Winter 2020 Edition - The Metropolitan Newspaper

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Winter 2020

Two major physical altercations on St. Paul campus APRIL CARLSON Staff Writer

Metro State students and staff were alerted to three physical altercations that occurred on the St. Paul campus over the summer months. University and employee representatives reached out to students, faculty and staff in a variety of ways in response to these incidents. More conversations surrounding safety and security were considered for fall semester, according to President Ginny Arthur. “We are going to have a follow-up session where St. Paul PD will come in. We might wait until we get that assessment from [the G4S] security consultant, because then we can talk about that report and anything we learned there,” she said in August. While this session is not officially on the calendar yet, President Arthur hopes to schedule it for the end of September. Reviewing procedures and having conversations about safety are top priorities for many organizations following two deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio at the beginning of August. Metro State is no exception. But safety reviews and conversations were underway on campus even before these national tragedies occurred. They were spurred by two overlapping factors: two major physical altercations occurring on campus grounds and security personnel changing at the beginning of July. Violence on campus On June 19, a Metro State employee was assaulted on the northern steps outside of New Main. Students, faculty and staff were informed of the crime a couple of hours after it occurred via Minneso-

ta State’s Star Alert System. This initial message said that a “racially motivated assault” occurred when a man, later identified by St. Paul police as Steven Parker, approached the employee and asked, “What are you doing in my country?” before striking him across the face. The employee was identified in an interview by KSTP as Shamimul Alam. Alam helped police identify the assailant by picking him out of a photo lineup, according to Metro State’s Interim Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Jason Fellows. Fellows and other university officials were on hand during listening sessions in the days following the incident to address questions and concerns raised by staff and students. Fellows indicated during one session that the assault was not captured by Metro State security cameras because many are motion-activated; this event occurred outside of their activation or coverage range. On July 30, a little over a month after the first summer assault, a second one occurred on the first floor of the Library and Learning Center. Neither of the individuals involved in this altercation were affiliated with Metro State. Fellows stated, however, that one student witnessed the event and later provided a statement to police. According to the incident report, one party was verbally aggressive toward another who was exiting the restroom. A third individual—a known family member of the person who initiated the verbal confrontation—was also present but did not engage in the altercation.

April Carlson / The Metropolitan

View of the skyway to the Library and Learning Center on the St. Paul Campus. The library was the location of two physical altercations over the 2019 summer semester. G4S security contractors are stationed around Metro State to handle such incidents and summon St. Paul police if necessary. Exterior cameras, such as the ones located on the skyway pillar and around the library, also help to monitor campus for security threats. Both individuals exchanged insults and started being physically aggressive; G4S security officers stationed in the library intervened and separated them. The party who initiated the verbal confrontation broke the barrier made by security officers and began to assault the other party on the back of the head. According to Fellows, all of the occurrences up to this point were captured by security cameras. When this physical altercation occurred, however, their positions shifted and the remainder of the incident was not recorded. As the parties engaged in “mutual combat,” a knife fell to the floor, according to the incident report. In a follow-up interview, Fellows said that security officers did not see which party originally possessed the weapon.

The party who emerged from the restroom picked up the knife and wielded it against the other party, drawing blood. At this point, security officers backed away and phoned 911. The person who was injured immediately left the scene, along with his family member. The remaining party left the building a minute later, with security officers in pursuit. Officers kept that individual in sight until police arrived, according to Fellows. St. Paul police issued a trespassing warning to the individual who wielded the knife, which bars him from entering Metro State buildings for one year, Fellows said. No other charges have been filed, and the other individuals involved have not yet been identified or located, despite being famil-

iar faces around the library. Fellows praised the training and professionalism of G4S officers as they dealt with the July 30 incident. “The security officers who were involved displayed how well they were trained, proper procedure, and the response in its entirety from G4S was outstanding. Within 30 minutes of the first report, G4S arrived on campus with their entire management team plus a couple extra staff to ensure the safety of staff, faculty, students, and community members,” he said in an email. A third altercation where St. Paul police were summoned also occurred in the library, according to the Star Alert sent to students and staff on Aug. 7; however, university officials provided few details about this incident.


Restructuring Operations Chief Financial Officer Tracy Hatch identified campus security as a priority since arriving at Metro State nearly eighteen months ago. Hatch designed a plan to restructure several departments in an effort to prioritize safety and security on campus. “I really feel like, for this institution, we need at least a person dedicated and focused on safety and emergency management activities…and so that was really the impetus for the restructure,” she said. According to Hatch, former Director of Public Safety and Auxiliary Services, Thomas Maida, had too many tasks competing for his time and attention. Maida oversaw safety and security, emergency management, parking, ergonomics and the mailroom.

However, shifting responsibilities resulting from the restructure eliminated the position of director of public safety and auxiliary services because it no longer met the supervisory requirements of the Middle Management Association (MMA). Hatch elaborated by saying, “Thomas was no longer a supervisor because he would have no one to supervise. Because he was in the MMA bargaining unit, there was no way for me to remove the other functions, leave him with one function and allow him to still be in that position.” Maida was not opposed to the restructure, according to Hatch. “He even said he couldn’t argue with anything. He really felt like it was the right thing as well, even though he was negatively impacted,” she said. Maida left Metro State

See ST. PAUL on Page 2

New faces in Metro State Security Editor’s note: As of Feb. 14, 2020, Metro State has partnered with Allied Universal Security. What this means regarding the pervious contract with G4S, intetended to last until 2024, is unclear. The Metropolitan requested a statement about the change in contractors from Metro State’s Saftey and Security Director Jason Fellows. This request has gone unanswered.

April Carlson / The Metropolitan

G4S Security Officer Whitney Moore sits in the Founders Hall security station at the start of fall semester, 2019. Over the summer, G4S became the new security contractor at Metropolitan State University, replacing American Security. The large monitor (left) displays footage of the security cameras in the building. Students who would like escorts or have concerns are encouraged to speak with one of the officers posted at stations around campus.

Students returning to Metropolitan State University this year can expect several changes related to campus security. Because multiple assaults occurred on campus grounds over the summer, Metro State is required to report them and review safety protocols. Yet many modifications to security operations were underway before these assaults happened.

See NEW FACES on Page 2



Winter 2020

Security situations prompt campus conversations The student newspaper of Metropolitan State University since 1992 690 East 7th Street Student Center 204.5 St. Paul, MN 55106 (651) 793-1553


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April Carlson / The Metropolitan

Exterior stairwell on the north end of New Main, St. Paul campus. A Metro State employee was assaulted on June 19 while taking a break in this area. University officials held multiple listening sessions in the days that followed to provide information and support to students and staff.

ST. PAUL from Page 1 The Metropolitan requested interviews with security officers who were eyewitnesses. Email responses from G4S officials, however, implied that their officers are not permitted to speak with the media regarding campus security incidents. The Metropolitan also requested incident reports from the assaults occurring on June 19 and Aug. 7 but did not receive them. University response University officials reached out to Metro State members and the wider community in a variety of ways. “[Communication about incidents like these] is in all of our job descriptions,” said Chief Financial Officer Tracy Hatch. Hatch was the main university spokesperson after the June 19 assault. “[The executive cabinet] was meeting that morning, the media requests were coming in and president [Arthur] said, who’s going to be the media contact? I said I’ll do it. And she was like, great, that’s fine,” she said. In addition to releasing statements to the media, university officials made efforts to keep the Metro State community updated. On June 20, President Arthur sent out a follow-up email, which provided staff and students with contact information for support services. She also gave updates about the investigation that were available on the day following the assault. On June 24, Interim Dean

