Getting to class is hard enough when you live in the same town as your college campus. Imagine how much harder it would be to be a dedicated, prompt student if you lived outside of the confines of Saint Joseph. The question of commuting to college or living on campus is a question that a lot of students have to grapple with. [caption id="attachment_15295" align="alignleft" width="150"] Western student Brittany Allen commutes to her classes from Albany, MO every week.[/caption] For most students, the decision is easy, based on being able to determine what kind of college experience they are looking for and their individual financial situations. But for some, the decision is more difficult, especially for college students coming to Western straight out of high school. Most of them have not lived on their own before so it's easy for them to have a misconception of what dorm life or commuting will be like. Missouri Western student Brittany Allen commutes from Albany, Mo four times a week and says that with $300 a month in gas it is better than the housing and meal plans that MWSU offers. With combined meal plan and housing, some costs total up to nearly $5,000 for each semester even before tuition. Although living off campus can save money it does have its disadvantages. “I miss a lot of class because on some days I only have one,” Allen said. “I lose motivation to make the hour drive.” Allen also said that a strategy she tries to use as much as possible is to take online classes. Online classes allow students to get their credits in the comfort of their own home no matter how far away they may be. Another popular method for commuters is to stack classes on only certain days so they don’t have to make the drive as often. With every disadvantage there is an advantage to living off campus though. Aside from saving money many students who rent a house or an apartment like the freedom it provides. Cody Kinnaman, another MWSU commuter, has lived on campus before and says he prefers living off campus. “It’s nice to be able to choose your own roommates,” said Kinnaman “and not have to show an I.D. just to go to your own room when you come in after midnight.” Although living off campus can save you money and give you more freedom, some will say you miss out on the full college experience by not living in the dorms. Missouri Western students Natascha Kracheel said she likes living in the dorms because anytime you are bored you can just go across the hall to find your friends. “I think dorm life is an important experience because if you can live so close to strangers and still manage to get along you’ll learn to be more considerate yourself.” So what are you really paying for whenever you live on campus? It isn’t just the room and food, but the experience to be with so many new and interesting people. Although, with tuition rates only going up and student debt becoming more of a problem each year, we all must decide if dorm life is worth our dollar.
Black History Month at Western is shaping up to be anything but boring. [caption id="attachment_15318" align="alignleft" width="150"] The Marching Cobras, an African American dance team, came to Rolling Hills to celebrate Black History Month. Joyce Stevenson | Staff Writer[/caption] All month long there will be a long list of things to do to celebrate; from cultural movies to a taboo talk event, the Black Student Union and the Center for Multicultural Education are hoping to bring a lot of passion and excitement to the table this year. One of the most exciting events that is coming to campus is accomplished actor Gregory Gibson Kenney who will be performing "Rosa Parks: Please Keep Your Seat." Kenney has performed in such films as "Silence of the LambJackson's: An American Dream" and "The Wonder Boys" as well as many commercials, printed advertisements and theatrical performances. Kenney also operates an organization called "EDUCATE Us" where he travels to schools and colleges performing a 30 minute monologue followed by an optional 15 minute question and answer section. Each monologue he performs portrays a historical figure and their triumphs, trials and goals. Surprisingly, it is not as difficult as one may think to get talent of Kenney's caliber to come to Western. CME program assistant Jordann Barron explains. "Because of how early we plan it, it's a lot easier," Barron said. "Because we are a university and it is educational they are more than happy to come and help out." While most students were at home with their families, CME was already hard at work planning out Black History Month activities. "A semester ahead of time is when we start planning for things," Barron said. "Over Christmas break we were here for two weeks after the students left and that's normally when we do most of our planning." BSU chair of major attractions, Leah Hayes, talks about why she feels Western needs such a large variety of events as well as why they structure them the way that they do. “We don’t want anything to be like a lecture,” Hayes said. “I mean we are students too and we don’t want to go to class and then go to an event that is another lecture. We want it to be fun and we need to learn to progress; we feel like we really need to educate the campus on this and sometimes certain groups of students might feel like they aren’t represented and you know, this is our month to let the campus know we are here and we appreciate our heritage and come and join us in celebrating.” BSU president Tobias Pointer also feels strongly about having Black History Month come to Western. “It’s important so you can get a facet of more than one race on campus,” Pointer said. “I would say that a lot of black and, not necessarily white, but a lot of cultures don’t mesh well because they simply don’t know about each other’s culture; so that’s why we try and have plenty of events out there where we have more than one facet of culture, so you can get to know each other.” One of these events is going to be a game night Hayes goes on to explain. “It’s just like playing a game of Jeopardy and people can win prizes and things like that," Hayes said. These are just a few of the events that are coming this month, for a complete list contact the CME department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816.271.4150. There is also a mass email with a full list of the events to come and informational posters around campus.
