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@IWUpresident: David Wright engages community on social media

Dr. David Wright, Indiana Wesleyan University’s president for nearly a full academic year, is no stranger to the social media scene.

Dr. Wright posting a tweet about his interview with The Sojourn

Dr. Wright posting a tweet about his interview with The Sojourn

Though not much of a Facebook or Twitter buff before taking on the title of president, Wright now consistently runs two Facebook pages – one personal and one presidential, a Twitter page and a blog.

“It really struck me that that’s an important way of maintaining a connection today,” he said. “People don’t have a lot of time to sit and read things,”

Wright decided to become more active on social media for his presidency partially as a result of a conference with other university presidents who talked about various ways they were connecting with their communities.

“They all had thought purposefully about the way they would use media today to connect on behalf of the university,” Wright said. “Not so much a personal contact, but how would they communicate on behalf of the university as the president with the multiple publics.”

Wright shared that his Twitter account is connected to both of his Facebook accounts, so anything he tweets gets automatically posted to Facebook as well, increasing the interaction with other media users.

His blog is also connected with both his Twitter and Facebook accounts, giving easy access to his thoughts. photo

Wright says that he, for the most part, uses his Twitter and Facebook posts for brief updates that he tries to share a few times each day. His blog posts come less frequently – usually once every week or two, but he adds much more content.

“The blog posts tend to be longer and more substantive,” he said. “People feel like it’s a more immediate kind of connection with my philosophy or where I think the university’s going or things that are going on in our context.”

“The power of that connection has been pretty amazing to me,” he added.

IMG_6699Wright sees his use of social media as a great way to connect with students and others in the community. He said he has had people start conversations with him about his posts, finding them as an area of common ground with him.

Although readers have given Wright a lot of positive feedback from his various posts, he admitted there has been some negative feedback, usually in regards to something he has shared that someone does not agree with. He realizes though, that people disagreeing occasionally come with the territory.

“If everybody agreed, you probably aren’t doing your job,” Wright said

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Letter from the editor: Chapel isn’t about you

Read that title again. And then read it once more the next time you walk into the Chapel-Auditorium. Whether you think chapel attendance should be mandatory or voluntary or if you prefer traditional or modern worship, those details aren’t why you should go.

Chapel isn’t about singing songs you like or hearing messages that feel good to you. It’s not about agreeing with everything that’s said and done on stage and tweeting about what you don’t like. And it’s certainly not about doing homework during the service and standing up to leave during the benediction.

Quite simply, it’s about praising God.

One could also argue it’s about respect. No matter how you feel about any aspect of chapel, the concept as a whole is a matter of respect toward God and should be treated as such.

I’m not saying we should eliminate all discussions regarding chapel and how to make it better. However, those conversations should be constructive and not based solely on personal preferences. I understand and appreciate the desire to improve the chapel experience and I can think of at least three or four specific services that left many students, including myself, scratching our heads.

But I believe our God is intricate; the same One who brought us all to Indiana Wesleyan University for a specific purpose. Couldn’t this God who obviously plans far ahead use a chapel I thought was pointless to touch the life of someone who needed to hear it at that moment?

You bet.

Chapel is always a hot-button issue, and with good reason. On a campus representing many majors, socioeconomic statuses and (believe it or not) ethnic backgrounds, chapel is one of only a few experiences nearly all IWU students have in common. All the more reason we should treat it with the respect and courtesy it deserves, along with the students, staff and faculty who work hard to make it happen.

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Scurlock and Bowers debate on key IWU issues

Caleb Bowers and Tim Scurlock are joined by cabinet members for the presidential debate.

Caleb Bowers and Tim Scurlock are joined by cabinet members for the presidential debate.

Indiana Wesleyan University Student Government Association President Tim Scurlock (jr) and presidential candidate Caleb Bowers (jr) debated on a variety of important issues Thursday, Feb. 20 in the Barnes Student Center Commons.

Essentially, it was a debate between “one-ness” and “openness.”

Scurlock centered his opening remarks around the school’s theme for the year, “One,” based on Revelation 7:9. He continued this theme throughout the debate, stating his goal to unite three of the school’s key offices: Student Development, the Dean of the Chapel and Academic Affairs.

