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  • Laura Bush coming to Pitt State

    | Audrey Dighans copy editor |

    The Pittsburg State Women in Government Lecture Series announced that former First Lady Laura Bush is scheduled to speak on campus next semester.
    Bush will talk about education, literacy, volunteerism and other topics on Wednesday, April 22, at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.

    Laura Bush

    Laura Bush

    “With the arrival of the new center of the arts we wanted its inaugural season to be outstanding,” said Kathleen Flannery, executive director of university development.
    Flannery says the lecture series contacted Bush’s staff with a proposal for her to speak at Pitt State and the people in charge of the Series were thrilled when Bush accepted.
    “She is joining a long line of Women in Government speakers,” Flannery said. “We have had Helen Thomas and Kerry Kennedy in the past, to name a few, and Laura Bush will bring such great awareness to PSU about women’s issues.
    “She has been a champion for health care, human rights and a strong advocate for volunteerism.”
    The Women in Government Lecture Series was established in 2001 and has been sponsored by the Boylan Foundation since its creation. The Series works to showcase opportunities women have and also the path for leadership.
    Flannery says that although the date is set, there are still many unknowns about Bush’s arrival. Ticket information, security changes and other factors are being prepared and people will be notified of new information in early spring.
    “She is excited to come,” Flannery said. “We’re excited to have her. I hope women and men from every discipline at this university come to see and listen to a woman of Mrs. Bush’s caliber.”

  • $aving for Christmas

    | Kyleigh Becker reporter |

    With Christmas fast approaching students are beginning to save.
    Erica Martens, senior in political science, says she saves some of her Christmas money from her student loans.
    “To me, it’s like my own Christmas club,” Martens said.
    She added another way she saves money is by not eating out as much.
    “I spent a great majority of money on Starbucks,” she said.
    With the money saved from her student loans and Starbucks deprivation, Martens says she plans to buy her four children Christmas presents and visit them back home in Iowa.
    “Each one of them wants something different,” Martens said.
    One of Martens’ sons has already gotten his Christmas present: a phone.
    Martens says she hopes to buy her youngest son a video game and her middle son sheet music.
    “And my daughter wants a sewing machine,” Martens said.
    Martens has put back roughly $1,700 for her family’s Christmas this year to help pay for all the travel expenses and presents.
    Not all students have set aside that much, though.
    Samantha Reynolds is still working on her savings and says she hopes to have $300 by Christmas.
    “I’ve already started buying Christmas gifts,” Reynolds, senior in psychology, said. “But I have a few people left. I’ve been saving since August.”
    In Reynolds’ sleigh one can find games, beauty products, slippers and gloves.
    “Nothing too special,” she said.
    Reynolds says her Christmas saving strategy has been to save a little bit from each of her paychecks.
    Lainey Caulfield also utilized this method. The senior in psychology says she held back $10-$15 from each.
    “Being a college student, saving is kind of difficult,” she said.
    Caulfield says she likes to make gifts for Christmas, so that instead of having to save a lot of money for presents she only has to save a little
    “Honestly, I like to make a lot of my gifts for people,” she said. “Last year, all my cousins got scarves.”
    This year, Caulfield says she plans on baking many of her presents, such as cookies and other sweets. This is also the first Christmas she will buy a present for her boyfriend and she says she wants to get him something nice.
    “He is a Royals fan,” Caulfield said.
    Caulfield has been saving as much as possible to buy him a Royals fan package and though she says he has been looking at buying himself a beanie, she may make him one.
    “It means a bit more (to have something handmade),” Caulfield said. “Someone put thought into it.”
    Handmade gifts may be just the answer for many Pitt State students, including Cody Leal, who has been unemployed since Hastings closed.
    “Basically, I haven’t done any (saving), with tuition going up and everything,” Leal, junior in communication, said.
    Leal says he eats at home to cut back on costs and has been putting part of his unemployment check to savings, but overall this year’s Christmas will be small with only his family and white elephant gifts for friends.
    “I wanted to get my girlfriend a new drawing tablet, but they’re expensive and work has not been kind,” Leal said.
    Leal added he likes homemade gifts, though they may not be flashy.
    “I’ll take a handmade card from my nephew with fingerprints all over it rather than an Xbox One any day,” Leal said.

