West Texas A&M University, under the leadership of The Texas A&M University System, plans for the reopening of our campus this fall under conditions unimaginable last spring. Circumstances require all to reflect on fundamental notions of public and private responsibility, corporate citizenship, reminiscent of Tocqueville’s precarious balance of personal liberty, and good citizenship. However, nothing that has happened since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic diminishes the burden of self-determination and personal responsibility. To that end, as a preface to all of the actions that we will take institutionally to ensure a safe return to campus and resumption of study, intellectual activity, artistic expression, scientific investigation and service to our extended community, four levels of personal accountability are recognized: (1) Institutional Leadership, (2) Faculty, (3) Staff, and (4) Students. 

(I wrote the introduction and the institutional leadership perspective. The respective Faculty, Staff, and Student perspectives were written by the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and Student Government Association Executive Team. This is a collaborative effort and represents what each organization believes will facilitate a positive and productive return to campus life, a goal which I know we all share.)

WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World holds as the primary underlying presupposition, the “Duty of Citizenship”:

The many rights granted to citizens carry considerable responsibilities. Theodore Roosevelt probably said it best in his speech, “Citizenship in a Republic,” given on April 23, 1910.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

The essence of Roosevelt’s proclamation was that power and purpose grow out of a person’s duty as a citizen through the exercise of free will. At WT, we embrace the duty to encourage and sustain individual responsibility to the region, the state, and the country. Noble citizenship and its purpose expressed in an effective university is a potent and useful force for change.

(Page 24, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World) 

Institutional Leadership

As leaders of West Texas A&M University we will adhere to levels of safe practice, informed by science and public policy, through a combination of statute and suggestion, in recognition and response to individual responsibility. We will apprise the community, which includes our campus and all associated with it, of actions that we take, in response to elected and appointed leadership to whom we are responsible.

However, it is not our intention to become so rule and policy driven as to forget that individual accountability is the essence of good corporate/university citizenship that guides behaviors over which we might try to legislate or control, but ultimately will fail. It is our responsibility to continue to communicate and inform the campus and extended communities the best practices for living in current and future COVID-19 circumstances.  

Faculty Leadership

The open exchange of ideas, tutelage, research, and personal development between faculty and students imbues and emblematizes the core spirit and raison d'être for West Texas A&M University as an institution of higher learning. In this relationship, faculty and students cultivate an environment that extends our collective acuity in the tenets of logic, reason, and empiricism; these traits remain as essential components in a deportment of good citizenship. 

Together, as faculty and students frequently collaborate to forge students’ journeys into the future, so too must we exercise our collaborative tradition to adjust our learning environment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As the student-faculty relationship remains at the core of the institution, we must together in that partnership practice the behaviors that will allow the maximization of our physical, intellectual, and emotional health. We emphasize the importance of personal responsibility as it will be the basis by which best practices become practical. For the benefit of our community, we are confident that administration, faculty, students, and staff will exercise the care and consideration that will sustain us through the COVID-19 crisis.

Staff Leadership

As proud members of the WTAMU staff, it is our responsibility, along with guidance from system and institutional leadership, to ensure that WTAMU’s health is our top priority as we come back together. Just as our leaders were proactive in protecting students, staff, and faculty to ensure our health and safety, we must reciprocate by showing the same commitment to our students, fellow staff, and the community by taking all required measures seriously and responsibly. We will do our part to provide the services and support our students deserve, while ensuring each individual’s voice and concerns are heard and everyone remains safe, not just on our campuses but within our families and communities. Furthermore, we shall:

  • Support WTAMU students, staff, faculty, and the communities of the Panhandle.
  • Take proud ownership of our respective areas.
  • Act in a manner that brings honor to oneself and WTAMU.
  • Focus on the mission and goals of WTAMU.
  • Forge a bright future by constantly seeking to improve oneself, our respective areas, and our guests.

Student Leadership

The West Texas A&M University Student Government will demonstrate an example of selfless and noble citizenship by ensuring the safety of self and others, while allowing students to maintain civil liberties and freedom. Student Government will support the institution and urge students to comply with federal, state, local, and The Texas A&M University System safety recommendations, but will continue to support our fellow Buff’s in accessing their basic human and constitutional rights. Student Government will encourage each individual to accept personal responsibility and accountability on the premise of noble citizenship by recognizing, and practicing, the provided safety recommendations.

Walter V. Wendler