The Wildlife Society adds to its trophy case

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The Missouri Western chapter of The Wildlife Society has been honored as Student Chapter of the Year for the North Central Section once again. This award is becoming a bi-annual tradition for the organization. Western has been awarded this distinction in six of the last 10 years: 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014. An organization is ineligible to win the award in consecutive years. However, thanks to an error in 2010, Western was honored in both 2009 and 2010. “Its really important for me because it's the years before that have won it too, and as long as I'm keeping people involved and we are constantly volunteering then we'll continue to be getting awards,” President Carly Compton said. The Wildlife Society also won International Chapter of the Year in 2011 and 2013. A chapter can only win the International Chapter of the Year once every two years. Since 2010, they have won every organizational award that they have been able to apply for. Dr. Cary Chevalier, professor of biology and organization adviser, believes that the chapter's success relies on how the students view the organization. “I ponder often, the almost stunning consistent success of the student chapter. You look at it and we did a good job and okay, we did another good job. This is not an easy competition,” Chevalier said. “I finally think I've figured it out, I think the reason that we experience the consistent success that we do is that the student chapter is not viewed by me or by extension, the students, as just an an organization… It's rather sort of more comparable to a capstone course.” Western is the only student chapter in Missouri to ever win the International Chapter of the Year. Chevalier has also been awarded the 2013 International Student Chapter Adviser of the Year. According to Chevalier, Western is the only university to ever win the International Chapter of the Year and have their adviser win that honor in the same year. “The student chapter of The Wildlife Society is a professional development organization, it's not a broad discipline social student group,” Chevalier said. “So if a student is majoring in something where they want to apply that to wildlife or conservation then the student chapter might be of use to them. But if they're simply looking for an outdoor organization, if they want to go hiking or birding or camping, then this is not the organization for them. This is a professional development organization predominantly for wildlife conservation majors, but there are students who double major in journalism or computer science who want to take that skill set and work in the world or for organizations that ultimately do wildlife conservation.” The society takes great pride in their service reputation and record. Since being with The Wildlife Society in the Fall of 2012, Executive Board Assistant Calvin Wakefield says he already put in over 1,000 service hours himself. He says last spring was his favorite service experience. “Last spring, the CVC came up and they were collecting ticks and blood samples to study the Heartland virus that was discovered last year and I got to help out with trapping mesopredators like raccoons and opossums,” Wakefield said. The Wildlife Society continues to be very active with their eyes on more awards in the future, but also more valuable experiences for members. The next award for The Wildlife Society to try to obtain is the 2015 International Chapter of the Year.

Western’s first fraternity begins recolonization

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Phi Sigma Kappa, Missouri Western’s first fraternity, is going through a period of recolonization.

Due to low enrollment, Phi Sigma Kappa is set to take a few years off to recolonize their fraternity. However, they will still remain on campus.

Dr. Christopher Bond, the faculty advisor for Phi Sigma Kappa, believes that this is a good time for the fraternity to take some time off.

“Phi Sigma is in a state of recolonization,” Bond said. “That’s greek terminology meaning that the chapter is still here, and that it’ll take a few years to recolonize.”

But what does recolonization mean? Essentially, it means that Phi Sigma Kappa is taking some time off to rebuild.

“Sometimes, it is a crisis that has happened,” Bond said regarding reasons for recolonization. “Fortunately for Phi Sigma, it was just low enrollment and the number of actives that left from last semester through to this semester. It was just time to reboot the system.”

Treasurer of Phi Sigma Paul Godberson said that changes will take place over a couple of years.

“We’re probably going to wait at least until next year to start getting our name out there a bit more and let people know that we’re coming back,” Godberson said.

Rumors that a new fraternity may be coming to campus are just that: rumors.

“Another fraternity is not coming here yet,” Bond said. “I don’t know if they will or they won’t, and, if they do, Phi Sigma will still come back.”

But when Phi Sigma does come back, Godberson explained that the fraternity would definitely be going through some changes.

“One thing about Phi Sig is, what we were about before won’t change, but the way we do it will. Basically, it’ll be a lot more of a business-type oriented fraternity when we get back,” he said.

Phi Sigma is a huge part of Missouri Western’s heritage according to Bond.

“We are part of the Missouri Western tradition, because we’ve been here the longest out of all the fraternities and have an alumni group of 2,500, which is unheard of for a university our size,” Bond said.

As for when Phi Sigma will return, that date is unknown. However, Godberson assures students that they’ll return.

“We’ll be back,” Godberson said. “Phi Sig will rise again.”

