Conference makes IMPACT on Greek life at Washburn

James Ahrens

Washburn Students visited the IMPACT Leadership Institute from Friday Jan. 30 to Sunday, Jan. 1 at Tall Oaks Conference Center in Linwood, Kan.

IMPACT is an event organized to seek students interested in shaping the university community in which they live and learn. The goal of the event is to create leaders who have a greater idea of multiplicity, integrity and working relationship skills. Forty-eight Washburn students participated in this year’s IMPACT.

Ryan Calovich, a student participant, said many students learned how to help one another. Calovich enjoyed small group sessions that were aimed at having participants learn about others on a more intimate level, as well as discussion forums and break-off games and similar teaching guides.

He said there was strength in being more open about personal agendas and becoming open to new ideas and learning how to speak one’s mind while listening to others.

Recruitment and retention are an important part of the Greek community, and IMPACT brought stereotyping to the forefront as a problem that needs attention.

Calovich said it was difficult to fight negative stereotypes held by the non-Greek community, and he was glad it was used as a teaching opportunity at IMPACT.

“Judging people is a terrible thing to do,” said Calovich. He said IMPACT gave him the ability to stop stereotyping others.

Jessica Neumann, assistant director of the Student Activities and Greek Life office, worked behind the scenes and made sure the advisors had what they needed.

“[IMPACT is] specifically designed to help the Greek community learn everything from skills to [new] education,” said Neumann.

Neumann said IMPACT taught students how to confront problems, how to deal with conflict on an individual basis and how to translate that into chapter settings.

“We need to able to work together, communicate together, be able to hold each other accountable,” said Neumann.

Neumann, who has acted as a small group facilitator at North Dakota State and several colleges in Wisconsin, said she wants to see a revolution in the Washburn Greek community. She hoped to see students make large plans at IMPACT.

IMPACT participants gathered at the Living Learning Center Friday and took a chartered bus to the retreat center. In classic retreat style, the students took their own bedding and toiletries and stayed in cabins where socializing was encouraged.

Workshops during the weekend included seminars on team-building through critical thinking, collective compromise and large group presentations. Highlights included a video presentation about the life of Jim Valvano, ESPN commentator, coach of the NC State NCAA Championship basketball team and cancer victim. The Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded on the inspirational model that IMPACT members could learn from and act on.