A Letter From the President of the Student Body


John Howell, President of the Student Body

Dear Rhodes,

As the spring semester ends, there is little need to remind you of the hardships of the past year. Every Lynx knows how our community survived a difficult year with a signature grit and grace. The only thing we need now, as the school year ends, is to celebrate what victories we forged and what sunnier paths may lie ahead.

Weathering the last year was itself an accomplishment for every Rhodes student. We endured painful isolation in quarantine, witnessed the horrors of racism and the murders of George Floyd and other Black Americans, saw a turbulent presidential election, became displaced during one of Memphis’s worst snowstorms, and mourned the loss of loved ones from COVID. We did all this while still going about our daily lives, trying to manage friendships and pursuing our educations. It takes an extraordinary amount of determination to lead a normal life under the last year’s conditions, and we did it. 

We should also recognize the special accomplishments of those about to leave our campus for the broader world. The Class of 2021 deserves nothing but praise for their impact and accomplishment on campus. In the past year, they led major changes for good: The pass/fail deadline was extended, construction began on a new VOICES space, and our community found new ways to bond online. None of this would have been possible without the Class of 2021. Their legacy will extend far past their time at Rhodes, and that is worth celebrating. 

Though many students deserve special acclaim, none deserve it more than Jacob Fontaine. His term as RSG President was marked by challenges unlike any student government had seen. And, like any person of great conviction, Jacob overcame them and made it look easy. Because of his leadership and direction, RSG delivered on a tuition freeze during the pandemic, created a sustainability working group, and kept spring break in the second semester. I was grateful to serve under him, and I wish him nothing but the best.

As we look forward to next year, I do not want to forget the successes and struggles of this year. All of campus gave so much and, in giving, laid a groundwork for a phenomenal future. It is my hope that, as vaccination rates increase and cases decline, RSG can seize on the optimism of a post-pandemic life to focus on the long-term student experience. A renewed focus on a student center, a more thorough commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts, stronger mental health on campus, and new sustainability projects—these are just some of the focus of the new student government.

Whatever RSG accomplishes in the next year, it is in great debt to the work done before us. Congratulations to the Class of 2021 for graduating, and congratulations to all of Rhodes as we journey into new adventures.


Stay safe and stay well,

John Howell