The college freshmen in Sheehan Hall are no longer so fresh. Let me explain that statement–I mean, their first semester is coming to an end and it has gone by way too fast. As a first year RA, it feels like just yesterday I was prepping my floor for my incoming residents. I was so nervous, but also excited to meet my residents. I just wanted to see what this year had in store. And now that the semester is almost over, I can look fondly back on the experiences my residents have had.
Being a freshmen RA this semester has reminded me so much of my own freshman year. In fact, it’s as if I just arrived. I will never forget my first time living with a roommate, my first community bathroom experience and my first college class. These moments flashed before me so quickly and it is so hard to believe it is already my third year here.
Those first few weeks are always a bit awkward and scary for incoming freshmen. Most of my girls were experiencing those same feelings of fear and anxiety that I and all other freshman in history struggled with too. After those feelings wore off a little, they begin going anywhere and everywhere with their roommates to start their friendship, learning about each other and learning about their interests through classes, clubs and events.
But now, here we are almost at the end of their first semester and I cannot believe how much they’ve grown. The once shy, lost, and scared girls are now much more confident in their surroundings. They have established their friends, study habits and extra curricular activities. They have made WSU their home.
With the semester ending, my girls have grown into the women that I knew–even back in the first weeks of classes– that they could be. And that is all that this RA can ask for.
I first learned about the Midwestern Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls conference at the Residence Housing Association training session this fall. It is an affiliate of NACURH, which is the largest run student corporation. This year, the MACURH conference was held at Kansas State University in Lawrence, Kansas, and because this was my first conference I didn’t know really what to expect. I applied to attend because it sounded like an amazing opportunity and I was really enjoying being on Hall Council (you need to be involved in residence housing to attend any of these conferences). Though I was accepted as an alternate delegate, meaning that I would be allowed to go only if another university didn’t fill all their spots, I made to Kansas anyway!
When the day of the conference came along on Oct. 31, we all woke up at 6:30am to pile into a van for the 9 hour ride down to Kansas. I was initially dreading this because it was such a long drive, but it ended up being one of the best parts of the trip! We passed the time by chatting, playing games and just having a really enjoyable time.
Once we arrived at Kansas University, I surprised at how beautiful the campus was. We took lots of pictures by the Jayhawk statue outside and then went inside to the Opening Ceremonies. Each university had decorated these really beautiful clothespins that fit in with the theme of “Piecing Together the Bigger Picture” and traded them with other schools as a way to connect with other students and see what other universities from the Midwest were attending. We then watched each university’s Roll Call video –our video is now on YouTube–which was hilarious because everyone was so creative and funny.
All of the MACURH advisors spoke and presented, and the room had such a positive and excited vibe. After the opening ceremonies were over, there were a variety of socials that night including a professional drag show sponsored by the LGBTQ community at KU. We all decided to go to the drag show which was so much fun and everybody raved about it throughout the rest of the trip.
The next day we woke up early and headed back to KU to attend program sessions about res hall events that other students put on at their campuses. I attended some really interesting ones on Spring Break safety, how to plan events using Pinterest, how to de-stress your life and, my absolute favorite, a Harry Potter event. I presented with two other WSU students about a diversity event called Cookie Mixer where people would decorate cookies with various frosting and toppings each representing something different about themselves. For example, blue sprinkles means an only child while M&Ms mean they’ve traveled to Europe. I was really nervous to help present, but we were picked as a Top 10 program. Because we made the Top 10, we presented again, and actually won an award at the banquet later that night. It was an amazing experience! Our other delegate who presented also got a Top 10 award.
At the awards ceremony and banquet, we all got dressed in our formal attire, and got ready for a fun night and a delicious dinner. As we ate, speakers talked and one of the most interesting speeches was from a KU alumna who had won Survivor: Guatemala. We sat through all of the awards and Of The Month (OTM) winners and went up to receive the awards that we had been given.
WSU actually took home 9 OTMs, which are short, informal recognitions written by and for any individual, group or organization that is part of the WSU community. There are over 400 universities who submit OTMs across the globe, and our Winona State University is currently ranked #7 as far as OTM submissions and winners. It was incredible, and you could tell that everyone was so proud of them and the work that everybody was doing for university residence housing.
The night ended with Swap Shop, where universities brought t-shirts, bags, Frisbees and water bottles and everyone swapped with their gear and took home something from another school. Since it was Halloween weekend, there was also a dance and a costume contest, but after the long day of presentations and ceremonies I was far too tired to go.
