Tag Archives: News

Martha Saunders selected as next president of UWF

saundersmartha_updated

Photo courtesy of UWF

By Tom Moore

Staff Writer

In a 9-4 vote, the University of West Florida announced current Provost Martha Saunders as its newly elected president during its final search committee meeting on Thursday, Sept. 15.

The meeting was held at the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts mainstage theater, and was also webcast live via WUWF.

The meeting was called to order by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Lewis Bear, Jr. With two board members attending by phone, a quorum was reached and the meeting opened with public comment.

After a half-hour of public comment, it became clear that the race was between Provost Saunders and Senator Don Gaetz.  Frank Ashley and Mike Sherman were not mentioned once in the public discussion.

Marc Churchwell, Chairman of the Military and Veterans Resource Center, said he is in favor of Saunders.  Churchwell said Saunders helped expand services and fund new facilities for our veterans, who make up 25 percent of our student population.

Once the public comments were over, the search committee reviewed the final candidate’s on-campus interviews.

“Each candidate performed exceptionally well and were highly qualified for the position,” committee Chairman Mort O’Sullivan said.  The discussion then went to the “three unranked candidates the search committee would forward to the board.”

Greenwood/Asher and Associates, Inc., search firm made its final evaluation and recommendations moving forward with the selection of a final candidate. After completed, the chairman called for a vote on the amendment, which failed. The board voted to move all four candidates forward to the Board of Trustees for final selection.

The Board of Trustees opened the discussion once again, and several students came forward to speak about the candidates.

Sophomore journalism major Abigail Megginson came forward with a petition entitled “Argos Against Gaetz.”  Megginson managed to get 336 signatures of students who were opposed to Don Gaetz being appointed President.

“Three of the candidates have a PhD., Gaetz does not,” Megginson said. “Three of the candidates have prior university leadership experience, Gaetz does not.  The president of the university should be a ‘hub for higher education’ to meet that position of academic excellence. Candidates need to have at least a PhD.”  Megginson went on to say that the University needs a president who will lead UWF as a small, regional university, not a large central one.

Senior Joseph Jackson said he feels that African Americans, and minority groups in general, are simply disregarded, and said that whomever takes the president’s job should give the minorities back their voice.

Telecommunications student Teremis Boykin said he believes UWF needs a president who really cares about the students.

“I’m just an average guy,” Boykin said. “We understand that money is important, but a true university president should not worry about money. A real president should worry about the needs and concerns of the students.”

Following public comments, the Presidential Search Committee presented its report to the Board of Trustees.

The final votes from the Board of Trustees came in with nine votes for Saunders, four for Gaetz, and no votes for the remaining candidates.

Express yourself through ‘Her Campus’ — online magazine coming to UWF soon

By Mackenzie Kees

Opinions Editor

her campus

Graphic courtesy of Her Campus website.

her“Her Campus” is an online magazine written for college students, by college students. Universities all over the world are involved with Her Campus, and now, thanks to one student’s hard work, the University of West Florida can be counted among the colleges with a localized chapter.

Abigail Megginson made this new chapter possible by reaching out to the Her Campus team to become UWF’s campus correspondent. “I had been a Her Campus fan for a few months,” said Megginson, a junior majoring in journalism and political science. “I loved the content, whether it was adding comic relief to my day or encouraging me through another person’s advice and personal story.”

“I was browsing the website one night last semester, probably procrastinating, and I found out that universities and colleges had their own Her Campus websites with localized content that was specific to that campus. I checked to see if UWF had a chapter I could write for. They didn’t.”

Megginson got to work on the application to start a chapter at UWF. “The process for starting a chapter was a bit daunting at first, so it took me a while to actually apply. But I knew the benefits it would bring to UWF and all its students, so I’m so glad I took that first step and decided to go through with it,” she said.

