Category Archives: St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud State Partners with the Community to Effectively Reduce High Risk Drinking

By Jennifer Sell Matzke

Thanks to a series of successful collaborative efforts to alter the culture when it comes to alcohol and drug use on the campus of St. Cloud State University and the surrounding community, dramatic, positive and measurable changes are occurring.

In 2005, results from a college student health assessment showed that 58% of St. Cloud State students reported engaging in high risk drinking (defined as 5 or more alcohol beverages in a single sitting) within the last two weeks — a rate significantly above the national average reported by college students across the country.  The negative consequences associated with this behavior were taking a toll not only on students but also on the campus and surrounding community.

In order to address this problem, SCSU implemented an environmental management approach to addressing high risk drinking and the related harmful consequences.  Now, just seven years later, the high risk drinking rate for SCSU has fallen to 34.1%, a rate on par with the national average.  This is a feat that is now bringing national attention to SCSU and the city of St. Cloud, primarily because of the partnerships that have evolved and developed to make this change possible.

results table

This change in culture can be attributed in large part to the numerous collaborative efforts put forth between members of St. Cloud State University, the Neighborhood University Community Coalition, the St. Cloud Police Department and St. Cloud city administrators.  In July 2010 the Social Host, Provisional Licensing for Liquor Establishments, and Disruptive Intoxication Ordinances were proposed as a collaborative effort by the various groups mentioned above to address concerns within the community.  These ordinances were ultimately adopted in the city of St. Cloud and the impact has been extremely positive.  For example, as a result of the Social Host Ordinance, the city has seen a drastic reduction in the number of loud parties and university neighbors report a significantly improved quality of life as a result.

In August of 2010, shortly after the new ordinances were passed, the city and university partnered together to introduce and implement the IMPACT Diversion Program. This joint program is designed to offer individuals who have been charged with an underage alcohol violation the opportunity to receive alcohol education and prevention services. The Diversion program has resulted in a reduction in underage consumption recidivism from 12% to 6.9%, in nearly 1900 cases in the past two years as well as a significant decrease in the number of alcohol related emergency room admissions.  Since Diversion is also an option for non-students, underage individuals have returned to St. Cloud to complete Diversion from as far away as Illinois, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Texas.

Beginning in fall 2012, SCSU has also partnered with St. Cloud Technical and Community College to provide IMPACT programming on their campus. The two colleges now share a graduate assistant who works to provide prevention programming to both campuses.  These combined efforts have drastically changed the environment in the city of St. Cloud and the culture around drinking on campus at both SCSU and SCTCC.

Through these efforts, the city of St. Cloud and area colleges have witnessed firsthand the impact of collaboration in affecting change, the importance of partnerships and data collection and the power of education to reduce alcohol use.  These efforts have been the catalyst for various other partnerships to address alcohol issues in the community. For example, the St. Cloud Community Alliance (SCCA) evolved out of these efforts and brings together city leaders, campus leaders, residents, students and businesses from throughout the city of St. Cloud and the surrounding communities.  The SCCA is a coalition with a simple mission:  to make St. Cloud a better place for everyone; with a primary focus to reduce high-risk drinking and the negative impacts on our community.

The collaborative relationships that were built and exist between these entities continue to thrive and provide numerous opportunities for partners to work together for the sake of creating an improved quality of life for all residents, students, visitors, faculty and staff within the city of St. Cloud.

Jennifer Sell Matzke is Interim Assistant Dean of Students for Chemical Health and Outreach Programming at St. Cloud State University.

2012 Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award Announced: Minnesotans are winner and finalist

Minnesota Campus Compact is pleased to announce that the 2012 Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award Winner is Dr. Andrew Furco from the University of Minnesota and Dr. Stephen Philion from St. Cloud State University is one of only 4 finalists!

Dr. Andrew Furco is the associate vice president for Public Engagement and associate professor of Organizational Leadership, Policy & Development and a Minnesota Campus Compact board member.  Here is an excerpt from Campus Compact’s press release:

Dr. Heidi Barajas, associate dean for Engagement, Diversity and Undergraduate Programs in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota says of Dr. Furco, “Through his graceful leadership as a teacher, researcher, and administrator, Professor Furco is systematically shifting the academic culture in our college and across the university system to more fully embrace community engagement practices in our teaching, research, and outreach.”

“Professor Furco is himself a remarkable engaged scholar and teacher, but what makes him exceptional is his ability to translate his individual curriculum into a platform for institutional change that transforms universities and colleges across the globe into being fully engaged institutions,” she concludes.

