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5 Things to do This Winter in Winona

Winter is growing closer and closer. The temperatures are becoming colder and colder. You may want to stay inside snuggled under a blanket, avoiding the outside. Or you may want to find out more about what Winona has to offer during the wintertime. This list of winter activities will give you a nice break from all the schoolwork and allow you to enjoy the season!

1) Go to the Lake Lodge Recreation Center


They are open again starting in December for the majority of the month. Check out their website for their winter hours, and look into getting a membership that is only $10 and is good for a whole year! Some awesome winter activities they have to offer include ice-skating, broomball and snowshoeing.

2) Cross-country ski


There are different trails you can ski here in town. We all know it can be tougher to get exercise when winter rolls around, but you’ll be able get a good exercise and take in the bluffs all at the same time. If you love skiing, this is an activity you should consider this season.

3) Grab a warm cup of Joe


Whether it’s Mugby Junction, Blooming Grounds, Acoustic Cafe or whatever is your absolute favorite place for caffeine in Winona; it’s nice to reward yourself after a tough week, or maybe just because you deserve it, with a nice cup of coffee that’ll warm you up this frigid winter!

4) Go up to Garvin Heights


Take the trip and enjoy the beautiful view. It’s gorgeous to see the ground covered in snow and there’s no better way to see that sight from all the way up at Garvin Heights.

5) Build a snowman or have a snowball fight



I don’t care what anyone says, you’re never too old to build a snowman. Bundle up and find your warmest gloves. Grab a friend and see how tall you can make it. If you’d rather challenge your friend to a snowball fight, do that. Build a fort or make a snow angel – the choices are endless!

Kassidy Jackson

4 Reasons Why You Should be an RA

Although there are tons of requirements and responsibilities that go along with being an RA, covered in my last blog, the rewards of the position are awesome. Here are a few things you can gain from an RA position:

1) Making friends who will last a lifetime

Whether these people are your fellow staff members or your residents, you get to know them through the good and the bad. They’re the people who you go to for support.

2) You’ll gain life-skills that may help you in the most weirdest or serious of situations

From your home life, your current and future friendships, and your future professional goals. There’s going to be conflict, and since you are already trained to help with conflict, think about how ahead you’ll come out! In addition, with crisis management skills under your belt, most situations feel like no big deal.

3) Resume building opportunities


This job provides many professional development outlooks! Take advantage of that and put things on your resume – from crisis management and event development to administration and leadership skills. There is a lot this job prepares you for!

4) Not having to pay for your housing and food

One of the best perks is not having to pay for food and housing! Don’t take it lightly though. Being an RA is a hard job – one of the hardest and sometimes one of the most unappreciated jobs you’ll ever have! But, it’s SO worth it for what you can do for others and yourself!

John Otis

Enjoy the music on campus!



Being apart of band in high school has fond memories for me. Playing my alto-saxophone in various parades and marching band concerts is a memory that feels very recent. When I discovered that WSU had a band that allowed anyone to be apart of, I jumped at the chance. I was in the WSU band program for a year and I really enjoyed it! Due to time constraints and a heavy focus on my major, I unfortunately haven’t been able to be in enrolled in the class. I still try to be an active supporter of the music program and the fine arts here on campus. It takes a lot of time and practice to take a sheet of music and bring it to life. Unfortunately, there were band concerts this weekend that I ultimately couldn’t make it to. Thankfully there is this year’s holiday band concert on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015 at 2pm in the Vivian Fusillo Main Stage Theatre of the Performing Arts Center.

The holiday concert is a must-see show on campus. I love Christmas music and I have been resisting the urge to blast it in my apartment. So being able to go to a concert that’s after Thanksgiving and listening to beautiful Christmas music is a bonus. The Chamber Orchestra and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble cooperate to bring lively music to the stage. It’s also a way to give back to the community because there’s a food drive associated with the concert. Bringing in a non-perishable food item will help feed those in the Winona community who struggle to put food on the table. I’m going to be there to support Winona State programs and give back to the community in one fun musical concert.