Her Campus was founded in 2009 by three Harvard undergraduates: Windsor Hanger Western, the magazine’s president and publisher; Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, the CEO and editor-in-chief; and Annie Wang as the CPO and creative director. The online magazine was originally created as an entry in Harvard’s business plan competition, the i3 Innovation Challenge, and would eventually grow into a global community of journalists after going on to win the contest’s investment award.

fsu

Here’s a look at FSU’s chapter Her Campus homepage. On March 22, UWF’s site will go live, and it’ll look something like this.
Photo courtesy of Her Campus.

The online magazine Her Campus resembles popular aggregate websites such as BuzzFeed and Pinterest. For students interested in writing for UWF’s upcoming chapter, an assortment of article topics is available to choose from in a wide spectrum of fields.

Her Campus is open to all college students with an unparalleled passion for writing. “You do not have to be female to join,” Megginson said. “The content just has to fulfill the goals of Her Campus as a website geared toward college women.”

Megginson said awareness of the group is continuously growing with at least 20 women currently showing a strong interest in joining. “I see recruitment for Her Campus UWF as an ongoing process,” Megginson said. “There really are no deadlines for joining. All a student needs to do is contact me saying they’re interested, and I can speak with them more about how they would fit into the team.”

The UWF chapter of Her Campus is set to launch on March 22. That’s also when the website homepage for Her Campus UWF will go online. On that day, Megginson will host a Launch Party from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside of the Commons by the solar-powered picnic tables for all students interested in participating. Along with free stickers and information on Her Campus, pizza and games will be provided, courtesy of a generous contribution made by the Resident Hall Association.

If you’re interested in learning more about Her Campus, you can visit the website here. For information pertaining to the new UWF chapter, contact Megginson at abigailmegginson@hercampus.com.

“This is going to be a fun organization. Her Campus is smart and sexy. My vision is for us to become a big presence on campus and empower women, and students in general, to achieve their goals and express themselves through the Her Campus UWF publication,” Megginson said. “I can’t wait to see where it takes its members.”

UWF organizations help ‘paws’ student stress

Wellness

Photo courtesy of Wellness Center webpage.

Amanda Gerow

Staff Writer

Playful pups, pizza and snacks were the attraction on Cannon Green on Thursday for students looking for relief from stress overload. The annual fall fundraiser, Paws ’N’ Pastries, is hosted by the University of West Florida Pre-Veterinary Society.

Pre-Veterinary Society Public Relations officer Elba De La Torre said the fundraiser helps raise money for future events and trips. It is held each fall semester the week before exam week.

“The purpose of this event is to help students relieve stress from studying for their finals by spending time with the therapy dogs that are brought in,” De La Torre said.

A $5 entry fee allows students to play with the dogs and partake in the refreshments supplied by the club.

Paws ’N’ Pastries is just one of the many outlets in which UWF students can participate to help cope with stresses occurring at the end of a semester.

UWF Wellness Services also is an avid supporter of using four-legged, furry friends to help students stay calm.

Each semester, Wellness holds Paws and Play. At this event, therapy dogs are brought to campus for students to play with, and the Wellness staff also provides other methods of stress relief. Activities such as Play-Doh, tea making, and coloring stations are just a few of the activities available during the event to allow students to take a break.

Wellness works to ensure UWF students have open access to information on how to maintain healthy lifestyles.

“It is important for students to stay in the know with what Wellness Services has to offer, because we care about students’ well-being,” UWF Peer Educator Lauren McCurdy said. “We want all UWF students to be in the happiest state, whether that be during finals or not.”

Playing with dogs is not the only way UWF students can find a moment of relaxation and ease of mind.

The Student Health and Wellness Center, Building 960, is located between the Center for Fine and Performing Arts and the tennis courts. To help relieve stress, the center provides massage chairs that can be used for 30 minutes at a time. A weekly meditation hour also is open and free to students, faculty and staff as a method to manage stress. To learn more, see the website.

Free aromatherapy take-home items also are made available to students. Students are encouraged to use these items for quick study-break relaxation.

Stress can create nervous habits, decrease your immune system, ruin your eating habits and more.