NEW FACES from Page 1 around the same time that the new organizational structure went into effect on July 1. The Metropolitan requested an interview with Maida for this story, but he declined. Metro State’s new Interim Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Jason Fellows has been in the security industry for twelve years. He described his career trajectory by saying, “[I] started moving up in the contracted world to a site supervisor, account manager, operations manager, national assistant, and then general manager. And then the dream was always to find that internal security director position.” Previously the area manager for American Security, Fellows oversaw accounts with Macalester College, Minneapolis International School and Metro State. Changing of the guard Perhaps the most visible change over the summer has been the new faces of security personnel around campus. Metro State uses contractor services for security officers rather than employing them in-house. Hatch noted several advantages to contracted security. “We have a lot of flexibility. If we have a spike in activity or we have a special event, I can get additional officers here very quickly. We get most or all of the benefits and not as much of the hands-on

of Students Maya Sullivan sent an email to invite members of Metro State to three scheduled listening sessions: two on June 26 in the Student Center and one at the Midway campus on July 2. The purpose of the listening sessions was for students and staff to “engage and ask questions regarding the recent bias-related incident,” according to the message. Sullivan’s email also included information about a “town hall for students and employees,” held on July 1 in the Founders Hall auditorium. The town hall was coordinated by the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO), the bargaining unit for faculty at Minnesota State’s seven universities, and Metro State administration officials. This event was well attended, according to Chief Diversity Officer Craig Morris. Approximately 60 people, mostly faculty and staff, went to the town hall meeting. By contrast, only one staff member and one student attended the Midway listening session. The ones scheduled in the Student Center did not fare much better. Why the discrepancy? According to Hatch, they were coordinated by different organizations and intended for different audiences. “[The town hall was] a conversation about any kind of impact to staff and faculty, psychological impact concerns that they had. How did they feel in terms of safety on campus, things like that. And I management of it,” she said When the fiscal year ended on July 1, so did Metro State’s contract with American Security. Instead of renewing their agreement with American, Hatch and other university officials made the decision to hire a new firm: G4S Security. The process of selecting a security company is very structured and laid out in statute. “We need to make sure that we have open, fair, competitive bidding, so it’s quite a process,” stated Hatch. The selection committee had representatives from various campus departments including safety, facilities and student life. The committee independently scored proposals submitted by security companies and passed their recommendation of G4S to Hatch, the provost and the chief human resource officer. New faces A new security contractor often means a large turnover in personnel. Individual officers may not want to go through the process of getting hired by a whole new company. For this reason, Hatch said it was not intended that all American Security officers would stay on the Metro State account. “An [American Security] employee at any time could have applied for G4S. There was never any prohibition about that,” she added. Metro State officials encouraged a few American Security officers to switch to G4S, so they

think the majority of that was led by the IFO, who really wanted to have a structured conversation that was actually led by a faculty member,” she said. The listening sessions, by comparison, were meant to address student questions and concerns—yet students did not attend them. “It was unfortunate that more [students] didn’t show up [to the listening sessions], but at the same time, it wasn’t really all that shocking,” Hatch said. Most Metro State attendees are balancing other roles besides being students. Many have family and work obligations in addition to being involved on campus. Further, fewer students register for classes during the summer months. “It’s not that we want it to be like that, but it’s typical that we just don’t have a lot of folks that show up [for events and meetings],” Hatch added. Yet there could be another explanation for the low turnout: not all students got the message. Gaps in communication The Metropolitan learned that some students did not receive Sullivan’s message about the listening sessions and updates to them. On July 9, Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Steve Reed indicated that all Metro State students who’ve been enrolled within three years should have received these universitywide messages. “Our lists for students are based on students that are registered at the university. And so the students all email address that we’ve created actually covers a three year time period of students that are registered,” he said in an interview. When The Metropolitan presented evidence that not all students received these messages, however, he amended that statement—at least for the listening session communications. “We discovered the [listening session] emails were only sent to students that were currently enrolled for summer. … This was an inadvertent mistake made by the person who sent

the message. We have addressed this mistake and have made the necessary changes to prevent this from happening in the future. All other emails that were sent were received by students that were registered last spring, current summer, and future fall semesters. All communication systems worked as designed,” he said in an Aug. 18 email. Yet there were other gaps in communication, too. Some students did not receive Arthur’s message from June 20. Others did not receive an email sent by Hatch on July 5 that provided law enforcement updates regarding the June 19 assault. These communication issues were not addressed in Reed’s email, and a follow-up request for comment or clarification has gone unanswered. Continuing conversations With fall semester approaching, university officials continued to offer opportunities to discuss campus safety concerns. On Aug. 7, less than a week after the shootings in Ohio and Texas, Ned Rousmaniere, a representative from Minnesota Management and Budget and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), facilitated another listening session addressing faculty and student worker concerns. Provost Amy Gort invited students and staff to participate in the discussion via an email sent on Aug. 2. This email also indicated that EAP provided sessions in the library for personnel following the incident on July 30. Security was also on the agenda during Convocation Day on Aug. 21. According to the schedule, Vice President Hatch lead a breakout session addressing “the evolution taking place in the areas of campus security and business services.” In her email, Gort expressed the university’s primary purpose for this evolution. “As a top priority, the campus leadership is committed to maintaining a safe and secure environment for our students, employees and community members who visit our campus,” she said.

Security Updates

G4S Logo / Wikipedia

could remain on campus. “What we were really looking for though was a small number that we heard repeated comments about the importance of that particular individual staying because of either the way they work with a certain population or their knowledge base,” Hatch said. As for the rest of the American Security personnel that the university didn’t contact directly? Hatch has no complaints. “I don’t have anything but positive things to say about them,” she added. While still contracted with American Security, Metro State added an account manager position to facilitate collaboration between the university and the security company. Tony Hansen held this position for American Security, and G4S hired him in the same capacity after the contractor switch in July. “[the reason Tracy, Thomas and Jason liked me for the job was] the human resources background, the specialization within mental health and having a well rounded security professional background… and specialization in training and development,” he said.

New threads One of the more visible security changes has been the switch from the police-like uniforms worn by American Security personnel to the casual blue polos worn by G4S officers. New technology Wireless signal enhancers have been installed in the lower level of the Midway building. University officials considered the lack of communication infrastructure in the basement as a significant security risk. Because the Midway property is a commercially leased space, this process took slightly longer than anticipated. Hatch expressed excitement for a new cloud-based software system called Omnigo, which llows for coordinated electronic safety and behavior incident reporting. New first aid Safety officers have started carrying Naloxone, which is used to treat opioid overdoses. New communications Officers now carry radios to enable smoother communication across campus and facilitate coordination with maintenance and information technology departments. Hatch also stated that recent updates made to the telecommunications systems provide enhanced 911 features and allow users to send alerts and notices.


Winter 2020


Convocation Address RACHEL HAGEN Reporter Occurring at the beginning of the fall semester, Convocation Day is an annual event to celebrate the start of a new academic year. On August 21, President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur began Convocation Day with her “Welcome and Address” in Founders Hall Auditorium. She emphasized Metropolitan State University’s dedication to building a “resilient, student-ready university.” Arthur encouraged attendees to initiate conversations with new faces as a way to strengthen campus belonging. Commuter colleges struggle with developing a community identity compared to traditional residential institutions, like the University of Minnesota , where shared geography can function as social cohesion. In order to offer more effective student support services, Arthur advocated for increased attention to students’ needs. Addressing the recent rise in tuition, Arthur said the 3% increase was an emotional and extremely difficult decision. The 2008 recession resulted in reduced funding from state government. Because Metro State’s board requires a balanced budget, the increase in student tuition was necessary to offset that deficit. “[Higher education is seen as a] private consumption expenditure, not a public investment, and we’ve got to work to change

that perception,” she said. The proliferation of technological advances is a concern for many students worried about their future job security. Arthur emphasized that, although technology provides increased accuracy in data analysis, there are significant technological limitations. For example, although advances in medical testing have provided greater accuracy in the diagnostic process, patients don’t want to receive their diagnosis from a computer. She used this example to illustrate that despite technological advances, interpersonal communication skills remain a critical component of many career fields. According to Arthur, there is a growing need for students to develop skills in cultural competency, media literacy, cognitive load management and transdisciplinary learning to effectively address global issues. She also emphasized the importance of learning how to collaborate in virtual spaces, which is increasingly pertinent, considering the increased demand for online workspaces. Six Commitments Arthur unveiled Metro State’s six commitments— part of the university’s strategic plan for the next 25 years. Commitment 1: Student success Student success will be measured by completing courses successfully, finishing degree programs and meeting learning outcomes.

