Nothing is more detrimental to the growth of a university than the town it's located in. The importance of the relationship between Missouri Western and St. Joseph is what Dr. Mark Laney spoke about at this year's Eggs & Issues. Laney is the president and CEO of Mosaic Life Care and has held the position since 2009. Himself and his wife, Mary Margaret, are co-chairs for Western's Centennial Capital Campaign. Laney began by speaking about the importance of higher education, and how that importance was instilled in him from a young age. "I grew up in a family where, the most important thing in the family, the most important gift you can give your children is higher education," Laney said. "Back then, it wasn't common to have a college a degree. But I remember vividly being in elementary school and the question wasn't whether or not you were going to go to college, the question was what graduate school are you going to go to. Because that's how engrained the beauty and the value and the gift of higher education was in my family." He believes the importance of higher education lies in what it does for the student overall. "College is fun and there's so many activities, but really it's about becoming an educated citizen," Laney said. "It's really about preparing you for critical decision making. It prepares you to be a better, well-rounded person." He transitioned into stating the importance of an existing relationship between a university or college and its surrounding town. "But, it's not only about the individual, and it's not only about the family, but it's also about the community," Laney said. "Let's think about what would St. Joseph look like if, 100 years ago, the community had not raised the money to build the buildings for the college. What would we look like? It would be a very different picture." Laney noted the differences between what St. Joseph was like over the last 100 years to what Missouri Western could be over the next 100 years. "So, what's the next 100 years look like? It's going to look different," Laney said. "I think higher education is going to have to reinvent itself." He emphasized that people should be encouraged to pursue a degree, regardless of age or occupation. "One of the other things that we should appreciate about Missouri Western is that, it's not just about high school seniors graduating and going off to college," Laney said. "There's many non-traditional students at Missouri Western. There's many people who go back to college as an adult...One of the things that we should do as citizens...we should support those individuals that want to go back to college and want to better themselves, because not only does that help that individual, but it also ultimately comes back as a blessing." Laney announced that Missouri Western and Mosaic Life Care have teamed up to create a new major, Health Population. Missouri Western will be the only higher education institute in the nation to provide that study as a major. He went on to discuss the importance of the nursing program on campus, and its value to the local health facilities and hospitals. "We have a wonderful nursing school," Laney said. "That's one of the blessings of our community in that, if we didn't have a nursing school at Missouri Western, I don't know what we would do at Mosaic. We would be a ship without a paddle...virtually all of our nurses come from Missouri Western." In closing, Laney reiterated how important the relationship between Missouri Western and St. Joseph is to the success of both the university and the community as a whole. "It comes back to the boat and the sailor," Laney said. "The boat is St. Joseph; it's comfortable, it sits in the harbor...it's a good boat...we're all in the boat together. But, boats were never ever made to sit in the harbor. They were made to sail, they were made to venture out. They were meant to go some place where they were not built. What do you have to have? You're going to have to have a paddle and have to have a sailor. Missouri Western is our sail...it is the sail that lets us reach our full potential. It is the sail that allows us to go places that we could never go by ourselves. Together, we're better. Together, we can venture out of the harbor."
It’s the thing that young girls dream to be and what young boys pretend to be— royalty. Missouri Western crowned King Connor Samenus and Queen Ljubica Basic as the 2015-2016 Homecoming Royalty during the football pep rally Friday.“Words cannot describe how I feel right now,” King Samenus said, moments after being crowned. “I was among such a great court and I was just happy to be here.” Queen Basic describes feeling similar to the King. “I don’t think I can really describe it,” says Queen Basic, through flurries of cell phone photographers. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before.” Though King Samenus expressed that he felt calm and happy while awaiting the results, Queen Basic had a completely different thought. “I was thinking, ‘I’m just gonna tell myself that I’m not going to get it, but that’s okay because I was on homecoming court,’” says Queen Basic. “So yeah, I was freaking out.” WAC Homecoming Co-chair and 2014-2015 Homecoming King Tony Dougherty, though sad to relieve the crown to his successor, believes that the night went well. “It looks nice in here; people were excited,” former King Doughtery said, while glancing at the crowds of students swarming for pictures. “This event was a success.” SGA's unofficial Homecoming advisor Jessica Frogge agrees that the event and the week as a whole was a success. "I'm absolutely exhausted, but really, I think it was all worth it," Frogge said, as the night was coming to an end. "There were so many students who worked so hard to bring everything together." As for the next step for the royalty, the royal pair have entirely different ideas. “I guess it’s just back to being a normal student for me,” King Samenus says, thinking about what his plans are now that he is royal. King Samenus hadn’t much considered what his life might be like after being crowned, but Queen Basic has big plans for Western. “I’m thinking of bringing some kind of community service to Western,” explains Queen Basic. “I’m hoping to include something with breast cancer awareness, since it affects so many people.”