  • Straddling studies and sleep

    Students buckle down to study for finals

    | Kyleigh Becker reporter |

    Finals week is the most dreaded few days for many college students.
    It is the last challenge faced before a month of relaxation and “you can’t make me get up before noon” mornings. The key, however, is to survive dead week’s sleepless nights and finals week’s stress.
    Some students, however, aren’t too worried.

    Seamus Hamilton, senior in communication, hits the books in preparation for finals at the Axe Library on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

    Seamus Hamilton, senior in communication, hits the books in preparation for finals at the Axe Library on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

    “I’m not really preparing,” said Blake Smith, sophomore in information technoloy. “I don’t really have to study (for my math final). It comes easy to me.”
    Smith has two finals left: a paper for politics and a comprehensive math final. Both are on the same day and Smith says his politics final will be the most difficult.
    “I haven’t done well in that class all year long,” Smith said. “I think it’s because it’s more about what’s there, not what you think. It’s less opinion based.”
    While Smith has experienced finals before, this will be Joshua Lindsey’s first crack at Pitt State finals.
    “I’m not nervous,” Lindsey, freshman in theater, said.
    Lindsey says he plans to read his notes for his last two finals but neither is on the same day and he will be prepared for them.
    Sloan Troyer, junior in nursing, hasn’t begun studying yet either.
    “Most of my tests are online,” she said. “But I usually make note cards and study them when I have time.”
    Troyer says that her drug calculation and health terminology finals will probably be the most difficult.
    “It’s a lot (of information) to take in,” Troyer said. “But I get one note card. Though I still think it’ll be hard.”
    Other students aren’t so lucky.
    “I have three papers and a test in one day,” said Tiffany Trammell, senior in secondary history education.
    Trammell added her economics exam will be the hardest, despite it being a lower-level course.
    “I’ll read my notes,” she said.
    With lots of students planning to just read their notes, there are some more intense approaches to preparing for the end of the semester.
    “I generally study about a week and half in advance and go over broad points that I think will be on the test,” said Ethan Spurling, junior in political science. “The night and day before, I go over the details a little more in depth.”
    Spurling has two exams on the same day.
    “So it’s really not bad,” he said.
    Spurling says his elementary statistics final will be the hardest.
    “When teachers don’t all have written exam finals on finals week, I think it makes it an easier process,” he said.
    Deana Thompson, senior in political science, is also studying extensively.
    “I’m studying a lot and reviewing all of my notes and quizzes from the entire semester,” Thompson said. “And nurturing study groups for all of my classes.”
    She says that none of her finals is on the same day, though she does have a 10-12 page paper due. Thompson added that getting a good amount of rest is important since she isn’t getting much sleep during dead week.
    “Just a glass of wine and study groups,” Thompson said. “That’s how I’ll get through finals.”

    Sleep deprivation hits students hard

    | Kelsea Renz editor-in-chief |

    | Caitlin Martin reporter |

    A common joke says that students get to choose only two of these three choices: having a social life, maintaining good grades and getting enough sleep. College students are notorious for struggling to find a balance between school work, being involved, jobs, being social, staying active and finding time to sleep.
    Sleep is often the first to go.
    Riegen Anderson, freshman in psychology, says she tries to find the rhythm of starting a new chapter of her life while trying to get the recommended eight hours.
    “It’s definitely been stressful,” Anderson said. “It’s like a whole new world; having to be on my own, having new responsibilities, and having to truly take care of myself. I’m someone who stays up really late, and then I’m also someone who can’t sleep late, so I always feel really tired.”
    Freshmen like Anderson are not the only students who feel overwhelmed when trying to find a balance, especially around this time of the year with finals.
    “I have to have coffee every day or I crash by my noon class and I’m just totally falling asleep,” said Ariel Everett, junior in psychology.

