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December, 2017 - The Metropolitan

In Our December, 2017 Issue:

Metro State to celebrate Hmong New Year on Dec. 30

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The Hmong Student Organization (HSO) is making plans for their final gathering of 2017—a celebration of Hmong New Year from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 30 in Founders Hall on the St. Paul campus.

“This year, Metro has collaborated with two other campuses to bring an even bigger Hmong New Year event to all students and staff. We will be hosting this year’s event with Century College and Inver Hills Community College,” said Soua Xiong, the president of the HSO.

“We hope to make the experience and celebration reflect what a Hmong New Year offers,” she said. The event will feature Hmong music, dance, games and performances. HSO representatives will speak about customs and answer audience questions.

“We would really like our guests to wear traditional Hmong clothes. So this year, if you come to the event in traditional Hmong clothes, you will be entered into a raffle drawing to win great prizes,” said Xiong. Audience members can also participate in Hmong trivia to win a prize.

After the performances, anyone is welcome to participate in an open mic. The performances do not have to relate to Hmong culture.

The event is open to the public and children are welcome. A dinner will follow in New Main Great Hall.

Read The Full Article

Leadership changes at Student Senate

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“This is a big shakeup for me personally. I hope I can bring increased transparency to our work,” said Heather Moenck in assuming the presidency of the Student Senate at the Dec. 1 meeting. Per Senate bylaws, Moenck took leadership after replacing former president Dhibo Hussein on Nov. 29.

With the resignation of another member, the Student Senate had two vacancies to fill at their Dec. 1 meeting. Three students applied, and Sociology major Kunta Kenyette Harris and Biology major Adowa Juste were elected by paper ballot.

Juste was subsequently elected to serve as Vice President. “I want to help, I want to be a bridge,” Juste said. “I will bring responsibility and discipline to the role, and I am a quick learner.”

The Metropolitan sat down with Moenck following the Dec. 1 meeting to discuss the progress of the Student Senate.

How would you gauge the work of the Student Senate at the midyear point?

I’m kind of torn in how I think we are doing. We’ve done some really good things, and I’m really proud of that. But my expectations don’t really match what is happening.

I think that’s more because of the way bureaucracy works. And many of our Senators were new at the beginning of the year. I think all but a handful were new. So I think Senate is doing really well given where we started.

We organized the St. Paul Mayoral Forum, which was amazing. We had a lot of people turn out. And we just passed affirmative consent which I am really excited about.

I definitely have these visions and grand plans. We are going to do great things—but it takes time.

Would you characterize yourself as an ambitious person?

Read The Full Article

Q+A with President Arthur: Student fees

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The Metropolitan sat down with President Ginny Arthur on Nov. 17 for an hour-long conversation. She discussed student fees in detail, as well as plans for new degree programs and growth at Metro State. This is the second in a monthly series of interviews.

President Ginny Arthur.

We are focusing in this edition on student fees. Can you talk about your philosophy on them?

I think student fees have been around at least as long as the modern American university, going back to 1800s or 1900s. In some ways it’s like the principle of paying taxes. I live in the city of St. Paul and I pay property taxes and that gives us libraries, for example. Now whether I ever go to the library and take out a book, I am still supporting it and there is an intangible benefit to having a library available.

Some students are upset about fees they pay for services they don’t use. For example, some students don’t want to pay the activity fee because they don’t have time to get involved in clubs and organizations. What do you say to those students?

For the student activity fee, the issue is whether an individual takes part in an activity or not, is it good for the campus to have it? And should everyone contribute to it?

Read The Full Article

Grope and change: A turning point on sexual harassment

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Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore, Al Franken. The list of people whose lives are being turned upside down due to sexual harassment and sexual assault claims continues to grow.

And it’s about time.

For many college students, whose campuses are currently adopting or refining affirmative consent policies regarding sexual assault, the fact that these powerful men have gotten away with such repugnant behavior for decades might seem comically absurd. However, there is a fairly sound and obvious reason.

Before getting to that reason, the (very) short definition of affirmative consent is that it is a higher standard of what it means to consent to sex. Instead of “no means no,” a standard that could allow silence to be interpreted as consent, affirmative consent requires a proactive “yes” from both partners. There are many nuances that need to be ironed out, including disciplinary action, which is true of most new policies. But that’s a topic unto itself because policies differ from campus to campus to accommodate the needs of different students. (The Metro State Student Senate passed an affirmative consent statement on Dec. 1. See story on page 2.)

