Class of 2021 welcomed to university community, urged to fight bigotry around world

President John L. Lahey welcomed members of our Class of 2021, and urged them to be a positive force in the world.

Welcome, Class of 2021!

President John L. Lahey welcomed members of our Class of 2021, and urged them to be a positive force in the world.

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resident John L. Lahey formally welcomed our Class of 2021 to #BobcatNation as part of Quinnipiac’s Welcome Weekend celebration on August 26 in the Quinnipiac Sports Center.

“You should know you are an enormously talented and able group of young people, an extremely diverse group, as well — the largest class of freshman we’ve admitted to this university in our history and, without question, the very brightest group we’ve ever admitted to this university,” President Lahey told our 2,012 freshmen. “You were selected from more than 23,000 applicants, the largest number ever.”

Quinnipiac students Oyindamola Balogun, Legal Studies, '18, Dorah Labatte, '18, Mathematics and Jornalism, Maja Laska, '17, MBA, from left, in the Carl Hansen Student Center on Quinnipiac's Mount Carmel Campus.

Learning together

Quinnipiac students Oyindamola Balogun, Legal Studies, '18, Dorah Labatte, '18, Mathematics and Jornalism, Maja Laska, '17, MBA, from left, in the Carl Hansen Student Center on Quinnipiac's Mount Carmel Campus.

He challenged the students to utilize their talents and abilities to create a more tolerant and accepting world.

“We’re a diverse community,” President Lahey said. “Our sense of community is strong because we’re diverse.”

In fact, 75% of the Class of 2021 comes from outside of Connecticut — representing 28 states, the District of Columbia as well as 18 countries. Twenty-one percent of the class self-identify as students of color.

“Your individuality will not only be respected and supported on this campus, but celebrated as part of our sense of community,” he told the sea of students. “We’re looking forward to what you’ll add to this very diverse community that is here already at Quinnipiac University.”

The university champions three core values: A commitment to high-quality academic programs, a student-orientated environment and a strong sense of community. The president focused on what it means to be part of Quinnipiac’s diverse community during his welcome.

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Confronting hate

President John L. Lahey urged members of the Class of 2021 to address hatred, bigotry and discrimination.

Following the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Lahey urged the university community to come together.

“It saddens me that in 2017, if you can believe it, we still have to publicly and unequivocally condemn and state so clearly how unacceptable the views of white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis – those views are simply not welcome here on the Quinnipiac campuses and any behavior associated with any of these despicable kinds of beliefs and activities will simply not be tolerated,” he said to loud cheers from students, faculty and staff.

“We do need to make sure we continue to reject those views, condemn them and make sure they’ll never be part of this university community,” President Lahey urged. “They’re antithetical of everything we stand for at Quinnipiac University.”

He urged members of the community to visit Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum to better understand the history of hate — and how it impacted both the Irish and 40 million Irish-Americans in the United States today.

Nobel Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, a leader in Liberia’s movement toward democracy and interfaith understanding, far right, participates in a panel discussion with fellow Nobel Peace laureates Tawakkol Karman, a journalist who was a leader in Yemen’s movement toward democracy, and Shirin Ebadi, the first female judge in Iran, at a recent event.

International perspectives

Nobel Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, a leader in Liberia’s movement toward democracy and interfaith understanding, far right, participates in a panel discussion with fellow Nobel Peace laureates Tawakkol Karman, a journalist who was a leader in Yemen’s movement toward democracy, and Shirin Ebadi, the first female judge in Iran, at a recent event.

“Our views on this area are so strong that we have a museum dedicated to antibigotry and antidiscrimination. I really want to encourage all of you as soon as you can and during your days ahead to visit our Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum,” President Lahey said.

Our Great Hunger museum has the world's largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the Great Irish Famine, attracting world leaders and students from around the world.

Bringing the past to life

Our Great Hunger museum has the world's largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the Great Irish Famine, attracting world leaders and students from around the world.

Interior of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University. Photographer Robert Benson.

Learning from the past

The mission of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University is to collect, preserve, exhibit and study its collection of art, artifacts and literature relating to the Irish Famine/Great Hunger that occurred from 1845–52.

The museum tells the story — supported by the research of leading internationally acclaimed Irish scholars at the university — of how the British, who controlled Ireland during the Famine, exported increasing amounts of food from Ireland during the period. As a result, more than 1.5 million Irish died — and 2 million more fled to America in hopes of finding a better life.

“And what did they face here in the United States in the mid 19th Century? An Anglo-Protestant-dominated culture that discriminated against them again,” President Lahey said, who explained an anti-immigration party urged those in the United States to reject the Irish saying they took away jobs from Americans.

“Think about it, you fast forward 170 years to today. What do we have? The same biogtry, the same discrimination,” he said. “We’ve just changed the victims. So it’s not the Irish who are taking away American jobs, it’s the Mexicans or Latin Americans or South Americans or Eastern Europeans. Whatever the new immigrant group that has come to America in hope for a better life. It’s not the Catholics we are worried about or those who obey the pope. No, it’s Islam and those who follow the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad. It really unfortunately hasn’t changed very much — and I’m not even mentioning the discrimination here in the U.S. against Native Americans or African Americans that continue to this very day.”

Ireland's Great Hunger Museum