The stress and fear associated with the choice of college is something that plagues almost every student.
Joel Odoom’s decision was more nerve-wracking than most as an international student in Minnesota.
Odoom was born in Ghana, Africa, and moved to Qatar in 2010 where his family still lives.
He had to adapt to a new environment and a new language, English, which he uses as his dominant language.
Leaving Ghana, his home country, proved difficult as his move would be permanent.
“Moving to Qatar was a real shocker for me,” Odoom said. “Leaving a place where I was comfortable with people with the same cultural background to going to a foreign place for me was very hard.”
Stepping outside of his comfort zone tested Odoom. He said it helped him experience life in a new way.
“It was a new opportunity and it helped me very, very much,” Odoom said.
Past obstacles moving to a “foreign” place early in life served as a factor in his decision to come to the US for college.
“I thought to myself, where’s the best place I would feel comfortable with?” Odoom said. “I thought the U.S. It seemed like the land of opportunities.”
He highlighted a few opportunities such as experiencing what the US will be like outside of what he sees in movies and television.
Odoom said he wanted to stay near his aunt and uncle and his extended family who live in the twin cities and have a safety net if things don’t turn out the way he envisions them.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t have family in Minnesota. My parents didn’t want me to struggle.” Odoom said.
Why Winona State University?
Odoom said that he wanted to find a college that was affordable, dense with diversity and international students to make him feel more accepted and supported in the path he wanted to take in school.
Odoom said he didn’t want to feel like an outcast.
He wanted to become his own person, branch out and discover new things.
“I told myself, let me find the friends who I truly believe are my friends. It doesn’t matter if they’re from the same country as me or if they’re international or not.” Odoom said. “I’ll just do whatever to make myself feel comfortable.”
After being at Winona State for two years, Odoom’s perspective and expectations changed for the better.
He explained that he gets along with everyone.
People don’t see him as an international student, and he doesn’t feel as if he is confined to a clique.
“I feel as if I am an anomaly,” Odoom said.
Odoom hinted at the reason may be because he doesn’t have a “stereotypical” accent that other international students have.
“I feel as if they would treat me differently if that was the case.”
The Winona State University women’s basketball team leaves today at 3:30 p.m. for games in Marshall, Minnesota and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
I, being the radio guy, cannot miss the bus as the men’s team does not arrive before the start of the women’s game.
Time to pack my bag and prepare for the fourth weekend on the road this season.
I’m a bit nervous as I’ve never really got on talking terms with any of the players.
They all do their thing while I sit there quietly and mind my business.
I’ve covered the WSU basketball teams for three years while working at the campus radio station, 89.5 KQAL, so you’d think I’d have a better relationship than this.
It’s just not the case.
I get to the bus stop, say hello to Coach Scott Ballard, and take my seat.
I’ve debated sparking conversation, but I don’t feel like the team is interested in my small talk, plus I feel like they discuss basketball enough as it is already.
Hours later, we arrived in Marshall.
They eat their team meal together at Texas Roadhouse or Pizza Ranch, I usually eat off to the side, then we head to the hotel for the night.
I’ve said two words since the start of the trip.
Being secluded and keeping to myself isn’t what I’d like to be doing, it just happens.
The nerves of saying something stupid or sitting where someone else wants to sit triggers my anxiety.
My boss and longtime radio professional Doug Westerman explained that it’s not unusual for radio personal to be introverts off the air.
“They just want that high energy ‘Hey everyone! Blah blah blah we got a great day in store for you!’ then all of sudden you’re walking down the hallway and they give you a nervous ‘hi.’”
How could someone be an introvert and be on the radio where you talk for hours?
Pat Broe, former KQAL Program Director and Sports Director, described the flipping of the switch from off-air to on-air as being trapped in a corner with no way out.
“There’s something about when that red light comes on that you have to start, you can’t do anything but be that person,” Broe said. “You’re trapped in a corner, you are live on air, there’s thousands of people listening to you, and you have to figure out a way to entertain them.”
