Nontraditional Student Association holds “Playdate and Swap Shop” event

Clothing, books and children’s toys were spread across numerous tables in Blum 218 last Friday as members of the Nontraditional Student Association held their very first “Playdate and Swap Shop” event. Students were encouraged to come and donate as well as pick up anything that caught their eyes during the event. “It’s viewed as sort of a spring cleaning idea,” Jason Mullin, member of the Nontraditional Student Association said.  “As kids get older their clothes don’t fit anymore, so instead of throwing them out, students can donate them here.” Along with all sorts of clothes and toys, students who arrived brought their children to the event as well. “We encourage any students who have kids to bring them,” Delisa Richardson, president of the Nontraditional Student Association said.  “As parents, we realize that when we do anything, it’s important to involve our kids.” The children who arrived were given plenty of space to run around and brought coloring books to draw in while the parents socialized and laid out their donations. “This event is more family oriented,” Minerva Torres, advisor for the Nontraditional Student Association said.  “But that doesn’t mean that anyone can’t come in and donate or have a good time.” A projector was available the children to watch movies or play video games as well as food and drinks for the parents.  Torres said it was important for these students to be able to bring their kids to events like this and have a good time. The Nontraditional Student Association had been struggling for well over a year since the original leader of the organization had to leave. “A lot of members will graduate each year,” Mullin said. “When they do, there’s a lot of restructuring, rebuilding and reconnecting, and that was a big problem one semester.” Under new leadership, the organization hopes to increase awareness of its goals and ambitions through many different events.  Richardson said the organization planned to advertise through word of mouth, fliers and possibly sites like Facebook. Members of the organization are hoping that the “Playdate and Swap Shop” event becomes successful among the students at MWSU. “We’re hoping to make this a bimonthly event,” Richardson said.  “We know how difficult it can be for students to go to college while trying to take care of their children, and it’s events like these where we’re trying to give them a place where they feel comfortable.”

Phi Beta Sigma supports great cause

Phi Beta Sigma offered students of Missouri Western a different outlook on preventing pregnancy and premature birth defects. Phi Beta Sigma promoted safe sex and provided students with informational statistics about premature babies during their Sigma week, March 4-8. Flowers were passed out for Women’s Appreciation Day and Backpacks to Briefcases Day educated men about life skills and after college life experiences. Phi Beta Sigma Nu chapter teamed up with St. Joseph’s March of Dimes team to help raise money. March of Dimes was first established by President Franklin Roosevelt and focuses on premature birth and birth defects in infants. Educating doctors and promoting pregnancy screening are a couple of ways that March of Dimes tries to prevent premature birth and defects. Sigmas around the world volunteered to raise money for March of Dimes. Nationally, Sigma organizations made a goal to reach $75,000. Chapter Alpha Beta Nu of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity Inc. hoped to raise $500 as a starting goal this year and wanted to exceed past that goal and increase the number as the years come. Phi Beta Sigma sold wrist bands, t-shirts and car magnets to help out a great cause. Also, students attended week long events on campus to get further educated on the important cause. Phi Beta Sigma member Elie Moore feels as though properly educating women about pregnancy is the most important thing that the cause has to offer. “We wanted others to realize how important and serious premature birth defect situations are,” Moore said. The group wanted to support others as much as possible. The fraternity’s ultimate purpose and goal was to help raise enough money for expenses of equipment and supplies that are needed for operations or prevention of birth defects occurring. It wasn't all about premature babies though. Pregnancy prevention was also a source of education at the events. Western student Samantha Asher feels that attending the events was important and that the motto "Safe sex is great sex" was very educational. “I learned a lot of great things including how to practice better sexual habits,” Asher said. Phi Beta member Arian Duncan believes that the March of Dimes event had a huge turnout because of the purpose of the event was so important to the community. “People realized that we took donations for premature babies to help with the medical evaluations,” Duncan said. With the weekly events here on campus, Phi Beta Sigma wanted to educate students on how important March of Dimes really is, not only to the organization but to society as well. Students that attended the weekly events learned that there are children who need help with complications and helping makes all the difference.