    Ryan Nusbaum, junior dual-majoring in computer information systems and accounting, catches a catnap before a class in Kelce 224 on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

    Ryan Nusbaum, junior dual-majoring in computer information systems and accounting, catches a catnap before a class in Kelce 224 on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

    Many students say a busy schedule is the main reason they struggle with sleep deprivation.
    “I work 20 hours, I’m taking 18 hours and I’m doing a research paper for honors, so that requires a lot of work, and also clubs,” Everett said. “That stuff gets done before I sleep, so I usually get about five hours on a good night.”
    Both transitioning to a new lifestyle and a heavy schedule are known causes of sleep deprivation, but there are also other factors, such as medication and mental health disorders, that can affect sleep patterns.
    “I’m sleep-deprived and I oversleep sometimes. The reason is Adderall,” said Chris Holweger, senior in psychology. “The fact is that some people really need (it). They have attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity disorder, so taking Adderall is necessary for those at times, but it does tend to throw off your sleep cycle.”
    Sometimes sleep deprivation can be the other way around, with lack of sleep affecting students’ mental health.
    “You can develop more psychological symptoms from anxiety to depression because of lack of sleep,” said JT Knoll, prevention and wellness coordinator. “The other area is the energy to perform well mentally, to use your brain to be there in class and to stay online with what’s going on in front of you and complete tasks and keep those going. Overall, it’s just not good for mental health. Physical health, too.”
    According to a 2012 survey conducted by Gorillas in Your Midst of about 700 Pitt State students, sleep is the second most common reason students give for not succeeding in school, after stress.
    Stress can often lead to sleep deprivation.
    “You have to be mindful of your stress level and be proactive, that is how to take care of stress on a daily or weekly basis,” Knoll said. “Be mindful, get a schedule, be honest about yourself. Don’t forget the three magic words: ‘I need help.’”
    The Bryant Student Health Center’s online magazine, Student Health 101, also suggests that students do activities like exercising regularly, avoiding computer use in bed, breathing exercises and getting up at a consistent time every day to combat sleep deprivation.
    “One of the things that helps people sleep is if they get their body tired enough during the day,” Knoll said. “Mental exercise sometimes doesn’t take care of that near as well.”
    Knoll says a lot of students want a quick fix to reduce stress and get more sleep, but that such a thing doesn’t exist.
    “It would be short-term but it won’t be a fix for what’s going on with your ongoing stress,” he said. “If you’re caught up in that cycle (of stress and sleeplessness) and you want to do something about it, my best recommendation is that you talk to somebody and ask for help.
    “Sometimes people already know what they need to do, but sometimes they don’t. You have to get some kind of awareness of where you are and what you need to take care of.”

  • Gorillas got game

    Boyfriend’s proposal raises bar; goes viral

    | Kelsea Renz editor-in-chief |

    Most girls dream about the day she gets proposed to, of her heart racing as her boyfriend gets down on one knee and asks to spend the rest of their lives together. She wants it to be romantic and special. She wants it to be meaningful to both of them. And of course she’d have to tell her family immediately.

    Blake Bullinger and fiance Carly Stene show off her ring after their engagement on Oct.9.

    Blake Bullinger and fiance Carly Stene show off her ring after their engagement on Oct.9.

