An Achille’s heel


A throwback to my freshman year, as an infantile me served as the Photo Editor for the RP. Sans glasses, red lipstick and the ability to straighten my hair, apparently. Photo by Amber Levenhagen.

Being a college journalist comes with a lot of perks. It keeps you busy, gives you a way to put your education to use and allows you to see your hard work get published.

But it comes with hidden side effects. A loss of sleep, the constant use of computers which will require you to get glasses only a year in, being seen as a journalist, rather than a student.

Earlier last week, a woman of whom I’d interviewed for 15 minutes at the beginning of the semester stopped as she walked past the UWW-TV edit suites just so she could say, “Oh my gosh, you’re that journalist girl!”

It’s at this point you’re ready to say to me, “But Kim, isn’t it good that you’re seen as a journalist? Isn’t that what you want?”

In some ways, yes. Absolutely, I want to be seen as one of the “journalist girls” on campus. It allows me to look at my work, and know I’m making at least a little bit of a difference with the words I write. It validates that I’ve worked hard enough during the past three semesters in order to accomplish that.

But I still mind it a little when I see how it negatively impacts me, because I have yet to develop a skin that can’t be pierced. I still have an Achille’s heel: I’m not always viewed as a student first, at an institution where I should be.

That heel comes in the form of how I watch myself being treated, in comparison to other students. I watch our chancellor sometimes be very short and frank with me when addressing me, only to turn to another student and have a conversation with them as I stand there. Other administrators, faculty and students do the same. Many won’t talk to me on certain topics they’d talk about with anyone else, simply because they look at me not as a student, but as a journalist who wants to take down the entire university, one piece at a time.

It’s a hard idea to wrap your head around, that your treatment is so drastically linked to what you prefer to do. It certainly doesn’t help the issue of campus climate, to preach tolerance only to treat students differently based on their job title. I deserve as much attention as a student who works clerical or works as an intern in the Career and Leadership Development office.

We’re all students first at this point in our lives, and it’s easy for others to forget that with journalism majors.

I’ll take some of the responsibility for that, though. My email signature when I first got here read “Royal Purple | Photo Editor,” and nothing else. It took until last fall for me to add above it that I was a journalism and electronic media major. I unashamedly introduce myself as the News Editor for the Royal Purple, or the News Director for UWW-TV when I’m asked what I do.

My image, from the standpoint of others, is partially my own fault, but when I get snubbed, that it doesn’t make it sting any less sometimes.

At the end of the day, however, if this one of the sacrifices I have to make in order to become one of those “journalist girls,” I’ll take it. It’s a side effect I can live with, because I’m proud of my profession, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else.

It’s what the real world will be like anyways.

Political campaign might contribute to campus hatred

For college students, the presidential campaign seems like a far-off land where a rich bigot and two career politicians are in a street brawl for the GOP nomination, and the two Democratic candidates, one an “email-deleter” and the other a “socialist,” are politely disagreeing over the path to the same goals.

I’d like to argue that assumption is dead wrong – especially in the case of Donald J. Trump. At first glance, one might think these campaigns won’t impact college students until the first Tuesday of November.

Sorry, Donald Drumpf. (I’ll get it right next time, John Oliver. I promise).

Most notably, I can see his words and his beliefs reflected in our own UW-Whitewater students through numerous issues with campus climate. 

We’ve had people dropping the n-word on Snapchat and residence hall bulletin boards like they’ve suddenly been possessed by racist ghosts of our country’s past.

Now we have more people taking to Snapchat to record someone using a mobility device, struggling to get around snow-covered walkways. It’s obviously a funny joke to whoever posted it, as they place the “crying-and-laughing” emoji over the video.

Since when is someone having a difficult time getting around a joke? Since Trump decided to throw his toupee (or whatever his hair is) in the ring for presidency, that’s when.

In the past nine months, he has attacked individuals of the black, Latino and Asian ethnicities. He has proposed a ban of all Muslims from entering the United States. He has gone after women, most notably Megyn Kelly, for having “blood coming out of everywhere” when she challenged him on his answer in a debate.

He said on ABC’s “the View” he’d date his daughter Ivanka if she wasn’t, you know, half of his DNA. A few months ago, he mocked a journalist with a disability. Last month, he refused to condemn the KKK on “Meet the Press,” until receiving national pressure to later do so.

Think about our own campus climate now. Is any of this starting to hit home just a little too hard? Might Trump’s behavior be rubbing off onto a country, one that was formerly known for freedom and righteousness?

As I watched former Royal Purple News Editor Alexandria Zamecnik write her stories about campus, she never had to write about UW-W students mocking the disabled, or racism to the point where the Huffington Post wrote about our discrimination. We as a staff never had to write about the campus climate. Granted, it was happening because microaggression is everywhere, but not at this rate.

I don’t even think the news editor before the two of us, Michael Riley, had to sift through issues like this. While Zamecnik and Riley both had continual controversies they wrote about that defined their careers as news editor, mine is going to be defined by campus-wide political unrest and bigotry.

And I think Trump is to blame for that. He’s proven to the country that one can still rise to the top of the polls while being an “everything-ist” pig.

He’s proven this to the country and Whitewater students. It leads people to think it’s acceptable to mock others and deepen divisions.

Enough is enough. As a campus, we need to decide that, no matter our race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion or ability, we don’t approve of this campus climate – and this national climate.

We need to go out to the polls on April 5 for the primary election, and vote for a candidate – from either side of the aisle – who doesn’t act like a schoolyard bully, encouraging others to act just like him.

That’s not who we are as individuals, and certainly not who we are as a campus. Knock it off with the discrimination already.

A love for politics gone too far

Kimberly Wethal

Anyone who knows me could tell you I love to talk politics.

Whether the person I’m talking with loves it or not is a different story.

It took until last month at the Dem Debate where I realized how much I loved it. Politics surround almost every aspect of a person’s life; there’s really no limit to what you can write and report on – the politicians on both sides of the aisle will fight about anything.

It’s gone as far to make me consider adding a poli-sci minor.

For two months this summer, those who know me will have a break from hearing me talk about it – to them, anyways.

I’ll be headed to the heart of Washington, D.C. this summer, where the rush and adrenaline from the one night of the Dem Debate will be my everyday as an intern/student at the Institute of Political Journalism.

I don’t know what media outlet I’ll be working at yet, but I know I’ll be in my own little paradise. Grabbing photos of protestors outside the Supreme Court. Walking the halls of the Capitol trying to grab my next story.

Sure, they’ll have a two-month break – but just imagine what they’ll have to deal with when I get back.