Last Friday, Missouri Western students got to experience a little bit of a 1,500 year old tradition: the Mid-Autumn Festival. Chinese instructor Yiming Liu was excited to share the Chinese culture with students. “The purpose is to promote cultural exchange; I will show something unique about Chinese culture. I like to introduce these unique things to the audience,” Liu said. To start things off, Liu gave a brief history on the festival. The ancient Chinese noticed that the moon had a close relationship with the seasons and agriculture production, so they celebrated the harvest and the moon by sacrificing to the moon during these days. This is a very important time for family and reunions. Families get together and worship and celebrate the moon and the moon goddess. The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth month and is also known as the Moon Festival. The festival included different performances, such as a student read version of the poem “To the Moon Goddess”, written by author Li Shangyn. There were also challenges, such as a traditional Chinese game where guests had to use chopsticks to pick up marbles as fast as they could. Western professor Dana Andrews was a guest speaker at the festival, and he talked about his one year trip to China and his experience. Andrews taught English and creative writing to the Chinese students. He said he had quite an experience and loved it. Andrews recommends that students who want to study abroad prepare well. “Study the language, take the class by native speakers and study your ass off," Andrews said. Liu also performed at the festival along with Fred Weems, who accompanied with guitar. They both sang the "Kang Ding Love Song", which is a very popular Chinese folk song. Food, such asMoon Cake, was also part of the festival. The Moon Cake is very important because it is a symbol of family getting together and celebrating the moon. Liu's favorite part of the festival was “all the students’ performances.” The Mid-Autumn Festival is followed by the Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival. This is also a time for family reunions and is the most important festival. The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lantern Festival, takes place on the 23rd day of the 12th month and goes on into the 15th day of the first month. This year it will fall on February 7-13.
Brian Banks was only sixteen when he had his life and dreams stolen from him by a false accusation. Now in his thirties, more than ten years later, he speaks about what he went through and how he overcame the justice system failing him. On Thursday, Sept. 17, Banks spoke at the “Standing in Your Truth” lecture series put together by Isaiah Collier and Chris Rayle. They have had speakers in the past like Eric Alva, Christopher Henderson, Drew Lynch and Samuel Comroe. Banks was a student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School and had his whole life ahead of him – a rising football star, a good student. He had a verbal commitment to play football at USC only until one day, when a female student accused him of kidnapping and rape, when his life changed forever. Banks will never forget that day. "It was July 8, 2002. A film crew was supposed to shoot a documentary about our football team that day. They didn't show up... so I went to this area with a girl I had known since middle school. We kissed, we made out. Nothing more. Then we parted. By the end of the day I was arrested for rape." Banks was brought to a juvenile detention center. At first he couldn't believe what was happening. "It was unreal. I was just waiting for someone to come in and tell me that everything had been fixed and I was free to go," Banks said. But the news that everything had been a terrible mistake never came. Banks began to realize that this wouldn't be over as quickly as he had hoped. "I suffered extremely in juvenile jail. I kind of gave up on myself," he said. That's when one of the teachers working at the juvenile detention center took Banks under his wing. "After two weeks in juvi, this stranger walked in and said 'I don't know what you're going through but you gotta let it go.'" The stranger's name was Mr. Johnson. "I think his class was social science, but he never actually taught that. In his classroom we learned to discover ourselves, looked at things in ways I never had before. He really made us think," Banks said. Back in good spirits, Banks started "fighting a case that wasn't even mine." He spent one year in the juvenile detention center before his case was brought up to the courts. Still a teenager, Banks would be tried as an adult, and if found guilty would spend 41 years to life in prison. His lawyer advised him to plea no contest, meaning that Banks would neither confirm nor deny the charges and after a 90-day assessment period psychologists would recommend a sentence ranging from probation to six years in prison. This way he would avoid a jury. "She [Banks' lawyer] told me 'You're a big, black teenager; they'll send you to jail for life.'" Despite his lawyer's promise that he would receive probation and positive recommendations from the officials, he