Students examine tough topics

Apr 19, 2017

The Northwest Inclusion Committee sponsored a two day event honing in on ethical issues within human trafficking and transgender rights, while attendees sipped coffee April 12-13.

Day one of Coffee and Conversation hosted speakers with various insights on the problem of human trafficking, each providing different ways to help prevent this from occurring locally and nationwide.

Title IX Coordinator Rebecca Lawrence spoke of the resources in Maryville and on Northwest’s campus to prevent human trafficking.

“If you feel like someone you know is in a trafficking situation, whether they are a student or not, our office is a resource,” Lawrence said. “Let us know, because we are able to work with prosecutors, officers of the law, St. Francis Hospital and counseling centers to get them what they need.”

Lawrence said medical attention may be necessary for those who are trafficked depending on their specific situation.

“St. Francis will be a big thing for them because a lot of the time, people who are trafficked are not getting medical care,” Lawrence said. “Depending on how they were trafficked into the country, they may have injuries because they may have been sexually assaulted and need some sort of medical care along with some counseling.”

Lawrence said those who are worried can reach out to the Title IX office through email, stop by the office in the Student Engagement Center, call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 188-373-7888, head to the University Police station or visit the Maryville Public Safety office.

Advocate for Women in Christian Ministry Emily Meyers spoke on behalf of TraffickCam, a new app allowing users to help law enforcement keep a record of hotel rooms that are possible human trafficking locations.

According to Meyers, the Exchange Initiative, a program developed in St. Louis in 2012, saw that people who had passion for fighting sex trafficking wanted to solve the issue. After partnering with Washington University, they created TraffickCam in 2016. Meyers said this app is part of the solution to human trafficking.

“So the way sex trafficking happens the majority of the time, a pimp has a victim and they are selling the victim online to get bids,” Meyers said. “This typically happens on websites such as backpages.com where they have their own underground sites that they use. They post a picture of the victim, typically in the very same hotel room that they are sold in, and they sell these to the ‘Johns’ that bid on them. Whoever wins receives the location of that hotel room and that is where their escort takes place.”

TraffickCam helps police officers track down trafficking crimes in, at the very least, hotels photographed by using the app. The user is instructed to take pictures of their room and provide the hotel’s location in addition to its name. This information is saved and shared with law enforcement.

Day two of the Northwest Inclusion Committees’ Coffee and Conversation was filled with issues facing transgender college students.

Green Dot Coordinator Danielle Koonce explained a chart comparing the percentage of psychological distress experienced by the transgender population to different age groups in the United States.

“Fifty-three percent of trans folks ages 18 to 25 are experiencing serious psychological distress,” Koonce said. “U.S. population (experiencing serious psychological distress) all the way across is pretty low. Trans folks are way up here.”

Koonce gestured to the top of the screen and then turned her attention to what she saw as the real problem at hand.

“What are we doing about that?” Koonce said. “There is nothing inherently wrong with being trans. There is nothing about being trans that means someone is going to carry more psychological distress than anyone else, except for the factors that are in their environment that cause it to be that way. I get really angry about this statistic.”

Student attendee, Emily Smith, had a question about specifics on what is being done to foster a supportive environment for the trans community.

“I think representation is really important, and I would really like to see the University make a better effort to hire more diverse staff and faculty,” Koonce said in response to Smith’s question. “I think part of it is on the staff and faculty, but a lot of it is on the students. You all have really powerful voices. If you see things you want to change, I mean, your dollars are why we are here. So if you want to see things change, there are staff that are here to help with guiding that.”

Koonce said she hopes Northwest students will feel a part of the campus by how students and faculty help make Northwest a more comfortable place overall.

“We want the University to be better,” Koonce said. “I don’t come here and think, ‘Yes, this is a perfect place 100 percent of the time.’ There are lots of things I like about Northwest, but I think there are a lot of things that could be better.”

