Page 1


September 2017



September 2017


E ditor -I n -C hief B randon J ohnson ‘19


S taff

Jared Cottingham ’18 John Newton ‘18 Jacob Roehm ‘18 Logan Taylor ‘18 Nolan Callecod ’19 Brennan Davenport ‘19 David Thomas ‘19 Austin Yeomans ‘20 C ontributor S elena V an B aber

5| Between the Lines

by John Newton ‘18

6| If you Build it...

by Logan Taylor ‘18

8| Super Science of Smoke Detectors by TWC Staff

10| Scarlet Sellout: A Break in Tradition by Austin Yeomans ‘20

12| How to be a Gentleman: Fall Fashion by Jared Cottingham ‘18

14| Something is Rotten in the State of the Sparks Center by Brennan Davenport ‘19

Want to voice your concerns? Do you have a burning criticism? A consonnant voice to lend? We publish letters to the editor: Subscriptions inquiries: The Wabash Commentary Post Office Box 851 Crawfordsville, IN 47933 The Wabash Commentary is published by the Foundation for a Traditional Wabash, Ltd., and is distributed free to Wabash Students (limit two copies per person). Donate $25.00 or more and receive a subscription! All contributions should be made payable to the“Foundation for a Traditional Wabash.” The Wabash Commentary is a member of the Indiana Collegiate Press Association (ICPA) and the Collegiate Network. Special thanks to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Leadership Institute, Young America’s Foundation and USBIC.

Who We Are: The Wabash Commentary (TWC) is a student-run journal of news and opinion dedicated to advancing ideas and insights about Traditional Wabash. Since its inception in 1993, TWC has fiercely maintained its editorial independence, free of administration or faculty control, not beholden to any social, partisan, or religious agenda. Drawing from both classical liberal and traditionalist thought, TWC’s mission is to foster rational discussion in the common pursuit of Scientiae et Virtuti, on campus and beyond.

Growth Friends, I often find myself contemplating what The Wabash Commentary is. I think about what it means to me, what it means to other people, and – most importantly – what it stands for. As editor, I now find myself in the unique position of not just considering what the Commentary means to me, but of also putting what that means into actuality. Seldom do we have the chance to guide the things that we love, to have the possibility to change how others see that which is most important to us. My first goal for the Commentary is to foster growth. I came into this family when it was small and broken, and have fought since then not only to hold it together, but to build it back up to what it was before. Secondly, I hope to solidify our identity. What do we stand for? I believe that we are more than merely a political magazine; we care about so much more than politics. I further believe it would be overly reductive to say that we are some sort of “lifestyle” magazine. It is not my place to say what is the place of the Commentary, nor will it ever be the place of any single person. As stated above, we are a family, and in our identity must consider all members past, present, and future. I simply wish to help us put together those pieces. It is my final hope to spread this identity that we create. Misinformation is a slow and insidious killer in both directions. It plays a part in the destruction of those who learn and accept it as truth, but can also lead to the destruction of its subject. In my time as a member of the Commentary, we have been subject to such attacks and allegations claiming that we are an “alt-right” publication or, even worse, a publication against the college. I believe we are anything but. The Wabash Commentary is much more to me than pieces of paper covered in ink. It is an institution. A way of thinking. A family. It is my sole wish as editor of The Wabash Commentary to help this family as it has helped me.

Yours for a Traditional Wabash,

Brandon Johnson

Cheers Jeers Jeers to FIJI. We all know Jeers to small dogs that know

Fiji. We Wish all of clothes are best dried at a they’re cute but poop everywhere our clothes could be as fine as anyways . yours. laundromat.

Jeers to the Crawfordsville Fire

Cheers to

pianos for making Cheers to Logan Kleiman, Department. We want to be left excellent doorstops. we’re sure that the four alone in our burning buildings. houses that participated in the Cheers to fire alarms. Their semester’s first campus “unity” Cheers to Beta for continued wails show effort to tour really enjoyed themselves. incorporating street art into their produce harmonious music. We understand that the rest of us are not among the “chosen ones.” party decorations. Jeers to Phi-Psi for their Cheers to classroom behavior at Chapel Sing, as if the Jeers to UFC. You should have discussion for restoring single- Sphinx Club’s integrity wasn’t expected that many people on perspective superiority. fragile enough. your servers, if not more.

