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How to Get What You Want or D.I.Y. Tryin’

by Micah Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief

A handful of freshmen and transfers have approached the Echo since the beginning of the semester, inquiring about writing or taking photos for us.

So far, despite the mass of emails, conversations and visits to the Work Program Office, none of these perspectives have joined the crew.

This is not just a WPO problem (though, they have been off their game lately), this is a campus-wide problem.

Usually, offices are supposed to help and support students, especially when it comes to fulfilling their wants and needs. And sometimes, they do help students achieve their goals. But other times, they are not helpful, and can even get in the way.

This is my seventh and last semester living on this campus and maneuvering this college, so I think it my responsibility to say, especially to those who are new to the community: if you want something done, it is entirely your responsibility to make it happen. No one else will do it for you.

We are lucky here because we live in a relatively small community. With a little under 1,000 students, staff and faculty, there are fewer people to get in our way.

Communicating and establishing contacts around campus can be helpful, but it should not be where your efforts end. Someone may have a fancy title, or a lot of power or authority, but you should not trust that they will see through whatever it is you are trying to do.

The Work Program has been one of my favorite parts about my college experience. But it is not because that office has made that a reality. Nor even have my supervisors (though they have helped). My work is fulfilling because I make it fulfilling. And I definitely do not need some office telling me where to put my energy and passion.

Before coming to Warren Wilson, I knew I wanted to be on the newspaper. I was placed on the Echo my first semester, and have stayed on the crew ever since. I arrived, and my initial thought was that the Echo was, to be honest, kind of shitty. You may think that it still is shitty, but I believe it is less shitty today, and I would like to think that myself and the other staffers in the last three years have had something to do with its improvement.

We have made the Echo into the publication that we want it to be, with no guidance from offices or Deans or the administration. With just the support of each other and our supervisor, we have kept going, carving our own path and progressing in the way that we want to progress.

If you are passionate about something, work toward it in your own way, on your own time. We all have a mission, we all have an idea of how to get that accomplished, and we should not let offices, bigwigs or bureaucracy stand in our way.


4 Responses to “How to Get What You Want or D.I.Y. Tryin’”

  1. I don’t go to your school but somehow came across this post while searching for DIY stuff, and not only do I LOVE the title of this blog (lol!) but it’s very true.. you really have to make things happen for yourself, and by working hard and not depending on others, you can achieve better things. Thanks for the (unexpected) inspiration! :)

    Posted by Hannah | October 15, 2013, 6:45 am
  2. Sorry to be tardy to the party on this one. Also, Micah, congratulations on your impending graduation, as well as your apparent lack of comprehension as to what the Work Program Office offers to students, even after your “seven semesters” here at Wilson.

    As for the article at hand, another congratulations is in order due to the self-righteous and entitled tone you take in your not-so-constructive criticism of the institution. Also, I believe your use of the word “perspectives” in your second paragraph should read “prospectives,” though I am positive that these prospectives would, indeed, bring fresh perspectives to the Echo.

    Because you’ve made a number of disparaging remarks about the Work Program Office, I feel obliged to make you, and others, aware of what it is the Work Program does, as well as what it does not do. In the spirit of transparency, I should tell you that I do work for the WPO, though the comments made here reflect my own personal sentiments and not officially those of the WPO administration.

    The main goal of the WPO is to intentionally place the 200-300 incoming freshmen onto work crews that either emphasize their skill set, their previous work experience, or their prospective major. Secondary to that, we have to maintain a baseline number of students in the crews that are integral to the running of the college. These crews, for example, Heavy Duty or Dining Services, are largely staffed by underclassmen who eventually find a niche elsewhere in the community and transfer off of those crews in favor of, for example, The Echo or the Garden.

    While it is true that one of the goals of the Work Program Office is to cater to students’ interests and aspirations, the WPO also must ensure that personal demands don’t outweigh those of the greater community and institution. While this may sound as though the needs of the institution come first, there is something valuable to be said for the hard work and discipline that comes from performing a job in service of the campus community, even if you don’t love it. Ideally, however, the WPO ensures that the greatest number of students are in jobs that they find empowering and engaging; ideally, students are able to glean from your letter that they shouldn’t assume that other people will automatically do things for them.

    This is a college and a wonderful place to learn this valuable life lesson: nobody can make your life happen except for you. While this is usually a lesson that is learned in adolescence, it appears as though you may have missed out on that one. I pity you if you’ve received all that you’ve wanted throughout your life, because it will make your post-college life far more difficult.

    Sure, people aren’t always going to do things for you, but don’t give off the impression that this is a bad thing. I believe it was the modern American scholar Brené Brown who once said, “What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.”

    Posted by Forrest White | October 15, 2013, 4:31 pm
  3. Thank you for your response, Forrest.

