- PSU competes in Red Bull soapbox race
| Audrey Dighans copy editor |
Pittsburg State students seem to have a healthy habit of getting the university’s name spread nationwide for a variety of reasons. The latest reason, including one RV, one soapbox in the shape of a gorilla and four friends, called Pittsburg State #SOKB (Straight Outta Kansas Baby) made a few heads turn at the Red Bull Soapbox Race Seattle in Seattle, Wash., on Sunday, Aug. 24.
“It was great to accomplish something so big,” said Ian Youvan, junior in finance and the team’s driver.
Youvan’s teammates included Gabe Harris, graduate student in business, Curtis Ebert, senior in communication and Austin Clay.
#SOKB took fifth place out of the 40 teams there to compete from around the country.
“Can’t really describe how amazing it was to do so well,” Youvan said.
His teammate Harris, however, did have a way.
“It was surreal,” he said. “Performing in front of tens of thousands of people, yes, surreal.”
Harris added he also enjoyed the actual traveling involved on the trip.
“The opportunity to get out and see the West Coast was awesome,” he said. “ We had a chance to meet a ton of great people.”
Prizes for the winners of the race ranged from a trip to the Red Bull Air Race Las Vegas, where pilots battle in the skies at speeds up to 230 mph, to indoor skydiving at iFly Seattle.
The Red Bull Soapbox race is for amateur drivers with a need for speed. Soapboxes must be completely powered by gravity; no stored power or external forces are allowed. Drivers must be at least age 18 but other members of the team may be any age.
“One of the things we had to do was submit our technical drawing,” Youvan said.
He added the team’s soapbox is designed as a gorilla to represent PSU and add some creativity to the entries, gaining them notice.
“Everybody loved our craft,” Harris said. “We scored super high on creativity.”
“We hope to represent Pittsburg with speed, style and ingenuity,” Youvan said.
#SOKB went straight out of Kansas on Friday, Aug. 22.
“We’re the team with the longest drive,” Youvan said, helping his teammates load the RV for the trip. “We want it the most.”
The races began at 1 p.m. on Sunday, with awards presented after two and a half hours of competition.
“For awhile we were sitting in first place,” Harris said. “Unfortunately, there were a few cars at the end that flew down the course and got on the leader board.”
Youvan says the team plans to continue racing and entering other Red Bull events.
“We want to see how many we can compete in,” he said. “The real prize is just getting to compete.”
- Campus copes with high temperatures
| Jay Benedict reporter |
“I might as well be studying outside,” said Emma Tompkins. “At least there’s a breeze out there.”
Tompkins, senior in therapeutic recreation, was studying on the second floor of the Student Recreation Center on Monday afternoon. The building’s cooling system had been offline more than 48 hours, bringing the inside temperature to 90 degrees. Sweat poured off Tompkins as she studied her notes.
“Classes should be canceled when it feels like this,” Tompkins said. “It’s distracting and uncomfortable. We’ve got Canvas and email, professors should use them and let us work from home.”
However, down the hall in the Human Performance Lab, exercise science majors kept at work, despite the rest of the floor being abandoned. Senior Katelynn Witt said two of her classes had been canceled.
“Some of the equipment in the lab is sensitive to heat and humidity,” Witt said. “It isn’t just bad for learning, but it can hurt our machines as well.”
Ultimately, the rec center was closed early Monday and opened late Tuesday after physical plant workers were able to get the unit up and running.
“It’s not a permanent fix, but it will work until the manufacturer’s representative comes on Thursday and gets a more accurate view of the problem,” said Dave Pentola, PSU Physical Plant supervisor for HVAC.
The systems that cool large buildings are run by chillers, which cool water down to about 43 degrees and then pump it into the building where air handlers distribute the cooled air. The compressor that helps cool the water was overheating.
Athletes on the field
The recent spike in heat is affecting operations and people all over campus.
