Remarks by Chief Justice Nimo Suleyman ’20
Thank you, Diana. My name is Nimo Suleyman ’20, and I am your chief justice.
It is my distinct pleasure to be standing in front of you today. The Honor Code is at the heart of Wellesley’s mission as a liberal arts institution. In the words of my predecessor, Maya Nandakumar ’19, it is the foundation of all teaching, learning, and community living on this campus.
We don’t define the values of the Honor Code. Nobody tells you what honesty, integrity, or respect means here. It is open to individual interpretation, which is something that is impacted by culture, religion, and circumstance, among other things. I think this is actually a strength of the Honor Code, because as a result the Honor Code is a conversational and dynamic piece.
I’d like to focus on one of the values of the Honor Code today, and that is respect. I firmly believe in the power of respect, and I think that it is essential to create a sustainable and loving community at Wellesley and beyond. I define respect for myself in two dimensions: one, the respect that I have for myself and two, the respect that I have for others. I believe that it is hard to fully respect others without actually respecting yourself, first and foremost. For me, respecting myself means knowing my boundaries and clearly communicating them to others. It means forgiving myself and allowing room for growth.
I came to Wellesley as a relatively clueless first-year. I had a lot of experience: I had grown up outside of the United States, so that international experience was there, I was first-gen and the first person in my family to apply and go to college, but there was so much I did not know about. As receptive as I was to learning and growing, I struggled with the fact that sometimes the space for me to learn and grow was not actually available at Wellesley. There was an expectation that I already knew a lot of things and that I had a more nuanced grasp of ideas and concepts than I actually did. I’ve seen the same thing happen to many individuals in my time here, and that is something that I hope we can work on changing together this year.
We have all made mistakes and will continue to make them. We have said the wrong thing at the wrong time, and I hope that the next time that happens, we can respect ourselves enough to acknowledge our mistake and take the time to understand where we are on our growth and development journey and intentionally commit to change. I hope that we can also respect each other enough to give each other the space to grow and develop. With that, I would like to leave you with a quote from Charlie Murphy that I am trying to live by, and that is, “I respect everybody. You don’t have to earn my respect. You earn my disrespect.”
I hope you will join me now in the ceremonial recitation of the Honor Code, which you can find on the bottom left corner of the program. “As a Wellesley College student, I will act with honesty, integrity, and respect. In making this commitment, I am accountable to the community and dedicate myself to a life of honor.”