Op/ed: Give the WONK campaign a chance

Instead of turning our backs on the campaign completely, we should make AU students feel like WONKs.

The WONK campaign is pretty cool. I know this is definitely not a popular opinion, but the concept is creative and has so much potential. The problem is that the campaign is lacking something important – the support of the student body.

So why is the student body so against the idea of WONK? To me, the main problem is that I’m a student at AU, but I don’t feel like a WONK and I never have. The only time on campus that I see anything related to being a WONK is when I get on a shuttle to leave campus. If none of the students identify as WONKs, how can the University advertise being a home of WONKs? It makes no sense.

Instead of turning our backs on the massive amounts of our tuition money that has gone into this campaign and replacing it with something new, we should make the current students at AU feel like WONKs. The models on the advertisements are all attributed to unique types of WONK, like “The Global WONK,” “Activist WONK” or “The Political WONK,” but I’ve never seen any t-shirts or merchandise with those phrases anywhere on campus. The only thing that comes close is the tiny buttons in Katzen on the second floor, which I’m sure most people don’t even know about. There should be a way of receiving free WONK t-shirts by attending multiple on-campus activities or doing certain extracurriculars. Maybe after heading down to CLEAR (the language lab) for the fifth time, I could get a Language WONK t-shirt. Or once I’ve attended five Kogod events, I could get a Business WONK t-shirt. Or if I show that I’ve had more than one internship while at AU, I could get an Internship WONK t-shirt.

There are countless possibilities! I think the WONK campaign could be fantastic – but first, whoever is running this campaign needs to make sure that the student body is included. Who wants to be told that they’ll be a WONK only to come to campus and realize that all they’ve been told is a lie? That looks even worse for the school – especially when Anderson Cooper, after being named WONK of the Year, comes out and admits that he has no idea what a WONK is, and then a good portion of the student body tears down the campaign publicly as a result.

Also, some advertisements explaining what a WONK really is (other than “it’s KNOW backwards!”) might be useful. Most people don’t know that it’s an actual word and means “a person who knows a lot about the details of a particular field.”

There is still a chance of salvaging the WONK campaign if we do it from the inside out.

Amanda Elias is a sophomore in the School of International Service.

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