Smith: As we innovate, let’s also deliberate


Infographic by Madeline Deabler

I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves with the whole Innovation Campus idea.

Before the world continues in its trend of the exponential growth in the technology sphere, let’s take a second as a campus to think before we jump onto the bullet train that’s heading for who-knows-what.

Ablah Library and innovation

Ablah Library still has wooden chairs from before 1962 when Ablah Library was built.

Let that sink in.

Some of these chairs are more than 50 years old. Amidst the plastic, perforated, grey-black chairs with lumbar support sit old wooden chairs with faded cushion colorings.

At the same time, Innovation Campus is underway and is already sporting two sleek and shiny buildings built for the engineering sciences whilst water leaks in McKnight Art Center and the Ulrich Museum of Art came to the forefront last fall during torrential rain.

Both McKnight and Ulrich were made in 1964.

Kathy Downes, Interim Dean of University Libraries, said 300 new chairs had been purchased within the last three years as funds came in from donors in order to replace some of the older chairs.

The old art chairs are slowly being taken care of, but the water leaks in important buildings for the arts have been a problem for years.

As for the remaining old chairs, she said some students like them.

She said students were allowed to vote for the new chairs a few years ago and even allowed students to vote on the color of the chairs, which didn’t go over so well because apparently everybody likes crazy random colors these days.

The older and newer chairs in the library represent the “balancing act” of meeting student, faculty, and educational curriculum needs, while waiting to receive funds from donors in order to address those needs, Downes said.

Almost all library changes come from donations and the new chairs, which currently decorate the library lab, cost $200 each.

Student input

In stark contrast to the Ablah Library struggling to meet student needs and wants as donations slowly roll in, Wichita State administration is racing forward with the Innovation Campus as campus recreation director Eric Maki resigns and SGA members feel as if the administration is waiting for their terms to end.

Jumping on the innovative technology bandwagon that leads to fame and fortune is great, but are major groups of students being left behind in the process?

First, Maki.

Maki has always been known as someone who put students first. He’s helped create new sports clubs on campus as student interest rose, participated in leadership reading groups with students and even chaired a search committee for a Housing and Residence Life director in 2014, despite being busy.

In 2012 when Maki started at his position as campus recreation director he said: “Everything we do is with the WSU student in mind.”

Now he has resigned and found a new career path after taking note of the direction Wichita State is going after recent events.

And this all happened one day after SGA voted down a proposal for a YMCA to be on innovation Campus in the future.

Next: SGA trust issues.

Teri Hall, VP of Student Affairs, has herself noted the discord between student body leaders and the administration and said she has not worked at a campus where there was so much distrust between the two.

If student-elected representatives can’t compromise or communicate efficiently with certain members of the administration, students should be wary.

All of these issues represent clear warning signs to students and show the administration doesn’t value certain student needs, wants and opinions.

Slow down, think

Before everyone else jumps on the innovation bandwagon I think we need to ask ourselves a few questions:

What do we really want as a student body? Do we like the direction the campus is going?

This isn’t easy. We’re a student body made up of thousands of different people with different backgrounds and ideas.

But we have to start somewhere. Let your voice be heard.

Go complain about things on twitter or Facebook. Go explore Ulrich and the Experiential Engineering Building. Go actually vote for your student body representatives as a way to get more involved the direction of the campus.

Think about how you really want campus life to be before you get pulled along for the ride.