Mr. MWSU had a “Sock Hoppin” show

With cold weather still in the midst, six brave men ventured out on stage in their swim suits and summer bodies in efforts to win Mr. MWSU. The Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority hosted their annual Mr. MWSU male pageant on March 27. Over 100 students and members of sororities and fraternities attended the male pageant called “Sock Hoppin’ Mr. MWSU 2013.” Male contestants Patrick Putnam, Dillon Williams, Nick Brewer, Nick Williams, Ryan Griffey and Scott Schlesser competed for title while trying to impress an enthusiastic crowd. Trophies and sashes were awarded to the winners of each category. Category winners included Nick Brewer of swim and formal wear, and Dillon Williams of talent and best outfit. With a very upbeat and positive connection, judges were able to determine Ryan Griffey the winner of Mr. MWSU 2013 and individual winner of raising the most money. Patrick Putnam received second place followed by Dillon Williams taking third. The organization hosted the event to raise awareness for juvenile diabetes research and treatment and money for leadership programs for Alpha Gamma Delta women. The goal this year for AGD was to raise $2,000 between this event and the teeter totterathon that was held in the fall. Out of 17 years that AGD has been on campus, 16 of those years they have raised their goal for their foundation so the sorority could be a jule chapter within national headquarters. Kelsey Guthery, president of Alpha Gamma Delta, felt as though preparing for this event took a lot of planning and preparation. “We started preparing for this event as soon as the semester started but what’s really great is seeing how everything comes together,” Guthery said. Crowd excitement filled Spratt Hall as many gathered to watch six male contestants perform talents, danced, and showed off their swim and formal wear. Students who bought raffle tickets also had to the chance to win prizes. The drawing offered Missouri Western bags and lanyards, water bottles, gift cards, and bowling passes to be given away. Julia Buescher, student of Missouri Western, thought the event was fun and very entertaining. “It was interesting seeing how creative the boys were during all of their performances especially Ryan Griffey,” Buescher said. Beth Hoffman felt Alpha Gamma Delta did a good job supporting a great cause. “It’s nice seeing Alpha Gamma Delta support diabetes and it felt good coming to this event to help out as well,” Hoffman said.

New program at Western to help students manage debt

Most students go through school not realizing the magnitude of their student loans, and they aren't thinking about what the payment plan will eventually look like after school is over; Western now has a program that will help. The new program is called SALT and it is the latest brain-child of the respected American Student Assistance nonprofit and it is completely free for students to use. This program does everything from tracking students' debts and updating them constantly to help them manage those debts. It offers alternative suggestions to student loans and has scholarship and job search databases. SALT representatives are available to students 24 hours a day and seven days a week to help them budget almost everything financially-related to college. Western’s Senior Financial Aid Coordinator Tammy Allen explains why SALT is an important tool for students and who it is most helpful to on campus. “It’s an effort to help and it’s basically geared towards our student loan borrowers,” Allen said. “Of course, here at Western, we are wanting to do everything that we can to try and offer some assistance for our student loan borrowers from the time they get here until the time they graduate; trying to educate them into borrowing smartly.” Allen also believes that SALT will go far in preventing potential financial disasters after college and will help with the transition back into the working world. “It’s just that we want them to be constantly aware of how much they have borrowed so far, don’t borrow any more than you need to and what kind of payment you are looking at as you go along,” she said. “So that when you graduate you are not blind-sided with this six or seven hundred dollar payment that you could have maybe found other sources [to finance college] throughout your time at school.” Aside from programs like SALT, there are those out there who believe if students are willing to work hard enough and endure a little sacrifice students wouldn’t need student loans at all.
  • Affordable college
  • Look for scholarships
  • Get a job
  • List your finances monthly
Daughter of finance counseling super-star Dave Ramsey, and high-profile finance motivational speaker Rachel Cruze is one such individual and explains how not only college could be free, but also how students could be completely debt-free. “Yes absolutely it’s possible to go through college debt-free; I think one of the first things that you need to do is look for a college that you can actually afford,” Cruze said. “Meaning you may want to stay in-state and take in-state tuition even if it’s just a community college for you first year or two just to get the basic courses out of the way.” Cruze explains a couple of other key things to going through college debt free. “Second, look for scholarships and grants, that’s free money” she said. “Third, actually get a job and go to work.” She also believes that if you manage your finances and life-style correctly, keeping your credit score at zero, instead of taking a chance on credit cards and loans defaulting, is fine for today’s world. She claims that as long as you keep bills paid up and stay employed you can even get a mortgage for a home with a credit score of zero. “People think that you can’t get a mortgage without a credit score, and that’s not true” Cruze said. “There is a process called manual under-writing, and that is where the lending company will actually look at you the person; so they will say have you been on a job consistently for two years and have you been on-time with all of your bills.” Cruze also believes that you should buy used cars with cash instead of taking out loans even if that means driving a beater for a while until you can save up for a better vehicle. If individuals saved their car payment instead of paying it every month the amount of money one would have at retirement is nothing to scoff at. “Just a little fun trivia, the average car loan is around $412.00 a month, if you invested that instead of paying for a car loan,” she said. “And if you did that every month until you were 65, that comes out to about 5.2 million dollars.” An MWSU alumnus, and Chief Executive Officer for Family Investment Center, Dan Danford, believes that not everyone can go through college debt-free and that sometimes student loans are necessary. At the same time though, like Cruz, he cautions against high loan debts for generic degrees. “Even in Missouri, you can go to The University of Missouri and get a really nice teaching degree,” Danford said. “But, if you finance that whole degree you are going to have 70 or 80 thousand dollars in debt to pay off; and you know what, teachers only start of making 30 or 35 thousand.” Danford also believes that when buying electronics or things like that, students need to find out the true value of what they are buying, meaning the retail value after purchase, because they may be able to save a lot of cash. “When I talk to students especially one of the things I talk to them about is what I call the eBay test,” he said. “Before you get ready to buy consumer electronics or any fairly high dollar gear, go look it up on eBay first; you may be able to find what you are looking for used, or the other thing is you may be able to find what you want refurbished directly from the manufacturer that still has the same warranty and everything.” When it comes to students and finances, Danford says knowledge is good but not enough. “I doubt if there is anything they [students] haven’t heard,” Danford said. “I mean a lot of it is common sense, but it’s also, you gotta do it; it’s not enough to know it, you have to actually do it.” Students interested in the SALT program can go to the financial aid office or sign-up at salt@saltmoney.org.

