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Angry Some, But Disappointed More

This past week, with the advent of Fall classes back on The Holy Hill, a new gathering spot has opened.  It is the 1823 Cafe at VTS.  (I would post a link to the seminary website about it, but I guess it's still too new to have anything posted.) 

Yes, Virginia Theological Seminary now actually has a cafe/pub on its premises!

I was present with two other schoolmates for its official opening on Tuesday, September 6th at 4:00 p.m.  My first drink was a Stella Artois beer (bottled) because the taps were not yet operation.  I did claim the 1st Miller Lite draft drawn in 1823!  That evening, we saw Bishop S., the Head of the Board of Trustees, some faculty, and a smattering of students populate the place.  Kinks are still being worked out (only cash & checks excepted right now), but grand opening specials were available (but probably not for much longer).

My anger/disappointment stems from yesterday. Heart Of My Heart were there at 4:00 p.m. following our first week of classes; she was going to Evening Prayer while I was trying to put a brass plaque on my barstool (just kidding!)  The patrons were sparse.  Few to no other students other than us, the Dean, the former Dean of VTS, the VP of Institutional Advancement, the Director of Communications who ushered in two guys working on promotional videos for the seminary. A few on-hill students came in and left shortly thereafter.  (We actually bought a drink for the Dean as we visited before his others guests arrived.)

From different postings of pictures on Facebook beginning late last night and continuing this morning, there was a 'ball' for on-hill students.  People dressed up, there were festive lights, some drinks, and a leftove tapped keg from the Labor Day Community Picnic.  Due to the dress of many present, this was not a spontaneous gathering as much as it appears to have been a quietly managed planned event.  Some of the wait staff from '1823' was present also.

This seminary has constantly struggled to unify or unite those who live on The Holy Hill and those who don't into a larger community.  They are the "on-hillers"; we are the "off-hillers."  Yes, unfortunately, it's an 'us and them dilemma.'  Two common, but sadly, separate communities.  The "off-hillers" spilt even further between Braddock Lee and the others. Heart Of My Heart and I are part of the 'others' ~ local community residents who live nearby.  We live here in Alexandria and have for 30+ years.  We've been associated with the seminary far longer than almost anyone, be it faculty, staff or student.  Both our fathers are alumni from the late 70s, so VTS has been a part of our individual lives and collective life together for a good long while.

So I'm a bit angry, but even more disappointed, that people can say one thing to promote unity, and then do something completely different.  I'm pretty positive that few people in the community read my blog, so I felt this to be the best place for me to vent.  And if anyone should happen to wander by and see it, that's fine.  We can talk about it.  

I pray that true community will sometime arise in this place.  That welcome may be extended to all.  Always, in all ways.  That words won't only be words, but that intentions and actions will show us to be inclusive and welcoming of everyone.  Always, in all ways.  This I hope.  And I this pray.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 11th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC)
Not invited?
Yeah, I also felt a little weird about not being invited to the ball. I guess it's fine for on-hill students to have an event of their own, and I did already have plans that night with other off-hill folks. But I heard about the ball a lot that day and was never actually invited. It was a little awkward, seeing as it looks like a great time was had by all who got to be there.
Sep. 12th, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
There will ALWAYS be cliques, even in seminary. A couple years ago, I was living in the dorms, and I lived on the second floor and I was friends with most of the first floor (I spent more time there than in my room). One night, the first floor people went out to dinner, leaving me uninvited and very upset/hurt. Later, one of them explained that the RA wanted it to be 1st floor ONLY. I understood but I felt that they should have told me.There's a chance that that's what happened in your case (or something like it).
Sep. 12th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
Similar, But Different
I expect more from a Christian community, especially one that speaks to unity and inclusion. GMU is a secular institution so social norms rather than Christian practice pervade its campus ethos. I will continue to hope for more than that at VTS. But alas, you're correct ~ cliques live.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )