Category Archives: Events

Dancescape is a Rewarding Stressor for Students and Faculty

Jenna Grochow Dancescape Interview

Adelle Vietor Dancescape Interview

The life of a dancer, despite popular belief, has never exactly been glamorous.

It’s hard work for little money and very strenuous on the body and mind.

The dancers and directors of Winona State University’s 2018 Dancescape agree and say they believe that the time spent is valuable.

Jenna Grochow, a production assistant, choreographer and dancer for Dancescape, said, “Dancescape is a really big time commitment. It gets stressful throughout the year and I have to sacrifice being with friends and going to other events because of it.”

The stress of spending six months working for one show can be tiring on the young college dancers and choreographers.

Dancescape’s Artistic Director, Gretchen Cohenour, said what the dancers go through reminds her of when she danced as a freelance professional in New York.

“It’s hard, worth it, but difficult,” Cohenour said. “When I danced, I also was a waitress and worked other odd jobs to make a living. That is what a lot of these dancers go through with school and part time jobs, however they can handle it and love to do it.”

The reward of a successful live show is what makes everything they do worth their commitment to the show.

Vietor dancing in front of a projected screen that she designed. This will be the first time dancescape has used this technology

Adelle Vietor; a WSU student, and choreographer and dancer for Dancescape, said it was meaningful time and energy in the end.

“I think it is worth it,” Vietor said. “At other universities, a lot of students don’t get this opportunity to be such a huge part of an experience.”

Vietor said she is most excited to get the feedback on her choreographed piece which is a piece that includes a projected video that goes with the dance.

A projector has never been used before in Dancescape and is something both Vietor and Cohenour are excited to see.

“We have some really talented student choreographers, and Adelle is one of them,” Cohenour said. “She is a graphic design major and she has made this digital projection, so it’s this beautiful round spherical background that multiplies and falls away and blooms and it’s just so wonderful.”

The excitement shows through all the dancers now that the live show is done and is a success, according to Vietor.

“Everything went so well,” Vietor said. “Every night we felt like there were so few mistakes, which is exactly what we want.”

In six to seven months from now, most of the dancers, except for the graduating seniors, will be gearing up to try out again for next year’s show.

The seniors have a quick turnaround, in just two months they will be on stage again, for the Senior Dance Recital at the end of April.

The senior dancers have been not only prepping for Dancescape but have also started to work on their routines for the Senior Dance Recital.

Winona State Celebrates Frankenstein Anniversary

Exactly 200 years ago, in 1818, Mary Shelly’s iconic Promethean creature was brought to life when her novel was first published.

In celebration of the 200 anniversary of “Frankenstein” being published, Winona State University is hosting a variety of events throughout January and February.

The events began Jan. 24 at 8 a.m. in WSU’s Science Laboratory Center atrium with a live reading of the entire 1818 edition of the novel.

The nearly eight-hour event hosted a constant influx of audience members, ranging from none to double digits at different times.

According to Dunbar, althogether there were an estimated 75 to 100 attendees.

The live reading was the brainchild of Ann-Marie Dunbar, an associate professor of the English department and director of the events.

“The bicentenary of Frankenstein’s publication gives us a great opportunity to celebrate one of the most original and fascinating novels written in English,” Dunbar said. “A novel that is just as relevant today as it was in 1818.”

The reading featured most of the University’s English department faculty, including Paul Johnson, an English and Film Studies professor.

Paul Johnson, WSU’s Film Studies director reads From Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” in character.

Johnson performed the first few chapters of volume two with enthusiasm, creating voices for the characters, making the event that much more noticeable for the students passing through the atrium, many of whom stopped for a moment to listen.

Johnson is the planner of the film series that is a part of the “Frankenstein celebration” at WSU.

The film series began off on Monday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Miller Auditorium at WSU with a double feature of the 1931 film “Frankenstein” and it’s 1935 sequel “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

Robert Pack, WSU Film Studies student, hosts a showing of the film “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

“For those of us who love the novel and love the tale and love Mary Shelly’s composition of it,” Johnson said, “simply being able to bring that to life for a day is a really rich source of enjoyment for us.”

The film series is the most expensive of the events, costing between $1,600 -$1,800 for public performance rights according to Johnson.

According to Dunbar, the English, Art, Mass Communication, and the University Theme committee are all sponsors working for and donating to the project.

The double feature began with an audience of about 75, most of which were students attending for class.

After an intermission between the films the audience decreased to about 25.

Audience waits for the double feature of “Frankenstein” and “The Bride of Frankenstein” to begin at WSU

Brittney Bluhm, an English and Film student at the university attended both features having read the book recently but never seeing the films.

Bluhm said that she liked the venue, but especially enjoyed watching the films together.

“I think that we could have had the five-minute intermission quicker. It was more like a 10 to 15-minute intermission,” Bluhm said.

Zachary Zaboj, an independent studies student who attended for class said he was surprised at how much was changed from the book to the films.

Johnson said he thought the first few events went well, the audience sizes being more than satisfactory.

Frankenfest will continued Feb. 19 with the next film in the series, “Young Frankenstein,” at 7 p.m. in WSU’s Miller Auditorium.

Yuge Zhou: In the Shape of a City

Winona State University’s Art and Design Department hosted a video installation exhibit by Chicago based artist, Yugo Zhou, called In the Shape of a City, on Oct. 16 through Nov. 6. The exhibit featured two video pieces, Midtown Flutter and Underground Circuit, which were filmed on the streets of New York City as well as the subways.

Art Gallery Coordinator, Roger Boulay, oversaw the exhibit.

“Yugo Zhou exhibited at Winona State last year,” Boulay said. “I saw it and I loved it, and I decided to invite her to exhibit here, and she accepted.”

Boulay said it was interesting to bring two pieces that were investigating urban spaces to Winona.

“Since Winona is located in such a rural environment, to have two pieces about a big city, is a nice change of pace,” Boulay said. “It might make many of our students, many of which come from rural backgrounds, think about the city in new ways, and maybe disrupt preconceived notions about the city.”

Rachel Hollcraft, of Crookston, Minn., and a sophomore and WSU, viewed the exhibit with her classmates.

“The different people, especially in the piece on the floor, gives a sense of individuality to every person caught on tape, and in a way that makes New York City seem smaller,” Hollcraft said.

“I really appreciated the detail put into timing people with the stop light, in the piece on the wall,” Hollcraft said. “The piece on the floor was my favorite, because the amount of time put into filming, and then creating a loop of different people entering and exiting from each square is incredible, and shows the hard work of Zhou.”

Boulay said there were over 300 layer of video in Underground Circuit, and Zhou listened to entire television series during the video editing process.

Boulay said Zhou received an $800 stipend, and stayed at the WSU Alumni House during her stay in Winona.  The exhibit was supported by WSU and by a grant from the WSU Foundation.

The Shape of a City exhibit allowed viewer to interact with the pieces. Viewers could walk on Underground, if they took off their shoes. Viewers could also look behind Midtown Flutter to see how the piece was made and look at its various dimensions.

Watkins Gallery hosts six exhibits by visiting artists each year and six by current WSU students. The next exhibit called, CHASTUSHKI, by Amy Toscani, will be on display from Nov. 13 through Dec. 8.


Big Muddy Brew N’ Que

Winona’s Levee Park was the site of the second annual Big Muddy Brew N’ Que during Labor Day weekend.  People from Winona and the surrounding area had the opportunity to experience live music, wine and beer tasting, a bean bag toss tournament, and barbeque tasting.

The Clams’ Alex Miller and Eric Wittenburg, perform classic hits for all ages during the first day of the Big Muddy Brew N’ Que.


The Big Muddy Brew N’ Que had a new layout this year.  Due to construction at west end of Levee Park, the location was moved to the east end or the park near Godfather’s Pizza.  Another first, was expanding the event to a two-day event.

Joe Piper competes in the second annual Big Muddy Brew N’ Que bean bag tournament.


Ben Knuesel, 27, of Winona attended last year’s event, and was pleased with how the second year improved.

“It was fantastic,” Knuesel said, “Last year was the first time we had something like this on the levee, and utilizing the river, which is a big part of Winona.”

Winona’s Awesome Eats food truck offered their barbeque pulled pork sandwich at the Big Muddy Brew N’ Que at Levee Park.


Co-founder of Insight Brewing from Minneapolis, Ilan Klages-Mundt, returned to his hometown to experience the event for the first time.

“It’s awesome to try local beer, so for people to hear that we’re from here,” Klages-Mundt said, “there’s a little bit of pride to bring the beer back to Winona.”

Klages-Mundt said he couldn’t attend last year’s event he said he was pleased with the professionalism and organization of the second year’s event.

