Videos

What Winona State University does for the community

Everyone always talks about what communities do for universities but not what the universities do for communities.

Winona is no stranger to that.  It is a thriving community with plenty of support for the three colleges and universities in the area.

At Winona State University there are at least 180 cubs and student organizations on campus. These range from sports clubs, Greek life, academic clubs, honorary societies, faith-based clubs and diversity organizations.

For most of these clubs and organizations, community service and philanthropy work is a significant part of how those clubs run.

The president of the university, Scott Olson, said, “First and foremost, community engagement is a great way for students to learn. It allows us to put theory into practice and allows students to try out different settings and professions to see how they might dedicate their lives.”

One subset of campus organizations where community service is an important aspect to is Greek life.

Lindsay Marosi-Kramer, an activities director on campus, said, “Our seven organizations all have both national and local philanthropies, many groups require students to host volunteer hours while not many have actual relationships with outside places like Greek groups do.”

According to Marosi-Kramer, during the 2018-2019 school year, the Greek community volunteered more than 800 hours in community services.

Students can walk off most WSU sidewalks and be in neighborhoods or in close proximity to local businesses.

Some community members have opposing opinions when it comes to living in a town with three colleges.

A Winona man who lives nine blocks east of campus, who wished to remain anonymous, said he didn’t appreciate having college students as neighbors.

He has lived in Winona his whole life and only left when he went to college.

“It’s not that I hate college students,” the man said. “I just don’t like living with around them.”

He brought up how high school and college students would leave garbage on his lawn or how loud college student neighbors are.

He said it was extremely difficult to find housing since “20 percent of each block” was rented to students or would only be rented to students.

“I do appreciate there are students and groups who will go around and clean up the garbage, especially after big events,” he said.

Kendra Weber, WSU’s director of Student and Community Engagement, arranged the clean and sweep after homecoming.

“If we know a certain amount of this is going to happen, what can we do?” Weber said.

The first year she held this event, around 30 people showed up and they ended with around 40 bags of garbage.

In 2018, the event had about 90 people sign up to pick up trash and more than 100 participants showed up.

An event like this has both community and university involvement. Weber directs the event and buys pizza for students who volunteer. The American Legion has allowed the group to use their space for free and the city allocates certain stop signs for the group to set the bags of garbage.

Chart from www.mnstate.edu that covers the financial benefits and engagement that is done between the community and Winona State University.

Olson has had community members reach out to him regarding students.

“Most of the comments I get from members of the community are very complimentary to WSU students, Olson said. “Probably the largest volume of negative comments I hear are about students walking across Main or Huff without looking up at the traffic, but I only hear this a dozen times a year or less. There are often concerns around Homecoming, but lately students have really been careful to be safe and respectful while having fun.”

In 2013, the university applied to get the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the advancement of teaching.

To be considered for this classification, the university had to have proof of engagement and co-existing with the community.

In 2015, Winona State University was awarded the Community Engagement Classification.

Pedestrian Tunnels Are Open

After more than a decade of planning, and more than a year of construction, two pedestrian tunnels under the railroad tracks adjacent to the Winona State University campus are open.

The tunnels opened in time for WSU’s Homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.

WSU received a federal funds grant in 2006 to assist with the cost of construction of two pedestrian tunnels under the Canadian Pacific rail lines that run east-west through the campus, separating the main part of campus from athletic fields.

Students, faculty, staff and community members now can safely cross the tracks by using the tunnels which also include ramps that follow Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines.

The tunnels were built after many years of research and planning, and cooperation between the university, city, county and state agencies and railroad company planners.

WSU Mass Communication Professor Tom Grier used the department’s unnamed aerial vehicle to shoot video of pedestrians using the tunnel while a train passes prior to the WSU Homecoming football game.

Winona State Laptop Program Falls Short Of Expectations for Some Students

http://youtu.be/-Qy-Umjge3M

by Tobias Mann & Tom Wick

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.