Pitt State athletes took to practice fields just as the hottest days of the year hit campus. Coaches strive to ensure the athletes know how to handle intense workouts and maintain their health. Phil Carr, head athletic trainer and associate athletic director for sports medicine, says that the heat is just another factor that PSU teams prepare for and deal with.
“Getting our athletes back in shape and used to the conditions is the biggest thing we work on,” Carr said.
He says the teams still usually practice during mid to late afternoon, but on hotter days athletes are encouraged to drink more water and replenish electrolytes with sports drinks like Gatorade. He and the other coaches also encourage players to eat frequent, smaller meals instead of large meals.
One of the biggest indicators of trouble is weight loss. Players are weighed before and after practice. An eight-pound weight loss is the equivalent of losing one gallon of fluid. Anyone who loses that much weight is told to consume juice, water, sports drinks and milk over the next 24 hours to replenish themselves.
High temperatures affect how the campus consumes utilities. Landscaping requires more water and cooling units use more power.
The chiller in the Axe Library serves not only the library but also Grubbs and Yates halls. That chiller alone used 2,243 kilowatt-hours between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, when the temperature hit 99 degrees.
The day classes started, Aug. 18, when temperature reached 93 degrees, the chiller used 2,005 kilowatt-hours. The 6-degree difference added up to a 238 less kilowatt hours in the same time period, enough to power eight homes for a full day. This is just one chiller for three campus buildings.
Michael Breneman, PSU’s energy manager from Energy Solutions Professionals, is in charge of tracking all this data and helping Pitt State use energy wisely. One of the plans he’s helped implement is scheduling.
“Raising your thermostat just one degree in the summer can save 6 percent in energy costs,” Breneman said. “So we’ve got the systems to cool less during the night, when no one is here.”
For example, from 5 a.m. to 8:50 p.m. the temperature in the Kansas Technology Center is set to 74 degrees. Starting at 8:50 p.m., the cooling system coasts off over the next hour, until it is set at 82 degrees. It stays at this temperature until the following day.
“By implementing this scheduling, the university saves thousands of dollars each month in electric bills,” Breneman said.
In the past, some dorms have had trouble staying cool during periods of extreme heat. Students even resorted to sleeping in lobbies on lower floors to escape the heat. No such problems have been reported this year.
“It was 78 in my room on Sunday,” said Katlyn Sidfrid, freshman in psychology. “I … put a fan in front of our unit. That keeps the air moving and it’s fine now.”
International students from cooler parts of the world aren’t used to such warm weather. Lena Rabet, freshman in marketing and management from France, says it is hotter and more humid here.
“The only place that I’ve been to where it was hotter was Vietnam,” she said.
- Greeks praise, critique weekend conference
| Audrey Dighans copy editor |
Each year at about 5 a.m., 400 Pitt State students are up, dressed and loading onto charter buses, paid for by the university, on their way to the Fraternal Leadership Summit (FLS). This year the $60,000 annual conference on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16 and 17, was no exception.
Held in Fayetteville, Ark., at the University of Arkansas, Pitt State Greek students attended a weekend of seminars, speakers and various breakout sessions aimed at improving recruitment processes, philanthropy and leadership.
“FLS is designed to bring the Greek community together,” said Steven Erwin, associate vice president of campus life and auxiliary services. “This is our sixth or seventh year of holding FLS. It kicks off the school year and builds a better relationship with administration and PSU’s Greek community, which is a major portion of the campus community.”
Meagan Smejdir, programming coordinator for campus activities and PSU Greek adviser, also says FLS is a good opportunity for Greek students to focus on goal setting and be in the correct mindset for a successful year.
This year’s summit had two keynote speakers, one for the morning and afternoon sessions on Saturday. After the speakers, students attended breakout sessions on a variety of topics to improve their chapters, with a break for lunch and dinner.
“At the end of the day on Saturday we have what is called ‘chapter time’,” Erwin said. “For most of the chapters it is the first time they have been together all summer.”
Erwin added any alumni and regional members who attend also meet during chapter time, a time reserved for the members of each house to sit down and discuss what they have learned throughout the day.
