Fenn Tower residents embrace recycling system

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Jennifer McMillin, Director of Sustainability

Recycling efforts on Cleveland State University’s campus have grown, and the proof is in the trash – or lack of it.

This is the case especially for Fenn Tower.  The residence building implemented a recycling system a year and a half ago, and have since cut the number of trash pickups in half.

This recycling system includes a central recycling station in the basement near the laundry room of the building, one recycling bin in the trash room of every floor, and one bin in every dorm room to make it simple to transport recyclables to any of the bins in the building. 

Jennifer McMillin, Cleveland State University director of sustainability, was a key player in making the initiative happen, after countless students expressed to her their desire of bringing a recycling system to the building. 

Alethea Watson, campus sustainability intern for McMillin, lived in Fenn two years ago before the university implemented the recycling bins. “The only thing you could recycle was cardboard, and that just wasn’t enough,” she said. Watson and other residents went to their residence ambassador to ask about improving the recycling situation.

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Alethea Watson, Campus Sustainability intern

At this same time, Watson became McMillin’s intern, and McMillen was surprised to learn about the absence of recycling bins, which sparked further action.

McMillen outlined the process as “having initial meetings with the Res Life staff and the American Campus Communities organization to understand what the situation was and what we needed to do.” She then received grant funding through the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste district to purchase the recycling bins. Continue reading

Cleveland State student wins quest to Greece

“Oh, my gosh, earth-shattering.” “Absolutely amazed.” “Absolutely shocked.”
These are some of the phrases Cleveland State University student Marty Barnard used to describe the moment he found out he was the winner of a 10-day trip to Greece through his fraternity, SigEp.

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Marty Barnard (center) holding the Tragos Award at the Carlson National Leadership Academy in Chicago, Illinois surrounded by his SigEp brothers.

Barnard, a junior at Cleveland State pursuing a double major in film and music, was one of 16 winners selected out of 300 applicants across the country for this SigEp national program called the Tragos Quest to Greece.
Barnard explained that this program is also a recruiting technique to find the next regional directors as part of the headquarter staff for SigEp.
“I want to be regional director,” Barnard declared. “It’s weird because a lot of people don’t want to do that. You don’t get paid a lot. It’s almost a volunteer position after you first graduate. But, for me, I want to give back to the organization that gave me so much.”
“To go to Greece for free for 10 days is a lot,” he continued, “and it’s a lot for someone who was shy when they first came to CSU, someone who didn’t think they had a lot of leadership qualities. It changes the whole perspective of what leadership means.”
Involvement in at least four other organizations outside of Greek life was part of the criteria to apply for the Tragos Award. Barnard noted that the application took him three hours to complete.
He has participated and held leadership roles in Student Government Association, Viking Expeditions, 1964 Society, served as president of SigEp last year, and is the current chaplain for SigEp and president for the Inter-Fraternity Council.
This past February, Barnard attended the SigEp Regional Conference in Chicago, Illinois, called the Carlson Leadership Academy. The fraternity announced the winners for the Tragos Quest to Greece at the conference.
Two years ago, Paul All, the SigEp president of the Cleveland State chapter, also received this award.
“We’ve had two people from our chapter [selected] in the last three years – it’s unheard of in our whole fraternity structure, so that’s history being made right here at Cleveland State,” Barnard said.

Barnard is “familiar with passports, trains and planes,” but mentioned he is looking forward to growing close with the other brothers attending the trip from June 13 to 23.
He said the trip will entail learning about the foundations of Greek life, the fundamentals of democracy and even include an undisclosed rite-of-passage ceremony after a hike to the top of a mountain.

Viking Expeditions shifts emphasis to local service

Viking Expeditions, a student-led service organization, is placing a higher focus on serving closer to home by increasing the number of local service days and decreasing the number of alternative break trips. 

 This organization’s mission is to help the Cleveland community and beyond while providing students with, “opportunities to expand their worldview through leadership and service,” according to its group page on Orgsync.com. The organization plans local service events, collection drives, alternative break trips during winter, spring, and summer breaks, as well as monthly membership meetings and socials to connect with students on campus.  