Jeers to IFC. We don’t have enough manpower nor interest for another committee. Cheers to

Jack Kellerman for having the shortest and most vacuous Chapel Talk of the year so far.

Cheers to

to The Bachelor (for real this time) for braving to write an article against the Sphinx Club. We’re proud of you, but not that proud. Between you, us, and the squirrels, we all know it could have been so much more hard-hitting. Cheers

to Betapalooza for ensuring that Wabash men get their beauty rest. Cheers


to The Wabash Commentary for actually complimenting The Bachelor. Ewwww.

Got Opinions? We can help!

Contact us at : thewabashcommentary @ gmail . com 4 - The Wabash Commentary


Between the Lines

A Guide to On-Campus Automobile Ownership

B y J ohn N ewton | jrnewton 19@ wabash . edu


you’ve brought a car around the

Wabash College

campus, depending

on your destination, you’ve probably had the experience of finding yourself scavenging for an open parking spot.


seems that on-campus parking, espe-

cially on the west side, has been in a bit of a state these past few weeks. that it seems there aren’t any plans to construct any additional

Given parking ar-

eas, we can look to the school’s mission statement for ways in which we can make the situation better for all of us.

Think Critically: You’ve finally gotten that elusive parking space near Would one quick trip to Wal-Mart really hurt? Of course it would. Secondary parking like the visitors’ lot is a pretty safe bet, but it’s probably better to just wait until the weekend when your space will be in lower demand.

your building of residence.

Act Responsibly: Gas is expensive, and it’s probably best to reduce your Why not walk where you want to go? The exercise is great for you, and there’s nothing like a late-night stroll to the gas station to help take your mind off the pressure of school. If you do decide to drive, just take comfort in knowing that, in all likelihood, your spot will be taken upon your return, and you’ll be walking back from another parking lot. Take the chance to enjoy the fresh air.

carbon footprint anyway.

Lead Effectively: If

you do find yourself in the unenviable position of

driving somewhere in the middle of the day, be sure to take care in making your way off campus.


the campus roads can be narrow and winding in

places, you may also face a few blind intersections thanks to the congested street-side parking.


heart, though.




man, and nothing

teaches the importance of committing to a decision quite like the prospect of an oncoming truck behind that line of cars.

Live Humanely: Sell

your car.


never really needed it anyway.


everyone did it, parking would open up all across campus, and just think of the ecological bragging rights we’ll have!


the extra cash will help

keep that ever-rising tuition at bay—at least for a semester or so.

All that’s

left to do then is wait for public transportation to develop in a rural town of

16,000. While

it does seem that the problem of on-campus parking has improved

somewhat as students have settled in, it’s far from resolved.

Considering the

abolition of off-campus living, as well as the construction of new on-campus

housing, it’s likely only going to get worse in the years to come unless more space is allocated for parking.

The Wabash Commentary - 5

D o m i c i le

If you Build it... Will they come?

B y L ogan T aylor | latyalor 18@ wabash . edu Recruitment numbers at Wabash are not great, and this is no secret. They’re not terrible, and we’re not in danger of closing our doors, but recruitment numbers are below where the college wants them. We wanted to break 1,000 with this incoming Freshman class, and that certainly didn’t happen. And of course, everyone knows that the new Independent housing was constructed for that very reason. It’s sleek, modern, and looks great (at least from the street), so why didn’t it help? After all, isn’t there a saying for this? “If you build it, they will come”? So where are they?


tional recruiting. It usually shakes out that the more counties within Indiana one is responsible for, the fewer states throughout the US they have to manage, which makes sense. After all, ask any freshman, or any Wabash student in general, where they’re from, and the overwhelming majority will name a town in Indiana. It just makes sense that the majority of focus is on Indiana. Or does it? Consider this: Nikolas Jones, Assistant Director of Admissions, is responsible for handling Wabash’s recruitment efforts in the following states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode

diana, but most of our students come from Indiana because that is the only place we express any reasonable recruitment effort. No single individual can handle recruitment for eleven states; it’s simply impossible to get any meaningful number of students from outside Indiana this way. It’s ludicrous. It’s insane. It’s Wabash’s primary recruitment strategy, and it’s the seat of the problem with our numbers. As a side note, the college seems to be aware of this, at least on some level, and it’s clear that their attempt to address this problem was merely a slight of hand: build shiny new housing that nobody was asking for. During the

When the college fails to bring in the numbers that it wants, it’s the current students who suffer.

