Otto Rec Electrified for Group Workout

by TAYLOR ZENZ, CSU Public Relations Intern

Earlier this month, The Student Events Team collaborated with Campus Rec for an event that made students rave: Cosmic Otto Rec.

Cosmic events on our campus have grown extremely popular in the past few years. Events like Cosmic bowling and cosmic bingo have been popular in the past, but nothing like this. Cosmic Rec transformed Otto Rec Center into a 2-night energetic party decked out with animated lighting, special effects and loud music.

Alex Weiland, concert chair for the Student Events Team and the brains behind the event, wanted to bring a different and unique atmosphere to Otto Rec. He also hoped that the event would encourage more people to visit Otto Rec and give something extra to those who are regulars.

Apart from the special effects, there were special activities that included Zumba classes, hip-hop cardio, a “Just Dance” competition and 1K running races around the track. Both nights were electrifying, but Weiland’s favorite part was “Seeing the reactions of everyone when they first walked in and saw the concert-style lighting and music filling up the Otto Rec Center.” He said the student reaction was very positive and it was a successful

“Everyone at Campus Rec was great to work with. Everyone was very helpful and encouraging of trying something new and creative in the space,” Weiland said. Campus Rec was happy with the event and plan to host again in the future.

Building Teamwork Part Of Adventure Education Program

by REED CARR, CSU Public Relations Intern

Mavericks are finding that classrooms are only one of many sources for cultivating knowledge on campus. Team climbing and high-ropes courses can be just as beneficial.

Sam Steiger, director of the Adventure Education Program at Minnesota State, Mankato helps foster leadership, teambuilding and self-motivation through experiential learning.

“Sometimes people shorten the program into just running the ropes course, but we actually provide way more,” Steiger said. “If we are able to have multiple interactions with a group in experiential learning as a team, it really solidifies that learning effectiveness, and we feel it’s a great way to compliment any topic.”

The Adventure Education Program is often used by RSOs, sports teams and some special needs groups in the area. They’ve even worked with corporations like Target and Taylor Corp.

“We like to work with groups who integrate what we do into their curriculum,” Steiger said. “The college of business uses our program at the beginning of their integrated business experience. Their first interaction together is in our program learning team skills and how to communicate. That’s a great example of how the program can be used for learning.”

Steiger was the inspiration for the rock-climbing walls that boast over 20,000 climbers each year. Growing community interest in climbing has led to The Whipper Snapper Spring Climbing Competition—an annual event hosted by Campus Rec. There are plans to push the program even further to offer a wide range of rental equipment.

“You could rent outdoor equipment like tents, sleeping bags, paddle boards, kayaks, bicycles, rollerblades—there is a huge demand for it,” Steiger said. “Students are very excited about the potential of using expensive equipment for cheap on their own adventures.”

The Adventure Education Program, brainchild of Dr. Jasper Hunt, has come a long way since it began in 1982. Dr. Hunt built the outdoor challenge course as a lab for MSU’s Experiential Education majors. The program continues to expand as Mankato students and residents seek new ways to achieve mental and physical strength.

Thanks to those who work hard to maintain and propel the program, tens of thousands of people utilize and learn from the facilities each year.

The outdoor ropes course and climbing wall will be available starting Sunday, April 15. Contact the Adventure Education Program office to schedule a group or solo session—no fee for students.

Healthy Eating: A Way of Life, Not Just a Fad

Photo credit: Medical News Today

by: Brett Marshall, CSU Public Relations Intern

As healthy eating and active lifestyles continue to sweep the nation, Minnesota State University, Mankato is doing its part to help its students and staff lead healthier lives.

“Nutrition and eating habits play a large role in your overall health,” Lexi Cournoyer, MSU campus dietician, said. “I think it is important for college students to develop healthy eating habits that they can carry throughout the rest of their lives.”

According to research conducted by Havard Medical School, eating healthy food can contribute to not only better physical health, but also mental health. This is due largely in part to a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which is lined with nerve cells. These nerve cells produce the serotonin and they function better when good foods and “good bacteria” pass through them. They send signals throughout body and help your body and brain to feel better.

Cournoyer says that some foods that people should try to consume more of, if they’re trying to eat better, include whole grains, lean proteins such as chicken, fish, turkey, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

“It’s important to that everyone finds a positive relationship with food and understands that everything can be enjoyed in moderation,” she said.

Good nutrition can also help students succeed academically.

“Having a good breakfast can help increase your concentration and focus in class,” Cournoyer said. She also added that smart snacking can aid in memorization.