Part-time PCA jobs are a good fit for nursing students JULIE WALLING Staff Writer It’s hard, but sometimes necessary, to hold a job and go to college at the same time. This is especially true here at Metropolitan State University, where most of the students are older and may have a family to provide for. There is one exception: nursing students across Minnesota are cautioned against working while in their program. However, flexible hours and direct medical experience make part-time Personal Care Assistant (PCA) positions a good employment option for nursing students. In-home PCAs can have varying hours, depending on client needs. Sometimes they work long hours, such as for an overnight shift. In other cases, clients only need

help for an hour or so with showering or other morning routines. Some clients only need assistance a couple days a week. Brenda Merrill, associate professor of nursing faculty, knows students are not always capable of going without a job. “We understand students often need to work for a variety of reasons… but… It is very difficult to manage a complex curriculum with a lot of clinical hours. For example, the current course I am team teaching requires 135 clinical hours in one semester, and that does not include theory lectures and required lab hours,” she said. Normally, a nursing student takes a licensure exam after completing their two-year degree and could work as a nurse while getting their bachelor’s from a different program or school. However, Metro State has

MANE BSN students Madeline Olson (left) and Jamey Floreck practice taking blood pressures in Metropolitan State University’s New Main nursing lab.

Julie Walling / The Metropolitan

Convocation Day Breakout Sessions

Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

Pres. Arthur poses for The Metropolitan outside of her office on the top floor of New Main on Aug. 13, 2019. Commitment 2: High-quality education for non-traditional students Metro State will continue its long-standing support for working adults and non-traditional students. Commitment 3: Innovative teaching Innovative teaching improves the learning environment, which can yield better learning outcomes for students. Commitment 4: Community building The development and maintenance of community relationships with businesses, nonprofits, donors and alumni will strengthen Metro State’s presence the Minnesota Alliance for Nursing Education (MANE) BSN program which allows students to get their four-year nursing degree without already possessing a license. If nursing students wish to work in the medical field before licensure, they must find another way. Merrill added, “I would always recommend students consider either the certified nursing assistant role or a personal care assistant. Some students feel they need that extra experience above the clinical hours associated with their program to increase their confidence and knowledge.” Nursing students indicated that being a PCA can help develop bed-side manner skills. One student of the Doctorate of Nursing Program and a former PCA spoke about the higher level of understanding which comes from being closely associated with a client’s daily life. She mentioned forming connections with clients as a PCA helps prepare nursing students for work after graduation. Another student, currently pre-nursing and minoring in psychology, relayed her time as a PCA for her own mother. Having personal experience as a relative of someone needing a PCA allowed her to see both sides of the client-caregiver relationship. This student, who prefers to remain anonymous, applies the knowledge gained from her psychology minor as well as her personal experiences towards developing a greater sense of empathy for how clients are mentally affected. She would even recommend the position to non-nursing majors for the worthwhile feeling from helping those in need. There are a multitude of companies in Minnesota which employ and place PCAs and are looking for qualified, dedicated workers.

and impact in the community. Commitment 5: Cultivation of diversity Metro State will uphold a culture of respect, equity and inclusion for all Metro State community members. Commitment 6: Institutional stewardship Metro State will improve its institutional efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability. Arthur summed up the total vision of these commitments at the close of her address. “As a community, we are committed to changing the world, one student, one family and one community at a time,” she said.

In addition to President Arthur’s address, Convocation Day offered breakout sessions where university officials shared what their teams are working on for the coming academic year. Student-Centered Support: Next Steps for the Student Experience Bobbie Anderson, Associate Provost, Student Success 50 years, 50 Convocations Ginny Arthur, President Integrated Marketing and Communications: What’s Next for Metro? Audrey Bergengren, Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Recruitment Exploring the Philanthropic Opportunity for Metro State Rita Dibble, Vice President, University Advancement, and Executive Director, University Foundation Aligning Academic Affairs Work with the Strategic Plan: Assessment and Data-Informed Planning Amy Gort, Provost and Executive Vice President Michael Self, Assistant Provost The Evolution of Administrative Services: Supporting U! Tracy Hatch, Vice President, Finance & Operations/Chief Financial Officer Equity By Design Craig Morris, Director, Equity, Inclusion, and Affirmative Action Deb Gehrke, Chief Human Resource Officer University Data Strategy: Why is this critical to our future? Steve Reed, Vice President, Information Technology and Institutional Research

Newly formed Metropolitan State University Student Association gets received reports and down to business members requests from students, faculty APRIL CARLSON Staff Writer

After Metro State’s Student Senate failed to hold elections last May, that student governing body dissolved and was eventually replaced by a new organization with a new name: the Metropolitan State University Student Association (MSUSA). MSUSA held elections in the second half of August to fill 14 open seats. Prior to the election, only the executive council—made up of the organization’s president, vice president, finance director, communications and records specialist, public relations director and engagement coordinator—was seated. According to Student Life and Leadership Assistant Director Philip Fuehrer, only 33 students cast votes in the August election, which was conducted primarily through the new Engage student organization platform. MSUSA President Hamisha Alkamooneh indicated that all students who wanted a seat were able to obtain one. As of the Oct. 4 meeting, there were four open seats that the organization is attempting to fill. At the Sept. 6 meeting, newly seated members got down to business right away. Chief Financial Officer Tracy Hatch congratulated MSUSA members on their leadership roles and requested almost $4,000 from student fee coffers to purchase reduced fare MetroTransit student passes—a service the university has offered for several years with financial help from student fees—which was granted. The association also discussed ways to offer free or reduced price textbooks for students. During the first several meetings of fall semester, MSUSA

and administration officials. New student organizations received official recognition and funding. Student requests for funds to attend academic or professional conferences were heard. Association plans for student engagement activities were discussed. President Ginny Aurthur attended the Oct. 4 meeting, asking for MSUSA’s help in recruiting students to serve on university committees and councils. She also updated the association on statistics related to Metro State students, including enrollment numbers and rates of voter participation. Dean of Students Maya Sullivan was also in attendance at the Oct. 4 meeting. The university has taken several measures to ensure that the new student government MSUSA Logo group feels welcome and supported. On Sept. 11, a reception for MSUSA members was held in the Fireplace Lounge in the Student Center. At that event, newly elected MSUSA member Tom Martinson explained that he joined the student governing organization to improve his leadership skills. He also wants to be an advocate for accessibility options on campus. Merah Norman, a new student at Metro State, says she is not sure what her role in MSUSA will be, but is eager to find out how she can help students around campus. MSUSA meetings are held in the Student Center at 5:00 p.m. on the first and third Fridays of each month. All meetings are open and students are welcome to attend either in person or through the Zoom platform. More information about services and how to get involved with the student governing organization can be found through the Engage website.



Winter 2020

ALISON WONG Guest Writer Metropolitan State University should provide hot water dispensers around campus all year round, so that students can easily make their own drinks and food. Hot water dispensers are a common courtesy; you can see them everywhere—in the airport nursery room, the clinic, the hotel lobby. Why not at the university? The main reason why we need readily available hot water is because of the geographical environment. What is one word that best describes Minnesota? For me, that word is “cold.” Who doesn’t want a warm drink in cold weather? With a hot water dispenser, students from different countries would be able to make their own favorite instant coffee brand to ease homesickness. Students could have healthy hot tea, like chamomile, to relieve stress and anxiety. There are many kinds of herbal tea made from fruits, seeds or roots that, when steeped in hot water, may boost energy or even heal colds. Students could also use hot water to make a fast meal, such as instant noodles, mashed potatoes, instant pasta, soup or oatmeal. Such meals are available at many stores and are easy to enjoy. These meals can save students lots of time and money. It is important to some Asian students to be able to consume a hot beverage. The campus could be respectful of other cultures by making hot water available. With a relatively small investment, Metropolitan State University can provide this beneficial service for its busy, international student body.

Educational games FTW CARLYN CROUSE Opinion Writer Fellow students, are you tired of traditional learning? Do you often struggle with exams, holding dates and facts in your head just long enough to regurgitate them the next day? I’m certainly guilty of that. And it’s no way to learn. While textbooks and presentation slides have been standards in education for many years, they are out of touch with the golden age of technology we now live in. We should use “gamification” to enhance our learning as well as our entertainment. Picture for a moment going to class and playing games with other students instead of sitting through a lecture. Playing games can increase certain learning capabilities.

