2021 Move-in Day Speech

Delivered September 5, 2021.

What unites us all is our dedication to you and your education.

I want to thank everyone—and it is literally everyone who works for and at King’s, and the KSU and the O-Week team for all they have done to prepare for your arrival. They have worked to ensure you are properly welcomed and settled, and to ensure we are ready to safely be together for living and learning at King’s, the way it is meant to be—in and around the Quad.

Welcome to King’s. After the two academic years we have all been through, it is a thrill to be able to say that. Welcome also to the campus we share with Dalhousie, where almost all of you will do at least some of your courses and many of you will do the majority of your courses. I want you to know from the beginning of your time at King’s that Dalhousie is also your university and that everything Dal has to offer, both academically and in student services and support, is for you as well as Dalhousie students. That is the way it is supposed to be—and we work very hard with Dalhousie colleagues to ensure it is consistently the way things are.

Thank you for choosing King’s. Congratulations on choosing the path less travelled—by definition, if you have come to King’s, you have followed your own path instead of following the crowd. We are very biased, but we think this bodes well for your futures at and beyond King’s. It also speaks positively for the influence of your families and teachers.

I am full of awe and respect for everything you have overcome over the past two years. I am grateful you have brought the wisdom and perspective of all you have experienced, and watched the world experience, to King’s.

At King’s, we are very intentional about building community. You came to King’s because it offers a strong community. But of course, the reality is that community is not a thing that is offered or given, it is something that is created by those who gather to be a community. I want you to think that this is something you have come to King’s to do, to not only pursue your education, but to make a community with each other, your faculty, all the people who work at King’s, the alumni of King’s and also with the people you will meet as a King’s student in and beyond Halifax.

The strength of our community lies in the promises and commitments we make to each other. In a few weeks, with your parents able to watch on livestream, you will matriculate. Wearing your gowns and reading in beautiful Latin, you will promise to abide by the precepts of communal living and learning. You will make that promise to the university and to all who have come before you and to those who will come after you. But most importantly, you will make that promise to each other.

And then, after Matriculation, you will be left with the question—what are the precepts of communal living and learning? Individually and collectively, you will decide. But I urge you to think of them as including:

  • the support you will provide to each other and the contributions you will make to each other’s learning and well-being—not just to live and learn with each other but also for each other;
  • the way you will learn with your professors, and not simply from them, and the role you will play to make that a reality for you, your fellow students, and your professors;
  • getting involved in the societies, organizations, events and activities that make this a fun and stimulating community;
  • supporting and contributing to the work that Jordan Roberts and Rhema Ferguson lead to make this a safe, equitable and inclusive community for everyone; and
  • abiding by the policies we have to keep us safe and to contribute to the safety of everyone in our wider community as the pandemic continues around us.

This has been the core strength of how King’s has responded to the pandemic so far. Our students, faculty and staff have adhered to public health orders and to the rules made by the college out of civic and collegial responsibility. But more fundamentally, they have done so by thinking of our Covid policies and rules as among the commitments we make to each other. This must continue this year if we are to be safe and if we are to be able to be together, not just on Move-In Day but throughout the rest of the year, as I am confident we will be. I know you will do your part!

I want to end by recognizing we come together at what has been and continues to be a difficult time. It is a Move-In Day when the normal anxieties and apprehensions of starting university in any year are joined with the anxieties and apprehensions we all have about both Covid and many other troubling events happening in our world.

More than usual, we all need to be joined together with people who know they need to be held up by others and that others need to be held up by them. At its best, that is what King’s is. And let’s make sure it is. Let’s make sure we go forward from this Move-In Day, dedicated to holding each other up, reaching out for support when we need it and being the support that those around us need, when they need it.

And in the spirit of this year’s fitting and brilliant KSU theme for O-Week, let’s not be worried about getting back to normal but instead, let us be concerned with moving ONWARDS!