Food shouldn’t be consumed whenever someone feels like it either. Cournoyer said that everyone is different when it comes to how many times a day they eat. Some people can eat three larger meals and some snacks, others benefit from five to six smaller meals and less snacking.

“To find out what works best for you, try and really listen to your hunger cues and eat only when you are hungry. This can help you figure out how often you should be eating throughout the day,” she said.

MSU has expanded health food options it offers both in the University Dining Center (UDC) and in the MavAve food court. The UDC has expanded the salad bar and added a cold vegan bar, which has lots of plant-based proteins. Cournoyer said that each day a lean protein, hot and cold vegetable options and fresh fruits are offered. She added that Sodexo, the food provider for the UDC, has a wellness platform called “Mindful,” which features healthy entrées that the UDC incorporates into their menu cycle.

“Our campus also meets ‘Mindful Gold,’ which is a standard set by Sodexo focused solely on healthful options. Our campus now having a dietician is a great step forward as well,” Cournoyer said.

MavAve is ramping up their efforts for healthy options as well. For entrées, Cournoyer said places like Toss, Star Ginger and Garbanzo offer great options with things like fresh vegetables and lean meats. She also highlighted the various healthy snack options ranging from fruit and vegetable cups to Baby Bell Cheese to Kind bars. These products are all listed under “Dietician’s Choice” labels indicating they’re a great option for people who are watching what they eat.

MSU is also working on increasing programming that focuses on nutrition and wellness. Cournoyer said MSU expands the number of events each year that focus on health. National Nutrition Month, which takes place in March, is one of the major events. She said they have lots of things planned that students and staff can look forward too.

To stay up-to-date on things happening with Cournoyer and university dining, you can follow @rdmnsu_ and @maverickdining on Instagram.

Fitness Goes Interactive As Students Connect

by TAYLOR ZENZ, CSU Public Relations Intern

Are you sick of your daily, strenuous routine at the gym? Switch it up and try an interactive group fitness class!

During the school year, Campus Rec offers 22 group fitness classes on campus each week. Classes range from yoga, meditation, core conditioning, Zumba, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Thai dance, cardio-based classes, hip-hop, circuit training, strength training and stretching classes.

When speaking with Carly Hopper, fitness and wellness program coordinator at Campus Rec, she explained how unique and versatile the classes are for students with busy schedules. She says the Group Fitness classes provide an opportunity for friends to get active together and also provides an opportunity to meet new people who share the same interest.

Apart from getting socially and physically active, Hopper mentions that the Group Fitness classes are beneficial for those who don’t know “how to develop a safe and effective workout or which machine to use or for how long. It is already done for them when they attend a Group Fitness class. They simply have to show up with a positive attitude, participate, and most importantly, have fun.”

“Going to the group yoga classes on campus allows me to connect with my fellow students in a very relaxing environment,” said Mahala Wolff, MSU senior. “The class allows me to clear my mind and set my intentions for the day.”

Another senior student, Margaret Winter, explained, “I look forward to having an hour of peace after a long day and these classes are the perfect way to have it.”

If group fitness isn’t your forte, Campus Rec offers other options that are bound to get your blood flowing – intramural sports, sports clubs, adventure programs, Maverick Adventures pilot programs, indoor and outdoor climbing walls, a “Health in Every Aisle Tour” at the Hilltop Hy-Vee Monday, April 9, the MSU sprint triathlon Sunday, April 29 and more.

Hopper suggests that studies show that students who are physically active have a higher retention rate in schools versus those who are not. Studies also suggest that physically active students have a decrease in depression and anxiety problems.

“Anybody and everybody, regardless of their health, fitness level, experience or lack of experience is welcome in Group Fitness classes,” Hopper said. “We hope to see you in class!”

Campus Rec is always developing new, creative ways to keep up with MSU’s physically active and collaborative community. For a full list of offered fitness classes and events, visit and follow the Campus Rec Facebook page for event notifications.

EXTREME MAKEOVER: Field House Edition

by BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Intern

One of the Midwest’s largest free-standing (4 walls only) facilities is going to have an entirely new look in Fall 2018.

Myers Field House is set to undergo a $740,000 renovation that will bring new floors, a fresh paint job, updated artwork and new logos to the facility. Some of the renovations began over Spring Break and will continue through the summer with focus on upgrading the floors.

“This is the original floor from December 2001, and the wear and tear over the past 16 plus years requires us to replace it,” said Todd Pfingsten, MSU director of Campus Rec.

The new floors will receive an updated color scheme as well. The track, which, according to Pfingsten, sees “the majority of the wear and tear,” will be purple. The infield courts, which are lined for basketball, volleyball, tennis and badminton will be a charcoal gray. The area between the courts will be a lighter shade of gray.