Koonce said she thinks the staff needs to be better about recognizing apparent offenses happening in their offices.

“For me, it’s hard to find that balance, to be the person that’s speaking up. I think for all of us, even for you all as students, it’s hard to find that balance where you won’t be socially ostracized or ruin relationships (for standing up for transgender rights),” Koonce said. “So, if we are all able to throw caution to the wind and stand up for those battles, we can come together and celebrate those things. I think that is how we progress in small steps.”

 

Published April 19, 2017 @TheMissourian

Academy students explore 3D printing

Apr 12, 2017

Missouri Academy students begin designing a prosthetic hand and other projects by utilizing a 3D printer to reach out to the community.

Academy Students Kai Yun and Irene Hung were looking for ways to match each other’s creative potentials and came up with the Plastic Artificer’s Lab. The club’s main focus is on creative and volunteering efforts directed by the club’s President Yun and Vice President Hung.

The prosthetic hand idea stemmed from the website, enablingthefuture.com, which allows people to download designs and print them off to create artificial limbs. The Plastic Artificer’s Lab hopes to do just this and record its experience to be granted into a chapter.

Hung said flexibility in design and collaboration with the diverse group of individuals they have participating leads to innovative ideas being shared.

“You can design pretty much anything,” Hung said. “There is a software we can design the things that we want in, and then we change the STL file, where the design gets saved to. Then we change that code file into a specific code that the printer can read and print out afterwards.”

The Plastic Artificer’s Lab volunteered at Horace Mann Elementary School last fall. The club introduced kids to the concept of 3D printing and let them design an object that they will receive when the group prints them.

The group’s creative team has a mission to print a 3D printer inside of another 3D printer.

Dean of Missouri Academy Cleo Samudzi said the Missouri Academy is a great place for these young students to nurture their creative abilities.

“Students have been doing this for a long time (creating clubs), in a variety of different ways, but with the 3D printing system, it is the first group,” Samudzi said. “Otherwise, in many other different ways robotics club, the signs Olympia organization, and others include students doing things outside of academia.”

Every club and organization at the Missouri Academy has to go through a proposal process requiring students to convince a committee of its worth.

“This club did their presentation last year to create the club, we gave them a budget to get started and they have done some very interesting things,” Samudzi said.

Samudzi said the Missouri Academy is a great place for the young students to work together in highly beneficial ways.

“One of the things we hear quite often with the Missouri Academy having been around for about 17 years, is praises on leadership growth,” Samudzi said. “When they come here, they are all together and flourish. We nurture that creativity, being in an environment where that creativity is nurtured.”

 

Published April 12, 2017 @TheMissourian

UPD partners with local artists for exhibition

Mar 29, 2017

Northwest alumni, students and University police officers pondered pieces of art to get the bigger picture on what community represents.

The one-night art exhibition hosted by the University Police Department March 27 at 7 p.m. housed paintings, ceramics, photography and sculptures from Northwest alumni and Northwest students. University police officers participated in discussions about the artwork with the Maryville community and artists who attended.

Northwest students Chance Allen, Alexis Banegas, Dupree Dolor, Zoe Green and Melody Monroe had art displayed throughout the station. Northwest alumni who presented their work included sculptor Brant Weiland, ceramicist Jamie Woodard and painter Tia Calkins.

Woodard had porcelain work on display and for sale. She focuses on subjects such as nature, trees and texture in her work.

“When I’m working on a piece, I try to capture the impressions left by life and nature on the piece itself,” Woodard said. “I tend to focus on earthy elements. I want nature to show through in my work.”

Calkins curated the event and said University police officers connected with the group of artists at an art showcase earlier this month.

“By hosting an art exhibit in their new building, the UPD is hoping not only to continue their pursuit of art but also invite the community into their new space and experience the art together,” Calkins said.

University Police Department Lieutenant and Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Ceperley attended the event among other officers with an open mind.