    On Oct. 9, the bar for a proposal like this was raised high when Blake Bullinger presented Carly Stene, his girlfriend of two years, with a handmade jewelry armoire filled with little presents of her favorite things and, of course, the ring.
    “As soon as I saw it, I was overcome with joy, awe, surprise. I know he put so much thought and hard work into making me the most perfect gift,” said Stene, senior in clinical lab science.
    “I was so happy and surprised and didn’t want to let go of him because the moment was so perfect it didn’t seem real.”
    Not only did Bullinger, senior in automotive management, manage to pull off this proposal, he also uploaded the video to YouTube, where it gained almost 1.8 million views by Nov. 19.
    “To be honest, we are very surprised all of this happened and that the video got so many views and shares,” Stene said. “We simply put the video up for our family to see and never would have imagined it getting this much attention.”
    Stene says the proposal was a complete surprise.
    “We had talked about getting engaged and married so I knew a proposal would happen eventually, but I had no idea it would be then,” she said. “I was totally caught off guard because I was so focused on the jewelry armoire.”
    “From the time I opened the box and saw the ring to about five minutes later I don’t remember much. I think I was in shock.”
    The plan really began in September on Stene’s birthday, when Bullinger presented her with a wooden doorknob.
    “The knob is pretty heavy so I was guessing it went to something mechanical like a tractor or boat. These were obviously terrible guesses,” Stene said. “I jokingly guessed at some point it went to a birdhouse – I really don’t like birdhouses – and he
    sarcastically said yes so I would stop asking him about it.”
    Bullinger had been building the armoire and planning the surprise for a while.
    “I don’t know the exact amount of time, but it took quite a while,” he said. “I had some other ideas but this one seemed like it would mean the most to her and it would give her something to use and remember. I decided to go this route right before her birthday.
    “She always kept her jewelry in plastic storage bags or baskets, and it seemed like a pain for her to find stuff that way, so I thought she would appreciate something to display and organize it all.”
    The two met in September 2012 when they attended the Newman Club’s Back to School Retreat, where they began a friendship.
    “We found out we had so much in common and had been in so many places at the same time,” Stene said. “Both of us knew from the beginning that our friendship was something very special and something we knew would last a very long time.”
    Stene says she knew then that their relationship would last.
    “You know how people say when you find ‘the one’, you just know? I absolutely agree with that statement 100 percent,” she said. “It’s an indescribable feeling but I just knew he was the man I would marry one day.”
    For now, the couple are enjoying their engagement and preparing for graduation and the wedding.
    “We are both in our senior year and it has been flying by. We are trying to make the most of every moment,” Stene said. “We are both looking forward to the wedding, seeing how all the planning comes together, being married and spending forever together.”

  • Celebrating family, friends, food

    | Haley Riebel reporter |

    Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for family, friends and food. Especially food.
    The holiday can be a time to reflect on what really matters in life and gives everyone a chance to make things right in the world.
    For many students, Thanksgiving is a time to reunite with family and catch them up on college life.

    International students in PSU are take their food in Thankgiving dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

    International students in PSU are take their food in Thankgiving dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

    “It honestly doesn’t really bother me when they ask, it’s kind of their way of showing they care,” said Megan Davis, freshman in biology.
    Davis says she believes Thanksgiving is also not just about the food.
    “To me, Thanksgiving means spending time with family and being thankful for the family you have and for the time you had with family members who are no longer here,” Davis said.
    Karlie Lower, freshman in education, says her 75-mile drive home is much more difficult in the winter and the hard travel really makes her reflective of the holiday.
    “Thanksgiving is a time where I can spend with my family, and think about how thankful I am to have this amazing life,” she said.
    Although many students at Pitt State are able to make it home for the holiday fairly easily, some, such as Peyton Hayworth, choose to stay behind in Pittsburg.
    Hayworth, freshman in secondary educations, says she is not going home to celebrate because her family lives in Tennessee. However, she said, she will not let the distance ruin the holiday season.
    “I am going to celebrate by finding some friends to hang out with.”
    Courtney Nelson, freshman in criminal justice, will also be in Pittsburg during Thanksgiving break.
    “I just plan on doing homework at the last minute,” she said.
    About 20 students are currently signed up to stay in the residence halls over the break and though they may not be traveling home for turkey this year, they will still have a chance to celebrate.
    With the help of the Sodexo food staff, the Gibson Dining Hall will host an early Thanksgiving dinner Thursday, Nov. 20. The D-Hall’s holiday menu will consist of turkey, ham, casseroles, pies and the never-ending ice cream from the ice-cream machine.
    D-Hall Thanksgiving will cost $8 for students who do not currently have a meal plan.

    | Hating the holidays |

    | Jeremiah Jones reporter |

    The holidays are closing in and the students are heading out, but not everything is going to be so full of thanks or cheer this holiday year. With all the holidays coming up, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, students are going to be spending a lot of time back home with family and parents
    “It’s boring; there is nothing to do at home. Here I always have something to do,” said Cheyenne Yoakum, freshman in psychology
    That sums up about one third of the reason why students hate going home for the holidays: there is just nothing left to do, after spending 18 plus years at home. Especially after leaving the nest and gaining the freedom of being away and either being completely independent or close to it.
    Besides the boredom factor, another reason students say they hate the holidays is the grueling part of getting home for them.
    “The four hour drive” is what Levi Burger, senior in automotive technologies, says he hates the most.
    Don’t forget the terrible, out of control weather that tends to frequently pop up out of nowhere. All the while having to pay for the gas in your tank, presents and everything else along the way while being a responsible adult.
    “What I hate most about going home for the holidays is that my parents try to control me like a kid again,” said Heather Dillinger, freshman in elementary education.
    Some students say seeing the family and being home for a bit cures homesickness, but as soon as the homesickness is cured they start missing all the people they left behind at college.
    “I hate missing my friends,” said Cale Heiniger, senior in biochemistry
    Maybe there are a lot of things to hate about going home, maybe it’s only one or two things, maybe it’s a long list, but going home can also be rewarding.
    “I don’t hate it actually, I look forward to it I guess,” said Marley Murrow, sophomore in education. “I love seeing my family, I love food so the holidays would be good for me.”

