WSU is advancing Washington industries …
WSU teams with aviation to develop sustainable aviation biofuels …
WSU partners to develop bioproducts that reduce dependence on petroleum imports …
WSU works with state commodity commissions to conduct needed agricultural research …
WSU developed the technology used for wood-plastic composites used for buildings …
WSU researchers work to improve dairy productivity and reduce disease …
WSU research has made Washington one of the world’s most productive wheat-growing regions …

"Take Five" for WSU and higher education, Cougar Chat

Cougar Chat has questions for Cougs – please join in the dialogue

you are awesome

WSU Impact is interested in starting a dialogue with our members. We recently had a relatively wide-ranging conversation with a friend and brainstormed some theories related to WSU alumni, student engagement when on WSU campuses, and interest in WSU Impact. We want to know your thoughts. In light of recent declines in state support for higher education, the challenges created by the federal impasse in budget talks and its effects on public research universities, and the need to keep public universities like WSU affordable and accessible for current and future students, we believe WSU Impact and its mission has never been more important. We are seeking our members’ involvement in our discussion below and hope you will participate in providing your thoughts to our hypotheses.

The news about roiling federal and state politics has been a rocky road of late. So much so that in a recent conversation, a friend of WSU Impact quipped, “gosh – it must be challenging to get Cougars to join WSU Impact – seems like policy issues are more intractable than ever and not a lot of room is being made for agreement.”

Even as an old (well, seasoned) policy wonk, we had to agree. Public opinion polls indicate an erosion of support for various institutions of government at best, and a general cynicism at worst. However, other times in our nation’s history in which citizens have felt more disenfranchised or critical of government than during relatively serene periods brings to mind an enduring quote:

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form on Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. (Winston Churchill, 1947)

Indeed, the recent political dynamics further motivates WSU Impact to encourage Cougars to engage with lawmakers in a positive, proactive way about the value of higher education. WSU Impact provides convenient online tools so one can easily contact their legislators and let them know why you care about higher education generally. We also provide more specific information to encourage citizens to be advocates for WSU – constructively, yet with passion that Cougs are famous for.

Founding Funksters: In 1997 KZUU’s first leaders—Jon Etherton ’78 (left), Bill Stewart ’78 (center), and Henry Huestis ’79—hold an early meeting in advisor Bob Searfoss’s office. Photo by Robert Searfoss.

Our conversation continued, and turned toward  alumni or friends of the university who would be likely to join WSU Impact. We have approximately 970 members, but could not say for sure what motivated them to register. We assume that members support the mission of public higher education, are prideful and themselves examples of the benefits of a college degree, have an abiding passion for WSU, value the economic and societal importance of research universities, and believe that citizen voices are effective in helping legislators understand what voters and constituents value.

Some 5,000 WSU students attended a racism workshop in October 1970. The workshop and the election of Carlton Lewis, the first ASWSU African American student body president the previous spring helped to ease the tensions that were evident on the Pullman campus.

Our friend then posed a particularly provocative question. How many WSU Impact members are former student leaders at WSU?  We answered that several members  were (and currently are) active in the Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWSU) and demonstrated Cougar pride by helping to initiate and coordinate student activities, representing student interests, needs, and welfare, and acting as liaison between students and University faculty, staff, and administration.

We also postulated that those who participated in ASWSU and engaged in student activities and organizations might be interested in WSU Impact and our mission. In addition to student government, those involved with student publications and communications, academic and issue-oriented clubs, and/or leadership roles  in resident halls and Panhellenic councils and organizations are seemingly natural prospects for joining WSU Impact. Student leaders and volunteers demonstrate the breadth and depth of the university experience, know the importance of  creating opportunities for engagement, understand the creation of resources and tools to encourage advocacy, have volunteered and led organizational success, and created  innovative, purposeful processes when bringing people together for a greater good.

So, this leads us to some questions.

  • Did you participate in ASWSU, were you an elected officer, did you serve in the student Senate, were you active in your resident hall, sorority, or fraternity, or were you active in a club or other student organization, etc?
  • If yes, why were you so engaged, what are you proud of, what change did you bring, and what are you doing now? With your permission, we want to collect your stories and if you haven’t, encourage you to join WSU Impact.
  • Do you know of other leaders and student volunteers during your era, or otherwise,  at WSU who might be interested in WSU Impact? What do you think of working together in support of WSU Impact’s mission?

We want to start an information exchange and dialogue. We have a theory that alumni who have volunteered for and engaged in organizations, clubs, and student government are mission focused and sympathetic to advocacy efforts and might like to know more about WSU Impact. Hope you’ll share your thoughts to the questions above and suggestions with us.

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