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#WinonaWinter Photo Contest (Win a Mugby Gift Card!)

winter collage

“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” – Anton Chekhov

So, what do you like to do during a cold winter day?
Go for a snowy walk around Lake Winona?
Sip a latte at Mugby Junction?
Ice skate at the Lake Lodge Center?

WSU wants to know how you enjoy the winter months in Winona! Snap a picture of yourself and some friends doing your favorite snow-tastic activity. Then upload it to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter using the hashtag #WinonaWinter.

Photos will then be added to an album on the WSU Facebook page, where students can “like” images to vote.

Entries can be submitted from Tuesday, Jan. 27 – Sunday, Feb. 1.
Voting will then take place Monday, Feb.2 – Tuesday, Feb. 3.
The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 4.

Oh, and the winning photo will receive a $10 Mugby Junction gift card! So, turn off that Netflix episode and bust out those snow pants for some fun in the winter wonderland of Winona!

Become a PACTivist and Make a Difference

a flyer saying "You can make a difference"

Whether you want to be a PACTivist, a peer advocate or a peer educator, you can make a huge difference in preventing gender-based violence.

Have you ever had a time when you’re really pumped to talk about something, but no one even knows what you’re talking about? For you, it might be your favorite TV show or a good book you’ve just read. For me, my current passion is the RE Initiative. It appears that despite having a successful PSA on WSU’s homepage, as well as a very well thought out and informative blog post on gender-based violence, few students know about the RE Initiative.

At least, this was is the feeling I get because I recently started working for the RE Initiative and every time I told someone about my “totally new and exciting” job, they would simply ask “What is the RE Initiative?” And I guess that is the million dollar question–but I am tired of answering it. So I’m taking the opportunity of exposure that the Internet provides to briefly inform you about what the RE Initiative is, why you should care and how you can get involved.

Overall, the RE Initiative has high hopes of achieving an array of goals by the end of this second semester, but for the sake of time I’ll sum up the organization’s objectives into four major points:

  1. Reduce the amount of gender-based violence and help its victims
  2. Educate the campus on consent and GBV
  3. Create a safe community where people help one another
  4. Certify as many people as possible as active bystanders

No one can argue against protecting people from physical and sexual violence. Helping and respecting others is simply the right thing to do. Not only do you personally benefit from a safer campus environment, but so do all your friends and the people in your classes, and your professors and other WSU staff members.

With such noble and ambitious cause, the RE Initiative needs lots of help to reach out to the entire campus, and this is where you come in. You can make a huge difference in cutting down the number of gender-based violence occurrences on campus for as much or as little commitment as you like. I decided to really devote my time so I am going through training and a semester long course to become a certified peer educator and peer advocate. If you’re really interested in getting involved with GBV prevention, you should apply for a part-time position over at Warrior Jobs.

Even if you don’t have the room in your schedule to be fully trained advocate, or just want something with a little less commitment, you can still help in a really important way. By just attending a two and a half hour training session you can become a certified PACTivist. PACT stands for Prevent, Act, Challenge and Teach, and represents the core steps to ending gender-based violence. The training is fun and engaging, but also intense. The peer educators are incredibly talented. They challenge you to look at a bigger picture and appreciate what it is you have while realizing how big of a difference you can make. This is done through a variety of participation activities. I won’t give too much away, but I will say that these activities are serious and humbling. By the end of the training you’ll not only be glad you attended, but you’ll also want to go out and change the world with your new-found knowledge and insight.

PACTivist training sessions will be held every Tuesday at 6pm throughout February. The exact location is still being determined, and will be announced at a later date. I know that two and a half hours may seem like a lot, especially on a week night, but stopping gender-based violence is crucial and this is how it starts. With one person. Every day women and men of every race, age and sexuality are suffering themselves or from the larger effects of gender-based violence. The harder we work at creating a healthy and safe community, the better chance we have of really helping those in need.

I hope after reading this you consider popping into a PACTivist training session. The world needs more people to step in and help one another, why not be one yourself?

–Hannah Carmack


The Road to a Realistic Resolution

a paved road

When making New Year’s Resolutions or just goals in general, my number one mistake is making goals that are out of the ballpark huge. For example, am I really going to go to the gym seven days every single week? The answer is a definite and capitalized NO. Another time I made it my goal to read all the great literary classics like Ulysses, Anna Karenina and 1984, over the summer. I didn’t even make through one classic novel in the three months.