was sentenced to six years in prison for a crime he did not commit. "The worst part was the sounds my family made when the judge read the sentence. I never wanted to hear my mom cry like that," Banks remembers. Banks' mother sold her car and house to pay for a lawyer. Despite everything she always stood by his side. "When I was first arrested my mom came in and asked 'Did you do it?' I replied 'Of course not!' She never doubted me. My family always stood by me," Banks said. Then one day, a couple of years ago, Banks noticed that he had a friend request on Facebook from his accuser, and saw this as an opportunity to clear his name. By working with a private investigator, they caught the accuser openly admitting to lying, which resulted in ten years of Brian’s life that he will never get back. When it comes to investigating a case like this, it can be a very sensitive subject. There are certain things to what a police officer should do to avoid false accusations. Yvonne Meyer, the police chief on Missouri Western's campus commented on situations such as this one. “I think training is a big thing, so the biggest thing is that officers have training and an understanding of what they need to do to report accurately and act in the best interest for all parties involved," Meyer said. “Accusations can come in many shapes.” When asked what their reaction to the lecture was, Missouri Western students Rachel Jackson called it “surprising,” while Rasha Andrews called it “inspiring.” When asked what the hopes were that students would take away from this lecture, Jessie Walter, the Center of Student Involvement’s program assistant said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Brian Banks went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons. Now retired, he works in New York where he is a manager in operations for the NFL. He is also a speaker for the Innocence Project, an organization to help clear people who are found guilty for crimes they did not commit. When asked about the experience, Banks said, “It’s not about the experience; it’s your reaction to the experience.”
There are a lot of mixed reviews concerning the concert which was put on by one of MWSU’s social fraternities, Phi Delta Theta, and held in Kemper of the Fulkerson Event Center on Wednesday, Sept. 2. The beach-themed event was coordinated by Phi Delta Theta member Alec Smith and featured DJ Apollo who entertained the students with his “club banger” beats. Phi Delta Theta is the only fraternity on campus to put on an event like this and it marks the third year that Phi Delta Theta has done it. “It shows that we’re a force on campus so basically come check us out,” Smith said. “If anything, it’s a big recruitment tool. We’re the only ones who do something like this; but in reality we’re still Greek and hopefully a bunch of Greeks will be there intermingling with the freshmen.” He hoped to get the new students interested in joining Greek life this way. “It was a giant thing for me when I was going through rush,” Smith said. “Phi Delt had this really fun concert that I enjoyed so I kind of want the same idea. I want freshmen guys to come in and have good time and see that Greek life likes to have a good time, too.” The theme, chosen by Smith, was beach-party social and he explained why. “I just wanted something fun and easy. People can just come in in their Hawaiian clothes, flip flops and trunks and have a good time like a day at the beach. Definitely a fun welcome back to school; a ‘Welcome to Western’ to the freshmen." The music, also chosen by Smith, was mixed by DJ Apollo and is classified under the genre of “club bangers.” “It’s club music. Today’s music mixed with a little bit of old school hip hop rap. It’s gonna get people dancing and moving, it’s gonna be a ‘hey start having fun now type of thing.’” Smith said. “We had the room cut in half this year so it’d be tighter and more compact to really give it that club-type feel.” Also part of the event was a surprise beatboxing performance by Terin Wade, also a member of Phi Delta Theta. "The experience was kinda cool. The mic was hooked up to the DJ’s equipment and he was able to control the frequency so it was a little more crisp," Wade said. Outside of the concert Wade was able to interact with the DJ a bit before it started. “I beatboxed and he actually rapped over it. He’s a pretty cool dude,” Wade said. When asked about his thoughts on the concert Wade said, “It was a pretty good turnout for the most part. A good way to get out of the dorm and go do something.” While some students weren’t particularly feeling the music and atmosphere that night, there still remained those who genuinely had a good time. A common complaint from students who didn’t really enjoy the concert was that there were “people just standing around everywhere not really doing anything.” Among those who enjoyed the concert was student Doug Deering. “It was cool,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting anything big but I liked it. It had a real party feel to it.” Further information on events and happenings with Phi Delta Theta can easily be found on its twitter page @PhiDeltMOWest.