By Colby Smith
“The Classics will never die,” said Shane Walker, the SGA Liaison and founder of the newly formed Classics Club at the University of Maryland, which seeks to promote student interest in the study of ancient Greek and Roman cultures.
Walker has been promoting Classics Day, the club’s first major event, which will take place on Friday on the field outside Memorial Chapel.
The Classics Club planned an Olympics, Gladiator Arena, open-air theater production and other events next to the Stamp Student Union. The club also held a poetry competition asking for poems to respond to an ancient Greek or Roman text.
Students submitted poems by the infamous Ides of March (March 15). The contest aims to put the writers of today into conversation with those of classical cultures.
The top three poems, as selected by Classics Club members and Classics professors at this unviersity, will be read aloud and the grand prize winner will receive a crown of laurels and $100 in cash on Classics Day.
“We’re not sure what will happen,” Walker said. “But our mission is to have a successful first year to boost the club spirit for next year, when we’ll have a budget, more members and more experience.”
Walker was instrumental in the process of forming the club. Originally a pre-med student, he began taking courses in Latin and Greek, languages he immediately took a liking to. Walker admits that the “non-scholarly aspects” excite him most.
“I enjoy the art and the poetry,” he said. “But I’m not a big fan of writing books on whether this pottery shard belonged to Caesar’s cousin or not.”
The new chairperson of the University of Maryland’s Classics department, professor Lillian Doherty, originally had the idea of forming a Classics Club at this university. Doherty hoped forming a Classics Club would promote the department not only to students who might be interested in majoring or minoring in the Classics but also to the administration, as the threat of budget cuts is always looming.
Walker said the club seems to be tapping into an interest in the Classics that already exists on campus.
“I came up with a flier, and within a week I had a dozen people,” Walker said. “I got a table at the First Look Fair and dressed up like a Roman soldier. We had over 60 signatures on our interest sheet.”
Many of those who expressed interest attended the first meeting and the club soon boasted a full leadership team, composed of Walker as SGA Liaison, secretary Erik Shell, treasurer Natalie Peters, and AJ Clayborne as the club president.
“I knew I had the skills that could serve our club,” Clayborne said of his decision to run for club president. “I have a background in working with the Federal Government through my grandfather’s small media production business and I also felt it would be a good opportunity to get to know the Classics department better.”
The Club is a haven for those interested in the Classics.
“We visited the National Gallery of Art to see the Capitoline Venus statue,” Walker said. “We have an online database of Classics books members have for the future. Everyone pitches in.”
A study of the Classics is important, Clayborne said.
“Our mission is truly designed to empower the student body by calling attention to the roots of our society,” he said. “I think that kind of a mission is really worth something.”
The Classics Club meets regularly on Tuesday evenings at 5 p.m. at the Stamp Atrium.
View more photos of the Classics Club here.