I have learned that the key to sticking to a resolution is making one that you can really accomplish. Say you’re a C-average student and you want to improve your GPA. Don’t set your goal at getting a 4.0 next semester. Instead, set your goal as completing assignments on time, going to each professor’s office hours, or going to the tutoring center. If you make a realistic goal, you’re much more likely to stick to it.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Make Small Goals Along the WayAnother important part of achieving a goal is making small goals that add up to your final goal. This year, my resolution is to exercise more and eat better. I’ve set small goals such as beginning with running only one mile at the gym and will work my way up to 10 miles. When you achieve your small goals, the big goal will seem a little less looming.
  2. Make yourself accountable.Sometimes we need more than our own sheer self-motivation to stick to a resolution. I know I certainly do. So make yourself accountable to those around you. Tell you mom to call you once a week and ask how your goal is coming along. Ask your roommates to encourage you in your goal. Simply having others around you to remind you of your resolution will give you the extra motivation it takes to stick to it.

This year, reach your goal by creating a realistic one–that is, one that seems achievable and maybe even enjoyable. Good luck!

–Leah Dobihal

How I Spent My Winter Break

crossing "nothing" off a to-do list

Yep, this was me over Winter Break!

The second semester of my freshman year has started, and after a month away from Winona, I can honestly say I missed this campus. Connecticut was great and all, but nothing beats the feeling of freedom I get when here at WSU. I am sure many of you felt a similar sigh of relief to back too.

In my last post, I mulled over what home would be like since I’d been away for a long semester. Would my friends still be my friends? Would I be able to fit back in with my family?

The answers to these questions—yes!

After being in airports for over 12 hours, I journeyed another hour to go see my several of my friends perform in The Nutcracker Ballet staged by my town. I was surprised them backstage–last time they saw me my hair was bright red, not black!–and caught up on everything while helping them through costume changes.

Right after the performance, I picked up another friend and headed to the mall to meet up with a groups of many other friends who, apparently, had been missing me terribly. They rushed me as soon as they saw me and I felt surrounded by memories and old friendships once again. I didn’t even get to put a word in as they greeted me and told me all about their post-high school lives.

My first day back was fantastic, but the rest of my break was less exciting. The fact of the matter is no one would hire me for a month and I didn’t have any means of getting around. So, like I’m guessing many of you did, I spent my days on the couch! I caught up on my TV shows and played some video games which was still a nice break from the hectic pace of school.

Another thing that dampened the excitement of break a bit was that my friends were either still at school during my break or working so I couldn’t hang out with them as often as I would have liked. I also didn’t have a car, having left mine in Minnesota, so I had to share with my brother who was away at school for half of my break.

By the end of break,  I had exhausted my Netflix queue and was so bored that I actually cleaned my house for FUN! Yeah………I did not see that coming.

Break had some ups and downs, as I’m sure most of yours did too. We all enjoyed being with family and friends, but after four weeks, you know you started missing what Winona has to offer even though the homework nearly killed us and we barely had sleep most nights. I know I sure did. The feeling of community and belonging had me wishing I had been back here.

–Rachel Adam

How to Make Friends & Find Your Fit in Your Res Life Community

Winona State students pose together

Soon enough you will feel right at home in your new community.

Spring Semester is upon us; a time to get back into the routine of school, go to club meetings and reunite with your friends. Although this is the main focus for many, it isn’t for some students as they are approaching this semester with anxiety and doubt. I am talking here about transfer students and students who have moved into a new residence hall. These students are coming into this semester in a transition period of their lives and have to deal with a new semester, school and community.

One of the hardest things to do when you are new to a community is finding out where you fit in. When a community already has an established dynamic  you may feel like your presence is a disruption in a balanced social ecosystem. Though many people will be welcoming, sometimes being accepted into a group is no easy task.

But that’s where I come in. As an RA, it is part of my job to create community in my residence hall and try to include everyone in what is happening on the floor. I’ve seen the awkward second semester adjustment first hand, so this is my advice to those of you going through this transition period.

1. Show Up to Floor and Hall Events
There are always events and get-togethers going on in every residence hall on campus pretty much every week. GO TO THESE EVENTS. You might not know anyone, but this is your chance to change that. Introduce yourself, be talkative and just relax. Don’t try to impress anyone, just be yourself and have fun–that’s the first step!

2. Find One Person Who Can Help You Acclimate
A great way to find your place in a large community is starting small. Get close to your new roommate, a floor mate or even your RA. Allow yourself to get close to this person to start out your friendship and eventually let them help you find your place in the floor community.