“There is also some free time and evening entertainment,” Erwin said.
Josh Bergeron, sophomore in accounting, elaborated on this year’s entertainment at FLS.
“This year they paid $400 for the movie rights to ‘Hitch,’” he for the movie rights to ‘Hitch,’” he said. “It was meant to tie in after seeing the Date Dr. [David Coleman, one of the keynote speakers] give a presentation, but not a single person went.”
Bergeron added that last year when the summit was held in Kansas City, the entertainment was going to Worlds of Fun for a few hours.
“FLS doesn’t cost us anything,” Bergeron said. “It is all paid for by the university, but we’re fined if we don’t go. We’re the only campus organization fined for not going.”
Luke Walker says he was fined $75 last year for not attending the summit.
“I gave the school two months’ notice that I would still be working and wouldn’t be able to go,” said Walker, junior in automotive technolog. “This year I had some family plans that I canceled on because I figured the school doesn’t value me working, they won’t excuse me to attend family functions either.”
Walker added he doesn’t understand why Greeks should be fined for not attending FLS after they give advance notice.
Walker and Bergeron both added they disagree with the summit being held the weekend before classes start.
“It’s meant to ship us out of town so that the incoming freshmen don’t come over their first night at college looking for a party,” Bergeron said.
Bergeron is referring to what was traditionally known as Shark Night, the Saturday night before classes start, a night in which Gorillas went wild. Fraternity and off-campus parties attracted students and nonstudents alike. Injuries, underage drinking and recklessness were some of many reported incidents.
Despite Shark Night, Smejdir agrees the timing is less than ideal.
“Both my sorority women and fraternity men are pretty tired after a week of formal recruitment and house work week during the summit,” she said.
Walker also added he feels the university doesn’t trust the Greek community and it is silly to spend so much money just so fraternities don’t party.
“FLS is great for our new freshman sisters,” said Kristina Adams, junior in family consumer sciences. “They have just finished recruitment and it is their first real chance to get a feel of the Greek community.”
Though there is controversy over the attendance and benefits among PSU Greeks about FLS, Adams fully supports it.
“It’s a big Greek weekend getaway that builds a better community,” she said.
In contradiction to Bergeron’s statement of the Greeks being the only campus organization fined for not attending FLS, Adams says that is because the summit is open only to Greek students.
“That’s because no one has ever expressed wanting to join us in attending,” she said. However, Adams did say no invitation to other campus organizations has been extended.
Erwin says FLS is only open to the Greek community. Smejdir says because some of the funding is provided through student fees, it is open to all students.
“However, I don’t feel students outside of the Greek community would benefit from attending because the information would not be relevant to them, it’s focused on the Greeks,” she said.
Adams says she believes students who come with a positive attitude to FLS really do learn from attending.
“I got great ideas for this year’s upcoming Big Event, which I am directing,” she said.
Adams also says she agrees with the university’s idea of keeping Shark Night out of the equation.
“The Greeks get a bad rep already for partying,” she said. “I feel us attending FLS is a good tradeoff. If we’re out of town we can’t be blamed for partying on Shark Night and it makes us look good.”
Where da money at?
Charter buses. Guest speakers. Facilities. Food and $400 on movie night. So where exactly does the funding for FLS come from?
“I don’t have exact numbers,” Adams said. “From my understanding it is the university and student fees that pay for FLS.”
Walker and Bergeron also say the summit is paid for by student fees, as well as a few donations by alumni and the university.
“FLS costs about $100 per student,” Erwin said. “Labette Bank, Sodexo, Barnes & Noble have donated money and I believe $20,000 comes from the student fee council.”
This year’s summit averaged about $120 per student, with $20,000 of the total $60,000 spent coming from student fees while other organizations, such as Labette Bank and the Campus Activities Center, covered the other $40,000.
Erwin says the group of Greek leaders and their adviser, Smejdir, work hard to plan the weekend to save money.