Learn how to take care of stress and feel strong in mind and body all year long. Students can survive finals-week stress by learning methods on how to cope, and even by just pausing to play with a dog or two.

 

UWF students less than mile away from Bataclan on night of Paris terrorist attacks

Paris pic

Tommy To, UWF senior marketing major, poses with French policemen the day after terror attacks take place in Paris.
Photo courtesy of https://tommytto.wordpress.com/.

Cassie Rhame

Staff Writer

This past Friday, Nov. 13, marked a historically tragic day as Paris came under attack by ISIS, leaving visiting UWF students Tommy To and Carly Currier in a panic.

To, a global marketing senior, and Currier, a telecommunications and film junior, are currently studying abroad at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, England. The university has an “Enhancement Week” that allows students to take a week off from classes, which brought the pair to Paris the night of the attacks.

To and Currier decided to devote half of their week visiting the City of Light, unaware that they would be interrupted by a night of terror.

“I was in the middle of what could potentially be the start of a major war against ISIS,” To said in an interview over email.

The two students shared an eventful day visiting the Eiffel Tower, and To said his first instinct upon arriving back at the flat that night was to upload pictures to social media. “All that had to be done was to turn on the Wi-Fi, and that’s when my night in Paris made a dramatic twist,” To said.

Family and friends had messaged him frantically asking if he was safe, to which To said he thought, “Why would I not be safe?”

“We had no idea what was happening,” Currier quoted from her blog in an email interview. “In a matter of moments, my feelings of rest and relaxation vanished.”

To turned to the BBC news website and watched as it continuously updated and broke stories about a bombing at Stade de France, where France was playing Germany in a soccer match. When he first heard the news, To described his feeling as confused and dreamlike.

“We just looked at each other and couldn’t believe this was happening,” To said.

“The one weekend, possibly in my whole life, that I go to Paris, this happens,” Currier said.

The stadium was a good distance away from where To and Currier were staying.

But then came reports of shootings, and a hostage situation at the Bataclan Music Hall – less than a mile away from To and Currier’s flat.

“Less than one mile away… Was the next event going to be where we were?” To said. “What’s next on the minds of these terrorists?

“Everything felt so real, yet so surreal at the same time,” To said. “As a child, I grew up with the attack of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and remember that day vividly. I was a 7-year-old kid… I didn’t understand war. I realized that these attacks in Paris were clear signs of terrorism.”

Both students said they thought the possibility of an attack on the house they were staying in was slim, but still spent their night in fear.

“I kept thinking, what if we didn’t come back at the time we did,” To said. “What if we took this route home instead of the one we did? When I was sitting on the couch, I truly thought that my life could possibly be nearing its end.”

To said they listened to the sound of sirens for several hours, but never heard any gunfire. He and Currier were up most of the night responding to those worried about their safety.

“It’s hard to put into words what I was feeling. It’s all God’s grace, but I didn’t fear for my life. I wasn’t afraid. I was extremely tense, very nervous, and really unsettled. As I rapidly texted, I could feel my hands shake and my legs would twitch. Sitting still was impossible. I was running on pure adrenaline,” Currier said.

To said in his email interview that he felt sorry for his parents even more than himself on that night. He said they had been trying to get ahold of him for hours, and were unable to reach him.

“They were helpless, what could they do to get me out, to make sure I was safe,” To said.

“The reports continued. The death count grew,” Currier said.

The city’s residents were advised to remain at home the next day, so the pair did not get to see as much of the city as they had wanted.

The streets, described as having an “eerie silence,” were mostly filled with police, “and all of them were very openly carrying big automatic weapons,” Currier said.

Doug Mackaman, founder and president of GlobalizEDU, said in an email interview that the program has safety protocols in place for their students studying in France.

“Every single statistic on violent crime that one can name shows France to be an overall safer place for our students to live than at home in the USA,” Mackaman said.

Mackaman said he feels students respond well to “The Village,” the semester-long program in Pontlevoy, France, because it is located in a “tranquil and charming village two hours away from Paris.”