Also, bring your Santa, reindeer and elf hats, and get all decked out for the concert! The student performers sure will. I remember when I played in one concert I wore my professional black dress with a huge Santa hat. It also had the Vikings logo on the front because the Vikings are my team. This concert is a nice ease in to the holiday season and to the upcoming and much needed winter break. This concert is the Sunday before finals week, but allow it to be a nice holiday break from studying to unwind and relax.

See! My Santa hat did have a Vikings symbol on it.

See! My Santa hat did have a Vikings symbol on it.

Keep a lookout on the WSU homepage and around campus to see when other concerts are. I highly encourage you to attend. They are comprised of talented musicians who enjoy making beautiful music. It’s great for supporting various programs on campus. So, bring a huge group to the holiday concert that’s happening Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015 at 2pm and enjoy the holiday spirit!

Mariah Kaercher

So, You Think You Want to be an RA?

It’s about that time again. Time to think about where you’ll be living next year! It’s scary, nerve-wracking, exciting, time-consuming and every other emotion possible.

It’s at this point that some of you might realize that Resident Assistants (RA’s) get free room and board!

That settles it. You’ll become an RA, and your housing woes will be no more! However, hold your horses, because there’s a lot more to being an RA than just a free single room all to yourself.


Being an RA is seriously time-consuming and has the potential to be extremely difficult if you’re not in it for the right reasons, like just for the free room and board. Nevertheless, many things about being an RA make the job an amazing experience!

Before you sign up, make sure you know exactly what the position will involve:

1) You’re expected to be in your room quite frequently

Being an RA also means that you’re making yourself available to your residents. This means being in your room more often, checking your email a million times a day and keeping your door open so residents feel comfortable talking to you.

2) You’re responsible for responding with issues your residents may face


Being an RA means that you’ll also be responding to potential problems and issues your residents may face. Sometimes they’re challenging, but sometimes they’re very rewarding – even both. Don’t worry! You’re trained extensively on crisis management, which I’ll explain next.

3) You’ll miss the last part of your summer


The last part of summer in the beginning of August is RA training. It’s about 2 weeks long, and it’s super extensive and intensive. By the end of it, you’re trained on anything you’ll encounter within your position.

4) Sometimes you have to be the bad guy


Sometimes people break the rules, and those people may be your friends. Within this position, you have to respond to things you may come across. This may even mean reporting your “friends” or people you know in the building if they’re breaking rules.

5) At times, you will be disliked


This goes along with #4. You may get someone in trouble – but you need to remember that they chose to get in trouble, not you. Use these opportunities to better relationships with people. If you have good rapport with your residents, they’re less inclined to get in trouble because they don’t want to let you down.

6) You’ll need to maintain your integrity in and out of the job


The whole department is a fishbowl effect. This means that your personal and work life is visible in and out of the position. This means that you have to be more mindful of your actions and things you say even if you’re not on duty. Essentially, do the right things even if no one is there.

John Otis

Halloween Fun on Campus!

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. I personally believe that ABC Family’s 13 Nights of Halloween is the best thing to happen on TV, next to their 25 Days of Christmas and “Grey’s Anatomy.” I have literally watched “Hocus Pocus” and “Casper” at least three times this year alone, and I am watching “Corpse Bride” as I write this blog. However, if you do not have cable or are just not into watching movies, there are plenty of Halloween-related activities to do on campus!


This year, there is a pumpkin-carving contest! If you think you have the skills and want to win a gift card, you should enter this contest. First place gets a $100 gift card to the Winona State bookstore! All you have to do is carve a pumpkin and drop it off at the bookstore. The deadline for this is Thursday, Oct. 29.

On Halloween and the day before (Friday and Saturday), you may notice a bunch of little kids walking around in costumes. These are Winona State’s daycare kids. They go around visiting and trick-or-treating at places throughout campus. It is absolutely adorable. You’ll see kids in the dorms on Halloween as community members are invited to go trick-or-treating here. Can you imagine all the candy they are going to get, just from the dorms?! I’ll bet it is a lot, unless us college kids end up eating all of the candy first.