Klages-Mundt said the venue made the experience seem busy, but not over-crowded.

“It felt like there was a really good energy the whole time,” Klages-Mundt added, “People came back to the booth multiple times, and I didn’t hear any complaints.”

Art Day supports sustainability, local efforts

By Sara Tiradossi

For many locals in Winona, creating a sustainable environment plays an important role in combating climate change.

Members of Winona Women for Healthy Communities have been active in addressing this contemporary concern.

On Saturday, April 15, members of the group held an art workshop at the Winona Arts Center, where attendees made art for a local version of the national People’s Climate March.

The march will occur Saturday, April 29, in downtown Winona and will bring attention to changes in climate.

Organizer of Arts Day and Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Mary Kaye Perrin said sustainability was the main theme of the art workshop.

Paint, brushes and watercolors were available for attendees to make posters, and decorate umbrellas as a way to show the abundance of rain that has occurred this year.

“People need to pay attention to the recent downpours of rain and flooding,” Perrin said.

According to Perrin, the march aims to make people more aware of the effects of global warming and reflect people’s concerns on the current regulations. This issue, she said, affects a community like Winona with flooding, loss of apple crops and loss of natural resources.

Through the march, the group will also support the Minnesota renewable energy goals and the progress being done toward them, Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Emilie Falc said.

In Winona, Falc said the group is trying to help locals continue to work on issues related to clean air, clean water and offer good jobs to encourage healthier communities.

“We don’t want to lose momentum toward those sustainability goals and legislation that would reduce them,” Falc said. “ We would like for people in the community to come forward and to talk about what their needs are.”

The event at the Winona Arts Center gave attendees, both children and adults, a chance to show sustainable efforts while expressing their creativity.

Attendee Julian Kohner was painting a butterfly with yellow and green colors, and his mom was holding the brush with him.

The canvas, paints and umbrellas were supplied from donations, and most of them were recycled items, Falc said. The art center contributed to the initiative by providing the space for the workshop.

Falc said the expenses for the march are low and volunteers will provide the music and PA system.

Nancy Bachler, one of the art workshop attendees, was outlining the red and yellow paint for the poster “Sustainable Future Now” with Lynette Powers, another organizer and member of Winona Women for Healthy Communities.

Bachler said about 98 percent of all scientists agree climate change is a real threat to the world, and that is why people need to be concerned about such issues.

Sometimes people can show individual efforts by simply recycling and being aware of the changes in the environment that affect health, Bachler said. Water is being polluted, she said, and the air quality is not as clean as it used to be.

“There really is an important connection to health, wellbeing, and the earth,” Bachler said. “We are trying to help people make their own part, while having fun.”

Besides sustainability, Falc said another important theme is local effort.

“We want to celebrate what we are already doing in Winona,” Falc said.

According to Falc, Winona is involved in making sustainable choices and Winona County has recently shown its contribution by purchasing energy from the solar garden, a solar power plant whose electricity is shared by more than one household.

She added people will come together at the march to support not only solar energy and solar gardens, but also geothermal, and wind energy in the community as sustainable energy sources.

In terms of sustaining local foods, Falc said the group is involved with supporting community gardens, local and organic family farms, orchards and farmworkers.

“We want to make it easier for local growers to sell their foods,” Falc said.

Because the march will start next to the Mississippi River, participants were making fish kites to symbolize the creatures people share the river with. Other posters displayed pollinators and apple trees that are under threat because they cannot evolve quickly to adapt to changes in climate.

“We need to use our creative energies to come together as a community,” Falc said. “And inspire people to choose the resources we already have.”

Another attendee, Marv Camp, was bending over a table and coloring the letters for an “Earth Day” poster in red and green. Camp said he hopes to be part of the April 29 march.

“Seeing our current political scene, it’s great that we can make an impact in our small community and hopefully on a bigger level, too,” Camp said.

With a vision for a better and sustainable future in mind, Perrin said she encourages making better choices every day by choosing to bike, and walking for clearer air instead of driving.

To promote walking, she added the group will work to make safer streets and crossings and improve public transportation including evening and weekend busing and more routes.

On Saturday, April 29, Perrin said she hopes for a great attendance from the community and invites people to bring giant apples or suns, and decorate umbrellas, skateboards, bikes and posters to express their commitment to climate justice.

