Students Celebrate Charter Day
A new tradition was born last week: Dickinson marked the anniversary of the college’s founding with a grand Charter Day celebration. The Sept. 16 event included a lavish picnic on the academic quads, a display of archival photos and documents, and free Dickinson T-shirts and hats for all who wanted to “wear the red.”
“This is a lot bigger than I expected—it's huge,” said Fabiola Cineas '12, gesturing toward a crowd of students who had gathered for the dinnertime event. “It's great to see fellow Dickinsonians here.”
Originally slated for Sept. 9 and rescheduled because of inclement weather, the celebration commemorated the enactment of Dickinson’s charter on Sept. 9, 1783. It had been drawn up by Dr. Benjamin Rush, a prominent physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence who aimed to train promising young citizens to lead the fledgling nation. Rush's charter was enacted just one week after the Treaty of Paris had officially ended the American Revolution—a fact that distinguishes Dickinson as the first college founded in the newly established United States. [Story continues below.]
As students pored over historic photos and documents and shared an al fresco dinner with friends, some paused to reflect on the significance of their college's long legacy.
“I think it's amazing that Dickinson is one of the first colleges in the nation,” said Edwin Rodriguez '14, who was awed by the thought of the many important moments in history that the college has seen. Danielle Clausnitzer '14 appreciated the opportunity to discover connections to Dickinson's past. “Even as a religion major, I'm learning about Dickinson's history. That's important to me,” she said.
Juliana Acosta '12 agreed. “This is what drew me to Dickinson: the rich history,” said the American-studies major. “It's really cool to see ... the way the buildings [on campus] have changed, how High Street has changed.”
What would Ben say?
Rodriguez pointed out that while learning about the college's history, the students also helped create it, since this was the first Charter Day in the college's recent memory. When asked what Dr. Rush might think of the celebration, Acosta laughed.
“I think he would flip! So much has changed,” Acosta said. “But I think he would be very proud of the way the school has grown and how far the country has come.”
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Photos by Carl Socolow '77
View a brief video of this event.