A couple weeks ago on the radio, I heard someone musing about the shift of the university experience from its origins. He was saying how university came from uni (one) + verity (truth), and how in recent years people have forgotten the one-truth bit and are instead treating it as place where they should question truth rather than learn it.
I found this intriguing, so of course went to look it up. And went, “Um…no, not really.” 😉
Uni does indeed mean “one.” Of course. But versity is not from veritas, the Latin word for “truth,” but rather from versus, the Latin word for “turn.” Universe is more the root–meaning “the whole, the aggregate, the collective.”
St. Johns College (Annapolis)
That is what university is from…the collective of the academic world. Which does still harken unto unity. There’s a reason it’s not called “the diversity.” The purpose of a university isn’t to highlight differences, but to form a community. A oneness.
If you went to college, did you experience this community at your institution? I went to a very small school, and St. John’s (though not a university by the modern definition because there aren’t different “colleges” of study within it) is really all about the community. All about the common experience we have while there, despite our different backgrounds or interests or beliefs. We were about the uni-, not the di-. And I love that about it.
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