Dr. Stephen Philion is an associate professor of Sociology and the director of the Saint Cloud State University Faculty Research Group on Immigrant Workers in Minnesota. He completed his book, Workers Democracy and China’s Transition from State Socialism, in 2009.  As the Director of the Saint Cloud State University Research Group on Immigrant Workers in Minnesota, Dr. Philion has lectured on the social conditions of immigrant workers and is instrumental in organizing the Annual Social Conditions of Immigrant Workers and Families in Minnesota Conference.

Congratulations to both Dr. Furco and Dr. Philion and all the award finalists!

Hear from some of the fantastic students at the 2012 Student Civic Leadership Summit!

Congratulations to Minnesota’s 2012 Civic Newman Fellows!

Angela Bonfiglio

Angela Bonfiglio, a junior at Augsburg College, works in many ways to create a more just society. Angela rebuilt the campus service organization, doubling its membership while deepening issue-based work. In North Minneapolis, Angela is researching community perceptions on the achievement gap and working to close that gap. She coordinates an afterschool program at Redeemer Lutheran Church to ensure that youth have dependable adults, homework help, and dinner. Angela is dedicated to social justice, including environmental work, youth development, interfaith work, and racial equality.

Angela Bonfiglio demonstrates her civic leadership through a wide array of efforts on and off campus. She focuses on addressing systemic change and root causes of social issues. As a sophomore, Angela reorganized Community LINK, a student organization that engages students in service projects and connects students with issue based work. Angela activated dozens of new students, deepened her understanding of social issues in neighboring communities, most notably, poverty, literacy, education, and racial inequality. Angela amplifies her efforts by engaging others, and directly contributes to the leadership development of fellow students. Angela has done community based research on Interfaith Youth Work and is researching community perceptions on the achievement gap. She coordinates an afterschool program at Redeemer Lutheran Church in the north Minneapolis Harrison neighborhood where she built an infrastructure for young people to take leadership roles and see themselves differently than they do in other areas of their lives. Angela’s primary motivation comes from her faith. She is self-directed, accountable to her partners, a natural leader, organizer, and mentor. Angela continually makes space for others to take leadership roles. She seeks feedback on her own performance, and is not afraid to raise controversy when she’s doing the right thing.

Margaret Crenshaw

Margaret Crenshaw is a junior at Hamline University majoring in social justice and education. Margaret is president of Hand in Hand, a mentorship program pairing Hamline students with elementary school students at Hancock-Hamline University Collaborative Magnet School. Margaret is also a senior fellow of the McVay Youth Partnership where she plans and leads programming for Karen middle and high school youth. She also researched Karen refugee students in the Twin Cities, was an MPIRG student leader, and taught English as a second language at St. Paul’s Neighborhood House. She also has completed community-based collaborative research on Karen refugee students in the Twin Cities, was an MPIRG student leader, and taught English as a second language at St. Paul’s Neighborhood House.

Her exemplary work on campus and in the community shows her strong, civic commitment to creating educational opportunity for all. Margaret leads by taking direct action and mobilizing the knowledge, skills and relationships she has built at Hamline University toward positive social change. Currently, Margaret serves as president of Hand in Hand, a mentorship program pairing Hamline students with elementary school students at Hancock-Hamline University Collaborative Magnet School. In 2011-2012, almost 100 Hamline students participated in Hand in Hand. Margaret is also a senior fellow of the McVay Youth Partnership where she plans and leads programming for Karen refugee middle and high school youth as part of McVay’s after-school mentorship program. Based on her commitment to the Karen community, Margaret completed a community-based collaborative research project entitled “Karen Refugee Students’ Academic and Social Experiences in Twin Cities K-12 Schools,” which she presented at two conferences. Margaret supports campus-wide dialogue about race and racism as a student leader on Hamline’s National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) team, was an MPIRG student leader, and taught English as a second language at St. Paul’s Neighborhood House

Pertesia Gadson

Pertesia Gadson has engaged in a variety of volunteer and research activities related to social justice and health disparities during her time at the University of Minnesota Rochester. As an undergraduate pursuing a degree in Health Sciences and a career in medicine, Pertesia mentors at-risk youth, recruits other students to volunteer, and has conducted research about risky behaviors among youth and teens.

