WU alumnus comments on WTE

Brian Allen

New to WU, I just learned about the Washburn Transformational Experience! What a transgression! As if paying $204 a credit hour isn’t a rich enough experience, now you get to work beyond your chosen scholarly pursuits for free. Why should anyone not gush all over this feel-good, Eagle Scout-clone of a program?

First, it smacks of political indoctrination. The faculty has to approve what you choose so it is no choice at all. I wonder if composing an original fundamentalist hymn for the Westboro Baptist Church would be significant enough for the creative activity? Would choosing to drive shut-ins to controversial book burnings be accepted as community service? How about organizing high school assault-rifle teams for your leadership merit badge? Do you think mass media control field work in North Korea would get mentor approval as international education?

Second, it is slave labor with a twist of economic elitism. Instead of working in the real world to pay off the student loan it took to ante up tuition, you have to work 150 hours at a university approved work camp. In China they at least give you room and board. But if you have a bank roll fat enough to buy your way off campus you can party a semester away in France.

Third, it is blatant hypocrisy and unfair. Generations of Washburn alumni were deemed qualified to graduate without this kind of hazing. They went on to try to address the complex problems of their times, improve their communities and accept their mantles of responsibility. Are they admitting they didn’t get it right, that their educations were sub-par and they should not have received degrees or that students of today are so much more inept and ignorant? I’d like to see a count of how many of our WTE mentors and faculty committee members were required/forced to do anything like this to earn their diplomas. Hmmm?

I’m all for volunteer service and giving back. Obama has sounded the clarion call. But the operative word is volunteer, as in to freely give of one’s self. WTE is a coercion to transform you into something the faculty approves of. Are you looking for your creative activity, a chance to serve our community? How about leading a movement to repeal the Washburn Transformation Experience?