Anyway, (drumroll), the obvious reason: They got away with it because our society has historically sanctioned, encouraged, rewarded, and practically celebrated sexual harassment. It is absolutely ingrained in nearly every aspect of life. The common excuses for their behavior— “it was a different time” and “everybody did it”—are probably true, even if the behavior is still unacceptable.

We might think of the overt sexism of “Mad Men” as a relic of the past. It is, but like racism, it simply went underground. Just as people supposedly stopped saying the n-word in the late 1960s, sexual harassment continued in hushed tones.

Read The Full Article

Posters showcase student research

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Metropolitan State hosted a student poster conference on Thursday, Nov. 30 on the St. Paul campus. The event was sponsored by the Office of the President.

Undergraduate and graduate students shared their research projects on large posters. Students stood near their posters to explain their research and answer questions from conference attendees.

Condensing a research paper down to a poster is common in psychology and other academic disciplines, said Dr. Alex Layne, conference organizer and assistant professor in Communication, Writing and the Arts. “If you want to go to grad school, this is essential. As a grad student you will attend and present at conferences. Being able to articulate your research and the value of your work is a key skill,” she said.

Layne helped bring the first student research conference to Metro State in spring 2016 because she had the “invaluable” experience of participating in a conference as an undergraduate. “I was studying rhetoric. My dad got to see me present and he finally understood what I was researching,” she said. The experience propelled her to pursue her graduate degrees.

To present at the conference, students first submitted 250-word abstracts describing the nature and impact of their research. There was no cost for students to participate. Printing of posters was supported by the Psychology Lab.

Layne doesn’t want students to be intimidated by the process. “We can give you a poster template, show you where to put your research methods, your findings,” she said.

Graduate student Scott Lindell [also Associate Editor of The Metropolitan] found it a streamlined process going from paper to poster. He presented a research project on advances in the car wash industry with classmates Jordan Malay and David Stallworth for MIS 671, Problem Formulation and Data Presentation.

Read The Full Article

The who, what and how of the healthcare services fee

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The healthcare services fee of $2.50 per credit was instituted in spring 2016 to help Metro State comply with a Minnesota statute requiring state universities to offer health services to students.

Instead of building an on-campus clinic, Metro State selected a web-based healthcare service called OnCare. Jodee Fitzgerald was hired as Healthcare and Wellness Services Coordinator.

OnCare is a telemedicine platform of Fairview Health Services. After creating an account, students can input their symptoms and receive a diagnosis and treatment plan. Only common and minor conditions like colds, urinary tract infections, and pink eye are covered. The OnCare visit is free; students pay for any prescribed medicines.

Metro State pays a set amount to the company, irrespective of how many students use the OnCare service. As of October, Metro State has collected $415,493.15 from student fees and spent $49,461.06. Of that, $40,993.76 went to salary and benefits for the healthcare coordinator, and $8,467.30 to healthcare services, according to Bruce Biser, Interim Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

“We’ve built up a balance there. The online diagnostic tool that our students were going to use, apparently the pre-screening threw out a lot more students than we anticipated. Outside of paying for Jodee Fitzgerald’s salary and the diagnostic tool which is getting minimal use, there are no other expenses,” said Biser. “We’re trying to figure out, short of a clinic, what we can provide for students. It’s a work in progress.”

Given the low utilization of OnCare, the Student Senate is planning to campaign for a traditional on-campus healthcare facility, said Dhibo Hussein, the former Student Senate President.

Read The Full Article

Campus news briefs

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The Metropolitan State Student Senate has joined an effort to make “yes means yes” the standard of consent for sexual activity. A motion to change the definition of consent in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system passed without discussion or dissent at the Student Senate meeting on Dec. 1. Senators hope their statement will pressure the Board of Trustees of Minnesota State to amend their policy on sexual violence.

The amended board policy 1B.3 would read (proposed new language underlined):