Finally, there will be a kid-friendly haunted house at the Winona State Sustainability House. If you are interested, this is located at 377 Main Street. In addition, there will be trick-or-treating and fun Halloween games and activities at the Sustainability House.

So, if you want a break from studying or watching Netflix (if you’re like me), you now have a few options.

If you need me I’ll be binge watching Halloween movies while I still can!

Kayla Severson

Surviving the RA Hiring Process

If you are thinking about becoming an RA, you should know that the RA process is long and stressful, but I encourage you to do your best and put your best foot forward. You must first go to the information sessions for the position in order to get the application. As an RA myself, I can offer some helpful advice from my observations and experiences!

If you make it to the group process interviews don’t dominate the conversation. Instead, ask people what they think. Try to “mediate” the discussion, and then take it over. Also, don’t be too quiet either. Find a balance. This is one of the important skills to have when filling a position as an RA. In addition, dress your best to interviews! Always assume that interviews are business casual for college student positions. However, try and make yourself memorable to the interviewer. Wear a bowtie! Be unique! Don’t wear boring colors, but also don’t wear super bright colors. Personally, I wore a bowtie to both my interviews, and the people were able to remember me as “bowtie guy.” It worked in my favor!

Getting involved somewhere is crucial for this position. It shows the interviewers that you are trying to be an active participant within the Winona State community. RAs have to be involved in their floor communities. This involves taking what you learned from other clubs and organizations and applying that to your future floor. If you weren’t active before applying for the position, it may be harder to get a position. Personally, I got involved with International Club, and that was helpful for me in getting a position!

Also, be sure to find two professional staff members that you trust as references. This is why people have always told you to get to know your professors, so you can use them to speak highly of you. If you don’t have any currently, don’t worry. Find someone at home that wouldn’t mind helping out! In addition, you should have your current RA as a reference too.
You also can’t forget to do your research! Read and understand all the housing policies (this will help in the interview). In addition, read the job description and know the job. Maybe ask your RA if they can tell you more about what they do – aside from the events and crafts.

When the interviews are all finished, go treat yourself to something! You DESERVE it. It’s a long process, but at the end of it, you will have learned so much about yourself. The best advice that I can give is to be patient throughout the whole process. Patience goes a long way, and it gives a good impression to your potential employers. If you need any other helpful tips or advice, seek out your current RA or ask your professors too! I’m sure either party would be more than willing to give you some key pointers.

John Otis

6 Fall Essentials

The leaves are falling, temperatures have dropped, and fall is officially underway! With the changing of seasons it’s always important that you’re prepared for what is to come the next few months. Now that October is already halfway over, check to make sure you have these fall necessities:

1. A nice jacket


It’s getting to that time when a light sweatshirt won’t cut it anymore. You need something that will actually keep you warm as the temperatures start to plummet. A nice jacket that you love and keeps you from freezing in the brisk, fall air is something you need.

2. Warm socks and shoes


Put the sandals, flats and Sperrys in the closet. It’s time to transition to boots and tennis shoes with socks so your feet won’t freeze! Wool socks are the best to wear if you’re looking to keep your feet warm and dry.

3. Hand sanitizer and tissues


We all know flu season will be here in no time and it’s time to be prepared. We also know that the chance of a classroom having tissues for you is pretty slim. Getting the small packs of tissues that will fit in your bag is something I highly recommended. When you’re sick you don’t want to spread your germs to a neighbor, so make sure you keep a travel size hand sanitizer on you and use it often!

4. Hot beverages and fall treats


Personally, I absolutely love anything pumpkin, cinnamon and apple flavored. No fall snack sounds better than pumpkin bread and hot apple cider. I know some people NEED their pumpkin spiced lattes this season; whatever your favorites are, take advantage of the season and have as much of it as you can.

