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  • Cream of the crop

    Students receive outstanding awards at banquet

    | Casey Matlock reporter |

    Kaitlyn Herder and Nicholas Popejoy have left quite a mark on Pittsburg State, and now that mark will be set in stone at the campus flagpole in front of Russ Hall.
    Herder and Popejoy, the Pittsburg State Class of 2014 Outstanding Seniors, were among many honorees at the Leadership and Awards Banquet on Monday, April 14, in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom.
    “It is something that I have worked for since I was a freshman,” said Herder, a double major in marketing and Spanish, “and it sounds cheesy, but I’ve always wanted my name by the flagpole.”
    Popejoy, an early/late childhood education major, says he thinks of the honor as a recognition of all leadership on campus, not just his own.
    “To have this award be the capstone of my career here on campus, it means a lot,” he said.
    Steve Scott, university president, says the array of awards given at the banquet represents a recognition of what students have done for Pitt State and how they’ll be received in their future careers.
    “These awards are important for the students and are important for the university to identify outstanding students,” he said, “and to celebrate their success and hold the students up as role models for other students to see and relate to.”

    Awards handed out include:

    • Wintle scholarship, Kim Fields
    • Stephen Excellence in Education scholarship, Samantha Barbosa
    • Sullivan scholarships: Michelle Forbes, Cheyenne Garrison, Catherine Geiger and Lynzee Flores.
    • Overman Student Center scholarships: Cheyenne Garrison, Krystal Douglas, Lynzee Flores, Lauren Geiger and Malory White.
    • Outstanding Greek man, Rodney Kimlin of Pi Kappa Alpha
    • Outstanding Greek woman, Katie George of Sigma Sigma Sigma
    • Sorority Chapter of the Year, Alpha Gamma Delta
    • Fraternity Chapter of the Year, Lambda Chi Alpha
    • Graduation certificates, Presidential Emerging Leaders Program: Nicole Bishop, Aubry Keller, Jared Twarog, William Rhodes Jr. and Jake Simmons
    • Unsung Hero award, Jake Simmons
    • Presidential Award on Multiculturalism, International Student Association
    • Most Improved Organization, Black Student Association
    • Adviser of the Year, Doug Younger, associate professor of graphics and engineering technologies
    • Do The Gorilla Thing Award, Maria Thompson and David Adams
    • Outstanding Program of the Year, Lambda Chi Alpha
    • Outstanding New Student Organization, the Gorilla Assistance Pantry
    • Outstanding Leaders on Campus, Brendan Finley and Katie George
    • Outstanding Organization Presidents, Hannah Hashman and Nicole Bishop
    • Student Organization of the Year, Gorillas in Your Midst
    • 31 Golden Gorilla awards
    • Outstanding Senior Finalists : Tyler Egbert, Clinton Hayes, Austin Price, Christopher Ward, Boya Abudu, Micah Black, Krisanna Graham, Ann Hutchison, Abigail Smith, Sarah Poland, Jesica Wade and Carly Twarog

  • New SGA Senate sworn in

    | Robin Siteneski reporter |

    As it is every time there is change, the new Student Government Association members will need some time to get used to their new jobs.
    That’s true even with the new leaders, as Jaci Gilchrist, who is now SGA vice president, inadvertently referred to Jordan Schaper, who is now SGA president, as “senator” several times during the assembly’s transition meeting on Wednesday, April 16.
    Schaper and Gilchrist’s bid to replace Taylor Gravett and Kiki Eigenmann, respectively, received 372 votes, or 59.6 percent; 252 votes, or 40.4 percent, were cast for Jake Letner and Jaecy Hebrlee.
    Schaper commented on the controversial election process during his first day as SGA president.

    Jordan Schaper, junior in political science, and Jaci Gilchrist, a sophmore in political science, were voted PSU's new president and vise president on Friday April 11.

    Jordan Schaper, junior in political science, and Jaci Gilchrist, a sophmore in political science, were voted PSU’s new president and vise president on Friday April 11.

