by Christian Diaz, News Editor
My job as editor of The Echo allows me to hear how the most influential people on our campus perceive our collective Warren Wilson experience.
Richard Blomgren, for example, commented to me earlier in the year how diversity on campus (or lack thereof) is complemented by the service component of our triad, which has embedded within it the opportunity to meaningfully engage with people who may have different life experiences than us due to race, age and ableism. Lou Weber recently described the college as an experiment. And during an interview, Sandy Pfeiffer described students at Warren Wilson as people who are committed to changing their world.
As my life as a student here concludes, I can’t help but contemplate what exactly happens to us during our education–what exactly is this experiment about?
I often think of Warren Wilson as a cocoon (mind you, an expensive one) where young people are allotted space to practice being their ideal selves in a comfortable, micro-replication of the world.
Think of a big city, except child proof. At Wilson it is a miniature city; sharp corners are padded, electrical sockets are filled in with plastic (or hemp, rather) and the police are friendly individuals who tell us stories about their time as savage youth.
There are other parallels.
We have a governance structure that sometimes functions elusively, a civil society of students that pushes us toward a more sustainable future, boutique work crews, and work crews that are integral to the functioning of the college. We have miscreants who get naked in front of cops and even our own silent majority that watches from the sideline.
Because the majority of the student body lives on campus, roughly 90%, I find that during our years as Owls we live a metaphor of the greater world, and, most importantly, we are forced to take ownership of it.
We realize that if we refuse to flush the toilet, it is our friend who will have to do so later. If we decide to ignore work, it is our classmate who has to pick up our slack. If I misquote someone in an article, I have to see them regularly knowing that I might have misrepresented their intentions or perspective.
It’s great practice for the real world.
I know that in other colleges it is easier to get by without feeling the consequences of our actions. Regardless of how we feel about our experience at Warren Wilson, it indoctrinates us. I wish students would take a before-and-after-picture during their first semester, and after their last. Regardless of the college one goes to, we change due to age and life experience from the beginning of college until the end.
But the changes at Wilson are different. Can you recall who you were as a freshman? I see students get asymmetrical haircuts, some grow beards. Others start wearing flannel and dull, worn and tattered clothing. Of course, I’m being reductive (that’s kind of my job), but it’s true.
Students get Wilsonfied here because our lives, as they are structured here, force us to jump in, with our eyes and our fists clenched into the cold rushing river that is Warren Wilson, ever changing and ever beautiful. I hope it stays that way.
Goodbye Warren Wilson. I’ll miss you.