Student Life

Discover the Virtue of Playfulness

Something about UD lends itself to the cultivation of playfulness.

While we pursue serious academic work in the great texts of the Western tradition, we celebrate the most obscure and silliest of February holidays (Groundhog); we spend a week each fall practicing the greatest of Christian virtues (Charity Week), by among other things, imprisoning our respected professors.

When I came to the university in the fall of 1980, I was, I don’t mind telling you, a pretty tightly wound, achievement-oriented, grade-grubbing pain in the neck. My fellow students, the Core Curriculum, my professors, and something in the UD air taught me to play again.  

We can play at UD because we know that Truth exists, that we are made to know it, and that we have a curriculum designed to lead us to begin loving and conforming our lives to it. 

And yet, in a different kind of school, students seem to be taught that the Truth is so fragile, or their intellects so tender, that they must be protected in a small corner of Truth. If you ask me, these schools commit the mistake of fearing Creation and failing to see the cosmos redeemed into comedy. 

But here at UD, we are taught that Truth is robust, great, powerful, and most importantly, bigger than any of us. No one said it better than Chesterton: ‘Man is more himself, man is more manlike when joy is a fundamental thing to him.’

My wish for you during your time at UD is that you play well. And when it comes time for you to move on, you will leave some of your spirit behind, for we will always need it here. In the midst of serious work and the suffering that will inevitably come your way, I hope that what you gain at UD will enable you to continue to be fully human, to dance in the freedom of play, until we meet, as Dante says, nel ‘l’amor che move il sole e l’alre steele,’ in the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.

Greg Roper, PhD, Professor of English