​Recognize Equality = End Gender-Based Violence

a fist under the title "Defend Equality"

Take a stand against gender-based violence.

If you have paid attention to the news recently, you may have see that high-profile Ivy-league schools, including UConnYaleHarvardDartmouth and Berkeley​, are currently under fire for mishandling sexual assault and gender violence cases. It is very upsetting to read so many articles about how universities are failing to addressing this epidemic of gender-based violence, (which includes sexual assault and rape) by allowing perpetrators to stay on campus, blaming victims and not believing victims.

Luckily, Winona State University has chosen to become proactive about addressing this critical issue and has been approved for a $293,859 grant to address gender-based violence on our campus. The initiative has been named the Recognizing Equality Initiative and aims to raise awareness and put an end to gender-based violence. The goals of this coordinated community response include:

  1. Fostering a safer campus community
  2. Enforcing accountability for perpetrators of violence
  3. Assisting a full recovery for survivors of violence
  4. Offering comprehensive educational opportunities for students, faculty and staff, focused on prevention, bystander intervention, access to campus and community resources and victim’s rights

If you are interested in finding out more about the grant and Recognizing Equality Initiative’s goals, come to the kickoff event on April 24 at  6:30-8pm in the Student Activities Center. All are invited and encouraged to attend. ​The Recognizing Equality Initiative Kickoff Event will be held just two days after Take Back the Night, an annual speak-out where victims and survivors have an opportunity to tell their stories of enduring gender based violence meant to aid in the process of healing and breaking the silence of violence.

The Recognizing Equality Initiative and Take Back the Night are two ways Winona State addresses the fact that gender-based violence unfortunately occurs on its own campus too. The programs funded by this grant will help ensure Winona is a safer place where perpetrators are held accountable and victims are properly taken care of swiftly and compassionately.

For more information on this event or the grant, contact Tamara Berg at tberg@winona.edu

–Courtney McCaw

It's Time to Take Back The Night

You might not believe it, but you know someone who has been sexually assaulted. In fact, you probably know more than one person that has been sexually assaulted. These statistics from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) may convince you that sexual assault is a serious issue:

  • 1 in 6 women will be assaulted during her lifetime.
  • 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in his lifetime.
  • 80% of victims are under 30 years old
  • 2/3 of all those raped knew their attacker.
  • Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes. 60% of sexual assaults go unreported.

These unfortunate facts expose the prevalence of sexual assault at a national level, but Winona State is not immune. Assaults happen here, as at all other universities. You might find these facts surprising, and that is due to the lack of dialogue about the realities of sexual assault and rape. Many sexual assault victims do not talk about what has happened to them partly because we live in a rape culture.  In America,  we are surrounded with everyday phenomena such as images, language and even laws that validate and perpetuate rape. For example, rape and sexual violence is eroticized in film and rape is a joke punch line in adult cartoon comedies on TV. This type of culture makes it difficult for victims to speak up for fear of being blamed, for fear being an object of gossip and rumors, for fear of no one believing them.

Survivors of sexual assault should not be silenced. They should not be blamed, stigmatized, marginalized or ignored. Survivors should demand that their voices and their stories are heard. Winona State University is ensuring that this happens.On Tuesday, April 22 at 6:00 pm in the Student Activities Center, FORGE, the Women’s Resource Center and WSU’s Gender-Violence Hotline will be hosting Winona’s annual  Take Back The Night, a national event for sexual assault victims and people who know them to speak out against sexual assault by telling their own stories.

This is the fourth Take Back the Night that I have planned and attended, and each time it is equally as powerful and emotional. The speak out is pretty informal, beginning with the sponsors speaking about the resources the provide to help the community face this social epidemic. Then the floor is opened for anyone in the audience to approach the podium and speak about anything concerning sexual assault and rape. Some people tell their stories, other people offer their support, some point out the strength and inspiration they have felt by witnessing speaker’s vulnerability, strength and honesty. Some people don’t speak at all, but rather watch, witnessing and offering their presence in support of recovery and ending rape culture.

