Little bit of Scotland for WU

The scottish students take an intensive class in criminal justice.

Eight women and three men studying criminal justice in Scotland came to Washburn University for two weeks from June 16 through June 28 to study the criminal justice system of the United States.

“We have a cooperative agreement with the University of the West of Scotland, where they bring their students here for two weeks of intensive sessions during the summer and then next summer we take our students to Scotland,” said Harrison Watts, associate professor of Criminal Justice.

Watts said that another university, the University of West Florida, is also involved with this program.

 “So when we go to Scotland, Florida and Washburn go together,” said Watts.

The next time the Scottish students come to the U.S. they will go to the University of West Florida.

The swap meet was the brainchild of WU criminal justice chair Gary Bayens, who chose the University of West Scotland on a trip he made to the area several years ago. The university was very similar to Washburn in their approach to teaching. Bayens made a connection with the faculty and administration. The exchange has been going on for approximately 10 years.

When comparing the differences between the U.S. and Scotland, Scottish student Alistair Blue said there is no capital punishment in Scotland. Scotland stopped that particular type of retribution in 1965. He said he enjoyed everything, but found the outside trips to different agencies the most fun.

“I graduated last year and wanted the experience so I could finish the course on a high note,” said Blue.

Blue felt he needed to broaden his knowledge of the criminal justice system and enjoyed seeing the differences between the laws in Scotland and the laws in the U.S. In the U.S., particularly in Kansas, officers ride one to a car with guns, where in Scotland they in travel in unarmed pairs.

The UK has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world. Those wanting to own a gun find it very difficult to own one. Their laws are designed to put as many obstacles in front of someone trying to purchase a gun as possible. A citizen’s right to own a gun can be rescinded if it is found that person can no longer be trusted to own a gun. Getting a license to own a gun there is a lengthy process to make sure a gun does not get into the wrong person’s hands.

The students were taken to the Shawnee County District Court to see an example of how the Topeka courts are run.

“Our laws, the judicial, political and correctional systems are different from theirs,” said Watts.

They were taken to the Topeka Police Department and the Shawnee County Sherriff’s office. One of the highlights of the trip, according to Watts was when the students were able to ride with an officer on her or his shift.

It wasn’t all work and no play for the Scots. They were taken to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City and went to see a Royals baseball game. They were shown more about American culture in the afternoons after classes. It was not just a teaching and learning in the classroom experience, it was a cultural exchange.

“They learn about American culture and we learn about theirs,” said Watts.

Some things the Scots found different was that our weather was too warm for them. They come from much cooler climes, and that the air conditioning was a little too cold. Words like bonnet for the hood of a car were learning experiences for the WU classmates. They also say chips for French fries and biscuits for cookies, mentioned Watts.

“Everyone is so friendly and cool,” said Blue. “Driving us around and taking us to different venues and events. Tonight we are going for a barbecue at Lake Shawnee.”

Both sides of the pond learned much from each other.

“We talked about the differences and the similarities,” said Watts. “This will be something they will take home with them and remember the rest of their lives.”