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An Independence Day to Remember

an American flag against the sky

Happy Independence Day!

This Friday, we as a country celebrate our history of political independence and our desire to govern ourselves as we see fit. In a way, the 4th of July is a foreshadowing of your personal independence day that is swiftly approaching—that is, the day you move in at WSU.

Clearly, independence is a wonderful thing—I love my independence and couldn’t move back into my parents’ house (Sorry, Mom & Dad!)—but you should be careful not fall into these traps and temptations that arise when you are given your much anticipated freedom.

1. You Don’t Have a Curfew

In college, there is no one to say you must be home on school nights by a certain time. You can stay out until 2am if you want to, or even say to hell with sleep and pull an all-nighter. However, a good night’s sleep—and moreover, a consistent sleep schedule– is important for your health. Lack of sleep can negatively affect your attention span, memory, mood, physical performance and even lead to obesity, diabetes and higher susceptibility to infections. Campus life is busy and, of course, you don’t want to miss a minute of the fun but do yourself a favor and get some sleep so you can fully enjoy it.

2. You Can Eat Whatever, Whenever

Without parents around, you can decide to eat pizza for breakfast, get ice cream for dessert every night and never let anything green touch your plate. But it’s important to get good nutrition and limit portion sizes –especially if you are hoping to avoid the Freshman 15. Step out of the line for burgers and fries once in a while and head over to the salad bar for a healthy alternative.

3. You Don’t Have to Go to Class

College, unlike K-12 education, isn’t a government requirement and no one will come after you for skipping classes. Some professors may take role every day and factor attendance into your grade, but others won’t. While skipping a class offers short term benefits–an extra hour of sleep, an early start to the weekend, avoiding a boring lecture—in the long term, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. There is a strong correlation between going to class and achieving a high grade. If you attend class regularly, you will understand the material better, can ask questions and get to know your professor which will help you make contacts and get letters of recommendation.

4. You Don’t Have to do Homework or Study

The same logic applies here: no one will make sure your homework gets done or that you study for exams. College classes may not have homework to turn in every day but they usually have hefty reading assignments and major papers or exams that can make or break your grade. And don’t think that you’ll be able to leave it all to the last minute—procrastination only leads to late night cram sessions that leave you with a half-assed attempt, a potentially passing grade and a weakened immune system. If you don’t do the required work as it is assigned, you’ll find yourself floundering in the class, a situation that definitely isn’t worth a 12 hour Netflix marathon or a weekend of partying with your friends.

5. You Don’t Have to Clean Your Room

Now that you’re out of your parents’ house, there is no one to complain if you never make your bed, drop clothes on the floor, let the trash pile up and forget what a vacuum looks like. This is especially true if you live in a single room. While cleaning and organizing you room does require some effort, it can help you feel more focused and less stressed as well as avoid any health code violations.

6. You Can Buy Whatever, Whenever

Up until now, your parents have probably had some say in how you spend your money, but once you turn 18, legally you are on your own. Your parents can’t access your bank accounts or track all your purchases. But this is not the time to get a giant tattoo or the latest Apple gadget—you should be saving your money for basic needs, school supplies and textbooks. You are also likely receiving credit card offers in the mail and all I can say is BE CAREFUL if you decide to get a credit card. It’s a good idea to start building credit early but on the other, but woe unto you if you use a line of credit irresponsibly as it can swiftly drag you down into the Pit of Despair—I mean, Debt. The WSU Financial Aid Office offers tools and information to help you manage your money.

This list may seem like a collection of juvenile excesses and since you’re adults now, you’re obviously past all that. Well, college offers you the chance to make your own choices but don’t let that freedom lead you to making poor decisions just because you don’t have any adult supervision. Yes, you are the adult now, and with that independence comes the responsibility to live with the consequences of the choices you make.

--Liz Meinders

7 Ways a Res Hall is Totally Unlike Your Parents’ House

Living in a college residence hall is quite different than living in your parent’s house and, of course, you knew that already. However, there are some aspects that you won’t fully comprehend until you move in. And as someone who lived through it, I can tell you that this is really what res life is like compared to your family home.

1. At your parent’s house, you probably had your own room

a woman snuggles into a big bed

but in the res hall you will have roommates–enough said!