The problem with Wabash’s recruitment is a deep and complex one, and it arises from a number of different places, but the bottom line is this: when the college fails to bring in the numbers that it wants, it’s the current students who suffer. But if we’re going to diagnose this problem and figure out exactly how much the administration is screwing us, we need to start with where most students make their first contact with the college: Admissions. Wabash’s admission strategy is as follows: there are a number of employees in the admissions office, and each person is responsible for a certain number of counties in Indiana and a certain number of states in the US, with one being focused on interna6 - The Wabash Commentary

Island, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia. That’s eleven states, including Texas, one of the largest states in the US, and that’s not even to mention the eleven counties in Indiana he is also responsible for. How is it reasonable to expect one person to handle all of this? Some might say that our extensive network of alumni is the answer, but one look at the map in the business office that details the locations of Wabash alumni tells a different story. The overwhelming majority of them are also located in Indiana, and so their recruiting power only extends as far as the state line. This is a catch-22. We focus most of our recruitment in Indiana because most of our students come from In-


talks that Dean Raters, Dean Welch, and Rich Woods gave to the living units just a few weeks ago, Dean Welch admitted that he has handled more independent students transferring out of Rogge and Williams than out of any other living unit. Weren’t they supposed to be the big attraction for independents? Why are students moving out of them? That’s another problem for another article, but it’s important to note that the new housing is not doing the job that they wanted it to. Tuition dollars well spent. At least we can say that the college has attempted to address the problems with its recruitment strategy. Many current students will remember the hiring of Michael F. Thorp as Dean of

Enrollment Management back in 2015. According to the article on the school website announcing his hiring, he was brought in because he has substantially increased recruitment numbers for other colleges at which he’s worked and we were hoping he could do the same for us. We were wrong. Dean Thorp was not a failure in his strictest mission: to get more students to come to Wabash. Though the college’s numbers aren’t quite as high as the administration would like them to be, this year’s freshman class is almost exactly 250 students, which is the number we shoot for and the number that, if reached several years in a row, will bring us up to that fabled 1,000 student number that is so sought-after. But if you look at the Meet the Staff page for the admissions department, you’ll find that Dean Thorp is absent. In fact, Michael Thorp no longer works for the college at all. Whether he was fired or he quit I do not know, but over the summer something happened and now he is no longer an employee of the college. Here’s a theory: Thorp did bring our numbers up, but he did it by giving out more financial aid and making it more feasible for students to attend Wabash. We all know that tuition continues to rise (more on that later), and if you ask the current freshman or look at the data online, you’ll find that the amount of total aid that the college gives out has also increased over the last few years, in proportion to the tuition increase. So, Michael Thorp brought in more numbers, but he spent more money in order to do so, and that was a big no-no to the administration. He was fired after only two years of working at the college. But of course, that’s only a theory. Proof would have to come from the

mouths of the higher-ups themselves, and we know that’s never going to happen. So what does this all mean? The new housing failure, rising tuition and financial aid, and Dean Thorp’s story are all interesting things to note, but how do they all fit together? Well, I’m glad you asked. Picture this: Wabash college’s admission strategy is not working. They’re not getting the numbers they want through their outdated and impossible to manage recruitment system, but they still need their income, so tuition is steadily raised. In addition to this, Michael Thorp is made Dean


money on financial aid to do so, and as we all know, the college’s real purpose in attempting to attract more students is to make more money. So the only thing that is working to make the college more money is raising tuition. But this doesn’t even get the new freshmen, as they’re receiving more aid than ever. So who does it hurt instead? Us. The current students of Wabash. Look at your tuition invoice and see if the aid you’ve received is adjusted every year to reflect the rising tuition. I can certainly tell you the answer: no. The tuition goes up every year, the incoming freshman get more

The new housing is not as big of a draw as they thought it would be.