Minority enrollment has increased over the past 5 years

Western’s campus has seen an increase among minorities over the past five years. In the spring of 2009, Western stood at 17.7 percent minority rate among students on campus. That number has since increased 2.1 percent which has Western’s minority students at 19.8 percent in spring 2013. The Asian student number at Western in 2012 stood at 29 and excelled to 47 in 2013 which is an increase of 62 percent. Western places minorities in different categories according to different races. The data shows a decrease in individual ethnicity percentages between the years of 2009 to 2013 due to new categories used for reporting race that began in the fall of 2010. When compared to other universities such as Northwest Missouri State or Missouri Southern the African American percentage is lower than Missouri Western.  Western stands at a 9.2 percent among African American students with Northwest at 5.75 percent and Southern at 3.87 percent. Judith Grimes, associate vice president for Student Affairs believes Western has seen a huge change and believes the University will continue to grow over the next several years. She thinks the reason why we have a much larger minority rate is based on the increase of international student population and students who have parents of different ethnic backgrounds. “I’ve seen a pretty dramatic change over the last 15 years since I’ve been here,” Grimes said. “We have many students who might have one African American parent and the other Caucasian which increases our student minority.” Missouri Southern State University is similar in comparison to Western with 19 percent of their student body being minority. Northwest Missouri State University remains low with 16 percent rate of their student body being minority. Amy Kotwani, international student services director said she believes Western is still less diverse than other schools but feels it is increasing at a positive rate. “I think the population of our international students and other ethnicities are growing,” Kotwani said. “There’s a push to bring more international students to Western which would increase our diversity among minorities.” Minority students at Western believe its university has become more minority friendly over the past 5 to 10 years. Lisa Uketui, a junior said that other students of  the same  Nigerian decent  as her is growing is increasing at  Western and around the state. She believes Western has taken a different view and welcomes all groups of students regardless of their color, race or gender. “It’s definitely grown,” Uketui said. “We have so many groups of students from different ethnic backgrounds.” Over 80.2 percent of Western’s students are of the Caucasian race. Bryan Miller, a junior said when he moved to St. Joseph, Missouri he believed that Western would be mostly Caucasian because it’s in the Midwest. The reason he believes that Western has a high Caucasian percentage is due to most students are commuters from surrounding towns. Miller explained that when he moved here from Texas that things were getting better. He worked for Abercrombie and Fitch as a sales associate and when he started it was predominantly  Caucasians  employed by the company. Over time he said the company changed their view and started hiring more ethnicities which helped their sales. “I think the school can only get better in terms of increasing their diversity amongst students,” Miller said. “There’s a huge minority awareness and this is a topic that must be addressed  if Western would like to see a higher percentage of races among students.”