“They’re experimenting in New York where they are bringing the officers in and teaching them to use their visual skills and conceptual skills in seeing things and identifying things in pictures in the art that normally people don’t see and pick up on,” Ceperley said.

Lieutenant Ceperley said he is always looking for new ways to get involved with the community. Doing something both productive for the force and enjoyable for the community is gratifying to Ceperley.

“We do Pizza and Police; we do jump starts and all kinds of fun stuff,” Ceperley said. “We’re on Twitter and social media and different things. We’re always searching for that thing that separates us from the rest. It is nice to partner with the artists, to use the facility and invite the public over and then also have a training for the officers to work on our visual and critical thinking skills.

Most art was for sale and prices ranged from $50 to $1,000. Artists had the chance to engage with the attendees and get their names out into the Maryville community.

“The artists have utilized contextual elements from the present time and then have visually and compositionally manipulated them in an attempt to open up the conversation about societal issues,” Calkins said.

 

Published March 29, 2017 @TheMissourian

Maryville to house new duplex

Mar 1, 2017

The Maryville City Council approved the rezoning of a residential lot for the construction of a duplex on the corner of West Third Street and North Walnut.

Brandon and Natasha Brand requested the rezoning of their lot to fit with city zoning requirements for duplex development. Community members voiced their concerns about the property surrounding the rezoning potentially turning into more apartment complexes as well as concerns for degradation of the area surrounding the property.

“I did code enforcement for four years,” Brandon Brand said. “I got those calls about too many residents being at a property. I went out at 2 o’clock in the morning and counted cars in the driveway. I sent letters to say, ‘hey we need to see your lease because it looks like you have way more people staying there.’ We did everything we can to enforce it. I did not do it on my own however. This is where reporting suspicious activity is helpful.”

The council approved this rezoning with a vote of 4-1. The duplex is expected to be two stories tall and will contain eight bedrooms.

The city’s annual audit reports were presented by Representative Mike Williams from Hochschild, Bloom and Company, LLP, St. Louis. The 2016 audit reportedly came back with good results for the city.

Burny’s Sports bar was approved as the host for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade is planned to take place March 17 at 5:17 p.m.

Maryville Public Art Committee representative Joyce Cronin announced the four sculptures to be leased for display in the downtown area. The pieces chosen were “Fans,” “The Farmer,” “ Why o Why” and “Last Spirit Bear”.

“It was a unanimous decision on what we had chosen between the downtown merchants,” Cronin said. This is the one we are the most excited about (Last Spirit Bear). This will be over by the farmers market. We are hoping that children will interact with it, climb on it, get their picture taken with it.”

City Manager Greg McDanel announced Maryville Public Safety’s plans to purchase a drone for search-and-rescue efforts with the aid of a $2,500 grant from Walmart.

McDanel said structural improvements on the building sitting at the corner of Third and Buchanan should be completed in the next four weeks.

McDanel said that the city is in the application process for a $350,000 grant through the Missouri Department of Economic Development for future funding to the fire bay toward a potential new public safety facility.

McDanel revealed that the City of Maryville received the Excellence in Concrete Pavement award for the city’s airport runway project.

 

Published March 1, 2017 @TheMissourian

University urges students to branch out

Mar 1, 2017

Motivational humorist, real estate business strategist, consultant and author Karel Murray talked with students about the best practices in dealing with stress and organizational difficulties for Northwest’s Career Pathing program.

According to the Career Pathing webpage, “this fast-paced, content-packed presentation identifies the internal and external influences that create chaos and stress in our daily lives.”

Murray has earned the National Speakers Association’s distinction as a Certified Speaking Professional and the Real Estate Educators Association designation as a Distinguished Real Estate Instructor. Over the course of her career, she has presented to over 80,000 people and has written four books.

In her presentation, Murray said trust, support, appreciation and accountability are required in our environment to break out of our comfort zone.