of Enrollment Management so that he can work his magic for Wabash as he has for so many schools in the past. In addition, the college spends lots of money building fancy new housing in order to attract prospective students, again to bring numbers up and bring in more money. A three-pronged attack that is sure to address the problem. Only it didn’t work. Only the new housing is not as big of a draw as they thought it would be. Sure, numbers have gone up, but with the return of Delta Tau Delta, the school is more Greek than ever. Independents are flowing out of the new dorms like water running downhill, not flocking to them like carrion birds to the corpse of a dead gazelle (as the college had hoped). Only Dean Thorp, who may have brought the numbers up, spent more


aid and sign into a contract that they aren’t even aware of, and the college gouges its current students for thousands and thousand of dollars over the course of their time here. Tuition went up over $1,000 in the last year alone, and we’re footing the bill. We didn’t sign up for this. The college has failed in all of its strategies to bring more students here in an effort to make more money, and we’re paying for it. What’s worse, this new trend shows no signs of stopping. Incoming freshman are signing up for the same thing without realizing it. Their tuition will go up every year too, and their aid will stay the same, repeating the cycle of students footing the bill for the college’s mistakes. But hey, what do I know? I just go here.

The Wabash Commentary - 7


Super Science of Smoke Detectors To young minds with their first taste of freedom (undergraduates, particularly freshmen), smoke detectors are complicated and frightening instruments. As such, the Crawfordsville Fire Department has recently met Wabash with a series of “false” fire responses, followed by a drug search and a stern talking-to from Dean Raters to several housing units. At TWC, we found civic duty commanding us to help. Wabash, have no fear. To avoid these mishaps in the future, we’ve deciphered the inner workings of smoke detectors (not fire alarms) for you and added some notes on “safe” practice.

Ionization Smoke Detector Designed to detect rapid fires (i.e. fires from cooking oils, grease, gasoline, and paper fires) that produce dark or black smoke with tiny particles. Smoke bonds to ionized molecules, disrupting Isotope Americium-241’s flow of ionization between two charged plates, triggering the alarm. Bonus: It’s radioactive.

Photoelectric Smoke Detector Designed to detect slow, smoldering, danker, thick-smoked fires before they become open flames. These fires produce thick white or grey smoke with large particles. These detectors are not as sensitive as the ionization detectors. A lightemitting diode (LED) sends a beam of light across the top of the T-shaped chamber. Smoke scatters the LED beam— making it strike the photocell at the base of this chamber— triggering an electrical current that sets of the alarm.

Best Practices for a Real Fire 1) Don’t cover the smoke detector (i.e. shower cap sealed to the device with tape, or tied-off with a common hairband). If you happen to see a covered smoke detector, make sure to take it down. You wouldn’t want anyone to think you were intentionally breaking fire-code. 2) Avoid leaving a window open, especially with a box fan turned on high while another fan is oscillating in the room. Otherwise, the smoke detector may not function properly. In a nonventilated room, smoke can move directly into your smoke detector, as if one had blown smoke directly into it. 8 - The Wabash Commentary

Smoke detector patent. Simple Enough. Smoke detector types are located on or inside the device, indicated by a “P” for photoelectric or an “I” for ionization.

Your Own Personal Jesus

Someone to hear your prayers, Someone who cares. The Wabash Commentary - 9

C ata s t r o p h e

Scarlet Sellout A Break in Tradition

B y A ustin Y eomans | abyeoman 20@ wabash . edu Dwindling now are the numbers among us who have experienced perhaps one of the greatest Wabash traditions. Those of us in years past have seen this experience as an integral part of Wabash culture, just as important as the arch, a friendly pat of Eli Lily’s head, and dare I say, as necessary as the president’s hand bell that signifies the arrival and departure of generations of Wabash men. This tradition: Honor Scholars Weekend.


floor while a green-screened image was projected behind me. The professors I would come to know much more closely were there, encouraging me, giving feedback, and working collaboratively to create these moments for no other purpose than the enjoyment of the art. When it was all said and done, we shared a smile amongst ourselves at the unique experience we had just had together. There is no lasting record of those moments other than our

magic of Wabash. For a fleeting moment, we were given an honest, immersive look inside Wabash culture. However, an unfortunate circumstance has sucked this beloved tradition into the void. Starting in 2017, the United States Government made substantial changes to college financial aid, making FAFSA information due much sooner. The official FAFSA website says, “several states’ deadlines have changed from ‘as soon as possible after Jan. 1’ to ‘as soon as possible

For a fleeting moment, we were given an honest, immersive look inside Wabash culture.