“Minnesota ​State ​requires affirmative ​consent ​to ​be ​present ​and ​expressed ​by ​both ​parties ​participating ​in ​sexual activity. ​Affirmative ​consent ​is ​defined ​as ‘informed, ​freely ​and ​affirmatively communicated ​willingness ​to ​participate ​in ​sexual ​activity ​that ​is ​expressed ​by ​clear and ​unambiguous ​words ​or ​actions.’ If ​coercion, ​intimidation, ​threats, ​and/or physical ​force ​are ​used, ​there ​is ​no ​consent. ​If ​the ​complainant ​is ​mentally ​or physically ​incapacitated ​or ​impaired ​so ​that ​the ​complainant ​cannot ​understand ​the fact, ​nature, ​or ​extent ​of ​the ​sexual ​situation, ​there ​is ​no ​consent; ​this ​includes conditions ​due ​to ​alcohol ​or ​drug ​consumption, ​or ​being ​asleep ​or ​unconscious, or physically ​involuntarily ​restrained, ​or ​if ​either ​party ​is ​not ​of ​legal ​age ​pursuant ​to Minnesota ​State ​Law. A ​lack ​of ​protest, ​absence ​of ​resistance, ​or ​silence do ​not ​imply ​consent. ​Consent ​must ​be ​present ​through ​the ​entire ​duration ​of ​sexual activity, ​and ​may ​be ​withdrawn ​at ​any ​time. ​When ​consent ​is ​withdrawn, ​all ​sexual activity ​must ​stop, ​once ​consent ​is ​withdrawn ​it ​must ​be ​affirmatively ​given ​again before ​sexual ​activity ​resumes. ​The ​existence ​of ​a ​present ​or ​past ​dating ​or ​romantic relationship ​does ​not ​imply ​consent ​to ​future ​sexual ​activity. ​Prior ​dating ​or ​romantic relationships ​or ​sexual ​activity ​will ​not ​have ​an ​influence ​on ​officers ​determining ​the presence ​of ​consent. Whether ​the ​respondent ​has ​taken ​advantage ​of ​a ​position ​of influence ​over ​the ​complainant ​may ​be ​a ​factor ​in ​determining ​consent.”

Read The Full Article

Now hiring: Web Editor

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Applicants must be current Metropolitan State University students. Students from all majors are welcome.

To apply, submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Editor Kathryn Ganfield at ul5097yl@metrostate.edu. Please note your academic major and intended graduation date. Application materials preferred by Jan. 1. Interviews held Jan. 8 – 12.

Job Description:

Minimum of 20 hours a month. $200 stipend per newspaper edition (10 editions per year).

Duties:

  • Maintains and updates The Metropolitan’s website (themetropolitan.metrostate.edu) and Facebook account on a regular and timely basis
  • Continues to improve design, architecture and visual appeal of website
  • Writes at least one article per month
  • Attends staff meetings

Qualifications:

  • Familiarity with HTML and CSS mandatory (Suggested coursework: ICS 225 Web Design or WRIT 373 Writing and Designing for the Web)
  • Familiarity with PHP and JavaScript preferred (Suggested coursework: ICS 325 Internet Application Development)
  • Knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite, digital photo and video technology preferred
  • Understanding of SEO, website analytics, and online advertising a plus

Après-ski: Considering privilege at school and on the slopes

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I’m finally looking down on someone. He stands but a hundred feet below me, panting, sweating, resting on his ski poles. I’m doing the same. We are both following a wide white path cut through the Aspen National Forest, and it’s much harder than we thought it would be.

For the last few days, the people out here have been looking down on me. So for me now to be in their position? It feels good. Really good.

Joel Vaillancourt captured this view from the top of Aspen Highlands in Colorado in March 2017.

I’m at Snowmass, part of the Aspen Resort group which also includes Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain. I came out here because the word “Aspen” is synonymous for snobby, rich, better-than-thou. Aspen is a human zoo where the wealthy can be observed in their natural habitat. It’s the American nucleus of money and snow, and I needed to journey into the heart of it.

I spend only an hour in the actual town of Aspen because, frankly, it is just too much. Too fake, too expensive, too aggressive. The small airport’s runway has private jets coming and going constantly, full of rich people much more powerful and important than myself. How I wish I could afford to fly directly into Aspen, rather than Denver International and forgo a three-hour drive with a hoard of other tourists.

Read The Full Article

Black box bulldozed, condos coming

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“Kneecapped.”

That is how Theater major Marty Bloomquist describes his situation at Metro State. “It is madness to have a theater program without a theater,” said Bloomquist.

In spring 2017, Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) made the decision to demolish the Stagedoor Theater in order to sell the land to a private developer. A black box theater located behind the Whitney Fine Arts Center on the MCTC campus, the Stagedoor had been used by Metro State Theater students for over nine years.

The black box theater on the campus of Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) is razed in October 2017 to make way for a multi-family housing project from developer W + Noordijk, LLC. The theater was the home of Metro State’s Theater department for nine years.

A black box is ideal for theater training because, unlike a traditional proscenium stage, it has no fixed seating, is intimate and flexible. It is considered especially effective for plays with small casts, student-run productions, and experimental shows.

