I'm not the first, and I won't be the last, to say this to you today: Welcome to Elon University, Class of 2020.

We've heard a little about you already. We've heard you're the largest and most diverse class to date in Elon history. The entire Elon community is excited to get to know the entire class of 1,569 students, 20 percent of whom are non-white. You're already historic, and you've just started here.

But also.

The Class of 2019 was the largest and most diverse class to date when they arrived last year. And when I got here in fall 2013, my class was the largest and most diverse to date. Almost every class has been, in its day.

"The largest and most diverse class in history!" becomes a bit of a cliche, even though it's completely true. As Elon grows, the phrase ends up in speeches and articles every year around move-in and Convocation. Those of us who have been here for a while have heard it so much that it doesn't mean much to us anymore.

That does not mean it shouldn't mean something to you.

There are unique opportunities afforded you because of your class' size and makeup, and you should never take them for granted. Perspectives from a variety of backgrounds can open up fantastically rich dialogues about this community, both its ups and its downs. If you work together as a group this big, you can make huge change for the better. There are many of you — it's hard to ignore you when you speak together.

You can spread out across the globe and across the disciplines, then bring back lessons to share with one another and with us.

But these opportunities are just opportunities right now. To make them more than that, you have to ... well, make them. You have to go to events and discussions, especially those that you might not want to for fear of feeling out of place or uncomfortable. You have to put yourself out there, physically, emotionally and intellectually. You have to challenge yourself and then challenge others, in that order, with modesty and courage.

Prove to those of us who've tuned out the "bigger and diverse-r than ever!" that it does mean something. I promise, we'll listen.


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