The Archway to Education

When I was a student at the University of Georgia I was told that, per tradition, I was not supposed to walk through the 150 year old Arch until I had my diploma in hand.  However, growing up in Athens, I had already passed under the black iron Arch many times so I paid little attention to the tradition.

It wasn’t until after successfully graduating from UGA (yay!) that I looked into the history of the famed Arch.  Apparently it was built sometime between 1856 and 1858, forged deep in the heart of Mordor (just kidding, it was fired in the old Athens foundry).  It was originally a part of the iron fence that surrounded the campus and had gates, lost to pranksters’ years ago, that were used to secure the campus at night.  As its original purpose was that of an entry way, and since the current tradition grew out of a silly vow made by a guy in the 1900s, I would like to propose a change in tradition.  Freshmen should walk under it twice, on their first day and again on their last day, symbolizing the beginning and end of their formal education at the University.  But nobody asked me!Silly traditions aside, the Arch has become a symbol of change and hope.  Located on Broad Street, separating downtown Athens from the UGA campus, the Arch has become a gathering place for students and citizens of Athens.  It is the site of political protests and silent vigils, and has seen been the medium of changing attitudes.  In 1961 it was at the Arch where protestors gathered to express their discontent with the admission of the first two African-American students.  

University of Georgia Arch

University of Georgia Arch[/caption]Since then, thankfully, the Arch is typically used to protest peacefully.  I have seen anti-war protests, living wage demonstrations, and memorials.  The Arch stands on three pillars that represent wisdom, justice, and moderation.  To me, the Arch represents a gateway to education which makes it an ideal gathering place for protests and for grieving students - because with knowledge comes power.