Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

by: Brett Marshall

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior and, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, affects one out of every 59 children in the United States. 

 This means at Minnesota State, which has an enrollment of around 15,000 students, about 250 students are affected by autism spectrum disorder. 

How does autism impact students? 

Autism impacts each individual person differently, so in order to understand each person, it’s important to understand the autism spectrum. The graphic below shows how autism varies from person to person with the most severe on the left and most mild on the right. 

Image courtesy of


 Information provided by MSU’s Accessibility Resources notes that most college student tend to be on the right side of the spectrum and have High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s or pervasive developmental disorder (PPD).  These students tend to excel in certain academic areas, notably art, math and science. Though these students may be academically gifted, their autism may hinder them in other areas like social interaction, impulse control, rigid thinking and time management. 

What can you do as a student to help your peers who have autism? 

One of the best ways to be understanding of a peer with autism is to just be patient – understand that they may process things differently than you.  In addition, make sure when working on a group project that you clearly map out their role and expectations and be sure to follow up with them to make sure they understand everything they’re supposed to do. 

What resources can autistic students receive from campus? 

Students with autism spectrum disorder can find support and resources by visiting Accessibility Resources in the Memorial Library, Room 132, or by phone at 507-389-2825. Students can also visit the Counseling Center, located in Centennial Student Union 285 and by phone at 507-389-1455. For safety concerns or help with disruptive incidents, students can contact Campus Security at 507-389-2111.

University Policies and Protocols

By CYDNEY COFFEY, CSU Communication Graduate Assistant

For incoming students keep in mind that there are various consequences for drug and alcohol offenses. The general consequences for students for drug and alcohol are as follows through Residential Life:

  • First offense:
    • Probation for up to a semester
    • Completing an online course that covers being under the influence of marijuana or alcohol depending on the students’ offense
  • Second offense:
    • Probation for up to a year
    • Completing an online course that covers risk reduction and involves talking with other students
  • Third offense:
    • The students housing contract is terminated

The more a student racks up offenses the longer their probation will be, the disciplinary sanctions will become more serious and the educational sanctions will become more expensive as well. Dr. Mary Dowd, Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct stated “We try and make it an educational process.”

A couple of important things to keep in mind for incoming students:

  • The police provide the University with weekly lists of names of students who are cited for drug and alcohol uses off campus. This includes DUIs as well as students who were transported to detox.
  • Police are out in MASSES on campus during the first 8 weeks of school. Take into consideration that there have been situations where a student has been arrested 3 times in just one week!

Dr. Mary Dowd, stated “Bottom line, it’s all about safety.”

The University strives at having the student’s best interest at heart.



How the University Takes Disciplinary Action

By ALEJANDRO REYES VEGA, CSU Communications Student Assistant

Minnesota State University, Mankato has made many changes to its student disciplinary process. One of the major changes happened after the landmark case Dixon V. Alabama State Board of Education.

The 1961 case allowed the establishment of the rights of students to be given notice of the allegation and an opportunity to be heard prior to expulsion. Moreover, students are not entitled to the same degree of due process as afforded in criminal and civil actions meaning that students have a different protocol when their disciplinary action is being decided.

The University has adopted the philosophy of educational discipline that promotes personal growth and accountability. It strives for fair and consistent policies and practices. For parents this means that we want students to learn from a “teachable moment” to consider consequences of their actions before acting on impulse or acceding to peer pressure.

It is important for parents to know when and how to intervene. Intervention sends a message to your students that you don’t trust their ability to handle their own affairs. Helicopter parenting can hinder the development of independence, self-esteem, and self-confidence.

The college experience strives to provide opportunities for your students to grow in the following areas:

  • Developing an identity separate from parents
  • Developing interdependence and competency
  • Managing emotions
  • Strengthening integrity and personal accountability
  • Establishing meaningful friendships and connections

To access the school’s parents’ resources CLICK HERE.