3. Give It Time
Of course you want to be friendly towards everyone, but don’t expect to be best friends with everyone in the community right away. Every community has unique dynamics and characters, you just need to take time and figure out how you fit into the puzzle.

4. Don’t Give Up

Getting to know new friends is hard, and it’s even harder to get to know people in an already established community. Although it might be super awkward at first, you’ll will become more comfortable over time if you keep working at it. You will find your place in the community as long as you stay persistent and engaged!​

–Emily McCaleb

15 Ways to Own 2015

collage of four pictures with 2015 overlaying

We are barely a week into the New Year and 2015 is still young and full of possibilities for us all to be smarter, healthier, funnier, happier, kinder and generally more awesome. Here are 15 ways to improve your life intellectually, occupationally, socially, spiritually, emotionally, physically and environmentally and make 2015 your best year yet.

1. Prioritize Classes, Not Procrastination
I know that after a day of classes you’d rather watch Netflix than study your textbooks, but do your homework anyway. Not only will you actually retain the information better, but also having your homework out of the way early lets you have fun without worrying.

2. Learn a New Skill
Try your hand at knitting, snowboarding, or French cooking… whatever has piqued your interest lately or has been a long-neglected passion. Now is the time to try!

3. Attend a Career or Job Fair
If you’re an undecided major, there’s no better time than now to decide on a career. Visiting a career or major fair is a great way to explore your options. Or, if you’re like me and graduating in a semester, attend a job fair to network your name and ready your resume so you can leave WSU with a career in place.

4. Look for a Summer Internship Early
Internships have become something of a must, so get started on finding one sooner rather than later. There are many internships out there, so take the time to find one that provides serious learning opportunities and maybe even a paycheck!

5. Smile and Say “Hi” to Passersby
We’re “Minnesota Nice,” right? So let’s try this in 2015: instead of blindly walking past each other on campus, make eye-contact and smile. We are a community after all and we should acknowledge each other even just in passing.

6. Join a Club
Whether you’re shy or outgoing, student clubs are a blessing because they’re an easy way to connect with people who have similar interests whom you might not have met otherwise. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new best friend! If not, at least you’ve gotten out of your dorm room for an hour or two.

7. Volunteer in Our Community
Help out at Watkins Manor, Kids First, Habitat for Humanity or any of the other numerous volunteer opportunities in the Winona area. It doesn’t matter if you can commit to a shift every week or only twice a month, volunteering benefits the whole community and you too.

8. Go to Religious Services Regularly
If you were raised with a particular faith or have found a denomination since coming to college, start regularly attending religious services. I can’t say that I’ve found Mass to be fulfilling each and every week, but the simple routine of going to church on Sundays helps me keep in touch with my spiritual side.

9. Watch a Sunrise
If you find more spiritual experience in nature than in a church, challenge yourself to watch a sunrise at least once a month. The feat of getting up before dawn is amazing in and of itself, and the sight of a slowly filling sky is so worth the effort

10. Practice Patience and Positivity
Let’s face facts: people are often pretty annoying and life doesn’t always go your way. But those things aren’t going to change and you can get upset about it or you can take a deep breath and let it go. Patience and positivity will get you through more situations than pettiness and pessimism will.

11. Write Thank You Notes
Not only is it polite to send thank you notes, but everyone enjoys receiving a message of gratitude. Thank you notes aren’t just for birthday presents either. Send them to employers after an interview whether you’re hired or not. Let professors who have helped you in your college career know how much you appreciate them. I promise, you’ll make their day.

12. Take That Intimidating Fitness Class
I admit I’ve never gone to the class Butt ‘N Gut because it sounds too intense, but why should I allow myself to be so intimidated? Maybe for you it’s Turbo Kick or Power Hour. Either way, let’s make 2015 a year of confidence at fitness classes.

13. Join an Intramurals Team
If you played sports in high school like me, you may find yourself missing the court and the camaraderie of a team with a single purpose– TO WIN, I mean, have fun. Join an intramurals team and you can play for the love of the game again with new friends and exercise routine as added bonuses.

14. Learn to Recycle Properly
Most of us know that recycling is an easy way to help the environment, but it’s a little more complicated than you might think. For instance, you can recycle only certain types of plastic and pizza boxes are definitely a no-go. Make sure you know the rules so you can recycle right.

15. Drive Less and Walk or Bike More
Gas prices are down to $2 per gallon and that is really exciting, but that doesn’t mean we should take the car everywhere just because we can. Walk or bike—weather permitting, of course— instead and you can help cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and get a quick workout in as well.

