Raising the Standard.

ON CAMPUS: Confronting Transience with Tradition

A treasured tradition. (Photo courtesy Pruddle)

This editorial first appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE.


Welcome, Reader, to the Fall 2015 edition of THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE. We are pleased to present our first magazine of the academic year. In these pages, you will find thoughtful commentary on the status of liberty and tradition on campus and beyond.

Our journalists discuss a range of topics, from local events and the Student Government Association to presidential candidates and foreign policy. Whether you come as a skeptic or an ardent lover of liberty, we trust you will discover thought-provoking content within these covers.

As THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE enters its third  year of publishing, we find that we are confronting the perennial difficulty facing campus organizations: the reality of transience in collegiate life.

Every autumn, the University of Georgia greets a new freshman class. Four years later, these students graduate, and leave Athens for new vistas. College undergraduates encounter a strange paradox: Our tenure on campus is relatively short compared to the significant intellectual growth we experience here. In other words, our time at the University of Georgia is meaningful, but brief. THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE itself bid a bittersweet farewell to several founding staffers last spring.

So, we ask ourselves the question: How does an organization whose membership is constantly changing maintain a viable presence on campus and in the local community?

We are humbly grateful that our publication has made a measurable impact for liberty at this university. How can we ensure that THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE remains a worthwhile resource for future UGA students?

Like any private or corporate entity, we are engaging the problem of vision. On the one hand, our magazine grasps at a lofty purpose: to provide a forum for civil and articulate discussion of ideas. On the other, it is difficult to remember such an abstract notion in the day-to-day trenches of publishing deadlines, schoolwork, and software glitches.

UGA itself faces this concern daily and on a much larger scale. President Morehead must constantly evaluate how our school can best maintain a campus culture that fosters excellence and community, even when the interaction between institution and student is relatively brief.

In such situations, tradition serves an eminently practical purpose.

Unlike other entities, collegiate organizations cannot survive on the quest for profit. As Adam Smith argues in The Wealth of Nations, financial gain is a great, and not entirely unworthy, motivator. In the corporate sector, the creation of wealth ensures that the division of labor remains effective over time: The employees at a pin factory will work together because they want their wages.

Another economist weighs in here, however: in The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek writes that “the ultimate ends of reasonable beings are never economic.” Even the quest for wealth, when rightly pursued, is aimed at preserving the things which really matter in life: leisure with family and friends, intellectual inquiry, charitable work, and even religious contemplation. In these pursuits, we cultivate our souls, grow in relationships with one another, and turn our gaze beyond the mundane concerns of life.

Ultimately, it is a proper respect for these ends — what Russell Kirk famously calls the Permanent Things — that enables collegiate organizations to have a meaningful impact on campus.

Tradition, then, serves a useful purpose by efficiently integrating these Permanent Things into daily life. Whether casual or formal, simple rituals call attention to camaraderie and common ideals. Traditions are often the mark of a flourishing community. The magazine you are holding continues a few customs unique to THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE: You will find that Kilroy Was Here again, we are still keeping an eye on SGA, and as usual our humor section delivers wit with a dash of wisdom.

In this we are simply following our Alma Mater, however. As autumn arrives, the University of Georgia is especially conscious of one tradition which binds us together as a campus: football season, with chilly games, tailgates on Myers Quad, and the shared thrill of cheering the Dawgs to victory.

In the fevered rush of student life, tradition stands as a vivid reminder of why we are at college in the first place: We seek education in community with one another.

 The Editors

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