5. A good pair of slippers


Everyone appreciates a comfy pair of moccasins. There’s no more walking to the dorm bathrooms in flip-flops and having cold feet as you make food in your kitchen. You need something to keep your feet warm in your living space too – not just outside. If you haven’t invested in some good slippers yet, it’s a must.

6. Chapstick


This is an extremely important thing to always have on you! Everyone should keep their favorite chapstick in their backpack. Having really dry lips and no chapstick on you is absolutely no fun, and you should avoid borrowing someone else’s so you don’t get sick.

Kassidy Jackson

4 Bookstore Tips and Tricks

It’s that time of year again. We are a quarter of the way through the semester and getting slammed with the first round of exams. It is also time where a lot of students rush to the bookstore to pick up a last minute book. As a student employee at the bookstore, it is a stressful time for everyone so here are a few tips and tricks to Winona State’s bookstore:

1. Bring a printed schedule


One of the biggest problems we have at the bookstore is trying to help students find the correct book without their schedule. The bookstore is arranged alphabetically by department. The next thing we look for is the course number, followed by the class section number. This is why we need more than a list of your classes to help you find your books.
2. Renting is cheaper


This is because you don’t actually own the book. Some people have been told that they get all their money back once they return the textbook. However, this is not true. The rental price is what you are paying to use the book for the semester.  It is also important to remember to return the book at the end of every semester. If you do not you will get charged the full cost of a new book plus a $25 fee.
3. Know the ways to get money back for your books


The only time you can get a full refund for a textbook is the first week of classes. Because of the way our system is set up we cannot take a book back after the first week. However, we do have a book buyer come in during finals week and you can try to sell your book back to them.
4. Ask for help


The most important tip! All of the workers at the bookstore are more than willing to help you find what you need. It is important to us to make sure you have the right book or product.

-Kayla Severson

5 Tips for an Unforgettable Homecoming Week

​​I’ve experienced multiple homecomings in my past few years here at WSU. Which means there have been many games, fun times with friends and tons of school spirit. It’s a huge motivator for me for the rest of the year!

Because I’ve had so much experience, I would like to pass that off to you to make your week super memorable.

The stereotype is that homecoming equals all the alcohol you can have. While few people may take this literally, you would be surprised on how many people actually don’t consume any alcohol and have an AWESOME week. So, let’s get started…

   1.   Get outside!


It’s going to be cold soon, so get outside while you can! Use homecoming to leave your room, get some Vitamin D and participate in fun activities. Go disc golfing, take some pictures and spend time by the lake! Or, if you’re adventurous, hike up Garvin Heights or Sugarloaf. The opportunities are endless.

   2.   Support University events and bring your friends


UPAC and other clubs/organizations put on a multitude of events this week to make sure you’re not bored. Basically, it’s a pass for free food and fun! Check out what’s going on this week on Winona State’s Facebook page or website. If you are worried about going alone, drag your roommate with you (not literally, of course).

   3.   See if your RA is doing anything!


Usually the RAs are stuck in the buildings during homecoming Saturday and the day after. Chances are they’ll probably be in their rooms or doing rounds in the building. Keep them company! Coming from experience, we don’t get to go outside and have fun, so we’re more than willing to hang out with you and get to know you better. Heck, there probably will be free food involved! We’re not scary. Promise.

   4.   Have a chill Netflix night with friends (or have a homework party – your choice)


Homecoming is a way to make connections and have fun with other people! Take advantage of that. Get to know your fellow floor and building-mates. It will help later as you network with other people in your building and our campus! Nothing brings people together like a good ole Netflix binge. But, don’t use this as an excuse to not do your homework – you don’t want to be playing catch up for the rest of the semester!

   5.   Bring your roommates and floor-mates to the football game


If you’re an avid football fan, or even if you’re not, the homecoming game is always a fun time to go out and show your Warrior pride! It’s full of blasting music, screaming fans and it’s just an experience that really only happens once a year. Take advantage of it! Besides, we get free admission to games. The game is at 2:30pm on Saturday, so go and support your fellow Warriors!


Have a safe and fun homecoming!

John Otis

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