5 Things I’ll Miss About MSU

by REED CARR, CSU Public Relations Intern

Memorial Library

There is something mystifying to me about sitting in a library surrounded by mountains stories and philosophies I have no knowledge of. Even more so when it’s pitch black outside, a cup of black coffee in hand, in one of the unoccupied corners of the second floor of the Memorial Library. I spent hours ignoring homework in exchange for hours of being lost between the dusty pages of James Joyce, Ernest Hemmingway, Edgar Allan Poe and countless others. It made studying the next day a rigorous, hurried process, but I feel nighttime in the library is when and where I learned most.

 

The Newsletter

 My final semester at MSU has been my best yet as I’ve worked with some really great people to deliver weekly events and news through the MSU newsletter, inSIDER. I came to MSU as a marketing major and realized my talents laid in writing to the masses, not selling to them. The inSIDER has evolved my writing in a way I didn’t expect and I was able to have a blast with fellow writers and mentors while doing it. If you’re looking for an internship in writing next year, talk to Leonard Koupal in the CSU. He’s the man!

 

The Professors

 Mass media and English department professors at MSU are a large part of the reason I was able to keep a positive attitude with my schooling and my future. While they are the ones that assigned 10-page papers and at times asked class to read an entire book in one day, those hurdles taught the most. They have always been up for a chat about class discussion, travel, food and anything in between.

 

Campus and Changing Seasons

 There’s nothing quite like the beginning of a new school year. As the trees burst into reds and oranges, the MSU campus’ artistic, monumental and memorial decorations give the campus a nostalgic feel. Students sport purple and yellow as Blakeslee Stadium rumbles on the other side of Stadium Rd. Minnesota autumn is second to none, but I suppose the beginning of May isn’t such a bad time of the school year either.

 

The Diversity

 Growing up in Kilkenny—a town of 108 people—and moving to Mankato opened my eyes in so many ways. I met people who have helped me grow academically, spiritually and culturally. I’ve met friends that made class not only knowledgeable but fun. I’ll miss walking through the halls seeing all the friendly faces. No matter what I do after graduation, I’ll always be proud to have been a MSU Maverick.

LGBT Center Anniversary

HELPING STUDENT FIND THEIR VOICE FOR 40 YEARS

by TAYLOR ZENZ, CSU Public Relations Intern

This year is all about traditions and anniversaries. Alongside the University’s 150th and the Centennial Student Unions 50th celebrations, the LGBT Center hosted their 40thanniversary this past week.

Back when it was still Mankato State, the University became the second school in the nation to have a campus-based LGBT Center. In 1977, the “Alternative Lifestyle Center” was found with only a few student volunteers and a graduate assistant as part of their staff.

Now, the landmark LGBT Center has an independent office, a full-time coordinator, Jessica Flatequal, and hundreds of students who visit the Center each week.

One student, Graham Waitt, is especially thankful for the LGBT Center this year. As a nontraditional student who felt lost in school, he joined the LGBT Center and never looked back.

“I would not be who I am today without the people that I met simply by hanging out in the Center,” Graham mentions, “I think the biggest impact was that it helped me find my own voice that I didn’t realize I had. It helped me become a strong advocate and ally for the community that I now call home.”

Like many other students, Graham didn’t find the comfort of the LGBT Center right away. As a freshman on campus, he didn’t feel comfortable enough to go into the Center or to volunteer. When returning to Minnesota State Mankato after taking time off, he knew that he didn’t want to let a second chance pass him by. After meeting a close friend in Residential Life who ultimately invited Waitt to join her in the Center, he found himself visiting frequently and making friends.

“It was one of the best decisions that I ever made in college,” Graham said.

Joining the LGBT Center provides endless opportunities for students. For Graham, it’s given him the opportunity to get out in the community and give back. He’s been able to attend several LGBT conferences around the Midwest and was given chances to be a speaker at peer panels to educate the community on LGBT-specific issues. He also has had the privilege to help with campus Drag Shows and Mankato Pride.

