Western implements new parking regulations

With a new year comes change and new responsibility; Western’s Police Department has implemented additional parking fees in order to counteract individuals that accumulate multiple parking tickets per semester, with changes taking effect in the Fall of 2016. Currently the ticket fee is $25 per parking violation. Once a student has accumulated over 10 parking tickets in a semester, a $50 fee will be added onto the student's account. The student will also be required to meet with the Dean of Students for further disciplinary action. Only one student during the 2015-2016 school year accumulated enough parking violations to result in the student's vehicle being towed. Western Police Chief Yvonne Meyer feels that the additional fee will prevent students from repeating parking offenses.  A full list of all parking violations can be found at https://www.missouriwestern.edu/policedepartment/rules/ and in the parking office on the main campus.

Thomas Eagleton Indoor Pool opens to the public

After months of construction, Western students will start the semester with a splash after the ribbon cutting ceremony officially opened the newly remodeled swimming pool on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Over the summer the Looney Complex underwent approximately $600,000 in renovations; this includes a complete overhaul of the pool interior, remodeling of the locker rooms leading to the aquatic area and the construction of an external entrance to the pool area. For months the fate of Western’s pool was uncertain. With low attendance and a substantial leak in the pool lining, it appeared that money was literally going down the drain while students, faculty and administration questioned keeping the pool open at all. Missouri Western President Robert Vartabedian credits the Board of Governors for their insistence on preserving the pool. “We had recommended to the Board [of Governors] that we move on and convert it into another facility, and the governing board insisted that we keep trying.” Thanks to Western’s recent partnership with the city of St. Joseph and the St. Joseph school district, the pool will remain a fully operating entity. With the new remodel the pool was also officially dedicated as the Thomas Eagleton Indoor Pool, paying tribute to the U.S Senator who pushed for additional funding for the school to install the pool over fifty years ago.    Vice President of Student Affairs Shana Meyer was amazed at the rallied support from the community to preserve the pool, despite its poor conditions. “We began this process several years ago in the spring of 2014. At that time, we were facing a lifeguard shortage, pool usage was at an all-time low and the pool was leaking an astronomical [amount];five gallons of water every 45 seconds,” Meyer said. The Eagleton Indoor Pool is one of only two public indoor pools in the St. Joseph community. St. Joseph Mayor Bill Falkner felt the renovations to Western’s pool will be a great service for both the students and the community as a whole. “Our community deserves this pool. We needed an indoor pool, and it was obvious that the city couldn’t build one, so it only made sense to partner [with the university],” Falkner said. “We all knew the importance of what this pool means to this community.” The city of St. Joseph has signed a five-year contract with Western to make annual payments to offset operational costs of the pool, in exchange for community access. Eagleton pool is now open to the public for a minimum of 30 hours per week with a visitors fee of $4 per visit for all community members. The Eagleton pool will also serve as an indoor practice facility for the St. Joseph Pony Express high school swim team. An honorary plaque and several display cases filled with memorabilia honoring Senator Eagleton will also remain on display throughout the Looney Complex.

SGA holds first meeting

As many students came back for their first day of classes on Monday, Missouri Western’s Student Government Association also came back for its first meeting of the 2016-2017 school year. The meeting, which occurred at 5:30 p.m. in Blum 220, was not the Guy/Samenus administration’s first SGA meeting, however. The new administration convened the last SGA meeting of the spring 2016 semester. The meeting covered a variety of topics during the meeting. SGA President Alec Guy said the meeting dealt with things that needed to be dealt with. “They’re kind of housekeeping legislation, so things that we needed to go through and address that hadn’t necessarily been before,” Guy said. Picking up a piece of legislation from last semester’s final meeting, SGA approved the Electronics Student Club, a group for electronics and technology majors to network. Aside from approving legislation, several pieces of legislation were introduced at Monday’s meeting. One proposal was to approve the SGA budget for this year, which includes an increase to the St. Joseph Transit Program which may be seeing rising costs in the coming years due to a new policy implemented by the city of St. Joseph. Another change in the SGA budget came with the addition of $6,500 for the year-long rental of the Student Suite at the renovated Spratt Stadium. SGA will use it first to view a home game, but then will award the suite out to other groups of students to use the room for the remainder of the year. Other pieces of legislation introduced would remove policies which have largely already been in replaced. For instance, after the previous administration of Ida Haefner revamped and revised the collection and use of student fee money collected under the Student Success Act (SSA), a bill introduced at Monday’s meeting would remove the old policy from the books. Another bill would remove SGA’s Scholarship Policy for its executive board as that policy has been replaced by a payroll system. Lastly, a bill would remove the Jacob Scott Award Procedure since other leadership and service awards have been established in its place as well. Executive Vice President Connor Samenus, who ran the meeting, said it went well. “I thought last night’s meeting went really well and a lot more effective than the first meeting -- of course, that comes with time. I thought the legislation went over really well and the senators were attentive.” President Guy felt likewise. “I think it went well,” Guy said. “There were definitely a few hiccups just because this is our first meeting and kind of getting back in the swing of things, but other than that I thought we covered all the bases that we needed to.” SGA meets every Monday at 5:30 p.m. in Blum, but will not be meeting next Monday because of Labor Day. The next SGA meeting will be on Sept. 12.

Western’s Board of Governors kicks off the year with big renovations

Western’s Board of Governors hit the ground running with their first meeting of the 2016-2017 academic year, Thursday, Aug. 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Blum 220. Vice President of Student Services, Shana Meyer gave a brief update on campus renovations. Including the remodel of the Center for Student Involvement and International Student Services offices, as well as renovations to Potter Hall. An open house is scheduled for Sept. 2, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., with an additional presentation at noon. The board also unanimously voted to name the university's newly renovated pool the Thomas Eagleton Indoor Pool. Dedicated to U.S. Senator Thomas Eagleton, who helped the university with a variety of campus renovations, including the installation of the pool over fifty years ago. Missouri Western President Robert Vartabedian was enthusiastic about the board agreeing to dedicate the pool to the late senator, as the the new sign for the pool had already been installed. “I’m glad you all agreed, because the letters are already up. I would have spent a lot of time tonight pulling those down,” Vartabedian joked. After the discussion on the dedication of the pool, the board reaffirmed their ethics policy, defining the moral obligation to identify any personal conflicts of interest a board member may have throughout the year. The board also welcomed Kim Sigrist as the president’s new executive associate and the new recording secretary of the board. Prior to taking on her new position in July, Sigrist worked as an administrative coordinator in Western’s Athletic Department. Vice President of Financial Planning Cale Fessler presented a reevaluation of the university insurance plan that will  provide Western employees vision, dental and health care at a lower rate. The university plans to switch their dental coverage from Blue Cross Blue Shield to MetLife, saving a little over two percent. The university health, vision and life insurance policies will remain the same. The Missouri Western Board of Governors will meet again on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 1:30 p.m. in Blum 220.

Child Abuse Conference

The fourth annual conference on child abuse education, prevention and investigation was held last Wednesday and Thursday, April 21 and 22 in Spratt Hall. The conference is hosted and sponsored by several departments on campus including the Regional Law Enforcement Academy, the Western Institute, the Department of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Social Work, the Department of Nursing, the Department of Education, and the Northwest Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center. Professor of legal studies, David Tushaus, says the sessions were also sponsored by the JAYC [Just Ask Yourself to Care] foundation, which helps children and families in need of healing after experiencing trauma. Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was abducted at 11 years old and wasn’t reunited with her family until 18 years later, started the foundation as a way of providing support, protection and healing to those in need. “It is helpful for people in the profession, but also for people who have suffered similar types of abuse and neglect issues, to be able to hear about [Dugard’s] story,” Tushaus said. The main goal of the conference was to educate the general public on the issue of child abuse and neglect. Kip Wilson, associate professor of criminal justice, says there were several sessions that were open for all students, faculty and community members. “They’re designed to have some for educators, some are for lawyers, some are for social workers, some are for law enforcement and some are more for the medical side of things,” Wilson said. Tushaus explains why the sessions are important to the criminal justice department. “A big part of the investigation part of the conference has to do with law enforcement, and law enforcement’s role in investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect,” Tushaus said. The conferences are put on each year to educate Missouri Western students, staff and the general public on the importance of the investigations of child abuse and neglect. “We recognize that it’s important that these cases be investigated properly both to preserve evidence and to avoid re-victimizing the victim,” Tushaus said. The sessions are also a way of shedding light on a subject that Psychology Professor Teddi Deka says is prevalent in all societies. “It’s really important that other people that are involved with children are aware of recognizing child abuse or child neglect,” Deka said. Some resources community members can provide to a child who is suffering from neglect are making sure the child has food, getting resources to the parents and providing education for parents and their children. Deka stresses the importance of parenting education classes in high schools and for the general public as a helpful step in the prevention of abuse and neglect in children. “I think parent education is the number one prevention,” Deka said. “We need to educate parents about how to be better parents.” Wilson explains that another prevention of child abuse involves being more aware of the subject and taking the steps in reporting cases and providing adequate investigations. “Part of it is children are almost treated as objects or possessions, and so we investigate them completely different than we would some other crime,” Wilson said. He gives the example of when people notice a dog left on a chain without food or water and calls it in, the criminal goes to jail, whereas when children are in the situation of being neglected or abused they may not even have an investigation. At the keynote presentation, which took place on Wednesday and was free to the public, the statistics of child abuse cases not being reported were shown. In 1999, 3.244 million children reported abuse or neglect, and only 28-33 percent of these cases will get investigated. “I think it’s important to report it,” Wilson said. “If [the community] feel that something is wrong then they try to make sure that somebody looks at it, or if they can’t intervene themselves, make sure that somebody else will intervene.”