Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

What is patriotism?

By Megan Felz, Freshman, University of Minnesota

Republished from the DemocracyU blog

In our ever-changing society, we are constantly faced with the challenge of evolving and adapting to what the world and its situations demand from us.  Along with that, I believe it is important to constantly challenge what we thought we previously knew and develop our beliefs in addition. I was given the ability to do just that when I attended a debate at Trinity Church. Trinity church, a recent addition to the Cedar-Riverside intersection, is located at what was once St. Martin’s Table, a restaurant where 85% percent of their profits were donated to charity. Though St. Martin’s Table is no longer in business, Trinity church does an excellent job at keeping its spirit and values of community alive.

Read the rest on the DemocracyU blog What is patriotism?

My Thoughts on Women Survivors Unite in Exercise at Winona State University

By Kasia Kilijanek, Winona State University

According to BreastCancer.org, “one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.” Cancer affects nearly everyone in the U.S. some way or another. Two summers ago, I met Ashley. Her mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer and we were just about to board an airplane to England for a study abroad trip. We wouldn’t be back for about three weeks. When I was 11 years old, my grandmother went through chemotherapy and radiation to fight her breast cancer. My grandfather passed away from colon cancer. A long-time family friend was diagnosed with blood cancer and was told he had only six months left.

 
With cancer comes treatment, which can sometimes be worse than the cancer itself. Research is beginning to show that one of the best ways to combat the side effects of cancer treatments is to move. Exercise! Although empirical research is not yet available, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence that exercise can help reduce the feeling of fatigue, keep functional abilities, maintain a healthy body weight, and increase overall quality of life for cancer patients.

 
Several universities have programs where breast cancer survivors exercise with students in training for various health fields. When Ashley informed me the next in 2010 that she was going to try to get this program started Winona State University, I immediately volunteered to help. We are proud to announce that this coming May marks the first full year of Women Survivors Unite in Exercise (WSUE) at Winona State University.

 
Participating as a fitness trainer in our WSUE program at Winona State University has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. The movement science major at WSU is mainly for preparing students for graduate school, rather than teaching practical skills for a specific career. With the WSUE program movement science students now have the opportunity to get hands-on by creating exercise programs for cancer patients in the Winona community. With this comes a great deal of learning how to act as professionals. Also, the volunteer experience looks good on resumes and applications to graduate schools, which is a goal of mine in pursuit of a career in physical therapy.

 
The overall experience of being a student cancer fitness trainer is fun. Though the early mornings are sometimes difficult, I love showing up to help someone improve their health and gain or regain their physical fitness. Each survivor is assigned one or two personal student trainers. We start our morning by taking resting blood pressure and heart rate, and then warming up with some basic lymphedema stretches. The students lead their survivors through a 40 minute individualized exercise regimen, which includes aerobic, resistance and balance exercises. Oftentimes, the students will do the exercises along with the survivors. The motivation in our survivors is strong and the support from other members of the group is remarkable. For example, when one of our survivors and her student trainers began to jog around the track one morning, we all clapped and cheered her on. Though she may have completed only half a lap, the strides she has made are uplifting to us all. Another survivor, Peggy, had to have been inspiring to everyone. She walked at least four miles a day outside of WSUE and could probably do more sit-ups than the average college student.

 

 
I have come to realize that our survivors have so much to give and teach us as well. I signed up for my first-ever 5k race and casually mentioned it one morning at WSUE, because two other students were also running. Without announcement, Giselle was there at the end of our race to cheer for all of us. When it came time to listen to each survivor’s cancer story, every one of use was moved with emotion. My eyes were opened to what hardships cancer patients go through; from each cycle of radiation or chemotherapy to every new medication to every doctor visit. The stories varied, as cancer does, as each survivor described different challenges and setbacks that they had to overcome in their battle with the disease.  They have the opportunity to grasp life once again. Every one of our survivors has developed a newfound sense of what is important in life. Many times, we heard that the small things that used to matter don’t anymore. What they used to fuss or complain about no longer bothers them. Family and friends and doing things that you love and make you feel good are what matter the most.

 
Even if I didn’t gain an ounce of experience as a cancer fitness trainer, I know I have still learned a great deal about life’s priorities. I am excited to check back in a few years to see how the program has grown. It doesn’t take much to understand what a good thing WSUE has going for both the survivors and students in the community of Winona.

 

Motivation

Happy New Year!  Did you make resolutions?  (If so, have you broken any of them yet?)  Motivation is widely recognized as a key factor in successful follow through—and, not surprisingly, in learning too.

Teenagers’ interest in pursuing engineering, for instance, increases dramatically when they hear about the ways it might benefit them and the world.  A recent survey by Intel and Change the Equation found:

  • 63 percent of teens have never considered a career in engineering.
  • 61 percent of teens are more likely to consider engineering after learning that engineering majors make an average annual income of $75,000; more than 50 percent are persuaded by the fact that the unemployment rate among engineers is more than 4 percentage points lower than the national rate.
  • The societal benefits of what engineers do, like preventing disasters or generating cleaner electricity, are particularly resonant with teens that have never considered engineering before.  Learning about engineering feats such as saving the Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days motivates 52 percent to think twice about the career.

“The students who are not interested in engineering are most likely to use the word ‘difficult’ to describe engineering,” commented Chronicle of Higher Education blogger Robert Talbert, but “students are willing to take on difficult tasks as long as they know there will be some payoff—for themselves or for the world, or both—at the end of it.”  (And really, are those of us done with school any different?)

With big goals, we’re better off breaking them down and recognizing shorter-term accomplishments and payoffs.  Students studying to be engineers—or anything else—can address public problems long before they’re full-time professionals, and doing so will help the classroom content seem relevant and the students feel successful.  Among the strategies for motivating students to learn, recommended by the authors of How Learning Works:  7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching:  assigning students “authentic, real-world tasks,” including service-learning projects.

Most people in this network don’t need to be reminded of the power of engaged learning, glad as we might be to see it noted in this kind of book.  Yet we can always use more examples of effective practice, more clarity on our common goals, more evidence of positive change.

– Julie Plaut