“Most of the impactful things that happen in our lives happen in a snap of the fingers,” Murray said. “Everything is going perfectly fine, and then it’s not. There is one thing that you can do, and that’s breathe. People are going to push you to go faster. Circumstances are going to push you to go faster. You can gain control.”

Addressing topics of stress and organization with humor, Murray walked the group through ways of improving themselves and reaching further than they may have already previously attempted.

“There’s nothing you can do to fix what’s behind,” Murray said. “You can only do, what you can do in the next moment. Change would be really easy if it weren’t for all of the people. You have been conditioned by others to think ‘this is the right way to do it,’ so you do it. What if you want to do something different? Stress happens when you want to change.”

The group used exercises to gauge participants’ individual levels of stress to determine the proper courses of action to best address them.

“You are going to do more for less; you’re going to give away more,” Murray said. “So, if you think you are working long hours now, expect that to maybe intensify. When we look at the ability to make fast decisions, I want you to hang on to that because the world is going really, really fast. You’re not going to have three months to make a decision. You’re not going to have a month to make a decision.”

Career Pathing offers events to students, faculty and community members for personal development purposes. Student employees who meet specific criteria and attend these sessions have the opportunity to receive pay raises.

 

Published March 1, 2017 @TheMissourian

Death Penalty Discussion: Distinguished Lecturer sheds light on Missouri’s death penalty

Feb 22, 2017

Roman Catholic Nun and state execution opposer Helen Prejean led the Northwest Missouri State community in conversation about the death penalty.

The Distinguished Lecture Series was held in the Charles Johnson Theater at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 with the assistance of Distinguished Lecture Series Committee Chair Kenton Wilcox.

“The opportunity to cooperate with the Seminary (Conception Abbey) was part of why we chose her as a speaker,” Wilcox said. “She is also an internationally recognized voice, she has experiences that are not already represented on campus and her topics address interdisciplinary concerns, all of which help the Distinguished Lecture Series address its mission.”

Prejean taught at the Congregation of St. Joseph before beginning work at Hope House in the New Orleans St. Thomas Housing Project. She also served on the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for 10 years, and was the chairperson for three years.

“The death penalty is one of the great moral issues facing our country, yet most people rarely think about it, and very few of us take the time to delve deeply enough into this issue to be able to make an informed decision about it,” Prejean said on her website.

Prejean acts a national voice for issues concerning the death penalty and works to help form the Catholic Church’s outright objection to state executions. She is also part of the organization, Ministry Against The Death Penalty, that “believes in the dignity of all people and fosters creative, reflective and educational programs that awaken hearts and minds, inspire social change and strengthen our democracy’s commitment to human rights,” according to their website.

“If you want a litmus test about what you think about God, look at the death penalty,” Prejean said in her presentation. “What kind of God wants the death of a human being to pay for their sins? It’s about life. He said before you, choose life. Love and forgiveness are the opposite of hate. You can’t call an act of love shackling a person to a chair and then killing them.”

The process of lethal injection normally involves the use of three drugs. The first is used to induce unconsciousness, the second causes muscle paralysis and the third stops the heart.

Missouri is one of 18 states that still use the death penalty for particularly heinous crimes, such as murder. Missouri law authorizes the use of lethal injection or lethal gas as valid forms of execution.

 

Published February 22, 2017 @TheMissourian

Activist’s campus visit yields mixed reactions

Feb 9, 2017

A Black Lives Matter activist, social justice educator and equal rights demonstrator spoke at Northwest at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Charles Johnson Theater.

Janaya Khan is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, and has become a leading voice in the global crusade demanding social transformation, justice and equality, according to their website.

Khan identifies as a black, queer, gender-nonconforming activist, staunch Afrofuturist, boxer and social-justice educator. In their lecture, Khan wants to discuss how people are affected by inequality and describe their individual work as a social justice advocate.

