June 23, 2024

Dear Students,
Hello, my name is Emmanuel Thombs. This evening I write to you as a regular, run-of-the-mill student here at Wittenberg with an average GPA and a lot of passion for passing light on to others.
As many of you know, we are standing face-to-face with a tumultuous period as a campus community – a storm that may or may not pass, depending on whom you ask. The past week, I have spent a lot of time hearing different perspectives; concern, fright, apathy and confusion, to name a few. Often, I have attempted to remain neutral in this face of the conflict, as to not appear as if I am favoring one group over another. However, the more people that I have spoken to, the more my perspective has changed. Honestly, I realize that this situation is direr than I thought. But, not for the reasons that you’re thinking.
If I’m being completely honest and vulnerable with you, I’ve had trouble even understanding how I actually feel about everything that has been going on. As the Vice President of the Student Senate, someone whose major is under review and former athlete of two months turned NARP, I’m being pulled in many different directions. So, in order to step away from the chaos and really understand how I’ve been feeling, I have reflected upon three questions.
Why did I come to Wittenberg?
Why have I stayed at Wittenberg?
Why should I even care?
Like some of you, Wittenberg wasn’t necessarily my top choice. If I’m being honest, I came here because I wanted to study abroad, play a sport in college, and avoid severe, crippling debt. Realistically, I didn’t “feel at home once I stepped foot on campus” as many people say. However, as I’ve built relationships with other students, faculty and staff, I’ve come to realize what Witt is really all about. Here at Wittenberg, I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, not only to lead but to interact with a diverse group of people and challenge my thoughts and perceptions of society and its issues.
I never thought that I’d have the opportunity to pursue my dreams in another country – but Wittenberg gave me that experience. Wittenberg was one of only two schools to give me a chance to run track, and while I decided not to continue as a student-athlete, I am forever grateful for that opportunity. I never thought that I’d join a fraternity, but I’ve actually found a home, and I love my brothers. I never thought that I’d sit face-to-face with a state senator, and tell him all the things that I am telling you right now – but Wittenberg gave me that opportunity.
What I’m trying to get at here is: no matter how you ended up here, this place is sacred. The collective experience of every single student who has attended this university since 1845 has made this place sacred. This is our home.
Maybe you met the first teacher that actually cared about you, had the privilege to play the sport you love, found love and or heartbreak, found a home in a group of like-minded individuals, jumped out of your comfort zone and did something crazy that you’d never tell your parents. All of these things are things that are essential to the Wittenberg experience. That is why you should care about what is happening. Division between groups is cutting through campus like a hot knife, and it doesn’t have to be this way.
It doesn’t matter what “side” you’re on. Each and every single one of you has an opinion, a question, a concern that matters. In the end, this isn’t about The Steemer, about the professors, the protests, this is about us as students and our experience here. Seniors: this is about leaving Wittenberg better and more open than when you came. Freshman, sophomores and juniors: this is about using our voices now, no matter our opinion, to ensure that we will always have that voice.
So here’s my call to action:
If you are concerned, scared, frightened of what’s happening at Wittenberg, let that be known. If you feel like everything is okay, let that be known. If you just want to listen, speak out anyway. If you care, or don’t care, say why. And when you do, remember that this isn’t one side of campus versus another, this is each one of us coming together as a student body to better the collective Wittenberg experience.
But don’t stop there. Come to a Student Senate meeting and voice your concerns. And for students who don’t feel as if Student Senate is an effective venue for change, please know that we hear what you’re saying, and we’re always strategizing more effective ways to represent you.
If you have any questions, concerns, or opinions you’d like to tell me directly, feel free to email me at thombse@wittenberg.edu. My line is always open, and I’m always here to listen and relay your thoughts to the administration and other students.
I love you, Wittenberg. Thank you for sharing with me your light and I hope that I can pass that on to others.
Emmanuel Thombs
Wittenberg Student
Student Body Vice President

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