Perrin said, “This is our vision for a better future and a better world for our children, our grandchildren, and ourselves.”

Julian Kohner paints a butterfly with red and yellow colors to be used for People’s Climate March. Kohner attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15 at the Winona Arts Center.
Nelson Calabrese paints a butterfly with blue, red and yellow colors to be used for People’s Climate March. Calabrese attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15, at the Winona Arts Center.
Marv Camp colors the letters for the poster “Earth Day” to be used for People’s Climate March. Camp attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15 at the Winona Arts Center.
Nelson Calabrese decorates an umbrella with Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Mary Perrin. The art workshop provided paints, colors and decorations to make posters for People’s Climate March.
Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Lynette Powers outlines the red and yellow paint for the poster “Sustainable Future Now.” Powers attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15 at the Winona Arts Center.

Henry Perrin and Jenna Perrin paint a butterfly to be used for People’s Climate March. They attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15 at the Winona Arts Center.

Verizon HopeLine comes to WSU

Verizon HopeLine logo, credit: Verizon Wireless

The Winona State University RE Initiative, a group which supports survivors of gender-based violence, encourages members to dig through their junk drawers and forgotten spots in their house to find old, broken or functioning cell phones and accessories such as chargers, headsets and extra batteries. Even if someone has a pager laying around, Verizon HopeLine will accept it.

The Verizon HopeLine is a phone drive which collects those cell phones and accessories and are then used to help victims of domestic violence. Verizon provides the phones with 3,000 minutes to domestic violence organizations.

Donation boxes are available around campus in the main offices of Lourdes, East Lake Apartments, the Well in the Integrated Wellness Center, and the Student Activities Center in Kryzsko Commons from March 1 to March 31.

Once the RE Initiative finishes the phone drive, the phones are sent to Verizon. Verizon sends the phones to a recycling company who recycles the phones. Verizon uses that money to buy new phones to send to domestic violence organizations, according to Meagan Dorsch, public and external relations lead for Verizon and the HopeLine program in Minnesota.

The extra money from the recycled phones is used for grant money to nonprofit organizations, Dorsch said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report,” (2013).
Information from Verizon Wireless website:

Brittney Leland, peer advocate from the RE Initiative worked to bring Verizon HopeLine to campus, along with PACT Graduate Assistant Mike Krug.

“I think it is needed because with my work in the RE Initiative as a peer advocate and educator,” Leland said. “I got called one time and one client was left with literally nothing and one thing she said would be helpful is a phone.”

To call a shelter to see if there is room, a phone is needed, it is an important tool to get people back on their feet, Leland said.

“[Phones] are the norm, those of us who have phones take it for granted and don’t realize how much of a privilege it is to have a phone,” Krug said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every four women and one in every seven men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner.

“Communication is the first thing victims lose,” Dorsch said.

Verizon began HopeLine in 2001, and since then have collected 12 million phones, with 700,000 in 2015.

HopeLine provided more than a dozen organizations across Minnesota with phones and grants in 2015. This number is looking to be very similar for 2016, according to Dorsch.

In 2015, $7,000,000 was given to domestic violence organizations. This money is the extra money from the recycled phone profits that Verizon receives. One of these organizations is Cornerstone, an organization that was established in 1983 to help victims of domestic violence in South Hennepin County and since has expanded to Northern Hennepin County and Minneapolis in Minnesota. They strive for reducing domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking.

Cornerstone has had a relationship with Verizon for a long time, and the two are partnered together, according to Courtney Poja, Director of Advancement for Cornerstone.

Poja said clients need safety, which is access to 911, help and shelters, a service support network, and stability once safe to rebuild their life. She also said the phones are used to achieve this.

Each client works with a Cornerstone staff member, and they decide who is in most need of a donated phone. 15 phones are given out every year, and Cornerstone serves 4,000 clients a year, Poja said.

In addition to giving out phones to victims, Cornerstone offers transitional housing options, help with rebuilding, therapy, help through the legal process, and operates a state wide crisis line to call to safety, according to Poja. Cornerstone also works with kids and has clinical services.

It’s awesome that Verizon does HopeLine, Poja said, she thinks it is really great that helping domestic violence victims is important to Verizon.

As of Friday, March 17, three phones and a charger have been donated on campus, according to Leland, which is slower than she expected.

Julie Chiasson, licensed practical nurse for WSU Health and Wellness Services donated a Tracfone that has been sitting in a drawer.

