Returning student reflects on Washburn then, now

Brian Allen

I was in the library the other day and noticed an old dude thumbing through the periodicals. Did the gray haired gentleman know just how out of place he looked surrounded by students younger than his shoes? I looked closer, he was me! Seems the times they are a changing. In 1974 I came to Washburn to earn a degree and launch a career. I eventually walked away with two but now I’m back to study what I’m personally interested in. A much better deal I assure you.

Some things are different, more buildings, less parking and enough yard art to make the Guggenheim green with envy. We booed Nixon out of office and you cheered Obama in. (Me too.) Procrastinating assignments to watch MASH has been replaced by Tivo-ing HEROs and I suspect the campus cops would sigh in relief if a disturbance call turned out to be old fashioned streakers.

Some things are still familiar. We listened to the Rolling Stones back then; amazingly you can too. T- shirts and jeans are still the rebel’s uniform and a head of hair still shouts independence. Sigh, I lost my groovy mane while I was fighting the man.

Some things are much too familiar. We were trying to find a way out of Viet Nam in 1974 and now we are trying to get out of Iraq. I’ve had brothers wounded in both wars so classmates do us all a favor and study your history so as not to repeat it.

What really got my attention, besides the cost of tuition, is the technology on campus. The closest I got to a computer my first year was a table sized game of blip bouncing electronic pong. Bill Gates had not dropped out of Harvard yet and if I had a nickel to invest it would have been in the burgeoning computer giant, Atrai. (Google it.) Not only are computers in the classrooms, they are in the halls, in your laps and in your ears. They even have their own building! Is this 2009 or Big Brother’s 1984? I would say look that up in the library but there are monitors watching us there too!

Paranoid jokes aside I’m impressed by the way Washburn has integrated computers into the university. You can communicate with the world and the knowledge of the ages is at your fingertips, everywhere at any time. The digital revolution is old news to you modern college students but it makes one wonder what you might find if you get the chance to return as a senior alumni.