Guest Column: Not to get technical

Derek Pufhal, Editor in Chief

I would have wished a different resolution for WSC going into 2017. Perhaps to be barreling down the yellow brick road in search of higher learning.

But then again, I had wished for a lot of things going into 2017. For instance, I had wished our country was smart enough not to elect an orange demagogue who plays off the fears of bigoted, xenophobic and homophobic U.S. citizens.

It seems, though, that, rather than heading to Oz, WSC is transforming into a technical school, and I believe the reason for this boils down to three things (probably more, but they teach you here that things of this nature work best when you do them in threes):

A. Lack of funding. During an open forum, WSC President Marysz Rames said that the recent budget cuts we are witnessing will be permanent, in that we will essentially be stuck with the same decreased budget we have for three years straight while the college’s core needs continue to rise financially.

I’ve been told that we’ve gone through issues similar to this in the past. I’m no mathematician (English major), but it does seem that permanent reductions would add on to past permanent reductions, subtlety bringing us further and further from having the required resources that someone like John G. Neihardt (yeah, bringing out the big references) would have expected a place of higher learning to have at our disposal.

B. Nebraska has an agriculture-based economy, which fluctuates, and our State government (good ol’ lil’ Petey) does not have what I call the simple foresight to account effectively for this fluctuation and must make budget cuts to public institutions.

These include state colleges, which tell us they are trying desperately to diversify Nebraska’s revenue through WSC’s education, but are unable to fully get where we need to be because their budgets keep getting slashed to pieces and they scramble like groundhogs to keep things afloat.

We are told by the administration (in some attempt to calm us, and I suppose keep us from running to the hills) that we have simply relied too heavily on state appropriations. However, I fail to see how a STATE college can rely too heavily on STATE appropriations.

Also, when I inquire about this diversification, I am told by the school that the money being put into our Center of Applied Technology will provide the state with a drive toward a manufacturing base, which will help to diversify the state’s economy.

Well, that’s cool, right? More stability in state revenue? Sure. Except, why not leave that to the tech schools? WSC has always been known as a school for educators, not manufacturing.

C. If I want to include a decent conclusion, then I’m running out of room for a “C.” But it probably also has something to do with regional pride in hard work over higher learning.

Even still, there are many great professors here who earnestly try to awaken the closed-minded and create some intellectual conversation. They link arms with students on the road to Oz, even if they are fired or feel forced into retirement for speaking their minds.

Look for the great revelations that are made when you get a few thoughtful people together in a classroom, who aren’t swayed by the allures of comparison or conformity. Suck down those moments and let the energy shoot out of the ends of your hair.

Continue, too, to look for it where it has always been: in the back rooms of bars or in smoke filled basements, or maybe hovering in the air over games of chess and cups of tea.

Also, while you’re here, please remember that, for the money, it isn’t so bad. Then, move on to a graduate school on the coast before you dry up and start talking about the weather. I hear it’s been icy, and someone keeps throwing salt around to no avail.