Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Alternative Spring Break interests more students

By Jenna Cook

             During spring break a group of Washington State University students traveled to Galveston, Texas to help repair homes instead of having a traditional spring break vacation. Cindy Ola was one of the students who participated in one-of-seven alternative spring break trips offered by WSU and the Center for Civic Engagement.
            “This was an experience that I would not trade for anything in the world and I would definitely do it again,” said Cindy Ola.
            Ola, junior human development major at WSU wanted to attend the Galveston, Texas trip because she has attended pervious service trips within Washington State and wanted to expand and help other outside communities.
            WSU brought Ola and 19 other students to Texas to help repair and rebuild homes for Hurricane Ike victims.
            “Through this experience I was able to learn about devastating problems that other communities outside of Washington are facing,” said Ola.
            Michael J. Schwartz, student involvement coordinator for the Center for Civic Engagement said this past year civic engagement has received about 120 applications for about 90 spots.
            WSU and the Center for Civic Engagement offered trips to students to New Orleans, Guatemala, Washington State, and Galveston, Texas. This year students were most interested in the trips to New Orleans and Guatemala. The students that applied to attend the trip to Guatemala and did not get a position were offered a spot in one of the Washington trips.
            Schwartz said he believes the reasoning for many students wanting to participate is because “students are able to get with other college kids to help out.”
            Students are also able to meet new friends while having fun and gaining life changing experiences.
            Schwartz said the students experiences have been “across the board awesome.”
            If any students are interested in attending a trip there are enough spots for everyone because no student will be turned away. The cost of a trip will not interfere with students participating because some trips such as the ones in Washington do not cost students more.
             An increase in applications can also be due to students like Ola who have told her peers about her experience.
            “I have encouraged friends to take part in different community service projects but not necessarily Alternative Service breaks, but after my experience I know that it is something that I will definitely start doing,” said Ola.
            Katie E. Veloz, junior organizational communication major is interested in applying for an alternative spring break trip next year because of the positive feedback she heard about the program and an experience her friend had on a previous trip.
            “I would love to go on one of these trips. It sounds like a great experience and a good way to help out those in need.”
            Veloz said she is interested in applying for either a Washington State trip or a trip to New Orleans if they are offered next school year.
            Schwartz believes the higher application rate and interest in the program will continue to grow each year.

Monday, March 7, 2011

WSU expanding to the Everett Area

Jenna Cook

            A new bill may give Washington State University permission to create a new branch campus replacing Everett Community College in 2014.
            “This will import higher education opportunities to the area,” said Rep. Mike Sells of the 38th Legislative District.
            This bill would require WSU to create a plan for establishing a branch campus in Everett, Wash., and to take over the University Center at EVCC. House Bill 1792 is currently being viewed in the Senate by the Higher Education committee for approval.
            The Senate bill 5636 is a companion bill to the house bill. It is in the House and is being overlooked by the Higher Education Committee for its first reading. The house and senate bills will need to be approved the legislature and the Governor to pass.
            Currently EVCC has eight four-year higher education programs at the University Center, if the bill passes the programs will be transferred over to WSU.  Also the estimated $89,000 in revenue from fees collected by the University Center will be collected by WSU.
            The plan created by WSU will need to address the higher education needs of Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties and include a budget and expenses required to apply the plan.
            This change is due to a greater demand of students in the area attending college and a need for engineering, science, and math baccalaureate degrees needed for jobs. The bill will “expand access” for people who want to further their education and earn their bachelor degree Sells said.
            For many students who would like to attend WSU currently that live on the west-side of the state would be given an option to attend either Everett or Pullman campus.
            “The majority of people that are here in Pullman are from the west side of the state, said Amanda Sherin junior Human Development major.  I know a lot of my friends would have loved to come to WSU but they just were not ready to come all the way to Pullman.”
            A junior transfer student Jeremy Morrell is also in favor of the bill but would rather take classes at the Pullman campus. “I would have considered staying in Everett for the reason of being closer to home for less expenses but if I would still have made the choice I did to come here because I'm away from home,” said Morrell.
            With a new campus located in Everett many students would be able to finish their degrees in another location or transfer credits.
            “I am switching to WSU online so that I can move back home and if there was an option to do an Everett campus I would jump on that,” Sherin said.
            According to the House Bill Report the people who oppose the bill believe “We need to consider the costs of this plan…and focus our energy on dealing with the current financial situation.”
            WSU President Elson Floyd is a supporter of the bill along with Sells and fellow represtentatives Hope, Dunshee, Haler, McCoy, Moscoso and Liias.