Candidate Shana Meyer makes her argument for VP

Mark Stier and Dr. Judy Grimes are two current western employees that have made it known that they are running for VP of Student affairs. Shana Meyer a employee Fort Hayes State University stated her case Feb. 14 when she held a speech for students and staff in Spratt. Meyer comes in with a strong resume to support her and her main topic was about the opportunities and challenges that come with having a successful Student affairs program. “When I think about the key areas of opportunity and challenges for any campus, I think of three things,” Meyer said. “I think of the people, the places, and the purpose. What are we without the students, and what are students without educators?” Meyer received her education from two different Universities. She received her Doctor of Philosophy, Student Affairs in Higher Education from KansasStateUniversity. In august of 1995 she received her Bachelor of Science, English/Journalism, and Communication Minor at Emporia state University, while also achieving her Master of Science, Counselor Education, and Student Personnel Emphasis from Emporia state in 1997. With the generation changing from different technology and more advanced programs being installed, Meyer said that it is important to have an upbeat and active student affairs office. “In order to effectively serve all of these people and diversity of learners, a vibrant student affairs commission must be able to provide adequate staffing to continue to address the demographic change,” Meyer said. “Today’s students are certainly not yesterday’s students.” “When it comes to challenges and opportunities, the people associated with the university, fortunately or unfortunately present both challenges and opportunities,” Meyer said. “We got technology, returning veterans, increase instances of mental health issues, and simply a new generation that is different than our generation.” Meyer has gained experience working as the Assistant Vice president of student affairs at FortHayesStateUniversity from 2006 to present. She served as a member of the Senior Student Affairs administrative team, collaborating with the Enrollment Management and Student Services Clusters to focus on administrative planning and policy development. She also served as a member of the President’s Cabinet, administratively planning, developing policy, and creating constituency building affiliations with other Cabinet members such as the Vice President for Administration and Finance, Provost, and Academic Deans. Through most of the experience that Meyer has received at FortHayes, she has learned how interact with not only administration but also with students around her campus. Meyer noted that establishing different goals for the program and making sure it goes down the right path has to be one of the main focuses from the student affairs office right now. “I think that we need to know where we are going,” Meyer said. “I don’t think one person will create that so I think it starts with relationship building. I like to look at the politics of a situation and the context of a situation. With that being said, I think we need to have goals laid out and an understanding on where we are going.” The goals that Meyer could set if elected could affect that senate including student senator Travis Hart. Hart said that he understands that whoever is elected VP is important to him because that VP will have a final say on any programs or bills that he or any other senate might want to pass. “I think that the VP of student affairs should work with students and the student government,” Hart said. “To have an open door policy is really important. The VP student affairs have the option to veto legislation and the senate. Recently we have not had anything vetoed from my understanding.” Hart noted that the next VP will be important because there are issues now that need to be handled and the VP of Student affairs will dictate what happens with those issues. “The VP of student affairs also advises student government,” Hart said. “We tell them what is going on around campus and if we ever need help with drafting a policy or creating legislation, it’s best to have a VP in place that has an open door policy.”

SGA prepared for spring semester

The Student Government Association met for their first meeting of the semester on Jan. 14. After a month of recess, SGA is preparing for the spring semester. With the Student Success Act under negotiations, SGA President Jacob Scott is prepared to advocate for students. “Certainly all options are on the table, but I think that as we get back into the semester we will be looking harder at our budget situation and the needs of our students and really trying to come to a consensus as to what to do with this fee,” Scott said. “It’s going to be taken a lot more seriously as we progress more towards an internal deadline on when we will have this whole thing figured out.” Governmental Relations Committee Chair, Travis Hart doesn’t foresee any changes to the fee happening in the coming semester. “We talked more in-depth about the Save Our School Act. We had a good discussion with the administration,” Hart said. “Currently there is no policy put forth by the students or the administration. It seems to my knowledge that there may be no other work to be done on that policy. Hart also said that SGA is committed to working on projects that began before the end of the fall semester. “Right now, in the Governmental Relations Committee we are looking at working on the drug policy,” Hart said. “I’m also personally working on an honor chords proposal, where graduates can wear their honor chords from National Honor’s Society because currently the policy by the university is that they cannot wear honors chords. We as a committee are also looking at changing library hours, in particular the hours during finals week.” Mary Beth Rosenauer, campus advancement chair, wants to see the community and students become more involved in student government. “I would like to, once a month, get more involved with the community and have the community more importantly get involved with us so I think that that will be good.” Rosenauer said. “We are looking to maybe reach out to students. A lot of the times we sit back and wait for students to come to us with ideas but we are going to reach out to students and get some ideas just to see what they have in mind.” Scott agrees with Rosenaur, and would like to encourage students to come to senators with their concerns. “We are certainly open to any suggestions or issues the students may have, said Scott. “We’re going to be committed to assuring that every student dollar is spent wisely and insuring that every student voice that would like to be heard has a fair chance to get their fair say in all of the processes.”

