Since 1970, UConn has annually observed Metanoia, a “period of intense investigation, deliberation, and understanding on an issue of critical importance to the university.” The term’s Greek roots signify a willingness to reflect and remain open-minded to change. Members of all levels of the social hierarchy are encouraged to partake in meaningful discussion and action surrounding a given issue, whether it concern racism, violence against women or, in this year’s case, youth activism. “Youth for Change,” UConn’s final Metanoia under current president Susan Herbst highlights the pressing predicaments that young Americans face, along with their capacity to induce societal progression. Such significant themes merit widespread recognition, and it is equally vital that incoming president Thomas Katsouleas upholds UConn’s rich history of conducting Metanoia yearly.
On Feb. 6, Herbst distributed an email to all UConn undergraduates, outlining the plan for this year’s Metanoia. Actress, model and activist Yara Shahidi, best known for her starring role on Black-ish and its spinoff series, Grown-ish, conducted a moderated discussion at the Jorgensen Theatre on Feb. 9. Author and student activist David Hogg, survivor of the 2018 Parkland high school shooting, will speak on the same stage on March. As these guests build up student anticipation, Herbst proclaims that “‘Youth for Change’ is much more than its keynote speakers: it is a broad range of exciting panels, workshops, and events organized by the UConn community.” On UConn’s official Metanoia website, students can propose such initiatives to be enacted from March 4-8, this year’s designated week of observance.
As Herbst sings her swan song with 2019’s Metanoia, Katsouleas must ensure the annual continuation of successful events in this vein. For one, students need a safe environment and appropriate outlet for expressing their beliefs and acting upon them while also discovering and open mindedly considering contrary viewpoints; because college students typically reach an age at which their most persistent personality traits and strongest-held beliefs crystallize, such an open atmosphere is particularly crucial. Also, each Metanoia covers issues that are highly relevant at the time of its observance, thus providing an opportunity to better inform members of the UConn community of key sociocultural developments. Lastly, UConn’s Metanoia allows students, faculty, and administrators, each of differing age and background, to unite under an amicable commitment to better society in some manner.
This year’s Metanoia should stimulate productive, thought-provoking discussion and inspire a more proactive on-campus community. When Katsouleas takes the reins next fall, hopefully he will follow the path of his predecessors and sustain one of UConn’s proudest traditions.
Michael Katz is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org.