She saw the program in an email, and was appalled by the increasing amount of domestic violence. Chiasson is a member of the Women’s Resource Center, and wants to help out victims.

To donate an unused phone, erase all personal information and remove the sim card if possible. Bring it to any of the donation boxes around campus. They will be collected and picked up by RE Initiative members and locked away until they are sent to Verizon at the end of March.

Phones can also be donated at the Verizon store on Frontenac Drive before or after the March 31 campus HopeLine deadline. The phone and accessories can be from any provider, not only Verizon.

Campaigning for the Real World

Even in his campaigns logo crested T-Shirt, amidst the throng of trade show masses, Winona State University public relations student Phil Robin started to sweat.

“It’s nerve-racking, and I want to go to sleep,” he said exhaustedly.

For many public relations and advertising students in Winona State’s senior campaigns class, Thursday’s trade show in Kryszko’s Student Activity Center was their first real world experience.

At the start of the semester, Mass Communication professors Tanya Ryan and Muriel Scott had each student fill out a skill survey and submit a resume. From there, students were sorted randomly into five different groups, so that students with similar skillsets weren’t together.

Each group had to develop their own company name, logo, and identity. From there, they decided on the roles they would have for the duration of the semester.

“The first day we sat in a circle and all said what our strengths and weaknesses are,”public relations major Megan Hayes said. “I said I was good at social media.”

Since the class mixes public relations and advertising majors, only a small portion of the students knew each other. In a real-life atmosphere, groups have to manage with what they have, just as they would with coworkers they don’t know anything about after getting hired.

“We all just clicked right away…  we’re all in the same boat, so we might as well like each other,” Hayes said.

For the students, there are no textbooks needed for this class. Everything that goes into the class involves time and resources.

“We meet five days a week for about two hours,” Hayes said. “We went over our budget first, then what we wanted to give out for ‘swag.'”

Hayes’ group named themselves Origin Communications, as “success originates with us,” as their mission statement says. Other groups include Avantive, Radiance, Meraki and Acai Eleven.

Origin’s booth at the trade show, which was manned by Hayes among others.

For the next two months, these five groups will be duking it out over a span of four events, vying for the coveted top spot. Each group was given two and a half weeks to prepare a booth for the first trade show, along with other handouts and information for a professional client. This year’s client is the Director of Communication at the Mall of America, Dan Jasper.

The students have to sign confidentiality forms and intellectual property forms in order to take the class. While the winning campaign isn’t used by the client, the winning group does receive some perks.

“Last year a client gave the mass communications department a donation, and it was used for [an end-of-the-year] banquet,” professor Tanya Ryan said.

She added that one time, “Best Buy gave everyone a gold membership.”

Professor Ryan said there is little teaching involved, other than feedback on how a group is doing after each event. The feedback and consequent rankings makes the groups strive to be better by the culmination of the class.

“You can’t ask your boss questions – they expect you to know what to do,” Ryan said. “The class is to empower students to make their own decisions, and teach them to become more confident in their knowledge and skills.”

Luckily for the group Avantive, advertising major Elizabeth Clark was able to offer some advice from her past experiences.

“I’ve done trade shows before at Mayo Center similar to this one for a gym [business],” Clark said.

That said, nothing could ever completely prepare students for what lay ahead – the trade show.

Students were cast into the fire as friends and strangers alike crowded the space around the booths, rifling off fast-paced questions and bumping into each other to fill out contest forms for the groups’ raffles.

“No matter how prepared you are, there are things where you wish ‘oh, I wish I would’ve done that,'” Clark said. “That and you always tell yourself to speak in a more professional manner.”

Amongst the photo booths, caricaturist and mini golf competition that groups brought, students kept piling in. Some WSU students had no vested interests in the trade show, and came to support friends. For Nicole Cullinan, a photographer at Winona State, she came to help her friends and help herself.

“One of my roommates is in Origin, and the other is in Avantive,” Cullinan said.

Like the groups, Cullinan was given a shortened deadline comparable to the real world.

“I shot for one team Wednesday, the other on Thursday, and then I sat down Friday night and did them all – I did it all in three days.”

Cullinan’s work was featured in slideshows playing at the booths during the trade show, and was also featured on social media.

“It was a good experience for me to do more studio work, and take more headshots,” Cullinan added. “It gives me a sense of pride, to see my work printed at the trade show.”

