Minnesota State University, Mankato, Dean’s Office Hires Furry Advisor

By: Morgan Stolpa

Incoming and returning students alike could relieve stress on-campus in a way they never could have imagined.

How Willow’s position began:

“We are always looking for new and creative ways to interact with students. Research shows animals can have a positive impact on reducing stress, anxiety etc. which are all things that come with the college experience. Academic advising can also be stressful and we understand a number of students leave a family pet at home when they go away to college. Knowing what a great temperament Willow has I pitched the idea to our Dean, he loved it and I ran with it from there,” said Student Relations Coordinator, Gina Maahs-Zurbey.

How the idea got started:

Zurbey was working in the Dean’s Office as a Student Relations Coordinator when she came up with the idea to incorporate a therapy dog into the office regularly throughout the semester. The process was long, but Zurbey worked hard to see her idea come to life. “All in all, it was about a year and a half in the making. Everything from the training, testing and working with MSU Administration to get Willow Wednesdays approved,” said Zurbey.

About Willow:

Instead of advising students, Willow provides comfort to them. The 3-year-old Labradoodle receives visitors every Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in her office located in Armstrong Hall, Room 226. She even has a plague that says “Willow Room” right outside of her door.

About Therapy Dogs on College Campuses:

Universities all across the United State use therapy dogs to encourage students to be more comfortable, healthy and stress free. At MSU, a permanent therapy dog holds weekly sessions to heal students and faculty both mentally and physically. Additionally, MSU hosts several events on-campus with therapy dogs, “Kanine Kisses and Hound Hugs,” which are held every third Thursday of the month in the Centennial Student Union in the Lincoln Lounge. There are several sessions held during both spring and fall final’s weeks on-campus.

College students experience an overwhelming amount of stress during the school year. Whether it be volunteering, working, studying, or missing the comforts of home. Students need a heathy outlet to relieve their stress. The University understands the importance of their student’s physical and mental health which is why they regularly incorporate therapy dogs on their campus.

There are no appointments required:

Anyone can simply as stop by the Dean’s Officein Armstrong Hall, room 226 and sign a liability waiver. After signing a waiver, students are encouraged to play, pet and even give Willow treats. If students ask nicely with please or pretty please she can perform a number of tricks from sit to speak.

Students are encouraged to visit Willow every Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. If interested, students can contact Gina Maahs-Zurbey at gina.maahs-zurbey@mnsu.eduor drop by the advising office, Room 226 in Armstrong Hall to sign a liability waiver and meet Willow, the Labradoodle. For further questions, contact the Dean’s Office.

Struggling? Check These Places Out!

By: Alejandro Reyes Vega, CSU PR Intern

Students often deal with issues that vary from feeling too much pressure, stress and lack of sleep to depression, anxiety or family problems. The counseling center is here for all those needs and many more.

They are confidential! Anything shared will stay confidential within the patient and the therapist. No one has access to it including, parents, coaches, and teachers.

Students get up to ten confidential individual sessions per year. The center also offers group counseling and couples therapy and these do not count towards a student’s ten free sessions.

The counseling center also has a great series of psycho-educational workshops called Discovering Yourself. These take about fifty minutes and the topics range from procrastination, test anxiety, getting good sleep and other useful topics aimed at improving college life.

They also offer consultation services to parents, faculty, and staff and they have information on Outreach and Educational programming.

For more information on the Counseling Center CLICK HERE.

Other places to consider where they always welcome other students include:

The LGBT Center is a safe space for all individuals. It is our mission to provide support, advocacy, and a sense of community to LGBT* students. Through education, programming, and activism, we heighten campus and community awareness of LGBT* concerns and strive to ensure every individual has equal opportunity to learn, work, and grow in a supportive and safe environment.  Stop on in anytime for a free cup of tea and learn more about our community!

LGBT Center

Laura Schultz is one of the people in charge of the Violence Awareness and Response Program. The program offers confidential advocacy to students who are victims, survivors and intimate partner violence.

Legal options are available as well as, reporting on campus, support for emotional struggle and no matter what students are looking to achieve, the center can help them get in touch with the appropriate resources.

