WTE needs consistency

ReAnne Utemark

I have already written an entire column on the benefits of the Washburn Transformational Experience. Students can see far off places, they can see their community flourish under Ichabod attention, they can broaden their scholastic pursuits and develop their leadership skills.

At the recent general faculty meeting, the faculty voted on a resolution to review the WTE after three years. While I think a review would be a good idea, it also brought a few questions to my mind. The most prominent, where scholarly and creative fits and who is in charge of the WTE as a whole?

To address the first, most of the WTE pillars have a department to call home, the leadership pillar to the Institute for the Study and Practice of Leadership, the community service pillar to LinC and the international education pillar to the International Programs. However, the scholarly and creative pillar is scattered to all the departments across campus. The scholarly and creative pillar, at least from a student’s perspective, is fairly open-ended. Some departments have it built in and some students go above and beyond departmental requirements to participate. What are the requirements, though, and whom do you go to ask? For most students, it is their faculty, but who do their faculty ask? Which brings me to the second question, what is the hierarchy of the WTE?

Professors have yelled at me for four years now about asking questions in papers, the same rule applies to editorial columns. A writer should not ask questions, but provide analysis and thought-provoking writing. However, in this situation, I feel the need to ask the question on behalf of the newspaper and on behalf of the students – who is in charge?

There are leaders who have emerged and put a phenomenal amount of work into making the WTE work, and for that, I think most WTE participants are grateful. Nevertheless, there should be a clear leader of the whole program who can participate in program reviews and really bring some congruence to the program. Keep in mind that I am not a fan of bureaucracy – not at the Department of Motor Vehicles and especially not at my university. There are some people on campus that I honestly have no idea what they do. Of course, I am just a snot-nosed kid. I have participated extensively in the WTE, though. I was not sure about the program at first, but gradually became a vocal advocate of the program and will do anything that I can to help it succeed and make it something that students understand and want to participate in. The WTE makes Washburn a unique institution – it separates us from Baker and Fort Hays in the desolate land between KU and K-State. In these dark times of lower enrollment, the WTE can be a draw for students who have never been out of the Midwest, who want to help their community or students who want to throw themselves into the world of academia.

I hope the WTE can truly get established this year. Someone, somewhere once told me that it takes three years for something to become a tradition, if so, this is the year for WTE.