Netflix, politics and the campus climate survey: Lincoln Scholars enjoy fireside chat with President Riggs
By Sarah Kirkpatrick, contributing writer
On October 18 at 6:00 p.m., President Janet Morgan Riggs carved an hour out of her busy schedule to sit down with a group of Lincoln Scholar students for a “Fireside Chat.” She agreed to answer any question the group posed, and this sparked a conversation that spanned diverse topics ranging from her experience as an undergraduate to her thoughts on this year’s presidential election.
As a Gettysburg alumna, President Riggs’ ties to the school are deep. She was engaged in the campus community as a student, faculty member and provost before assuming her current position. Riggs claims one of her fondest memories from her time as an undergraduate was moving into Huber Hall at the beginning of her first year. She met her roommate for the first time in the scorching heat and worried that they might not get along. Fortunately, it proved to be a successful match since they roomed together all four years.
Riggs began college as a math major, but after her adviser persuaded her to take an introductory psychology class, she discovered a new passion. “I just stumbled on psychology,” said Riggs, “which is one of the great things about being in a college like this one. You might stumble onto a subject you love.” She declared a psychology and mathematics double major with her introductory psychology teacher as a mentor. Riggs became a research assistant for the psychology department, which provided great preparation for her graduate studies at Princeton.
Aside from academics, Riggs served as a co-captain in the Gettysburg band front and even wrote marching drills for the group during her senior year. She believes that the marching band helped her to grow as a leader but mainly remembers it as a fun time with friends. Riggs also passed her time as a member of a sorority, eventually serving on its board of executives. Riggs became nostalgic when she remembered other parts of her non-academic college experience. She loved visiting the town roller-skating rink and the bowling alley housed in the CUB. However, Riggs does not miss the food from her time as an undergraduate. “We had Servo, which was actually the name of an outside group that the college hired,” said Riggs, “and the food was horrible.” Fortunately, although this Servo passed its name on to the Servo we know today, it did not pass on its quality of food. Riggs prefers Servo’s current award-winning dining options.
After discussing her past, the conversation shifted to Riggs’ current role as the Gettysburg College President. Riggs admits that she never planned to be a college president, but that it is “a privilege to represent Gettysburg College.” However, Riggs’ job can be difficult. “Everyone wants a piece of the college president,” she said, “but it is impossible to make everyone happy.” Although she wishes she could attend every sports game and choir concert, she realizes this would be impossible.
Netflix, politics, and the campus climate survey also came up in the discussion. Riggs admitted to being a huge fan of medical dramas, specifically Code Black, even though she often lacks the time to binge-watch her favorites. However, these shows are not the only programs that she has time to watch on television. In response to a question about this year’s presidential election, Riggs claimed that she has watched all of the debates so far. She finds this campaign troubling because she feels it “should model better behavior to the American public, but currently focuses on name-calling and creates major divisiveness.”
Riggs hopes for greater bipartisan cooperation in the future of American politics. In her opinion, the campus community has room for improvement as well. Riggs was impressed by many of the results of the campus climate survey, but the percentage of students who considered leaving the college was surprising. She plans to work on finding ways to lower this statistic and help students feel more comfortable.
When the bell chimed and President Riggs’ “Fireside Chat” ended, Lincoln Scholars left the room feeling proud to be members of the Gettysburg College community. She addressed their concerns and answered their questions with sincerity, increasing their confidence in the future of the college.