    Keeping with tradition

    | Kyleigh Becker reporter |

    Thanksgiving traditions are part of nearly every American family.
    For some, it’s always watching the big game. For others, it’s grandma’s pumpkin pie. Yet still for other students, tradition might not be too traditional – but they have one thing in common: family.
    Jared Jennings, senior in commercial art, says that his family traditions are what most would consider “traditional.”
    “We have the normal turkey and ham dinner,” Jennings said. “The whole family is at the table. It’s one of the times of the year we actually eat at a table like a family.”
    The family also has a not-so-traditional dish on the menu.
    “One of my aunts usually brings enchiladas,” Jennings said. “I think everyone kind of expects that.”
    Football comes after food in their house no matter what, Jennings says.
    “We actually act like a normal family on Thanksgiving,” Jennings said.
    All the rest of the year however, Jennings says, there’s some weird stuff that goes on in his family.
    “I’m sure there’s weird stuff that happens on Thanksgiving too but it’s not as prominent,” Jennings said.
    Crystal Felkner, senior in music education, gets to celebrate two Thanksgivings.
    “We usually go over to my grandma’s house the weekend before and we do a big Thanksgiving there,” Felker said. “Then everybody comes to our house and we have Thanksgiving at our house.”
    Felker says her grandmother makes homemade ham and noodles every year and the family watches the football game, especially if the Chiefs are playing.
    “We always root against the Cowboys because my uncle loves the Cowboys,” she said. “Just on principle we root against them. We don’t know why he likes them.”
    Felker’s family also has another special tradition involving their turkey. They brine it in apple citrus brine for a few days before baking it on Thanksgiving.
    Other students, like plastics engineering sophomore Austin Russell, has only been to one place for his family’s laid-back Thanksgiving: his grandmother’s home in Oklahoma.
    “It always has to be there,” Russell said. “We’ve done it for as long as I can remember. I don’t think I’ve ever had Thanksgiving at my house.”
    Russell says having his large family in his grandmother’s small house leads to everyone being everywhere during the full day event, possibly grabbing for some of grandma’s pumpkin pie.
    “Everybody stays throughout the day,” Russell said. “It’s Thanksgiving lunch and dinner.”
    There will be one thing missing from the Russell family celebration this year.
    “My late aunt always brought a chocolate pie for my dad,” Russell said.
    Russell’s grandmother also always makes a pumpkin pie, a staple of many families fall celebration.
    Most Thanksgivings are a family affair, whether that family is large or small.
    Frankie Merrick, junior in physical education, says his major really helps him out with his 20 or so cousins.
    “Thanksgiving usually consists of everybody running around, making everybody nuts,” Merrick said. “Especially the little ones.”
    Merrick and his family gather at his grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving.
    “We usually end up running out of food,” Merrick said. “And whatever food is left, is left on somebody.”
    Once the food’s gone, the family settles down for football.
    “We watch football and everybody else drinks beer the rest of the night,” Merrick said.

  • Flu Q&A

    Q: When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?
    A: Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.
    Q: What should I do to prepare for this flu season?
    A: CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available. In addition to getting
    vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying
    away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body.
    Q: Where can I get a flu vaccine?
    A: You can get flu vaccines at the Bryant Student Health
    Center or at any lcoal health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic.

