By Kierra Whitaker
When I decided to do a series of stories for my senior project, I had no idea of what to write about.
“What are some issues that go on around campus that many people don’t talk about?” my senior project adviser asked me.
Then I thought: There is something drastic that has changed since I’ve been at Wesley: student involvement.
In the fall of 2016, I was a shy freshman who knew no one and I did not want to be involved around campus.
I went home every other weekend and only wanted to graduate and leave this place.
When I finally spent a weekend here, it change my experience.
I began meeting new people I never thought I would. Many were upperclassmen.
Upperclassmen often told my friends and me, “Wesley is what you make it and many of y’all won’t be here much longer.”
Many of y’all won’t be here much longer stuck with me for the four years I’ve been here.
It was their way of saying the school needed to be a lot better; if not, people – and I – would leave sooner than expected.
I began to see that the real world, and Wesley, were different than anything I had experienced before.
I saw that things were complicated and can be good and go bad quickly.
There were student leaders on campus at that time who made being at Wesley fun. But the school spirit began to decline, as well as the students, shortly after I arrived.
It seemed like every semester we returned there were fewer people.
Events began to show that, too.
Events that student organizations held went from not much seating left to five or ten people.
Now, in the fall of 2019, with a week left of the semester and enrollment just below a thousand, no one is interested in doing anything anymore.
Organizations and their leaders are losing faith they will be here much longer.
Many see the decline in activities and people on campus and have lost hope.
One of the most difficult things I’ve accomplished at Wesley was becoming president of an organization that I joined my second semester here.
I never knew what it meant to be a student leader or that that was even a thing.
I found that things are truly relationship-based at this school.
People gravitate to people more like them and if they have some type of relationship.
So you have to develop personal relationships with students, faculty and staff.
That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore. Nothing is growing.
The same few organizations and student leaders put on events and attend them.
Many of these organizations’ members will be graduating in December and a lot in May.
So, what is the future for Wesley’s organizations and students?
I think it will continue to decline and students will continue to lose hope.
Wesley turned out not to be the perfect school I had in mind as a young 18-year-old freshman.
But I made the best of it.
As I write my last Whetstone article, it saddens me about how student-involvement barely exists anymore.
Will things get better at this school, or will it continue to decline?
I have hope for the school. I have seen a handful of students turn things around by their attitudes and desire to change things.
There’s just fewer of them. And what Wesley needs is more student leaders.