In a 2012 study published in PLOS ONE, researchers used an audio-based environmental simulator to teach people with severe visual impairments how to navigate through a real-world maze using audio cues. One group used the simulator in the straightforward method; the other group was instructed with audio cues that involved a “goal directed gaming strategy.” People in this “gamer” group were able to navigate to an exit in the real-life physical maze more directly than the other group. The researchers explained that “the fact that gamers demonstrated superior performance when asked to find their way out of the building by using the shortest route possible (despite a variety of route possibilities) suggests that the gaming strategy allowed

for a more robust and flexible mental manipulation of the spatial information acquired.” If you think about it, games are already teaching topics covered in education. Games like Rovio Entertainment’s “Angry Birds” (2009) or ZeptoLab’s “Cut the Rope” (2010) use a multitude of physics concepts in a fun and engaging way. What if we harnessed this method for use in education? While some students do well with traditional learning and enjoy reading textbooks, there are a lot of students who struggle—not because of capability, but because of methodology. Not everyone is a born test-taker. Not everyone reads at the same speed or comprehension level. But with advancing technology, we have the capabilities to

Eco impacts of animal products

Mittmaca / Pixabay

NATHAN HOYHTYA Opinion Writer The hit documentary Cowspiracy has people talking about how industrial animal farming hurts our environment by producing a lot of greenhouse gases. According to the documentary, this topic was previously taboo for environmental organizations to address. Why? They feared from backlash from wealthy donors supportive of animal agriculture. Thankfully Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club and other organizations have finally acknowledged the

environmental cost of animal farming. But why did it take them so long to speak out? A 2006 study from the United Nations found that 18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture. That constitutes a greater impact than all forms of transportation emissions combined. A different study from the World Watch Institute, also cited in the documentary, later found animal agriculture could account for as much as 51% of total climate change. Cowspiracy also named

animal agriculture as the leading cause of water depletion, deforestation, species extinction and ocean dead zones. According to the Rain Forest Foundation, 91% of rain forest deforestation in places like the Amazon is due to animal agriculture. If even part of these claims made by Cowspiracy are true, you would expect the experts at environmental organizations to be all over this issue. As was shown in the film, however, many of them were scared to even confront the matter. Instead of writing a thank

you letter to these environmental organizations, it’s time to give thanks to a group that never gets credit. No, I’m not talking about the vegetarians, the vegans or PETA. And I’m certainly not talking about environmental groups. I want to take a moment to thank all the consumers out there. Why? Because you are recognizing and buying more eco-conscious products. Plant-based milk sales have grown 70% between 2012 and 2018. Meanwhile, the dairy industry lost over $1.1 billion in profits last year alone.

Pixabay / Pexels

tailor how we present learning material to level the playing field. Instead of staring at a textbook for hours trying to wrap your head around a physics concept, what if you could be moving objects that obey the laws of physics in a video game metaphor? Homework could become a fun activity instead of something we procrastinate and dread. Gaming isn’t just a frivolous hobby anymore. Career opportunities in this field are increasing as more and more gamers turn their passion into their profession. Our next step should be education. We need different teaching methods that incorporate game-based learning techniques. It’s a long journey to be sure. Integrating technology into the classroom is demanding on an already tight education budget. But I believe the endgame of an engaging learning environment for all is worth the effort.

The shift is not just occurring in the dairy aisle, either. Year after year, fewer animals are being raised and slaughtered for meat. Comparing the years of 2007 and 2015, almost half a billion fewer animals suffered in factory farm conditions to end up in the slaughterhouse. And it’s not only the growth of vegetarianism or veganism that is creating this change. Ethan Brown, president and CEO of Beyond Meat, said on CNN that 93% of grocery shoppers putting Beyond Meat products into their shopping carts are also putting in meat, dairy or eggs. This means a significant number of individuals who are not vegans or vegetarians accept meat substitutes as a part of their overall diet. The more plant-based food replaces animal-based food in shopping carts, the more we can save our planet. According to the U.N. Environment Assembly, with each person that chooses a plant-based burger over a beef patty, 75-99% of water is saved, 93-95% less land is used, and 87-90% fewer greenhouse gases are emitted. Saving animal lives. Creating a more sustainable, green planet. It’s time to recognize the people who make these changes possible. But my gratitude doesn’t belong to the few; it belongs to the many. Here’s to the dads who are grilling Beyond Meat burgers for the first time. Here’s to the moms buying Almond Breeze milk for their children. Look in your shopping cart, then look in the mirror. You are that person making the difference. And for that, I say with the deepest respect, thank you.


Winter 2020


Staying hydrated as a new study strategy JULIE WALLING Staff Writer Humans need water to survive, of course, but a water bottle is often traded in for a cup of coffee. Monitoring fluid intake isn’t usually high on a student’s list of priorities, but this can lead to health and mood issues. One student, who prefers the pseudonym Jack, will tell you why drinking water has become a priority in his daily life. In early October, Jack was simultaneously treated for a bladder infection, a kidney infection, and kidney stones. Jack is in his twenties and reported drinking around four ounces of water a day before his health issues caused him to reevaluate his liquid choices. “I knew I wasn’t [staying hydrated],” Jack said, “but I thought, what’s the worst that could happen?” He said he thought staying hydrated was something to worry about later in life. Jack now aims for drinking at least one 24-ounce water bottle a day and has largely cut out caffeine from his diet. There isn’t an official amount of water prescribed for daily drinking because of differences in weight, sex, climate, and activity. However, the recommended daily

water amount from TheNational Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is 91 ounces for women and 125 ounces for men. The good news is that 20% of that daily value can come from your food and caffeinated liquids can help with other 80% of hydration. According to Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietician nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic,“It is true that caffeinated drinks can contribute to your daily fluid requirement.” Zeratsky adds that water is still the best option. Why? “Caffeinated drinks can cause headaches and insomnia in some people,” she said For college students, however, the greatest motivator may be from new research regarding cognitive functions and dehydration. According to the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, just 1-2% loss of bodily water weight may negatively affect mood, attention, memory and motor coordination. This percentage is described as the typical amount of water loss that could occur from normal daily activities by the American College of Sports Medicine. In other words, the average person’s daily loss of water can result in stress if it’s not replenished. Especially around midterms and finals, when students are

running on coffee and pulling all-nighters, the added stress is not ideal to say the least. Making sure to stay hydrated is an excellent addition to any study strategy. Drinking an adequate amount of water is a lifestyle change as much as any diet. Drinking water with meals, always having a refillable water bottle on hand or leaving one in your car–– assuming it doesn’t freeze in the winter––are excellent ways to make this change easier.

Madeline Arnold drinks an estimated 24 ounces of water and about one cup of coffee a day. She recently decreased her caffeine intake from a daily four cups of coffee! She says it has been hard but important.

Town hall for change: Presidential hopefuls discuss how to fix the global climate crisis NATHAN HOYHTYA Opinion Writer Environmental activists found many insightful answers from candidates during CNN’s 7-hour-long climate crisis town hall on September 4. The event was held in spite of the rejection of the Sunrise Movement’s demand—a single issue presidential debate on climate change— by Democratic Party leadership. The most substantive discussion on climate held so far in the democratic presidential contest, the leading 10 candidates for the nomination took turns on stage. Each of the candidates had the opportunity to speak for around 35 minutes. They discussed plans, positions and points of view that we likely never would have learned without the forum. Here are the highlights from that night: Andrew Yang (D)* was the first on stage and delivered a strong performance by going after major environmental polluters. The entrepreneur committed to eliminating all subsidies to fossil fuel companies and add condemnation for the way they’ve been spending it: “You know how they’ve been spending some of their money, their billions of dollars in profit? On a misinformation campaign to the American people, and they’ve taken our legislature hostage,” he said. Critiques weren’t just directed at the oil companies, either. “Certainly meat is an extraordinarily expensive thing to produce from an environmental sustainability point of view,” Yang added. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)* broke with traditional liberal viewpoints on nuclear power. “And right now nuclear is more than 50% of our non-carbon causing energy, so people who think that we can get [net-zero carbon emissions] without nuclear being part of the blend just aren’t looking at the facts,” Booker said. He went on to describe Chernobyl

