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John's Declassified Moving Survival Guide

It’s about that time of the summer! Every possible store on the planet is doing back to school shopping! All the stores glisten with new crayons, backpacks, and tissues galore! However, this time you aren’t worried about what your high school locker is going to look like this year. No, you’ve got a greater space to work with – your residence hall room!
If you’re anything like me, you want to know what you’re getting into before you get into it. And that’s okay! When it comes to Move-In Day, it’s a bit nerve wracking. You’re excited to go somewhere new, sad to leave your hometown friends and family behind, and you’re trying your hardest to keep everything together! Moving isn’t easy at all! That’s why I prepared this little guide, so you can make moving less of a hassle and much easier!
Here is John’s Declassified Moving Survival Guide:

  1. Start packing early – a few weeks early. Start with packing things you know you will use.
  2. You do not need to pack every article of clothing you have. Pack summer and fall clothes. When you go back for Thanksgiving Break, swap to your winter gear. You can thank me later.
  3. You can ALWAYS find free boxes lying around. This may sound gross, but the boxes from fast food restaurants are usually pretty big. If you have a friend in the fast food business, have them give you some boxes. (Hint. Try to use boxes that had only frozen food in them! This is coming from experience) Otherwise big Rubbermaid containers work well too!
  4. Label, label, label your boxes with what they’re containing. This will help you with arranging what things go where! That way you’re not digging through your boxes when you’re moving in!
  5. Get to your hall early! That way you beat the rush and you have time to move in and grab lunch somewhere with your parents!
  6. Pack only the essentials! If your belongings don’t fit in the back of a minivan or average sized car, you’re bringing too much! All the halls supply all the basic furniture, so you’ll need bed linens, towels, toiletries, some basic school supplies, and your clothes.
  7. Bring tools! You have no idea when you’ll need them! Two screwdrivers and a hammer are lifesavers! Trust me.
  8. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t bring everything. You can easily buy things when you move in at Target or Wal-Mart downtown!
  9. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Everyone is in the same position you are!
  10. Breathe! It’ll be over soon!
  11. It’s always hot when people are moving in. Always. So, wear loose and light clothes.
  12. The elevators are always packed (at least when I’m using them!). Keep calm and only use the elevator if you absolutely have to.
  13. Unpack AFTER you move everything in.
  14. After you move in, you wouldn’t believe how great a well-deserved shower feels like. It’s a real workout!
  15. Keep a positive attitude!
  16. Be open-minded!
  17. Remember, YOU are going to be living in your room, not your parents. As long as you follow steps 15 and 16 you’ll love your new space!

After the moving process is done, your parents have already hit the road, and you’re about to go to your RA’s floor meeting, make sure you start getting to know the people in your floor and building. My advice is to be outgoing (note, I said outgoing, not fake)! Worried because you’re shy? Don’t be! Everyone is in the same boat you are! A simple smile, saying hi, and introduction will always pay off!


If you have questions at all during this process, find your RA, the front desk of your building, or contact the Housing and Residence Life Office. They’d love to help you out!
Happy Moving! See you soon!!

John Otis

H.O.P.E. Academy 2015

10 days can really fly by!

We were fortunate enough to welcome many high school students to stay and learn at Winona State University! The H.O.P.E. (Harnessing Opportunities for Post-Secondary Education) Academy is a ten-day summer residential program for male and female high school students between the 9th-12th grades. The purpose of the Academy is to offer underrepresented and underserved students with a life-altering opportunity to fully experience college life.


Many of the students who were at the academy were engaged in college-level courses, workshops, and trainings to develop, explore, and hone their leadership skills to be utilized in an ever-growing globalized society.


Students got to stay in our new halls, Kirkland and Haake, for the entirety of their 10-day program. Not only did this provide them with a unique opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a college on-campus resident, but it exemplified and solidified what students were learning throughout their 10-day program! On top of this, our other campus facilities were being used for recreational purposes to create and develop relationships with peers and their college mentors!


A multitude of their programming took place in our Haake Hall Conference Room, which is conveniently right where students were residing.

On June 17th, the mentors arrived at 8:00am sharp in Haake’s Conference Room eager and prepared to learn about their new students and about themselves. Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life, Sarah Olcott, provided a few training sessions that paved the way for the college mentors to discover more about themselves and working with others. On a more serious note, the training that followed, taught the mentors about crisis management and working with underage individuals.


After a full day of intensive training for the college mentors, high school students started arriving that same night.


Throughout their 10-day journey, the Academy offered many sessions on leadership training, communication building, and life-skill activities that would serve as building blocks to help students and their families move past barriers in their life, such as racial, financial, social, and academic. Students were encouraged to move toward a successful future college experience!