“That’s why it has jumped around from location to location,” he said. “We’ve even held it on campus, which ended up costing us more on the entertainment side because we rented inflatables and opened it up for the whole university to attend.”
- Hot Gorillas
How are Pitt State’s students and faculty coping with the heat?
Find out in this week’s issue of the Collegio.
- Renovations continue throughout the year
| Tyler Koester reporter |
The summer of 2014 marked a time of much construction and activity on campus with five projects representing more than $60 million of work in progress, simultaneously. With summer break at a close and the beginning of fall classes, here is an update on campus construction projects.
Indoor Track Stadium
Paul Stewart, director of facilities planning, says construction on this “much anticipated” building is in the final stages of completion. Installment of underground plumbing and metal paneling of the exterior south side of the building is under way.
The stadium is expected to be complete next spring.
Overman Student Center
The student center is undergoing a variety of changes both inside and out. Passersby’s can view the development of an outdoor terrace while inside the building; a 25 percent expansion of space is in progress.
Students and faculty members can expect the fence currently set up around the site to move again to accommodate the construction as it proceeds.
Stewart says this has been a particularly tricky project.
“It is a phased project to permit some areas to remain open for students during construction,” he said.
Overman is scheduled to be finished by next summer.
The features of this $33 million center include two auditoriums; one capable of seating an audience of 1,100 and a smaller auditorium, north of the larger, able to seat 250 people.
Performance halls and other indoor touch-ups are in progress, with completion set for this fall.
The final building under yellow tape this semester, Heckert-Wells, is being renovated with a new HVAC system and is set to be completed by Friday, Aug. 29.
Stewart says despite the delays and inconvenience some students may face with so much construction, the projects will significantly improve the campus amenities.
“In my own mind, I anticipate good things on the horizon,” he said. “If academics are growing, facilities have to respond.”
- Student gets help at new campus home
| Marcus Clem reporter |
It was a circus out there.
That’s at least what can be gathered if one follows the Saturday, Aug. 16, theme of getting into the residence halls for roughly 1,500 students.
The theme was just to keep the whole idea of starting a new year, or maybe a new life, on-campus fun for both residents and the students who are charged with their care as resident assistants.
“It helps some people relax a lot,” said Michelle Smith, junior in nursing, who is now living in the Crimson Commons residence hall and volunteered to help other on-campus students move in.
That’s what Ashvin “Ash” Sahni, area coordinator, also has in mind, as new on-campus residents start to form their own community.
“Our students come from different backgrounds, high schools and different-sized towns,” he said. “Our RAs this year will be able to be well-rounded and help students with a successful transition. That goes for academics, making friends, getting involved on campus and finding their niche here.”
For Jonah Hirschfeld, life in the dorms is set to be a fun experience, but the big prize is finally being able to live away from home.
“I’m a little bit nervous, yeah, but excited,” he said. “Just being away from home is something to look forward to. I came here on a visit and just loved the campus. It seemed like the right place to go.”
As he is every year, university President Steve Scott was on hand to help students move in following a conference of higher-education leaders at the University of Arkansas.
This year, he was able to talk with families moving into the freshly remodeled section of Nation Hall, a $5 million project that was completed over the summer.
That marks the penultimate on-campus housing project out of a huge slate of construction that has taken place in the last several years. The remainder of Nation and all Mitchell Hall’s upcoming facelift will represent the completion of renovations in summer 2015.
“It’s great to get our students moved in to this beautiful, freshly renovated space,” Scott said.
- Mum’s the word
Students speculate about project
| Audrey Dighans |
Of late, Pitt State seems to have become the construction industry’s favorite playground and Gorilla Village is no exception.
Students on their way to the Kansas Technology Center or perhaps McPherson Hall will find it hard to miss the newest construction zone to the PSU campus. Located directly behind Carnie Smith Stadium, next to the entrance of Gorilla Village, cutting off the bike path and taking out a row of parking spaces is … a secret.
