Tripod Editorial: On Administrative “Validation”

“Our response to other questions reflect [sic] our position that the administration has the capacity and authority to exercise judgment in decision making without having to validate to the Tripod every position we take.”—Trinity College Administration. 

Contrary to popular belief, the Tripod does not have as its singular aim and ambition to represent the College poorly, nor have we ever hoped or urged that the administration fail in its critical pursuit to better the College, safeguard its finances, and shepherd our beloved college through a pandemic. 

Our role is to report the facts and rectify discrepancies so that the students, alumni, and faculty of this campus might be better informed of the developments and actions which materially impact their relationship to Trinity College, an institution which, administrators included, holds special resonance in our hearts. 

Our questions and inquiries to Trinity—this one in particular concerned the removal of 15 students from campus last week—do not ask for some “validation” for the administration’s position. They ask for an explanation to simple, direct questions. They seek answers to contradictions in statements made by administrators. They beg for transparency so students can feel comfortable existing on this campus, confident in the safety protocols and practices that the College has pledged itself to uphold. 

To not ask otherwise would be to betray the high ideals and values of the journalistic enterprise to which we are bound. We ask questions just the same as every respected newspaper has since time immemorial. 

But even if we accept, for a moment, that our requests in some way seek validation, it would certainly not be due to the Tripod, some alleged malevolent entity, its authors detached from the life and vibrancy of the campus, lurking and ready to take aim at every administrative error. 

We Tripod editors are students. The administration, in answering these inquiries, does not “validate” its answers to a singular newspaper or some inchoate body of individuals, but to the students of this campus. We, like every other member of this campus, live amidst a pandemic and expect a base level of accountability for the decisions that threaten and impact our continued welfare. 

The Tripod is and remains the institutional record of this College. When history reflects on a time, they look to this tangible record of student thought and discourse for a window into Trinity in time and space. Nowhere is this clearer than in the historical works of Mssrs. Weaver and Knapp, who—almost incessantly—rely on the Tripod and the preceding Tablet on questions of student reception and concern to the prerogatives of administrators of decades (and centuries) past. 

Trinity might be wise to adjust its mantra—that it prepares “bold, independent thinkers who lead transformative lives”—for those same thinkers are, in this response, tossed asunder and dashed against the precipice.  

We regret that the administration feels that our questions, based in legitimate, thoughtful reporting since the start of this pandemic, seek some sort of validation. 

We humbly offer, in retort, that we seek only the truth with important questions that get to the heart of issues that concern each and every one of us.  

As Seneca noted, the “liberal arts do not conduct the soul all the way to virtue, but merely set it going in that direction.” If our mission offends the conscience of the President and her colleagues, then we can only surmise that the liberal arts and its aim are dead at the institution’s doorstep. 

As it goes, they wandered from the path which Seneca has charted and, so it seems, never made it all the way to the point of virtue…

-The Trinity Tripod


Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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