Graham is not only an advocate for the LGBT Center and community, but an advocate for finding your true self.

“That’s what we all want in the end, right?” he stated.

To learn more about the LGBT Center on campus, visit https://www.mnsu.edu/lgbtc.

 

 

Out With the Bottle, in With the Box

By BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Intern

Four honors students passionate about creating a healthier environment are encouraging MSU to make a switch from plastic to paper water bottles.

Madison Hoffman, Mackenzie Dockendorf, Anna Hagan and Ugochi Nwachukwu generated the idea in their “Honors Social Change in the 21st Century” class after a shared interest in helping the school become more environmentally friendly.

Hoffman and her classmates did research on plastic water bottles and found that 30 billion plastic bottles are consumed in the United States each year and of those, 80 percent end up in a landfill or the ocean. This has led to major pollution — including a patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean made up of primarily plastic that is the size of Texas. They also found the MSU’s sustainability plan had no information about reducing plastic waste.

The group decided that boxed water was something that could start to address these issues and help MSU begin reducing its footprint.

“Campus currently has nothing like boxed water,” Hoffman said. “The sustainability plan is gaining traction because of Student Government and green campus organizations who have made some changes, but we are still somewhat saddened by the school’s plan and think that something like this will get more people to notice the environmental impact the university has on the planet.”

The group has created a petition that has already gained support from 225 people. Hoffman said the petition is important because it’s a representation of student voices that can be shown to dining services and Sodexo and kick start the change.

“We want students to get involved with environmental committees and turn this into a snowball effect where people start caring about social and environmental change on this campus,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said that she and her group have the support of Student Government President-elect, MeMe Cronin, and are meeting with Kari Doffing, Dining Services General Manager, to bring boxed water to campus. Additionally, they have crafted a letter to Sodexo, the catering company in charge of all of MSU’s food services, encouraging them to consider making a switch to boxed water on the campuses they serve.

A few campuses in the U.S., including Michigan State and Hope College, have already implemented boxed water and the feedback has been very positive.

The biggest drawback Hoffman sees for boxed water is the cost. Each box costs 10 cents more than a plastic bottle, which begins to stack up in large quantities. However, she said that she and her group are working with the distributor, Boxed Water Is Better, to bring down the cost with a quantity discount.

She also believes the benefits of boxed water outweigh the additional cost. Boxed water is completely recyclable as 76 percent of the container is made from paper from sustainably managed forests that are continually replanted to make up for the losses. The water is purified through reverse osmosis and ultraviolet filtration, which leads to better hydration and taste.

Boxed water containers also decompose faster than 450 years – the time it takes a plastic bottle to decompose – making them better for the environment should they still end up in landfills.

Boxed Water Is Better, the company that would supply the boxed water to MSU, began in Grand Rapids, Mich. in 2009. Since then, the company has gained traction by being sold in major cities like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. They’ve received celebrity endorsements and also made their way into large music festivals such as Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits where they’ve sold over 300,000 boxes of water. They donate 1 percent of their sales revenue to environmentally-minded organizations.

Students wanting to support and the sign the petition to bring boxed water to MSU can do so by signing the digital petition on Change.org.

‘Embrace Your Voice’ Is Theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Taken from March 28, 2018, University Media Relations News Release

Focusing on the national theme of “Embrace Your Voice,” a month of programming during Sexual Assault Awareness Month is planned for April by the Violence Awareness and Response Program at Minnesota State Mankato.

According to Laura Schultz, VARP coordinator, a series of events throughout the month are planned on campus to raise student awareness about sexual violence and prevention of sexual violence. Programming provides tools and resources needed toward ending sexual violence.

Recognizing the power of one’s voice can range from practicing or providing consent to speaking out against stereotypes or gender biases, she added.

All the events are free and open to the public. Events that require an RSVP are noted on the month’s schedule. For more information, contact Laura Schultz at laura.schultz-1@mnsu.edu or 507-389-5127.