Hannah Ingebrand echoed Cullinan’s thoughts.

“This was the most real world thing I’ve ever done. I was really impressed by the whole thing. Everybody was on the same page,” Ingebrand said.

Winona State senior Phil Robin looks on during the Campaigns trade show, eager to answer questions the patrons might have.

On the far end of the SAC closest to the stage, Phil Robin and Meraki waited patiently to talk to the client. Jasper’s first question when he arrived – why the group wasn’t dressed like the rest.

“When people asked us why we were wearing T-Shirts, we said we want our work to speak for us, yet remain approachable and comfortable,” Robin said coolly.

Jasper told Robin he was impressed with Meraki’s overall message and mission statement.

“[Jasper] was more forward than anyone… nice guy, but a straight talker who was actually pretty intimidating,” Robin said. “Based on feedback from my teammates, we thought we’ll rank pretty well.”

An hour and a half later, it was all over. The groups were able to relax and consume some of their leftover cupcakes they had brought for the show.

Their first glimpse of the real world was just beginning.




Second Warrior Debate engages students, faculty

By Phillip Pronschinske & Shane Carlson

Winona State University hosted its second Warrior Debate of the academic year this past Tuesday, March 15, in the Phelps Hall TV Studio. This debate focused on whether Winona State University should establish a social media code of conduct.

Each debate is led by a moderator, with each side given a limited amount of time to present their arguments.

First, those for and against the motion receive seven minutes respectively for opening statements. Next, there’s another seven minute period for rebuttals and questions posed by the moderator. This is followed by a brief period of questions from the audience. Finally, each side receives three minutes to make their closing arguments. Audience votes are taken before and after the debate using placards scanned by a tablet. The winner is determined immediately via tally.

Four Winona State students participated in Tuesday’s debate. Arguing for the motion were Benedict Linsenmeyer, a senior studying law and society, and Danielle Weiler, a senior majoring in individualized legal studies. Arguing against the motion were Duc Nguyen, a junior and Michaela Curley, a freshman, both of whom are majoring in business administration. Ken Graetz, WSU’s director of Teaching, Learning and Technology served as moderator.

During the debate, Curley and Nguyen argued against the motion on the grounds that Winona State’s current code of conduct already contains guidelines for appropriate social media use, therefore, establishing a new code would be redundant.

Arguing for the motion, Weiler and Linsenmeyer argued standards for social media conduct would not, in fact, limit speech, but rather encourage it and promote appropriate use.

WSU’s director of Student Conduct and Citizenship, Alex Kromminga, said an interesting aspect of the debate is students are not necessarily allowed to choose the position they argue.

“It really does take you out of your comfort zone,” he said.

Kromminga said the inspiration for these events came from a series of YouTube debates by a group called “Intelligence Squared.”

Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Life Denise Lloyd-McDowell said once Kromminga brought the idea to a board meeting it grew bringing together different groups on campus.

“The Warrior Debates was a brainchild that came out of the Student Life and Development directors meeting,” McDowell said.

Afterward, the idea was brought to Student Senate, where Kromminga said the idea was so well-received, they felt they should contribute. He said senate had discussed the idea of a social media code of conduct before and was interested in getting student feedback. This led to their proposition of the debate’s theme.

Regardless of the importance of the issue, Kromminga said these events are more about the act of debating itself rather than the outcome of the vote.

“A big thing to glean from it is understanding how to develop an argument,” Kromminga said.

He also said decisions made by the voters in attendance may not necessarily result in any policy change.

“Even though there’s a voting aspect to the debate just to give a sense of accomplishment for either team, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the university is going to adopt a social media code of conduct,” Kromminga said. “It’s an idea to figure out, ‘Do we need to have more conversations, more education on how the campus views social media and our responsibilities in those realms?’”

Kromminga said the university hopes to continue having these debates each semester. If they garner more interest, there is the potential for more, and perhaps the formation of a new club on campus.

“Our hope is, is that this movement would be more student-driven,” he said. “We really do want students to kind of start taking a lead and thinking of different topics…we’re hoping students that come and observe will show more of an interest and want to take on the next go-around.”

McDowell said she is optimistic about the future.

“I’m excited that Winona State University can create this opportunity for students and find yet another way to help another group of students get engaged in the college experience,” she said.

Kromminga said he hopes that these events can pave the way for more debates in the future.

“I think it would definitely be something a lot of students could benefit from.”