We were sad to see everyone leave, and we had a blast working with each and every one of you! In addition, we are very excited to work with and meet the students in the 2016 H.O.P.E. Academy next summer!

-John Otis

That's a Wrap! June Registration 2015

Whew! We are now at a close from a very busy week here at WSU!

From volleyball games, free ice cream; getting your laptop, signing up for classes, and to going to see your future room in your residence hall; it’s been a great week here at WSU!

june reg

All of our Housing staff greatly enjoyed getting to know you! Our student workers were having a blast working with you and giving you tours to your future housing assignments! We hope you enjoyed your time getting to know the campus before fall semester starts!

june reg2

There will be many things to do when you come to campus for orientation in August: settling into housing, getting acquainted with the campus, meeting to your roommate, classmates, professors, and much more!

june reg3

We are all so delighted to welcome the class of 2019 to our WSU Community!

Enjoy the rest of your summer! See you all in August!

june reg4


John Otis

4 Ways to Save $25 This Week

cleaning room

But don’t forget to mop your floors for the love of Wazoo!

It’s that time of year again when finals are in full swing and you’re stressed, your roommate’s stressed, the entire campus is stressed. Sadly, I am not an exam expert and I have no secrets to help you miraculously pass that lecture class you skipped for two consecutive weeks in April.

What I do have though is a friendly reminder to properly clean your dorm room before you check out. The hassle of packing up and cleaning on top of all the stuff you have to do for finals sucks, I know. When I heard the checkout requirements I panicked. I don’t even own a broom, let alone a mop, but with help from our desk assistants I will prevail.

Here is how I–and you–will avoid the $25 improper check out fee:

1. Actually Mop or Vacuum Your Floor
I cannot stress this enough. The one step students seem to think they’re exempt from is cleaning their floors. This is not true. You will be charged. If you have carpet, you need to vaccum; if you have tile, you need to mop. In the event that you are unfamiliar with mopping it’s important to sweep your room before mopping otherwise you’re just pushing sticky gunk around while you mop. It’s a 0/10 in terms of enjoyability. I’ll say it again, you are not going to pull a fast one on your RA. They will know that your floor is not cleaned, charge you, and refuse to check you out until it is cleaned–so just avoid the trouble and clean your floors.

2. Do Not Stuff the Community Trash Can
Common space garbage cans are for common space garbage. Nothing is more infuriating than not being able to check out because someone in your hall was too unmotivated to go the extra flight of stairs to take their trash outside. Your actions affect your entire floor, and when you don’t take your trash to an outside location and let pile it up in a kitchen or bathroom trashcan instead, you risk ensuring that your entire floor is charged for your laziness. So don’t be a jerk and take out your trash.

3. Use Your Front Desk
Remember how I said I had no mop? It turns out that that’s entirely okay. The front desk is there for that very reason. If you go to your hall’s front desk, you will be given the option to check out whatever cleaning supplies and utilities you may need in order to get your room to the hall’s standards of clean. It’s free and it’s convenient, but be sure not to hoard everything for incredibly long. Other students need to check out too, so when you’re done, don’t let the mop sit in your room an extra two hours. Take it back promptly.

4. Check Your Email
Your RA did they best they could to clue you in on everything that needed to be done at your required floor meeting that you all totally attended. But in the event that your memory has failed you, check your email because your res hall director should have emailed you a “Res Hall Checklist” with an itinerary of what you need to get done before you can properly check out. It features such important tasks like “Take your bike home,” “Take your bike home” and “If you do not take your bike home it will be donated and you will never see it again.” But in all seriousness, the Res Hall email is important to check. Even you just forget an item you will be charged an improper check out fee, so play it safe rather than sorry.

These may seem like common sense, but based on multiple RA stories you’d be shocked. So with that I wish you all happy HAPPY finals, may you get lots of easy questions and get that 2% bump you need for that A.

–Hannah Carmack

Res Hall End of the Year Parties

guy says "let's party"

As the semester comes to a close, and what better way to celebrate the end of the year than with a party?!

Every residence hall on campus will be having their annual End of the Year parties in the coming days. There will be food, games, fun, prizes, and more fun all wrapped up in a special theme! Your Hall Council members have put in so much effort and time into these parties so you will be able to celebrate the end of the year before settling down with your books and coffee for finals week!

Look around your hall for info posters and take the time to stop by your hall’s party. Ask your RA or Hall Council members if you have more questions!

I encourage you to attend the parties and celebrate getting through another school year because, well, you deserve it!​

–Emily McCaleb

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 year. 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