Women’s Center

 

 

MavCONNECT

By: Morgan Stolpa

MavCONNECT is a tool for student, faculty and advisor success.

What is MavCONNECT?

Minnesota State University, Mankato, selected a suite of advising tools, MavCONNECT by Starfish® Enterprise Success Platform™ to integrate our Student Information System (ISRS) to deliver advising notes, MavCares early alerts, Midterm Reports (MTRs), and online scheduling of advising appointments. MavCONNECT will create a specific role and a relationship between students, faculty, and advisors.

How can I use it to help my students?

  • Submit early alert and midterm reports
  • Send motivating messages of support (kudos) to students that are participating, improving, or showing good effort
  • Raise flags in the system at any point in the semester if you have concerns about a student’s progress
  • List office hours in MavCONNECT

MavCONNECT and Advising:

If you serve as an assigned advisor for students, MavCONNECT can be used to:

  • Allow students to self-schedule appointments during office hours you make available in the system
  • Learn at a glance which of your advisees may need additional help
  • Send emails to all or a select group of your advisees
  • Document and track your interactions in a secure, central location

If you’re interested in learning more about MavCONNECT, additional resources and training schedules are listed at www.mnsu.edu/mavconnect.

Therapy Dog Sessions Return Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Health 101 Students Can Attend To Fill Class Requirement

The dogs are back!

Hound Hugs and Kanine Kisses, the monthly therapy dog session hosted by the Centennial Student Union, will be Thursday, Sept. 20 in the CSU Lincoln Lounge.

This year’s sessions will have minor changes from last year’s popular event said Lenny Koupal, CSU communications coordinator.

“The new time will be 6:30 to 8 p.m.,” said Koupal, who coordinates the CSU Program. “The group is now known as Paws for Friendship. It will be the same volunteers and their wonderful dogs. They just go by a different name.”

For several years, the CSU has offered therapy dog sessions – first as a Finals Week StressBuster event.

“We added monthly therapy dog sessions after students requested more frequent therapy dog visits. We’ve designated the third Thursday of each month throughout the academic year as Hound Hugs and Kanine Kisses night.” Koupal added.

The event is free. Visitors need only to sign University’s liability waiver.

Koupal said the event remains among the most popular activities in the CSU.

“In last spring’s CSU student survey, students ranked the therapy dog sessions as the third most popular reason for coming to the CSU behind Career Fairs and Stomper’s Cinema,” Koupal said. “These sessions are both welcome and needed as students move through their academic year.”

Dr. Mary Kramer, faculty member with the department of health science, said students enrolled in the Health 101 are encouraged to attend therapy dog sessions as part of three required wellness activities. Students then share their experiences as part of their assignment.

“The reflections are phenomenal,” Kramer said. Some share personal reflections. Others observe the impact the dogs have on other students.

“For some, it reminds them of home and their dog,” Kramer added. “It helps them forget about high anxiety issues in their lives.”

Kramer said the health science department is working on a survey on the impact of therapy dog sessions on college students.

“We are interested to learn more about therapy dogs and students.There’s so much research on the benefits, yet there’s almost nothing out there on (the impact on) college students. ,” Kramer said. “There’s just something we don’t understand on the power of the dog – just putting a hand on a dog – that energy transfer between the person and the dog. It’s magical.”

Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, Therapy Animals

By: Morgan Stolpa

Minnesota State University, Mankato is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.

A “service animal” is a dog that is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. “Service dogs are allowed to go anywhere their owner goes on campus,” said Julie Snow.

However, the University may ask if the animal is required because of a disability as well as what work the animal has been trained to perform.

Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks;
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds;
  • Providing non-violent protection or rescue work;
  • Pulling a wheelchair;
  • Assisting an individual during a seizure;
  • Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone;
  • Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities;
  • Helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

“Owners are not required to register with Accessibility Resources unless they need other accommodations to ensure access to the University programs and facilities,” said Snow.