Alex Kromminga on the advantages of these events:

Denise Lloyd-McDowell on her reactions to the event:

Duc Nguyen on his preparations for the debate:

WSU Hosts All Male Panel on Gender Based Violence

Winona State University hosted the latest in its monthly panel series on gender-based violence this past Monday, Feb. 15. As a joint effort between the Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) and Winona State’s RE Initiative Club, a panel is held each month focusing on gender-based violence in the community. Monday’s panel focused on how gender-based violence specifically affects males.

According to a prepared statement from the club, Winona State University’s RE Initiative supports survivors of gender-based violence, and works to create a culture of respect and responsibility within the community. According to Kathreen Smith, President of the RE Initiative on campus, these panels begin a dialog about gender-based violence on campus. Smith said the panels are Q-and-A format, but often delve into more intricate discussions.

“Normally one question turns into a really great educational discussion,” Smith said.

According to her, they’ve been averaging around 30 attendees at each event. Numbers for Monday’s panel were in line with previous events.

Monday’s panel consisted of six men: two faculty members and four students.

Hunter Beckstrom, a junior who works in the RE Initiative as a peer advocate, served as moderator for the panel.

Before the Q-and-A began panelist Jacob Stock, a Women and Gender Studies (WAGS) minor, began by defining gender-based violence. Stock said it’s used as an umbrella term to refer to any type of violence in which gender plays a role. This can include sexual assault, harassment, stalking, domestic violence, and partner violence. Stock explained that typically this violence is perpetrated by males.

“As our training goes, it is most often the male figure perpetrating these crimes against a female figure, but of course there are exceptions to that as well,” Stock said.

Much of the panel’s discussion revolved around redefining masculinity, and the difficulties that brings. Ben Strand, a panelist and Senior Journalism major, said men often feel restricted by traditional definitions of masculinity and are pressured to conform to those guidelines.

“If males don’t fit into this spectrum of what is defined as masculinity in our society, then they feel like because they don’t fit in they don’t belong,” Strand said.

Stock explained males are typically socialized to be more violent and domineering throughout their lives, which contributes to this stereotypical idea of masculinity.

Alexander Hines, WSU’s Director of Inclusion and Diversity, was also on the panel. He gave an example of male socialization with an activity he frequently does with young men. He asks them to come up with 20 words that come to mind when they think about what it means to be a man. In this activity, Hines said the word that doesn’t come up is the most disconcerting.

“They talk about power, control and respect,” Hines said.

According to Hines, the word they don’t use is love.

“If you don’t love yourself, how are you going to love the body of that female?” Hines said.

WSU Student Senate President and panelist Joshua Hanson explained how society tells males they are supposed to act a certain way. Men are raised to believe they’re entitled to the privileges they’ve grown accustomed to, even though that’s not the case.

“It starts from boyhood and how you are told about masculinity,” Hanson said.

As an example, Beckstrom said walking home late at night in Winona, is radically different for males and females.

“Girls walking home at night have to have a whole game plan,” Beckstrom said, “I just walk home, it doesn’t matter where I go or what I do.”

A portion of the discussion revolved around portrayals of men in the media and how that contributes to societal ideals of masculinity and assumptions based on gender. The panelists emphasized critical analysis of the media along with the importance of continually questioning the messages it sends. Strand said people should ask themselves why certain characters or people are portrayed in a certain way.

To emphasize the importance of events like this, Beckstrom cited a statistic. Although Winona State is regarded as a safe campus, according to the most recent campus climate survey, it’s at the national average of one in five women being sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Hanson emphasized that having a conversation about these issues isn’t always easy.

“The conversations that you have to have aren’t always comfortable,” Hanson said. “You can’t be comfortable always in this work.”

As the panel neared its end, the focus shifted to advice on how attendees could prevent future gender-based violence.

“The conversation that we are having here tonight shouldn’t be ended when the last question is asked and the final answer is given,” Strand said. “It needs to extend beyond this room here,” Strand said.

After the panel concluded, Alexander Hines stressed the importance of greater faculty and administration attendance at these events. Hines said that getting figures of the university to participate in these types of events would help to spread this message.

The next panel in this series will take place March 25 in Stark 103 at 7 p.m. and will focus on how gender-based violence affects people of color.


Strand on his personal commitment to stopping GBV:

Stock on things students must be more aware of:

Hanson explaining the statistics: