By Grace Hatton, Editor-in-Chief
Over break, my friends and I travelled down to Florida for our last spring break as Wilson students. During our time at beaches, theme parks, state parks, and more, we all periodically brought up the truth that none of us really wanted to talk about but also couldn’t escape. That truth was that we have eight weeks left in our Wilson undergraduate career.
This is both a daunting and an exhilarating thought, although at this point daunting is surpassing exhilarating, and I’m sure my fellow seniors feel the same way. After all, in eight weeks we’ll be walking across a stage to receive our diplomas, a piece of paper that represents four years of our lives. A piece of paper that tells us it’s time to move onto a new chapter in our lives. A piece of paper that tells us it’s time to figure out a career, where we’ll live, and so much more. In short, it’s a piece of paper that tells us to grow up. And while I could go on about how exciting and challenging it is to move past Wilson, I would rather focus on the way this milestone of eight weeks until graduation has forced me to think about the future of Wilson as an institution.
As one of my fellow senior spring breakers said while we were camping in the Everglades, “I wish we were leaving Wilson in a better state.” For those of us who came to Wilson in 2010, we’ve been through two administrations and quite a few changes to the college since our arrival (major ones, like the service requirement overhaul, and minor ones, such as the creation of party contracts). Over the past year these changes seemed to have become more frequent and more dramatic. Some of these changes include the elimination of the Sustainable Business major, the increases in tuition, the paring down of work contracts, the continued trend of having a student body that is far less than our capacity, staff and faculty members who have been around for years retiring and/or resigning, and so much more.
It seems that Wilson is truly in a state of flux, which is quite unnerving for a graduating senior. I’d like to think that Wilson is a steady and safe place that, when myself and other fellow graduates are out in the big bad world, we can look back on with fondness and a sense of security. I’d like to believe that I can come back for reunions and see Wilson still thriving as the strong, vibrant, and unique community that I remember from my four years of calling this place home. Yet, the truth is, that might not be the case. Wilson has a history of evolving when needed (after all we did develop from a Presbyterian boy’s farm school to a four year liberal arts college), but with all these recent drastic changes, I worry that, in order to survive, Wilson will have to evolve to a point where it is no longer recognizable.
What guarantee is there that in five years I won’t come back and find my majors gone, the odd, quirky, “non-essential” crews cut, or the Triad system being shaved down to its bare bones for the sake of budget? Of course, there is no guarantee. After I graduate in eight weeks, I will have no control or input as to what happens to my alma mater. Indeed, my biggest connection to Wilson will be the phone calls from college phonathon workers asking for donations and the yearly reunions.
But for the students below my year, the juniors, sophomores and first-years, you all still have time to nurture this place you call home. You still have time to have a say in the decisions the administration makes and how this college evolves. So take advantage of the time you have (because before you know it, you’ll only have eight weeks left, too). Go to Caucus and community meetings; talk to your professors and the administration. Even go all the way to the top and drop in at the president’s open office hours. Start conversations and think of effective ways to initiate positive change. Despite what it may seem like sometimes, this is your college, not the administration’s and you have a right to fight for its future.
There have been plenty of moments during my time at Wilson when I’ve signed petitions, e-mailed multiple administration members, and spent hours gathering support from other students for issues I’m passionate about. Every student has the right to do the same and more. Wilson is a community of doers and of people who want to make the world a better place, and as a senior with only eight weeks left till graduation, I would beg you to apply that spirit to the welfare of this college as well.
This is our college. This is our home. Take pride in it and make sure its evolving the way you want it to. Remember it’s us, the Wilsonites, that make up the soul and heart of this college, not the administration. And as such, we have a right and a duty to ensure that in years to come, when we trickle back in for reunions and so on, Wilson is still a place that makes us proud to call ourselves Alumni.