editor's note

Illustration by Gordon Schmidt

A couple of months after my 18th birthday, my dad took me to vote in my first presidential election. I don’t remember much of what we talked about as we walked along the cracked sidewalks of our modest neighborhood, but I remember what we joked about. We both knew that we were about to cancel out each other’s votes. Inside the elementary school gym around the corner, he’d check one candidate’s box, I’d check another’s, and then we’d walk back home together. There was no question that we weighed the issues at hand differently, but also no question that we walked together as father and son.

I read the reactions to last issue’s cover story in the same spirit. If you turn the page, you can see a representative sample of the messages we received. I welcomed them because I think Spiders’ bonds strengthen when we commit to walking alongside each other, even across differences.

One of the unique things about this magazine is the breadth of the constituency it serves. Commercial magazines cater to narrow demographic segments — cosmopolitan 20-somethings, homeowners with garden projects, enthusiasts for quilts or guns — but this magazine goes to people who might be 22 or 82 years old. They are scientists, accountants, health care providers, fashion designers, executives, small business owners, graduate students, retirees, and everything else. Some are quite wealthy, while others are budgeting for next month’s rent. What they have in common is that all are Spiders.

The role of the magazine is to share the stories, progress, and perspectives of Richmond’s students, faculty, and alumni and to communicate the university’s goals and progress to the Spider community. Some of these stories are invariably wrapped up in politics and the issues that challenge our nation, just as last issue’s cover story was. Other recent examples include a 2017 feature about an alumnus newly elected to Congress, a 2019 feature on an alumnus who secured a divisive conviction after the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, and a 2019 profile of a Jepson graduate serving on the staff of the nation’s first lady. Readers wrote with their reactions after all of them, some agreeing with a perspective presented, others in strong opposition.

I hope readers will continue to share their kudos, disappointments, personal stories, and thoughtful reflections about these and other issues that affect and engage the campus community. Robust but civil debate, diverse viewpoints, and even sometimes uncomfortable conversations are hallmarks of a liberal arts education. By opening ourselves to challenging ideas, we open ourselves to one another and continue to walk together.