Charlie Sagan, Millsaps Van Wilder: Changing Times

by Garrett Coble
opinions editor

“Change is inevitable—except from a vending machine.” —Robert C. Gallagher

Last week, the Opinions section of the P&W took our faithful readers down the rabbit hole and into the saga of Charlie Sagan. I do not use lightly the term “saga” to refer to this five-year staple of Millsaps College. The first edition of this epic explored the early years of Chuck’s Millsaps life, when his college career seemed just as any other. Laughs abound, but to end the story there would disservice Charlie. Instead, today we examine the evolution of Millsaps over the past decade or so, from the eyes of a wiser, more mature Chuck Sagan.

In a bid to stay in his supporters’ good graces, Charlie began the conversation with a classic PR move. When asked to speak on the evolution of general attitudes at Millsaps, he began by thanking his parents for being “willing to let me find myself, they may say, for this long.” With unfathomable yearly tuition and constant increases in price, Mr. and Mrs. Sagan indeed warrant a shout out; without their commitment to academia, who would catalog the history of Millsaps?

However, once the jabs, shout outs and stunts settled, Charlie became reflective on the status of the college. “I think that there has been a big change overall in the feelings of administration towards students,” he said. Chuck emphasized the role of Millsaps once played in forcing students (and parents) to stretch outside typical comfort zones.

He recalled the school’s previous president, Frances Lucas, who said, “Millsaps was this haven to find yourself and become an adult.”

Sagan himself painted a similar image of the school, especially considering its geographic location. “(Millsaps is) a haven in the very conservative South, where a lot of parents might have been very uneasy with their students living in co-ed dorms, going to parties and being on a campus where drinking was not only tolerated, but widely accepted,” he said.

Charlie recalled the mayhem and shenanigans (read: cornbread tray) of his early years with nostalgia. “It was a really fun school here, and over my five years at Millsaps, it has gotten more and more restrictive. It has become much stricter; I think all of us students here know that and have seen that over the past four years,” he said. Chuck felt that the tendency of students now to leave campus on the weekends, and their desire to bring fewer friends to visit, spoke to the increasingly restrictive nature of the campus.

However, with age comes perspective. Chuck quickly pointed out that, while the escapades of years past would be sorely missed, some of the aforementioned restrictions seemed inevitable. “When I first got here, it was a really fun place to be and there were parties every weekend,” he said. “But quite honestly, things got out of hand to the point where they had to make some changes.” Overall, this sage of Millsaps sees the need for a certain amount of restrictions, but also sees the value in finding a happy medium.

While questions remain regarding this balance of fun and rules, there can be no question of the value of Charlie Sagan to Millsaps, nor Millsaps to Charlie Sagan. From his journeys around the academic world to his “friend’s” acquisition of the Caf’s cornbread, I hope that you, the reader, have come to better appreciate all that is Chuck Sagan. For Charlie, college may be coming to a close, but the road goes on forever.

“I’ll have stories to tell until the day I die,” he said.