The Maryville Daily Forum released an article about Khan’s visit Jan 27. and shared the corresponding article on Facebook. Followers of the page shared mixed reactions upon hearing that Black Lives Matter activist was coming to Northwest.

“Sad that crap pretty much started in Ferguson,” wrote one Facebook user. “Media fanned these flames. Northwest… wow, I would think this would seriously hurt their reputation.”

Comments skyrocketed as supporters and critics of the lecture argued.

“I just can’t believe what I am seeing,” said another user. “This really breaks my heart. How could you say this is a hate group? It’s not. They didn’t advocate killing the men and women in blue. We want black lives to be viewed on the same level as every other race of people.”

Northwest Senior Korbin Jones believes that given the time and area Maryville residents are living in, it is important for Northwest to be including a lead figure from the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I think what we need most is for the marginalized to have their voices amplified, and SAC is doing a great job at doing that by having Janaya come and speak,” Jones said. “As someone who grew up in the area, I really hope those from the surrounding communities come and listen.”

Jones said people need to start listening to logic and begin attending these types of events for change to occur.

“This is an overwhelmingly white area, especially when not considering the student population. Such issues tend to go overlooked due to their lack of proximity to those who live here,” Jones said.

Northwest Sophomore Lauren King hopes that the people of Northwest see what the goal and purpose of Black Lives Matter after Khan’s visit.

“The Black Lives Matter movement’s goal is to raise awareness to the excessive amount of blacks killed here in the U.S.,” King said. “I have not personally come across anyone who feels negative about Khan’s visit. If there are, I hope that they take this opportunity to learn about the movement and discuss their concerns in a peaceful manner.”

Khan, an accomplished lecturer and author, has had their writing featured in “The Feminist Wire,” “The Root,” Huffington Post “Black Voices” and “Al Jazeera.”

“Afrofuturism has a tendency to look back at history and the past, to situate itself in the present that is actually a future,” a quote on their website says. “It often focuses on a black protagonist as the storyteller…If we focus on and empower the most marginalized people in a space or in a group or community, and if they have what they need, then everyone has what they need.”

 

Published February 9, 2017@TheMissourian

Historic Change: Boys Scouts of America to allow transgender boys

Feb 9, 2017

After over a century, the Boys Scouts of America will accept members based on the gender listed on their initial application.

The Boy Scouts of America serves as one of the largest youth-serving organizations in the country. The Boy Scouts of America believe and, through nearly a century of experience, understand that helping youth puts us on a path toward a more conscientious, responsible and productive society, according to their website.

The acceptance of transgender boys began after Boy Scouts of America released a statement regarding gender identity Jan. 30.

“For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs,” the groups said in a statement. “However, that approach is no longer sufficient, as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.”

This announcement reverses a policy that prohibited a transgender boy from joining the organization in New Jersey last year within a month of being accepted.

Northwest sophomore Lukas Alan identifies as a trans male and believes there is no reason that these boys should not be allowed into a boys group.

“The fact that people are allowing trans male youth into Boy Scouts of America is good, but it’s late in the fight,” Alan said. “The fact that trans girls aren’t allowed in Girl Scouts of America sucks, but we will get there. The fight is just starting. The fact that Trump is president means we will only have to fight that much harder.”

In 2013, Boy Scouts of America expanded rights for gay youth by ending its ban on openly gay youth from joining.

Boy Scouts of America claim nearly 2.3 members, according to its website. It promotes lifelong learning as one of the many things it tries to get youth involved in.

“People need to learn all through their lives,” the website said. “We live in a society that rewards continual acquisition of skills and knowledge. Scouting provides structured settings where young people can learn new skills and develop habits of continual learning that will help them succeed. From its foundation, scouting has offered a concrete program of discovering, sharing and applying knowledge and skills.”

