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Cleaning Out Your College Home

Mary Poppins magically cleans kids' room

If only cleaning out your room was THIS easy…

The time is finally upon us. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and everyone has a little extra skip in their step on the way to classes because IT’S THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR!

But before you can hit the beach, you need to hit the books. And on top of all that finals studying, you somehow need to find the time to clean up/pack your living spaces of the last 9 months. That sounds pretty doable, right?

It can be if you are proactive these last few weeks of classes and don’t wait until the last minute to pack! Trust me, in 4 years I’ve learned a thing or two about the dos (and don’ts) when it comes to hauling all your things back home. Here are some tips and tricks on how to make the moving process as smooth as possible and to start off your stress-free summer! (Otherwise, you’re going to be that one person frantically running piles of clothes to your car, dropping a few unmentionables along way…red emoji )

1. Start Early!

This may seem like the obvious answer here, but it can be a huge time-saver.  Over the last few weeks of school, start putting things into boxes and bins.  Now that winter is officially over (fingers crossed), I like to put away all of my boots and coats into a bin right away. If you have a car on campus, you can even start filling it with items you no longer need the rest of the semester.

2. Clean Out & Organize

Use this time to really evaluate the things you need to bring home and what you can do without. If you have clothes in your closet that have gone untouched the entire year, it would be wise to donate them to the local Salvation Army or other thrift store. The more you donate, the less you need to bring home. You could also try to post thing you no longer want on Wazoo’s List.

3. Share Cleaning Supplies

Most residence halls do not have a vacuum to check out, so ask a friend to borrow theirs. You can also share other cleaning items like sanitizing wipes, dusting materials, brooms etc. This will help keep costs down and you won’t be stuck with random leftover supplies. Your parents have enough of those at home.

4. Bring a Load Home

If you plan on going home between now and finals week, it’s a good idea to bring home some of your already-packed items. This clears out more space in your room AND gives you a head start on unpacking and re-organizing your room at home. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to re-locating your entire room again.

5. Take Pictures

This may seem silly, but take pictures of your room now! It’s always fun to go back and reminisce on your college home. Grab your roommate and pretend you’re on MTV College Cribs – clean and organize your room before the packing begins and have a photo-shoot. Packing up your entire life at school may be sad and stressful, but enjoy these last few moments at your current college home, Warriors!

–Melissa VanGrinsven

Ultimate Roommate Pranks

April is almost here and with April…comes April Fools’ Day.

April Fools’ Day is one of the most lighthearted days of the years. It’s a date where people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other.

And who better to prank when you’re at college than your roommate(s)?! Of course you want to be able to prank them in a way that won’t do too much harm to your room or your relationship with your roommate(s). There are plenty of friendly yet still hilarious ways to prank your roommate.

I was inspired by one of my favorite YouTube vloggers, Joe Sugg or “ThatcherJoe.” He has a series of videos where he and his roommate prank each other back and forth. So take a gander at this video, get inspired, have a few giggles and get planning!

The Ultimate Balloon Prank

Personally, I think some of ThatcherJoe’s pranks are more suited for houses than res halls since you don’t want to cause any damages that you’ll be charged for come check-out day. But ​I think buying Post-it notes and balloons should definitely make it onto your to buy list this weekend–those items may or may not be on mine. ;) These two pranks are easy going, are easy to clean up and they have a hilarious impact.

That being said, remember that April Fools’ Day is a day for jokes, and although some jokes may seem hilarious to you they might not be so funny to your roommate(s). Keep this in mind when you are hatching your devious April Fools’ pranks.

Keep it light. Keep it simple. Have fun!​

–Emily McCaleb

Navigating the Dining Halls with Food Allergies

students in the cafeteria

​If you live or have lived on campus, you’ve had your share of meals in the dining halls, be it Jack Kane or Lourdes Cafeteria. You know, of course, that Dining Services provides a plethora of meals on a daily basis at their all-you-can-eat buffets each day. For some students, the caf is a wonderland of options without the hassle of cooking themselves. But for those of us with allergies or other dietary restrictions, the caf is more like a minefield and we stick to a few tried and true dishes. This lack of variety in the dining halls is reason that makes living off-campus appealing for upperclassmen.