“What’s taking place on the east side of the stadium is a very exciting project initiated by a donor,” said Steve Scott, university president.
Scott says the university is working to create a little mystery and intrigue surrounding the project, thus the secrecy.
“We plan to reveal the project on Homecoming,” Scott said. “ It promises to make this year’s celebration even more special than usual.”
The project has been contracted to Home Center Construction, a local company. HCC had no comment on the project.
But students came up with their own guesses on the mystery project.
Dylan McCollar, junior in nursing, says it looks like some sort of art piece.
“It’s hard to tell right now,” he said.
With all the secrecy, there is little to do until the project, which is also 100 percent privately funded, is complete and unveiled Saturday, Oct. 11.
“Homecoming is always a special game for our campus and community,” said Chris Kelly, associate vice president of university marketing and communication. “This year’s game will be one you won’t want to miss.”
Until then, students will have to speculate among themselves as to what exactly is being built smack dab in tailgate zone.
“If I could choose what was being built, I’d like to see a neat building where they have food vendors,” McCollar said. “They could have a different vendor for every game.”
Chandler Drollinger, freshman in manufacturing and engineering, also had a guess.
“It might be something new to add to the football team’s tradition of walking from the Weede to the stadium before games,” he said. “Something to add a little more flair.”
Scott added that at Pittsburg State, the university has extraordinary supporters who regularly step up to help improve the campus, enhancing what the university is able to do.
“This is a great example of that,” Scott said.
Kelly did let on to one aspect of the project.
“One of the nice features of this project is the addition of personalized pavers,” he said.
The pavers will be installed within the Gorilla Walk pathway.
Kelly says he believes the pavers will be popular among fans and alumni.
“We’ll be releasing more details about the pavers in the coming weeks,” he said.
- Fort Scott college leader pushed out
Faculty president cites association vote of no confidence
| Marcus Clem reporter |
Fort Scott Community College has a longstanding partnership with Pittsburg State, but disagreements over talks last year to forge a merger between the two schools played a role in FSCC’s recent leadership change.
On July 30, Clayton Tatro, FSCC president, reached an agreement with the college’s Board of Trustees to vacate his office.
The agreement came shortly after Tatro received a vote of no confidence from the Fort Scott College Association of Professional Employees (FSCAPE), which represents the college’s faculty.
Any specific incidents that provoked the change are being kept private and Tatro declined to comment for this story.
Steve Scott, university president, offered several comments on the matter, saying he anticipates that Pitt State will continue to work “in a very positive way” with FSCC.
“When I heard the news that Dr. Tatro was stepping down, I felt bad for him,” Scott said. “While he probably had some missteps along the way, as we discussed the possibility of merging the two institutions, I thought his motives were good.
“Fundamentally, he wanted to see FSCC’s future be more secure and, to him, that meant finding a larger partner. That partner could assist with resources and provide greater stability over the long term.”
Pitt State connection
Elie Riachi, FSCAPE president and Fort Scott professor of physical science, said in July that one issue has been what he perceived to be a lack of proper information about fall 2013’s meetings involving Scott and Tatro.
“I do not know if that had anything to do with the vote of no confidence,” Riachi said. “It was not made clear to us, the details of that. We didn’t get the whole picture. We didn’t know if this was a merger, what classes will be taught there, what here. Nothing. So, it may have played a little role.”
Scott says that he wasn’t involved with the sharing of information on the matter to Fort Scott employees.
“Whatever was or wasn’t shared on the FSCC campus would not have been up to me, nor do I have any insights as to how that worked or didn’t,” he said. “Clearly, the faculty were unhappy, and that’s something that should be taken very seriously.
“Although I don’t think community college faculty would be poorly served by a merger – in fact, I think they would have some immediate gains – I do understand the trepidation with which they would view the talks.”
In general, Riachi said, poor working relations between Tatro and the faculty drove FSCAPE members to their decision.