“We keep our students safe in two very specific ways,” Mackaman said. “Our program has an emergency protocol for a geo-political disturbance, which is very simple. Whomever is at “The Village,” is to remain there until the crisis settles to the point where locals have begun to return to their normal routines,” Mackaman said.

“Long before the sun had risen on the morning after the Paris events, every one of our students had heard from our program staff at The Village,” Mackaman said. “By 8 a.m. that morning, our emergency protocol was posted to our program Facebook page…No more than an hour after that, we had deployed a return travel plan for students who were as far away as London, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.”

The weekend following the attacks was meant to be spent enjoying the beaches of Normandy, but the excursion was cancelled by a unanimous vote from staff, even though Mackaman said no one felt there was any real risk in taking the trip.

“An ugly meeting indeed … but we were staying home and sparing ourselves any possible risk, and our families back at home any extra worry,” Mackaman said.

To read more about the “The Village” or its geo-political disturbance protocol, visit their Facebook page here.
For an extended version of To and Currier’s stories of that night, here are the links to their blogs:
Tommy To: A Weekend I Will Never Forget
Carly Currier: Vive La France

Kevin Hines starts a conversation about mental illness with UWF students

Kevin-Hines-photo-Cracked-Not-BrokenEmily Doyle

Staff Writer

Kevin Hines, a known mental wellness speaker, inspired people with his story on Wednesday when he spoke at the University of West Florida.

“Cracked, Not Broken: The Kevin Hines Story” drew about 150 people to the Commons Auditorium to hear his story and tips that have helped him “live mentally well.”

Looking at Hines, it is not obvious that he has ever struggled with bipolar disorder and depression, but after hearing his story, it became easier to see that mental illness is an invisible disease. Hines attempted suicide when he was 19 by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, feeling that it was his only option. He told the crowd of a pact he made with himself that if just one person asked him what was wrong, or reached out to him at all on his way to the bridge, he would not do it – yet no one said a word.

Members of Active Minds, a group of UWF students who promote suicide awareness and work to reduce the stigma of mental illness, were present at Hines’ speech. The group is grateful that he has dedicated his life to helping achieve the same goals that they themselves have.

Sonia Yanovsky, the incoming vice president of Active Minds, said, “I was pleased by the crowd that showed up to the event, and glad that more people are showing interest in things like what Kevin Hines had to say. He did an incredible job of balancing powerful, moving anecdotes with some dashes of humor, and he kept my rapt attention and the attention of everyone around me.”

Amelia Granados, an Active Minds member, said, “Only when everyone has their arms and hearts wide open, can you create a community to support and help each other reach a new pinnacle of positivity.”

“Being a part of Active Minds makes me realize that even though there are points in one’s life that can be unbearable to endure, there will always be someone out there waiting to help you achieve better. I love knowing that our club can reach out to the community and make any individual feel like they are not alone on their life journey,” Granados said.

Hines’ story is one of struggle, pain, and a man finding his lowest point in life and overcoming it to experience all life has to offer. According to Active Minds members, this makes him the perfect person to spread awareness of suicide and mental illness prevention.

“Kevin’s speech helped me to remember to appreciate all that I can do as a person for this club, reaching out and helping, in any way possible, to those who are suffering with their illnesses and needing another arm for support and love,” Granados said. “I’m so glad to have had an opportunity to hear this man speak.”

Hines is lucky to have survived the jump off the bridge and fully recover, as he is one of the few people who ever has. Because of this, he said he has discovered that he is surrounded by people who love him, and it is this knowledge that has helped him to achieve a sense of mental health.

Edward Morris, a UWF senior and Active Minds member, said, “These stories resonate because any one of us could have been Kevin Hines or any number of others who were pushed to the point where we saw no other option. Hines’ story illustrates that there is no such thing as a point of no return when it comes to thoughts of suicide while also highlighting the need to stay connected with the world around us.”