Sounds pretty intense, but I found that to be accurate.
In the morning I checked out of my room at 11 a.m.
I sit in the hotel lobby until we leave for the game at 3 p.m.
5 o’clock rolled around and I plugged in the comrex, got my mics into position, and waited for my producer Ryan “Baby Shaq” Mandli to send the call my way.
“That’s going to do it for the Warrior Tip-Off Show as Buck Wallert is waiting in the R/A Facility in Marshall Minnesota, take it away Buck,” Baby Shaq said.
And I picked it right up with, “Welcome to the R/A Facility over here in Marshall Minnesota as we have a good match up in store for you tonight as your Winona State Warriors take on….”
Like that flip of a switch, I was in a zone.
From saying two words in almost an entire day, to rattling off names, stats, and match up history, you would think I knew these players their whole lives.
Anything to paint the best picture possible for the listeners back home, as according to Doug Westerman, “radio is the theatre of the mind.”
Not talking at all, to saying thousands of words, then right back to not talking after the game bothered me.
It just didn’t make sense.
Mike Martin the original KQAL radio jock and now the guy who keeps the radio station going, met with me the next day and explained how radio gives you confidence.
“It makes you think on your feet, spontaneously, and being kind of a shy kid, you’re doing it in a room by yourself, so that kind of helps too,” Martin said. “You’re talking to people, but they aren’t right in front of you. You’re by yourself, but you’re not talking to yourself, there’s maybe hundreds of people.”
Thinking of the amount of people listening to me makes me even more nervous, do I sound okay? What if I say something I shouldn’t or panic?
And panic is just what I did the first time on air.
Pat Broe reflected on the first time we were thrown into the spotlight.
“It’s a day you and I will never forget. I was producing and co-hosting, you were hosting, and neither of us knew what the heck we were doing. TJ Leverentz and Tyler Jeffries kind of just gave us the keys and let us go and let us fail, and we did,” Broe said. “I think we went to commercial 25 or more times; we didn’t turn our mics off one time, and there might have been a word that the FCC doesn’t like that got on the air. Basically, anything that could have gone wrong went wrong.”
That was just over three years ago.
Now when I go on air, I have fun with it, take it and run.
Notes or no notes I was going to think of something.
“It’s so funny too, I thought I was prepared for that day, I thought I had enough information to put a show together, but I was not even remotely close,” Broe said. “Now putting together a pregame show is easy.”
But it’s not always as easy as he says, when you’re having a bad day, you still have to be happy go lucky on air.
Martin explained this well when talking about his experience as a disc jockey.
“I had been just having a horrible bad day or something, and I was just grumpy…. Then I flip the mic on and immediately I’m cheering and I gotta play the role, I gotta play the radio guy,” Martin said. “Flipped the mic off again and went back into grumpy mode. This other guy in the control room with me said ‘how did you do that, how did you just change personality like that.’ And I’m just like ‘hey, that’s what they pay me to do.’”
I receive $20 for each game I call, as well as the free hotel rooms and couple of meals.
But, the radio has given me a voice, so I’d say I’m living the dream.
A food shelf at Winona State University has become increasingly successful with the help of numerous university and community resources.
The Warrior Cupboard, located in the university’s Integrated Wellness Complex, began operations in fall 2017.
Kim Zeiher, academic advisor and student leadership coordinator for Winona State’s TRIO program and one of the minds behind the Warrior Cupboard, talked about the initial reason for starting the food shelf.
“There were people on campus who were reporting that they saw the challenges students were facing with regard to food insecurity and then how that, in turn, caused challenges to academic success,” Zeiher said.
Zeiher added students within the TRIO program, as well as across campus, were choosing to buy textbooks over food.
Before the Warrior Cupboard came to Winona State, Zeiher said she had already created a “mini” food shelf for students within the TRIO program.