One puff away from a “smoke-free” campus

Missouri Western State University is headed in to the final stages of the tobacco-free policy.
The haze of smoke will soon disappear as Missouri Western forges past other universities' failed smoke-free policies. Dr. Christopher Bond, Western's tobacco implementation committee chair, said he is reviewing every step before the policy goes into affect July 1 to ensure all issues are worked out. He said all universities that implement a smoke-free policy are going to have issues. “This is why we have a task force in place. We have a plan to deal with the 'what if’s' if someone abuses the policy,” Bond said. “We will know what to do if someone is hiding, and smoking behind the dumpsters like they do at Northwest Missouri State University.” There are numerous universities throughout the state of Missouri that have implemented tobacco-free policies and even more are preparing to jump on board. Each university approaches the policy differently with enforcement regulations, some offering cessation courses and nicotine packages. Dr. Robert Vartabedian, Western President, said he thinks the cessation courses Missouri Southern offers students, faculty, and staff are a positive aspect to consider. His main concerns about the policy when implemented are the two e’s: enforcement and education. “Enforcing a policy like this can get complicated; I think most people approach it and say ‘Let’s see how it works out’,” Vartabedian said. “Education is a big one. Anytime you deal with an addiction substance, you need to help it go away.” Missouri Southern has an eight week program in place for students to take online for tobacco cessation. “There are students who pass and fail the course,” Missouri Southern health center director Julie Stamps said. “Its success depends on how bad the individual wants to quit their addiction to tobacco products.” The way in which the policy will be enforced is still unknown at this point. Bond said the enforcement committee will meet next week to look at ways to control this issue. Universities such as Northwest Missouri State enforce their policy voluntarily. They leave its students in charge of reporting the abuse of the policy on campus grounds. “Nothing is written in stone. We will most likely do training such as was done with the Green Dot Program,” Bond said. “Students will most likely go through Student Affairs if constantly caught smoking.” The University of Central Missouri and Western will have their policies go into effect by next school year with the same problems they must address. Jeff Murphy, UCM assistant director of university relations said at this time they don’t charge for nicotine replacement therapy, which includes patches, gum and lozenges. Western will go through the same process and will have to find a new method for paying for the cessation resources after grant money from the MO Foundation for Health (through Heartland) runs out. “We are able to do this because we are part of a grant through CASE (Campus Community Coalitions Advocating Smoke Free Environments) from the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse,” Murphy said. “If that grant goes away, we would have to consider a small charge for the nicotine replacement while we look for other grant funding.” Bond has been working on smoke-free research for the past 12 years. He says he knows what works and what doesn’t. Western's policy strategy is being used by universities such as the University of Missouri- Kansas City and universities in Nebraska and Washington State. Other universities have warned Bond, along with others, of the signs to look for when the policy goes into effect. “You just can’t implement a policy overnight like other universities have done,” Bond said. “We’ve been warned about the loop-holes and how smoking areas are not effective. Western's leaders will meet within the next couple of weeks to discuss enforcement, education and ways to continue the cessation packages for students, faculty and staff.

