By Courtney Searcy
“You all do not know how to appreciate that campus.”
When I heard those words from Tillman Mays, a graduate of Union’s class of 1961, they stung—he spoke his opinion sternly and without hesitation. It was the kind of harsh statement that would be easy to brush off as the judgment of a man far removed from our generation.
However, even days after he made that remark his words hung in the back of my mind. Were they true? I began to notice that for myself, it was. It is for many of us.
Mays attended Union long before it was the campus we currently know. When he graduated, Union was a small campus located in downtown Jackson, and it certainly did not hold the luxuries it does now.
According to the Union website, more than $120 million have been spent in the last decade on improvements to the Jackson campus — many of them funded by donors. Yet the bulk of our conversations regarding the school consists of insisting that for the tuition we pay, we should not have to deal with choppy Internet connection, or what we deem as unsatisfactory meals from the cafeteria.
There is much to appreciate here on Union’s hundreds of acres. Our dorms are fully furnished, have a kitchen, washer and dryer, two bathrooms and a large living room area. There are two commons buildings for students’ enjoyment, along with a coffee shop. If I were to list everything that students are privileged to have on this campus, space simply would not allow.
The campus is not the only thing we fail to appreciate. Our apathy toward what we have affects our appreciation for the quality of the education offered, the Christian community among faculty and students along with the immeasurable resources available at this institution. Luke 12:48 says, “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.”
If this is true, then much will be required from Union University students in the course of their lives. We are paying for our experience as students, but even the ability to do that is a gift. There are overwhelming amounts of people in this world who will never have the opportunity to become literate, nullifying any chance of attending a respected university.
If we decided to truly appreciate our campus, it would alter our approach to the short time we spend “getting our education.” Going to class, doing assignments and attending chapel would no longer be simply obligations, but rather opportunities. Seeing them as opportunities, we would seize them whole-heartedly in order to be equipped to share what we have with the “have-nots” of our world.
The illiterate would become literate. The hungry would be fed. The lost would be found. Those thirsty for knowledge would be taught, and the sick would be made well.
Our level of appreciation for what we have been given is revealed by what we make of it, but we must first open our eyes to the extravagance of what we have been given. At Union University, much has been given, and much will be required.