“They see food as you make choices about and so it had to do with either eliminating meals out of the day or eating low-quality food with poor nutrition,” Zeiher said. “We were talking about, ‘Well, how do we solve that problem?’”
The TRIO food shelf became a temporary solution for students, so creators of the Warrior Cupboard could rally faculty and staff for a larger, long-term food shelf.
Director of Integrated Wellness and another mind behind the Warrior Cupboard, Kate Noelke, explained how the university got a better idea of how many students were in need of food.
“We did a survey in the spring of 2015 asking the Winona State student body who would utilize this service if we had it on campus, how would you utilize, what is the current situation of your financial needs, your security or insecurity with regards to food,” Noelke said. “What we got was up to 40 percent of our population of students have experienced food insecurity in the last month.”
After the survey, Noelke, Zeiher and other faculty and staff members started campaigning for an on-campus food shelf.
Grant money was given by the WSU Foundation to create a space on campus for the Warrior Cupboard and with the help of the Vice President of Student Life and Development, Denise McDowell.
Noelke said it is important to note the Warrior Cupboard is only meant to “fill in the gaps” for students who are hungry. She said, however, she can help students who use the cupboard access services within the Winona community if they are in need of additional support.
The Warrior Cupboard’s primary partner outside the university is Winona Volunteer Services.
“We worked with Sandra Burke, who is the executive director at Winona Volunteer Services, to come up with the strategic plan and to identify the need and make sure that we still have that permanent connection for students who are coming and needing food here to get to Winona Volunteer Services if their needs are more severe than what the Warrior Cupboard can do,” Noelke said.
Noelke said Winona Volunteer Services is not the only resource that helps keep the Warrior Cupboard at Winona State.
She said through a social media, grassroots-style fundraiser close to $1,000 was raised and split between the Warrior Cupboard and Winona State’s on-campus garden, SEED Garden.
Noelke added Winona State students, faculty and staff, have contributed money and food to the shelf.
“We also have individual student clubs and organizations that will go and do a tabling event and say, ‘We’re collecting donations for the Warrior Cupboard.’ We might get $5 or we might get $50, but quite frankly, every dollar counts,” Noelke said.
Creators of the Warrior Cupboard have also worked with the WSU Foundation, so faculty and staff can contribute a percentage of their paycheck to the food shelf.
“There are several faculty emeritus and some staff and faculty on campus now that donate their actual earned income to this service every two weeks, which is pretty awesome,” Noelke said.
As of this month, Noelke added she is now able to purchase food for the Warrior Cupboard at a discounted price through Winona Volunteer Services. She said the WSU Foundation’s non-profit status helped make this possible for the Cupboard.
Noelke emphasized the Warrior Cupboard is not designed to provide students three meals a day, week after week. The goal is to “fill in the gaps” for hungry students and connect them with off-campus resources if they need further help.
The Warrior Cupboard still has some minor issues to work out, according to Noelke. She said she is certain the Cupboard’s team will figure these things out.
“We’re still getting our hands around what the actual need is because it may be that we continue as we have been,” Noelke said.
She said a small number of Winona State’s nearly 8,000 students use the service.
“Right now, we have 80 students who have access to this space,” Noelke said. “It may be within a year we have 1,000 students that need access to this space and then our fundraising efforts will have to reflect sort of how we support the amount of students that are taking advantage of the actual service.”
Noelke said despite having a few things to work out with the Warrior Cupboard, she is excited to watch it continue to grow.
“We have distributed 3,500 pounds of food and have donated, I think, close to $2,000 and this is individual donations,” Noelke said. “It’s been incredibly humbling, I think, to see this thing get up and running.”
A crowd of more than 50 people gathered on Winona State University’s campus on Monday, April 29, for the unveiling of the newly named “Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center.”
Dufresne, who passed away in 2015, was president of Winona State from 1967-78, and was president during the construction of seven buildings on campus, including the PAC.
The dedication event began with various speakers, and was followed by refreshments in the PAC lobby.