Metro State and MCTC offer a collaborative Theater degree, which means that Metro State theater students commute to the MCTC campus in Minneapolis for classes. They take 14 credits at MCTC and 22 credits or more at Metro State.

Without a black box and a space to hold productions, theater students have no other choice but to use regular classrooms and participate in staged readings.

Read The Full Article

Digging into the data and mining for meaning

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They went the extra mile and discovered a trend.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, five students from Professor Firasat Khan’s MIS 380, Business Intelligence and Analytics class represented Metro State at the MinneMUDAC 2017 Fall Student Challenge. Mohamed Abdi, David Bowles, Dahir Mohamed, Khom Redlinger, and Benjamin Sipe—competing as ‘Team Alpha United’ —earned the “Discovery Award” in their first data analytics competition.

“Discovery Award” winners Team Alpha United and their instructor. From left to right:  Benjamin Sipe, Mohamed Abdi, Khom Redlinger, Dr. Firasat Khan (instructor), David Bowles, and Dahir Mohamed.

A month before the competition, the team received a real-world healthcare data set for a real-world problem. Alpha United’s mission? “Finding insight from garbled numbers,” said team member Benjamin Sipe.

At first, the group focused on the assigned task of finding 6,000 patients from the data set who are most likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. A preventative care program could help decrease healthcare and pharmacy claims, and assist the patients in living healthier lives.

But as the group worked with the huge data set, they came up with the idea to compare it to an external data set from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“They discovered something unexpected in the data by trying new things,” said Professor Khan. By comparing the two data sets, they noticed their trend did not align with the one from the CDC.

Read The Full Article

To a degree: Things I learned along the way

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Joseph T. Parsons is The Metropolitan’s outgoing Web Editor. In his final article, he offers some suggestions for how students can best succeed in the coursework.

Love every class you take

If there is one basic key to success, it’s to be passionate about every class you take.

And this is quite easy with electives and generals! Until you begin your major’s coursework, you have a variety of class options to fulfill your degree requirements. If you don’t like biology, don’t take it!

On the other hand, there are mandatory classes you can’t avoid. And as hard as it may be, the best way to be successful in those classes is to love them too. I’ve tricked myself into loving classes. Try fooling yourself into loving a class for four months; I think you will find you have a much easier time passing it.

Know your limits and plan ahead

The biggest mistake students can make is doing too much and failing all of it. As early as possible, find a balance that works for you. If you think you can only take three classes a semester, map that out. See which courses are offered each semester and how long it would take to complete your degree. Adjust your course plan accordingly.

Metro State’s summer classes can be helpful here, too. It took me two years to learn that I can only take three classes and still give it my all. But by taking two courses each summer semester, I had enough credits to graduate on schedule.

Planning is really important to avoid surprises that prevent you from graduating on time. Many majors have particular prerequisites that you may not know about. For example, if you’re planning on majoring in Computer Science, make sure you know which courses to take before you can begin the major. Normally, you’ll want to take these courses in your first two years of studies.

Read The Full Article

The spectrum of student fees

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Student Senator Richard Ketelsen knew what he was getting into when he joined the student governing board. The job would mean hearing fellow students’ ideas—and complaints—about Metro State.

“I was a tutor before I became a senator, and I’ve found they are similar jobs. Students get stressed out—understandably. Part of being a tutor is both helping with homework and reassuring students as they deal with life and college stress,” said Ketelsen.

Common feedback he hears from students? The financial pressure of tuition and fees.

His first objective is to listen and understand student concerns. He and his fellow student senators are always looking for more ways to mitigate the cost of tuition and fees, he said. For example, in September, they voted to subsidize Metro Transit passes to reduce the impact of the parking fee on students who don’t drive to campus.

University administrators consult with the Student Senate on tuition and fees, per a Minnesota State system policy that recognizes the importance of student involvement in decision-making. To be most effective in that role, Ketelsen said the Student Senate needs to hear even more from the student body. He encourages students to share their ideas at an upcoming meeting or by emailing student.senate@metrostate.edu. “When any proposal to the Student Senate has a clear benefit to students, I’ve never seen it fail,” he said.

Ketelsen approached The Metropolitan to propose this special section explaining student fees. “I think we need to use numbers, facts and data to help students see their fees go to valuable services,” he said.

The Student Senate will have several vacancies in January, and he encourages interested students to apply via OrgSync. “You can make your ideas happen. That’s the beauty of the system,” he said.

Read The Full Article