Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Bright Alternatuve to Campus Drinking

By Lissa Sexton

Empty beer cans linger by sidewalks, accompanied by bits of shattered glass. The bathrooms of dorms are littered with half wet paper towels, while the hallways are masked with the smell of stale booze, old pizza, and discarded case boxes. Urine can be found drying in many elevators, and the ground is spotted with vomit while on your walk to the cafeteria. Inside, restless and tired students---the ones that have managed to awake for Sunday brunch---either stand by the soda fountains chugging glass upon glass of water while waiting for their greasy, stomach settling omelet, or are laughing about all of the trouble they have caused the last two nights, last night’s hair and makeup still intact.

Although this is a common Sunday morning scene on colleges and universities across the entire country, why do students at Monmouth College feel as though they have to get belligerently intoxicated weekend after weekend? “It’s simple,” says junior communication major, Jamie Schingoethe. “There’s nothing else to do. I would rather be out with my friends after a stressful week rather than sitting in my room doing nothing on a Friday or Saturday night.”

However, according to several of the representatives from school sponsored activity groups, such as A.S.A.P. and S.O.D.A., there are numerous opportunities for students to participate in non-drinking events on campus throughout the course of the entire year. The Association for Student Activity Programming, better known as ASAP, is the main activity programming board on campus. This organization is staffed by students and is advised by the Stockdale Student Center staff, which holds bi-weekly After Hours events, and is also the campuses biggest student organization. Aside from the weekly events, they also show movies in the Dahl Chapel, bring musicians, guest speakers, and comedians to campus, and are also in charge of planning Family Weekend, Homecoming, Holiday Banquet, and Scots Day. “All in all, we typically have about a hundred students attend each event on average, said Danielle Tucker, who is in charge of the organization. Although the number may seem small compared to the 1,347 students who attend Monmouth College, Tucker also noted that, “We are actually pretty satisfied with the attendance number, as it has continually grown over the last few years.” According to Whitney Hagy, an Illinois College junior who is also the Travel Coordinator for their Student Activity Board, she says that, “The turnout for our events changes, but we typically get between one hundred to two hundred students at each one. For traveling, I can normally only take around forty-five students at a time.”

A founding member of S.O.D.A., Derek Keist, says that, “When we first started S.O.D.A., we wanted our events to aim towards people who don't drink alcohol and, as a result, don't usually go out and socialize on weekends. Since Derek Huff and I worked as Head Residents, we both knew residents who instead stayed in their room and played video games alone. Therefore, our events started off as just hooking up video games to attract that crowd and help them socialize with one another.” With a general average of forty to fifty people at each event, Keist added that, “As our popularity grew and we were able to get more support from the school, we decided to target other people besides gamers. This is when we started holding events in the Huff with the sports equipment and the pool.”

With movies, musicians, comedians, talent shows, and game nights in the Huff offered to students almost every weekend, it seems as though the lack of motivation or awareness of the events may be the most prevalent reason as to why students do not attend the activities. “We promote our activities through Facebook, posters, flyers, emails, and get general input from surveys,” says Tucker. Regardless, the students just don’t seem to be getting the message. “I normally don’t even know about the events until after they have passed,” said Schingoethe. “I don’t really pay much attention to the flyers that are hanging up, and are too busy to read through every email that I get.” Libby Willis, a junior attending Eastern Illinois University, says that while the school is significantly bigger, activities on campus are well publicized, which in turn increases attendance. “There are constantly flyers and posters being hung throughout campus and instead of sending out daily email reminders, every Thursday a mass email is sent to the entire school which highlights the week’s calendar and activities. It makes it a lot easier to have everything organized into one, because it’s easy for others to get deleted.” Willis added that, “I’m pretty sure that at least 90% of our undergraduate population is involved in a school sponsored organization.” Hagy, from Illinois College stated that, “Our S.A.B. is broken down into five subcommittees (travel, entertainment, music, dance, special events, and impact), and each committee must produce six events. We promote our activities and events through posters, flyers, campus announcements, promotional giveaways, Facebook events, calendars, etc. Because we are very well organized and have such a variety of events for students to go to and become involved with, even when our numbers are low, most all IC students attend several events throughout the course of the year.”

While the attendance rates may not change and the awareness of events can only grow, members of Monmouth College’s A.S.A.P. would like to make it clear to all students that anyone can join the organization group. According to their Facebook page, “Anyone can join ASAP! We welcome new members throughout the year! We meet every Thursday at 6:00pm in the Tartan Room of Stockdale Center. Each meeting is different but ultimately you get to help decide what should come to campus! The meetings are always fun and we love to reward our members. You never know what surprises we may have!” Tucker added that, “With the exception of executive board members, we usually only have about fifteen students at each weekly meeting, but we would like a bigger turnout.” The same open meeting policy also goes for most other organizations on campus, which in turn can get a more diverse opinion on the type of activities offered on campus, thus increasing involvement, participation, interest, and attendance. Therefore, for students who are currently on campus, they are advised that instead of drinking (or at least before downing their first beer), that they should take the time to check their emails and take notice of the flyers posted in all of the buildings. Furthermore, thinking about how much better they will feel on Sunday morning after laughing at a comedian in the Dahl, rather than avoiding piles of throw up and taking a Tylenol with their fourth cup of water should be a substantial queue to check out the student based activities.

