Though the skies were overcast, spirits were bright on Anderson University’s campus on Sunday, August 18. As hundreds of students had done before them, AU’s incoming freshman class participated in what is quickly becoming one of campus’s most memorable traditions: the archway walk.
The ceremony is one that AU students do only twice: at matriculation to officially begin their college experience, and at commencement to mark the end of their time as an AU student. It bookends the AU experience.
On this unseasonably cool August morning, freshmen gathered in front of Thrift Library to prepare for their first archway walk. While waiting, they reflected on words they had just heart from guest speaker and Founder and President of Crossroads Worldwide, Clayton King. Preaching from Luke chapter 2, King had spoken about the opportunities for growth and change when you leave home, asking the students who they want to be when they leave Anderson.
“Who you are becoming determines where you are going,” King had said. “And who you follow determines who you become.”
It was with this in mind that freshman business major Robert Murphy from Charleston lined up with his new classmates to begin the walk. He was familiar with the tradition, as his sister, Sarah, is a junior at AU and had walked the same steps just two years earlier.
“I think it’s cool that it’s the official entrance and then also the official exit of college,” Murphy said.
Approximately 520 freshmen made their way from the library down the Kingsley Road sidewalk and left along South Boulevard. Parents, siblings and friends of the students lined the sidewalk to offer applause and cheers as their loved ones passed by. In the crowd was Murphy’s mother, Susan.
“It’s great to see all the students come through,” Susan Murphy said. “It’s such a neat thing that they do that in the beginning and at the end. I feel like it’s such a great tradition for Anderson, and of course you get really excited when you see your kid come through!”
The highlight of the ceremony took place at the historic Anderson University arch, a as students shook hands with university President Evans Whitaker before passing through the arch on their way up to Merritt Administration Building.
According to Dr. Bob Cline, Vice President of Christian Life, it is a celebratory experience.
“We feel the archway walk is a way to confirm to new students that they belong here,” Dr. Cline said. “It is an opportunity for families to show their support and help celebrate the beginning of their student’s college experience. But at the same time, the walk is a reminder of the other bookend: of the goal to graduate.”
When all students finished the walk, AU’s newest class enjoyed a quick photo opportunity. President Whitaker then shared a few words before leading the students in a cheer that they will echo at the end of their commencement ceremony: “Long live Anderson!”