“I guess we pretty much tried to keep it capped,” Riachi said. “But things became unbearable at a certain point. There was a very strong push within the faculty to do this and that’s how we got the vote.
“There were many incidents. My phone started to ring off the hook. People said, ‘We need to do this. We need to do this now.’ I said, ‘OK, I’m on board.’”
The Pitt State-FSCC talks ended in October 2013 after a unanimous vote by the trustees. This did not affect current agreements between the two, such as free transfer of credit hours or on-campus residency options for FSCC students.
Scott says the idea he was working on with Tatro is similar to a merger plan approved by Dodge City Community College on June 24 with Fort Hays State University.
“It’s worth stating again that Pittsburg State was disappointed the talks with FSCC were ended by the board,” Scott said. “I was hopeful our efforts would produce a new model for postsecondary governance in Kansas, one that could be replicated by other institutions.”
Fort Scott is currently led by Dick Hedges, who served as college president for two separate terms in the past, and left his seat on the Board of Trustees to become interim president.
Jason Hogue, FSCC director of public relations, said in July that Hedges is expected to serve as a caretaker and that he expects a candidate to replace Tatro permanently after a nine to 12-month search.
“We could get lucky, though,” Hogue said, on the possibility of an ideal candidate appearing sooner.
He went on to express confidence in Hedges.
“There’s a building on campus named after him if you want to get an idea of his relationship with us,” Hogue said.
Scott says that he anticipates future talks about closer ties with FSCC.
“I’d posit that we are seeing the beginning of these conversations,” he said. “Pittsburg State will remain open to examining other partnerships and how they might benefit the students of the region as well as Pittsburg State’s students.”
- President, KOAM news anchor respond to ALS challenge
Steve Scott, university president, and KOAM News Anchor Tawnya Bach took the ice bucket challenge on Tuesday, August 19.
- Bus service hits funding speed bump
By: Tyler Koester
Students who are frequent riders of the PACT bus can expect minor route and schedule changes this year. This comes as a result of the Kansas Housing Services Corporation initiating cuts to the Community Services Block Grant that has been supporting the transportation service.
Although 70 percent of state and federal funding is in effect to preserve existing services, the remaining 30 percent in matching funds is left in the breakdown lane.
“Our actions result from a local match funding shortfall,” said Steve Lohr, SEK-CAP executive director. “We planned for it and were successful in maintaining our state (20 percent) and federal (50 percent) funding. Because we cannot immediately generate the local match, we’re in a tough position.”
Changes to the service, which went into effect July 1, include the curtailing of service to one bus instead of two and the operation of the service in a more concentrated area of southern Pittsburg 11 hours a day Monday through Friday. On top of this, late afternoon and evening runs will be in effect from the southern route to Wal-Mart in north Pittsburg by means of the U.S. 69 bypass.
But all is not lost, since Lohr says that those wishing to schedule rides 24 hours in advance can still do so, as he and the organization continue to sniff out the remaining matching funds to reinstate full service.
Among the students affected by these changes are frequent bus riders Mariana Berselli and Ana Ayres, exchange students from Brazil. Despite these challenges, the two had nothing but good things to say about the service.
“The experience has been good,” Berselli said. “The driver always helps when I ask where the nearest stop is or where I should stop to go somewhere.”
Berselli and Ayres ride the bus mainly to get their groceries and other necessities from Wal-Mart and other places, but there’s no limit to where a student may want to go in Pittsburg. The best part about the service is that it’s free – just familiarize yourself with the schedule to find where the nearest stop is and what time the driver will be there.
Berselli has a few words of advice to incoming freshmen and others new to the service: Don’t buy products that are too bulky since the bus is not that big. Also, pay attention to when the driver has his breaks so you don’t need to get out of the bus and wait outside while the driver takes time off.
About the curtailment of the service, Ayres assures freshmen that they have nothing to fear.
“They are changing the schedule and that may cause a few inconveniences at first,” Ayres said. “But I am sure that the new students will be very thankful for that service after a few days here.”