“At any moment any of us can be that person on the bus or at the bridge witnessing a fellow human in need of help, and a moment of awkward conversation is far preferable to a lifetime of regret of wondering, ‘What if…?’,” Morris said.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Active Minds, you can find out more about the group and how to participate by following their Facebook page.

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can make an appointment, without any fee, to see certified mental health counselors at the UWF Health and Wellness Center. You may contact them by calling (850) 474-2172 or by visiting Building 960.

If you are having suicidal thoughts and need to speak to someone immediately, the National Suicide Prevention hotline is (800) 273-TALK (8255).

City Hall filled with red in support of Human Rights Ordinance

HRO1

Student Government Association President for UWF, Daniel McBurney, speaks on behalf of the Human Rights Ordinance in discussion at City Hall on Monday.
Photo by Cassie Rhame.

Cassie Rhame

Staff Writer

Pensacola City Hall was filled with passionate advocates Monday as it held a workshop discussing the adoption of a Human Rights Ordinance proposed by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).

The proposed ordinance “would prohibit discrimination in work and public accommodations based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and military status,” according to the Facebook page. Sponsored by Councilman Brian Spencer, the proposal brought in heavy debate.

Advocates and non-supporters alike sat outside the conference room for three hours awaiting the discussion. More than 100 people flooded the halls, and council was forced to move this portion of the workshop to a larger room.

Once the human rights portion began, the room was satiated with red as supporters dressed in the color to show their approval of the ordinance.

“I came in support because the more people you have, the more impactful it will be,” said Christian Sutton, UWF advertising coordinator of the Gay-Straight Alliance and pre-law sophomore.

Currently, Florida law protects against discrimination, but the issue, as those who support the ordinance said, comes with its lack of being fully inclusive. The prime change that would come into effect with the proposal is the expansion of the definition of public accommodation.

The definition of public accommodation is vague with a limited list of protections and does not cover all public places.

“People can technically be discriminated against by public places like hotels, restaurants and bakeries,” ACLU coordinator Sara Latshaw said during her presentation.

Latshaw also said that close to 60 percent of Floridians currently are covered by an inclusive Human Rights Ordinance similar to the one being proposed. A specific number was not given of the amount of complaints received by the ACLU for discrimination, but Latshaw said most stem from housing.

Even though Latshaw admitted an increase in complaints had not occurred in Pensacola, she also stated a problem with prejudice is always present. She made sure to clarify that religious organizations and institutions would be protected in the ordinance.

“This [ordinance] allows us to better track where the issue lies and lends itself to clarity,” Latshaw said.

“I am mostly concerned with job discrimination and living situations,” said Emily Williams, UWF graduate in gender studies. “I haven’t run into a lot around here, but I just want this passed to make it easier for people who do come across it.”

“Fair housing passed in 1983, which is why it only covers physical disabilities,” Councilwoman Sherri Myers said. “This means people with mental disabilities can be discriminated against. We need to make sure we have an inclusive process that protects those who can file a claim.”

Myers, who has advocated for human rights throughout her career, was in support of the concept, but said she had concerns regarding the private cause of action portion.

“I see things that are lacking in this … one is fines. What are the penalties?” Myers said.  “I want effective enforcement.”

The proposal would also add sexual orientation to be protected individually as opposed to being broadly covered under “sex” explicitly as it is now. A sexual orientation claim that does not involve harassment, for example, currently is not guarded against.

Many public members shared personal testimonies of being denied service by hospitals and homeless shelters for their sexual orientation.

Although those dressed in red were overwhelming in number, not everyone was there to show support.

The first member of the public spoke ill of the ordinance and compared the red clothing to “the blood shed by Jesus Christ.”

Harry and Merry Beatty from Navarre came nearly 40 miles to speak against the proposal. “The good Lord has the final say,” Harry said. “Just because the world is changing doesn’t mean I need to go with the conformity.”  

The most concerning factor of the ordinance as expressed by the opposing public was the introduction of unisex bathrooms in these places of accommodation.   