Pay It Forward Is the Lasting Legacy Envisioned for Students Today, Leaders Forever

Students Today, Leaders Tomorrow YouTube

Members of Students Today, Leaders Forever believe their Pay It Forward tour during spring break is best summed up as: “Nine days, six cities, one life-changing experience.”

Since officially becoming a Registered Student Organization at Minnesota State University, Mankato this past year, STLF joins a national association of nearly 23,000 students committed to leadership growth through community involvement.

At Minnesota State Mankato, STLF has rapidly established its organization as it reaches out to potential new members. Thus far, 31 students have registered to join this year’s tour that runs during Spring Break March 7-15.

Stops for their first tour from Minnesota State Mankato include Rapid City, S.D.; Casper, Wyo.; Rock Springs, Wyo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Grand Junction, Colo., before meeting with other STLF tours in Denver for a leadership gathering.

Among STLF’s founders at Minnesota State Mankato, Bradley Rod and Jessica Farah said the group’s mainstay PIF tour provides real-world experiences through community service seeking to make a difference.

A transfer from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, Bradley participated in his first PIF tour after he was “sucked into it by my roommate.”

Last year, Bradley and fellow Minnesota State University student Abdollah Shaferi joined the tour from the College of St. Scholastica. The experience from a distant campus was bittersweet.

“You make all these friends and then you don’t see them for a year,” Bradley said.

Afterwards, he petitioned the national STLF organization to start a chapter here.

Jessica, who participated in her first of six tours while a student at the U of M, is now a MBA graduate student at Minnesota State Mankato and serves as STLF’s graduate advisor. Like the other five founding members, Jessica remains constantly energized by STLF and the PIF experience.

“I talk about it 24-7,” she said.

Her motivation grew from her first experience with PIF when she participated in her first tour eight weeks after arriving from Lebanon.

“I was the last one on the bus so I sat alone at the very front of the bus,” Jessica recalled.

Just as she was thinking she made an awful mistake that would last for the next several days, another student on the bus sat down next to her.

“She said you want to watch a movie with me?” The two became “buds” by sharing Jessica’s ear buds. More friendships grew during the tour. “I came back and I had 40 new friends.”

During the nine-day tour, students spend a portion of their time assisting community projects in five different cities. Time is also set aside for sightseeing. At night, the group participates in various leadership building activities.

In each of their visits, actions by PIF participants are demonstrating that “these young people are making a difference.”

Jessica remembers a stop during her first tour where their work in a small community involved painting fire hydrants from yellow to red. The local school dismissed classes so students could assist PIF members in the community project. At day’s end, the appreciative community hosted a huge barbecue for the touring group.

Bradley recalls a darker memory from Indianapolis, Ind., where the group was helping a not-for-profit group reclaim what had become a neighborhood flop house. Among the needles and a bed frozen to the flooded basement floor was a collection of children’s toys. The scene imprinted the reality of life and how simple acts can make a difference.

Jessica and Bradley agree that leaving a lasting legacy on campus and across the nation is an important part of starting their STLF chapter at Minnesota State Mankato.

“I definitely have a lot of pride,” said Jessica about her STLF involvement. “To have a lasting impact on campus is huge for me.”

Bradley added he hopes what he helped create will remain part of the campus culture for years to come.
“Maybe my kids will come here,” Bradley added. “It would be great to say, ‘Oh, there’s still an STLF chapter here.”

If the growing number of students committed to Paying It Forward is any indication, the STLF should enjoy a long run at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The national Students Today, Leaders Forever started in 2003 after four University of Minnesota freshmen sat in their dorm room brainstorming ways they could make a difference in the world. Their grass-roots dreaming has evolved into 582 PIF tours-to-date from campus chapters across the country. Participating students join alternative spring break adventures to various communities to assist with philanthropy events and community projects.

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New Campus Cupboard Offers Shelves of Food for Students in Need

This week, Kassie & Sam introduce students to the new Campus Cupboard located in Crossroads Ministry along the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus. This by-students-for-students program facilitated by Crossroads serves as a food pantry for students in need.