By Jordan Beach
Since opening in 1883, Reinhardt has taken on many forms before becoming the thriving university nestled in Waleska, Ga. Throughout its years of service to the community, the University has developed traditions passed along to each class of students, including the signing of the Honor Pledge.
Every year since 1999, new students entered their time at Reinhardt by attending the New Student Induction Ceremony and penning their name on a framed copy of the Honor Pledge, later displayed in Tarpley Education Center and retired when the class graduates. The tradition began with Rev. Lonnie Lacy, who helped develop the ceremony and wrote the original pledge.
“It’s almost like something big is happening tonight, and you may not even realize it,” Lacy started, addressing the Class of 2023.
Reinhardt University’s newest students took their turn at the time-honored tradition at the 20th Annual New Student Induction Ceremony on Thursday evening, Aug. 22. The Honor Pledge serves as a reminder to students to remain committed to Reinhardt’s mission and to sustain integrity in their partnership of learning alongside faculty and staff, to take responsibility for their words and actions.
“At Reinhardt, we’re different,” said Lacy. “We need places where we can meet people who keep their word. We need places in our lives where people rise above. We need places where people like you and me can take care of one another, because that seems to be less and less of what the world is up to. That’s what the honor pledge is all about.”
Lacy’s contribution has become a cornerstone value of the Reinhardt community. A former student involved in student affairs, Lacy told new students three things: why they are at Reinhardt, what it means to be at Reinhardt, and he made them a promise.
“Twenty years ago, I was you. Twenty years ago, I was a student at Reinhardt, and this is the place where the best 20 years of my life began…this is the place where I found myself.”
Lacy told the students God had brought him to Reinhardt University when he started college—driving to campus for the first time to move in for his freshman year.
“There’s a reason you are here, and it’s something bigger than you.”
Next, he touched on how, while the Honor Pledge is about integrity, it was also written to encourage students, faculty and staff to take care of one another. Lacy admitted to his own shortfalls in moments when integrity was expected, returning the President’s parking sign to President Kina Mallard after recounting what he referred to as “the incident” that happened two decades ago.
Finally, Lacy promised the newest additions to Reinhardt, “we’re going to love you.”
“This is your tribe. These are your people. This is your family. We who are a part of your family, we’re going to love you. We who are your fellow students, many of whom you haven’t even met yet, we’re going to love you. We who are your faculty members and administrators, we’re going to love you. We who are your Board of Trustees, who you may never even see, who work hard to make it possible for you to have your education here, we’re going to love you. We who are alumni like me, who have walked this way before you—we’re going to love you, we’re going to believe in you, and we’re going to know why you’re here, even when you’re not sure why you’re here.
And above all, we promise that we will challenge you and change you, that we will mold you and shape you. But most of all, we’re going to love you, because Reinhardt is different.”