“We really want to reconcile an integrated experience here at IWU,” Scurlock said.

He also mentioned his desire to get students talking about important issues by implementing monthly topical forums next school year, similar to the ones SGA organized earlier this year on media involvement and homosexuality. The SGA will also host a forum on science and faith later this semester.

Bowers, meanwhile, focused his message on making SGA more open to students. If elected, he plans to keep the SGA office door open all the time, so students feel welcome to enter. Bowers stressed he wants SGA not only to bridge the gap between the students and administration, but also from the administration to students.

“We can’t get every idea from every student, but we want a much more open SGA for everyone next year,” Bowers said.

IWU students had to chance to ask questions to the candidates.

IWU students had a chance to ask questions to the candidates during the debate.

Once the candidates had answered the planned questions from moderator Jeremy Sharp (sr), students in the crowd asked questions

Commuter student Brandon Houser (so) asked about the relationship and tensions between IWU and the city of Marion. The candidates had very different approaches on the topic.

Scurlock said an experience with a local business owner had encouraged him to pursue extending the meal plan’s point system to restaurants in Marion. This will start building the relationships between IWU and Marion, according to Scurlock.

Bowers disagreed with Scurlock’s idea, stating that IWU needs to serve the community of Marion “before we go about a deal with them.”

One other highlight of the night came when Scurlock addressed a question asking about a rumor of plagiarism in his Letter to the Editor to The Sojourn.

 Surprised by the rumor, Scurlock said he didn’t know how he would plagiarize a letter about specific issues related to his campaign and presidency.

“I wrote it together with my cabinet [I am running with],” Scurlock said.

Wyatt Ferree (fr) thought both candidates did well, despite their different approaches.

“They both recognized that there was a problem with representation,” Ferree said. “I barely even knew about SGA until a few weeks ago, but I feel like a lot of the ideas they have will help get students’ ideas through.”

The election will take place next Wednesday, Feb. 26, at McConn Coffee Co.

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Sojourn takes home journalism awards at conference

The Sojourn won four awards at the Best of the Midwest conference in Minneapolis for journalism students last weekend.

Nine Sojourn staff members participated in the regional conference for the first time. The conference was made up of various workshops for the growth of students, addresses by professionals in the field of communication, and competitions against other schools.

“The Sojourn did really well. We were competing against a lot of other schools, many a lot bigger and with much larger newspaper staff,” said Jeremy Sharp (sr) who is editor-in-chief for The Sojourn and won two of the four awards. “It was a really encouraging experience,”

Sojourn staffers on their trip to Minneapolis

Sojourn staffers on their trip to Minneapolis.

Sharp won first place for the best multimedia package for his piece “IWU’s colorful campus.” His article “The Rivalry: IWU tops Taylor” won third place in sports writing as well.

Brant McCarthy (sr), the design editor for the sojourn, won third place for the best single page design.

“I think we have a really well designed paper. I think we keep up with the latest design,” said McCarthy.

Even so, he expressed how impressed he was with the Sojourn’s victory despite the tough competition.

“It was kind of overwhelming looking at all the schools we were competing with, so to have come away with third was pretty cool,”said McCarthy.

The final award was for the entire Sojourn staff. Fourth place for best website was a group victory for everyone involved with the website.

Brant McCarthy (sr), Jeremy Sharp (sr), and Ben Middelkamp (sr) all won awards at the Minneapolis conference

Brant McCarthy (sr), Jeremy Sharp (sr), and Ben Middelkamp (sr) all won awards at the Minneapolis conference.

“It was really cool seeing that we’re in a good place with online media, especially since we saw that a lot of schools really are not,” said Ben Middelkamp (sr), managing editor for the Sojourn.

“It was also a learning experience for all of us,” said Sharp. “We have a lot of new ideas for the Sojourn and are looking forward to putting them into practice.”

“It’s always great to get to that next level, to get outsiders looking at what we’re doing.” said Randall King, Division Chair for the Division of Communication and Theatre, who also spoke at the conference. “I was pleased with the number of awards we won, but it also raises the bar so we can go back and do better next year.”

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