    Before polls opened, his opponents, Letner and Hebrlee, had been subjected to disqualification by SGA’s election board and then were restored by Steve Erwin, associate vice president of campus life and auxiliary services.
    Schaper asked senators to come to him and Gilchrist if they wanted to talk or share opinions on the heated election process before their next weekly meeting to “clear the air as soon as possible.”
    “It’s been very stressful for everybody, I’m happy it’s over,” he said during the meeting. “We don’t want to have these politics weigh down SGA as they could.”
    Schaper says he doesn’t think the election process will affect SGA from now on.
    “It’s in the past, it was nothing personal, it was a campaign,” Schaper said. “I wish all the drama surrounding it on Facebook and Twitter didn’t happen.”

    First steps

    Gilchrist said there was no problem with most re-elected senators not showing up to this meeting, since the swearing in of new senators was the focus of the meeting.
    The low attendance to meetings affected an important project for Gilchrist in the past. The changes to the SGA constitution she has worked on will not be enforced because they were supposed to be read and approved in three consecutive meetings, but the April 2 meeting was canceled because there was no quorum.
    Gilchrist says that she hopes the ideas that she considers most important – cutting SGA’s roster to 36, down from 50, and revising cabinet compensation – will be approved as amendments to be enforced next year.
    Meanwhile, SGA’s legislative affairs committee will work on a new slate of constitutional amendment proposals.
    Sen. Lindsay Ong, who has served as co-chair of SGA’s election board, was confirmed as the new SGA legislative affairs director for fall 2014; the term lasts for a full year, but Ong will graduate in December. She says that she will appoint an assistant to succeed her, but isn’t sure who that will be yet.
    One of SGA’s previous constitutional amendment proposals, that was not adopted, would have prevented someone like Ong from assuming this position starting next year; it called for all SGA election board members to be banned from serving in SGA in any capacity.

  • Portrait of sympathhy

    High school alumni to create photo in memory of shooting victims

    | Marcus Clem editor in chief |

    When Hannah Skidmore heard that a man had entered a quiet community center in her neighborhood and opened fire on people at random, she couldn’t accept it.
    “I just gasped,” said Skidmore, sophomore in math education. “It just didn’t settle in until later that night. I was so upset and worried for our students and what they were going to go through.”
    Skidmore is organizing with Kenzie Botts and Natalie Gloor to gather with their fellow Blue Valley High School alumni at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at the front columns of Russ Hall.
    With the help of Gus, the group will take a photo to send as a note of consolation to the victims of a triple-murder that claimed the life of a Blue Valley High student.
    “It’s awesome to get people involved,” said Botts, sophomore in nursing. “It shows that the university cares about its students and where they came from.”
    On Sunday, April 13, Reat Underwood, 14, was shot dead along with his grandfather, William Corporon, 69, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, located in Overland Park. Not long after, the same shooter killed Terri LaManno, 53, at the Village Shalom assisted-living center, also in Overland Park.
    Police say the shooter had come to each location to kill Jews, though none of the dead are Jewish. Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, was quickly tracked down and arrested. He faces charges of capital murder and first-degree murder.
    “We’re trying to offer a comforting hand to a victim of a tragedy,” said Gloor, sophomore in family and consumer sciences, “and trying to help someone who still needs it.”
    The photo will also be sent to Alex Fraser, a Blue Valley High senior who was paralyzed in March after a surfing accident.

  • 850-strong

    | Audrey Dighans copy editor |

    Leaves fell all over Pittsburg, but not from trees – from gutters being cleaned by some of the 800 volunteers participating in the Big Event on Saturday, April 12.
    “Our final count for this year’s Big Event is 850 volunteers and 133 job sites,” said Jake Letner, junior in history and director of the Big Event.
    The number of volunteers increased from last year by 150.

    Taci Spiller, junior in nursing, Haley Mona, freshman in pyschology, and Madi Webb, freshman in engineering technology, take a fun-filled break from volunteering for the Big Event on Saturday, April 12.

    Taci Spiller, junior in nursing, Haley Mona, freshman in pyschology, and Madi Webb, freshman in engineering technology, take a fun-filled break from volunteering for the Big Event on Saturday, April 12.