–Elizabeth Meinders

Ending Gender Based Violence: It’s on You, It’s on Me, It’s on Us

GBV RE Initiative logo

Join the RE Initiative in changing campus culture to end GBV

One in every five women will experience gender-based violence (GBV) while in college. This statistic is seen in every university across the country including Winona State University. But the good news is that instead of sweeping this problem under the rug, we’ve chosen to expose GBV at Winona State. Exposure of GBV is necessary for creating change and transforming our campus culture into one of mutual respect and compassion for people of all genders is something to be proud of.

As compellingly stated in the recent “It’s On Us” campaign, it takes the support of everyone to make a movement sustainable. From our president Dr. Scott Olson all the way down to our incoming undergraduate freshman, we are working towards a cohesive movement of exposing and eliminating GBV at WSU. We’ve also had unwavering support and guidance through a grant provided by the US Department of Justice. This grant has enabled us to not only employ faculty, but also gives students the opportunity to make meaningful changes through student-help positions at the RE Initiative.

Now, you might be asking, “How can I help?” This is a question we love to hear at the RE Initiative. RE stand for recognizing equality since most acts of GBV occur because of the perceived inequalities between genders. The RE Initiative program seeks to spread awareness about GBV to all sorts of audiences on campus as well as training people–mostly students–to become active bystanders both on campus and within the Winona community.

A bystander is an individual who witnesses emergencies, criminal events or situations that could lead to a negative outcome, and by their presence may have the opportunity to provide assistance, do nothing or contribute to the negative behavior. When we use the term active bystander, we are referring to a person who makes a positive contribution to the situation. Active bystanders can help in many ways, from correcting someone who is using offensive language to physically stepping in to protect someone who needs help.

By delivering peer-to-peer PACTivism trainings, we are creating and fostering a new culture here at Winona State University aimed at ending acts of GBV. PACT stands for Prevent, Act, Challenge and Teach, and these trainings focus on teaching people how to become active bystanders in situations that could lead to acts of GBV. There are currently three versions of PACT training:

  • the 50 minute “Don’t Cancel That Class Training”
  • the 2.5 hour training
  • the 5.5 hour training

Currently 11 students are trained to give the PACT trainings, and about 2,000 WSU students have been to a PACT training, including people in athletics, the TKE and Sigma Tau Gamma fraternities, Tri Sigma Sorority, WSU Security, Residence Life, and numerous other groups. Of these students, around 280 became certified PACTivists. Bystander intervention is key to our peer education efforts because it works. By taking a wider community approach rather than targeting individuals as potential victims or perpetrators, the RE Initiative is creating a more effective and cohesive stance against GBV.

In addition to wanting to protect students, WSU needs the RE Initiative to comply with Title IX and The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE). Title IX was passed in 1972 and was originally formed to prohibit sex discrimination on college campuses. It was the campus SaVE Act, signed by President Obama in March of 2013, which brought about the mandated reporting of GBV by college campuses. The campus SaVE Act requires that any incident of GBV be disclosed in an annual campus crime report. One way the Re Initiative here at Winona State University complies with the Campus SaVE act is by providing information on our schools reporting system & disciplinary proceedings. This information can be attained by contacting the RE Initiative through the confidential helpline 507.457.5610.

Through the implementation of the RE Initiative, WSU has taken many steps toward making our campus a safer place for everyone while also addressing and complying with federal mandates of addressing GBV. We hope to eliminate the disturbing statistic of 1 in 5 women experiencing GBV in their young adult lives. Combating GBV is not an issue to be tackled by a small group of individuals. it takes us as an entire community to make the positive change we need.

Are YOU ready to take on that responsibility to end GBV?

–MaryAnn Brannerman-Thompson, Michael Krug and Andrea White

Be an Active Bystander

As a final project in a Women and Gender Studies 150: Insights and Implications, we decided to make public service announcements about gender-based violence (GBV). There are similar projects directed towards this cause through the White House website. We wanted to add our voice to the cause because of the immense problem sexual harassment has become on college campuses. Everyone in our class has gone through Active Bystander Intervention Training, or PACT training, and believe it can make a huge impact on college campuses in preventing sexual assault.

The three public services announcements we created include persuasive information and steps the general population can take to prevent sexual assault. We wanted to change the mindsets of our current students and challenge them to break the silence against sexual assault by being active bystanders.

The first PSA, created by Natalie Volavka, features national statistics and statistics from Winona State University. While 1 in 5 college aged women are sexually assaulted nationally, only one person at Winona State University has reported being sexually assaulted. This shows just how few survivors choose to report their sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the GBV Confidential Hotline at 507.457.5610 for help and support.