Each one of we aged Wabash men have our own unique story of how Honor Scholars Weekend won us over to the idea of spending the next four years of our lives at Wabash College. Many of us would struggle to explain the exhilaration of rallying around the Phi Delts engaging in fisticuffs in their courtyard with our beloved Dr. Blix on his throne. The following Saturday was filled with events tailored to various majors, designed to attract students with budding interests in certain areas, and the Sunday after was the perfect sendoff to a weekend dedicated entirely to the next class of Wabash men. As for myself, I came to the College very interested in film, so I walked into a multimedia event where I somehow ended up in a black robe with a brain on my head, thrashing around on the

10 - The Wabash Commentary

memories. I’ll never forget the impact that made on me, the inspiration and excitement it planted in me to come to the College and make a difference, to be a part of something larger than myself. It allowed me to feel connected to the College in a very personal way. Our Editor, Brandon Johnson, also made meaningful connections during his stay the year prior to my arrival. He was able to personally connect with Classics professors, fostering personal, mail-based correspondence with his future educators and mentors. Honor Scholars was a full-weekend event, allowing us as prospects to spend meaningful time with faculty and students, and to have meaningful conversations and experiences with them. The whole weekend was centered around getting spellbound by the


after Oct. 1.’” Due to this change, the College’s financial aid deadlines were pushed up to comply with new regulation, leaving even late or relaxed deadlines well before the previous dates of our beloved event. The College approached this obstacle with joy, ready to reinvent the way it handled such a laborious endeavor as its massive visit weekend, complete with competitive scholarship testing and student immersion experiences. Enter Scarlet Honors Weekend. The first and most alarming change is that Scarlet Honors Weekend encompassed a grand total of one night and barely half of the following day, as students were told to evacuate the premises by the early afternoon. There was absolutely no time between the familiar testing and sheepherding of

the future class of 2021. Prospective students were lead down tightly constrained paths through the college that showcased only the most grandiose corners of campus, leaving no room for future students to actually explore on their own and develop their own views of the college. The event maintained


plished these goals much less successfully than the original Honor Scholars Weekend, and in fact did much the opposite, restricting the prospect experience to the point of asphyxiation. Despite the unfortunately necessary financial aid changes, application deadlines for the college still extend

capability could not attend. My Honor Scholars Weekend had nearly 300 in attendance, while Scarlet Honors had a lackluster 180. Honors Scholar Weekend was a major rush tool for the College. Every attendee had at the very least applied, and it was a great opportunity to convince students

...but unfortunately the result was a panicdriven fever dream of a college event living in the shadow of its predecessor.

the idea of Major-themed events, but there was absolutely no room left for follow-up. Students could not decide to approach a professor for a meaningful one-on-one chat about their futures and how Wabash can help them. They didn’t have the time. In March of 2017, around the time Honor Scholars would traditionally have been held, the Bachelor of course didn’t fail to lick the College’s boots about its plan, saying “the College decided to shift the focus of these visit days from tests and information seminars to an inside look at students, alumni engagement, residence halls, and fraternity rush” (Moore, 2017). The truth of it is, Scarlet Honors in nearly every way conceivable accom-

all the way to January 15 as of the current application information on the Wabash admissions page. This means that attendees of Scarlet Honors as of the current system are potentially not accepts or applicants of the college. Only Early Decision applicants have their acceptance letters in time for Scarlet Honors. While distilling numbers down to definite students is agreeable, attendance was very poor for the experience that the weekend is supposed to provide. Pushing the date of the scholarship event up means that fewer potential students can attend the event, which restricts admissions numbers as students who would have been able to earn their way into the College by proving their academic


that Wabash was the right fit for them. The long weekend also supported this approach, giving students a truly immersive look into both the academic and social life of Wabash. For a campus sporting a nearly 50% greek population, the weekend was a significant event for fraternity rush. It gave fraternity houses multiple opportunities to develop relationships with prospective students, a circumstance that much of the practice of fraternity rush depends on. Wabash, you had good intentions. You wanted Scarlet Honors to be everything that Honor Scholars Weekend was and more for these young, budding gentlemen, but unfortunately the result was a panic-driven fever dream of a college event living in the shadow of its predecessor. The legality of the situation dictates some change, and as unfortunate as that is, the onus is on the administration of the College to execute any sort of event of this significance with more polish. All eyes are on 2018 now. I would be truly disappointed to see a repeat of last year’s shameful attempt at an influential college experience. You fooled us once Wabash, but fool us twice, shame on you.