“I got several calls today, and most of them were concerned with bathroom use,” Councilman Larry Johnson said. “I do not believe being transgender makes someone a pedophile or predator … I support this ordinance.”

The opposition tried to make clear that they are not against the transgender community, but are simply concerned for the children. Many expressed anxiety at the possibility of pedophiles dressing as a transgender to gain access to the opposite sex’s bathroom.

Supporters in red were angered by this fear, and said they feel it is simple discrimination.

Much of the disapproval came from those like the Beatty family as well, worried about the clash between religious freedom and sexual orientation. “It’s unnatural,” Merry said. “I don’t want to be forced to go against my beliefs, and I would not hire someone like that.”

Pensacola public figure and former priest Nathan Monk stood before the city council and shared his disappointment in those opposing the ordinance.

“If you say that you don’t hate someone while punching them in the face, it’s hate,” Monk said. “Fortunately for everyone here, your religion has absolutely no bearing on the law.

“I have full faith in our council that they will make the right decision … people like those on my left, who have failed time and time again just like you will fail now,” Monk said.

Daniel McBurney, UWF student body president, and Devin Cole, president of the UWF Gay-Straight Alliance, attended in support of the ordinance, as did UWF professor of psychology Susan Walch.

“I’m here for social justice,” Walch said. “I think this is a step towards making Pensacola a place that is inclusive of everyone and respectful of humanity.”

The ordinance will be voted on as early as next month, but has more discussion and work to be done. To follow the progress, follow the ACLU’s Facebook page.

You can view a video of the workshop on the City Council’s website.

 

Mental health advocate Kevin Hines to speak at UWF

Kevin-Hines-photo-Cracked-Not-BrokenEmily Doyle

Staff Writer

The University of West Florida is set to host keynote speaker Kevin Hines, who will tell his story “Cracked, Not Broken – The Kevin Hines Story” at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Commons Auditorium.

At age 19, Hines was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Two years later, he attempted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

When Hines returned to good health after being mentally and physically damaged from the jump, he devoted his life to spreading the message of living “mentally well.” He has spoken to high schools, colleges, military, health communities and law enforcement agencies hoping to inspire people with his story.

“After watching him present at a conference last spring, I felt greatly inspired and wanted to provide that experience for our faculty, staff and students,” April Glenn said, a licensed mental health counselor with UWF Counseling and Psychological Services in a news release. (Taken from UWF news release issued Nov. 5.)

“Cracked, Not Broken” is being partially funded by the UWF John Byler Nuckols Memorial Fund. Byler is a former anthropology student at UWF who committed suicide in October 2010 during his senior year. The fund has raised money for suicide prevention and awareness.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, visit the UWF Counseling and Psychological Services website for information on suicide prevention and support. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 through the phone line 1-800-273-8255 or through their website.

Seeds of Hope Walk to bring awareness to suicide victims and prevention

active minds logoIqueena Hollis

Staff Writer

The annual Seeds of Hope 5k Walk will take place in Pensacola on Saturday, Nov. 21, to bring awareness and support to the local community about suicide victims and prevention.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to noon and will begin and end downtown at Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government Street. There is no fee for UWF students and volunteers, but for outside community members, tickets may be purchased online for $15.

Each year, this 5k walk is held in remembrance of the people who have committed suicide, those affected by the deaths of loved ones and the people who may have contemplated or attempted suicide.

“Seeds of Hope is our annual 5k walk that brings the community together for a day of remembrance,” said Amber Johnston, secretary of UWF Active Minds. “We want to raise awareness that there is hope for those struggling with these thoughts; to show them that they are not alone in this battle and that they are surrounded by support and tools to help them survive.”

Light refreshments will be served, and participants who registered for the event before Oct. 20 will be given T-shirts that list the names of suicide victims.

For more information on the UWF Active Minds, visit their Facebook Page, or the Counseling and Psychological Services website. For information on the 5k, contact Jessica Mager, the event organizer, at jrm88@students.uwf.edu.