    Starting at 9:30 a.m., volunteers were each assigned a job site based on which campus organization they registered for Big Event through. Larger groups, such as fraternities and sororities, were given several job sites to tackle. Members split into subgroups, sending about five to eight people to each site.
    “The Big Event is such a great project,” said Karley Bledsoe, junior in justice studies.
    Bledsoe registered with many of her Alpha Sigma Alpha sisters, who were assigned to an elderly couple’s house.
    “We picked up those little gumball things that fall off the trees,” Bledsoe said. “They were everywhere and a lot more difficult to rake out of the grass than I thought they would be.”
    Shannon Meck, freshman in communication, also participated in the Big Event with his fraternity Sigma Tau Gamma.
    “It’s great helping people who need it,” he said. “Big Event shows that PSU students care about ommunity.”
    Meck and his brothers cleared broken branches and dead trees, trimmed hedges and repainted a couple’s house.
    Other student organizations that participated this year were the Korean Student Association, Black Student Association, Student Government Association (which also runs and organizes the Big Event), Honors College and various honors societies, and even classes.
    “Comm. 399 had quite a few participants,” Letner said. “They cleaned up litter on the bypass from 2oth Street to Home Depot. Besides them, 19 SGA members were sent to the Pittsburg Aquatic Center and those were two of our largest job sites.”
    Talara Renfroe, freshman in communication and Big Event staff, was one SGA member who worked at the Aquatic Center as well as a sign-in the morning of the event. She says she had a great time participating.
    “Seeing 800 people walk in to volunteer is such a beautiful and surreal feeling,” Renfroe said. “We don’t have a huge college in Pittsburg, but the community helps us out so much and I think it’s great we have one day where we can show how much we appreciate that and give back.”
    Renfroe added that the best part of the Big Event for her was seeing the behind-the-scenes effort put into organizing the undertaking.
    “The director has to do so much,” she said. “He did a great job, as did everyone on his committee. I think most people don’t understand how many hours go into Big Event before it actually happens and without all those hours, Big Event wouldn’t be near as much a success as it is.”

  • Social-media policy group recommends broad changes

    | Marcus Clem editor in chief |

    A five-month old Kansas Board of Regents social-media policy is a risk to academic freedom, says a task force appointed by the regents to review the policy.
    The Collegio has obtained a 26-page document released by the work group of university officials that was circulated by Wichita State University’s public relations office on Tuesday, April 8.
    The document details what changes the work group would like to see made to a policy that covers staff and faculty use of social media and, in a way that prompted severe national controversy, allows university administrators to discipline social-media postings “contrary to the best interest” of their institutions.
    The policy is currently in force for all Kansas higher-education institutions, including Pittsburg State. It was put in place after David Guth, a professor at the University of Kansas, posted a controversial message on his Twitter feed.
    “The blood is on the hands of the #NRA,” Guth said in the post, reacting to a September mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. “Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”

    ‘Quite a bit broader’

    The recommendations to the regents, says Dacia Clark, one of Pittsburg State’s two representatives on the 13-member work group, are quite a bit broader in scope than she believes the regents may have expected.
    “They’re going to be disappointed,” said Clark, senior administrative specialist for alumni and constituent relations, “if they were expecting minor revisions because that’s not what they’re getting.”
    Clark’s description of the work-group report contrasts sharply with statements made by Regent Fred Logan, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, who visited Pittsburg State’s Wilkinson Alumni Center on Monday, April 7.
    During the visit, he opened himself and his colleagues to questions about anything and everything from university staff.
    He was emphatic about one topic, though: the board’s social media policy.
    “I don’t want to give anyone the impression that we’re going to repeal or replace our policy,” Logan said. “That won’t happen. Just trust me. That won’t happen.”

    Document’s key points

    Essentially, the work group’s recommendation says the entire idea of a disciplinary policy being necessary to govern university use of social media is flawed.
    “Disciplinary control over employee expression that may be appropriate in other governmental agencies is contrary to the university’s mission and faculty and staff responsibilities,” the recommendation’s overview reads.
    “Many members of the work group and many faculty and staff who submitted comments on our draft proposal believe there should be no social media policy at all.”
    Karl Kunkel, dean of arts and sciences, says that the situation makes sense because, for example, Pittsburg State’s Faculty Senate regularly passes resolutions denouncing the policy as written.
    “But the board is pretty committed to the current policy,” he said. “They don’t see anything wrong with it. They think it’s based on current law, that it protects freedom of speech. A lot of people see it differently.”

    Current law?

