Campus community ideal stifles adventure

by Sarah Berentson

Whitworth has many key words and phrases that will perk the ears of Whitworthians for the rest of their lives: worldview, pinecone and Core to name a few. A big one is community. Community is a Christian ideal that Whitworth expands on and has made its own. We pride ourselves on the importance of Traditiation, an event that allows freshmen to integrate into their new community. Dorms hold Prime Times almost every evening; there are small groups, clubs, hall dates, hall meetings and a handful of other ways that students can meet other people and find their own niche in the world of Whitworth.

Though I roll my eyes when I have to write about community, or even hear the word sometimes, I have found it is one of the aspects of Whitworth I value most. I appreciate that community is a valuable and important quality of campus life because it extends outside the social circle and into the athletic and academic realm, as well. My experience at Whitworth has been valuable because I have developed sincere relationships in every community I have been involved with.

However, the very thing that many of us value as one of Whitworth’s best qualities is also one of its most stifling. Many Whitworth students leave with positive notions of Whitworth, but negative notions of Spokane. Whitworth’s community lacks only its failure to include the surrounding  the community of Spokane. Many students stay behind the pinecone curtain, consumed in Whitworth’s community.

Spokane is certainly no Seattle, but it isn’t the dump that many people think it is. Spokane offers beautiful parks, a growing music scene, poetry readings, theatre, ice skating, rock climbing, laser tag, etc.

Whitworth doesn’t help students experience Spokane. Because we are isolated in our campus up north, I admit it is harder to experience downtown Spokane, but it’s also worth it. I know that if you don’t have a car, you have a friend that does because there are certainly a limited number of parking spaces.

Spokane may not be utopia, but it does have its perks. Manito Park is beautiful, as is the entire South Hill. The Centennial trail is perfect for any bike lover. Walking in Riverfront Park is perfect for a date. The restaurant options are endless. Have you been to Neato Burrito, Ultimate Bagel or South Perry Pizza? All are affordable and delicious. Did you know that new music is at your fingertips in Spokane? Just check out the Pacific Northwest Inlander for recommended shows. The nightlife is lively, too. There are co-ops, such as Main Market, and farmers markets. There are Spokane-wide events like Elk Fest, Pig out in the Park and Bloomsday.

Though I appreciate the emphasis on community at Whitworth, I wish there were more off-campus ventures that clubs put on that would help students find their niche in downtown Spokane throughout their four years here.

Whitworth needs to expand its mentality about community and truly extend (at least metaphorically) the pinecone curtain to the surrounding Spokane area. Students need to stop bashing Spokane until they give it a shot. Take the community we have developed here, the friendships you have made and go explore Spokane. You might be surprised what you find.

Graphic art by Eva Kiviranta

Berentson is a senior majoring in English and Spanish. Comments can be sent to

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