WUStock could scare off prospective students
As many of us know, this past weekend was WUStock, with Walk the Moon playing as the headlining band. I enjoyed my time there—it seemed like everyone around me enjoyed it. Overall, I would call it a successful Saturday. For the students. But what about for the school?
This past week, there were visiting pre-frosh students staying at the University with the Overnight Welcome Leaders (OWL) program. The entire week, everyone was talking about going to WUStock, what mental condition they would be in and how they would get to that condition. Being a freshman, I (relatively) recently went through the college application process. One thing I distinctly remember was every college trying to prevent prospective students from hearing about and being involved in parties. In fact, they would do as much as they could to stress how many students do not drink. They stressed all their safety measures for students (for example, the omnipresent blue light emergency telephone system). The poor scheduling that led to the pre-frosh students being here the week of WUStock entirely undermines that effort.
These students are visiting to evaluate the academics of the school, especially compared to other schools they are looking at. Hosting their visits concurrently with WUStock ignores this. Instead, they are bombarded with social plans. This isn’t inherently a bad thing. It shows that we, as students at Washington University, are, in fact, human beings. We interact with each other and can enjoy ourselves outside class. However, the sheer size of the event means discussion about WUStock become ubiquitous. I fear that the discussion is overwhelming, giving off the idea that we care more about the mental state in which we attend WUStock and not so much our academics.
The timing of the visit also puts extra stress on the prospective students’ hosts. In addition to housing pre-frosh, which the hosts had volunteered to do, OWLs are housing them on a relatively large party weekend. OWLs have to agree to certain conditions when they volunteer for this responsibility. One of those conditions is that the visitor does not consume a single drop of alcohol. I imagine that housing someone on a major party weekend—and the days leading up to it—with ever-present conversation about alcohol slightly complicates that objective. Alcohol was more easily accessible this weekend, which means that OWLs had to be extra vigilant.
Any other weekend this semester could have been chosen as a major visiting weekend. Why this past one in particular? The University should have been aware that WUStock was happening and that the majority of OWLs were planning to attend. The behavior associated with this festival is something that will be talked about by parents and prospective students, with each other and third parties. I have to wonder: how many potential applicants are possibly scared off by this kind of an action? Had the visit been pushed back just one weekend, that question would be irrelevant.
So what should be done instead? As I mentioned, a different weekend would serve a far greater purpose. Ideally, they would be able to visit during something akin to the Spring Activities Fair. Unfortunately, it happens far too early in the semester and is far too small for this type of pressure. However, the idea holds. Something like the Activities Fair shows how active and social our students are without consuming toxins.
The goal of these visiting weekends is to show our school in the best light possible. We need to show off our academics and social lives. However, we should be doing so in a wholesome, PG-13 manner, not with a weekend like W.I.L.D. or WUStock. Silly, preventable scheduling like this past week is unjustified and does not appeal to the greatest number of potential students. If we as a school are just a little bit more attentive to this kind of thing, I believe that students visiting our school can have an even better time than they already do.