 

Published February 9, 2017 @TheMissourian

Farm bill could extend visas

Feb 1, 2017

A new bill announced in early January would allow foreign workers with appropriate visas to do farming work in the United States for spans of three years.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Congressman Chris Collins introduced this bill, named the Family Farm Relief Act of 2017.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our North Country economy and I am pleased to introduce this important bill to address the labor shortages facing our farmers,” Stefanik said in a press release.

The H-2A visa is a temporary work visa for foreign agricultural workers, with a job offer for seasonal agricultural work in the U.S., according to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services website. The H-2A visa program is open to foreign workers that the United States Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate, and is revised annually.

If adapted into law, farmers would no longer have to advertise to local workers before applying for international visas. Changes would allow farmers to extend their employment reach by not striking requirements to hire any qualified American who applies through the first half of the work period and having to offer jobs to previously employed immigrant workers.

“When I travel the district speaking with our farmers, I often hear about how unnecessary delays in worker visas lead to difficulty meeting production goals. This commonsense legislation simply puts the H-2A agricultural visa program in the hands of those who best understand the specific needs of our farms.” said Stefanik.

The bill would allow foreign workers to work for three years, and leave for three months before renewing their visas again.

Northwest Senior Amy Bunse works on her family’s dairy farm and thinks the idea for the expanding time foreign employees can work is great for struggling farmers.

“I’ve talked to other dairy farmers that I know and they seem to be on board,” Bunse said. “We need help. It’s hard to find help. Being able to get year-round help is great for farmers.”

There is a lot of work to be done on a dairy farm, Bunse said. Training people to be up to par on the farm takes time, and duties are not easy to master.

“I know there are probably people who say that we need to give those jobs to Americans, and if Americans want to do those jobs that’s fine, but there’s a lot of Mexicans who need work,” Bunse said. “If they like the work, then I think they should be allowed to come here and work. We need good workers, so we’ll take what we can get.”

 

Published February 1, 2017 @TheMissourian

State budget cuts yield discussion about tuition hike

Feb 1, 2017

Northwest prepares for state cuts, taking care in crafting beneficial plans for students and staff.

Gov. Eric Greitens announced his plans for cutting $67 million in core funding to four-year schools Jan. 16.

Since then, the Northwest Leadership Team has been working on solutions and strategies to work with Northwest’s planned cut of $2.2 million. Student Senate, along with Faculty Senate and staff council, are also being included in the conversation.

Student Senate President Hannah Sears was given the opportunity by the administration to join the recent conversations about budget cuts to higher education in Missouri. Sears said she wants people to engage with her organization to get student opinion in the open.

“We crave the presence of productive and vocal students that want to engage in the discussions that most directly impact the student body,” Sears said. “We value diversity in thought and perspective, and encourage students to attend our meetings or follow our agenda through social media platforms. The primary goal we set for ourselves this year was to be transparent and accessible to every student, every day.”

Sears said the Student Senate is prepared to share students’ opinions on the budget, but wanted people to recognize the challenges that lie ahead for Northwest.

“The administration, through the implementation of the strategic plan, strives daily to keep the Bearcat experience affordable and memorable,” Sears said. “Simply put, we have some extraordinarily passionate and dedicated people vying on our behalf to keep higher education attainable for all who desire to reap its benefits. The administration is determined to exhaust every available option before financially burdening the students.”

Vice President of Finance Stacy Carrick says Northwest has seen a decrease in funding at the state level already in years past.

“What’s happened over the last 20 to 30 years is a shift in funding,” Carrick said. “A lot of states have turned to higher education, and looked at higher education and the overall state budgets as discretionary funding. They have begun to decrease funding at the state level. It has forced institutions to look at ways to increase the tuition and fees.”

Carrick said Northwest is doing the best it can in being resourceful to lessen the impact on students with an increase in tuition.

“It is a constant challenge and something we make sure we are looking at when we are minimizing increases and doing our due diligence,” Carrick said. “To expect no increase is probably not reasonable.”

 

Published February 1, 2017 @TheMissourian