    As you may know, a number of students approached the Echo wanting to be on our crew, and we saw time and time again as they were placed not with us but on other crews (none of which were the crews that the WPO deems as necessary to running the college, like Heavy Duty and Dining Services, as you mention).

    After numerous of these disappointments, both for us as a crew and for the student, my letter from the editor was meant simply to encourage students to take matters into their own hands. If they want to be on a crew, why should they be placed on another one with no explanation or no apparent need on the other crew’s part?

    While I appreciate the Work Program at this college– and I feel that I have learned so much from it– as a person who participates in the Work Program, and as a student crew boss, I find it personally insulting your assertion that I have failed to “comprehend” the Work Program Office.

    The WPO exists to support the student workers, to meet student desires, and to meet the college’s needs. Am I wrong about this? As a student worker, I am trying to communicate that I have felt a lack of support.

    If a student wants to join the Echo, and has made that clear to both us and to the WPO, but is placed on another crew that does not have a pressing need for them, how is that fair? How is this meeting the college’s needs and the student’s desires?

    If you would like to give me a clear excuse as to why this is happening, please do so. Otherwise, I do not think that this is something I am simply “not getting.” This is a matter of something not working on the other end.

    As for your perspective on my “entitled” tone–is it not true that every student here should be entitled to an appropriate, beneficial work crew that they request, from which they think they would learn? Just because we are workers does not mean we do not have a right to enjoy our work, and have a say in choosing our work crew.

    Finally, your out-of-line presumptions and your personal attacks have demonstrated to me that you have failed to understand the entire objective of my piece, and for that, I apologize.


    Posted by The Echo staff | October 16, 2013, 1:17 pm
  4. This exchange is comical.

    Forrest, you’re passive-aggression is needless and I also think both you and Micah fail to realize a more fundamental problem at this school: the system doesn’t work (or it barely gets done what it needs to). I’ve boldly asserted this claim to many people on campus including faculty and administration and opinions are mixed. The fact that they are means that either: a) people don’t know nearly enough about the situation or b) they’re not willing to see the facts of the matter. That the school is currently struggling financially says a lot about what WWC prioritizes, which doesn’t seem to be anything substantial or sustainable, contrary to its ethos. But such is the plight of an institution in transition.

    Here’s something for both of you…

    Micah, I remember reading this article in The Echo when it first came out. At the time I had been having difficulty on my crew and had been meaning to schedule a meeting with you to talk about a crew change. When I read that students who were eager to write for The Echo were being denied a crew change request I was disheartened and unsettled thinking that any effort I could have made would have been futile if the WPO wasn’t looking to grant any crew change requests.

    Here’s a little background for you both that might inform a more wholesome perspective. I arrived at this school at the age of 22 with an extensive resume which included volunteer work, full-time employment, and extracurriculars. When I got here I was placed on both Dining and Heavy Duty, a mistake on the WPO’s part. I was given the choice of which crew to be on and I choose Heavy Duty since I had a friend on that crew. That first semester on Heavy Duty was fine enough, though it didn’t take long for me to take note of inefficiencies in the work and inequalities in the work force. I stayed on the crew another semester as a request to my supervisor who appreciated my work on the crew. I didn’t have any other ideas for crews that I’d enjoy working on; frankly, I enjoy the work I do on Heavy Duty and only because I am self-motivated and don’t feel that I am above a job which is what a lot of students here feel they are.

    Four semesters later and I’m still on Heavy Duty despite a crew request change which was not granted despite having talked to two supervisors and my own boss about the change. Because of this, and a growing frustration with Heavy Duty, there was a falling out with my supervisors where I told them how I felt about them, the crew, my coworkers, and the school. I was summoned to Ian Robertson’s office where he assumed that I was some pissant Freshman and condescended to me about work, my ethic, and summed it up with a story about Gandhi (basically telling me to make the best of my situation). I’m sorry, but this to me feels like a sad excuse for not wanting to deal with the inefficient aspects of a failing work program.

    Micah, you were put on The Echo when you were a Freshman and never actually had to fight to get what you wanted in the way of a crew. That is your privilege. Unfortunately, because of that privilege and the profound lack of experience, I can’t take these words to mean much of anything. The message of the piece falls flat. Not just in my case, but in the case of those who get what they want, what is there to fight for? For people like me who were shit on by the system in place there isn’t even a way to fight, especially when the WPO has to authorize moves. Forrest, you work for the WPO and it’s clear you take pride in your work, but for that and my own experience, even though you’ve tried to paint a more realistic picture of the WPO, I cannot take to heart your own comments. That last quote is odd because I think to myself, “What if there is no gratitude? Is that the only thing that separates privilege from entitlement? What if the two were inextricable and any gratitude was merely denial of the fact?

    Posted by David | October 20, 2013, 10:37 am

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