There will be many advocates in attendance to assist if someone is triggered, feels they need help or has a question.Take Back The Night is a Safe Space where all are welcome and expected to attend with respect of others. There is no right or wrong way to participate at Take Back the Night. I read original poems at last year’s Take Back the Night. You can read something you found or wrote, say how you feel, tell your story or sing a song. There are no rules for expression.

If you choose not to speak in front of the crowd, your presence and thoughts are still very valuable. There will be an integrative art project at the entrance of Take Back the Night, where people have other opportunities and mediums to express themselves and their stories. It is important that all voices are heard, all stories are told. The event is about not accepting the silence that is expected of a rape culture. It is a stand against silence and darkness that our culture casts on sexual violence. After the speak out, the Take Back The Night event takes it to the Winona streets. There will be a march around Winona with chants, signs and verbal affirmations of a commitment to end gender violence. It takes the event out into the community to generate attention, as well as the refusal to stay silent about sexual violence.

Take Back The Night gives a voice back to victims. It ensures that victims will be heard. It shows victims and survivors that there is a community of people who demand justice for all. Coming together for this cause, no matter if you have a personal experience or not generates momentum of addressing sexual assault on our campus and across our nation.

Sexual assault is not simply a local issue; it’s a global issue. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Help end sexual violence.

–Courtney McCaw

P.S. If you are still not convinced that this is an issue, here​ is a recent poem making rounds on the internet that speaks to why we need to continue speaking up about rape.

Spring Break: A Cross-Cultural Education

WSU students pose together outside a school in Jamaica

This group of WSU students used their week off to help out at boys’ home and schools in Jamaica.

Many people travel to other–often warmer– countries to spend their Spring Break and while you certainly can learn about another culture from the beach, that’s not what I am talking about here.

For the past few years the Winona State Education Department has ventured to Jamaica to spend Spring Break at the Sunbeam Boys’ Home, a Christian missionary that provides housing and schooling to at-risk boys. This year was no different.

The WSU students stayed a week with the boys tutoring them, going to church with them, and just enjoying their company. In turn, the boys welcomed the WSU students into their home and taught the college students diversity and how to appreciate new lifestyles and differences.

I interviewed Cara Flom, one of the Education majors who went on the trip that she called “the time of her life.” She said that she couldn’t pick just one part of the trip that she enjoyed the most. She thought it was great to see the boys’ home and she enjoyed playing games—mostly soccer, or as they call it, futbol— and getting to know the kids.

The trip was a really eye-opening experience for Cara and the other students. Before this trip, the WSU students didn’t realize how much our society depends on materialistic items. People in Jamaica reuse and recycle as much as they can.  Cara also said, “The schools they visited are very different from our schools here. [Jamaican] schools are a lot smaller and have some outdated materials because they don’t have the money to spend on new stuff all the time.”

Before their trip, the WSU students held several fundraisers including a spaghetti dinner, a bake sale and a Culver’s fundraiser in addition to the goal to individually raise $200. All of this money went to the Sunbeam Boys’ Home and the area schools in Jamaica. Cara said that when they donated the money, the WSU students “thought they would use it for getting school supplies but some said they could use the money to be able to feed the children. This made her realize that “when going into a new culture you need to listen to what they need and not just assume.”

This is one of the most popular travel study trips through the WSU and all Education majors should definitely take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. It is an eye-opening experience, plus students receive three credits for the trip! It is a great way to gain teaching experience, learn about another culture and help others in need.  Plus, who wouldn’t want to spend a Spring Break in Jamaica?

–Ashley Koeller

ANAD Week 2014

a poster for ANAD Week at WSU

“I will accept myself as I am.
I will accept others as they are.
I will support diversity and freedom of expression in the way people think, look and live.
I will not tolerate physical or mental abuse.
I will actively participate in efforts to change media programming and advertising that exploit or demean the human body.
I will work to improve the lives of individuals, communities and the environment.
I will support programs that encourage good health through proper nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep.”

This is the pledge honored by Anorexia Nervous and Associated Disorders (ANAD), a non-profit organization working to prevent harmful eating disorders in men and women.