All in all, I’m so incredibly proud to say that I represented Winona State at MACURH and that I got to have such an amazing experience. I learned so much about how to be a leader and how to work with other people to create something truly great. It was such a short weekend, but so eventful and beneficial. I feel like I came back closer to so many new people, and also filled with so much knowledge about residence housing. It was a fantastic weekend– definitely my favorite experience of college so far– and I hope to go again in the future.
If you had walked through campus from 6-8pm last week Friday, you would have seen a myriad of children in costumes. There were little girls dressed as Anna and Elsa and little boys dressed as ninja turtles or superheroes–but they were all on their way to the residence halls to go trick-or-treating. To make the event even more special, residents from all 13 floors of Sheehan hall decided to decorate for Halloween with everything from light covers to spiders on the wall to fake blood. The kids were definitely in for a treat!
Once the doors opened the kids flooded in greeted by goody bags and a map to find their way to the treats scattered throughout the building. The night was very successful, all the rooms were completely out of candy by the end of the night!
Halloween in the residence halls is a great way to relive childhood memories and help create new ones for the Winona community. If you plan on living in a res hall next year, I definitely suggest getting involved in it!
Everyone knows their RA. He or she is first face you meet on campus and the last face you see before you leave for the summer. They provide you with helpful information and moral support while you’re here at college. But one of the most overlooked parts of an RA’s job are the events they organize throughout the semester for their residents.
As an RA myself, my number one goal is to host events that cover a variety of topics that could interest everyone on the floor. This is because I want to create a real sense of community for my residents. People don’t necessarily realize all the planning, time and execution that go into such events, but I don’t mind putting in the extra effort because there are many benefits for residents if they attending res hall events including meeting new people, discovering new interests and, everyone’s favorite benefit, FREE FOOD!
Meeting New People
When you arrive at WSU at the beginning of the school year, you might not meet your closest friends on the first day, month or even year. Good friendships take time to form in order to last. Even if you do find some great friends right away, there is no reason not to make more friends as an upperclassmen too.
If you take advantage of every social opportunity you find, you will meet a plethora of people during your time in college. The best way to meet new people is to get involved in things like student clubs and campus events. But if you are a little too shy to throw yourself into campus life, RA sponsored events can be a great way to meet people in the comfort of your home away from home!
Discovering New Interests
Yoga. Tattoos. Condoms. Tea. Games. These are just a few topics that could be covered in events hosted by your RA! RAs try and cover many different topics to reach out to all points of interest. One way to get involved is to suggest event ideas to your RA that you think would be fun for the floor. We love it when our residents get into planning res hall events because some of the best ideas come from residents who get together and brainstorm fun ideas for the whole floor to enjoy.
Do I even need to say more? FREE. FOOD. RAs know what gets people’s attention and our res hall events usually have some form of food for the attendees–whether its popcorn, pizza, candy, cookies or even ice cream. And we are always willing to take suggestions for fun snack ideas to bring more people to events!
These are just a few reasons why you should go to at your RA’s events. Find out what kind of events are coming in your res hall by looking for posters or bulletin boards or just asking your RA in person. I hope to see you there!
Today’s the day. You’ve seen the house, you’ve picked out your roommates and your new home is just a short commute to campus– score!
But do you really know what you’re agreeing to in your lease? Here are few tips and tricks to make sure you know exactly what you’re signature is confirming on that new house or apartment contract.
Check Out the Neighborhood
Walk around the block before you sign your lease. While the house itself may be perfect, the location might not. Are you near a lot of busy streets? That might make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Who are your neighbors? Go around and talk to a few potential neighbors. Ask them what they think of the area and what experience they had with the previous renters before you. Lastly, walk around the neighborhood at night. Are there streetlights? Do you feel safe walking to campus? These are all very important details to note before you sign.
Look for Trouble Spots
Mold, broken floorboards, leaky faucets–every house is bound to need a few repairs. However, make sure you look for these sorts of things during a tour of the house. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask to have these repairs made before you move in. Ask if the landlord(s) live nearby in case you need help with something in the future. These are the people you need to talk to first should something go wrong while you are living in the house. Also, chat with the previous renters about the landlord’s punctuality when the house needed fixing. This will tell you whether or not the landlords will be accommodating in the future.
When touring a house, make sure you bring a camera with you every step of the way. It’s important to document any broken floorboards, walls or doors before you rent the house. This will be your proof that these things were already broken before you moved in. Typically, landlords will go through the property at the end of the lease and charge you for any ruined areas of the house. However, if you have visual proof that these things were already broken, you won’t get charged for someone else’s messy mistakes.