Vartabedian, Scott toe-to-toe on new fee

This map outlines critical  deferred maintenance costs of Western around campus. Graphic by Chat Hammontree
Student government administration and Western Administration are now at odds over the purpose and appropriation of the Student Success act fee. At the Nov. 16 fee advisory meeting, Student Government Association President Jacob Scott questioned the need for the $75 fee for full-time students when the university has record millions in surplus in reserves. The fee, which was implemented in the fall of 2012, has collected roughly $600,000 to date. “It wasn’t the Save Our Reserve Act. It was the Save Our School Act,” Scott said. Scott, along with SGA members Travis Hart, Lauren Upton and Ashley Stegall were expecting that the money collected would be available for reappropriation after the university did not receive an anticipated budget cut for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. “I tried to be honest with people from the get-go,” Vartabedian said. “We had some major bottom line problems particularly if we were looking at a 12.5 percent cut even without that we still have a major bottom line problem at the university.” Judy Grimes, interim vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, agreed with Vartabedian that the Student Success Act is an important contribution to the university budget and interpreted the act how it was written. “What I don’t see in the act that was passed is anything that says we’re only going to appropriate this money from student fees if all these areas are totally wiped out,” Grimes said. During the 2012 budget crisis, the Student Success Act was passed by SGA to ensure the protection of five programs. The five areas that were to receive funds from the act were Recreation Services, the Center for Academic Support, the Student Success Center, Student Life and Career Services. Scott is now questioning how those funds are being spent since the university budget never received a cut from the state. “The president says that the money we approved will go to the five areas we said it would go to and that is true but the question still remains, what about the money that we pay in our tuition that goes to the previous areas?” Scott said. Scott feels that the SGA has been misinformed as to where and how the money has been spent. “I was told by the university administration that the money that was previously allocated to those five areas was sitting in an account waiting for us to decide how that money would be spent,” Scott said. “Then I got to the meeting on Friday and found out that the money had already been spent in the areas of which I don’t know yet. So I’m waiting to find that information out at the next meeting.” Since the Student Success Act fee was included in the overall university budget instead of deposited into a separate account for SGA to reappropriate, the administration was able to withdrawal its funding from the five outlined programs to focus on university expenses such as deferred maintenance. “Most of the leaders at that time understood that it wasn’t just the anticipation of that cut that troubled us,” Vartabedian said. “That it was millions and millions of dollars in deferred maintenance, enrollment that seemed to be getting smaller with fewer revenues for us, unfunded mandatories, and lot of other difficulties that we were dealing with.” The itemized list of critical deferred maintenance includes Spratt and arena roofing, renovations to Popplewell, Wilson, and Potter and repaving parking lot H. The total cost of deferred maintenance is $4,039,000 and the Student Success Act collected approximately $600,000 during the fall semester alone. If the administration were to use the Student Success Act money for deferred maintenance it would account for 15 percent of the total costs. “We have tremendous deferred maintenance needs on this campus that I don’t know how they are going to be met,” Vartabedian said. “Particularly if we don’t have an ongoing revenue source, which at least the Student Success Act helps us with in dealing with bottom line needs such as deferred maintenance. We have at least $4 million in deferred maintenance that would be in the absolutely essential category.” While Vartabedian considers the Student Success Act fee a solution to some of the university’s reoccurring maintenance expenditures, Scott disagrees that the money should be appropriated to the campus maintenance. “Deferred maintenance issues are a state problem,” Scott said. “That’s a university problem, that’s not a student problem.” The administration and SGA’s interpretation of the Student Success Act differ; however, Scott hopes an end goal will be achieved. “Quite frankly, I don’t think they know what we want; I’m optimistic though,” Scott said. “We can pull through this as a student body and as a university and administration. We can pull together as a cohesive unit and insure that students get what they deserve.” The second Student Success Act committee meeting will be held Dec. 7 in the Presidential Dining Hall located in Blum Union at 4 p.m.

SGA allocates 20 percent to Student Affairs

Annually, the Student Government Association allocates 20 percent of the budget to Student Affairs. According to the SGA Bylaws and Policy Guide the money allocated to Student Affairs primarily funds the Center for Multicultural Education, the Center for Student Engagement, intramural programs and Student Leadership Programs. Judy Grimes, the interim vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, explained the importance of the SGA allocation. “It’s pretty normal in higher education that direct student fees support Student Affairs,” Grimes said. “You’ll see it all over the country and especially in Missouri… the students in SGA wanted to provide in the constitution for a fixed allocation so that there would be some consistency in funding programming for students because it’s really focused on programming for students.” SGA President Jacob Scott said that in years previous to the allocation to Student Affairs funding for the CSE, CME, and the Non-Traditional Student Center “were funded up to the discretion of the SGA president.” Scott wants the student government to play a more active role in the disbursement of the allocation. “Personally, I think that it should go back to the Student Government Association. We can fund the money out to the offices,” Scott said. “I think that we can create fixed allocations within Student Government and that’s something I’m pursuing as SGA president now is to get that money back into the Student Government’s hands.” At the end of the fiscal year, remaining allocation funds are carried forward to the next year. Last year, Student Affairs had a rollover of $95,030.48, bringing Student Affair’s beginning balance to $180,776.95. “We have to keep some rollover there, and we work with SGA to do that so in case say the [enrollment] numbers go down then we don’t collect as much money,” Grimes said. While Grimes highlighted the importance of Student Affairs having a rollover, Scott would like to see the balance given back to the Student Government. “I would like to see that roll back over to SGA. I think that we could do a lot of good things with that money and especially given the fact that Student Affairs already has their own operating budget.” Scott said, “I think we could use that money for a lot of good.” Although the allocation is transferred from the SGA budget, the funds are collected from a student fee. “What happens is you have a Student Government fee each semester… and then of that entire collection of fees it creates what is known as the SGA budget,” Scott said. “Then what was written into our constitution was that 20 percent of that budget would go to Student Affairs which usually equal about $90,000, but of course it kind of depends upon enrollment." To date, Student Affairs approximates the total costs at $122,004.75, not including spring budgets for the CSE and CME.