What so many people don’t realize is that the Dining Services staff are more than willing to tailor fully balanced meals to your dietary needs as part of your meal plan. If you ask any of the workers about getting a special meal put together, they will happily guide you to a supervisor who can talk you through the different items in the dining hall that will work for your diet.

There are some staff members who specialize to students’ needs and they will set up meetings to help guide you more in depth on what is available for you to eat. In these meetings,  the workers focus on your allergy, review menu items and ingredients and deal with cross contamination issues in order to develop a plan to fit your dining needs.

So, if any of you have abandoned your meal plan and resorted to buying all your own groceries in order to cope with food allergies or other restriction, stop spending your money on that. You don’t have to struggle to find food on campus–just set up a meeting with Dining Services so you can figure out how to make your meal plan work for you. They are more than willing to help!

–Emily McCaleb


7 Ways to Spend Spring Break in Winona

There’s no easy way to put this. Breaks can kind of suck if you’re spending them here in Winona while your friends are all off having adventures. If are stuck in your dorm this Spring Break like I am, you might be afraid that you’ll be bored most of the time. So how do you break the boredom? It’s actually not that difficult, and here are 7 ways you can have fun over breaks in your dorm.

1. Start a Project
I am one of those kinds of people that love to work on crafts and recently I started a rag rug. For me, it was a little pricy getting all the supplies but it’s been a good way to keep busy and be creative too.

The beginnings of my rag rug

The beginnings of my rag rug

2. Get Nostalgic

Re-live the 90s this week and watch all those old movies from when you were little. Personally I’ve been on a Hayao Miyazaki kick and enjoying the memories of the first time I met Totoro, Kiki and Chihiro. Check out this ultimate 90s movies list and find the Disney movies and more that you loved as a kid.

a photo with the phrase "You are never too old for a disney movie"

3. Experiment with Cooking

The cafeteria is closed over break so that means you’re on your own food-wise. I generally go with pasta-based meals that I can make lots of leftovers to eat later. But there are a lot of other stuff you can cook as well and you have the lounge kitchen basically to yourself, so why not use it! Take a chance and cook something obscure, because there’s no one around to make fun of you or smell it if it gets burnt.

person making stir fry

4. Get Out and Exercise

The fitness center on Main campus is still open (although if you live on West campus like me you’ll to figure out how to get there since the shuttle isn’t running), but the lakes only about 4 blocks from both campuses so ride your bike or take a walk. The weather is going to be beautiful this spring break so take advantage of it while it lasts.

two women jog around lake

5. Clean Your Room 

As soon as my roommate left I ended up not caring how messy my room get which made getting out of my bed extremely difficult. I end up having to clean my room every night before I finally go to sleep. I can definitely say that my sleep schedule if all sorts of wrong. Although the cleaning is a hassle, it keeps my hands and body busy so I don’t eat out of boredom.

girl chased by dirty clothes wave

6. Read a Novel

You know that book you’ve been meaning to start? Yeah, read it! I’ve had Bram Stoker’s Dracula on my nightstand since fall semester and I’m only on page 23. It not because it’s boring– it’s actually really good–but I just didn’t have time during the semester. Well, now that is Spring Break I do have time and I plan to make quite a dent on the 391 pages I have left. So, pick up that book sitting on your shelf and get to reading it!

teen reading a book

7. Complete Your “To Do Tomorrow” List

We all have those tasks that we keep putting off but Spring Break can be the perfect time to take care of them.  I’ve been putting off calling my phone provider to cancel my phone insurance because I just hate being put on hold! And there are other things as well like applying for scholarships, getting a list together of stuff I need to get from home for the summer, putting together material to get into the graphic design program–all of which are very important but I just need to take the time to do it. Spring Break gives me the time I need.

