The 82nd annual induction ceremony for Colgate’s Konosioni senior honor society took place on Friday, February 12, and kicked off with a torchlight procession around the academic quad. This procession was led by the members of the current Konosioni Class of 2016, and made its way into the Colgate Memorial Chapel where the members and inductees took to the stage.
Senior Konosioni President Ranissa Adityavarman opened the event with a welcome address to the audience which provided a brief history of the group’s origins. Adityavarman also commented on the commitment of the 26 inductees to Konosioni’s long-standing traditions of service, community and leadership, before introducing the event’s keynote speaker, former Konosioni member and president and CEO of the Cleveland Leadership Institute Marianne Crosley ’80.
Crosley chose not to discuss her own Colgate experience, but rather to provide advice to the current members of Konosioni. She spoke first of the changes that the students would soon face, including graduation and assimilation into the life beyond Colgate.
“Your youthful self has always been the receiver. You’ve received from your parents and you’ve received from your professors. But the adult self is about being a giver… Leaders realize that they have an obligation to give back and they challenge themselves to be change agents every day,” Crosley said.
Additionally, due to her position as head of an organization promoting leadership, Crosley was able to offer the students her own unique perspectives on leadership, which she ironically summarized into thirteen rules, namely to embrace failure, lose the ego, be empathetic and work hard.
Crosley ended her address by encouraging the new members of Konosioni to use their positions of leadership to cultivate positive change not only at Colgate, but throughout their entire lives.
Following Crosley’s address was the presentation of new members, during which each of the current members gave a brief speech summarizing the achievements of a new member. After each speech, the inductee being addressed lit a candle and recorded his or her name in the Konosioni registry.
Members of the audience found the speeches given for each new member particularly moving. Mary Cowan Lundquist, who was in attendance to support her son, junior Austin Cowan, as he was inducted into the Konosioni Class of 2017, appreciated the personal touches that the speeches employed.
“I loved the way that they honored each inductee with a small story. I thought it was really wonderful,” Lundquist said.
Senior Ames Tardio, who attended the ceremony to cheer on his friends in the Class of 2017, also enjoyed the speeches.
“I thought the speeches were great. We get to learn why they were accepted rather than just hear a name,” Tardio said.
While the event’s sentimentality was felt throughout the audience, it was felt most strongly among the Konosioni members themselves. To senior Michelle Cao, a member of the Konosioni Class of 2016, the ceremony was significant because of the way it unified the classes.
“This is one of the few times the Class of 2016 has [come] together as a group and spoken about how amazing our peers are. To sit there in a crowd of all these amazing people is pretty great and pretty awe-inspiring,” Tardio said.
Junior Jazmyn McKoy, an inductee to the Konosioni Class of 2017, explained that being accepted into the honor society was important not just for her but for the community that comes after her.
“I applied because I feel like my purpose here at Colgate is more than just me … Specifically being a person of color on this campus I realize the role that I have here and the influence that I have here is something that will affect the people of color who come after me, especially how they’re received, how they’re perceived and how their experience at Colgate will be,” McKoy said.
Despite the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the event, the induction ceremony comes at a time when some Konosioni traditions, namely the use of robes and torches, are under scrutiny from the greater Colgate community. Several Konosioni members expressed a range of opinions on the controversy surrounding racist connotations attached to uses of robes and torches.
Senior Providence Ryan took issue with this Konosioni tradition.
“I struggle with this because I think there’s a lot of value in tradition. I think Colgate has a lot of valuable traditions. But I think that using robes and torches comes with this polarizing image that can be seen as similar to KKK [Ku Klux Klan] images,” Ryan said.
Ryan also expressed her opinion that the leadership and influence that comes along with Konosioni membership necessitates discussion on how to make the campus more inclusive, whether that is achieved through discarding the tradition of robes and torches or not.
Junior inductee Jason Alexander said that Konosioni’s approach to the use of robes and torches differs from the way these symbols are utilized by the senior class in the traditional commencement ceremony.
“I think [the use of robes and torches] helps bring gravity to the [induction] procession and it helps bring unity to the people in the procession. It seems like we all take it with gravity so it comes off as solemn but respectful, which might not be the same compared to the whole mass of the student body doing it,” Alexander said.
While not all Konosioni members agreed upon the proper place of the tradition of robes and torches, they all agreed upon the beauty of the traditions of induction. When asked her thoughts on the induction ceremony, Providence Ryan voiced approval.
“This is a beautiful tradition that I really love, and it’s nice to take the incoming class and just speak to their accolades and speak to all the beautiful things that they’ve done. They all deserve to have their voices heard and have their accomplishments recognized,” Ryan said.