ANAD is also the beloved philanthropy of the Alpha Tau Chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority here at Winona State. Each year, the sisters of DPhie put on ANAD Week bringing awareness to the Winona State campus regarding the prevention of eating disorders.

After winning the Warrior Grant last spring the sisters of Delta Phi Epsilon are excited to bring more awareness to WSU. They would like to invite the Winona State Community to this year’s ANAD Week, March 31 -April 5.

This year’s events are as follows:

Monday, March 31

Cooking class taught by Hy-Vee dietitian Alex Economy

  • When: 6-6:30pm & 6:30-7pm
  • Where: IWC 143 (cost $2)


Tuesday, April 1

Trash Your Insecurities Campus Event

  • When: 12:30-3pm
  • Where: Gazebo (if bad weather, SLC Atrium)


Wednesday, April 2

ANAD vigil with former Miss America Kirsten Haglund  as guest speaker

  • When: 5pm
  • Where: East Hall Kryzsko Commons


Thursday April 3

Zumba Fitness Class with Kelly Davitt

  • When: 7pm
  • Where: Integrated Wellness Center Studio


Saturday April 5

Purple Out ANAD 5K walk/run  where 100% of all donations will benefit ANAD and it’s fight to end eating disorders.

  • When: Registration ($5 per individual, $15 per family) opens at 8am. Run/Walk begins at 9am.
  • Where: Jaycees Pavilion at East Lake


We hope to see you at some or all of these events! And always remember, #everyBODYisBEAUTIFUL !

–Katlyn Plourde

Not Your Average Spring Break

three college students and a banner for Feed My Starving Children

My friends and I had a great time volunteering over break!

While some people may have been wearing flip-flops and shorts over spring break, I was donning a hair cap and some plastic gloves.  And even if I wasn’t laying on a beach towel soaking up the sun, I was standing on my feet, hands deep in rice and loving every minute of it.

During the past week, I spent some of my time volunteering at Feed My Starving Children. FMSC is a Christian organization dedicated to feeding the hungry in both “body and sprit.” In just this past year, FMSC packed over 162 million meals and feed 446,000 children every day. Volunteers donate their time to this non-profit organization to pack meals for an hour or so. The meals are packed into plastic bags and consist ofed with soy protein, dried vegetables, and 20 vitamins/minerals. Each meal only costs 22 cents, meaning that $80 can feed a child for a full year!

I volunteered at my home church, where a FMSC mobile truck had set up a meal-packing site. The tables were organized so each person had a different responsibility. One person filled the bags, another weighed and sealed each bag and then a third packed the bags into boxes. While this may sound pretty mundane to some, the volunteers kept the experience lively by screaming out team chants every time they filled a box and keeping score of how many bags could be packed every minute. The bustling energy and encouragement from all the packers made the time fly by so quickly and I was even disappointed when the shift was up.

To me, this was a much more rewarding experience than lounging on a sandy beach or spending hours watching Netflix on my couch. While there is a place for relaxation, I am so glad I was able to spend some of my free time making a life-changing difference in a child’s life somewhere in the world. In the one hour I volunteered, over 14,000 meals were packed which means 39 children are going to be fed every day for a full year!

I write this post not as a full-blown bragathon, but as an encouragement to WSU (and other college) students to think about volunteering their own time to non-profits like FMSC.  It’s mind-boggling that while we have all the time in the world right now, there are others who won’t even last the day due to lack of food and essential vitamins. My heart breaks that life looks so different for those across the world, while I worry about which cereal to buy at Wal-Mart or what fast food place I should choose for dinner.

So, my fellow Warriors, please consider these volunteering options by next spring break, summer vacation or even this upcoming weekend. Let’s live up to WSU’s mission statement and “serve generously, lead responsibly and respond imaginatively and creatively to the challenges” of our work, lives and community.

Because if we don’t, who will?

–Melissa VanGrinsven

10 Things I Never Knew about Oppression

Event organizers pose together

(Left to Right) Dr. Scott Olson, Leah Peterson, Jouapag Lee, Dr. Levy-Pounds, Chue Vang, Abbey Hammell, Cara Luebke, Kaylee Jakubowski and Alexander Hines helped make Tunnel of Oppression a success.

