Student organizations at WSU

Warmest greetings and heartfelt welcome to the class of 2020. During Alive! and Week of Welcome, you were no doubt subjected to speeches from RAs to agents of ASWSU to members of the administration and more, all encouraging you to make friends, network and participate.

The buzz phrase of this time is, ‘These are the greatest years of your life – make the most of it.’

Now, as much as I disdain that phrase – I intend to make every step of life better than the last – these are certainly the times for extraordinary growth and engagement with a community setting where learning occurs at every moment. You should be studying not just a subject of knowledge but also how to operate as a human being.

Yes, my new friends, that means putting away Pokemon Go and joining clubs, teams, social groups and intellectual cabals. It means becoming a full and active participant at WSU.

Ben Franklin once quipped to a woman who asked him about what sort of government the Founders gave our county, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” The same idea applies to a healthy university.

For example, issues of diversity do not improve without students taking the initiative to discuss, plan and organize events, protests, talks, discussions and learning opportunities to mobilize energies, talents and resources to tackle these issues.

Take QPOCA, the WSU Queer People of Color and Allies. This group did not exist five years ago, but undergraduate and graduate level Cougs took the initiative to increase visibility for queer Cougs of color and their supporters.

Even last year there was no student group for LGBTQ graduate students, so my friends Leticia, Jordan and I worked to put a group together: Graduate Pride Alliance of Washington State, or GPAWS.

Again, resources, groups and now hallowed institutions of Cougar society would not exist without an active student body.

This applies to more than just clubs and social groups as well. Organizations like The Daily Evergreen – shameless plug – provide essential investigation into how this university operates.

Valuable pillars to the WSU community like our student newspaper exist because students, to paraphrase feminist scholar and poet Adrienne Rich, seize their education and put their learning into practice.

Student government organizations like ASWSU and the Graduate and Professional Students Association (GPSA) offer similar services, providing not only resources but advocacy for our student body with regard to the acts of the administration and the state legislature.

At their best, our Greek chapters engage in similar activities as they pertain to tackling campus concerns and issues.

The ultimate challenge we face as students is that WSU and its culture existed before we came here and will exist after we leave. It is the Queen and Parliament dilemma: governments come and go but she stays. So it is with WSU and the succession of student classes.

It is up to each one of us to leave a mark, no matter how small, on this institution. Never forget that this university would merely be a research corporation without its students. We must make sure the faculty, administration and regents never forget this foundational fact.

As Week of Welcome proceeds in earnest, visit every table and take every free handout and flyer. Find your passions, take up your favorite banners and in the words a mentor of mine, Fr. Timothy Clancy, Director of Honors at Gonzaga University, “Go set the world on fire.”

Tyler Laferriere is a graduate student pursuing his master’s in economics from Phoenix, Arizona. He can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of The Office of Student Media.