    Regent Mildred Edwards complemented Logan’s expression on the issue at the April 7 visit by emphasizing that the board holds the policy to be a direct adaptation of current law, as defined by the Supreme Court cases Garcetti v. Ceballos and Pickering v. Board of Education.
    “Our policy may need some sanding,” she said, “but to change the law would not be possible. So I don’t want to give anybody the impression that this committee is going to come back and say, ‘We’re going to start all over.’”
    The recommendation deals with this point extensively.
    “These decisions addressed employee speech,” it reads, “in government agencies where the agency mission is not to advance knowledge through free expression of ideas and scholarly evaluation of ideas.”
    In short, the report argues, no suggestion should ever be made that a Kansas Board of Regents policy could endanger a professor or employee’s right to express an idea except in extreme cases.
    Clark says that the regents will treat the recommendation as being profoundly different from what the board had in mind when they appointed the work group.
    “We talked in the work group,” she said, “and someone said, ‘They gave us an airplane and we gave them back a boat.’”
    To read the entire 26-page work group document, visit the Collegio’s website at

  • Honoring student employees

    | Kelsea Renz managing editor |

    Out of more than 7,000 students at Pitt State, two were honored as the types of employees most employers want to have.
    At a ceremony held Friday, April 4, Tyler Dietzschold and Ashley Stein were recognized as the Student Employees of the Year.
    Stein, junior in accounting, was the first to be announced, earning the title of off-campus Student Employee of the Year.
    “President Scott read parts of the paperwork we had filled out, and when he started reading I thought it sounded familiar,” Stein said. “Then he kept reading it, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s mine.’ I was in total shock.”
    Stein knew what her nomination said because her boss informed her of what he wrote while filling it out.
    “I wish I wouldn’t have known,” Stein said. “I was shaking and really nervous while he was reading.”
    After Stein received her award, Dietzschold, senior in manufacturing engineering technology, was the next to be called as the on-campus Student Employee of the Year.
    “I’m really honored to get this,” Dietzschold said. “It shows that the university understands what student employees do for the campus.”
    Both Stein and Dietzschold won the awards for the extra effort each put into their jobs, above what most employees do.
    Stein, a cash receipts clerk at Pitsco Inc., noted that this is her first job in the accounting field and that she hopes to continue to gain experience there, aiming for the three years’ experience required for a full-time accounting job.
    “When I applied, it was just for an internship of sorts to handle small things,” Stein said. “Now it’s helping me get my foot in the door and get started with my accounting career.”
    Working at Pitsco has helped Stein in other ways.
    “It’s really helped in my classes,” she said. “Stuff will be presented in class that I have already seen at work. I already know how to apply it to real-world situations.”
    Dietzschold has also had a lot of real-world experience through his job as a lab assistant in Engineering Technology.
    “I’ll be going into the metal casting business working for General Motors after I graduate,” Dietzschold said. “I’m getting to hone my skills by being in the lab all the time. I have learned so much by being able to do that.”
    Dietzschold, earlier in the year, took on an extra project with the help of his supervisor, allowing him to also hone his leadership skills in and out of the lab. Together they and their team manufactured hundreds of bottle openers for the Grammys.
    “The project was sort of for class and sort of for my job, but also a lot of just extra time,” Dietzschold said. “My supervisors have come to me lots of times with little projects, so really I just spent more time in the lab.”
    Besides going above and beyond in their jobs, Stein and Dietzschold are also humble about getting the awards.
    “It’s nice being recognized for going beyond what normal employees do,” Dietzschold said. “I was really honored, but really, I was just doing my job.”

  • Off the ballot?

    SGA election tumult drawing to a close; stuents still have say

    | Marcus Clem editor in chief |

    SGA’s last meeting of the semester in Russ Hall on Wednesday, April 9, was characterized by emotion, animosity and perhaps even forgiveness.
    There was still plenty of anger to go around, as three members – Joshua Packard, Sen. Mike Berry and Rodney Kimlin – resigned in protest.
    Alyssa Marsh, Sen. Lindsay Ong and Sen. Bryce Schuetz talked at length about the culture of personal attacks and animosity that has plagued the assembly in internal discussions on social media in the last week.

    Larry Overman, senior in ***, stands outside the oval urging people to vote for Gorilla Alliance on Wednesday, April 9.

    Larry Overman, senior in ***, stands outside the oval urging people to vote for Gorilla Alliance on Wednesday, April 9.