MLK Drum Major for Justice Award

Western held their annual MLK Drum Major for Justice Awards banquet on Wednesday, Jan. 21. It was held in Enright Community Room located in Leah Spratt Hall. With each passing year, the diversity that goes along with MLK Week grows with various events that take place. Latoya Fitzpatrick, coordinator for the Center for Multicultural Education, feels passionately about the banquet. “We’ve had such great people do great things in the community and at the university,”  Fitzpatrick said. The MLK Drum Major not only stands for participating in marches and speaking up when injustice is taking place, but also for being a leader in your community. “You can be behind the scenes and you can still fight for equal rights,” Fitzpatrick said, before announcing the winners for this year’s MLK Drum Major Awards. Student Breauna Watkins, faculty member Pam Clary and community member Jeannette James were all winners of the 2015 MLK Drum Major for Justice Awards. The award was given to these three individuals who not only were looked at as leaders by their peers, but also as human beings who strive for equal opportunities.  The winners are picked by the Black History Month and MLK Week committee. Upon receiving her award, student Watkins was overjoyed and appreciative that her peers had taken notice of her continuous fight for justice and equality. “I am very excited and humbled to know that people recognize me for things that I am doing," Watkins said. "I am excited to do more work. I tell people all the time, I really want to save the world and I really feel like an incremental change is still a change. Even if it’s small, things are still being done.” Former recipient of this award Dr. William Hedge was one of the speakers present. He spoke of the sacrifices made by Martin Luther King, Jr. “I was not three-fifths of a man in 1965, and I’m not three-fifths of a man in 2015. We have the right to cast a vote for individuals we feel are doing the job for us," Hedge said, quoting the late King. Clary and James are both deeply humbled and honored to be recognized. “There are so many great people that this award represents," Clary said, after receiving her award. Hedge spoke on to acknowledge the three recipients to encourage them to always fight for injustice. “I hope that we use that sphere of influence that we have as individuals, when we see injustice we stand up and say not here, not now, not ever,” Hedge said.

Weddle named director of development

Kim Weddle is currently Missouri Western’s executive administrative assistant to the president. However, as of Jan. 5, her duties will be drastically changed, as she has been named director of development for Western. “When we began our search to fill this position, we described our ideal candidate as one with fundraising experience, a passion for Missouri Western, knowledge of the local community and a warm personality that easily builds strong relationships,” said Jerry Pickman, vice president for university advancement and executive director of the Missouri Western State University Foundation. “Kim embodies all of those traits, and I couldn’t be more pleased to bring her on board.” Weddle has been working in the president’s office since Feb. 2013. In this position, she provides administrative support to President Dr. Robert Vartabedian, organizes special events and serves as secretary to the Board of Governors. As director of development, Weddle will be in charge of the Development Program itself. She will be working for the university, helping to raise private funds that will go into the foundation, and in turn, make scholarships available. According to Pickman, some of the functions of the Development Program include donor cultivation, solicitation and stewardship activities. Pickman also said that Weddle will play a vital role in the future Centennial Capital Campaign. Weddle claimed that she has mixed feelings about leaving her previous position as the president’s assistant. “I enjoy working here,” Weddle said. “I enjoy working with Dr. Vartabedian on a daily basis. But, I’m excited to get back out and really let people know what’s going on with the University.” Weddle exhumed her excitement about going back to advancement. She mentioned that there “is no risk here,” meaning that she knows the job and the people she will be working with, and does not fear that she will have problems with coworkers or the job itself. Weddle also said that she and Pickman make a great team; she is anxious to be working with him again. "I am extremely excited to have Kim rejoin the University Advancement team,” Pickman said. “She will certainly bring value to the development department with her leadership skills, knowledge of fundraising practices and understanding of donor relations." Before her position as the president’s assistant, Weddle worked as executive administrative assistant for university advancement; therefore, she has been doing the job many years. Weddle spoke on what she plans to accomplish as director of development. “I want to grow private donations. I want to communicate what great things are going on here at the university. I want to provide our friends the opportunity to invest in this great institution,” Weddle said. She also mentioned that she wanted to connect alumni back to Western in order to create a sense of pride. Vartabedian also shared a few words about Weddle and her new position. “While I really hate to lose her as my faithful and excellent assistant, this will be a very good career advancement for her and she is quite deserving of such an opportunity,” Vartabedian said.

Inaugural Golden Griffon Invitational a big success, could bring more students

Missouri Western's Speech and Debate program's success over the fall semester has shown that the university is competitive in the argumentative arts.  Now, the program is seeking to use this success to help bring more students to the campus. On Friday, Nov. 14, and Saturday, Nov. 15, Western hosted a Speech and Debate tournament for high school students from 24 different schools across four different states.  The competing students came from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Despite nine schools canceling due to snow, Western still hosted over 300 students at the inaugural Golden Griffon Invitational. Co-director of the Speech and Debate program Sohail Jouya, who is entering his second year at Western, was disappointed in the weather, but believes the tournament was  still very successful. "We had a ton of different students that were really impressed with the campus, really impressed with the organization and the program," Jouya said. "We're glad we had an opportunity to showcase the campus." The invitational featured 12 different areas of competitive speech and debate, including extemporaneous speaking, dramatic interpretation,  Lincoln-Douglas debate and public forum. Jouya explained that many of the competing schools showed talent at the invitational. Nixa High School, located near the Ozark's in Missouri, won the overall sweepstakes trophy; Park Hill, located in the Kansas City Northland, took second; and Millard North, located in Omaha, Nebraska, did very well. Chris Miles, who is currently ranked No. 16 in the country in parliamentary debate with his partner Mike Smith, explains that the Golden Griffon Invitational is not only a way to help out high school programs, but can also be used to expand Western's. "It's one of our big outreach programs to help out local high schools around us, but we also use it as a recruitment tool so that people can see the campus," Miles said. Brent Rosenauer, Western student and debater who helped to run the invitational, agrees with Miles and believes that the tournament's success will help to bring new students to campus. "I think with every growing activity, especially something like debate, the more spotlight you get on successful events, the more people will be willing to come to Missouri Western," Rosenauer said. Jouya explained that many of the competing high schoolers were unaware of Western's existence prior to the invitational. "Some people don't know that this hidden gem is here," Jouya said.  "The fact that we're making it visible is very important and crucial." Jouya believes that the Golden Griffon Invitational will bring an "admissions bump" to the university, and explained that there have already been over 200 students who have expressed interest in debating for Missouri Western.