The walls will spirit the school colors of purple, gold and white. Pfingsten said students and faculty can look forward to seeing some new artwork and logos on the walls as well.

The painting began over spring break and is expected to be completed no later than the end of June. The floors will be installed beginning mid-June and finished by early September, just in time for the school year.

Pfingsten said the project is being funded primarily by two sources. The flooring project, which costs $737,580, is funded by a special allocation from university reserves. The painting project, which costs about $3,500, is being funded by departments who normally occupy the facility.

Myers Field House is a shared facility by human performance for classes, athletic practices and collegiate track meets, and for Campus Rec programs like open recreation, sport clubs, indoor climbing and adventure education programs.

The upgrades will benefit many people beyond those who use it regularly as Todd Pfingsten and Campus Rec host a variety of campus and community events including: Welcome Week, Family Weekend, concerts, Relay for Life, the Mankato Marathon Expo, youth and high school athletic tournaments, science fairs and more.

For more information on Myers Field House and MSU Campus Recreation, visit

College Often Reveals Hidden Disabilities

by REED CARR, CSU Public Relations Intern

Hidden disabilities like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder often go undiagnosed until college. Because of that “invisibility,” stigma surrounding hidden disabilities has caused a lack of discussion on the validity and effects of these conditions.

“The most misunderstood disabilities are those that you can’t visually see someone struggling,” said Julie Snow, director of Accessibility Resources at Minnesota State Mankato. “Typically when we think of disabilities, we think of those with physical disabilities. Those who use a wheel chair or a guide dog or a mobility or hearing disability who have an interpreter.”

‘I think when folks are honest and reach out, that first reaction can be telling and can end up guiding the next step and whether they disclose again.’

– Julie Snow, Director of Accessibility Resources

Snow said the Accessibility Resources Office works to accommodate all students with an existing diagnosis and welcomes those who have yet to seek help. From note-taking services to reduced course load to alternative testing, the office works to make campus more user-friendly and accepting.

“The Accessibility Resources Office has over 800 registered students with a variety of different types of disabilities,” said Snow“With anxiety and depression, it’s very common to be first diagnosed as college students. We have students who maybe didn’t struggle with those issues growing up or in their high school career but it kind of bubbles up and surfaces now.”

Keeping this topic in conversation is crucial to shine light on parts of the conditions that aren’t easily recognized by someone who doesn’t live with them. Snow’s primary message is that if we can take a step back to listen and be approachable, we can change how society perceives the reality of living with a hidden disability.

“Misconceptions can come from both sides,” Snow said. “I might be reluctant to ask for help even though the person I need help from would be happy to if they knew. It’s kind of a two-way street in that respect. I think when folks are honest and reach out, that first reaction can be telling and can end up guiding the next step and whether they disclose again.”

Showing sensitivity and showing awareness with our vocabulary is the easiest way to help make people with disabilities feel more comfortable and willing to seek help.

“Keep the needs of folks with disabilities in mind whether it’s a physical or mental disability. It can impact someone’s feeling of being welcome and accepted. Think about them in advance.”

MSU is working hard to accommodate students with disabilities. Mutual effort between students and faculty to unveil the issue will continue to improve understanding and acceptance.

Student Government Has Far-Reaching Impact On The College Experience

Students Encouraged To Vote In April 10 Election

by BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Intern

The Minnesota State Student Association is more than just a student government – it’s students helping shape Minnesota State Mankato’s future.

Joshua Atencio, MSSA election commission chairperson, says the organization passes and reviews policies that are “changing and evolving” the University in many ways. From small things like increasing the number of printers available on campus to big projects like working with the City of Mankato to get street lights installed on Stadium Road passed Kwik Trip, MSSA enhances students’ college experience.

Because of that far-reaching impact, Atencio says students should make sure they vote during the April 10 MSSA elections.

“The importance of voting is to have your voice be heard. As in any election, there is no change unless you express it through voting,” he said.

In addition to selecting a new president, vice president and senators, this year’s ballot is set to include some significant policy changes, including a budget referendum.

‘The importance of voting is to have your voice be heard. As in any election, there is no change unless you express it through voting.’

– Joshua Atencio

In 2017, the Minnesota Legislature passed Minn. Stat. § 135A.0434 Mandatory Student Activity Fees Referendum, which says if a student activity fee budget increases by more than 2 percent from the previous academic year, the increase must be approved by a majority vote of students who vote in a campus referendum. The previous percentage was 3 percent.