Pertesia Gadson is a second year student at the University of Minnesota Rochester pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree. She aspires to continue her education in medical school, where she can continue to address issues related to social justice and health disparities. For the past year and a half, Pertesia has volunteered at the Salvation Army Medical and Dental Clinic in Rochester, MN and with Miracle Empowerment Center in Minneapolis, MN. Pertesia was selected to join UMR’s Students in Service AmeriCorps program and completed more than 450 hours of service over the course of one year. As one of the co-founders of a campus resource called Raptor Recruits, she acts as a peer advisor to help engage other students in community-based work. Lastly, Pertesia worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the University of Minnesota last summer, and conducted research focusing on teens, alcohol use, and risky behavior. She has recently begun working with Justice and Opportunity for Youth (JOY) to mentor the highest-risk youth in Rochester. Pertesia understands the deep-seeded causes of systemic injustice; she has demonstrated tremendous courage and resiliency throughout her life and as a student pursing her dream of becoming a physician.

Pertesia Gadson has engaged in a variety of volunteer and research activities related to social justice and health disparities during her time at the University of Minnesota Rochester. As a student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and a career in medicine, Pertesia’s volunteer experiences have involved working with under-served community members and mentoring at-risk youth, as well as helping to build organizational capacity to serve these populations. She actively recruits other students to become engaged in community issues through volunteerism, and has conducted public health research to learn about risky behaviors among youth and teens.

Molly Kalina

Molly Kalina is studying to be a teacher, and she strongly believes that education is the key to addressing the root causes of issues.  Molly has been part of the College of Saint Benedict‘s service sorority, acted as a mentor and tutor for underprivileged youth, and assisted several teachers in local schools and even in a primary school in South Africa. She participates in the Bonner Leader Program for student service leaders.

She is a firm believer in taking time to educate everyone, whether it be in the classroom, at a new job training, or in everyday experiences. She believes that education gives people the tools to succeed. In addition to being passionate about education, she also is involved in other social issues (like sex trafficking, domestic abuse, and hunger) through her involvement in the Bonner Leader Program. Molly has planned events to get others informed and involved in these causes as well as researching the issues, holding fundraisers for relevant organizations, and attending a national leadership conference with other civically engaged college students. She is a very dedicated and caring person with the necessary motivation to work diligently for a problem she believes needs to be solved. Her past experience and strong leadership skills will help her work with others to make a difference in the future.

During her time in college, Molly has been part of the College of Saint Benedict’s service sorority, acted as a mentor and tutor for underprivileged youth, and assisted several teachers in local schools. She participates in the Bonner Leader Program, which has allowed her to become even more involved in service and civic engagement on campus and in the community. She is currently in South Africa volunteering at a primary school in an extremely poor area. Molly says that her time at CSB has opened her eyes to a whole new set of social issues.

Amee Vang

Amee Vang is a junior majoring in Math Education and with a minor in Women’s Studies at St. Cloud State University. She uses creative, ambitious and powerful strategies to support social change and justice in racial, immigration and women’s rights. Vang is the fundraising chair of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, St. Cloud chapter (12 in the nation), a member of the Hmong Student Organization (former treasurer) and Women’s Action at SCSU. She is also the co-director of the 2012 V-Day event, The Vagina Monologues, and has volunteered many hours of service to ensure a successful event knowing that performance art is a powerful tool and that fundraising is essential to social change efforts.

Vang participated in legislative briefings and lobbied in Washington, DC in January 2012 for NAPAWF; organizes events and initiatives to promote sexual assault and stalking awareness, pay equity and reproductive justice and is an invaluable staff member of the SCSU Women’s Center doing programming, developing educational campaigns, assisting students, advertising events and more.

Her leadership success is framed by passion, hard work, self-awareness and knowledge, as well as use of political structures, campus and community organizing, and performance art.

Vote for St. Cloud State Student in White House Contest

Re-blogged from the American Democracy Project blog

St. Cloud State University student Kurtis Neu needs your vote to make it to the White House.

Kurt Neu, a senior anthropology major, is one of 15 finalists chosen in the 2011 White House Campus “Champions of Change” Challenge, which invited college and university students from across the country to demonstrate how their student-led project is improving their campus community and helping America win the future.

After reviewing a record number of entries, 15 finalists were named, including Neu’s which is titled “Our Promise: Building a Better Community Together.”

Neu’s project was put into action last summer providing bagged lunches for children in a multi-ethnic, low-income neighborhood who would normally qualify for lunch assistance during the academic year at a local elementary school. After receiving a grant from the campus food supplier, Neu and his team began making bagged lunches in the campus cafeteria every morning Monday through Friday. College students and volunteers from the community worked together to prepare meals which students then distributed to children in the neighborhood. What started as only a few hundred meals and a handful of volunteers grew to nearly 1000 meals and dozens of volunteers as awareness of the lunch program spread. Delivering the meals to various locations throughout the neighborhood made it possible for students and residents to meet face-to-face and to have purposeful conversations and to work towards establishing relationships based on trust, compassion and a general concern for the well-being of all community members.