    Falling into flu season

    | Kyleigh Becker reporter |

    Flu season is upon us: prepare for coughing, fevers, soreness and a plethora of other possible symptoms — like playing catch-up with anywhere from a few days to two weeks’ worth of class work.
    Students can prevent this by getting this season’s flu shot. It’s a $15 insurance policy on one’s health and ability to study.
    The vaccine for influenza doesn’t carry over year-to-year, as different strains of the flu can show up every year.
    “Each year, flu season tends to have differences in how aggressive it is,” said Carrie Farrington, a medical provider at the Bryant Student Health Center. “In 2009 and 2010, (the flu) was much more aggressive.”
    The past few years haven’t been too aggressive. However, there isn’t an unlimited number of vaccines.
    The Bryant Student Health Center has given more than two-thirds of its 300 influenza vaccines, mostly to nursing students who require them to do clinicals and teacher education majors.
    “Last year, we had very minimal actual influenza cases,” Farrington said. “Obviously we always want to be prepared for it to be an aggressive flu and that’s why getting the immunization out to as many people as possible is important.”
    Elizabeth Coleman, sophomore in nursing, has already received her flu vaccination for the fall.
    “It’s a health concern with everyone in the United States,” Coleman said. “And I want to be healthy.”
    Two years ago, Coleman got the flu and missed more than a week of school. Since then, she has received the vaccine each year and has not contracted it again.
    Farrington added that getting the flu shot is especially important to those with chronic health issues.
    “Healthy people in general can fight off the flu fairly well, but people that have any chronic health problems, like diabetes, heart problems, asthma, if they’re pregnant during flu season, it’s very important they get their immunizations,” she said.
    Calvin Pulliam, senior in sociology, says he hasn’t ever gotten a flu shot.
    “I’m not against them, I just never take the time to do it,” Pulliam said.
    Students should know that the flu cannot be contracted after getting a vaccination because the virus in the vaccine is not active.
    “Occasionally, people may run a low-grade fever, have some generalized body aches, but not, they cannot get the flu from obtaining the flu shot,” Farrington said.
    However, even with a flu shot, there is still a chance of contracting the flu later in the season, though the symptoms will be lessened, Farrington says.
    Despite having a limited number of vaccines, the health center has stated it will be able to obtain more if needed. The city’s Community Health Center, Crawford County Health Department and several pharmacies in Pittsburg also carry flu vaccines.
    “Unfortunately we don’t tend to have a big need once we’re out most years,” Farrington said. “We don’t see students taking advantage of the flu shot as much as we’d like to.”

  • Cold can’t kill celebration

    Veterans Day service celebrates peace

    | Kelsea Renz editor-in-chief |

    More than 100 veterans, families, students and sixth-graders from area middle schools, bundled in coats, scarves, boots and hats to keep away the chill from outside, packed into the National Guard Armory gym to celebrate the many men and women who have served their country at the Veterans Day service on Tuesday, Nov. 11.
    The service was moved indoors from the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater due to weather.
    “I was excited when I thought it was going to be out in the memorial, but it was still very nice today inside,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Hutchinson, instructor of military science. “And the memorial is always there. That’s a wonderful thing to see, too.”
    The service honored those who had served to secure the freedom and peace Americans enjoy today.
    “Veterans Day is a celebration of peace and a time to remember those who gave so much to ensure that peace,” said Steve Scott, university president, in his speech. “They left their homes and families, not because they wanted to fight, but because they wanted peace.”
    Some of the sixth graders in attendance performed the National Anthem and the Armed Services medley for the crowd. Most, however, were simply part of the audience and made up about half of those in attendance.
    “I knew there would be a lot of elementary school kids coming but I didn’t realize there would be that many,” Hutchinson said. “That really just brought a smile to my face because looking across the audience they all seemed very interested.”
    The highlight of the program seemed to be the speech of Timothy Simpson, ISS facilitator and assistant basketball coach for Pittsburg Community Middle School, who received a standing ovation from all those able.
    His speech, though faltering, was full of raw emotion as he addressed the audience and, especially, the sixth graders in attendance.
    “I never thought in a million years I would have gone down the road I’ve gone, never thought in a million years that I would have the type of experiences that I’ve had in my life, never thought in a million years I’d make it back home to be able to stand here before you,” he said. “I love every service man and woman who’s ever served, and I love all of you, because without you I wouldn’t be here today.”
    The presentation of the fallen soldier’s battle cross, which followed Simpson’s speech, was also emotional and brought tears to some people’s eyes.
    “That one has a profound impact on a lot of people, at least for myself,” Hutchinson said. “Usually it’s under different circumstances that that is present.”
    The service also meant a lot to those in attendance, especially veterans and their families. One couple said they teared up when “TAPS” was played, as they remembered “the guys we left over in Vietnam.”
    “TAPS” just kills me. It’s lonesome,” said Marilyn Cowan whose husband Maurice “Bucky” Cowan served in the Marines during the Vietnam conflict. “It’s very emotional. You can’t help it.”