Members of the last class to experience Honor Scholars Weekend The Wabash Commentary - 11


How to be a Gentleman: Fall Fashion

B y J ared C ottingham | jtcottin 18@ wabash . edu Ah, Fall. For those above the equator, this time of the year brings with it a great variety of autumnal activities and a cool reprieve from the sweat and grime of Summer. Whether it be watching the leaves turn, enjoying sugary pumpkin beverages, or supporting your favorite football team, Fall provides opportunities for all types


cloth, featuring barrel-cuffs, a buttondown collar, and a box pleat. However, an Oxford is so much more than that. An Oxford is a shirt that you can throw a sweater over on an especially cool morning; a shirt that you can wear over a t-shirt as you saunter to class five minutes before it starts. An Oxford is the most versatile piece in your

and J.Crew, and I’ve found that these withstand the test of time quite well. There are some Oxfords that I’ve had for 3-4 years and are still in pristine condition. If you take good care of your things, the initial investment of $55$95 becomes less of a burden when your children are able to wear your shirts. If you’d rather get something

Reach for the Black-Watch tartan, the plaid, the tattersall, the shepherds-check, the window-pane, and the gingham.

and tastes. Perhaps most importantly, Fall is the most exciting season to dress for. Now is the time to bring out your coziest sweaters and most prized pieces to ensure that you are making the most of the opportunity for a sartorial showcase. Perhaps the best way to start our discussion is by providing the ultimate autumnal base layer: the Oxford shirt. By definition, the Oxford is simply a shirt made of Oxford broad-

12 - The Wabash Commentary

wardrobe that covers nearly all casual occasions. To be frank, you’ll want to get your hands on as many of these beauties as possible. Furthermore, feel free to snag as many patterns or prints as your little heart desires. Don’t feel the urge to stick to the french blue and cream staples. Reach for the BlackWatch tartan, the plaid, the tattersall, the shepherds-check, the windowpane, and the gingham. Some of my favorite Oxfords are from Ralph Lauren


quick, both Old Navy and Gap make a very good shirt that will still allow you to eat at the end of the week. To cover up your coveted Oxford, there are numerous jacket and sweater options that are making their way out for the Fall consumer. The rage right now is quilted jackets and shearling coats. Outside of the traditional quilted vest and jacket previously used for hunting, bombers and everyday jackets are now made from

quilted fabrics. These are quite trendy, however, if you’d prefer a more tried and true staple, one can never go wrong with a Barbour waxed-jacket. The shearling coat is currently a very hot item in the fashion world, however, to get a decent one will cause some financial strain. The aviator look is very cool and chic, however, be prepared to save or spend if that’s your desired Fall look. Sweaters right now are very oversized, with extra chunk and coziness. The oversized look is a trend that has been around for a year or so now, and will likely persist for the next calendar year. Though I’m not a huge fan of this movement, some of the sweaters are just downright remarkable. Really, nothing beats throwing a chunky cotton or wool sweater over your favorite Oxford as you walk out the door to class, or to reduce the chill in your drafty dorm room as you hit the books. If you’ve perused the latest lookbooks, you’ll have seen some whimsical oversized options featuring tigers and alike from brands such as Gucci and Givenchy. Some more affordable options that are in the same artistic vein and still offer a healthy dose of whimsy are available from H&M and Zara. In addition to knitwear, oversized or wide-legged trousers are seeing a resurgence in the fashion community. Though they offer an interesting silhouette and a subtle reprieve from skin-tight clothing, they are an article that needs to be worn with care and consideration. The line between chic and baggy is very thing and temperamental. Shoes are perhaps the most subjective item in a gentleman’s Fall wardrobe. Though sneakers in a supple leather or suede are always a safe bet, try to get out of your comfort zone and opt for a boot every now and again. There truly is a myriad of boot options, however, some are a bit more proper