"later" crossed out and "Now" circled

There are many other activities you can do in and around your dorm during break– you just have to find something want to do and do it! It’s not hard to have fun even if you aren’t traveling to some exotic location. So enjoy the quiet, alone time while it lasts, and when everyone gets back you might just realize how good you had it!

–Rachel Adam

Becoming an RA 101


This post goes out to all the hired RA applicants and RA alternates for next year’s staff, who all know what I am talking about when I say that I had a uniquely overwhelming but exciting experience last Tuesday evening: it was my first session of  the RA 1. Every Tuesday from 6-9pm, all the newly hired RAs gather in the New Center’s Conference Room to learn how to be good RAs from the New Center/Kirkland Hall Director. Unlike some of my general education classes, I can already see how much this RA class will benefit me in the near future, which makes giving up an evening of my week totally worth it.

However, I wasn’t really expecting just how much work will go into the class. I mean, of course we need to learn a ton in order to handle leading freshmen in res halls and enforcing res hall rules but there will be have quizzes the Policy Handbook as well as group projects including shadowing and interviewing a current RA. Attendance is crucial, and you must earn a B or higher to retain your residence assistant position. There will definitely be homework every week. In fact, we had homework even before the first class as we had to take a Color Code Personality Test and a Conflict-Management Style Survey.

When I took the Color Code Personality Test,  I received the color Blue. According to the site, “Blues are motivated by intimacy. They seek to genuinely connect with others, and need to be understood and appreciated. Everything they do is quality-based. They are loyal friends, employers, and employees. Whatever or whomever they commit to is their sole (and soul) focus. They love to serve and give of themselves freely in order to nurture others’ lives.” It went on to say that “Blues have distinct preferences and have the most controlling personality. Their personal code of ethics is remarkably strong and they expect others to live honest, committed lives as well. They enjoy sharing meaningful moments in conversation as well as paying close attention to special life events (e.g. birthdays and anniversaries). Blues are dependable, thoughtful, and analytical, but can also be self-righteous, worry-prone, and moody. They are ‘sainted pit-bulls’ who never let go of something or someone once they are committed. When you deal with a BLUE, be sincere and make a genuine effort to understand and appreciate them.”

I thought this was a pretty-spot on evaluation of myself so I interested to see what would happen when I took the Conflict Management Style Survey.

The Conflict Management Style Survey (PDF) shows your characteristic approach to managing conflict. I had to choose a single frame of reference (e.g. work-related conflicts, family conflicts, social conflicts) to keep in mind when responding to 12 common personal and professional situations. An example situation given was, “In responding to a request from another for help with a problem, you would” and then there were 5 different responses (labeled A through E) ranging from “Clearly instruct him or her how to proceed” all the way to “avoid the invitation at all costs”. Then I had to count the 5 types of responses I gave and number them so that any response can be answered from zero to ten points, as long as all five responses for a given situation to add up to a total of ten points. The scoring was kind of confusing, but after I followed the instructions on how to interpret all of my answers, I got a tie for a “collaborator” and “avoider” as my conflict-management style. It was a little bit confusing as the sheet informed me that the “Avoiding” style is unassertive and uncooperative, while the “Collaborating” style is both assertive and cooperative. So that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I guess I can take that as I am a mix between the two

After discussing our personality test colors and conflict management style survey results, we all did a bunch of team-building activities in just 20 minutes. The team-building activities ranged from figuring out riddles to trying to blow a bubble across the entire room. The activities were partly for fun as well as for interaction so that the class had an opportunity to work with new people, but I think it also represented what we may run into as RAs next year. Being thrown into a situation quickly with little to no instructions and just having to figure out the situation to the best and fullest of your ability seems like it comes with the territory of the RA position.