In the General Fee Advisory Committee (GFAC) meeting on Feb. 1, Viking Expeditions proposed a motion that GFAC approved to change the requirement of five alternative break trips to two per academic year, and increase local service days from five to 15 per semester.

 Amanda Pacanovsky, president of Viking Expeditions, explained that some of those factors came from re-evaluating the organization’s path as a whole, the budget, and the campus needs and population.

“Just looking at where we’ve been in the past,” Pacanovsky said, “we found that it was better to host two amazing trips with the best of the best participants from Cleveland State University who truly want to be present, who are truly there for service, and that we can provide them with the best accommodations as possible.” 

Chava Witt, the organization’s adviser, added, “One of CSU’s values is service, and looking at the statistical data we saw a natural increase in Viking Expedition’s participation in the local service events. 

 “We were looking at the reality that students were struggling to make the travel trips, but the participation in local service events was increasing more than three times the amount of the requirement,” she continued. “[This] was really leading information for VE to restructure and meet students’ needs and availability to where they were.”

The Viking Expeditions executive board has managed to exceed its set goal of having six local service days per semester, and has already confirmed 15 this semester. 

In contrast to last year’s local service days, it averaged about five students per event and had many no-shows. This year, it has have seen a drastic increase in participation with few no-shows, and even have students joining waitlists to participate.

“We are seeing so many returning participants after each local service day,” Pacanovsky said. “Just recently at our Valentine’s social, every single person in that room we had all known from their involvement with VE, yet no one had gone on the break trips.” 

The number of alternative break trips are downsizing, but both Witt and Pacanovsky assure a higher quality experience. 

With the current re-evaluation of its performance, it was an ongoing issue for Viking Expeditions to find enough participants to fill the trips. This past winter, one of the winter break trips had to be canceled for this reason, according to Pacanovsky.  

Another factor for proposing this change in trips resulted partly from transportation incidents on the 2018 Winter break trip to New Orleans. Two of the rental vans with student drivers were involved in car accidents, though no students were injured.

“We are on so many levels thankful that no one was hurt,” Witt said. 

“Our main concern is our students’ safety and really providing an excellent experience,” Witt continued, “and so one of the things that we’re looking at with paring down the trips is not necessarily as a result of [the accidents] but VE has some repairing to do as far as reputation.”

 “Viking Expeditions has a really longstanding history of providing incredible experiences,” she explained. “We are looking at some of the factors that went into what happened and we really want to repair and make sure that Viking Expeditions continues having an above-reproach, high-excellence reputation, not only with our students but with their families, and with the rest of our administration.” 

When Viking Expeditions had three trips per break, the group had to be very intentional about its budget in order to provide enough funds for travel, food, and gas on each trip, as well as leaving enough for local projects.

“With going with one trip per semester, not only are we looking at opportunities to really pour into the local service events,” Witt explained, “we’re also looking at boosting the experience that people who go on the travel trips have.” 

Viking Expeditions already is planning to boost the experience on the trip this spring break to Americus, Georgia. The group plans to finish the service week with a trip to Savannah, with possibilities of exploring the beach, participating in historical tours, and staying the night in a hotel. 

Viking Expeditions has many plans moving forward to meet the needs of students. Besides increasing local service events and enhancing the quality of break trips, the group indicated it hopes to plan more campus-wide service events, including the possible expansion of National Pay It Forward day to a whole week worth of campus service projects. Another idea up for discussion is looking for ways to reward students who continually participate.

“Those are some of the things really born out of making sure that VE’s reputation, and the things that we provide to students are high excellence, that inspire confidence, and great experiences and great memories,” Witt said.

Local government leaders visit Levin

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A dozen round tables with dozens of students and local government leaders filled the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs atrium on Friday, March 1 to discuss the opportunities available in local government.