Via email, Kurt indicated that the “Our Promise” project represents the collective efforts of “a fantastic group of individuals who are committed to improving the community.” He views St. Cloud State University as “an exceptional place to earn a degree and to discover how to see the world in a different light” and hopes that his project encourages other students to “make the best of their time in college and truly have a positive impact on campus and in the community.”

Go here to learn more and to vote.

The top five winners will largely be selected based on voting and named Campus Champions of Change and will be invited to a culminating event at the White House. The Challenge winners, in addition to the concluding event, will be highlighted by mtvU and MTV Act and also host an episode of mtvU’s signature program, “The Dean’s List.”

The deadline to cast your vote is Saturday, March 3.

Best of luck to you, Kurt, and to St. Cloud State University!

Njeri Clement and NGATHA International

Check out former Student Leadership Summit Participant, Njeri Clement’s work through NGATHA International and Saint Cloud State University:
Ngatha International is a non for profit organization registered in Mn and in Kenya. NGATHA’s main objective is to restore hope and dignity to women and children in Africa.The 4th annual dinner fundraiser on December 3, 2011 held at The Rink Event Center in Monticello, MN was aimed at raising funds to provide food, school supplies for orphans whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS living in the Ngatha Orphange and Learning Center- Kenya.

Cassie Anderson: Saint Cloud State University’s Presidents’ Student Leadership Award Recipient

Cassie Anderson has been instrumental in helping Lutheran Social Services provide help to Somali  immigrant workers look for employment in St. Cloud. She started working for Lutheran Social Services as part of a research project being conducted by the COSS Faculty Research Group on Immigrant Workers in Minnesota “St. Cloud Somali Immigrant Work Histories” project.  Reflecting the research group’s mission to do research that is collaborative with and benefits immigrant communities in St. Cloud (and Minnesota generally), Cassie sought out Lutheran Social Services Refugee  Employment and Social Services Director Mohamed Yusuf in June, 2010 and offered to do volunteer work there as part of her research.  Her timing was impeccable, as the program was in a state of flux due to the departure of the previous director and badly in need of volunteers to fill in the gaps.  She has put in endless hours there as a volunteer and, perhaps more important, helped recruit and train 3 other SCSU  volunteers to help Somali Refugees with filling out job applications, contact employers, look through ads, practice interviews, and simply show (needed) support in a time of serious unemployment crisis in the Somali community.

As though that were not enough, Cassie Anderson has also contributed a great amount of time to La Cruz, helping them compile and run statistical data on the success of their after school program. According to the manager of La Cruz, Monica Segura-Schwartz, Cassie has been a huge help in generating a justification for grant applications to funding agencies, which the After School Program will require if it is to continue playing the vital role it does in servicing the after-school needs of Somali youth at La Cruz.

Cassie has presented a poster session on myths and stereotypes about Somali workers in St. Cloud, based entirely on her volunteer work at Lutheran Social Services and La Cruz.  She recently did a panel presentation on Somali immigrant workers in St. Cloud at the MNSCU Chancellors’ Diversity Conference on February 25th, she also will present a paper with Dr. Ajay Panicker (SOC) on her data at the upcoming Midwest Social Services. In both venues she has given a public face to SCSU’s Community Engagement mission.


Cassie has helped one of my classes (Sociology 177) in service learning projects in the fall semester of 2011. She first gave a vivid presentation in my class on the importance of civic responsibility and service learning; she then helped some of my students to sign on various service learning projects with Lutheran Social Services. In the mean time, she helped other students of mine with their service work at La Cruz Community Center through her own volunteer work at La Cruz. While working with my students, Cassie always accommodated my students’ various schedules, making herself highly available for them. At the Celebrating Connection event held at SCSU last fall, the students in my class won the recognition for the “Greatest Community Impact,” for that Cassie also must take credits for as well.  As for Cassie’s own effort in civic engagement and leadership, Cassie last semester shared one story about her civic engagement in her home town in Minnesota.  She said that how her home town stopped the building of a WalMart store, thanks to her investigation applying her research skills in finding out in the township bylaws which prohibited the building of a big department store under certain conditions.  Cassie truly acquires a high quality of leadership in civic responsibility and engagement; she is among the top 2% of the students I have ever taught—an exceptionally outstanding and promising student! I highly recommend her with no reservation!