Ruoyu Wang of Delta College: We Are Shaping the College to Our Liking

07, 2023

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Ruoyu Wang, recipient of the Delta College Dean’s Award

Westlake University freshman Ruoyu Wang had a goal to do everything he didn’t get to do in high school.

Wang graduated from Zhenhai High School, where his life was consumed by study. Back then, he believed that life was a part of study. Now that he’s at college, he thinks perhaps it should be the other way around.

“Is Zhenhai High School the best in town?” I asked.

“No, it is the best in the province,” Wang answered in all seriousness. My research later showed that almost half of the graduates from Zhenhai can achieve high enough scores in the national college entrance exam to pass the cutoff line for Zhejiang University. But Wang wanted to advance in more than just schoolwork.

The four residential colleges at Westlake are named Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, each with its own self-development committee. Wang signed up at his earliest convenience.

As part of the inaugural class of undergraduates, Wang enjoyed the freedom of starting anew. The 15 students at each college shared a common room for activities. What to make of such space was something that called for deliberation.

Together with his peers, Wang proposed a series of activities such as movie night on the weekend, where students would take turns to pick the movie, and everyone would stay for a discussion afterward. Wang still remembered the fear of the unknown world presented in Stanley Kubrick’s Shining.

A fellow student, Xun Zhang, loved literature, so the Betas started a poetry society called Three Lines. They would compose poems and vote anonymously for the best ones.

Wang won more than just an award in his first semester at Westlake. His patience grew as he eased into college life. It took communication and collaboration to make an event happen, and a cool head was needed in facing the unexpected. Last fall, Wang and his peers went hiking in Fuyang. While some were responsible for renting the gear, and others for purchases, everyone worked together.

Rest assured that there were surprises too. Right before the ping pong competition began, they discovered all the tables had been folded, perhaps because someone had been painting the night before. It caused a scene, but not without a fix. The students quickly put the tables back in place so that the competition could kick off. These self-organized events taught Wang and his peers about autonomy and action, consistent with the original intentions behind the residential colleges: Each should have its own personality shaped by the students. In a way, the university is like a thesis, where the research methods would be to explore independently and autonomously, and the subject our vast world.

Ruoyu Wang has demonstrated excellent autonomy and innovation in teamwork. He led the students of Delta college in developing extracurricular and team-building activities. The first class in college is to grasp the spirit of independence and collaboration, and I hope this spirit will live on.