President White Extols Gentleman's Rule

by Howard W. Hewitt

September 4, 2008

Wabash College’s one student-governing rule sets it apart from peers and establishes a standard its students strive to achieve. President Patrick White gave the school year’s first Chapel Talk with his take on the Gentleman’s Rule.

"Wabash calls you to an ideal that many colleges do not articulate though it is an ideal all liberal arts colleges embrace," White told the big Thursday morning audience of students, faculty, and staff.

"The student is expected to conduct himself at all times, both on and off campus, as a gentleman and a responsible citizen."

"What do these words mean to us when so many others find them old-fashioned," White asked. He told the freshmen and upper classmen the College invites them to become gentlemen but, unlike other schools, make no specific demands on their conduct.

He acknowledged the missing rule book can be frustrating for freshmen. The president talked about freshman orientation and the prevailing attitude of ‘why don’t they just give us the rules.’

"This refusal is not mere stubbornness," White suggested, " … but to lay out a list of laws takes away the freedom to succeed, the freedom to fail, learn and to find your own way."

White talked about the strategic planning process seeking to further Wabash’s effort to graduate men who will fill the needs of the country. He cited, by name, students who are involved in campus and community activities. He called them gentlemen/citizens who "pop up in unlikely places on campus" with substantial differences in interests and activities."

The President told the students he sees in them a desire to lead lives that mean something. "Wabash Always Fights – but what do we fight for? We fight to find the greatness in each of you."

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