    Each speech won applause from most of the people in the room, though, as they concluded on a positive note.
    A climactic moment came from Schuetz when he turned to David Adams and Steve Erwin, the university’s advisers to the assembly. Two days before, Erwin had made the decision to intervene in the campaign for the SGA 2014-2015 election.
    “I’ve lost all respect for you,” Schuetz said. “If there was a problem, we should have been allowed to fix it.”
    That argument represents one of the central points of debate in one of the roughest SGA election seasons ever. That debate is not yet resolved; polls remain open on GUS until 5 p.m. today.
    How did student government get here?

    SAAC starting point

    On Monday, March 31, Jake Letner, the Letner/Hebrlee party’s candidate for Student Government Association president, gave a presentation on athletic student fees and the effect they have on Pittsburg State’s student-athlete scholarships.
    With that, he sparked a week of heated debate between supporters of Letner/Hebrlee and opposition Gorilla Alliance, in concert with a slew of decisions and reversals, and the worst Pittsburg State SGA infighting in memory.
    “I’m just tired of it all,” said Sen. Jordan Simoncic, who has not backed either of the contending parties. “When the violations were turned in, it seemed over. Done with. Since then, it’s just exploded.”
    Jeremy Johnson, who served as SGA president in 2007-2008, agrees that it’s been a rough campaign.
    “It seems to me that things are more aggressive,” he said. “During my election, I think both sides put a ton of energy into the campaign, but it seems like the accusations of bias and attacks of a personal nature weren’t there.
    “The character of this election does strike me as a little foreign, and different.”

    Week of trouble

    Letner’s pitch to the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), a group of officials and student-athletes that assists the Athletics Department, was judged foul according to SGA’s prohibition on personal attacks.
    The campaign moderators, the SGA election board, stepped in.
    Other violations were alleged: Letner’s running mate, Jaecy Hebrlee, was accused of negative campaigning when she visited the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house on Friday, April 4; Letner/Hebrlee supporters were accused several times of using SGA office resources for campaigning; and Letner/Hebrlee did not submit a report detailing its campaign expenses to the election board by the Saturday, April 5, deadline.
    The election board initially voted to disqualify Letner and Hebrlee from the race on Thursday, April 3, for the SAAC charge.
    Letner appealed to SGA leadership, saying that the board was biased against his candidacy. Taylor Gravett, SGA president, responded by firing four election-board members who he said had “crossed a line.” Gravett had previously expressed support for the Letner/Hebrlee campaign.
    The dismissed members appealed to the SGA judicial board, effectively the assembly’s supreme court, which reinstated them and declared their decision to disqualify Letner and Hebrlee “valid and final.”
    On that basis, the election board met on Saturday, April 5, and voted to reaffirm nearly all the charges against Letner/Hebrlee and to remove the party from the ballot.
    While social media sources such as Facebook featured extensive bickering between supporters of Letner/Hebrlee and Gorilla Alliance, a calm at last seemed to set in. Gorilla Alliance was set to win automatically, and SGA’s leaders prepared for them to take office.

    Admins step in

    It wasn’t over, though, and Mark Johnson, university professor of technology and workforce learning and Jeremy Johnson’s father, who is an expert on parliamentary procedure and was an SGA president in 1982-‘83, says there are important reasons why.
    “An alleged act of talking about the other candidate can never be grounds for expulsion from the race,” he said. “Why would you kick out a candidate for that? Let’s be real. This is politics, if on a smaller scale. That happens.”
    On Monday, April 7, Erwin, associate vice president of campus life and auxiliary services, declared that Letner/Hebrlee had not been given a fair shake.
    He says that disqualification on the basis of personal attacks was too severe a punishment; that the election and judicial boards had committed several procedural errors; that the case against Letner and Hebrlee contained “gaps in due process.”
    Erwin reinstated Letner/Hebrlee to the ballot. The various charges were not individually stricken down by this action, but functionally no longer apply.
    Erwin says that as with most SGA decisions, election board actions are in effect recommendations to the administration that, under certain circumstances, may be overturned.
    “I had an obligation to look at the record of what had happened,” he said, “and the totality of everything, from the charges to the consideration to the process, and render some sort of decision to either implement the recommended penalties or to not do so.”