Oppression is not an easy topic to talk about. Most of the time, we try to avoid it and pretend oppression doesn’t exist. Even when we do talk about it, we like to sugarcoat it and make the issue seem less relevant and personal than it really is. However, whether we want to face it or not, oppression is a real issue— and it is happening all around us.

On March 5 and 6, Winona State University hosted the Tunnel of Oppression event, an interactive program focused on bringing the issues of diversity, oppression, privilege and power to light. The program included a presentation by Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds, a professor from St. Thomas University, an information fair with booths staffed by student organizations and a panel discussion. After listening to the various speakers, I realized just how much I didn’t know about oppression, white privilege, mental health stigmas and educational disparities.

Here are just ten facts I learned about oppression:

  1. Oppression is a topic everyone likes to shove under the rug but events like these help people speak up and audiences learn the reality of it all
  2. More than 50% of people in prison deal with mental health issues
  3. It isn’t until someone lost their invisible privileges that they realized that they were privileged
  4. Around 3,030,000 people drop out of high school annually, equaling about 8,300 people every day.
  5. The stigma of putting parents into debt is one reason people choose not to pursue or continue their college education
  6. People of ethnic minorities often hang out with others in their minority not be exclusive, but because sometimes it’s easier to socialize with people they relate to.
  7. While you may not believe the stories on the WSU Confessions page are true, they can be really harmful when they mention specific people because it’s not hard to identify someone, especially if they’re a minority.
  8. Getting mad and standing up for your friends and strangers alike when people make sexist or racist comments can make a difference.
  9. Instead of pitying or stereotyping people, we can build bridges with them and get to know them as individuals.
  10. We have invisible privileges (skin color, gender, sexual orientation, religion) that we can use to help promote equality. We can have empathy, understand why other people are struggling and use our voices to make a positive impact.

After attending Tunnel Of Oppression and talking to several panel members, I think this was a very productive, successful and important event to have. And it wasn’t only college students in the crowd, but high school students, community members and even our very own President Scott Olson showed up to support the event. This is a topic that shouldn’t be a one-time annual discussion but an ongoing discussion. Olson stated that it takes courage to talk about oppression and wants to see Winona State University as an open, diverse place that welcomes everyone.

I know that we, as a campus, can do a lot to improve Winona State University. We can make our campus more open and welcoming to everyone with simple things such being kind to everyone and not judging them. We can stand up for people who don’t have a voice, listen to their stories, get to know them personally and truly make a difference.

–Sharna Miller

5 Apps That Make a Difference


Why not use your phone to make a difference in the world?

In college, it’s hard to find the time or money to donate. Our schedules are packed with class and work, and our bank accounts are usually running low. We can’t always dip into our dollars or sacrifice a few hours of precious library time. But we should all think about doing what we can to help others.

It’s no secret that we’re all addicted to our apps–our Facebook apps, our Pinterest apps, our Candy Crush apps, just to name a few. And since we’re on our phones and tablets all the time anyway, why not donate to charity at the same time? There are a bunch of great apps out there that help you donate in small amounts, and some don’t cost a dime.

Here are my favorite apps for social good:

  1. I Can Go Without
    I Can Go Without is an app that makes consumers more aware of the money they’re spending, and what that money could do around the world. Giving up your Starbucks coffee for one day a week could potentially provide clean water for a year elsewhere in the world. By using this app, users can choose to donate the money they’d spend on, say, a coffee, and help out around the world.
  2. Charity Miles
    This app is great because it mixes healthy activity with philanthropy but doesn’t cost you a dime! Simply track your running with the app, and they’ll donate 25 cents for every mile you run. While that might not sound like much, a little can go a long way. Why not use the time you already spend in the gym to donate too?
  3. Donate a Photo
    This is another app that doesn’t force you to dip into your bank account—an awesome feature for college students. We’re already crazy about sharing photos, and this app gives us the option to donate to one of many causes whenever we share. Created by Johnson & Johnson, this app will donate $1 every time a user shares a photo. A few dollars can do a lot of good.
  4. THRED
    Created by Coca-Cola, this app is for gamers who also want to promote social good. By playing the game, users can earn points and automatically donate those points to AIDS prevention in Africa. It’s an awesome way to have fun and help others at the same time!
  5. One Today
    One Today is an app that makes an impact, yet is affordable for college students. Every day, one cause is featured on the app. If you find the cause inspiring, the app easily allows you to donate $1. They’ll even tell you what that one dollar will do. The cause is different every day, so you can donate as little or as much as you want to causes that inspire you. This app is great because not only can you do your part in the community, but you also learn about a variety of causes you didn’t know existed.