them in conjunction with your sneakers and leather Oxfords to ensure that you are ready for whatever autumnal occasion you are presented with. As the thermometer begins to drop into the clutches of Old Man Winter, use your wardrobe as an elegant and cozy tool to put your best foot forward during one of the most beloved of seasons. Go to that football game, or than others. My favorites are the Bean apple orchard. Celebrate Oktoberfest boots, desert/chukka boots, and Chel- with your mates, or go on that evening sea boots. Though the duck-hunting stroll with your significant other. Just silhouette of the Bean boot may not fit be sure that your wardrobe and footevery individual taste, these boots are wear are ready to galavant across Grea rugged option for a weekend spent encastle and campus when we bring tailgating or making appearances at home The Monon Bell. Whatever the campus parties. They are well-made, semester holds for you, try to reflect but they will stand up to whatever mud on the year and have a bit of fun. Hell, or turf that you must tackle to opti- carve a pumpkin for me. mize your leisure time. Desert/Chukka boots have been around since WWII and were worn by British forces in (gasp) the desert during military campaigns. Like Bean boots, they are a casual staple that look just as good with a pair of jeans as they do with infantry garb. Their leather or suede uppers can complement the rest of your ensemble, or add a bit of refinement to traditional staples. My favorite boot of the bunch is the Chelsea boot, an ankle boot with Victorian roots and a modern streetsavvy appeal. It’s very difficult to browse any A/W look books without finding a dapper pair of Chelsea boots. The boots are tremendously flexible, and complement both casual and formal ensembles. To play up the rock and roll motif, wear them with a concert tee and distressed jeans. Going on a date? Wear them with a slim sweater and a camel topcoat. Being forced to go to another family party during the holidays? Wear them with your best suit to show that you respect the formality of the occasion, but you’ll definitely be raiding the liquor cabinet. Whatever the variety of boots you choose, wear The Wabash Commentary - 13

I ll u s i o n

Something is rotten In the state of the Sparks Center

B y B rennan D avenport | bcdavenp 19@ wabash . edu If you have ever wandered by the Armory towards the Allen Center, you may have noticed a small, decrepit white sign with dark letters on it. Attractive font, perhaps, but nevertheless distasteful overall. Make no mistake, its shoddy exterior does not bely an Eden within. What is lacking out frontmakes for a perfect mirror as to what lies within. Yes, indeed, those in search of promise through the doorway of the


pamphlet section. Verily, the Wabash College Bookstore, henceforth referred to as the ‘Bookstore,’ scoffs loudly yet nervously at this definition. “Books?” the Bookstore seems to say with bluster, “Oh no, you misunderstand us, we don’t stock those anymore. Would you like to buy some Wabash apparel? Our fifty-dollar t-shirts are in this season.” Such tone is not befitting of any respectable

to their continued good GPA and grade. Paradoxically, if the student so desired they could seek Wabash apparel in the nonstandard working hours of 9 am to 4 pm. Despite such good deals, this is the final year where such practices were present. The subsequent year found a mysterious absence of several key course books, and a suspicious rise in complaints that the Bookstore did not de-

“Books?” the Bookstore seems to say with bluster, “Oh no, you misunderstand us, we don’t stock those anymore.”

Wabash College Bookstore will find it barren of any grail, much less books. What this shop does possess instead are a hoard of empty shelves, devoid of both course material and course supplies, and rack after rack of overpriced merchandise sold at hours convenient to no mortal soul. Stepping back, one must first examine the definition of a bookstore. What is it? What is its purpose? What does one suppose should be contained within a bookstore? The MerriamWebster Dictionary defines a bookstore as “a place of business where books are the main item offered for sale.” Now this is reasonable, as the very title ‘bookstore’ gives rise to assumptions as to what may be soldwithin the shop. By God, it’s in the name. Does Wabash agree with this? A single step into the underbelly of the Frank Hugh Sparks Center will show much to the contrary, revealing the equivalent of an H&M outfitters with a

14 - The Wabash Commentary

bookshop, much less one wearing the proud name of Wabash College. But how did it come to this? Why does the Bookstore not sell Wabash students their course books? Why are there no copies of “Get Rich Quick” schemes sold? For this, a reflection to what the Bookstore used to be for students is needed. The year is 2015. The breeze of summer blows past Wolcott as the school year begins, greeting the panicked faces of freshmen who may not have gotten their books yet. Please note, this is not meant to disparage those who may be faced with such a fate, it happens to the best of students. But to those who may have greeted such a misfortune, the Bookstore beneath the Sparks Center served as the one-stop shop for salvation from the wicked hands of stress. This was a time when a student could be in dire need of a savior to grant them the course books needed to complete assignments key


liver as promised. Yes, it can be said that the Bookstore has physical books in it, but that is the equivalent of saying that since Steak ‘n’ Shake has a sit-down option it is a fine dining establishment. Such a paradigm shift was jarring to old students as much as it was a confusing step to the new. The following year brought more of the same, but taken to a new extreme. No longer could students walk up to the Bookstore and purchase what they sorely needed for classes. No longer could they absolve their stress at the hands of a generous vendor. No, we find the place to buy our books online instead. Let us turn to this online process, less like a methodical pathway and more of a set of nonsensical hoops suspended in cyberspace. Hidden amongst the myriad of scarlet- colored links on the MyBash page (a topic for another discussion) is a link entitled “Bookstore.” This redirects the