University President Scott Olson spoke on the impact DuFresne had on the university as a whole, and on himself.
“He was a friend and mentor to me, and he was also a hero to me,” Olson said. “It’s entirely fitting that we gather here to remember Bob DuFresne and everything he meant to this university, and at last recognize what he meant to us.”
DuFresne’s wife and son, Barbara and Jeff DuFresne, also shared comments at the event.
Barbara DuFresne spoke mostly about her husband’s time as president of the university, as well as his time with Winona State after his presidency.
Jeff DuFresne focused on how fitting it was for the PAC to be named after his father, stating that he “was always a great supporter of the performing arts.”
The proposal for the name change, which had initially been brought up in December of 2017, was written by three former Winona State faculty members: Jim Reynolds, a retired sociology professor, Gary Evans, retired Vice President of University Advancement and George Bolon, a retired physics professor.
“This is a long overdue recognition, and entirely fitting honor,” Reynolds said. “This is a legacy that I think should be honored and celebrated.”
Bolon also spoke on how fitting it was for the PAC to be named after DuFresne, not only for his love of the performing arts, but also because the PAC was the first building to be constructed during DuFresne’s tenure as university president.
Bolon concluded his speech with thoughts about DuFresne.
“We are all better persons for having known Robert A. DuFresne,” Bolon said.
Following the speeches, the building was dedicated with the unveiling of a new sign by Olson, Reynolds and Barb DuFresne.
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.
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.
As warmer weather starts to hit the Winona State campus again, so do the bike thieves.
Scott Bestul, the assistant security director on campus, said that so far in 2016 there have been five reports of stolen bikes on WSU campus. He also disclosed that open investigations could not be counted as of yet.
Most of the thefts occurred at East Lake and around Kryszko Commons.
In addition to the five bike thefts, there have been two reports of missing bike parts.
According to Bestul, some thieves steal and stockpile front tires, and even the seats.
With seven recorded thefts before the peak bicycle season mid-spring, Bestul said that the theft numbers remain fairly consistent from year-to-year.
“I’ve been here five years, I haven’t seen a drastic change one way or the other,” he said.
Many of the investigations don’t end in a recovery. 2014 WSU graduate Joe Klehr is one of many students on campus that never got his stolen bike back.
“My bike was stolen [in 2012] and I never found it,” Klehr said. “I snooped around campus for my bike a few times and kept my eyes open until I graduated, but it never turned up.”
Klehr took matters into his own hands when his roommate’s bike was stolen, and later turned up at Winona State’s Integrated Wellness Complex.
“After sharing my story, I realized lots of people shared that same story,” Klehr said. “My roommate’s bike also got jacked [in 2014] and we found that baby locked up by the IWC. I ended up cutting the chain from the thieves lock, and stole it back. It didn’t get taken again.”
While unorthodox, Klehr felt that the options to get his roommate’s bike back otherwise were slim.
“I didn’t report the crime because I just assumed the police had bigger issues to resolve,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t know how the police could find a stolen bike anyway. The option of cutting the lock just seemed like the quickest solution without involving unnecessary parties.”
2015 graduate Will Ahlberg had three bikes stolen from him during his time at Winona State.
“One of my bikes was stolen outside my house, one was stolen after I forgot to lock it up for 10 minutes during the day, and one was taken by someone with a cable cutter just snapping my lock off,” Ahlberg said. “The last bike that was stolen by the cable cutters I had actually built myself completely so that one stung quite a bit.”
Bestul said that some bikes that are recovered by the Winona Police Department are kept for up to six months at a place commonly known as the “bike barn.” After six months, the bikes are auctioned off. If nobody claims them before or during the auctions, the bikes are destroyed.
Ahlberg had no such luck at the bike barn.
“Never recovered any of them,” he said. “I reported the last two to the police and they said I had to go to the warehouse to try and find it, but it was only open one day a week for like two hours, and I always had class right over that time so I never had a chance to even go and try to find them again.”