and Fukushima as a history of older generation plants that were less safe and, unlike next generation nuclear, didn’t recycle spent nuclear fuel rods. Julian Castro (D)* introduced issues of power and justice to the town hall discussion: “Often times, it’s people who are poor, communities of color who take the brunt of storms that are getting more frequent and more powerful. And so, my plan actually calls for new civil rights legislation to be able to address environmental injustice,” he said. Pete Buttigieg’s (D-South Bend, I.N.)* approach to climate change centers on a carbon tax: “There is a harm being done, and in the same way that we have taxed cigarettes, we’re going to have to tax carbon. Now the difference with my plan is that I propose that we rebate all of the revenue that we collect right back out to the American people on a progressive basis so that low and middle-income Americans are made more than whole,” he said. Beto O’Rourke (D)* favored a different approach to taxing carbon: “I think the best possible path to do that is through a cap and trade system. There would be allowances granted or sold to polluters, not just in the energy sector but in transportation as well as our industrial sector––cement, steel, the chemicals that we produce. There would be a set number of allowances that would decrease every single year, because the clock is running; we have a little more than 10 years left,” he said. Since Washington Governor Jay Inslee dropped out of the race and announced his climate change plans were open for other campaigns to adopt, multiple candidates have shown interest. Elizabeth Warren (D-M.A.)* adopted many of Inslee’s ideas in her new climate change plan that targets 3 major carbon polluters: “So what I’ve adopted

is, by 2028, we don’t have any more new building that has any carbon footprint. By 2030, we do the same thing on vehicles, on our cars and light-duty trucks. And by 2035, we do the same thing on electric generation,” she said. “That will cut 70 percent of the carbon that we are currently spewing into the air.” Bernie Sanders (D-V.T.) proposed the largest spending plan—$16.3 trillion—to combat climate change. His contribution to the conversation wasn’t simply a massive spending approach, but a uniting of countries around the world to act on climate change. He urged that America reach out to China, Russia, India and others for common cooperation. Sanders added, “And maybe, just maybe, instead of spending $1.5 trillion every single year on weapons of destruction, designed to kill each other, maybe we pool those resources and we work together against our common enemy, which is climate change.” Kamala Harris (D-C.A.)* suggested that climate change could be tackled with lawsuits, fines and fees against polluting companies. One of her more

Megan Demeuse shows her enthusiasm for water in the New Main building on the St. Paul campus. Julie Walling / The Metropolitan

Professor Robert Shumer teaches Principles of Civic Engagement (IDST 310) here at Metro State. Between noncaffeinated tea and water, he has around 85 ounces of fluids a day. Shumer considers fluids and nutrition knowledge to be critical for the community.

Megan Demeuse is proud of drinking 54 ounces of water a day and only one can of soda! This is a drastic change from having 4 cans of soda a day and almost no water. After being told of the importance of water repeatedly, Demeuse made the switch to feel healthier and to take better care of herself.

controversial proposals during the town hall was to eliminate the filibuster if the Congress failed to act on climate change. “I was part of a committee hearing during which the underlying premise of the hearing was to debate whether science should be the basis of public policy, this on a matter that is about an existential threat to who we are as human beings,” she explained. Former Vice President Joe Biden explained the value of a diplomatic, consensus-building stance at home and abroad to fight climate change. He also warned viewers of climate change dangers and damages to military bases that help keep us secure. “First thing that happened when the president— when President Obama––and I were elected, we went over to what they call—and some of you are military women and men— over to the tank in the Pentagon, sat down and got the briefing on the greatest danger facing our security. You know what they told us it was, the military? Climate change. Climate change. The single greatest concern for war and disruption in the world, short of a nuclear exchange immediately,” he said. One of the major points that Amy Klobuchar (D-M.N.)* stressed was bringing back the methane rules that President

Trump has deregulated. Yet for me, her remarks about bi-partisan support for energy efficiency were the most insightful. “There are just numerous examples of what we can be doing to make energy efficiency, which I agree is this low-hanging fruit. You know why it’s popular with the public? Whether it’s increasing the gas mileage standards and then eventually moving to electric cars, or the building standards, or the appliance standards—it’s popular because if people save money they really like it,” she said. All these issues and more cited during the CNN town hall only further highlight the need for the presidential candidates to resolve amongst themselves, on the prime-time debate stage, which candidate is best on the issue. Climate change is a clear and present danger that demands the highest attention of whoever takes the oval office. It is critical that both the candidates and the voters fully debate such issues now, so the nation can enact the best climate change policies following the 2020 election.

* Editor’s note: Since the writing of this piece, Yang, Booker, Castro, Buttigieg, Warren, O’Rourke, Harris and Klobuchar have withdrawn from the presidential race.

Markus Spiske / Pexels



Winter 2020

Sons of Bransford Awards honor the past, foretell a bright future MANDY HATHAWAY Staff Writer The 2019 Sons of Bransford awards took place in New Main’s Great Hall on June 20, as it has for nearly a decade. The awards honor community leader Jim Bransford and celebrate the resilience, service and success of black community members. The annual ceremony concluded the first day of the Black Men Healing Conference. The conference, which also took place on the St. Paul campus June 20-21, focuses on culturally sensitive trauma healing and empowerment. Bransford, for whom the organization and awards are named, overcame struggles with addiction and touched the lives of many in the community with his activism and service. He was on hand at this year’s event, along with event organizer and co-founder, Sam Simmons. Simmons’ work in the community on addiction and healing from trauma has earned him numerous accolades. Despite his advanced years, Bransford is still active in the black community and maintains roles with several local service organizations. The Sons of Bransford Awards typically honor black men. Bransford expressed joy during his closing remarks, however, when noting that for the first time in the awards’ 13 year history, there were actually more female winners than male. Many of the recipients were on hand to highlight the urgency of the issues they are passionate about. Mentor Award winner Kory Dean, founder of The Man Up Club, addressed the specific struggles of young black men during his acceptance speech. They must navigate society and a system that too often thrusts them into violence and incarceration. The Man Up Club focuses on academic discipline, life and social skills, responsibility and accountability to empower young black men to succeed and thrive in their communities. William R. Moore, the first

certified male doula in the state of Minnesota, was also a Mentor Award winner. Moore works with parents to help them self-advocate during their birthing process. He also works with fathers to help them feel competent and empowered to support their partners before and after birth. Aasia-Mari Ross was this year’s Young Leader Award winner for her advocacy work with young adults in the juvenile justice system. The Alice O. Lynch Community Service Award was given to Paula Haywood for her more than 33 years of serving the community within Hennepin

Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

2019 Sons of Bransford winners (left to right) Paula A Haywood (Alice O. Lynch Community Service Award), Aasia-Mari Ross (Young Leader Award) Kory Dean (Mentor Award), Deborah Watts (Community Legacy Award), and William R Moore (Mentor Award) pose after the ceremony with award founders Jim Bransford and Samuel Simmons (center). County through community corrections and human services. The final honor of the evening, the Community Legacy Award, was given to Deborah Watts. Watts’ work in co-founding the Emmitt Till Legacy Foundation seeks to honor, not

only Till and his memory, but to foster a spirit of hope and peace in the face of senseless violence. All award winners who spoke at this year’s ceremony shared a common vision for a safer and more equitable future. These awards are about

hope and the future as much as they are about honoring the past and the legacy of Bransford. They celebrate the resilience of spirit and the commitment of those who dedicate their time and energy to bring strength and healing to others.

(Below) Deborah Watts accepts the 2019 Community Legacy Award for her work with the organization she co-founded, the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation. Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

(Above) Aasia-Mari Ross poses with her Young Leader Award after the 2019 Sons of Bransford awards ceremony.

COMMUNITY Healing from the inside out: Centering our voices to end violence against black women

Winter 2020


Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

(Above) Kenosha Davenport, executive director of the Sexual Violence Center, addresses the crowd during the Healing from the Inside Out: Centering Our Voices to End Violence against Black Women conference on June 19. The event was held on Metropolitan State Univeristy’s St. Paul campus in the New Main Great Hall. It attracted about 35 community members, largely women of color, to discuss some of the most common forms of violence that black women encounter. (Left) Artika Roller, community relations manager for child well-being with Hennepin County, moderates a discussion with panelists CeMarr Peterson, Safe Harbor division director with the Link; Tiffany Turner-Allen, director of Blacktivism the Collective; Dr. Joi Lewis, founder and CEO of Joi Unlimited, a coaching and counseling service; Lavon Morris-Grant, founder and executive director of MACOSH Healing Network; and Kenosha Davenport, executive director of the Sexual Violence Center. The panel discussion was part of the Healing from the Inside Out conference and addressed issues of violence against black women. (Below) Vendors display beautiful cultural wares and services. In addition to speakers, a panel discussion, drummers and a spoken word performance, the conference also provided small business owners the opportunity to connect with attendees. The bright displays drew in guests and speakers alike.

Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

(Below) Charisma Smith, Metro State alumni and graduate student, performs two original spoken word pieces ‘Hood Rat’ and ‘The Summary’ as part of the Healing from the Inside Out conference on June 19. While the pieces highlight how common sexual exploitation can be in the African American community, Smith says her goal is to say “this what we survived not where we thrive” and hopes that her writing, like her work, will help other women to find their “foundation of Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

(Above) Author, life coach and consultant Dr. Joi Lewis discusses the healing powers of “ugly crying” during the panel discussion on dealing with and healing from trauma. Lewis’ work and words focus on self-care, restorative justice, and healing from trauma and violence.



Winter 2020

Game tables serve up fun in the Student Center EMILIE PECK Reporter The Student Center on Metropolitan State University’s St. Paul campus has three new game tables available for students to use: ping-pong, foosball and shuffleboard. The ping-pong and foosball tables are in the cafeteria area, and the shuffleboard table is in the Fireplace Lounge. According to Carrie Noble, student organizations and activities coordinator for Student Life and Leadership Development (SLLD), they were installed to encourage students to relax with their friends on campus. All three were paid for as a package deal with University Activities Board (UAB) funds. Installed this summer, SLLD staff is still waiting to see how popular the tables are. Student organizations are welcome to incorporate them into their events, and students are welcome to use them to unwind during study breaks or after class. To check out equipment, students must notify security personnel which table they’d like to use, hand over their student IDs in exchange for equipment, and write down their information in a check-in binder. By checking out game equipment, students agree not to damage it. When they are finished using the equipment, it will be inspected before their student IDs are returned. According to Philip Fuehrer, assistant director of SLLD, if there is accidental damage or if there are signs of usual wear and tear, there will be no repercussions for students. However, Fuehrer said that

Emilie Peck / The Metropolitan

Foosball is one of the new game options available in the Student Center on the St. Paul campus. Students can check out game equipment at the security desk and play on one of three large gaming tables. “damage deemed to be purposeful or excessively negligent” will result in consequences, depending on what happened and the damage extent. Punishments range from being banned from equipment usage for a limited time to paying for game table repair or replacement. If other students are waiting to use a table, there is a preferred play limit of one hour. When no one is waiting, students can

use the tables as long as they’d like, provided they check in with security every hour. Even though game tables are designed for multiple players, only one student needs to check out equipment at a time. The shuffleboard table also includes instructions on how to play the game. According to Noble, the tables have been very well used so far, with foosball being the most popular of the three new

tables over the summer. Because summer enrollment isn’t as high, SLLD is still waiting to see how well received the games are before adding more. Although the tables have been used by many students already, not everyone is interested in them. Abdulkhaaliq Farah, a social work major in his first year, doubts he’d use those types of games. Instead, he has more interest in trivia, problem-solv-

ing games that involve social problems, and sliding puzzles. SLLD sends out a survey at the end of every semester for students to give input. Included in those surveys are questions about what services students would like to see added to the Student Center, and what SLLD can do to provide a better environment for the university. Students are encouraged to fill those surveys out each semester.

Students can now log in and Engage


For years, OrgSync connected Metro State students to campus organizations and activities. After learning about OrgSync’s phaseout, Metro State’s Student Life and Leadership Development (SLLD) discontinued using OrgSync and transitioned to Engage this summer. So far, reactions from students and staff have been mostly positive. “It is a lot easier to navigate than OrgSync,” said Emilie Peck, public relations director for the Metropolitan State University Student Association. Peck praised Engage for the intuitive layout and elimination of extra steps. “I like the ease of it,” said Mai Nyua Lee, a creative writing major at Metro State. Lee liked the simplification and the streamlined design. She also appreciated the lighter background, which she said is “more pleasing to the eyes.” Like the OrgSync platform before it, Engage is a web-based tool for centralizing all university communications and bulletins for student organizations. Student-led groups, such

as the Psychology Club, use it to promote events, register new members and conduct officer elections. Campus services, such as the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship, also participate in Metro State’s Engage online community. They recently used it to publicize internship information sessions. Students use Engage to learn about student groups, join clubs and RSVP to campus events. Engage also helps them generate records of their cocurricular involvement. People who want to see Metro State’s Engage portal and its capabilities themselves can access it directly through engage. The site is also accessible on the Metro State website through its Student Life or Student Organizations pages. According to Philip Fuehrer, assistant director of SLLD, the best advantage of Engage is the easier sign-in. Students can sign in with their Metro State email address and StarID password. Fuehrer believes the single sign-on will increase Engage participation. OrgSync required

Screenshot taken from the new Engage webpage. Engage allows immediate and easy access to Metro State events, organizations and news.

the additional step of creating a separate account and password. With Engage, students can access organization information without logging in. Engage is developed by Campus Labs, a data collection and visualization software company for colleges and universities. Over 1,400 higher education institutions use their services to measure the impact of their student life programs. Fuehrer recognized Campus Labs for their CollegiateLink program, a previous student-engagement platform, available a few years ago. He said Metro State considered CollegiateLink in 2012 but ultimately chose its competitor OrgSync. In 2016, OrgSync merged with Campus Labs. With feedback from hundreds of colleges and universities, Campus Labs compiled the best from OrgSync and CollegiateLink to create Engage. Now, Metro State has the best from both systems. Although Engage was up and running during the summer, Student Life was not promoting it then. Fuehrer said they wanted to give student organizations time to get their pages ready for the fall semester. Student Life will promote Engage as students come back to school in the fall and attend welcome events such as Fall Fest. The mission of SLLD is to enrich students’ college experience and make them aware of involvement opportunities at Metro State. According to Fuehrer, the best presentation of Engage should help them achieve this goal. Carrie Noble, student organizations and activities coordinator for SLLD, led a series of Engage info sessions during the summer. Student organiza-

tions attended these meetings to set up their Engage pages. Noble said the sessions would help expose issues they can troubleshoot together. Student Life also hosted volunteer sessions for users to test Engage and contemplate improvements. During the June 19 meeting, attendees discovered that most contents from OrgSync transferred to the new Engage

pages. They only uncovered a few minor problems. Some bylaws and logos did not migrate. Students also mentioned that organization rosters were bloated with graduates and individuals no longer affiliated with the university. Noble said that Student Life would let Engage run for a year before updating this information. “The user experience is going to be better in the long run,” she told the group.

Haute Dish Fall 2019 Issue: Now on stands! Haute Dish is Metropolitan State’s Arts and Literary magazine, which is published twice a year. Students can submit their artwork (such as photography, studio art--which includes illustration, painting, sculpture, and mixed media). They can also submit their poetry or short stories, which include fiction, nonfiction, or a memoir/personal essay. Four submissions per subject, per student. Spring Deadline for

next Fall Issue: April 15th

Winter 2020


Metropolitan State University Presents Fall Fest 2019 (Right) A puppy looks out from a purse during Fall Fest.


Student Life and Leadership Development (SLLD) held its annual Fall Fest on the afternoon of Sept. 14 in the south lot adjacent to the parking garage on the St. Paul campus. The event was an opportunity for student, community and university organizations

to connect with attendees and discuss their services. Before guests could enter the festival, they are required to answer survey questions and sign a liability waiver on laptops before getting a wristband for admittance and a meal ticket. The line for entering wrapped around the block, as staff worked to fix some of the glitches with


Brandon General / The Metropolitan

the technology. Once through the entrance, guests could play outdoor games, run through a bouncy obstacle course, or scale the rock climbing wall. SLLD hosts two large university events open to the community each year: Fall Fest and Spring Fest.

Brandon General / The Metropolitan

(Above) A Dad looks on as his sons play a Plinko game at Metropolitan State University’s Fall Fest.

(Below) After taking pictures for Fall Fest, The Metropolitan’s Multimedia Editor, Brandon General, attempts to scale Fun Jumps Entertainment’s rock climbing wall. The event was hosted by Student Life and Leadership Development and held on Sept. 14th.

Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

Brandon General / The Metropolitan

(Above) A child attending Fall Fest carefully builds a pint-size wooden tower from the ground up. Outdoor games are regularly featured at the annual outdoor event.