Note Additional Expenses
It’s important to remember that the monthly rent does not cover EVERYTHING when leasing a house or apartment. Depending on what your contract says, you may still need to pay for heat, electric, Internet and water separately. There may be other additional fees and expenses like parking or upkeep. Be sure to include all of these costs when budgeting out for the year. These smaller bills tend to add up quickly and without notice.
Talk to Other Renters
One of the best things you can do is talk to someone who’s been there. Renting a house or apartment is intimidating at first, especially when it’s your first time. There is a lot of responsibility that goes into signing your lease contract and sometimes can be overwhelming. The best thing to do is talk to other students or landlords with any questions you have about signing a lease. It’s better to express your concerns now than halfway through the semester with endless bills to pay, a clogged toilet and a bat in your basement (been there, done that).
Once you have done all of these things, take a deep breath, pick up a pen and sign that contract. And welcome to adult world.
When I started at Winona State, I never imagined that I’d be living in on-campus housing my final year. I always thought I’d end up in some cute apartment with my closest friends or in part of a giant house divided into separate living spaces.. But every year, on-campus housing has suited my needs as a student perfectly.
For me, choosing East Lake was an easy decision. I chose East Lake last year because of everything the apartments had to offer that I wouldn’t find all together in off-campus housing: in-unit laundry, all utilities–even cable and internet–included, shuttle service, desk service and a lease that was easy to get out of when I left to study abroad this past spring. Living in East Lake is also peaceful for an apartment living situation with ample space in each unit.
When it came time to plan ahead for the 2014-2015 school year, I was given priority due to the number of credits I have and got exactly the unit I wanted during sign up. I immediately felt confident that I had made the right decision.
Although I’m independent enough to live in off-campus housing, staying in East Lake gives a little extra comfort that I can’t expect of any other living situation. I have no regrets about living on campus all four years of my academic career here at Winona. Even if you are set on moving off-campus, I encourage you to at least check out East Lake. You never know, you might discover that it is the perfect place for you too.
It’s that time of year again; the leaves are falling, the pumpkin lattes are brewing and house leases are being signed!
While it may seem a little daunting to already be thinking about living plans for next year, it’s important to weigh your options before you make a final decision. As a senior, here are some of the pros and cons to living on and off campus that I have picked up over my years in school.
On-Campus: The Pros…
1. Close to EVERYTHING
Want to roll out of bed 10 minutes before class? Or how about walking one building over for a delicious dinner? One of the sweetest benefits of living on-campus is being conveniently located in the hub of all campus happenings. No matter what residence hall you are in, you’re so close to the many amenities that campus offers. And come wintertime, you’ll be so glad you only have to walk out in the polar vortex for a minimum amount of time.
2. Always Something to Do and People to be With
If you walk down the hall of a residence building, you’ll see endless flyers, posters and pictures begging for your attention. More often than not, these pieces of paper are promoting FREE events in the hall with FREE food. When you live on-campus, there are so many different activities in the res halls and in the academic buildings. Plus, there is always someone who would want to come to these events with you!
3. Fewer Worries
After a long day of classes, meetings and work, the last thing you want to do is drive to the store for some much-needed groceries for dinner. Or having to debate if it’s worth turning the heat up in the house or just putting on yet another sweatshirt. When you live on campus, it’s hakuna matata– there are no worries. There are no bills to pay, trash to take out to the curb or shoveling of the driveway.
… and Cons
1. Lots of Shared Space
With so many people in one building, it can be difficult sometimes to find a little privacy. You’re constantly sharing spaces with others including study areas, bathrooms and even your bedroom. While this does just take a little patience, it can be challenging to find some time alone in a residence hall.
2. Smaller or Double Rooms
While it’s not forever, it is a little trying to share all of your living space with another person. Although you can opt for a single room, many students share a room with another student. Stress levels can run a little high if you’re constantly bumping elbows with another person.
3. More Distractions
Because there are so many different things happening in the residence halls and on campus, it may be pretty easy to get distracted from your studies. It’s hard to watch other people having fun on a Wednesday night while you stay in your room finishing a last-minute paper. Living on campus can be difficult because hanging out with your friends down the hall is much more appealing than working on homework by yourself.
Off-Campus: The Pros…
Paying bills, grocery shopping and balancing checkbooks; you’re a real adult now! Living off-campus gives you real-life experience and, for many students, their first real taste of adulthood. While this may be stressful to some, others thrive in the independence that off-campus housing offers.