Emotional Support Animal:

An “emotional support animal” (ESA) is an animal that provides comfort to an individual with a disability upon the recommendation of a healthcare or mental health professional.

An emotional support animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living but rather its role is to live with a student and alleviate the symptoms of an individual’s disability to provide equal opportunities to use and enjoy housing at the University.

Upon approval, ESA’s are allowed in residence halls but must agree to the following expectations:

  1. Emotional support animals assisting individuals with disabilities are only allowed in their owner’s residence hall room and/or apartment unit and the most direct route to and from the exterior door of the building. Emotional support animals are not allowed in classrooms or any public facilities at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
  2. Licensure & Vaccination: Emotional support animals on campus must comply with all state & local licensure and vaccination requirements. Dogs must wear a license tag and a current rabies vaccination tag.
  3. Leash: Emotional support animals must be on a leash at all times when outside of the owner/keepers residential hall room/apartment, unless impracticable or unfeasible due to owner/keeper’s disability.
  4. Under control: The owner/keeper of an emotional support animal must be in full control of the animal at all times. The animal must not be disruptive (for example by barking) and cannot pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others on campus.
  5. The animal must be crated when owner is not in the room: An individual with a disability may be asked to remove an emotional support animal from University housing if the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it.  A person who has an emotional support animal on campus (including University Housing) is financially responsible for property damage caused by his or her emotional support animal.
  6. Clean-up: The care and supervision of an emotional support animal is the responsibility of the individual who uses the animal’s service. This includes clean-up of all animal waste. University Grounds/Maintenance and Residential Life may designate animal toileting areas. Those who are unable to physically pick up and dispose of feces are responsible for making all necessary arrangements for assistance on a daily basis.

Students interested in ESA’s can make an appointment with Julie Snow, Accessibility Resources Director, to discuss their circumstances and learn about the ESA documentation process. Students will need to:

  1. Provide documentation of their disability.
  2. Supply documentation from their provider verifying the ESA is part of the student’s therapeutic plan.

Therapy Animal:

Therapy animals provide affection and comfort to various members of the public, typically in facility settings such as hospitals, assisted living, and schools. These pets have a special aptitude for interacting with members of the public and enjoy doing so. Therapy animal owners volunteer their time to visit with their animal in the community. A therapy animal has no special rights of access, except in those facilities where they are welcomed. They may not enter businesses with “no pets” policies or accompany their handler in the cabin of an airplane regardless of their therapy animal designation.

Service dog owners with questions or concerns can contact Julie Snow in Accessibility Resources for assistance and/or clarification. Phone: 507-389-2825 (v) 800-627-3529 or 711 (MRS/TTY) or via email julie.snow@mnsu.edu.

 

 

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 Harkla.co

 

 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.

Stuttering Support Group Aids ‘Misunderstood Challenge’

by: Brett Marshall

“If you stutter, you are not alone.” That’s the slogan of the National Stuttering Association (NSA), an organization that has a presence at Minnesota State and wants to help students and community members who have a stutter.

“Stuttering is a complex and often misunderstood challenge that can effect a person’s ability to say what they say and when they want to say it,” Jeff Glessing, an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Speech, Hearing, & Rehabilitation Services, said.

The NSA campus group consists of a combination of adults in the Mankato community and MSU students that have a stutter. It’s estimated that about one percent of the adult population has a stutter, which translates to there being about 150 students at the University being affected by stuttering.

Image result for national stuttering association

Glessing says that stuttering “can hamper a person’s ability to participate in classroom activities, form relationships with peers and hinder networking for personal and professional growth.” He hopes the University’s NSA chapter can be a resource for students who are scared to confront their stutter.

“Talking with others who have experienced stutter can be valuable to taking steps to lessen the challenge stuttering often presents,” Glessing said. “As a person who stutters myself, I remember one of the hardest things was to open up about my stuttering with others. Doing so changed my life immensely.”

The support group meets once a month on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 and discusses issues relating to life as a person who stutters. He encourages anyone who stutters to consider attending an NSA meeting.