Types of Drugs and their Consequences


The possession of Schedule Drugs has different consequences:

First Offense: Imprisonment of no more than 1 year and a minimum fine of $1000

1 previous drug/narcotic/chemical conviction will result in Imprisonment of 15 days-2 years, and a minimum fine of $2,500

2+ previous drug/narcotic/chemical conviction will result in imprisonment of 90 days-3 years, and a minimum fine of $5,000.


They are all illegal:

Drugs are illegal in the state of Minnesota. The only exception is medically prescribed marijuana; however, it is against University policy for students to possess any type pf drug including medically prescribed Marijuana.

The possession and use of Marijuana is a violation of federal law and since the University belongs to the State and accepts federal dollars for financial aid it must follow the Drug-Free Schools and Community Act.

There is no exception on the use of drugs and they are classified in five Schedules.


According to the DEA, these are the different schedules and drugs:

Schedule I.

These include drugs, substances, or chemicals are not currently accepted in any medical use and have a high potential for abuse.

Ex: Heroin, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote.


Schedule II.

These include drugs, substances, or chemical that have a high potential for abuse potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence and are considered dangerous.

Ex: Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, dilaudid, Demerol, oxycodone, fentanyl, Adderall, and Ritalin.


Schedule III.

These include drugs, substances, or chemicals with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.

Ex: Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone.


Schedule IV.

These include drugs, substances, or chemicals with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Schedule III drugs have a higher risk of abuse.

Ex. Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Ambien, Tramadol.


Schedule V.

These include drugs, substances, or chemicals with a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consists of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes.

Ex. Lyrica, Parepectolin, Motofen, Lomotil.


The previously named drugs are just some examples, this is not by any means a full list of drugs that are considered illegal.




Alcohol and its Effects

by: Afure Adah

People often drink alcohol to celebrate, socialize or relax. But alcohol can often have strong effects. These effects vary from person to person and they depend on many different factors, including:

  • How much you drink
  • How often you drink
  • Age
  • Health status
  • Family history

The effects of alcohol can appear in about 10 minutes and as you continue to drink, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, increases. The higher your BAC, the more impaired you become. These effects include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Motor impairment
  • Confusion
  • Concentration problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Coma
  • Death

Some other risks can include:

  • Accidents and car crashes
  • Violent and risky behavior
  • Suicide and homicide

Long-term effects can include:

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Health problems
  • Increased risk for certain cancers

REMEMBER: The legal minimum drinking age in the United States of America is age 21. In Minnesota, it is a misdemeanor violation punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.  The penalty typically starts out with a fine that is increased each time you get caught. Stay safe and make good choices!


CAs and ResLife During Welcome Week

by AFURE ADAH, CSU PR Student Assistant

In preparation for school to start, Residential Life and our helpful resident hall CAs will be working to help students prepare and feel confident in their first days of school.

Floor Meetings

Every resident hall will have occasional, scheduled floor meetings with their CA. From what I can remember, the first meeting was held to meet our CA, introduce ourselves to each other in the hall and chat a bit about what our CA would expect from us, what we should expect from our CA, and the things our CA can help us with.

Class Tours

Class Tours will be given by the CAs on Sunday of Welcome Week. I remember as a freshman, my hall, Crawford A-1, had a floor meeting to discuss when we all would want to go. Some of us went with our CA, and some went with other CAs.

They took us to the different buildings on campus, to the major lecture halls, and even to some class rooms. Make sure to bring your class schedule on the tour so you can ask for directions if you need to. Don’t feel uncomfortable that the whole tour will be taken to your class, it is no problem at all! Plus, someone else might be in that class as well, you never know!



On Friday of Welcome Week there is a campus-wide scavenger hunt called the Choose-A-Palooza. CAs lead students to various offices around campus where students can collect giveaway tickets for prizes (in CSU220 new students get balsa planes for the Prize Flight event). It’s a great way for new students to get familiar with campus and services. Students gather in the CSU Hearth Lounge at 3pm, deposit their tickets in the prize basket of choice and await the selection of prize winners. The Prize Flight immediately following Choose-a-Palooza will have students launching their planes from the Hearth Lounge overlook for a chance at great prizes including a GoPro and $300 cash.  Choose-A-Palooza and Prize Flight offer lots of prize opportunities and goodies, so definitely check it out!