Bestul says the best thing for students to do to avoid theft is to thoroughly document their bikes, including a serial number.
“When filing a report we like to have a detailed description of the bicycle, whether or not anyone else had access to the lock combination or key, the exact location from where it was stolen, and the date and time it was last seen,” Bestul said. “The students can file reports with WSU security and the Winona Police Department. We encourage and prefer both.”
That said, Bestul also recommends that students ensure their bikes are correctly secured with the right equipment.
To register a bicycle with the City of Winona, click here.
To report a lost bicycle with the City of Winona, click here.
To view recovered bicycles at the Bike Barn, viewings are on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. For more information, click here.
Winona State University’s newly appointed director of security, Chris Cichosz, officially began his duties this past Monday.
Cichosz, a Winona native, received his associate’s degree in law enforcement from Rochester Community and Technical College, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology from the University of Wyoming, and a master’s degree in public safety executive leadership from St. Cloud State University. For the past 15 years, Cichosz has worked for the Winona County Sheriff’s Office, serving as an assistant detention deputy, patrol deputy, K-9 handler, narcotics and violent crimes investigator and chief deputy.
Cichosz will be responsible for the coordination and management of security departments at both Winona State University and Southeast Technical College. Cichosz said he hopes to bring a more holistic approach to campus security by combatting underlying issues.
“I try to take a big picture approach not just a ‘take care of that one incident’—more try to take care of what’s causing whatever it may be or how we can make it better in the long run—not just right now,” Cichosz said.
As part of this approach, Cichosz said he plans to conduct more active training in the form of practical drills. He plans to build off of some of the training Donald Walski, the former director of security, brought to the university. These include active shooter training or response options to train derailments.
Cichosz said these drills will help better prepare students, faculty, and staff to deal with potential crisis situations on campus.
Cichosz explained he’s had opportunities to attend many different types of training.
“I’ve been able to take in a lot in a short amount of time that has kind of really influenced how I look at things overall,” Cichosz said.
By raising the stress level, Cichosz said, practical drills become more akin to real life. This, as a result, better prepares participants to respond accordingly to actual crisis scenarios.
“That’s how I trained in law enforcement, and that’s how that stuff seems to sink in with people more,” Cichosz said.
Cichosz expressed his interest in returning to a university setting. He said he had always wanted to return to Wyoming where he completed his undergraduate degree. Now that he has a family, Cichosz said the idea was out of the question.
“This opportunity for director of security at Winona State presented itself and it was a good opportunity for my family and I as we progress in our lives,” Cichosz said. “I kind of seized the moment.”
Cichosz said he had always looked forward to teaching in some capacity and feels this new position will allow him to be involved in through daily campus interactions.
“I don’t necessarily think I have to be teaching classes to teach students,” Cichosz said.
In addition, Cichosz said his biggest priority as director will be to improve and maintain relationships between the university and the Winona community as a whole.
Don Walski, who previously served as director of security, said he has known Cichosz for several years. Walski stressed getting to know the staff and establishing close relationships on campus. Walski is confident Cichosz will succeed in his new role at the university.
“He’s a great guy. He’ll do a really good job,” Walski said.
Cichosz said Walski has been a great resource both during the application process and since starting as director.
“I talked with Don a lot going through this process,” Cichosz said, “[To get] a sense of an idea of what this all entails and what am I getting into?”
Cichosz said he plans to keep in contact with Walski as he has been invaluable in learning all he can about this position.
“He has obviously done a good job of keeping the campus safe and I’d like to try to expand on that,” Cichosz said.
Cichosz said his first week on the job has been a flurry of meetings and introductions. He is confident he will settle into the position quickly. Cichosz said he is looking forward to working with a diverse group of students and campus personnel.
“This is a good opportunity to get into that type of environment and to be in that situation,” Cichosz said.
