Now THAT Was an Interesting Week
Posted on February 16, 2012
February 13, 2012
I’ve always been bothered by the lyrics of John Mayer’s song, “Waiting on the World to Change,” thinking that it’s an ode to passivity, rather than a rallying cry to work hard to create change. I've worried that it somehow characterizes a generation that won't do the hard work of change. So I’m happy to see students challenge the system, share their frustrations, debate and argue with one another, and remain reasonably respectful while doing so. I’m glad to have Mayer’s assessment proven wrong by the students of Wheaton. You are worthy of your own lyrics.
So now what? You’ve had your say. You were heard. You might be wondering what the next steps are. Because there have to be next steps. We will not charge different fees for different housing, but the problem of Wheaton’s financial challenges has not gone away, just like it hasn’t for colleges and universities across the nation and nations around the world. Many of you said this process has renewed your faith in, and affection for, Wheaton. But every community is made up of people doing things, small and large, on behalf of that community. Some have promised to support Wheaton financially, but many of you can’t do that, at least right now. So I’m going to ask you to put your efforts into a few tasks that can make a difference. Please consider doing these:
- Prevent—assertively-- your classmates from vandalizing the campus. We spend tens of thousands of dollars every year repairing and replacing things that were damaged for no reason other than someone wanted to attract attention or impress others. Those tens of thousands of dollars could be spent on improvements to residence halls—new lounge furniture, renovated bathrooms, fresh paint.
- Recruit students to Wheaton. As I said on Tuesday night, 80 percent of our operating budget comes from tuition and fees. Having a strong applicant pool allows us to grow a bit and increase that operating budget. Talk Wheaton up to younger friends and relatives. Tell them what a special place this is. No one is listened to more carefully than a current student.
- Tell your alum friends to give to the Wheaton Fund, even if it’s a small gift. That money helps provide scholarships and operating dollars for the college. Plan to do the same when you graduate. Yes, you’ve paid a lot to be here, and you may have loans to repay. But every day, you benefit from the generosity of others, and it’s just plain good karma to pay it forward. A $100 gift is about the same cost as having an inexpensive cup of coffee every week at Starbucks (not that there is such a thing, but you know what I mean).
- Cheer on Wheaton’s athletic teams. Seriously—this matters beyond supporting the athletes (which is good on its own). At every game or meet, there are recruits and their parents in the stands or sidelines. Seeing the support Wheaton students have for one another helps us recruit the kind of student-athletes who want to be part of this great community.
- Wear Wheaton swag when you’re away from campus. Be polite when someone thinks it’s the other Wheaton. Say, “No—the one in Massachusetts. It’s an amazing place.”
- Be nice to the staff of Residential Life—RAs, area coordinators, Ed Burnett and Kate McCaffrey. They are doing great work, making positive changes in many ways, and have had to answer a lot of questions lately.
- If you made a suggestion or had a brilliant idea at the open forum (and there were several), please follow up on it. Make an appointment to meet with me, or with Dean McCaffrey. If we’re not the people who can help you make it happen, we’ll connect you with those who can.
Start there. You will absolutely make a difference.
A few other topics:
The ice rink? I still love the idea, just not the 40-degree+ weather that has made it unusable. I am grateful to the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams that raised the money (and to SGA for their help), but my heart breaks a little each time I walk by it. I had pictured you all skating, laughing, falling, lifting each other over your heads. Double axels and triple toe loops, everywhere! Alas. I will have to be satisfied instead with imagining you snagging the little magnetic fish we’ll have in the “rink” for the upcoming fishing tournament (thanks, Director of Club Sports and IMs Steve Angelo).
Best-kept secret on campus: the Davis Café in the Science Center. Excellent Panini sandwiches and assorted high-end sodas. I’m a grapefruit IZZE fan myself. The Café is sunny, quiet, has comfortable chairs and great service. Take a new friend there and impress him/her. Book an event there. Study there.
The Loft: Great new look and smell. Soak it up!
The continuing challenge of Balfour-Hood dances: We have not given up on them. We are working hard to reconcile the new fire code with the structure we’ve got, and are making some progress. With any luck, these mass mobs of groping and grinding you all call dances will be back next year (I’m sorry—did I just sound really old there? I think my mother once used that phrase to describe my own high school dances).
Pats: Enough said. On to spring training.
Here’s a number to keep you going (at least it’s working that way for me): 22 days till Spring Break. Hope these are 22 productive, enjoyable, and safe days (and nights). Thanks to all of you who sent me nice notes over the past week, and thanks, Lindsey and Margaret, for the treats. It’s all appreciated. As my mom, Rita the Queen of Cliches, would have said, “Every cloud has a silver lining, sugar.” Couldn’t agree more.