Where To Get Scholarships

Alejandro Reyes Vega



Earning higher education and a college degree is a financial commitment that can sometimes put a strain or a dent on a family’s economic situation or on oneself. There are many costs to consider. To start with their is the basic tuition and fees, as well as school supplies. Books and technology tend to be the most expensive school supplies for any student. Then there are the living expenses such groceries, utilities, and rent. If students live on campus then they have to carefully choose a dining plan that best fits their needs as well as a dormitory.

Students that are attending college cannot make as much money as students who are working full time. Therefore, they must use their savings, any help they can get from family and friends, and in many cases loans. However, Universities want students to succeed and they try to provide as many tools as they can.

Minnesota State University Mankato has various scholarships available for students. The requirements as well as the money available ranges. Therefore, the University has an easy tool that can be completed by students to make the application process easier.

The scholarship finder has a simple sign-in requirement and then questions to better understand the student and find the scholarships that the student qualifies for. It is important to note that it is not guaranteed that students who sign-in and fill the application in Scholarship Finder are guaranteed a scholarship.

The university has many students and many apply for scholarships, so their is competition. However, it is worth applying for and giving it a try. Most students need help to go through University and Scholarships are a great way to earn that needed financial help.

There are also additional scholarship opportunities that students should look into if they fulfill the the requirements. These are some of the merit-and need-based scholarships available for first-year students

  • The Presidential Scholar Awards is a $20,000 scholarship awarded over four years.
  • The Meredith Scholar Award is a $32,000 scholarship also awarded over four years.
  • The Graham Chemistry Scholarship is a one-year $2,500 scholarship.

Encourage students to find out more information and look into the various scholarship opportunities available at:





MNSU Campus Security: Familiarize Yourself with Our Security Services


Afure Adah

by AFURE ADAH, CSU PR Student Assistant



Safety has always been an issue but in today’s day and age, things like, theft, assault and even human trafficking are becoming more prevalent. So here I will give you some info for staying safe on campus.
To stay safe on campus it is important to know the school’s security services. Here at MSU Mankato the security services that are specifically aimed to keep you safe and comfortable are:

Emergency phones
• Safe walk service
• Patrol & EMT

Emergency Phones
All over campus are emergency phones for easy communications with university security. They are bright blue and well lit, so they are easy to spot. If you would like to see a map of all their locations, I have one linked.

Safe Walk Services
Our safe walk services provide a walking escort 24/7, year-round, to and from any university building, parking lot, or residence community. To request a Safe Walk, call University Security at (507)-389-2111.

I live off campus, about a 15-minute walk, and sometimes I am on campus super late and my bus isn’t running anymore, so I have to walk home. Not everyone has to walk all the way home, but there are students that park their cars in the lots that are a bit of a walk from the school and are often in a similar position as me.
I haven’t used this service yet, but during summer classes when my friends are not on campus or in town to walk with me or pick me up, I’ll probably give it a try. Better to be safe than sorry!

Patrol & EMT

As a student here, I have always noticed Security patrolling in the evenings, checking classrooms, and locked doors, making sure no one is where they are not supposed to be.
But the University Security Patrol unit is available 24/7, 365 days a year to perform the following duties:

• Provide 24/7, 365, vehicle and foot patrols
• Investigate theft, vandalism, and other crimes
• Security for campus events
• Help faculty, staff, students, and visitors
• Compile info for MSU incident reports
• Act as a liaison with the Mankato Department of Public Safety

EMTs and First Responders are employed by the University Security to respond and provide care for injuries, or illnesses on campus. In addition, they work closely with Health Services, and Gold Cross Ambulance Service.

If You would like more information, Campus Security’s page will be linked below.