    Board members respond

    Lindsay Ong and James Saltat, the SGA election board co-chairs, disagree.
    “I felt that (Erwin) would respect the board’s decision,” Ong said. “We regulated the election fairly, we followed the whole checks and balances process. And then, suddenly, there was an additional check that just didn’t respect any of that.”
    On the issue of whether the election board was too strict by removing Letner/Hebrlee, Ong says that both parties were aware of her expectations.
    “The board went in with a very clear consensus that we were going to stick to the rules of personal attack campaigning and not tolerate it in any form,” she said. “We verbally warned the candidates, and they were part of the process of defining our guidelines.”
    Strict implementation is entirely up to the board, Ong said, with SGA’s internal policing process through the judicial board to back it up.
    “We’re being told that we can’t be strict. Why not? They’re rules. You can’t go back on them. This feels like parents fighting over how to discipline a child. One parent wants to give spankings, and the other won’t even consider timeout.”
    Saltat says that during the election board’s review process, the members received advice from Erwin and David Adams, assistant director of campus activities.
    During consultation with their advisers, he says, the board received no complaint that their procedures were out of order.
    “We did everything by the book,” he said. “We may have made mistakes, but those were corrected … There was ultimately nothing done incorrectly that Lindsay or I could control as election board co-chairs.”
    Joshua Packard, SGA public relations director and election board member, takes more aggressive issue with the circumstances.
    “I fully do not recognize the administration’s actions in this process, because I feel like the election board was overturned unfairly. I feel the other party was wronged.
    “I was friends with Jake, Jaecy, Jordan and Jaci before this; people see (the election board’s actions) as a personal vendetta. I just want to see the rules followed, and Letner/Hebrlee just didn’t follow them. If you play dirty, you’re not coming out clean.”

    Go online for extended and ongoing Collegio coverage of this story at

  • SGA president fires 4 election judges

    2 dismissed election-board members say action motivated by politics

    | Marcus Clem editor in chief |

    Pittsburg State’s Student Government Association is embroiled in controversy after Taylor Gravett, SGA president, sacked several of the assembly’s student election monitors after they voted to disqualify the Letner/Hebrlee party from this year’s ballot.
    On the morning of Friday, April 4, Gravett informed Sen. Lindsay Ong, SGA co-chair of elections, that she had been removed from her position. Also removed were Joshua Packard, SGA public relations director; Sen. James Saltat, Ong’s co-chair; and Sen. Audrey Gilbreath.
    Gravett then announced that Kiki Eigenmann, SGA vice president, would assume a new role as chair of the elections board.
    Gravett and Eigenmann have both endorsed the Letner/Hebrlee party, but Gravett says he is handling his role as the top governor of elections without bias.
    “Ultimately, whoever is after me will do a good job,” he said.

    Letner/Hebrlee at issue

    The SGA elections board’s vote came on Thursday, April 3, after Jake Letner, SGA Big Event director and candidate for president, was accused of criticizing his rival for the presidency, Sen. Jordan Schaper of Gorilla Alliance, too aggressively.
    SGA strictly prohibits “personal attack” campaigning in its guidelines for the 2014 election, which will be open on GUS from Tuesday, April 8, to Thursday, April 10.
    On Monday, March 31, Letner promoted his party during a meeting of the Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC), a group of officials and student athletes that assists the Athletics Department.
    Letner says that at that meeting, he criticized what he sees as Gorilla Alliance’s opposition to increased support for athletics.
    “I did not mean to personally attack anyone,” Letner said. “I meant to attack a position held by Schaper that is detrimental to athletes.”
    A student athlete and member of SAAC later testified to the elections board about Letner’s criticism. The board initially voted 4-3 to disqualify the Letner/Hebrlee party before reaching a 6-1 majority as required by SGA’s election guidelines.
    Sen. Jaci Gilchrist, Gorilla Alliance vice presidential candidate, says her party did not act out of “spite or malice” in reporting Letner’s criticism to the elections board as an alleged violation of the prohibition on negative campaigning.
    “We do not want a single person voting misinformed,” she said in a statement. “People need to be held accountable. Processes need to be respected; rules need to be followed.”