Click the link below for a brief video newscast on Cichosz & what he believes are the biggest security issues facing Winona State University:
Since its inception 19 years ago, Winona State University’s e-Warrior Digital Life and Learning Program has become a key part of the university’s educational vision, earning Winona State the moniker of “Laptop University.”
Each full-time student at Winona State is automatically enrolled in the program and given the choice between a Mac or PC laptop computer. Since 2014, students have also been issued an Apple or Android tablet device. Students are issued new laptops and tablets every two years they remain at the university.
According to current tuition rates, each full-time student pays $485 dollars per semester to participate in the laptop program as well as a “technology fee” of approximately $100 dollars. Given these kinds of costs, some students argue they could buy a laptop for the cost of a single semester in the program. Director of User Services Robin Honken explained that it’s difficult to get students to see the full value of what they pay.
“I think things that maybe are taken for granted here wouldn’t be had you had a different experience.” Honken said her daughter attends a college where they don’t have a laptop program. When her daughter spilled on her laptop, she had to go without a computer for a period of time. In this regard, Honken said students at Winona State are lucky because they can get their laptop replaced immediately.
Kenneth Janz, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Information Officer at Winona State, oversees the program. Janz said it’s difficult to see why the program costs so much each semester if you only think about the program in terms of tangible items.
“There’s a lot of hidden costs that people don’t see but are there,” Janz said.
According to Winona State University’s 2013 Digital Life and Learning Board Report 65 percent of the program’s cost goes to hardware, which includes the laptops and tablets students receive every two years. 15 percent goes to paying the full-time professional staff and students who work in technical support and 10 percent goes towards maintenance of the machines, which includes warranties, repair, spare laptops, and other components. 5 percent goes towards purchasing software applications such as the Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud Suites, and 5 percent goes towards other miscellaneous costs of the program like the laptop buyout program for seniors, training or administration.
In addition, Janz explained the “technology fee” covers the cost of printing, printers on campus, wireless access points and certain software not covered by the e-Warrior fee.
Janz explained one of his department’s biggest costs is managing the sheer amount of internet traffic from every device on campus. Janz elaborated with a recent example.
“None of the other CIOs in MnSCU have the problems we have. There was a day last week where we had 15,000 leased IP addresses on campus.” Janz explained that each device whether it’s a cellphone, tablet or computer has its own unique IP address.
“Not all of the students are here at the same time taking classes, which gives you an idea of how many devices each student carries. We have way more devices than people actually on the network and we have to manage all of that.”
The fees students pay each semester go into paying for all that bandwidth and the hardware to manage it.
Despite the advantages it provides, some students would like to see changes in the program, particularly in the ability to choose different price points.
Jason Carpenter, a senior at Winona State, said more options for him would be beneficial.
“I’d love it if students could get reduced fees if they didn’t take tablets or additional electronics. Since I didn’t take one, I’m not a liability for the university leasing them out.
Nathaniel Nelson, a junior, said he prefers to use his own devices, even though he’s still required to participate in the program.
“The MacBook Airs and the PCs themselves, they’re not exactly up to snuff with most industry standards,” Nelson said.
Nelson said he built his own computer to ensure he has the most powerful hardware.
“I’m paying the fee but I just don’t use it as much,” Nelson said.
Since his personal computer can’t have university software on it, he also subscribes to the software he needs separately as well. Nelson said he’d like to see more options within the program.
“You can’t just have one laptop for every individual…everybody’s different…I’d rather see more choices.”
Like Carpenter, Nelson also said he’d be interested in seeing more variations in price. Despite his criticism of the program, Nelson commented on the value of the program as a whole saying each student having a computer is a good thing.
“When you have standardized hardware, it makes it easier to teach,” Janz said. Janz also acknowledged that not every major’s needs are met by the program. Janz said the Graphic Design department in particular is one major they’re working with faculty to improve, as they require devices with more computing power than many other majors.