Student Organizations Are A Great Way to Make Friends and Get Involved

An International Student’s Perspective

Alejandro Reyes Vega


Freshman year seems like a long time ago now, but it was barely two years ago that I moved to Mankato and started attending MSU. However, I can still remember what it felt like and can’t believe how much I have changed and my life has changed.

Being a freshman in college is not like being a freshman in high school. In high school you probably already had some friends whom with you attended middle school or elementary school or whom you might have even grown up with. It is also different than moving to a new school where you don’t know anyone.

When you start at a university, you barely know anyone and making friends can be a bit more challenging. Classes are way larger and people that you meet and make acquittance with might not have any other class with you or might not even be in the same major.

My first friends on campus were all international students that I met in orientation. Some were from the same country as me. Some also spoke Spanish. Others were in my orientation group and we became friends after being together for a few days.

However, over time I got involved in organizations and started talking to people whom I had class with. I strongly suggest getting to know people who you have class with. Doesn’t matter if it is only one class, it is good to have study buddies and you might even become friends. Getting involved in campus is another great way of making friends. I am part of different organizations such as CLASA – the Latino Student Organization on campus. Organizations and clubs allow you to make friends home you can share common interests and passions.

When classes started I felt lost for the first week and half. I never attended particularly large schools. The biggest school I ever attended didn’t have more than 500 people and that’s including faculty, staff, and students and that’s from sixth grade to twelfth grade. However, the map I got in orientation was useful and I soon became familiar with the names and locations of buildings (Although I must confess I still get lost in Trafton at times).

As I previously mentioned I am an international student so I was not familiar with the Mankato area and had only visited the town twice before. The first time for my tour, back when I was applying, and a second time after I graduated to leave all my stuff in storage while I traveled over the summer.

Being an international student in a new town as a freshman in college can be a little scary. First of all, we have a lot of rules to follow to make sure we maintain a legal status. Second of all, we don’t have a normal orientation like everyone else; internationals have international orientation that goes on during Welcome Week activities. Third of all, we kind of have to hear or expect stereotypes.

People assume I have Mexican ancestry or I was born in Mexico because I speak fluent Spanish. Others assume that because I am international I will have trouble speaking and that I should have a heavy accent (I have a slight accent 😁). Others think this is my first time in the U.S or I just moved to the U.S. Turns out I have been to the U.S. few times before and I moved here while I was still attending high school back when I was 16.

Your first year in college will be full of new and amazing experiences. Life will change and you as people will change too.



Knowing Your Rights

FERPA Secures Privacy Rights of College Students



I was not aware of all the rights I gained when I started college until I heard about FERPA. I was surprised and relieved at the same time.

Parents and students are used to being able to have access to educational records of students. It is the way that it has always been. However, this right has its limitations.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) allows parents to have access to a student’s education records. However, this access only lasts until a student reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.

For parents of college students over 18, this means that parents no longer have the right to view a student’s educational records. Parents can only access educational records if their student chooses to give them permission.

The following parties also have access to a student’s educational records:

  • School officials with legitimate educational interests
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school
  • Accrediting organizations
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies
  • State and local authorities within a juvenile justice system pursuant to specific State law

Another right that FERPA provides to parents and eligible students is to restrict the disclosure of directory information. Directory information includes a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance.

It is important to note that schools may disclose of directory information without the permission of parents or eligible students. The only obligation of schools is to notify parents and eligible students about directory information. They should be informed in a timely manner in case parents or eligible students choose to opt out of disclosing such information.

FERPA has another right that not everyone is aware of. If records are inaccurate or misleading, parents or eligible students have the right to request the records to be amended. If the school chooses not to amend the records; then parents or eligible students have the right to a formal hearing. If after the hearing the school still chooses not to ament the records; then the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with his/her records on his/her views of the information that was presented at the hearing and requested to be amended.

FERPA was created to protect the privacy of students and anyone who is attending an educational institution is notified annually of FERPA guidelines. Make sure you are aware what your rights are.


For more information on FERPA visit: