President calls all school meeting

assembly in Plumley ArmoryOn Friday, May 2, at 1300 hours, President Richard W. Schneider called a meeting of the entire university community to discuss events of the recent past. The president asked the Corps to stand at ease as civilian students, faculty and staff gathered near the stage in Plumley Armory to hear his remarks.

The president first spoke on the tragic death of Norwich freshman Brendan T. MacDonald. Second, he touched on the felony charges faced by a student as a result of an incident that occurred off campus during junior weekend. Thirdly, the president spoke at some length about the ongoing investigation of the alleged use of steroids by members of the Norwich community.

In light of these events, the president urged all members of the Norwich community to be accountable, both individually and collectively, and to use these experiences as "teaching moments." He closed by assuring all those present that the Norwich of tomorrow would be stronger as a result.

dweggler@norwich.edu, May 2003


President Schneider's Speech

President Schneider at podiumAs I look out over the audience, I know I have spoken to and talked with many of you one-on-one during your days and years here at Norwich -- and even more frequently during the past week as we all encountered some difficult situations -- especially the loss of Freshman Cadet Brendan MacDonald of India Company.

For the next few minutes, I want to talk to you about Brendan, and the other events in the news. A week ago, our Norwich community and the MacDonald family lost a very special person, Cadet Brendan MacDonald. While death is never easy to accept, it is especially painful when it occurs at an early age. We should remember Brendan - his spirit, his drive, his passion for lacrosse, and his loyalty to the corps and specifically India Company.

To those of you who served as pall bearers and honor detail at Brendan's funeral and who helped to ease the suffering of the MacDonalds with your presence -- thank you on behalf of the entire Norwich family. I would like to extend a special thank you to Ed Rearnick, a member of the Norwich security department. Ed was the first responder to the accident. Because of Ed's training, he quickly assessed the situation and requested appropriate medical support.

To those of you who are still experiencing the pain over this loss and who need to talk with someone, I urge you to contact Dean Mathis, Reverend Wick or Dr. Mel Miller. Please take advantage of their guidance to help you at this very difficult time.

You may have read or seen news reports of an arrest during our junior weekend. Numerous parties were held in the Killington area. One of our students has been charged with a felony. If convicted, this individual can face up to five years in jail on just this one charge!

The third disturbing incident of the week came to my attention on Monday. I was contacted by agents working for the Department of Homeland Security, who informed me of an investigation into the distribution and use of steroids by some of our students. I encourage any individual who has been using steroids to seek medical advice, as these drugs have the potential to be fatal.

The events of the past week are entirely out of sync with our Norwich guiding values. It is unfortunate that these types of events serve as teaching moments for us. However, events like these need to be seen not as stumbling blocks that get in our way, but as building blocks that demonstrate the importance of personal responsibility and its consequences. We will learn and become stronger from these events!

Norwich will take responsibility for the development of education and training programs necessary to foster an atmosphere on our campus that will help ensure these types of incidents do not happen again in the future. I will be looking for the support and insight of all of you as we work together to make the Norwich of the future better and stronger.

As president, I can say that undertaking necessary changes is my responsibility, the responsibility of the trustees and of our entire administration. Not everyone will agree with new rules and regulations, but the objective behind them will not be to punish but rather to create a safer and healthier culture.

We cannot do this alone! I am asking each and every one of you to become accountable - to yourself, your friends, your parents, your professors and to your university. It has been said, "it is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities." Now is the time for each and every one of you to examine your lives and take responsibility for them.

I urge each of you to reflect upon the events of the past week and determine how you will conduct your life today, tomorrow, and in the years ahead. Examine the values you as a student at Norwich have pledged to uphold and the code of conduct you committed to follow. We will learn from our mistakes, and I commit to you that the Norwich of today will be different in the future.

For 185 years our guiding values have served this institution. Our values are right. You can see this in the actions of the great leaders who have come off "The Hill" and accomplished great things. I can only imagine the great things awaiting those of you here this afternoon who live by the proven values that make Norwich so unique.

I will try!

As we all prepare for the summer, know that we are here for you during your time away from campus. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

pres@norwich.edu, May 2003

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