Whitworth prides itself on the close-knit community that has been established through Student Life. The idea of community here is a strong selling point for most. Student Life works hard every year to ensure that residents have the best possible experience. Resident Assistants are given extensive training and taught how to handle most situations to best meet the needs of residents. The year begins with Traditiation, which is in place to build community within the first few nights on campus.
The Traditiation experience sticks with people and, in some cases, defines their college experience. That time is for making long-lasting friendships, feeling comfortable on a foreign campus and starting a new chapter of life. Whitworth’s student life has put together a creative orientation experience.
There are also seminars for students to engage in during the first week on campus. Seminars such as “I am from…” or “Valuing a Diverse Community” serve the purpose of introducing students to a new culture. While these are wonderful seminars for information, they don’t function well in allowing students to create relationships with others.
These are often seminars to be attended with parents and there is little communication between students and leadership.
“Hopefully there are places for everyone to plug in and feel connected,” said Kathy Storm, vice president of Student Life.
However, these experiences can, at times, focus on a specific type of student who is outgoing and generally speaking, an extrovert.
Some students are uncomfortable with participating in Traditiation activities. Being with that many people doing activities meant to quickly create bonds can be overwhelming, yet there aren’t many attractive alternatives. If students do not join in, they risk not being plugged in right away or not making these crucial, initial friendships.
“We did try one year to offer an opportunity for students to meet and have coffee with faculty members in lieu of traditiation, but no one showed,” Storm said.
While this was a good move by Student Life, the students who are likely to be uncomfortable with Traditiation are also likely to be uncomfortable with meeting faculty in a one-on-one setting so early in the year.
This board understands that appealing to the needs of everyone is impossible. However, we also believe that more could be done to cater to a wide range of needs.
One possible alternative is engaging students more with RAs on a personal level during the orientation season. Typically, four to six RAs are in charge of Traditiation in each dorm community. If the resident assistants who were not in charge initiated outside events for students who were uncomfortable with Traditiation, more students could be effectively assimilated into the community. More could also be done during orientation in the individual halls, with the exception of hall meetings, to get students acquainted with their RA and neighbors.
More personal interaction within the first few days could be beneficial for comfortability. Whitworth prides itself on wonderful community and although traditiation is beneficial for most, community also begins with one-one-one relationships for some.
Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the editorial board, which is made up of five editors.