  • Senators query PSU official; grants ensemble $15,000

    | Audrey Dighans copy editor |

    The Student Government Association (SGA) had a busy night Wednesday, Nov. 12, as the organization’s meeting was postponed until after the Presidential Q&A, in which all Senate members were required to attend.

    Questions? Questions?

    Sen. Elle Walker hosted this semester’s Presidential Q&A in which Steve Scott, university president, and a panel of 10 other university officials were available to the student body to answer questions.
    A combination of written-in questions, read by Walker, and in-attendance questions were asked of the panel.

    Q: Why is there no check-in system for guests in the residence halls?
    Answered by Steve Erwin, associate vice president of campus life and auxiliary services

    Pitt State is one of the few universities in existence today and historically in which the residence halls are always locked and you must have a key to get in. As a cost savings measure, we do not run 24/7 desk hours as many other universities do. Our desk services are available in the evenings when many students are home. This limits access, but reduces the manpower we would have to employ to run desk hours 24 hours a day.
    I have worked at other universities where a check-in policy really does not work well. It often creates a false sense of security because if someone wants to circumvent the check-in policy, they can easily do so by bringing guests in through different access points of the building, away from the check-in desk.

    Q: What are the plans for replacing the tennis courts that were once located by the Weede?
    Answered by Steve Scott, university president

    The tennis courts were removed to make way for the Performing Arts Center parking lot. If we did not remove them, parking would not have been very accessible for the center. In all reality, there is not much of a push to replace them. PSU does not have a tennis team. If anything, the tennis courts were more for the community than the student body. Local high schools held meets there, there was some recreational use, but as far as the university knows, there is no push to regain them.
    There is work to access land near the railroad tracks by the KTC. In the long run, we know that PSU may need a soccer field as well as additional playing fields. Tennis courts may be incorporated into this idea, but again, that is long-term speculation.

    Q: When will Kelce and Whitesitt halls be improved?
    Answered by Steve Scott, university president

    There was actually a meeting today at two o’clock in which the whole discussion centered on Kelce. I am surprised no one has mentioned Yates Hall, which looks exactly as it did when I was a student in 1971.
    We cannot abandon the facilities we already have. Often as soon as we replace something, we notice a million more things that need attention.
    Kelce is on the facility master plan. We are not in a position here in Kansas to drive up to Topeka, explain our needs and have everyone say, “Let’s allocate $20 million for that.” The state does not build buildings in Kansas; we have to raise the funds on our own.
    There is money set aside … to work on Yates Hall. Grubbs Hall also needs attention, as does Axe Library. A group meets every month to look at every project on the radar for the university.

