Washington Birthday Convocation honors Lakota Sioux elder

By Jake DiPaola

Elm Staff Writer

Many voices were heard at Washington College as awards were granted to the faculty and alumni and students voiced their dissatisfaction with racial bias incidents at George Washington’s Birthday Convocation. 

Student protestors marched into Decker Theatre at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 21 to protest administrative inaction regarding recent racial bias incidents on campus. They entered the theatre right before Convocation began, filling the aisles with chants calling for action to make campus safer. 

After words passed between President Kurt Landgraf, protestors, and a woman in the audience, protesters either left or sat in the audience to watch convocation and honor the faculty, alumni, and others who received awards. 

President Landgraf gave a speech commending the protestors for their courage and strength to speak out when they feel injustice. 

“What we just experienced is part of the WC way of showing moral courage. What we experienced is our students and our community saying we will not tolerate hate and bigotry,” Landgraf said.

Lula Red Cloud, the great-great granddaughter of Chief Red Cloud of Oglala Lakota, gave an invocation to start the ceremony, followed by WACappella’s performance of the National Anthem. 

Nicholas Gottemoller, senior and president of the Student Government Association, greeted the audience and expressed his gratitude that they came to “celebrate and recognize the community members, students, and groups who dedicate their time to the service of others.”

The awarding section began after Gottemoller’s greeting with Provost and Dean of the College Dr. Patrice DiQuinzio presenting Clarence C. White Associate Professor of Chemistry and the Chemistry Department Co-Chair Dr. Aaron Amick the Cromwell Award for Innovation in Teaching. 

Dr. Amick received the award for his innovative flipped biochemistry classroom, in which students watch and follow video lecture guides at home and complete worksheets and problems in class. 

Because students complete their work in groups with Dr. Amick during class, they can ask questions and address problems as a class. 

“It is okay to be wrong, and the class learns best when an incorrect answer is presented and the errors leading to the incorrect answer are discussed,” Dr. Amick said in an Elm interview. 

Landgraf then honored six recipients of the Joseph L. Holt Distringuished Service Award, including Assistant Professor of Business Management and the Sam M. Walten Free Enterprise Fellow Lansing Williams.

Judith Berry Barroll, class of 1988, was awarded the Alumni Service Award by Chair of the Alumni Board Patrick J. McMenamin, Jr., class of 1987.

The President’s Medal was awarded to the League of Women Voters of Kent County. 

“In this year of the woman, as we celebrate the centennial of the passage of the nineteenth amendment, we remember the struggle for gender equality at the polls and the extraordinary women who stood up then and continue to stand up to demand a voice in shaping the future of our nation,” Landgraf said.

Following the President’s Medal, the ceremony turned its attention towards the student body.

Biology Lab Instructor and Coordinator, and Washington College Phi Beta Kappa chapter President Suzanne Thuecks led the presentation of the members of Phi Beta Kappa. 

The Phi Beta Kappa Society, founded in 1776, honors the excellence of students in liberal arts and the sciences for their academic achievements.

Henry Red Cloud was then awarded the Honorary Degree of Public Service. 

Red Cloud is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and founded Lakota Solar Enterprises. He and others work to develop solar energy for Native American peoples to provide services such as heating.

WACappella closed the ceremony with the College’s Alma Mater after Red Cloud gave a speech on the efforts of the Lakota Solar Enterprise and the importance of clean energy. 

“In order for us to survive and keep our bloodline for the next several generations, we have got to slow it down and…look to the future and start implementing some clean energy,” Red Cloud said. “We cannot do that alone; we have got to do that together and unifying is what we have to do.”

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