2. In a house, you have a bedroom for sleeping, a kitchen for eating, a living room for hanging out with friends etc…


while in a res hall room you have one room for all of the above activities


3. Back home, your neighbors live on the other side of a picket fence

Hidey-ho Neighbor!

but your neighbors live on the other side of the wall in a res hall


4. Before you moved to college, your parents would yell at you for playing music too loudly

but now you’ll be the one asking people to turn their speakers down


5. At your parents’ house, the bathroom is a place of privacy

Bathroom Privacy

while in a res hall a bathroom is, well, just a bathroom



6. Back home, the person to washing machine ratio is about 4:1 with the bonus of Mom’s complimentary laundry service

Mom's Laundry Service

At college, the person to washing machine ratio is more like 20:1

Occupy all the Washers

7. If you are hungry at your parents’ house, you just have to walk over to the fridge


But at college if you want a meal you have to walk across campus to the dining hall

Feeling Peckish

When you break it down, a residence hall is a crowded, noisy crash pad with small bedrooms and not-so-private bathrooms that requires effort and planning to find food. But, it is also the place where you will make many of your friends, get creative with interior design, stay up too late cramming for exams, while away Saturday afternoons with movie-marathons and taste a little independence. It’s an once-in-a-lifetime experience of communal living that will be totally different from living with your parents, yet in the end, your residence hall will become your home sweet home.

–Liz Meinders


The Importance of Preserving Artifacts

16th Baptist Church,

We visited the 16th Baptist Church, rebuilt after the 1963 bombing.

When I was young, I used to think that museums were boring and I suppose a lot of other kids my age did too. But as I got older, I started to appreciate the preservation of artifacts that were part of history.

We visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the its on-site museum. The exhibits were very realistic instead of just using pictures or only one or two actual pieces from the time period. It was like immersing yourself into a 1950s classroom. I think this is a good way to bring history to life. They also had the piece of brick that embedded itself into church-goer Denise McNair’s head during the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Museums can be really interactive. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was limited on interaction but right next to the museum was Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church, which are essentially museums themselves even though the church is still in use today and people use the park for various activities. I think those provided enough interaction just because of the history that happened there.

The 16th Street Baptist Church was the site of a bombing in 1963 and killed four young ladies and one boy and injured another boy and girl. Kelly Ingram Park is the sight of many protests, the largest and most notable one being on the 5th day of the Children’s March in Birmingham. Eugene “Bull” Connor ordered police to spray high-pressure water hoses on people, including children, and to make dogs attack people.

It’s also hard to believe that we were walking in the same places  as Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and every important person in the movement, including the children who marched there (well, they didn’t walk in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute of course since it was built in 1992).

We visited Meridian, Miss. and went to the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) and the Freedom School, but all we had to look at was the overgrown grass lots where the buildings once stood. COFO was a coalition of organizations that encouraged blacks to vote and ensured that no one stopped them from voting. The city of Meridian decided to take the buildings down because they were not well kept and stood empty.

Our tour guide, Roscoe Jones, said that a few a people tried to save the buildings by registering them on the National Historical Society list but they were too late. Jones was a civil rights worker during the movement and still is for issues in the Meridian school system. Meridian schools are placing young kids under arrest for insignificant things like the wrong color socks with their uniforms.

It’s important that we preserve artifacts from history so that future generations learn how movements, laws and social change affect them and how they can go about changing things.

–Jordan Gerard

What Makes Social Change Happen? Courage!

two buttons showing support for the SNCC

Members of SNCC wore buttons like these to show their support for civil rights equality.  Image credit:

Throughout the course of this trip, we’ve met some pretty amazing people with amazing stories of what it was like living in the 1960s. The Civil Rights Movement was a hard time to live through for black and white people. The violence was staggering and it’s a good thing that Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other leaders told people to be nonviolent.

It must take a lot of courage to be able not to defend yourself when someone is hurting you. Self-defense is a natural reaction to any situation. We either decide to fight or flight. The veterans we’ve talked to said that some of the situations they were in were terrifying, but in the end it was worth it.

So how can today’s youth and young adults get involved to make social change? It’s actually not that difficult. All you have to do is find something that you’re passionate about, join the corresponding organization, participate and then spread the word about your cause.

A lot of the Civil Rights veterans worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Roscoe Jones, our tour guide in Meridian, Miss. said that adults were not present for most of the committee’s activities. Adults helped guide them, but the teenagers were the driving force.

I think that goes to show that any group of people can have power and make social change. If people stand their ground and keep fighting for they want, eventually it will come.

–Jordan Gerard

Mass Communication: Then and Now

people march down the street to show support for civil rights in 1964

Just like today, people used mass communication to organize their rallies and protests. Photo credit:

One of the things that made the Civil Rights Movement operate well was the media and it’s still effective for today’s movements.

They had newspapers, photographers, and the radio, all of which were good at motivating people. The newspapers provided full stories and accounts of nearly every event that happened in the civil rights era. They added a layer of realism to the printed word by interviewing the people that were present at the events.

Sarah Collins Rudolph, a survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and sister to Addie Mae Collins who did not survive the bombing, she was quoted in the newspaper, “Right after the explosion I called my sister…I said—I called about three times—‘Addie, Addie, Addie.’ Addie didn’t answer.”