  • Scars aren’t skin-deep

    | Valli Sridharan reporter |

    Pitt State’s International Justice Mission invited speakers from Rapha House and Blackbox International to speak on human trafficking Tuesday, Nov. 4, as part of Justice Week events.
    Nearly 100 students filed into Grubbs Hall to listen.
    From Rapha House, Angela Foster spoke about the sex trade in Cambodia.
    Foster spoke of Rapha House’s concerns regarding sex trafficking, a $35 billion industry that has trapped more than 29 million people of all races, gender and age.
    “In America, the issue is huge,” Foster said. “Seventy percent of victims know their traffickers. Even though we are a tier 1 country, according to the UN trafficking still happens. Young children are lured into this and it becomes difficult for them to escape.
    ”Foster then presented a film to the audience during which many members looked stunned as they watched the story of a young Cambodia girl fall into this trap.
    “I was aware that sex trafficking happened in some parts of the world, but had no idea that it was rampant all over the world,” said Chinar Dambe, graduate student in printing management. “When I heard the Cambodian girl’s story, I felt horrible. Getting into this mess at that young age must have been miserable for that girl.”
    The second speaker of the evening, Ryan Milliken of Blackbox International, spoke about male victims of human trafficking and how they are often overlooked when the topic is discussed.
    “A majority of the victims are girls, so people don’t really talk about the male victims,” Milliken said. This is also a faux pas in many societies. People don’t realize that 400,000 boys all over the world are caught up in this problem. They are a huge part of child sex tourism in the Dominican Republic, where we work.”
    Milliken says there are many challenges when working with boys vs. girls.
    “This is a new territory for us,” he said. “Boys have a different way of handling emotions and healing their wounds. They deal with frustration and pain a lot differently.”
    After the presentations, many students said they feel motivated to bring about change and not be silent spectators.
    “If there is one thing I am taking back from today’s event, it is that I want to make a difference,” said Autumn Howe, senior in psychology. “I had no idea this was happening at a global scale.”
    Others, such as Beidi Zhang, said they felt overwhelmed and upset at the level of cruelty in the world.
    “I just wonder why there are so many bad people around us in the world,” Zhang, junior in accounting, said. “I am from a very happy family. I used to feel upset about small things, but hearing their story I realize how happy I can be.
    “I want to do something about this, because I also come from a developing country (China). As humans we are a union and I want this to end.”

  • Pledge against sexual assault

    | Valli Sridharan reporter |

    The Student Government Association conducted the “It’s on us” campaign for sexual assault prevention on Thursday, Oct. 30. This is a national level campaign that was initiated by President Obama about two months ago to end sexual assaults on university campuses.
    “I think it is a wonderful initiative,” said Kamakshi Singh, graduate student in mechanical engineering technology. “I feel that victims of sexual assault need and deserve the support of the community.”

    Grace Geiger, a freshman in accounting, and Taylor Mercier, a freshman in recreational therapy, and Dakota Dudash, an undeclared freshman, take a picture with a frame of The Pledge during the It's On Us event in Lindburg Plaza on Thursday, Oct. 30. It is held by SGA to raise the sexual assault awareness.

    Grace Geiger, a freshman in accounting, and Taylor Mercier, a freshman in recreational therapy, and Dakota Dudash, an undeclared freshman, take a picture with a frame of The Pledge during the It’s On Us event in Lindburg Plaza on Thursday, Oct. 30. It is held by SGA to raise the sexual assault awareness.

    SGA wanted to raise awareness on the burning issue of sexual assault in a way that would attract people to the cause.
    “When it came to organizing it, we just reached out to organizations and people we thought had knowledge or heart for the issue of ending sexual assault,” said Danielle Walker, senior in communication and SGA campus affairs director.
    To draw attention, they put up a booth where people could pledge to the cause and gave out candy, cupcakes and cookies to students. In the evening, there was a pumpkin-painting contest, free burritos from Yoselin, and drawings for free scholarships of $100 each.
    “It was also a great opportunity to be able to win a scholarship while supporting the brilliant ‘It’s on us’ campaign,” said Andrew Woods, graduate student in the clinical mental health counseling program.
    Students can still take the online pledge at and gain more information on sexual assault and what to do if they face it.
    The highlight of the evening program was the panel discussion by election candidates Margie Wakefield and Julie Menghini.
    Several students asked them questions about what exactly constitutes sexual assault and how they can fight for their rights.
    “As a member of our community, I want to show my solidarity by speaking against sexual assault,” Singh said.
    The complex issue of by-standers effect was discussed as well. This explored how the presence of more people witnessing an assault doesn’t always translate into more help for the victim.
    “I wish campaigns like this weren’t necessary,” said Jeremiah Jones, sophomore in marketing. “It makes me sad that we do need them because there is so much violence in the world.”
    Walker shared how her own experience has helped her understand the difficulties a sexual assault victim can face.
    “As a personal victim of sexual assault, this issue hits close to my hear,” she said. “I know from experience how hard, and how long, it can take to come forward. But it shouldn’t be hard.
    “Victims shouldn’t be afraid of the backlash they might face. If we could just change the culture, and teach people what constitutes sexual assault and why it’s bad, then we could potentially save millions of women.”

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