I love a good cry. It’s biologically healthy — those tear ducts need to be cleaned out somehow — and indicates that something has moved you greatly.
Even when I teared up in front of the Student Government Association last year, begging for Mikrokosmos and The Sunflower to receive funding, there was some part of me that was thankful for those tears. I was thankful that Wichita State had given me organizations I loved enough to fight for.
Even though I’ve only been here two and a half semesters, WSU has given me so much more than I expected. I have wonderful professors who care about my work and advocate for my well-being. I have supportive classmates who inspire me to become a better student and person. I have countless memories in magical places — the Ulrich, the Duerksen outdoor amphitheater, and of course, The Sunflower newsroom.
I couldn’t be happier to have chosen WSU as the place to receive my degree, and I’ve been lucky to fall in love with the city of Wichita as well as the university embedded within its sprawl.
True love of a place and its people inevitably result in a drive to protect and improve its institutional integrity. If we are not diligent in our protection of what we love, it may all disappear without notice. Mikrokosmos Literary Journal was nearly axed after more than fifty years of existence, even as the pool of student fees that funded it increased year after year. This year, The Sunflower is operating with budget cuts that affect its day-to-day operation.
Without students fighting for the existence of the things they love on campus, we risk losing the parts of campus that we are thankful for today. Sometimes, even when we think we are doing enough to preserve what we love about WSU, it’s not enough.
That’s what happened just a week ago when I drove past the desolate lot where the YMCA will soon be constructed. The rolling hills and nature pathway that used to be there were one of my favorite parts of campus. I loved to walk there — taking in the trees and grass as I traveled between the northeast parking lots and campus. It was a small refuge that I never expected to lose during my time at WSU.
Now it’s gone. The YMCA that’s going on that land was opposed by one session of SGA only to be approved by the next. I don’t know if I could have done anything to help protect that patch of land I loved, but now I’ll never know. I was thankful for that little happy place on campus, but that thankfulness didn’t make the leap towards diligence in protecting it.
When the university talks about “paying it forward,” I understand what they’re getting at. I do want to leave WSU a better place than I found it. If that means losing some money out of my small paycheck that I can afford to lose, I’m happy to pay the cost.
However, it’s our job to make sure that the manner in which we pay it forward is in line with our personal values. We must be critical of the powers that shape WSU. It is our duty to understand and act upon the truth of each problem and opportunity we face as a university.
Behind each critical piece of coverage in The Sunflower is a student body so thankful for this university that we will go the distance to protect it.