By Sam Jones | Contributor
Taylor University Welcome Weekend is one of the most eventful weekends during the Taylor school year. New students are getting acclimated with the culture as returning students welcome them to campus. What better way to welcome new students than to immediately incorporate them into the Taylor traditions?
That's why we have the Awk Walk.
The goal of the Awk Walk is to introduce new students to their brother or sister wing, and an awkward atmosphere allows them to break out of their shells a bit. The walk includes awkward get-to-know-you questions and activities. Throughout the walk, the participants rotate partners, and, ideally, the new students will meet all the new students on their sibling floor by the end of the walk.
Well, it has come to the attention of the administration that the Awk Walk may not be such a great idea. For anyone who participated in the walk this year, you probably know that it is now known as the "Walk'n'Talk," a similar event, except with less awkwardness.
Scott Barrett, the director of residence life at Taylor, weighed in on the subject. Barrett is faced with the challenge of keeping life for students fun and healthy.
"Our hopes are to welcome students to campus and help them make connections with their peers," Barrett said. "Creating purposeful opportunities to make people feel embarrassed or uncomfortable isn't a good way to welcome someone into the Taylor Family."
Barrett brings up a good point, stating that an event designed to embarrass students is not a good way to introduce them to the Taylor community.
However, the Awk Walk is not designed to make someone feel "embarrassed." It's designed to be awkward. Embarrassment requires two parties to be involved: the party being embarrassed and the party embarrassing. During the walk, everyone is being awkward together, and, if anything, it creates an atmosphere of camaraderie between wing mates.
The walk is absolutely uncomfortable, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Pat McNamara, a junior at Taylor, participated in the Awk Walk his freshman year, and led the walk his sophomore year as a PA, giving him a valuable view on the subject.
"You're doing this really quirky thing and everyone is uncomfortable together, but I wouldn't fight for the Awk Walk at the risk of someone else feeling uncomfortable," said McNamara.
People's feelings are something to keep in consideration, but there has to be a point in which we accept the fact that anyone could be "uncomfortable" with virtually any event or tradition.
The good news is that the Walk'n'Talk was not completely scratched. Drew Jordahl, a freshman to Taylor, went on the walk this year under the new rules.
As a freshman, Jordahl was never exposed to the traditional Awk Walk. However, he shared many positive comments about the newly instated walk.
"I loved it and found it to be a great way to meet the sister wing because we were able to just ask simple questions as we walked and were encouraged to do something a little out of the ordinary," said Jordahl.
It's good to know that even though traditions may be changing, the new students still find them enjoyable and positive.
How much tradition can we sacrifice for the comfort of everyone? Maybe the traditions and events that make people feel slightly uncomfortable are healthy. I'm not attempting to suggest that people should always be thrown into situations in which they do not want to participate, but I also believe that being outside of your comfort zone is when you grow the most.