by Stacey Robertson
State of Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared Student Veterans Week in the Evergreen State: February 29 – March 4.
This executive action did not happen by accident.
Look no further than the work of five dedicated-and-talented CWU public relations students from our Department of Communication. Earlier this year, they reached out to Governor Inslee’s office in Olympia to secure official State of Washington recognition of the achievements of student veterans, and to urge public focus on these non-traditional students.
The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) each year sponsors the Carroll T. Bateman (former head of PRSA) case-study collegiate public relations competition, pitting campuses across the country against each other. CWU’s PRSSA chapter has successfully participated in the Bateman competition for years.
This year’s PRSSA-chosen subject is the plight of student veterans. For five chosen CWU public relations majors, it meant months of research, creative collaboration and hard work to develop a start-to-finish communications campaign, addressing prime-time attention on the challenges facing student veterans.
For Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard veterans, the transition from a structured military life (including combat experience for some) to less orderly college campuses can be incredibly daunting.
We may all say the right things about supporting our veterans, and salute them for their service, but do we as a society take the quality time to help them in making the difficult transition back-to-civilian life — including college?
Starting In the Future and Working Back to the Present
CWU’s Bateman team met for the first time last fall. The PRSSA’s rules are explicit; there is absolutely no jumping the gun. All campaigns cannot begin before February 15 and the must end by March 15.
CWU Bateman leader Sarah Collins (in blue) and her team from left-to-right, Nicolette Bender, JoAnn Briscoe, Jasmine Randhawa and Travis Isaman, essentially planned out their own military-style campaign, apropos for the subject of student veterans.
Knowing the Ides of March was the mandated stopping point (except for post-campaign evaluation), the Bateman team meticulously planned all the steps along the way that led to a successful week on campus and off, saluting student veterans.
Monday, February 29: A Resource Fair for Veterans and their families was featured at the Student Union and Recreation Center (SURC).
Tuesday, March 1: A five-participant “Experience Panel” was conducted, prompting the audience to ponder whether we truly appreciate our veterans.
Wednesday, March 2: Students were encouraged to sign a gigantic “I Support SV” placard at the SURC.
Thursday, March 3: The “Unheard Voices” concert was held, commemorating prisoners of war and those missing in action.
Friday, March 4: The capstone was the Student Veteran Art Exhibit at the artist/Marine John Ford Clymer Museum, coinciding with downtown Ellensburg’s “First-Friday” art walk. Drawing 488 patrons, the exhibition included the story of Navy vet David Sturgell, artist Kaitlyn Farr and the “subject” for the art, 80-pound bulldog, “Daisy.”
Now comes the hard part.
Our 2015-2016 Bateman team has a tough act to follow. Last year’s CWU Bateman team, from left-to-right, Aubree Downing, Robyn Stewart, Madalyn Freeman, Masey Peone and Silver Caoili, earned the highest-ever 98 percent score for a Central Bateman team score. Their subject was the issue of affordable matters on behalf of the non-profit, Home Matters.
Everyone at the College of Arts and Humanities wants to salute our present Bateman team and wish them success as they complete their final submittal to PRSSA, capping an exciting week dedicated to our student veterans at Central Washington University.