deal with the issue in our personal lives.

Personal Growth – Each student on campus has grown in some way during this semester; for some, it was a joyous first semester getting acquainted with college life and new friends. For others, it was any other normal semester, complete with friendship fluctuations and transitions to upper level classes. For me, it was a whirlwind (in a positive sense, primarily). I absolutely loved my Record staff, struggled through a statistics class more brutal than I ever imagined and balanced savoring my last weeks of college while training for a job at The Elkhart Truth next semester after I graduate in December. It’s been a full semester of joy, challenges and plenty of growth along the way.