Janz said his department brought up the idea of a “Bring Your Own Device” option for the program in 2013 based on student surveys, but it didn’t gain any traction. This would mean students would purchase their own devices and the cost of the program would drop to $200 or $300 dollars a semester. Janz said many students questioned why they would still have to pay that much if they brought their own devices. Janz cited the costs for bandwidth, campus technology like access points, projectors and printers. Janz said they will most likely float the idea to the board of trustees again in the year 2019 when their current leasing contract expires and the program must be renewed. Janz said they will keep proposing it in the hopes of offering more options for students.
“We’re constantly trying to find the middle ground to make the program as useful and as valuable to the students as possible,” Janz said.
*For more detailed info on the e-Warrior Program check out the most recent program assessment.*
The Winona State University Digital Life and Learning program, known around campus simply as the laptop program, started in 1997, when it began putting laptops in the hands of every full time student on campus.
In 2002 the program was made a mandatory part of attending WSU.
Today, students are offered their choice of a Mac or PC. As of summer 2014, WSU offered Apple’s Macbook Air and HP’s Elitebook 840.
These notebooks while sufficient for most university tasks fail to meet the needs of a subset of students and faculty.
Many departments such as graphic design require students to use a Mac. For many this means trying to get their computationally intense work done with the rather anemic Macbook Air.
For much of the work done in the graphic design department the laptops simply cannot cope with the workloads associated with 3D modeling.
Because of this, many students must spend long hours in computer labs sharing a limited number of machines just to get their course work done on time due to the computationally intense nature of encoding video or rendering 3D models.
This is true for many students in departments across campus including students in the Mass Communications and Engineering colleges.
Many electronic media students in the Mass Communications department are asked on a weekly basis to shoot and render high-definition video, a process that is painfully slow for the Macbook Air; it can take as long as fifteen minutes to render a 90 second video clip.
Senior broadcasting student Lina Tawfik said, she was glad the University offered laptops to students but was disappointed by how slow they are for working with video.
“It takes me longer, I feel like, on my Mac, than it did on my older PC, to finish rendering and exporting my videos,” Tawfik said. “And a couple of times it would just crash.”
Some students such as senior graphic design student Andrew Massat say they’d be better off using the money spend on the laptop program on a computer that met his needs.
“Winona State’s laptop program leaves something to be desired,” Massat said. “It’s very limiting in terms of how often it crashes because of a lack of resources.”
Winona State however, doesn’t plan on allowing students to opt-out anytime soon, according to Robin Honken, director of user services for IT.
“The faculty know exactly what hardware and software students have available to them and 90-95 percent of students are satisfied with what we do provide,” said Honken. Limiting possibilities has economic as well as pedagogical reasoning.
By limiting the number of machines offered it is easier to provide support, and it ensures replacement parts or even entire laptops are on hand so students don’t get behind if their laptop breaks, Honken said.
This economy of scale means that the first time a student breaks their laptop they are only assessed a $100 fine instead of the full cost of a replacement. Additionally, much of that nearly $500 per-semester fee goes to support infrastructure like campus Wi-Fi and email systems.
Even with only two different models of laptop available to students at any given time, there are at least seven different laptops in service.
“For every machine we add the support costs increase exponentially,” said Honken.
The university saves money by buying in bulk, but that isn’t possible when buying in small quantities, Honken said.
WSU IT is working with academic departments to provide labs with more specific hardware, but the costs are significant. The engineering department has a lab full of high-end PCs and the mass communication department is currently designing a trans-media lab to teach interactive media.
However, according to Honken at this time there are no plans to provide lab type machines for the trans-media lab.
The graphic design department took the issue into their own hands last year, when they received a grant to purchase two base-model Mac Pros, each valued at more than $3000 apiece.
According to Massat, the Mac Pros are in use pretty much 24/7 for tasks like rendering and encoding.
The new Mac Pros join a handful of aging Mac Pros already there, but the 6-8 machines are still spread thin by the sheer number of students in need of them.