Your own room and bathroom?! Score! When you rent an off-campus house or apartment, students often get their own rooms and living spaces. It’s easier to stay up late studying or catching up on a Netflix marathon without having to consider whether you’re keeping your roommate up. It’s also nice to keep your shower items in the bathroom instead of lugging them back and forth every morning.
3. Learn Responsibility
While living off-campus can be overwhelming at times, it’s also a great experience for students to have before they graduate. It’s a practice run of making your own meals, paying for utilities and ensuring that your house is in working order. Living-off campus can be a confidence boost of responsibility.
1. Lots of Responsibility
On the flipside, living off campus is A LOT OF RESPONSIBILITY. Meaning you cannot be late paying your rent or electric bill. And you have to make sure you buy enough food to last you for the week (while still making healthy choices, of course). And on top of it all, you need to keep up with your studies. So, while it may be nice to have so much independence off-campus, it can be burden with all of the day-to-day tasks you need to take care of.
2. More Expenses
While it may seem cheaper to pay a monthly bill for renting a place off-campus, the smaller bills add up quickly. Heat, electricity, trash pick-up, water, and Internet are often separate from rent payment and these necessities can add up quickly. Of course, many roommates split these bills, but then there is the typical IOU if someone doesn’t have the money right away. This can be both draining for your patience and your wallet.
3. A Little Isolating
Living off-campus is great when you’re with your best friends all the time. However, it’s hard to feel very involved on campus if you see the same people over and over. It can feel a little lonely sometimes when you walk home from the busy campus to your quiet house every night. You may also not know about as many activities happening on campus because you are only there for classes during the day. Suddenly, solitary Netflix marathons seem to feel a little lonely…
Hopefully this helps, my fellow Warriors, as you make your living plans for next year! Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor during this time!
Grab your ID cards, readers, because by the end of this article you’re going to know the best place to cash in those weekly meals! Last week I reviewed the Jack Kane Dining Center, and today we’ll settle the score once and for all. Without further delay, let’s start grading our final contender, Lourdes Cafeteria.
I’m not afraid to come out and say that one of the biggest issues on West Campus is the lack of refilling during breakfast, lunch and dinner hours. Due to West’s significantly smaller traffic, the containers of lettuce, plates of cookies and bagel holder are not replenished nearly as fast as they are on Main campus. During my recon, some foods weren’t replenished at all.
West Campus also marginalizes the availability of breakfast sandwiches and deli sandwiches. Instead of having two separate stations like on Main, the breakfast sandwiches and deli sandwiches are made in the same location. Cream cheese is another item that isn’t readily available. Students have to wait in the grill line and ask for cream cheese. This can be very frustrating if you’re just swinging in to grab a bagel for lunch or dinner, because you end up waiting in a pretty long line for just a package of cream cheese.
Lourdes Cafeteria, however, does offer pizza and ice cream stations where students serve themselves as opposed to main campus where both pizza and ice cream dished out by an employee, which leads to long wait times. In fact, wait times on West are significantly shorter than those on Main campus.
West also suffers in the variety category. You might think that the lack of availability of certain foods is because there are so many offerings that the workers just can’t get to refilling them all. But this is not the case. On West, the variety is limited as well. Condiments are sparse, the potato bar is non-existent and you will never get to make your own waffles. That being said, it’s easy to see that the lack of variety is also due to the low traffic. There’s no reason to prepare an extreme amount of food when less than a quarter of the campus will be eating there regularly.
You know what? I’m totally okay dealing with the down sides of low traffic, because the food quality in Lourdes Cafeteria is top notch. As I mentioned this in the last post, I dedicated a week of meals to each dining center in order to make sure the comparison was fair. It’s very clear that the people at West put a lot of thought into what they’re preparing. Pizza has a perfect cheese to sauce ratio, the quesadillas are grilled to a perfect crispy golden color and the sandwiches are piled higher than hair in the 80’s. Eating on West is a great time.
Again, it comes back to low traffic. Lourdes Cafe has a higher quality product than the Jack Kane Dining center because Lourdes has a smaller population to feed and therefore can put more time into the food that they are preparing. Not to mention that the lines on Main can be very intimidating for anyone preparing food. It’s their job to get you fed and back to your life. They’re trying to do just that, and the quality of your sandwich may suffer a little big because of it.
Once again, the food isn’t necessarily better on West Campus, just the prep which makes the overall experience of eating there more positive.
In conclusion, West has top tier quality food, limited selection, and occasionally low availability on certain items. Overall I’d give Lourdes Cafeteria a 4/5. The food is just that good.
With that said it’s official. West has beaten Main Campus by a one very close point!