Doctor Eckleberg’s persistent stare prospective buyer to a subpage on the website containing some arbitrary description delineating the reason for two links on the page itself. The first link of which leads to a Wabash College website where there are options to buy books and Wabash merchandise. However, upon further investigation it can be found that the “books” tab is a false idol, a small jest at the student who would then realize he had been misled. The second link is the true link which will lead to a third-party book sale system. Few things shout a lack of integrity more than having a third party perform a service as personal as giving students their books. While the process to order the books is straightforward on this website, it leaves much to be desired in regard to the quality of books delivered. It seems that their website seeks the absolute lowestpriced option on the market (usually a beat-up, torn-up, marked-up option) and delivers that sorry excuse for a text. This brings us to the topic of the deliveries hosted by the Bookstore. This year in particular, the call of “Sorry professor, my books haven’t come in yet” is all-too prevalent. It should be obvious why a book service not delivering their books on time to a student buyer is problematic, but for the sake of example. A bookstore doing so is the equivalent of a student doing an assignment but not turning it in, behavior that Wabash men have ideally grown out of, but seemingly not Wabash Bookstores. A student having a course book on time puts him in good favor

with the professor, and saves the professor some valuable time by not necessitating scanning countless pages at a photocopier. This way, true learning can be accomplished sooner and with more substance. The Bookstore, conversely, seems to lack all forms of expediency, and even in some cases has lied to students about the status of its deliveries, both in person and online. Indeed, the push to an online format is intense. Through all this one may ask, why such a strong emphasis on physical copies of books? PDF formats of books are as prevalent, if not more so than the physical copies themselves, why spend so much money? The answer to such a question is one that has fallen from the clammy hands of the Bookstore and been retained by the strong fingers of Wabash’s esteemed professors: that having a physical copy of a book allows for better, more comprehensive learning. This is backed up by various psychological studies showing that a physical copy of a book allows for greater information retention, and a deeper understanding of the text. Furthermore, these studies have been read by the professors themselves in loving effort to better the learning experience of their students. A similar sentiment, however, cannot be felt by the Bookstore. Their insistence on using the online resources, as well as not stocking what professors specifically ask them to stock, leads to an experience not unlike paying a visit to an overpriced Walmart, an overall better option for what is currently offered.

The Bookstore seems to have a very Malthusian fate set upon it, the shortcomings of Wabash admissions a likely suspect in the case for such a sorry end to the shop. It has seemed to take a sort of anti-luddite perspective to the education of Wabash men, moving more towards technology-based medium through which to order literature. The question remains as to why they did that. What is the possible benefit of putting the storefront online? The state of Wabash surrounding the Bookstore must be examined to get a better idea of why this choice was taken. Admissions was having severe problems both in number of incoming students and an excess of scholarship money given out. By reducing the effort required to stock books in the Bookstore, a substantial amount of money could be saved in terms of man-hours and shipping services of the books. Taking into account the fact that the storefront is currently a third-party delivery system, overall expenditures are likely low in this facet of backstage Wabash College. And while more efficient work time is good for faculty and staff, it should not be at the expense of a valuable service to the students. This is something that we cannot compromise on. The bookstore used to be a bastion of hope for the Wabash student who is hard-pressed for time and desperately seeks salvation in a panic. We believe students ought not face their professors with their tails in between their legs due to the veneer of promise put forth by a fading white sign with black lettering. At this point, the staff could put up a sign saying “free candy” and it would be as meaningless as “bookstore” based on their word alone. Indeed, entering the bowels of the Frank Hugh Sparks Center will find students nothing but a fast food joint, a locked mailroom, and crushing disappointment.

The Wabash Commentary - 15


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2017 September: Pompeii  
2017 September: Pompeii