At the last High Table of the year, held on March 29, 2019, our 2018/2019 Don of Hall David Sutton passed the torch to our 2019/2020 Don of Hall, Julian Posada. The Massey Community is forever grateful to David for his amazing commitment in the past year, and wishes Julian all the best in his new role.
Here’s below the text of Julian’s inspiring speech:
Just a year ago, when I was applying for doctoral programs across the globe, I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams the welcome I received here at our Massey community. Until September, I only understood a college in its British medieval sense: small and insular communities within broader universities. To a young Colombian like me, colleges seemed to be walled enclaves of privilege that frightened and thrilled me at the same time.
Eight months later, in my first term as a Junior Fellow, I found in Massey College a community teeming with contrasts—indeed, a quadrangle of exceeded expectations. In Massey, I made my home in a place of silliness and traditions; of openness and elitism; of senior and junior fellows; of residents and non-residents; academic, journalists, and members of the wider society; of people from all layers of society, coming from different parts of the world…and of the elegance of High Table meals and the exquisite gelatin texture of polenta on my plate. As we have all come to know and love about this place, I found Massey to be a space of contrasts. And from these contrasts, we build our community. Massey College taught me that, even today, we can come together amidst contrast and a plethora of backgrounds—amidst diversity. This lesson comes at a time where our dominant culture’s values of individualism and self-reliance endanger the social fabric of our time. After living in Europe for seven years, I left the continent at a grave time of turmoil and unrest. Today, Europe grapples with questions of identity, nationhood, and belonging. Europe remains a continent reeling from the throes of austerity. A condition of globalization and liberalization that harmed the imagined communities of centuries past. A condition that places the burden of suffering upon lonely, mistrusting, and alienated citizens. A condition of inequalities and divisions. A condition wherein we live in fear of the outsider.
We need to change this. We need new paradigms that move us far beyond competitive and individualistic understandings of ourselves. We need paradigms that cultivate our co-operative spirit and allow us to belong. New models whereby we might learn from the past without losing ourselves to it. New models that embrace equity, diversity, and sustainability. Models that tear down the prejudices of centuries past. Paradigms that center sustainability over growth, embeddedness over isolation, and a balance between altruism and self-interest.
What can Massey College, our quadrangle of contrasts, teach us? Here, around a daily meal in this hallowed hall, we cultivate collegiality and collaboration, trust and diversity, ceremony and comradery. These lessons shall serve us outside of these walls, too, where the structures of academic competition proliferate, a fixation on productivity, and persistent division. That we belong to this diverse community in an era that devalues what we should cherish—this is our privilege. We are strong because we are diverse.
For this reason, I am immensely grateful to you, the Principal and Fellows of Massey College, our beloved staff, Quadranglers, alumni, journalists, guests, and friends for maintaining a place where I can belong.
To my dear Junior Fellows, I am forever in your debt. Thank you for letting me serve as your 56th Don of Hall.
Floreat Domus Massiensis!
Julian Posada, 56th Don of Hall