Rush numbers released

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The second week of class is over, which also marks the end of rush and recruitment week for Western’s two fraternities and three sororities.

64 girls and 33 boys received bids from their Greek organization of choice on Sunday’s bid day.

While fraternity Phi Delta Theta (called “Phi Delt”) welcomes 26 pledges, seven new members join Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE).  TKE president Taylor Bryant offers a positive summary nonetheless.

“I’m happy with the amount and quality of the guys we got. The whole week was pretty fun.”

According to him it’s “quality over quantity” and he looks for “ambition, dedication and energy” in TKE members.

“We pride ourselves in diversity as well,” Bryant said.

Phi Delt’s president Colin Rosenow is equally happy about the tunrout of rush week.

“26 news guys makes this the the biggest pledge class since 2010. It was definitely a stressful week – and a big chapter effort. We put a lot of activities and events on, and a lot of actives attended, which definitely helped. I’m very happy.”

Still, Rosenow agrees that numbers don’t define what is a good or bad fraternity.

“Both fraternities are pretty similar. TKE is definitely a competition for us,” he said.

Overall, it is about having a “great Greek community” on campus, Rosenow said.

“The more Greek organizations the better. When Phi Sigma Kappa left campus it changed the aspect of recruitment. A bigger community attracts a bigger crowd of PNMs [Potential New Members]. Less competition is definitely not better,” Rosenow said.

Sorority recruitment leader Caitlin Edwards is happy with the past week as well.

“I thought it was a very successful year, especially with such a small incoming freshman class.”

Sororities Alpha Sigma Alpha (ASA) and Sigm Sigma Sigma (“Tri Sigma”) both have 22 new members while Alpha Gamma Delta (AGD) has 20.

Edwards also agrees with Rosenow and Bryant that it’s quality over quantiy.

“The amount of members in my opinion does not and should not matter. I would rather have five girls who are involved, go to events and run for positions than 500 who join for the social aspect and just to show off the organization letter,” she said.

The same goes for Greek life on campus in general.

“I love Greek life on campus. Having a small Greek life, in my opinion, is more beneficial. I love being able to know everyone in my sorority and the other sororities. It makes our friendships and chapter that much stronger,” she continued.

Although each sorority looks for different aspects in a girl, there are some values they all share.

“[They look for girls] who they can communicate with easily, possess the values of their sorority, hardworking, value school and involvement in high school,” Edwards said as she explained the selection of new members.

Joining a sorority is a great way to get involved on campus, as Edwards explained on last Tuesday’s sorority info night.

“It is a great way to get to know people and make friends. And there are also opportunities to run for positions.”

According to Edwards, it’s worth it to make an effort.

“You get out what you put in and your experience is much more rewarding when you go beyond what is asked and stray away from the bare minimum requirements.”

Western introduces food bank for students

Missouri Western’s campus will be seeing a new addition in the form of a food bank this month.

The food bank is located in Blum 214 and opened on Thursday, September 8. The official ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Thursday, September 24, and anyone is welcome to come.

The food bank will allow students to fill up two bags of food, free of charge. This is limited to twice per month per student. It will be open to full- and part-time students on campus who will need to show their student ID.

The food bank will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. during the entire year. It will be run by volunteers, and anyone is welcome to volunteer including faculty, students and staff.

One of the volunteers and organizers involved is Elise Hepworth, the music director at Western.

Hepworth is no stranger to volunteering. After working with Rotary International and working on projects with Big Brothers and Big Sisters – as well as doing food drives for the food pantry – she is very excited to see the Missouri Western food bank take off.

“The Rotaract club wanted to host a project that was meaningful and impacted our student body.  A food pantry didn’t exist on our campus prior to this project, and we were happy to fill the void,” Heptworth explained the club’s motive.

Hepworth said that Rotaract saw a opportunity to help students and that the food pantry would be a great way to start. Their ultimate goal is  to reach out and to help others.  She can’t estimate yet how many students will take advantage of the opportunity but they will be collecting data over the next six months to see the impact of the food bank.

Western’s volunteers work closely with Second Harvest, St. Joseph’s community food bank. Executive Director Chad Higdon thinks that college students can profit from a food bank as much as people from any other age group.

“Second Harvest finds hunger through all ages and college students are just starting their career and they study long hours. This food bank will be a great opportunity for students to get food, no questions asked,” Higdon said.

Hepworth adds that “Our area has a high percentage of food insecurity, and it carries over into college.”

But volunteering, helping others and “remembering that we are human”, as Heptworth said, is not only giving but also about building a community.

She said the greatest rewards she has gained through volunteering is the “family” she has met.

Part of this family is Mashel Keplinger, a student volunteer.

When asked what advice she might give someone looking to volunteer, Keplinger said “don’t hesitate: go for it.”

Keplinger is the president of Rotaract, which is a branch of Rotary International. Keplinger is also part of the group Lingering Melodies, which visits hospice patients and sings to them.