Monday, April 18, 2011


By Sarah Zaubi

A recent survey done by the Pew Foundation indicated that daily text messaging among teens has increased from 38 percent of teens texting daily in 2008, to 54 percent in 2009. When a Visiting Professor of Communication Studies at Monmouth College read the survey results, he proposed a survey to see how texting was affecting classroom behavior.

According to Professor Joe Angotti “I decided to assign the survey because I kept hearing more complaints from colleagues that texting during a class was a growing problem.” Angotti told The Courier in an email. “Everyone seemed to have a different opinion regarding what to do about it.”

The survey was conducted by the journalism class at Monmouth College by phone using numbers selected at random from the college Redbook. The survey offered 43 professors five possible solutions to curbing texting in classes. Of those surveyed, the majority of professors, 58 percent, did not perceive texting to be a problem.

Of that 58 percent, a third of professors said they would not impose any restrictions on students texting in class. A quarter said that texting was not a problem in their class.

While texting is not a problem for the majority of professors, 42 percent still saw it as an issue.

Of those that indicated that texting was a problem, 19 percent said they would permit students to leave electronic devices turned on, but require them to leave the classroom if they are seen texting, 16 percent would require students to turn off electronic devices when they enter a classroom, and 7 percent would permit students to leave electronic devices turned on but reduce a portion of their grade if they are found texti

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Assistant News Editor

By the end of my interview with Monmouth’s new Director of Community Development Paul Schuytema, I was watching him explain a Sims-esque board game designed to help visualize the process of building and revitalizing a town. This may seem like an odd approach to revamping Monmouth, but for Schuytema it is just an extension of his diverse work background.

Schuytema graduated with an master’s of fine arts in science fiction writing, but held a variety of software-heavy jobs. After running student publications at Monmouth College and a game company in the city of Monmouth, Schuytema worked as the director of the office of creative software development with University of Illinois Extension.

“When I first moved to Monmouth after graduate school, I hated it,” Schuytema said, explaining the transition from software to government. “It was a small town and I was from Chicago. It took moving down to Dallas for three years, and trying to live in Dallas where everything is driving, with kids, to realize ‘Oh, I was wrong about Monmouth.’”

From that point Schuytema became a self-proclaimed “small town evangelist,” and made his way back to Monmouth to start a technology business. It was through the challenges of running a software company with limited small town resources (e.g. no infrastructure, no work forces, one dial-up phone connection) that he became interested in economic development in a small town.

“All along the last 10 or so years I’ve been working to evangelize Monmouth,” Schuytema explained, “because I love the small town, but also studying the challenges of running small businesses and being an entrepreneur in a small town. I’ve also been consulting with the Institute for Rural Affairs on small town economic development.”

All of this is to help revitalize the city of Monmouth, especially its downtown district. Schuytema seems optimistic about the outcome.

“I took pictures of all these buildings that people are like ‘oh this is so terrible, all the stuff that’s happening downtown,’” Schuytema said. “Then I go back through those pictures and say ‘that particular building, someone’s investing a quarter of a million dollars into, this one has architectural plans, this one’s purchased. There’s all the stuff going on that people don’t see all the time.”

Schuytema also hopes to start holding art festivals that will draw more people downtown, such as blues or art festivals. He emphasized that Monmouth has the foundation for a lot of great art and cultural events, events that are realistically within the city of Monmouth’s reach.

“Everybody is fighting for less and less resources,” he said. “The recession hit small towns last, and it’s toughest for us to get out of. So, we’re in a context that’s very challenging. The good news is Farmland’s put 50 million dollars in the plant in the last five years. They’re the biggest employer around. Look at the college. A few years ago made some changes to how it was going to recruit and grow and it’s really strong. And the fact that they’re going to build this building is a game changer.”

The connection between the health of the downtown area and Monmouth College was also a large focus for the new director.

“If you say that you put $800,000 in that building, put some really great lofts and apartments in it, some good businesses, it’ll maybe work out in the spreadsheets at $600,000. The tricky part is finding a way to fill that gap.”

What fills that gap can’t be loans, but according to Schuytema investments are the key. These could be investments from the city or even Monmouth College. If the college could invest hard cash, Schuytema explained, they could help close that gap and probably help steer some of the uses, such as studio space for art students.

For now, a wine store will be coming soon to the downtown area, as well as beautification projects and art and cultural events in the square, not to mention niche businesses.

“It’s a marathon not a sprint,” Schuytema cautioned.