Student government presidential candidates flop on WTE proposals

Maggie Robinson

Roll up your sleeves and put on your work boots. Washburn Student Government Association presidential candidates are trying to make it easier for students to complete the transformational experience, but their plans may not be feasible.

All Washburn students are required to take part in an approved transformational experience. The Washburn Transformational Experience was put in place to help students take a moment and look beyond themselves.

Students have a variety of choices when it comes to the WTE. They can choose scholarly or creative experiences, community service, leadership or international experiences. However, WSGA candidates Garrett Love and Caley Onek, as well as Will Lawrence and Charity Hockman, are looking to add a few more options to the TE buffet.

Each team has a different change it wants to make.

Lawrence and Hockman want to add an opportunity for students to perform the community service WTE at their proposed on-campus child care facility. Love and Onek are looking to include student’s work through Greek Life to be added to the community service WTE project.

Both parties spoke Feb. 18 at the Washburn Student Film and Video Association meeting and stressed the importance of making the WTE more user-friendly.

Love and Onek focused on an option to include involvement in student organizations and Greek Life. Onek said Greek Life is a transformational experience in itself, and should be included in the approved community service program.

Their proposal has managed to get some students interested in the changes.

“Being a non-traditional student with kids makes it difficult to do the WTE,” said Amanda Backstrom, junior communications major. “Having the possibility of a WTE that included student organization involvement and community service would make it much easier to meet the requirements.”

Lawrence and Hockman’s plans are also exciting many students. Their proposal adds a community service WTE, to be preformed on-campus in tandem with their goal to bring on campus childcare to WU. Ideally, if the childcare goal goes through, students could volunteer there to fulfill the community service TE.

Unfortunately, according to Rick Ellis, director of the community service TE, neither of these improvements are actually possible. The community service WTE was designed as a way for students to take their education off-campus and into the community.

Ellis has been a part of the development of the WTE from the beginning. The community service program requires a minimum of 150 hours of service to be completed in two years. The program consists of completing activity plans, reflection meetings with a WTE mentor to discuss the student’s service experiences, and a final presentation at the Day of Transformation in April.

“WTE is designed to get students involved in the Topeka community,” said Ellis. “We want students to do service outside of the four walls of Washburn.”

The proposed addition of a site on-campus at the new child care facility by Lawrence and Hockman goes against this idea. The service experience must be completed off-campus. Those who developed the idea decided on these regulations because they wanted students to learn how they can impact the community, and staying on-campus would not give students this opportunity.

Love and Onek’s proposal does not work with the community service set up, either. Although much of the community service already required by student organizations and Greek Life is done off-campus, they want students to make the distinction between service experiences.

Ellis said that it would be difficult to monitor the service efforts for students using them for two purposes.

“The WTE has specific requirements that are not being fulfilled by the Greek houses,” he said.

The WTE was developed and approved in 2004. It was put in place for all students in 2005. It has served the Topeka community in many forms. Sites that hold WTE programs include Let’s Help, Community Action Head Start, Robinson Middle School, Marion Clinic, Midland Hospice and the Topeka Zoo.