Cafeteria debate aside we should all take a moment to thank the Chartwells employees who ensure that we have 3 meals a day, every day. If you visit Chartwells’ website you can leave nice comments, learn more about the sack lunch program, contact staff about food allergies, make suggestions and find out what’s on the menu every day for the rest of the year!
Thanks for joining me this week, readers! Hopefully now we can all stop bickering about food and get back to what really matters—the insane amounts of test prep coming up.
For many freshmen, going to college is the time they’ve been away from their families for months at a time. Homesickness is pretty common around the residence halls and it sucks–we know, we’ve been freshmen too. To help you avoid feeling homesick, we interviewed 22 freshman and asked them what they have been doing to adjust to college life. Here is their advice:
1. Keep busy
The more active you are the easier it will be to meet people and to feel at home.
2. Go to Class
This keeps your mind occupied as well as gives you something to feel proud of.
3. Get a Job
If you get an on or off campus job, you will meet quality people who could become life-long friends as well as get work experience for your resume.
5. Hang Out with Friends from Your Hometown
Occasionally spend time with familiar faces as they can be a little piece of home at school. Be sure to return the favor and visit them at their colleges too!
6. Participate in Campus Activities
Join intramurals teams or other clubs on campus. Participate in residence hall events also. These activities are a great way to meet the people living around you as well as people with similar interests.
7. Keep Your Door Open
Keep your door open and get to know those around you. They will become some of your best friends and will see you at your best and your worst.
8. Occasionally Skype Friends and Family
Don’t call home every day as that can make you more homesick. But a little skype chat from time to time can be very reassuring and refreshing.
9. Keep Family Traditions Going
Maybe you had some fun family traditions like watching the Super Bowl, Sunday Muffin Day or Friday Game Night. Keep these traditions going with your new friend-family!
10. Decorate Your Room with Pictures
Putting up photos may seem like just a little thing but making your room look and feel like home can make a big difference.
–Trevor Frosig and Sara Bahnsen
If you’re a student here at WSU, odds are that some point in your college career, someone will have attempted to get you to join their club in exchange for free food. And you’ve probably attended a meeting for that reason alone.
Why does this tactic work so well? Answer: Because, it’s a widely accepted fact that college kids love food.
In this two part post, I will tackle one of the biggest food-based debates on campus: Does the caf on Main or West Campus have better food? This is the kind of hot topic question that keeps students up at night wondering. I will evaluate the food based on availability, variety and quality.
So let’s see how our first contender, the Jack Kane Dining Center on Main Campus, matches up.
Over on Main, food is restored at a significantly fast rate. If there is no salad in the salad bar, the Chartwells employees are likely already on their way with a big tub of leafy greens. If the supply of monster cookies has been depleted, you can usually go back to your table for a few minutes and return to find the plate full of yummy baked goods. The Jack Kane Dining Center never misses a beat with food restoration.
However, the physical accessibility of some items is not that great. Pizza, for example, is assembled on the spot and then cooked for about seven minutes. Although super fresh pizza sounds great in theory, it actually creates a really long line and is less efficient than just grabbing a slice from an already cooked pizza. Dessert is another example. If you are in the mood for ice cream, you will also have to wait in a long line as opposed to serving yourself at West Campus.
On Main, your cup may runneth over with variety. There’s nowhere else on campus where you will have access to apple butter, red pepper hummus, a waffle machine and a potato bar as well as a wider range of cereals than you find on West. Of course, whether this variety matters to you or not will depend on your eating preferences. I know that a waffle covered in hummus isn’t for everybody.
Here’s where things get heated. Although variety and availability matter in terms of overall experience, quality holds the most power in this debate. In order to ensure, that this was a fair debate, I spent a week eating on Main campus and a week eating on West. The variety definitely gave Main an advantage. If I didn’t like the look of the main course I could try the vegetarian option or make myself a waffle, which were usually pretty good.
The pre-prepared food, however, seemed to be a toss-up. There were times when on Main , the sandwiches were a little sloppy, the meat a little dry and the pizza line was just too dang long. These issues though are not totally criticisms of Chartwells or the food they provide. I think a big part of why I had less than perfect experiences was because there is almost always a ton of students in the Jack Kane Dining Center. Also, Chartwells has to guess how much food will be demanded as well as how much time each dish takes to prepare which are both factors in the quality, especially in the presentation of the food.
The variety on Main campus is top notch, but the accessibility can get a little frustrating and the food at times can be a little dry or just warm rather than truly hot. Overall, I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.
And with that I bring this first post to a close! Main will be hard to beat, so tune in next week to see if the Lourdes Cafeteria on West campus can measure up!