Journalists were also in a dangerous situation when they went into the field to get the stories and witness the events. One thing I have found interesting on this trip is that the addresses of people were included with people’s names. It seems like a dangerous thing to write in the paper because many places were bombed during the movement by the Ku Klux Klan. Actually, they included addresses to let people know where to join up with the person and organization. Often, it would be a place of business so that homes would be safer from the KKK. To me, it seems like a big risk to take, but it was necessary so that the movements could gain more people.

And even more powerful than the printed word is the photograph. Photographs evoke a reaction and put many layers of realism into one medium that is viewable by the mass audience. The great things about photography in the 1950s and 60s were the inexpensive cameras and processing that made it possible for the average person to take photographs. The end result was a massive collection of iconic photos. The content of the photos ranged from lynchings to water hoses to important people. It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes and after looking at the entire Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, you understand how people felt during the movement.

Radio was very popular as a form of communication, news, and entertainment. It could be argued that the voice is even more powerful than the photograph. It was the widest used medium of mass communication. DJs during the movement appealed to kids because of their choice of music and because they were able to connect with the kids who listened. DJs also spoke in codes that told kids where and when they were meeting for marches and rallies.

Today’s mass communication includes a few new technologies such as computers and social media. Social media like Facebook and Twitter is the new way to organize and motivate people. Events and movements get thousands of followers and even attention from people in other countries. It’s a way to share ideas among a large group of people and it’s very effective. Imagine if the Civil Rights Movement had Facebook and Twitter.​

–Jordan Gerard

The Makings of a Grassroot Organization

hands form a circle in the grass

Photo credit:

We hear the term “grassroots movement” or “grassroots organization” thrown around a lot but have you ever wondered what it takes to get the grassroots growing? Well, when we visited the Highlander Research and Education Center, we learned how people make these types of movements come together. Susan Williams and Kira Sims, the wonderful education team at Highlander, told us about five methods that are very effective for solving problems and moving people.

The cool thing is that people use these methods subconsciously and they never knew that there was a name and definition to match what they are doing.

The first and most popular method was popular education–that is, educating the general population about social injustices and ways that they can improve society. Popular education combines people’s experiences to develop action strategies for positive social change, according to Highlander. Everyone is a teacher, a learner, and “everyone contains within them the seed to make change.” People use this method all the time to talk about issues affecting them and then someone else responds about how they handled it and soon the issue in question has a solution.

The second method was cultural organizing, which is the practices of individual cultures that “help move them forward, work together with others, build bridges, celebrate and inspire action.” I think this is key to solving cultural differences in communities; we need to understand that two cultures can work together for the greater good.

A third methodology is language justice. Language is how we communicate with others, but we do not all speak the same language or even a common language. “Multilingual spaces allow language to be used democratically and it’s a tool of empowerment” so that ideas can be moved forward.

The fourth method was intergenerational organizing. People of all ages have different experiences but similar ones so this method takes advantage of what each generation has to offer. In this way, it “unites the lessons from the past, the power of the present and dreams for the future.”

The final method is participatory action research (PAR). This method challenges the belief that only research professionals or those with a higher education can have knowledge and accurate information to overcome problems. But actually, if you have knowledge of any kind, it can be used for anyone’s benefit to solve problems.

And that is how grassroots organizations begin their movements, by methods of organizations and idea sharing.​

–Jordan Gerard

And So Our March Begins

A group of college students and faculty pose together in front of a bus

This is our group who will taking this journey down South but also back in time to learn about the Civil Rights Movement.

Today was our first day on the bus for the “Tracking the Civil Rights Movement” travel study. Our goal is to spend two weeks in the South (Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi) and enhance our knowledge about the movement by visiting places like Jackson, Mississippi and Birmingham, Alabama, and to speak to veterans of the Freedom Summer of 1964. A good part of the day was spent sleeping and chatting with new acquaintances. However, our time was not wasted and we got to learning right away.

We watched two videos, one of which was about middle and high school students marching to jail in Birmingham, Ala. The title was “The Children’s March” and for those who do not know the history well, it has great detail about school-aged children leaving school and marching to Birmingham to protest segregation. Adult supporters of the Civil Rights Movement called the children the “secret weapon” because the adults were nearly out of options to claim their civil rights. Over 1,000 kids marched to Birmingham to talk to the mayor about segregation and most of those kids were arrested and spent up to two weeks in jail.

What really mind-boggles me is how adults sent innocent children to jail and also sprayed a powerful jet stream of water and let loose dogs to bite those in the groups gathered in Birmingham. I give credit to those protesters that showed restraint and were non-violent during the protests. I think that was the turning point of the movement. If nothing had been done in the ’50s and ’60s for civil rights, those same children– who would be adults themselves today– would probably be experiencing the same kind of unfairness today. When children start to get involved in serious and dangerous matters such as the path that the Civil Rights Movement took, that’s when you know things are very, very complicated and situations have gone terribly wrong.

