Sen. Joe Manchin tells Bethany grads to step forward and make change

SPEAKER — Sen. Joe Manchin addresses members of the Bethany College Class of 2021 during commencement ceremonies Saturday. -- Joselyn King

BETHANY — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin told Bethany College graduates it will be up to their generation to rise above the divisive discourse found online and stop the political divide in the nation.

Meanwhile, Wheeling native Olivia Archer and Tatum Dyar of Indiana on Saturday were named recipients of Bethany’s Oreon E. Scott Award, which recognizes the students with the highest academic standing in the graduating class.

Manchin, D-W.Va., served as guest speaker for the 181st commencement exercises at Bethany College.

He told the graduates he was present in the Senate chamber on Jan. 6 when protesters breached the Capitol and attempted to halt the Senate during the official count of Electoral College votes.

Manchin said he had encountered protesters before on many occasions, and most often they feel voiceless and just want someone to listen.

But this time it was different.

“My generation — a lot of us have been radicalized by the information age,” Manchin said. “We didn’t grow up with cell phones. We didn’t grow up with computers. We didn’t grow up with a platform where we could talk to and do things with people without ever interacting with each other.”

Anonymous comments online have helped to turn politics into more of a blood sport, according to Manchin.

“I didn’t grow up in this type of information age, but you have,” he told the students. “Throughout the world — and especially in the United States — we are waiting for you to bring us back.”

The American dream “continues to be alive and well” but America can’t live in isolation and must set a good example for the rest of the world, he said.

“Right now we have people all over the world in need of vaccinations. They are desperate for help from us, and we can’t even get our own people vaccinated. It’s unbelievable at a time when we should be setting an example,” he said.

He told the students their generation has to be the one to step forward and make change.

“My generation hasn’t done its job very well. I would be the first to tell you that. I know I can do better,” Manchin said. “I am not going to be part of standing back and letting people tear apart this democracy.

“We are a Republic by the people and for the people. You own this government, and when you own something you’ve got to take care of it. Give something back. It’s not about you and me. It’s about us.”

Archer graduated with bachelor’s degrees in political sciences and psychology.

“I remember very clearly this student leading a delegation of students to speak with me about creating a scholarship program for a student from a refugee family,” Provost Joe Lane said. “It is a rare first-year student who approaches the provost to make such a recommendation and yet her presentation was so professional and well-researched that the recommendation was adopted.”

Archer was a Kalon Scholar, a resident adviser, and served numerous roles in the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. She completed the LEAD program and played for the Bison women’s soccer team. Archer earned distinction on her comprehensive exams in political science.

In April, she received the Thomas R. Briggs Award in psychology and joined Dyar as a recipient of the Francis R. Carfer Prize, which recognizes outstanding seniors. Archer previously received the John G. Chernenko Award and the Thomas Jefferson Award, both honoring excellence in political science.

She will attend the University of Dayton School of Law to pursue a Juris Doctorate.

Dyar graduated with bachelor’s degrees in international business and marketing. She also completed minors in German and theater.


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