(Below) A child attending Metro State’s Fall Fest eagerly waits for a snow cone. Many tables representing organizations offered treats or beverages to attendees. SLLD also provided a catered lunch during the event. Brandon General / The Metropolitan



Winter 2020

The Metropolitan mingles with journalists at the College Media Mega Workshop LUCIA RIVAS Reporter Four editors and three staff writers from The Metropolitan joined college students from across the country to participate in the fourth annual College Media Mega Workshop. From July 11-14, aspiring journalists came together on the U of M campus to learn from experienced media professionals how to become better leaders, content creators and journalists. The summer conference was sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press, the College Media Association, College Broadcasters Inc., College Media Business and Advertising Managers, and the Hubbard School of Journalism at the University of Minnesota. Due to the departure of nearly all newspaper staff in May, including graduating EditorIn-Chief Kathryn Ganfield, the new Metropolitan team felt the need to take advantage of the conference to build their knowledge and expertise. The seven Metro State representatives split themselves among four of the tracks offered: organizational leadership, design, digital journalism and storytelling/reporting. The Metropolitan staff wanted to acquire new knowledge to pass on to future editors and reporters. They also hoped to learn the tools and systems used in larger newsrooms so they could establish some long-term stability for the student journalism organization. “The digital conference was a great learning experience that gave us the opportunity to network with students all around the country. Through various classroom activities at the conference, I was exposed to new online tools, such as ThingLink and JuxtaposeJS I believe these tools will assist me greatly in bringing fresh digital content to the paper,” said Brandon General, multimedia editor for The Metropolitan. Each day before student journalists broke up into session groups, they met

together in a large lecture hall to listen to featured guest speakers and panelists. On the first morning of the conference, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Joe Hight spoke about self-care for journalists, who must often witness and relay information about traumatic events. The importance of diversity was discussed in another morning keynote address. Guest panelists Roxanne Anderson and Quinn Villagomez, co-hosts of “RARE,” a radio program featured on KFAI Radio’s Fresh Fruit; Kyndell Harkness, editor and photographer for the Star Tribune; and Mordecai Specktor, editor and publisher of American Jewish World and columnist for The Circle, discussed ways to create inclusive newsrooms and stories. Advocating for members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, religious minorities, immigrant communities and even people who aren’t classified by a specific “group” should be a priority for student journalists, according to the panelists. Above all else, they stressed the importance of “authentic networking” to introduce underrepresented groups and individuals to campus communities. This lesson is a point of emphasis for The Metropolitan, which works hard to represent our diverse student body. For members of The Metropolitan, their sense of excitement—most of them were attending a journalism conference for the first time—was tempered by the overwhelming realization of all the new things they had to work on to make the paper interesting and valuable for the Metro State community. The College Media Mega Workshop left staff members eager to practice what they learned. The energy and enthusiasm of workshop collaboration went beyond attendees; many instructors were already working on ideas to make next year’s event better even before this year’s workshop ended.

Lucia Rivas / The Metropolitan

College journalists practice taking cell phone photographs on the University of Minnesota (U of M) campus. Students from all over the county descended on the East Bank for the Associated Collegiate Press Mega Media Workshop on July 11-14, 2019. In the story-telling and reporting track, instructors stressed the importance of capturing good visual content. Executive Director of the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), Laura Widmer, hoped students would go back to their newsrooms thinking, “I’m ready to share what I learned with my staff and...make next year even better.” NSPA was another sponsor of the workshop. April Carlson, interim editor-in-chief of The Metropolitan, expressed her desire to foster relationships with staff members and establish a functional workflow for the newsroom. “[Confidence] is a this case it is definitely a group thing,” she said. The challenge of running a newsroom is a huge opportunity for learning. With the skills gained during the workshop, members of The Metropolitan are now better equipped to tell the stories of our campus community. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get experience in college journalism! The Metropolitan sponsors opportunities to attend workshops, training sessions and more. Contact us for more information about available positions and how you can get involved.

Metro State grad Alan Lessik returns to campus to discuss debut novel RACHEL HAGEN Reporter Alan Lessik, a Metro State alumnus, recently returned to campus to discuss “The Troubleseeker,” his first novel published in 2016 by Chelsea Station Editions. Lessik resided in the Twin Cities between 1973-1988, and he has an extensive background in activism and non-profit work. Housing, HIV/AIDS and social justice are just a few of the causes he advocates. Lessik describes his writing as “gay global novels,” in which the characters are often searching for home in a variety of different ways. To illustrate the motivation for his writing, Lessik quoted a song from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” in which Eliza Hamilton asks, “Who lives, who dies, and who tells your story?” Lessik said he believes this is especially important in the queer community where so many stories haven’t been told. “With queer people, who tells our story? So many stories never got told, partly because the people who tell your story are the people who have some power.”

Gay male literature, according to Lessik, is mostly about white, middle-class men. Although Lessik identifies with these demographics, “that’s not my interest. I’ve read those stories. No one needs another coming out story of that ilk.”

Lessik’s Novels “The Troubleseeker,” Lessik’s first novel is a retelling of The Odyssey and was inspired by the immigration story of his ex-partner, René Valdes’. This novel chronicles Antinio as he journeys from Cuba to the United States in search of social acceptance

Nathan Hoyhtya / The Metropolitan

Mega Media Workshop attendees pack up their belongings following the morning keynote address in Smith Hall at the University of Minnesota. Each morning between July 11 and 14, the conference began with a guest speaker or a panel. Students learned about journalist self-care, diversity in storytelling, investigative journalism and podcasting. regarding his sexual orientation. The unique incorporation of Cuban SanterÍa and Greek mythology results in a riveting and intricate plot which demonstrates the wide scope of gay literature. Lessik is working to publish his second novel titled “The Kenzo Koan.” Kenzo is a gay father writing to his daughter with whom he has never had a relationship. “[Kenzo] is being very open. And in my story he’s a same-sex loving person without shame,” elaborated Lessik. Lessik started writing fiction

Author, Alan Lessik and Metro State Alumni Relations Director, Kristine Hansen, stand alongside one another prior to Alan’s excerpt reading of his novel “The Trouble Seeker” and upcoming novel “The Kenzo Koan” at Metro State University’s Library. The event was hosted by Metro State University’s Alumni Association on September 5th.

Brandon General / The Metropolitan

relatively late in life, in large part due to his discomfort with using outlines. Describing the process of using outlines as “painful,” Lessik said he’s not a logical person, so relying on outlines while writing hampers his creativity rather than enriching it. Instead, Lessik allows the story to flow from his consciousness. In reference to his completed novels, he said, “I had an idea and started one day. I just declare ‘I’m going to start writing,’ and the story just pours out of me.”

The Troubleseeker / Chelsea Station Editions


Winter 2020


Tech Briefs Fall 2019 Is AI the future of mental health diagnosis? APRIL CARLSON Staff Writer

Adobe Creative Cloud now available

Computer labs around campus were outfitted with Adobe Creative Cloud at the start of fall semester. Students can create a personal AdobeID account and access the latest versions of Adobe suite software, such as Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. “In 2012, Metropolitan State purchased Creative Suite (CS) 6, but because Adobe subsequently moved to offering all of its software via Creative Cloud (CC), it was not updating CS, and we were not providing students with the most current Adobe applications,” said Victoria Sadler, a professor in the School of Communications, Writing and the Arts (SCWA). Although the annual fees associated with CC are an investment for the university, instructors want to equip students with the most up-todate software versions available.

Microsoft Office 365 and email services update Metro State’s integration with Minnesota State’s Microsoft Office 365 platform occurred between Nov. 8-11. During the integration process, all Metro State email and Office 365 cloud services were offline. According to Rich Peaslee, IT service center specialist, the middle of the semester was chosen for the migration in

order to help IT support staff troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to contact Information Technology Services if they experience any problems with the new Minnesota State cloud platform: (651) 793-1240.

Digital Media Lab fitted with new Macs The Digital Media Lab (DML) in the basement of Founders Hall was outfitted for fall semester with new Mac desktops and a new multipurpose copier/ scanner. Many SCWA courses use the lab, including Screenwriting, Web Design, Photography, and Digital Arts. Students have access to three high-quality photo printers in addition to the multipurpose printer. The DML is open for students to use outside of class during the following times until the end of the semester: Wed: 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Thurs: 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Fri: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sat: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Disclosure: April Carlson is also the graduate assistant in the Digital Media Lab this semester.