For the rest of the trip, the sites, videos and veterans looks to be very insightful and hitting us “in the feels.” We have our own veteran of the Freedom Summer of 1964 traveling with us. Joe Morse, is a Winona native, and traveled down south when he was a college student at St. Mary’s University. He has already provided us with many stories of his experiences and taught us a few freedom songs, which are songs that African Americans and Freedom Summer volunteers would sing when protesting.

We are taking the same path that many college students and young people took in 1964 and our purpose is to remember the veterans and those who fought for civil rights and to make sure that those civil rights standards are still in place for today’s generation.

–Jordan Gerard

Graduation: A Bittersweet Realization

View of campus from Garvin Heights

It might seem as though the summer is moving too slowly, but you’ll be arriving here soon enough.

This weekend wraps up the last of the high school graduations and I just want to say congratulations to all you 2014 graduates. Graduation is an achievement to be proud of and it adds a final push to the behind the momentum building up as you eagerly look forward to registration, move-in day and your first year of college. As a Facebook group admin, I’ve been seeing posts recently about how you wish it was August already, how you can’t wait to meet new people and begin your college careers. I remember writing those posts myself three years ago; I couldn’t wait to leave Marshfield behind and start fresh.

But amidst all the excitement, I want you to think about the other thing your high school graduation marks—that this is the last summer you will have in your hometown with all your friends. This will be the last summer where everyone you know is in the same place at the same time and you are all on the same page. After you start college, you and your friends will go to different cities, your winter and spring breaks may not overlap, you’ll each get a whole new group of friends whom your high school friends won’t know and a new set of experiences they won’t relate to.

You may be thinking, “But that’s during the semester. We’ll still have our summers and it will be just like before we left.” Maybe it will be like that for you—I hope it is—but, in my experience, it isn’t so simple. Summers are filled with jobs and internships and summer classes. Before you even realize it, all your days will be accounted for and a fun weekend get-away with your BFFs keeps getting rescheduled and pushed back from June to July and then to August as mine has this summer.

So take it from someone who knows how you feel but has a little more perspective– don’t wish the days away too quickly. You may feel like you are stuck idling in neutral when you really just want to floor it but take the time to cruise around your hometown. Take in the sights, sounds, smells you’ve experienced these last 18 years because soon enough you won’t have their comforting familiarity. The same goes for your friends. Take time to see your friends, laugh and play and enjoy their company as much as you can because come fall, you won’t be seeing their faces every day in the hallways or across the lunch table. I admit it is a bittersweet realization, but an important one nonetheless, as you still have the time to make this a summer full of memories you will always remember.

–Liz Meinders

Ready to Take a Test?

It’s Finals Week and students all across campus have been studying for tests, taking tests or breathing sighs of relief after tests. But here is one test that doesn’t require any studying and is actually fun to take!

Women’s Books to Prison Project

A quote by Angela Davis: "We have to talk about liberating minds as well as linerating society"

Photo borrowed from:

This semester in our Women and Gender Studies class: Power, Privilege and Gender Studies, we learned about the prison industrial complex, the increase in the U.S. prison population over the last twenty years across the United States and the disproportionate incarceration of people of lower socio-economic status and people of color. The United States is about 5% of the worlds’ total population and yet we have 25% of the world’s prison population.

During the semester, a supervisor of the Books to Prisoners Project “spoke” to our class via Skype teach us about the efforts that her organization is making to send high quality, educational and empowering books to prisoners who may not otherwise have access to the reading material due to cuts in prison library budgets. The Seattle-based project inspired our small group to get into contact with the Women’s Prison Book Project in Minneapolis, an organization that has worked to donate books to women and transgender individuals in prisons in Minnesota since 1994.

According to the Women’s Prison Book Project’s website, of the 2 million people in prison in America, 150 thousand of them are women. Of those 150 thousand, 80 percent of women are locked up for non-violent crimes like prostitution, shoplifting, fraud and drug-related convictions. The majority of women that are in prison for violent crimes, were convicted for defending themselves or their children against abuse.

This week we are working to collect high quality books for the Women’s Prison Book Project to send to prisoners who need them. We have collected books with an educational purpose– specifically dictionaries, technical skills books, self-help and women’s health books. The Women’s Prison Book Project spends roughly $300 to $400 per week on postage to send books to the prisons where they will be used. Our group will have a table from 11am-4pm on Tuesday, May 6 in the Kryzsko Lower Hyphen if you would like to donate your textbooks or any money for postage.

–Lauren Koch