Faces of Rhodes
Lanier Flanders ′15
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Academic interests: History (particularly of the American South, the Middle East, and Fascist Europe), pre-law (intern at Holland & Associates, PLLC), co-editor of the Rhodes Historical Review 2014 publication, Archival Fellow at the Memphis Room at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library.
Extracurricular activities: President of Social Regulations Council, member of Phi Alpha Theta, Rho Lambda, Order of Omega, and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies, Peer Assistant (PA) leader, Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies Fellow, European Studies participant, Kappa Delta, volunteer ballet instructor for Snowden students, creator and director of an innovative science camp (Be a Chef Science Camp) for elementary students in Baton Rouge, and in my free time I enjoy running in Overton Park, yoga, babysitting, and discovering local, eclectic attractions in Memphis.
Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.
My high school college counselor initially recommended Rhodes to me. I was highly attracted to the flexibility of a liberal arts curriculum. Once on campus, not only did the Gothic architecture mesmerize me, but the genuine attentiveness of the students, professors, and staff whom I encountered really impressed me. I instantly connected with this campus and its intentional community, and I immediately envisioned myself as a future student. It was clear upon my first visit that Rhodes was the right choice.
How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes?
An exponential amount of intellectual, emotional, and personal growth occurs during college, and my experience has been no exception. Since August of my freshman year, my interests, goals, and personality have evolved. I originally participated in our cross country program, but my interests shifted away from competitive athletics and gravitated towards academic opportunities and campus involvement.
On a practical level, I have learned to prioritize my time and set reasonable expectations for myself. It has been a learning process to determine what classes to take, what activities to pursue, and even which friendships to develop. So much of college is about self-discovery, and my individual growth has occurred simultaneously with my interactions with the community at large. For example, I am more confident and self-motivated than freshman year. I have developed more spontaneity and assertiveness, and have become more open-minded regarding future career plans. Most importantly, I have learned that fulfillment comes from genuine, empathetic friendships, conversations with mentors and professors, and engagement with the community I live in.
How did you decide to get involved with the Social Regulations Council? Why did you run for president?
The standards of the Rhodes community deeply impressed me because, even as a freshman, I could tell these guidelines were not just words, but a lifestyle that students respected. I wanted to contribute to campus in this manner and thought my strengths as an analytical thinker, listener, and negotiator would be suitable for the Council. Some upperclassmen on the Council encouraged me to consider running for president. I certainly was interested in the role and thought I was qualified, but their encouragement provided additional confidence and confirmation.
The Social Regulations Council and Code embody a campus attitude that upholds standards of respect, integrity, and honesty. Our system of peer accountability makes us unique compared to other college campuses. In each instance we seek the best way, according to our constitution procedures, to remedy the specific conflict while also considering the interest of the student body as a whole. Conflicts typically involve students, campus employees, property, health, and safety. Council members carefully weigh all of these factors and negotiate an appropriate resolution. While there are consequences to violations, the Council hopes that these consequences have educational and instructional components so that all parties leave with a renewed commitment to campus values. As president, I conduct the hearings to ensure ethical procedures are properly followed. I serve as the liaison between the Council, administration, and any additional parties involved, and I strive to be discerning, sensitive, and approachable.
Tell us about your research for the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies. How has your role in SRC given you insight on your project, or vice versa?
My project for the Rhodes Institute was actually sparked at my legal internship. I read an article in the Memphis Law Review that revealed that the Memphis and Shelby County Juvenile Court had violated constitutional rights. More specifically, these violations were disproportionately targeting minority youth, especially black males. This institution serves a vital role in the lives of many Memphians due to its expansive legal, judicial, and administrative capacity. My project exposes the weaknesses of the Court system and examines the social, economic, and educational factors that not only facilitate, but also perpetuate, an underlying culture of criminalization. I visited the Juvenile Court House and observed delinquency hearings and interviewed the chief magistrate. My interactions with professionals and volunteers fostered a deeper connection with the city of Memphis.
Both SRC and the Juvenile Court serve as institutions created to provide accountability and justice for the members under its jurisdiction. Although I pursued these two interests separately and independently, it has amazed me to discover the ways in which the two intersect. I believe both systems fulfill their purpose when rehabilitative, as opposed to punitive, measures are emphasized.
What are your post-graduation plans? How has your Rhodes experience influenced your aspirations?
In the long-term, I am considering law school and I hope to make this interest my career. Legal specializations range across the public and private spheres and provide plenty of diverse options. My immediate plan is more flexible. My time abroad has prompted me to consider other international avenues, such as English teaching programs. The Rhodes Institute has exposed me to the complex problems in Memphis, and I am concerned about the immediate needs in education, urban planning and economic development, and community outreach. I am grateful for the many doors Rhodes has opened for me. This supportive network has facilitated intellectual curiosity, instilled confidence, and encouraged creativity that will undoubtedly translate to any future endeavor.
Compiled by Katie Cannon ‘15