The Seven Society raised banners around Grounds Sunday calling for unity and collective action from within the University community to respond to recent events. Each banner bears the same inscription and is accompanied by a letter laid below it.
The banners, which can be seen hanging from spots including the Fralin Art Museum, Runk Dining Hall, Thornton Hall and Peabody Hall, are inscribed with John Donne’s 17th century poem “No Man is an Island,” which lies below the the Seven Society’s insignia.
The poem reads,
“No man is an island, entire of itself.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
it tolls for thee.”
The letter laid below each banner calls upon the University community for unified reconciliation after a semester which has included the abduction and murder of second-year College student Hannah Graham, the suicides of second-year College student Peter D’Agostino and second-year Engineering Connor Cormier as well as the recent allegations of sexual assault presented in a Rolling Stone article by current third-year student Jackie — all of whom are specifically mentioned in the letter.
The letter urges members of the community to look past the anger and despair created by each of these tragic occurrences and to collectively act to address the problems of the University community — ultimately placing the onus of responsibility upon the individuals within the community to bring about a cultural change.
“How many times have we shaken our heads at the bigotry that persists in our community — and then done nothing?” the letter reads. “Many have called for cultural change, but cultural change cannot simply be called into being. It is we, as individuals who must change the lives that we live.”
In the letter, the Seven Society offers a donation of $57,777.77 in support of programs that will promote and enforce the efforts to “institutionalize this kind of bottom-up cultural change,” like those devoted to education on bystander intervention referred to in the letter.
The allocation of these funds will be determined by proposals submitted to the Society from members of the University community by Jan. 17. Proposals should be sent to Proposals.SevenSociety@gmail.com.
The letter concludes with the hope that the University will not again be subjected to such dark times, and the efforts undertaken will ultimately define whether this hope becomes reality.
“This is — it must be — only the beginning. This will be a place about which we can be proud, a place free of fear, free of harm, free of hatred. This will be a place where we are never again entangled in such grief, wondering what we should have known, what we could have done. But it will only be if we make it so. And so, we say once more — send not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”
Click here to read the full letter.