    Motives disputed

    After her removal, Ong filed a brief to SGA’s judicial board asking for Gravett’s decision to be overturned. The judicial board, headed by Kaitlyn Herder, is also expected to rule in the near future on the vote to disqualify Letner/Hebrlee.
    “It was not an easy decision,” Ong said. “I verbally warned both parties: ‘Keep your opponent’s name out of your mouth.’ Letner didn’t do that; we kicked him out because of it.”
    Packard, Schaper, Gilchrist and Rodney Kimlin, SGA treasurer, who is still on the board, say they agree with Ong.
    Kimlin says there’s no question in his mind that Letner violated elections rules in a way that mandated his party’s disqualification.
    “We interviewed people, we got testimony and we came to the conclusion that he had (done) it on purpose,” Kimlin said. “Later, members of the elections board were harassed, were being called out. That made Jake look even more guilty than he was.”
    Letner says the elections board didn’t offer him enough chance to defend himself.
    “This disqualification was unwarranted,” he said, “especially because there was no disciplinary measures taken against me before this process.”
    Gravett says that the elections board’s decision “crossed a line,” and made a critical decision about the election “too late in the game.”
    “The verdict that the original elections board reached in disqualifying Jake Letner and Jaecy Hebrlee from running is one that is really unfounded,” Gravett said. “I have to make sure that both sides are getting a fair shot.
    “We need to make sure that the students have the ability to decide who is running student government, not a board of seven people.”

    Gravett criticized

    Packard says he was upset at what he says was Gravett’s decision to initially inform only Ong of the decision to end Packard’s role on the elections board.
    “I only found out from someone else who was on the elections board,” he said. “I find that the fact that this wasn’t communicated to me personally shows a lack of character.”
    Packard added that he will seek reinstatement to the elections board through an appeal to Herder’s judicial board.
    “Taylor will probably consider me biased,” he said, “but I say that whoever he puts in there will certainly be more biased than myself.”
    Kimlin also takes issue with Gravett.
    “I wholeheartedly believe that Taylor is manipulating the system for (the Letner/Hebree party’s) gain,” he said.
    Letner says he strongly disagrees with this viewpoint, but he is not surprised to hear it, given SGA’s internal politics.
    “Of course they feel that way,” he said. “I know Taylor really well, and I know that he would never do something like that. And I do not feel in any way that this is what is going on.
    “I’m sorry that these people feel this way about their president … I’ve dedicated a lot of time and energy to this organization. I hate to see it reach this point where it is so dramatic.”

  • Seniors are first at Pitt State to enter national competition

    | Kelsea Renz managing editor |

    For the first time Pitt State has a group of students involved in the World Vision/John Brown University Disaster Shelter Design Competition, to be held April 25, 26 and 27.
    Seniors Austin Leake and Cody Frieden took on leadership of the group as their senior project for construction engineering.
    “I was originally attracted to the disaster shelter project because I have gone on multiple mission trips around the world and it could potentially be used,” Frieden said. “Austin and I have had classes together and grown close, and when he said he was thinking about it I was definitely in.”
    The pair decided to take on the challenge after they heard about it in their senior projects course.
    “Pitt State has been invited to take part in this competition in the past, but previously there hasn’t been anybody to champion it,” said Norman Philipp, assistant professor of the school of construction and the group’s adviser. “So I went to the senior projects course and asked for two seniors and got them within an hour.”
    Assisting Leake and Frieden are seniors Cody Wilkins and Kyle Grimes; juniors João Felipe Galin, Daniel Oliviera and Devin Swank; and freshman Wesley Childers.
    “Some of the students working on this project have worked for Next Step Ministries. They’ve gone around the country,” Philipp said. “I wanted students to be able to get life experience locally, not just on some far-reaching mission trip.”
    The competition required students to design and build a shelter that would be suitable for a Syrian family who escaped the conflicts in Syria, making sure the structure was able to withstand heat, cold, winds, earthquakes, rain and keep the family off the ground.
    The shelter also had to be lightweight, cost-effective, easily assembled, easily stored and transported, easily packaged and have a long lifespan.
    “The worst part was having to come up with a design that met all this criteria in such a short period of time,” Frieden said. “We didn’t get to have forethought. We decided to do this and had to start. We’ve only had since the beginning of the semester and went from point zero.”
    Their shelter is a hexagon shape and each side has a roof panel that meets in a point topped with a cap. It is made of a galvanized steel skeleton packed with rigid foam insulation and a thin but temperature-resistant insulation and covered with fabric and shellac to harden and water-proof it.
    It has two windows and a door with a window to allow in air and light. Inside, there will be a curtain to separate men and women. The entire structure can be assembled with no tools.
    Another challenge the group had to face was the design aspect of the competition.
    “This is the first time Pitt State has ever done a competition where we have to design and build something,” Leake said. “We created models on 3D design programs and built mockups to see if the design would work with the materials.”
    With about three weeks left until the competition, the group has to work extra hours to complete the last 5-15 percent of the shelter.
    “We have to make sure we meet most of the design criteria,” Frieden said. “That takes precedence over small details like aesthetics.”
    They also need to try to get sponsors to help pay back the school of construction for the materials.
    “For being one of the 10 teams allowed to compete, we get a $1,000 stipend from John Brown University,” Philipp said. “The rest of the funds came from the overhead and operating expenses in the department as seed money. We want to get sponsors to make the department be budget-neutral. Any additional money we raise will be seed money for next year.”
    The entire group is excited and proud to be part of the trailblazing group for this competition and any others like it. The students look forward to seeing what Pitt State can do in the future.
    “We can only hope Pitt State will benefit from us doing it first and improve upon it,” Leake said.