Another student on campus, Jackie Mott, commented on the food bank.

“It could help both traditional and non-traditional students. People who don’t have a lot of money can go out and get groceries but want to still get their degree... the food bank can help them,” Mott said.

There is often only a main focus on students in grade school and high school or older adults, and college students often get overlooked. While trying to balance school and food, sometimes the need for food gets left behind. This will also be an opportunity for students to get out there and volunteer and get involved.

Cronk: “Gas stations of the future”

E Car 2 of 2
Western is now the proud location of eight top-of-the-line electric car chargers, thanks to the perfect combination of hard work and sheer luck. Funding for the charging stations began as a micro-grant provided to Western by KCPL. Brian Cronk, chair of the psychology department and electric car owner, proposed the original micro-grant to KCPL in Aug. 2014. “[The chargers] would be really good for students from Kansas City who are commuting… or if you have a student who has an electric car and lives on campus, they have nowhere to charge it,” Cronk said. [caption id="attachment_24940" align="alignleft" width="200"]E Car 1 of 2 KCPL covered the nearly $150,000 cost to install eight top-of-the-line stations on campus.[/caption] The stations have received criticism because of their perceived lacking use. However, Cronk reasons that the stations are similar to programs that most institutions already follow. “We don’t have a million people who are in wheelchairs either, but you’ve got to have at least one handicap parking spot,” Cronk points out. After filing the micro-grant, Cronk handed the program off to the administration… or at least he thought that he did. Unknown to Cronk at the time, the Physical Plant Director, Jerry Gentry, was already working with KCPL to construct charging stations on campus. “I worked with Boehringer Ingelheim before [Western] and over there, I was working with KCPL to install electric car charging stations on their campus,” Gentry explains. “So when I came over here, I thought, ‘Well, heck, this would be a good candidate as well.’” Gentry contacted his liaison at KCPL with the idea and was met with support for the project. As the concept developed, Gentry discovered that he was not the only one on campus pushing for the stations. “In that process, I heard that Dr. Cronk had already applied for a grant, so we had that money sitting there,” Cronk said. But, the $3,000 from the initial micro-grant was barely going to be enough to cover startup costs. Luckily, there was a third actor pushing for the cars at the same time: KCPL itself. As part of a larger initiative to increase the prevalence of electric cars, KCPL has been providing funding for electric car charging stations to businesses and organizations within their coverage area. KCPL plans to have more charging stations per capita than any other area covered by energy stations. The company provided nearly $150,000 for the installation and initial operation, which meant that the stations came at no cost to the university. The installation may be complete, but the project still has room to expand. Currently, the Cronk’s original micro-grant is funding the cost for use of the stations; but, that will change in the coming years. “[KCPL] will install card-swipe credit card readers, so everyone who pulls up will… pay for their own charge time,” Gentry details. “A two and a half hour charge usually equates out to less than $2.” Though that phase of the project is more than a year down the road, future-minded people like Cronk are ready for it. “One day, electric cars will be more prevalent than gasoline cars,” Cronk predicts. “Electric car charging stations are the gas stations of the future.”  

SGA Funds Free St. Joseph Transit Rides

The Student Government Association has signed a contract with St. Joseph Transit to provide students, faculty and staff of Western with free public bus rides. Anyone with a valid Western I.D. will be allowed unlimited rides to and from any of the bus stops Transit already routes. Shana Meyer, director of student affairs, explains that though the program has just begun, the system is already receiving a great deal of use. “The program has already been initiated and in fact, a number of the Western housekeeping staff have already begun using the services,” Meyer said. Though the program is new to SGA and Western, the concept was never directly voted on by senators. Instead, program funding was written into the annual budget by SGA Executive President Ida Haefner. "Being the SGA President gives Ida a lot of power when it comes to drafting a budget," Stanton said. "But, senators do still have to approve said budget." Which is exactly what happened at Monday's SGA meeting. The SGA 2015-16 Budget passed by a 15-0 vote with no questions from senators. As per the contract, riders can use the services for free for the 2015-16 school year. If the program is used at least 9,500 times, then SGA will enter into an $11,800 contract to continue the program for the 2016-17 school year. “If we don’t meet that [number of riders], the $11,800 will go back into rollover for that next year,” Haefner said. If the program is not used at least 9,500 times in the coming year, then Transit will not extend the program another year. The $11,800 figure was determined on the basis of $1 per student, per semester. The standard cost of unlimited rides through Transit is $40 per month per rider. As SGA Executive Vice President Brad Stanton notes, no matter what happens with the program, it will be have a positive impact. “It’s actually a really good deal for us because we don’t have to do any of the PR, we don’t have to do any of the marketing,” Stanton said. “Everyone who hears we’ve gotten free St. Joseph Transit is like, ‘You got a really good deal.’” Though the service is beneficial to Western, the program has received some criticism, being a student-funded program that staff and faculty can use without a charge. To use the free bus rides, individuals must present their student or employee I.D. For 50 cents, Transit will deviate from its route and pick up or drop off individuals at any location within the downtown St. Joseph area.