According to Wallace Pope, off-campus senator for MSSA, this year’s budget has an increase of 2.96 percent, which means there has to be a referendum.

Pope said after much deliberation, MSSA was able to cut back the percentage significantly, particularly in the green line bus route.

“The federal government reimburses the school buses, so based on the reimbursement last year and the one we’re gonna get this year, and also based on the money they’ve saved over these years, we were able to lower that by about $30,000,” he said. “This went a long way in giving other groups money as well.”

Pope said one budget line discussed was The Reporter.

“We had a very good talk with them,” he said. “The big reason we ended up not cutting them as substantially as some wanted is because of student jobs.”

Pope said it was important that MSSA helps students and retaining student jobs made keeping The Reporter’s funding an easier decision. Other cutback considerations included eight gold parking passes for Reporter student staff which MSSA members felt wasn’t a necessity to the paper’s operation.

Aside from those major discussions, Pope said this was one of the “smoothest meetings for the budget” MSSA has had in the last 6 years.

Pope and Antencio both stressed the importance of students not only voting during the MSSA elections, but also getting involved — whether through running as a part of one the election’s parties or becoming a part of committee.

Atencio said MSSA gives students ample chance at networking not only with one another, but also with department heads and provides opportunity to make real change. Pope said it’s really exciting and a great experience.

“It gives you a lot of leadership opportunities, gives you the opportunity to branch out and do things you never thought you could,” he said.

MSSA is the student government of MSU and they represent the interests of the student body at university, community, state and federal levels. It’s made up of a President, Vice President, a Senate Speaker and 30 senators. They are also responsible for organizing several committees that all work on different areas of the university such as Student Allocations, Campus Recreation, Diversity and Athletics.

MSSA Elections take place Tuesday, April 10 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and students can cast their votes by visiting A valid STAR ID and password is required to vote. Questions about MSSA or the election can be directed to Joshua Atencio at

Doing Drag Brings Challenges Ranging From Makeup To Stereotypes

by TAYLOR ZENZ, CSU Public Relations Intern

Aniyah Rose

Did you catch Wednesday night’s high energy, jaw-dropping, student-favorite event?

That’s right, Wednesday was the spring installment of the LGBT Centers bi-annual Drag Show. The “Spring Gender Bender Drag Show” offered special feature performances by four of our very own MSU students, including Luna Muse, Aniyah Rose, Princess Blue Rose, and Luscious Rose.

Past Drag Shows have been one of the most popular – often sell-out – campus events. Participants believe that having a bi-annual Drag Show is a great way to represent Mankato’s diversity.

Aniyah Rose, a first-year finance student, had her first performance on the Ostrander stage. Visiting before the show, Aniyah said participating in this spring’s student spotlight was an important personal moment.

“I love the diversity that Mankato has to offer and the opportunities that follow that diversity.” She added that her favorite part of being in the Drag Show was the ability to perform in front of her fellow students.

Performing in drag offers various challenges ranging from makeup to stereotypes.

“The biggest misconception about drag queens is that we are all men who want to be female,” Aniyah said. “There are many transgender drag queens, but most drag queens are just female impersonators who are giving an illusion of femininity.”

That illusion comes with lots of preparation – and makeup.

“It takes me too long to get ready,” Aniyah admits. “I can honestly say it takes me around two hours to do my makeup, 30 minutes to get dressed and about 10 minutes to put my wig on and secure it with bobby pins.”

After all the preparation, the next big challenge is wowing the audience. The performances spanned upbeat Lady Gaga tracks to socially conscious songs such as P!NK’s “Dear Mr. President.” Incredible talent, energy…and dollar bills was visibly evident.

“You just have to perform your heart out. You have to forget about everything you went through that day, put a huge smile on your face and, hopefully, charm the audience with your moves,” Aniyah said. “The audience expects to be entertained and have a fun time.”

With a campus performance now to her credit, Aniyah said she hopes she helps pave the way for others wanting to follow.

“I’ve only been doing drag for less than a year now,” Aniyah said. “but if I had any advice to give it would be to always stay true to yourself. Always try something new. Make sure to set your makeup so it doesn’t slide off your face…and just keep moving forward.”

To learn more about the event and to view pictures, visit the MSU LGBT Facebook page at

BSU’s Ebony Ball is an Elegant Night for Recognizing Black Excellence

Black Student Union President Loves To See Fellow Students ‘Shine’

by LENNY KOUPAL, CSU Communications Coordinator

For many Black students at Minnesota State Mankato, the first few weeks on campus can challenge their success as a college student. By the end of the year, many of those same students are finding themselves or fellow student role models stepping into the spotlight cast by the annual Ebony Ball.