  • Some unpaid internships may violate labor laws

    | Robin Siteneski reporter |

    As Natalie Portman danced her way toward an Oscar in the 2010 production of “Black Swan,” another dark plot was unfolding in the backlot. Two of Fox Searchlight Pictures’ interns for that production sued the company. They were unpaid and their example was followed by many college students across the nation who felt their work deserved compensation.
    A federal district court in Manhattan ruled that Fox violated federal and state minimum-wage laws during the production. Other entertainment and media companies such as Condé Nast, publisher of magazines such as The New Yorker, Vogue and GQ; Hearst Corporation, owner of over 300 publications including Harper’s Bazaar and 29 television stations; and NBC Universal are facing similar lawsuits.
    Fox interns Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman said in the lawsuit their responsabilites in the production were similar to those of regular paid employees, including taking lunch orders and answering phones. They represented over 100 Fox interns.
    The Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act lists six criteria for unpaid internships. Among them, internships should provide similar training given in an educational environment and that “the intern does not displace regular employees,” which is Glatt and Footman argued they were doing.
    David Hogard, PSU career services assistant director for employer relations, says it’s hard to police unpaid internships.
    “The Department of Labor is trying to make sure that when people hear the term unpaid internship, it doesn’t only mean free labor,” Hogard said.
    There’s no official count of the nation’s paid and unpaid interns. Stanford University’s job board posts for unpaid internships, however, tripled from 174 in 2009 to 643 in 2011, a New York Times editorial said.Glass House

    The most powerful newspaper in the world ran several opinion pieces criticizing unpaid internships before changing its own internship policy. Top universities such as New York and Columbia University implemented strict rules on what job posts it would accept on their websites. Columbia, Yale and Harvard also decided to stop giving “registration credit” to students taking internships.
    Pitt State’s job board at Gorillas4Hire advertises paid and unpaid internships and students can get credit for them.
    In a recovering economy, recent graduates are now expected to have taken an internship in their field of study before tossing their academic caps in the air. The College Employment Research Institute says 2.5 million out of 10 million students enrolled in four-year courses in the country will have taken an internship at least once before graduating.


    Joshua Packard, senior in graphic communications, is already part of that group. Before taking a two-month-long internship last summer at a phone book company, he had done freelance jobs. He found the position by emailing people from the company.
    Packard says he enjoyed his internship even though he was not paid for it. He said he learned about the creation process and got experience working in the field.
    “A big reason I accepted was because I would rather take an unpaid internship with something I’m interested in rather than work in the field with something I have no interest in,” Packard said. “I think it can help in the job opportunities.”
    Internships, paid or unpaid, can give students a hands-on view of their field, something they may not get by just attending classes.
    For example, Carolinne Dantas hopes a summer internship will help her decide what area she wants to work on. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in advertising last semester at Pitt State. Now she is studying general business. Dantas has been interviewed for an advertising and a business position, one in Kansas City and one in Joplin.
    “I want to figure out if that is really what I want to do,” she said. “Sometimes you like studying something but when you get to do it hands-on, you hate it.”

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