So, I learned that a lot goes into the class–perhaps a bit more than I expected– but I believe that it will be so worth it and it will help me prepare . I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to stepping outside my comfort zone as get prepared for what I am getting myself into next year as a Resident Assistant of Sheehan Hall.

–Liz Doyle

In the Aftermath of Resident Assistant Decision Day

Banner that says "You got what it takes"

Just remember that no matter what category you are in, you can achieve such great things in the future!

The time has come and gone: Resident Assistant Decision Day is over. For some it was a very joyous event, but for others it may not have been what they expected. As someone who has been through this exact same process, I have a message for you whether you got the RA job or not.

For those who got RA positions…

Congratulations! You are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime! Being a Resident Assistant is one of the most rewarding jobs on campus in my opinion because you are in a role to impact future residents’ college careers. You have to realize that you are now a campus leader and your residents will be looking to you for help, information and friendship next year and you are fully capable of all of this.


  • Get cracking on ideas! Start thinking of events, door decs, and bulletin boards that you can do next year!
  • Get in contact with your new staff, especially the returning RAs, for helpful advice.
  • Have fun & welcome aboard the res life ship

For those who got alternate positions…

Do NOT let this get you down! There is no such thing as being “JUST” an alternate, you have a very good chance of getting a position in the next year. You have to keep your chin up and be proud that you made it that far, you put yourself out there and made it up there. You’re at the final steps to becoming an RA just keep telling yourself that!


  • Start thinking of ideas in case you get a position next year!
  • Talk to your Hall Director and ask what you can do to get more involved while waiting for a position.
  • BE INVOLVED in the Resident Assistant 1 class and show that you are willing to work just as hard as students with positions.

For those who did not receive a position…

You can’t give up! The RA process is a very competitive process and you tried your best! As a freshmen I did not receive an RA position.  Instead of getting discouraged, I met with my Hall Director and asked what I could do to improve, got more involved my sophomore year of college and now I am an RA. The key is not to give up, you are capable of this position and as long as you try your best and go at it again, anything is possible!


  • Meet with your Hall Director and see what you could do to better your chances next year, be open to any suggestions.
  • Get more involved on campus next year, take a good look at getting involved in Hall Council.
  • BE POSITIVE! You are still able to try again and improve on your results now that you know what to do!

–Emily McCaleb

Creating Res Hall Romance

strings of lights around a window

While you can’t use candles in the dorms, rope lights make a pretty good substitute.


While there are plenty of good date night opportunities around the city of Winona, your res hall can actually be perfect for a romantic rendezvous this Valentine’s Day. Hey now, don’t look so skeptical! It’s true, and here’s how I know.

The first Valentine’s Day my boyfriend and I shared came just two months after we started dating. Not ready for an all-out celebration, we opted for a simple evening in my res hall room. He came over around 8pm and we curled up together to watch the sweet romance between Llyod Dobler and Diane Court unfold in the classic romantic comedy Say Anything. Honestly, it was just as fun as any of the more elaborate Valentine’s Day’s we’ve had because we talked and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.

If you’re also thinking about going the route of a low-key movie night, here are a few tips for creating romance in the res halls:

1. Clean Your Room
It seems obvious, but a clean room is always more inviting than a messy space. Vacuum the floor, take out the trash, spray some air freshener— particularly if you want to make a good impression on a date who has never seen your room before. Even if your date has already seen your messy side, they’ll be sure to notice the extra effort you made to pick up your socks and make your bed.

2. Respectfully Relocate Your Roommate
A big part of romance is being open and emotionally available, but sharing your thoughts and feelings can be awkward if your roommate is sitting just a few feet away. So, make arrangements with your roommate to have the room to yourself for a few hours. Do this ahead of time so as not to make your roommate feel exiled from their own room. You want to wake up on 2/15 with two successful relationships, not a romantic partner at the cost of a roommate.

3. Nix the Overhead Lighting
Because nothing sets the mood better than the harsh glare of overhead lighting, amirite? WRONG. What you want is a softer glow from a few table lamps or maybe some rope lights strung up around the room for an amorous atmosphere. Hey, a cozy dimness might be cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.