Day of Declaration and Majors Fair helps students explore their career options

Kenny Detwyler

Contributing Writer

On Thursday, students had the opportunity to explore the many academic possibilities offered to UWF students at the annual Day of Declaration and Majors Fair.

Senior Samantha Huss said, “Students get to know more about what’s happening on campus and more about what their majors and minors entail.”

The event was a collaborative effort among Career Services, Housing and Residence Life, and First Year Advising. One of the event organizers, Lindsey Walk, assistant director of Career Planning, said that the Day of Declaration and Majors Fair committee aims for the event to allow students to learn about majors at UWF that they may not know otherwise.

“Advisors and faculty members from academic departments across campus are available to answer any questions students may have about UWF majors,” Walk said. “Additionally, other departments such as Career Services, First Year Advising Center, Honors, Registrar’s Office and Study Abroad discuss other resources available to help students in reaching their career goals.”

This event allowed UWF students to sample a wide variety of majors and degree programs offered at the university. Each participant was issued a passport. The participant’s passport was stamped each time they visited a booth representing an academic major and degree program.

Student participants represented a wide range of academic backgrounds. Students who had already declared their major also appreciated how this event benefited their peers.

“I have already declared a major,” sophomore Sarah Robinson said. “I know that from looking at other majors and seeing the qualities in them has helped me in securing whether or not I like the major I have declared.”

While the Day of Declaration and Majors Fair was able to assist some students participating to declare their major, there are still numerous students struggling with this decision. For those students Lindsey Walk offers some advice.

“For students who are undecided in their major, I encourage them to do as much research as possible into majors of interest. I also suggest they make an appointment with Career Services for career/major coaching so we may help them narrow down their options,” Walk said.

Walk also encourages students to talk to as many individuals as possible in their field of interest.

“Ask them questions about their careers so you can determine if you should look further into that particular option.”

 

International Student Services seek hosts for Thanksgiving holiday

Thanksgiving table 2014

A dinning room table set for a Thanksgiving feast.
Photo by Geri Battist.

Amanda Gerow

Staff Writer

International Student Services is looking for students, faculty, and staff from the University of West Florida who are willing to host international students for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Some of the literature we were reading says that 80 percent of international students that come to the U.S. never step foot in an American home,” said Rachel Errington, director of International Student Services.

In order to improve the cultural understanding of international students and to allow them to reach a higher level of understanding about the new world around them, students need to have the opportunity to engage in American traditions.

The 450 international students at UWF represent 98 countries, each of which has a different set of cultural norms and practices than those of the United States. Though some international students may choose to travel during the holiday break, many stay around campus, while most American students return home for their own Thanksgiving traditions.

The invitation to host the international students was sent out on Monday, and since then, a dozen students and eight faculty and staff members have responded. Many of these are willing to host more than one student for their Thanksgiving meal.

Hosting an international student requires two simple things: be associated with UWF as a student, faculty or staff, and be able to offer the students transportation to the host’s home, if needed.

“It’s kind of unfair for them to miss out on what is a very important tradition to Americans because they don’t have access to it,” Errington said.

Though this is the first time that the initiative has been advertised, faculty and staff have been called upon to host students for the holiday before.

This is the second year that retired faculty member Eileen Perrigo will open her home to international students. She says her family will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal and making the students feel welcome.

“There are many reasons why we enjoy having international students in our home for a Thanksgiving,” Perrigo said. “We like sharing our culture and American traditions with the students. When I taught in Japan and Ireland, my colleagues opened their homes to me to share their customs and culture.”

Perrigo says her family enjoys cooking for the students that would most likely just spend the holiday in residence hall rooms.

Errington said, “This isn’t just about giving the international students a place and a home that day, but it’s also to let our own faculty and staff know that there is diversity on our campus. We’re trying to create an environment of global education on campus, and this is one little way we can do that.”

Students, faculty, and staff members who are interested in hosting an international student for the Thanksgiving holiday can contact Errington in International Student Services at 474-2479 or by email at rerrington@uwf.edu.