The second and third PSAs, created by Logan Wescott and Emily Brandt, focus on the small changes individuals can make that produce a world of a change. The third PSA does this from a male’s perspective and depicts how important males are in this movement in becoming active bystanders.

Step up, and stand actively against sexual assault at Winona State University.

–Emily Brandt, Natalie Volavka and Logan Wescott

Traipsing Through Tinder: Comparisons & Conclusions

This blog post is a continuation of Traipsing Through Tinder and contains some explicit material that some may find triggering.

At the end of the experiment, we went through the messages each profile received and we noticed something incredibly eye opening. In more than one case, the same user sent each profile a message that was completely different than what they had sent the other profiles. Instead of being authentic and trying to get to know the person behind the profile, they catered their message to characteristics they assumed based on false stereotypes.

For example, the same user who messaged the goth profile the chat on the left, sent the mainstream profile the chat on the right three days later:

a sexually explicit Tinder message   a respectful Tinder message

When we created the party girl profile, he sent her this:

a sexually explicit Tinder message

Another profile sent messages to the goth profile, the mainstream profile and the party girl profile. The three messages had very different tones:

a sexually explicit Tinder message a respectful Tinder message
a sexually explicit Tinder message

The Survey

Our group also decided to survey Winona State University students on their experiences with Tinder and had 82 responses. 80% of respondents had personally used Tinder before. When asked how their experience had been with the application, 23% reported it had been positive, 58% said it had been neutral, and 18% had a negative experience. Respondents gave several reasons for their experience ratings. Some enjoyed it for its entertainment value, some to find another person to hook up with while others had met their significant others on the app. There were also those who hadn’t had the best experience with the application but said their experience also hadn’t been awful.

The next question we asked participants was if they had ever received a message on Tinder that made them feel uncomfortable. 55% responded that they had received a message that made them uncomfortable, 41% reported that they had not received a message that made them uncomfortable and 3% reported that they were not sure. When asked how they responded to those messages, the most popular response was that they ignored the message and either unmatched or blocked the user that sent it to them. A small portion would tell their friends about it as well.

We also asked participants if their friends had received any messages that made them feel uncomfortable. 67% reported that their friends had received a message that made them uncomfortable, 8% said that their friends had not received a message like that, and 23% said that they were not sure. We asked them how their friends would respond to the messages and the responses were the same as before: ignore, block, unmatch and tell their friends about the messages they received.

Our Conclusions

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t want to scare you away from online dating. It can be great. What became clear to us in this experiment is that when you take away respect and consent, what you get isn’t so great. By putting people in boxes you not only deny them their humanity, you deny yourself the ability to get to know the person behind the profile. If we’re going to end sexual harassment online, it’s time we stop just blocking users who make us uncomfortable and start confronting them. First, inform them that what they did that made you feel uncomfortable or harassed. If that doesn’t work (and it might not), here are some creative ways to get your message across:

If all else fails, then you can block them. Protect yourself. Your safety matters more than their feelings.

–Samantha Atkins, Clare Arvidson and Mike McArdle

Traipsing Through Tinder: Mainstream Student

This blog post is a continuation of Traipsing Through Tinder and contains some explicit material that some may find triggering.

a mainstream female college student

“Hello I’m Sam. I’m a nursing student at WSU. I love my friends, family, and music. Coffee is my lifeline. I spend way too much time watching Netflix. Shoot me a message if you’re looking for new people to talk to!”

With a combination of common characteristics among our friends, our group created the “mainstream” college persona. We chose pictures of our friend, Andie Mattei, where she had minimal makeup and plain, casual clothing. The responses weren’t all that surprising. In exchange for a little of the “mainstream” profile’s time, many users offered up Netflix marathons and cuddling. The “mainstream” tinder profile received 116 messages. Of those messages, 3 were strange, but harmless:

Mainstream Weird Reply 1    a strange but harmless Tinder messagea strange but harmless Tinder message

11 of the messages were either explicit in nature or could be classified as obsessive:

 an obsessiveTinder message  a sexually explicit Tinder message a sexually explicit Tinder message

51 of the messages were respectful and commented on the content of the profile and not just the user’s looks. These responders took the time to read the profile and offer a friendly attempt to become acquainted with the “mainstream college student” profile:

a respectful Tinder message a respectful Tinder message a respectful Tinder message

In the next post, see what happened when we debuted the goth lolita profile.

–Samantha Atkins, Clare Arvidson and Mike McArdle