4. Pick the Right Movie
There are probably literally a million romantic movies out there so choosing the right one is important. Don’t test your date’s patience by choosing a movie that gets you feeling lovey-dovey but has them counting down until the credits roll. Also, I’d advise against The Titanic and The Notebook because, while they’re classic love stories, they’re also tearjerkers. And, let’s be honest, no one cries as prettily in real life as people do in the movies.

Of course, these things are not necessary to falling in love—that’s just what happens when two people connect on a deeper level—but they can help make the evening special. This year, my boyfriend and I are planning a Valentine’s night-in very similar to that one our freshman year. And it’s going to be just as sweet this time around too.

–Elizabeth Meinders

Hall Events Are (Not Quite) Easy as 1,2,3...

an aerial view of the earth

This is an upcoming event I’ve helped plan in Sheehan Hall!

If you know anything about Winona State’s Residence Housing Association, you’ll know that they put on many events in the res halls throughout the school year. In fact, there’s two events each semester in addition to the End of the Year Party in each residence hall. To you, the average student, these events are just fun and games, but as Sheehan Hall Council Secretary,  I’ve gotten an insider’s view of putting on a RHA event. And let me tell you, I had no idea of the commitment, effort and team bonding skills that it involves.

1. Planning

When we first start planning an event, we begin with picking the category–either Social, Education, Inclusion & Diversity or Service– of our event. We then toss around ideas for a few meetings of what exactly we plan to do for our event, and brainstorm a catchy title to get people interested. Some ideas we have end up working better than others, so it is really crucial for us to use good communication skills during this process. We don’t want to waste time and we want to work towards creating a successful event.

2. Approval

We then run these ideas by the Sheehan Hall Director and Assistant Director and decide on a date and time for our event. We also need to figure out what we will need to buy–snacks, craft supplies, decorations–with our hall budget using a Purchase Order (PO) form. For example, at our first Social event called “Which Witch is Which?” we played the Halloween movie Hocus Pocus and offered candy, seasonal hot chocolate and apple cider beverages and snack food for all who came. A second Education event “Meditation & Me in the IWC” included a guided meditation session as well as goodie bags and healthy food to unwind from the stress of finals.

3. Promotion

Once we’ve got a plan and the approval, we start promoting our event. We create big PR posters to hang in the common areas of Sheehan as well as smaller flyers for mailboxes. Sometimes we get pretty creative with it too, like when we created pipe-cleaner spiders with the info for our Halloween Social. Of course, we also announce the event to our residents at Hall Council meetings.

As you can see, a lot of time and energy goes into event planning!

We are currently working on our 3rd event of the year, an Inclusion/Diversity event called “The World Awaits, Full of Taste!” where residents will get to eat appetizers and desserts from different countries and listen to a variety of cultural music. There will also be a trivia game about foreign countries where they can win prizes. We really are looking forward to it and are hoping for a good turn-out. So now that you know all the hard work we put into these events, the next time you see posters in your hall, please stop by and enjoy it!

–Liz Doyle

My RA Application: Phase 2

Warrior Leadership Retreat logo

On Saturday, January 27, I attended the Warriors Leadership Retreat, which was an all-day excursion here at Winona State full of workshops and a keynote address. While this retreat was also offered to students who wanted to improve their leadership skills, I was required to go because I have passed the first phase of the RA hiring process and granted an interview for the RA position!

The day started off right bright and early for RA applicants at 8:30am to register for the interview as well as the group process. From what I’ve heard, the interview will be a standard job interview with a Hall Director, but in the group process an assortment of applicants will have to work through different scenarios that you may face as a Resident Assistant. I am extremely nervous for the interviews because I care a lot about this opportunity and want to give back to students next year in the same way that my RA has for me. She influenced me to try new things such as RHA as well as different campus jobs and I am really thankful that she was my RA for a semester because I learned so much from her! She motivated me to get involved and pursue every opportunity that I was given. I would love to have that same impact on other people next year.