So, even if you think you might not have the money to donate to charitable causes, these apps can help you get your donations going without demolishing your bank account! Go check them out!​

–Leah Dobihal

SEED Performance Art presents “Blank Page”

a man and a woman dancing

Pedro and Annika act out one of the stories.

SEED Performance Art is a Winona based professional performing arts integration that intends to get audiences emotionally and physically involved in artwork. Their upcoming show, “Blank Page” is their fifth installment of their Experiment Series, where they will be addressing the topic and personal instances of date rape. The SEED program consistently commits to bringing two or more art forms together to create a more affective, enriching and unique sensory experience for audiences. In this performance, spoken word will be complimenting movement and dance. The script for this piece was compiled by written experiences ranging from date rape to consensual sexual intimacy interactions by Winona community members, including Winona State University Students. It addresses five different shifting elements of sexual encounters: control, power, trust, impulse and violence.

The performance is a mixture of negative and positive experiences of sexual intimacy, but primarily addresses the issues surrounding date rape, in hopes of generating discussion amongst the community. The SEED webpage states, “Through artistic devices, SEED hopes to boldly continue the conversation of sexually based violence vs. consensual sex.”

It is no doubt that audiences will experience a variety of emotions while in attendance. “Dance is the most physical of arts. Dance really speaks at the nature of the problem; you can feel it by watching. Dance is the missing element of the spoken word aspect- it brings it to life,” says Pedro Pablo, a junior Public Relations Major and dance minor at WSU,  of his experience participating dancing in this performance.

SEED’s mission of juxtaposing two art forms actually creates a harmony. The words bring the dance to life, generating the emotion and blueprints for movement. The movement aspect, in turn, brings the words to the foreground, where audiences can physically see the words in action. Together, words and movement create a unique and powerful experience where audiences experience the emotional, physical, psychological and power dynamics of date rape and as well as positive sexual intimacy.

The artistic director, Claire Richards, has worked with Winona’s Women’s Resource Center staff and Women’s and Gender Studies professors Tamara Berg and Mary Jo Klinker in order to organize and appropriately craft the message. It is vital that we have art forms that address the personal lives of our community members. The personal is indeed political, and the art form helps make a discussion of the issue at hand more approachable and close to home. This performance will have a resounding impact on how people view rape, and hopefully how they talk about it.

For example, instead of victim blaming, one would hope the accountability goes towards the aggressor and I begin think about the ways we blame victims and how they feel.  Pablo adds, “we’re trying to say that sex is beautiful and sacred and you take away everything when you don’t have consent.” This indeed is the overall message of this upcoming performance that will surely leave an impression on the community. Hopefully, people will feel moved so that they can intervene in situations or help those effected begin to heal.

“Blank Page” is being performed tonight and tomorrow, March 6-7, at 7pm in Tau Center on WSU’s West Campus (511 Hilbert Street).  Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students (with an id).

–Courtney McCaw

Inclusion and Diversity Student Senate Committee

Student Senate logo

Ever wonder what your Winona State Student Senate actually does?

Well, Senate is a group of elected students from the Winona State student body that meet once a week to discuss university issues, from department fees to club funding to general issues we think students might be facing. As a recently elected Senator representing the senior class, I have realized that I had no idea what Senate really did. The Student Senate actually has a lot of power to change not only this university, but also the whole MNSCU system by presenting and discussing our ideas with other universities. Meetings are filled with student voices trying to decipher student opinions as best as they can.

