Class of 2020: If you haven’t declared it already, you’re likely preparing to call Elon your “new home.” And it’s true — this is your new home. But it stretches far beyond your new lofted bed.
When you call this community your home, think about everything you’re embracing. All of it.
You're embracing the fact that 29.1 percent of Burlington residents live under the poverty line. And on a state level, more than 25 percent of children are food insecure. You’re embracing the 75 percent of state households served by food banks who have had to choose between buying food or heating their homes in the winter.
You’re embracing Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas, a 20-year-old unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a North Carolina homeowner who claimed to be on a “neighborhood watch.” On Aug. 10, 2016, Thomas’ mother, Simone, stood in front of an audience asking, “Would this happen if he were a Caucasian boy skateboarding up and down the street?”
You’re embracing North Carolina’s voter ID laws and histories, which have earned national scrutiny for placing restrictions on several minority communities. And HB2, which you already know too much about.
But you’re also embracing a steadily rising graduation rate in the county — in 2015, Alamance County achieved its highest graduation rate in recorded history at 76 percent. You're embracing the home to a number of growing industries in health care that have changed the state of the world. And the one of the nation's strongest havens for all the arts.
You’re embracing Research Triangle Park, the largest research park in the country, home to more than 170 domestic and international companies. You’re embracing the fourth-fastest growing metro area in the United States. And the founding state of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce.
You’re embracing so much more than the possibility of ending Late Night McEwen, study disturbances caused by university-sanctioned music in the Great Hall or a petition to keep Starbucks out of — events that have garnered campus-wide attention and concern in recent years.
These are very real circumstances affecting very real people who also call this community their home. At the bare minimum, you should remain aware and engaged.
Embrace the good and the bad, and make your new home proud.