July 27, 2017

You don’t know Gordon until you know them: Lily Greenberg

Lily Greenberg
Lily Greenberg. (Photo courtesy of Lily Greenberg)

Fearless student has a knack for words

NAME: Lily Greenberg

ROLE: Student

NOTABLE FOR: In-your-face activism and boldness

By Madeline Linnell

If there could be one word to describe Lily Greenberg (‘17), what would it be?

“Authentic,” replies one of Greenberg’s friends, Elise Watson (‘17).

“Lily is more true to herself than anyone else I know. She is able to talk tactfully to others while not compromising truth or integrity in the process, which is a rare gift,” Watson said.

Along with praising Greenberg’s character, Watson describes Greenberg’s affinity for language as something of a diplomatic resource (“to talk tactfully” were her words).

It comes as no surprise then to learn that Greenberg is an English major with a concentration in creative writing, in addition to being a French minor. Greenberg will serve as The Idiom’s (a literary and arts journal) editor-in-chief this year.

Though The Idiom is not the only creative platform Greenberg spearheads. In April 2016, Greenberg decided to publish Together As One: The River Speaks.

Accessible online, the journal presents a collection of 25 anonymous articles. It was published for the entire Gordon community, however, not just a select few; every Trustee received a physical copy of the journal, for example. The articles cover a wide range of topics that have affected Gordon significantly in the past year, topics like the new Expressive Activism Policy, which can be found in the Student Handbook. Greenberg simply asked for submissions from fellow students and did little to edit their contents before publishing.

“I wanted it to be raw,” she said.

If Together As One is anything, it is most certainly that. All 25 articles express a deep sense of grief: The words of many make it sound as though the college is facing an identity crisis.

…Is it?

Watson said the journal was released “to reveal a pre-existing rift in the community being covered up and dismissed by those in power.” The anxiety and pain verbalized in these articles are evidences burgeoning tension between policy-makers and policy-followers. And it is a struggle over definitions. Ultimately “those in power,” in Greenberg’s view, are the students. She said, “By sharing experiences, by being honest [we are] actually reaffirming the power of the student body.”

Gordon Vice President for Student Life Jennifer Jukanovich, responding to a query from the Tartan late this summer about Greenberg’s actions surrounding her journal, said: “Thoughtful and respectful conversations are at the core of honest inquiry and to the extent students wish to engage in such conversations, they have the full support of the administration.”

“Students are always welcome to meet with me or my colleagues to express concerns and I look forward to more face to face conversations through the medium of the student government,” Jukanovich added. “It was also encouraging this summer to receive dozens of letters from students who have felt loved and cared for by the faculty and staff of Gordon College. I look forward to how we can help all of our students thrive this year.”

Greenberg’s statements  may sound like divisive language, but Greenberg doesn’t want Together As One to provoke discussions about who is right or wrong. She recognizes the importance of listening and asking questions, two things she encourages all Gordon students to do. She said students should feel free to email administration when they need clarity on a particular policy or the like.

That is to say, navigating through difficult or even controversial subjects is not about picking sides; it’s about learning and empathizing with other people’s stories.

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