To get involved with the NSA chapter at the University, you can contact Jeff Glessing by email jeffrey.glessing@mnsu.edu or by phone 507-272-2752. Additional information about the chapter can be obtained from the Minnesota State Center for Communication Sciences and Disorders Clinic at 507-389-5224.  You can find additional information about the NSA by visiting their website www.westutter.org.

Faculty Spotlight

by: Morgan Stolpa

Carol Glasser, an assistant professor of Sociology within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, creates opportunities on-campus.      

Glasser, who likes to run and tries to do at least one half-marathon every year, said her two favorite things are teaching and research.

“My favorite part of this job is when I get to do research with students. I get to do this in lots of ways here—in the classroom setting, advising master’s students on their thesis projects, and working with undergraduates on independent studies,” she said.

Glasser came to Minnesota State University, Mankato, because “the sociology program is so cool.” There are two things she gets to do here that many Universities would not support. First, she specializes in applied and public sociology, meaning that she is committed to doing research driven by social justice and this can directly benefit the community.

In addition to applied and public sociology Glasser also studies animals. Many sociology programs don’t offer any classes on this, but when Glasser interviewed here she was encouraged to create an Animals and Society course. She has now been teaching this course for three years, and even started a Human-Animal Studies minor.

Besides the classroom, Glasser is the Director of Kessel Peace Institute at MNSU. This organization is dedicated to advancing the understanding and the existence of peace at all levels, from the individual to the global community. Tune in next week to hear her opinion on Holocaust awareness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Y4_6PD0Z4

 

12 Questions with Carol Glasser.

What is your spirit animal?

“I can’t pick just one spirit animal. As someone who studies the human-animal relationship and is committed to social justice, the plight of all animals, human and nonhuman, moves me. I also think there is something inspirational and worth emulating in every species. But if you asked people who know me well what my spirit animal is, they would guess a rabbit.”

What word describes you best? 

“Committed.”

What three items would you want if you were stranded on an island? 

“Vegetable seeds, a book on how to grow vegetables, and a very long book.”

Do you know any other languages other than English? 

“Unfortunately, no.”

Favorite band or type of music? 

“I don’t actually listen to much music but I enjoy almost anything live.”

What’s your favorite animal and the animal you are most scared of? 

“I am not sure I can answer this, as you can see in Question #1 I have a hard time answering animal-related questions simply!”

Who inspires you to be better? 

“My dad’s approach to life inspires me to be better. He wakes up each day and approaches the daily routines of life (like working out, going to work, doing chores) with excitement and appreciation. He also gets a lot of joy from small things, like a walk, or talking on the phone to a friend. I am always striving to be more content in my daily life like he is, which often means pushing myself to be a better person so that I am happy with how I live my life. He also inspires me to be better because he is a dad and does awesome dad things to motivate me—like cheering me on at the finish line when I run a race or telling me he is proud when I accomplish new goals.”

What is your favorite movie series? 

“I honestly do not have one. I prefer to binge watch TV series over watching movies. As for favorite TV series, I could watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fireflyare at the top.”

Favorite holiday? 

“My birthday. (Is that a holiday?)”

If you could make on rule that everyone had to follow, what would you make?

“I am very committed to animal rights as well as peace and anti-war activism. One rule that would help end animal abuse and war would be: Do not kill anyone (No matter what their species is).”

What would be your first move after winning the Minnesota lottery? 

“I would drive straight to the state office to turn in the ticket and call my financial adviser on the way.”

What’s your favorite course to teach? 

“Sociology in Action is my favorite course to teach. This is a course for sociology majors in applied and public sociology that I teach every spring. Each semester the class works on a different social justice issue; students design and conduct research projects that directly help organizations deal with that issue. Last year our class researched the issue of food insecurity and hunger on the Minnesota State Mankato campus so we could help the university find better ways to help students access healthy and affordable food.”

 

 

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.

FOR ALL SAFETY MATTERS, INCLUDING CONCERNS ABOUT A STUDENT’S MENTAL HEALTH – CALL UNIVERSITY SECURITY 24/7 (507) 389-2111; or DIAL 911 IN AN EMERGENCY.

 

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.