Missouri Western’s Spring rush took place last week. Assistant Dean of Student Development Isaiah said that the process in the spring is less formal than that in the fall. He also said that there are advantages to rushing in the fall, rather than the spring. [caption id="attachment_15340" align="alignleft" width="150"] The members of Tau Kappa Epsilon pose for a quick picture during their rush week. The greeks hosted events including a video night, game night and movie night. The TKE's held a dodge ball game and a grill out.[/caption] “If you rush in the fall time you have more time to get to know your fraternity brothers or sisters as opposed to rushing in the spring,” Collier said. “By the time time you get finished with your educational sessions, which tend to last last 6-8 weeks after the informal process, pretty much the semester is over.” Last week all three fraternities recruited new members while only one sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, recruited new members. Unlike fraternities, sororities have a cap for recruitment for an entire year. If the sorority meets that cap, then they can’t recruit in the spring. Clare Hendren, the vice president of recruitment for Alpha Gamma Delta, said thatt he reason she joined a year ago was to meet new people. “My favorite thing about greek life is having a big group of friends that I'm comfortable with that I can go to in any situation,” Hendren said. Alpha Gamma Delta had three recruiting events last week. On monday they had afternoon tea, on Wednesday they had a game night and on Friday a craft night. Hendren said the events were successful and that she was hoping for ten new recruits. “Somebody should join AGD because we are the most eclectic and we have the highest GPA,” Hendren said. “And we have a really strong sisterhood.” Alpha Gamma Delta’s average GPA among it’s active members is 3.23. Phi Delta Theta has a 2.72 average GPA among it’s members. Phi Delta Theta President Ethan Kelley said that it’s the highest among the fraternities. Kelley said there are many reasons why someone should join Phi Delta Theta. “We’re the largest on campus,” Kelley said. “We have the highest fraternity GPA on campus, we haven’t lost any intramural sports in 10 years.” Kelley said that roughly four students were given bids last week. Phi Delta Theta had three events last week. Last Monday they had an informational night, then on Wednesday they attended the basketball game and on Friday they had a video game tournament. “We had a large amount that went out to the basketball game to cheer for the Griffons,” Kelley said. Kelley, who rushed in the fall of 2009, said there are benefits and downsides to rushing in either the fall or spring. “The fall is a lot busier a schedule,” Kelley said. “There’s a lot more going on. It’s harder on your schedule in the fall.”
Discussions about a Missouri House Bill have left university faculty with concerns. HB 70 would give professors the right to conceal and carry guns on campus during school hours. Western’s faculty have voiced its opinion on whether it agree with the message the bill is trying to achieve. Dr. Robert Vartabedian, university president and Dr. Robert Bergland, Faculty Senate president both stand in opposition of HB 70. Bergland said he wouldn’t like to see anyone carry firearms on campus outside of campus security. “There are more chances of things going wrong, than there would be a chance of guns serving as a deterrent,” Bergland said. Faculty’s been portrayed as educated, intelligent individuals who are stable enough to handle guns on campus said Representative Mike Kelley (R-Lamar). He said he knows of faculty who hide the fact that they conceal and carry on school grounds illegally. The bill would relieve them of hiding the guns. Dr. David Tushaus, professor of legal studies, said he stands in opposition of HB 70. He said he doesn’t know of any legitimate research that supports allowing guns to be carried by teachers while in school. “In fact, more research is needed on effective ways to reduce violence,” Tushaus said. “I am not convinced more guns make us safer.” In recent years, most shootings that have occurred in the United States are in gun-free zones which happen to be schools. Dr. Steven Greiert, chairman of the history department, said he supports the bill and believes faculty with proper training and responsibility should be given the chance to conceal and carry on campus. “Let’s face it, a lot of people doing these school shootings are mentally ill,” Greiert said. “We can’t prevent everything that happens in the world, but if we have trained people then they should be allowed to carry.” The faculty members who were interviewed were in agreement that they don’t see the need for guns on campus. Dr. Edwin Taylor, assistant professor of political science, said as a faculty member he also doesn’t support the bill. He said he doesn’t own a gun and doesn’t have any intentions on buying one if the bill passes. “Arming faculty members would do little to improve the safety of the campus community and would only increase the probability of gun related accidents,” Taylor said. The Faculty Senate hasn’t met with Vartabedian to discuss the matter of allowing guns on campus during business hours. Bergland said that if the bill progresses out of committee, then he thinks there would a vote from the faculty to either support or oppose the bill.
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.