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MANDY HATHAWAY Staff Writer Current artificial intelligence (AI) networks are generally created via machine learning. That is, computer systems are given massive datasets and taught to sift through that data in order to make predictions based on it. Through medical scan image recognition, current systems, like Google’s Augmented Reality Microscope, are beginning to outperform medical professionals at cancer diagnosis. Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos stopped by Metropolitan State University’s St. Paul campus Tuesday, Oct. 29, to introduce his work to students in the Human Services Capstone class HSER 455. Papanikolopoulos, a professor at the University of Minnesota, has a doctorate in electri-

cal and computer engineering and is the director of the Center for Distributed Robotics there. His current projects focus on applying the sort of technology used to diagnose cancer to other medical diagnostics. “Symptoms are actually snapshots,” Papanikolopoulos said. His goal is to use AI to assist with mental health diagnoses by collecting and going through those snapshots. He and his team have been working on using image and video recognition technology to help identify mental health classifications. By using Microsoft Kinects to monitor children at play, the team looks for a variety of physical behaviors associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), such as hand flapping. By analyzing this data, they were able to correctly identify which children had been diagnosed by professionals as being on the spectrum. Just this single task, once Gerd Altman / Pixabay

perfected, could free up hours of work for professionals. Currently, medical professionals often must pour over hours of recorded patient interviews, frame by frame, to identify and confirm such behaviors’ presence in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Targeting behaviors typical of people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, ASD and Tourette syndrome, Papanikolopoulos’s interdisciplinary team is dedicated to developing systems that can identify such behaviors in subjects. While he worries that the current stigma around mental health diagnosis makes his work more challenging, he is dedicated to advancing these technologies. As Papanikolopoulos puts it, he and his team are “all about human well-being.” This technology could be applied in a wide variety of ways. Papanikolopoulos envisions a future where telepsychiatry, aided by this image recognition software, could bring diagnosis and treatment to rural populations that are generally the least likely to have access to high-end medical professionals. This would allow for treatment without excessive travel and facilitate early interventions. While finding funding hasn’t been as easy for his team as for those studying more mainstream cancer diagnostics, he feels confident that, in time, these technologies could help a huge number of individuals and the future of psychiatric medicine.



Winter 2020

Graffiti class tackles tagging ethics and techniques BRANDON GENERAL Staff Writer

Margo Selski, a community faculty member at Metro State, taught a new course over the summer where students were introduced to graffiti art. This pilot project was designed to both educate students about graffiti protocol and cultivate pride in original “tags.” Selski was a member of the Chicago graffiti art scene back in the 1970s. She beamed as she reminisced about seeing train cars emblazoned with her tag on the side. In those early years, she worked hard to develop and craft her tag. This work often included long hours honing designs in her sketchbook, especially on the days when she couldn’t afford to buy a can of spray paint. In addition to teaching, Selski specializes in fine art. She currently has oil paintings displayed in Her real-world experience with different art genres, along with a willingness to share hard-learned lessons, combine to make Selski an asset to Metro State students. During the graffiti course, they learn mostly through doing. For one session, the classroom was a park in downtown St. Paul where students spray-painted various surfaces using personalized stencils. Their designs were meant to elicit a feeling of nature for urban families. The class received permission from the city of St. Paul to contribute their artwork to the park. On another day, each student contributed to a collective tag on a huge eight-by-ten-foot canvas. Students also relied on other art techniques to hone their tag work, including shaping molding clay and sketching. While skill-development is important, the main lesson Selski wants students to take from the course can’t be learned through classroom activities: personal integrity. Selski encourages students to not only cultivate pride in their own artwork, but others’ work as well. There is a code of ethics that must be followed. In the world of graffiti art,

reputation is everything. Violating or altering another artist’s creation without permission could spell the end of a tagging career. Once those boundaries have been crossed, it’s very difficult to repair relationships with other artists. Taggers will often band together, ensuring that all of the offender’s tags will be violated in turn. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines graffiti as, “usually unauthorized writing on a public surface.” This meaning suggests that whether tags are done with or without authorization, they’re still graffiti. Nevertheless, often graffiti and vandalism are seen as being synonymous. So what is the difference between the two? It all comes down to a single word: permission. Selski reminds students that there are spaces within the Twin Cities that both allow and encourage graffiti art. One of those places is Indigenous Roots, a cultural arts center near the St. Paul Campus. The class even explored taking a trip there to tag a wall. Selski believes that artists who visit these types of settings will generate fresh ideas, meet other artists, and build a sense of community.

Brandon General / The Metropolitan

Instructor Margo Selski shows graffiti art student Richard Mcullough where to spray paint. This course teaches the essentials for graffiti technique. But that is just the beginning. With hard work and personal integrity, a tagger can build a bold reputation as an artist, one can of spray paint at a time.

Graffiti art student Richard Mcullough’s spray painted stencil design is displayed at the Fine Arts Studio. Brandon General / The Metropolitan

All the world’s a stage for On Stage MANDY HATHAWAY Staff Writer On Sept. 13, members of On Stage stopped by St. John’s Hall on the St. Paul campus to engage with 36 students in the Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership program. The group attending the event was comprised of two separate classes: Political and Advocacy Leadership and Organizing and Communication for Advocacy. On Stage also attended an Introduction to Creative Writing (WRIT 251) class on the Midway campus on Monday, September 16. On Stage is a Twin Citiesbased organization that brings actors and plays from local theatre productions into teaching environments. “Since I launched On Stage in the fall of 2016, we have discussed twelve plays from nine local theaters with 3000 college and high school students, and over 1000 of these students paid to see the show that we were promoting, discussing,” said Lucas Erickson, the organization’s founder and project manager. On Stage Advisor Nora Montanez and Teaching Artist Wendy Knox attended the joint class session to introduce the play “Escaped Alone,” which is playing at the Gremlin Theater

through Sept. 29. Their work with On Stage focuses on engaging new and nontraditional theatre audiences and exposing them to the creative power of theater. The presenters discussed the background of the play, including information about the playwright, Caryl Churchill, and the devices she uses to stimulate audience engagement. Several students had a chance to read lines from the play, and all of them spent time in small groups discussing their interpretations of a scene. The conversation centered on deconstructing the language and ideas in the play itself, yet it also included space for students to explore and take apart the ideas that inform their own perspective. “We’re going to use this [experience] to think about how we tell stories,” said Adrienne Falcon, associate professor in the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs. The On Stage event is an appealing curriculum addition for many instructors as another way to introduce important concepts. On Stage has been hosting events in Metro State classrooms for the last three years. Each year, the group books between 50 and 75 engagements—in libraries, colleges and high schools, churches and recovery groups.

According to Erickson, “The purpose of On Stage—a fiscally sponsored program through Springboard for the Arts—is to enhance in-class learning, make local theater relevant to younger and non-traditional audiences and to lay the groundwork for building future theater attendances.” To that end, it appeared to be a successful collaboration with Metro State’s students. Participants were engaged by the material, and their conversations were lively and introspective. Students vocalized the tension and fears they feel about things like the environment, natural disasters and aging. “I’m afraid of not having what it takes to do what I need to do,” expressed one student during the discussion. While students explored their own fears and expectations, they related those feelings to the language and ideas expressed in the play excerpts. The goal of the activity never seemed to be to create consensus, but rather to use the ideas and format of the play to create space for dialog—a dialog that could be uncomfortable or tense in another environment. Students laughed, disagreed and explored the differences in how they understood the

Mandy Hathaway / The Metropolitan

Students from two MAPL classes break into small groups to read lines from the play “Escaped Alone” during a visit from On Stage on September 13. The students were encouraged to bring their own voice and feelings to the lines as they explored the dialogue together. themes, which while stressful or dark, seemed relatable to all. “It was like … an artist who makes good art out of garbage,” said student Greg Odeneal, commenting on the play’s subject matter. In the end, reactions to the play were varied, but everyone seemed to find something of value in On Stage’s presentation. Student Willie Pearl Evans, who did her undergraduate work in English, really valued the thinking that the play’s content facilitated. She lamented, “We’re so caught up in struc-

ture.” Evans appreciated how the discussion helped address problems without the confines of traditional frameworks. Another student, Artiste Mayfield, said, “I thought it was all like kinda crazy, like actually, I wouldn’t go see it.” But then she quickly qualified that by saying, “On the flip side of that, I think crazy people will go see it.” More information about On Stage is available on their website,