‘Without a doubt the best compromise’

Compromise. That was the theme for the Student Success Act Fee Advisory Committee, as their April 6 meeting ended with major improvements to the Looney Complex and Blum Student Union being agreed upon. With the end of the semester looming, the committee needed to come to a consensus before the end of the year. The committee entered the meeting with two proposals on the table. One proposal from Dr. Cale Fessler, vice president for financial planning and administration, called for additional recreational space for students which would fulfill a major requirement of the 10-year master plan that the university is following to improve the campus. “When we first started this, we had a certain set of information; then we had the master planners on campus and they were in every room and they looked at our campus and had all kinds of people with all sorts of expertise looking at everything,” Daffron said. “Their conclusions were a number of things, but one big thing was the need for recreation space for students… I do feel very strongly that its important if you do have a master plan and if you have all that information that comes with a master-plan… we really need to use that to make decisions, because there is no way that any one of us could know all the things we get from a master plan.” The other proposal, which was from SGA Senator Brian Shewell, focused on a continuous plan to use the funding on five areas around campus. During the two-hour committee meeting, committee members heard the proposals from Fessler and Shewell. Committee members peppered both presenters with questions. Fessler provided the committee with more concrete figures as to the potential cost of upgrading the current Looney pool space into either an improved pool or a multi-purpose recreational facility with three basketball courts and an indoor evaluated walking track. The committee also was considering a previous SSA fee purpose, which was originally approved during Jacob Scott’s SGA administration: a remodel of the second floor of the Blum Student Union. The project that was originally approved was to use three years of the $224,000 per year to improve the second floor of Blum. The first year worth of Blum funding was planning to remodel the space to make it more inviting to students. The second year worth of funding was meant for paint and carpet in the same space. The third year was intended for new technology and furniture. After hearing the arguments for each of the three sides and deliberating for over an hour and a half, Daffron proposed a compromise to the group to fund both the student union project and the recreational space project. The following is an email from Daffron to the committee members detailing her proposal. “I move that the $224,000 in the SSA funds from fiscal year (FY) 2014, the $224,000 from FY 2015 and the balance of funds from FY 2015 (approximately $80,000) be split between the Blum remodeling project and the Looney recreation space project to be consistent with the recommendations from the MWSU Master Plan. The FY 2016 funding will be used to complete those two projects with a three-year total cap of $448,000 for the Blum project and FY 2016 allocations of $70,000 for Baker Fitness Center and $60,000 for Esry Student Health Center.” On the strength of a 4-1 vote by the committee, Daffron’s proposal to split the already collected funds for the two projects as well as next year’s totals was quickly passed. Student representative Mary Beth Rosenauer was pleased with how quickly this decision was reached and the speed that the committee reached a consensus once the proposal was floated. “I think the the idea just came to us very quickly near the end (of the meeting),” Rosenauer said. “I think it seemed very obvious what needed to be done and that’s why it happened so quickly." With this funding, Blum will get its remodel, paint and carpet, but the new furniture and technology with have to be put on the back-burner. The Looney project will be able to be completely funded under this plan. The Daffron proposal earned the support of all three administrators with Daffron, Jerry Pickman, vice president of university advancement and executive director of the MWSU Foundation, and Dr. Kathleen O’Connor, dean of professional studies. The proposition was also able to gain student support in the form of Rosenauer. “I think it is without a doubt the best compromise that we could have made with all the things that are pending and need to be updated on campus. Things that administration wants, but also handling that with things that the students want,” Rosenauer said. The one nay-vote came from Brandon Grieshaber. “(Summing up) my problems,” Grieshaber said. “One, it had a narrow scope of what it could potentially been done for. Two, it did not address the future of the SSA act. Three, we run into a consistency problem to where these funds could potentially be used for anything up to the discretion of the committee.” SGA Senator Haden McDonald, the third student representative on the committee was unable to attend the meeting because of a class conflict. “In future years, I really think we should have a better plan for how we establish our meetings and how we go about a timeline for establishing the SSA,” McDonald said. The SGA was able to hear the first reading of the agreement on the same night that the committee reached their agreement. On April 13, they unanimously passed the resolution. Now, the primary hurdles remaining for the resolution are a trio of signatures. SGA President Daniel Hager, Vice President for Student Affairs Shana Meyer and Western President Dr. Robert Vartabedian all have veto power on the bill. “I was really pleased with how the committee came together to make this compromise, both with students and administration,” Hager said. “They were very professional and clearly from the beginning were looking to cooperate with each other… In my opinion, this is the best decision for the university and students as a whole.” Meyer was also pleased with the progress of this bill. “I think the proposal that was made had the best elements of everything that was on the table,” Meyer said. Hager and Meyer are both expected to approve the agreement and it should land on Vartabedian’s desk in the very near future.