Everyone met in East Hall and the day consisted of many workshops, brunch in the Jack Kane Dining Center and a Keynote address given by CAMPUSPEAK, an organization of speaking and facilitation teams who visit college campuses to give presentations, small group work sessions, staff training, as well as individual and group consultations. The two facilitators from CAMPUSPEAK who spoke at this event were from the South, and expressed great joy upon seeing the “exotic” activity of ice fishing as they drove into Winona.

The workshops were really interesting. My favorite was a trust exercise in which one person was blindfolded and the other led them through a maze in one of the rooms over in Kryzsko Commons. Other workshops included problem-solving, team-building and team-bonding. I really enjoyed all of these workshops because they helped me think through and solve problems in new ways. I was forced to get outside of my comfort zone because I tend to be kind of shy in new situations and these really pushed me to be more outgoing. I also had the opportunity to meet some amazing new people with similar interests. This was a great way to prepare for the RA interviews too because I spent the day trying new things and gaining more experience being a leader on campus.

Lastly, the keynote address was another interesting aspect of this retreat and a great way to end the day. Empowering quotes were posted around the room and we were to go and find one that we identified with the most in our leadership style. I related most to a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I liked this one because I’ve had some fear that has held me back in the past from opportunities, and this quote describes the rewards and success that one will achieve when their fears are faced. This is another aspect that draws me to being a Resident Assistant because I think helping people settle into college life will be extremely worthwhile and fulfilling.

We also examined the current behavior towards the values we held, and then focused on how to get to ideal behavior towards these values. Some examples were seeking suggestions from others, micromanaging, listening and advising, praising others, and building confidence in others. During the 3 hour presentation I took pages and pages of notes to use for future references and also followed along in the workbook provided. Overall, I had a wonderful experience and am looking forward to the next phase of the RA hiring process.

–Liz Doyle

How to Make Friends & Find Your Fit in Your Res Life Community

Winona State students pose together

Soon enough you will feel right at home in your new community.

Spring Semester is upon us; it’s a time to get back into the routine of school, go to club meetings and reunite with your friends. Although this is the main focus for many, it isn’t for some students as they are approaching this semester with anxiety and doubt. I am talking here about transfer students and students who have moved into a new residence hall. These students are coming into this semester in a transition period of their lives and have to deal with a new semester, school and community.

One of the hardest things to do when you are new to a community is finding out where you fit in. When a community already has an established dynamic  you may feel like your presence is a disruption in a balanced social ecosystem. Though many people will be welcoming, sometimes being accepted into a group is no easy task.

But that’s where I come in. As an RA, it is part of my job to create community in my residence hall and try to include everyone in what is happening on the floor. I’ve seen the awkward second semester adjustment first hand, so this is my advice to those of you going through this transition period.

1. Show Up to Floor and Hall Events
There are always events and get-togethers going on in every residence hall on campus pretty much every week. GO TO THESE EVENTS. You might not know anyone, but this is your chance to change that. Introduce yourself, be talkative and just relax. Don’t try to impress anyone, just be yourself and have fun–that’s the first step!

2. Find One Person Who Can Help You Acclimate
A great way to find your place in a large community is starting small. Get close to your new roommate, a floor mate or even your RA. Allow yourself to get close to this person to start out your friendship and eventually let them help you find your place in the floor community.

3. Give It Time
Of course you want to be friendly towards everyone, but don’t expect to be best friends with everyone in the community right away. Every community has unique dynamics and characters, you just need to take time and figure out how you fit into the puzzle.

4. Don’t Give Up

Getting to know new friends is hard, and it’s even harder to get to know people in an already established community. Although it might be super awkward at first, you’ll will become more comfortable over time if you keep working at it. You will find your place in the community as long as you stay persistent and engaged!​

–Emily McCaleb