To help organize these various opinions, Senate divides itself into committees to address all student issues such as Public Relations, Student Services and Academic Affairs. A new addition to this list of committees is the Inclusion and Diversity Committee, which started this semester.

Senator Christopher Veeder started the Inclusion and Diversity Committee to help students feel safe and valued.

“The goal of this committee is to find ways to make sure all students feel that their values and ideas contribute to the universities community,” Veeder said. “And to make sure all students feel safe to be who they are on campus.”

Veeder started the committee because he and other students felt that diversity issues were not being addressed on campus and that these issues could be better solved in a committee setting, where issues could be discussed and given success plans.

“It is important for Winona Student Senate to have this committee because far too many students are not feeling welcome and some are even being harassed for who they are,” Veeder said. “It is time for Student Senate as well as for the university to respond to make WSU a welcoming and safe space for all.”

The Diversity Committee is currently trying to help the KEAP Diversity Resource Center receive sustainable funding that will help the KEAP Center hire employees and provide them with the resources they need to help students. The KEAP Center has currently been moved on campus in the old Winonan room (the room that is now the temporary Book Store) and has funding for the rest of the semester, but not for the coming years.

If you would like to address any issues to the Inclusion and Diversity Committee, you can contact Veeder at CVeeder12@winona.edu. The committee also meets Mondays at 5 p.m in the Student Senate office, which is in Kryzsko Commons. To bring any other issues to Senate in general, please contact studentsenate@winona.edu or drop by the Student Senate Office at any time!​

–Sami Schwanke

Valentine's Day with Project Compass

On Valentine’s Day, it seems everyone is either out with their significant other or in their rooms eating chocolate and watching sappy romantic movies on Netflix. Usually I’m the latter of the two (ha-ha!), but this year, I had the opportunity to do something completely different. I spent my evening helping out at a dance sponsored by Project Compass for people with disabilities. It was a unique experience that I definitely want to be a part of again. This is totally possible because Project Compass actually holds dances every month, not just for Valentine’s Day.

Project Compass is an organization that provides people who have disabilities the chance to meet new people, get more involved in the community and have a great time. They offer multiple classes and services to fulfill the needs of people with both developmental and physical disabilities including:

  • Registration Assistance
  •  Scholarships
  •  One-on-one Support
  •  A Disability Library
  •  Support Groups
  •  Sign Language Interpreters
  •  Educational Workshops

The dances, in particular, are a part of Project Compass that Winona State University is very involved in. Multiple different clubs from our campus including the Student Association of Social Workers (this is my club!), Circle K, Student Council for Exceptional Children, and Recreation Tourism and Therapeutic Recreation club all volunteer to help host a monthly dance. Each dance costs $10 to attend, but with $15 scholarships awarded to practically every Project Compass participant, they always have the chance to go to a dance.

At a regular dance, participants enjoy pizza donated by Dominoes, fruit, cookies and pop, but it’s not long before the DJ is playing music and everyone moves to the dance floor. The clubs and organizations that host the dance also get the chance to meet the participants of Project Compass. I met a man who is blind and has the best sense of humor ever and loves making new friends. Another man told me he enjoys dancing with his girlfriend at these dances. In addition, I met a lady who kept happily shrieking to expressing how much fun she was having at the dance.

Talking to participants and seeing people from our own club dancing with them was pretty special. The joy and happiness on so many of those participants’ faces was worth all the planning and hard work that we in the SASW club, put into hosting the dance.

Currently, Project Compass has more than 700 people with physical or mental disabilities who attend events throughout the year. Helen Newell, program director, said that while Project Compass always has a fair amount of volunteers, she loves seeing new people volunteering. New volunteers just need to go through a short training session and then they’re free to help volunteer at different events such as dances.

I definitely recommend this volunteer opportunity, especially to people looking into special education, social work or any other career that involves interaction with people. You not only get to meet new people, but you get to help make their lives better and have a great time doing so. My experience at the Valentine’s Day dance was so wonderful and I can’t wait until my social work club hosts the next dance for them.

–Sharna Miller