This year’s formal ball is tonight (Friday, March 23) at 7 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom.

“Black Excellence” will be the theme as five Black students are recognized for personal achievement during the event organized by the Black Student Union and the Office of African American Affairs.

For Rosalin Cobb, president of the BSU, the evening is about recognizing personalities, abilities and possibilities.

“It’s a night to highlight what we accomplish and to recognize how each of us can change the future if we set our minds to it,” Cobb said.

‘It’s a night to highlight what we accomplish and to recognize how each of us can change the future if we set our minds to it.’

– Rosalin Cobb

The evening event, open to the campus community, will feature five top student awards including the Michael T. Fagin Award. The award named for former dean of Institutional Diversity and founder of the nationally renowned Michael T. Fagin Pan-African Conference. Other top student awards include outstanding upperclass student, outstanding freshman/sophomore student, student advocating political and social change and student advocating inclusivity.

Cobb said several fun awards will also be awarded during the ceremony. Entertainment for the evening features two drag performances, student singers, an Asian American dance performance and a poetry recital. The night concludes with a DJ dance.

Cobb, who earned the 2017 Homecoming Royalty crown, said being president of BSU has been another crowning accomplishment in her college career at Minnesota State Mankato. Graduating this spring with her marketing degree, she said she found her “home on campus” through her BSU involvement. Like many Black students arriving to campus, Cobb said she needed to overcome initial “culture shock.”

“It’s an adjustment. You have to get outside your comfort zone. It can be very scary and intimidating,” she said. “Sometimes it just takes a while.”

The Multicultural Center and later the BSU helped Cobb make the adjustment.

“I had work-study in the Multicultural Center. There I had a bunch of different ‘moms’ working in multicultural that helped get me out of my shell ‘…did you get that scholarship application done? Do it right now. You only have until tomorrow….’ They took the initiative to help.”

When she realized she needed more leadership experience, she got involved in BSU.

“The BSU’s mission is creating a space for learning, professional development and getting in touch with one’s cultural identity. For me, it’s my baby,” the BSU president said with pride. “The BSU really touches me. It’s made me feel connected and welcome. That’s when I realized I really like this school.”

Among her BSU accomplishments was seeing greater collaboration between African American members and international African students. The BSU and the African Student Association meet bi-weekly to plan joint activities, programs and events.

“We’re all friends, we all hang out.” she said.

Following tonight’s Ebony Ball, Saturday’s annual African Night in the CSU Ballroom is one of the most popular cultural nights on campus.

Besides building lifelong friendships, and networking opportunities, Cobb said great reward comes from watching others succeed. Among her proudest moments was BSU earning top LipSync honors at last homecoming’s popular event.

“It was great to see them shine,” said the St. Paul native.

With graduation just weeks away, Cobb said she plans to enter the working world before pursuing her master’s degree. With her she takes a sense of accomplishment that she helped advance campus awareness, achievement and inclusion with far reaching expectations and results.

“We are more than just a cultural organization,” Cobb said. “We do things for change which affects everyone at the end of the day.”


College is a Garden…Dig it

by REED CARR, CSU Public Relations Student Intern

The mind of a college student can be a spooky place.

Many nights as I lay in bed, it kept churning – running through the countless textbooks that need reading, papers that need typing, and professors that need bribing. That doesn’t even count the mind clutter outside of school. Sometimes it seemed like anxiety was my job.

Do you sometimes feel the same? Don’t fret—such is life.

Throughout my college career, I’ve spent precious time asking what I thought were the world’s most fundamental questions; did I botch exam 2? Will the curve be in my favor? How late is Chipotle open?

All that time spent trying to predict my future was time I could have used to shape it. Luckily, I figured that out.

It has been over five years since I sat in my first college course. I’m less than 50 days from graduation, and the extra three semesters it took to get my bachelor’s degree turned out to be the most crucial. With help from friends and family, I discovered my drive to keep my head in the game.

When I found myself low on cash and motivation, I reminded myself about the reward at the end of the track. If I could finish school, I would get to write for a living. People would actually pay me money to do what I love!

Constantly reminding myself why I was putting in the hard work (and a steady flow of Steve Jobs quotes) made it possible.

So, dig your heels in and put your personal check marks by these tips:

  • Use the many helpful resources at MSU to your advantage.
  • Look to friends, professors, family and peers for support.
  • Constantly remind yourself why you’re seeking an education.

Before you know it, you’ll see the checkered flag in the distance, and the only thing keeping you up at night will be the image of yourself walking through a sea of black robes and square hats to receive your degree.