ELGL, a professional organization that stands for Engaging Local Government Leaders, brought its collegiate program #ELGLInspire to Cleveland State with the intention of encouraging students to pursue careers in local government. 

This organization serves a purpose of “connecting, communicating and educating about local government” as written in its bylaws. Alexandra Higl, a graduate from Cleveland State’s Master of Public Administration program and current program manager at Cleveland State’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Management, said she knew this program would be a good fit for its students.

“We made it a priority to bring this program to Levin,” she said, “because we want to try and shape our students to be future leaders to make their communities a better place.” 

Higl was still a master’s student when she first connected with a member from ELGL. The organization was trying to visit another institution in Ohio, but she advocated for Cleveland State to be a hosting institution. After describing the focus of the Center for Public and Nonprofit Management to ELGL, she recalls, “it was just an automatic connection and the rest is history.”

Kirsten Wyatt, executive director and co-founder of ELGL, made her first visit to Cleveland to help facilitate the event.

“Cleveland State approached my organization and said, ‘we want to bring this program on campus,’ and this has been our most successful program to date nationwide,” Wyatt said.

“We have run eight of these programs,” she continued, “and this is the biggest attendance, and honestly the most enthusiastic reception, and it really shows to me this dedication to public service and local government that the Levin College has, so it’s been really fun to work with them on it.” 

She added she wishes she could clone Higl’s enthusiasm across all college campuses because, she claimed, “If you had that level of enthusiasm, this interest in public service would be happening all over the country.”

The day began with lunch, followed by an hour of four-minute presentations from local government leaders, followed by another hour of 10-minute “campfire discussions” when students rotated from table to table to speak with the different leaders. The event concluded with a panel that discussed topics like career advice, shared personal stories, and explained how to navigate and use social media professionally.

“It really wasn’t hard to get our students engaged because we have students visiting our office everyday who say, ‘I want to change my community, I want to make the world a better place to live, I just don’t know how to do it,’” Higl explained.

 “A lot of times,” she continued, “they hear the word ‘government’ and they are kind of turned off… they don’t really know what it entails, they don’t know all the pieces involved and all the different opportunities. And that’s the cool thing about this event… it shows all the different facets of local government.” 

David Whalen, a junior and double major in environmental studies and urban studies with a minor in urban sustainability, participated throughout the entire event. 

“Today demonstrated that local government is a professional community that is filled with passionate and influential people who care deeply about the mark they make on the world,” he said. “This event helped me understand that my mindset is the right one and that I’m headed toward a career summed up as a ‘purpose with a paycheck.’”

Cleveland State financial aid unaffected during shutdown

Despite the challenges many Clevelanders faced because of the recent federal government shutdown, Cleveland State University students receiving financial aid had no reason to worry about their funding. 

Rachel Schmidt, director of Financial Aid at Cleveland State, said, “Treasury services is absolutely willing to meet with students and parents and make arrangements that will accommodate the fact that they may get off track on their payment plan. The university is absolutely going to accommodate that,” she said.

Since federal loans are the largest financial aid program, students have a valid reason for concern. Schmidt explained, “that eligibility for grants and loans is not being impacted because it was funded prior to the shutdown.”

Cleveland State also offered several free options for the furloughed workers during the shutdown. Elements Bistro on Euclid Avenue offered a free entree at the restaurant throughout the week of Jan. 22-25, and the university offered them free admission to the men’s and women’s basketball games. 

“As a public institution in the city of Cleveland with a number of alumni who work for federal agencies, we thought it was important as an anchor institution to provide support to the community,” said Dube.

Schmidt commented that the U.S. Department of Education was not at risk for running into any issues related to the shutdown at this time, and was happy to report that, “everything is on track and timely for what we do in the financial aid office.” 

The families that were being held hostage by the shutdown,” she added, “we really want to make sure they know that no harm is going to come to them from us.”

Schmidt also urged students to file their FAFSA in a timely manner. “Please file your FAFSA for 2019-20. We want our students to file it, be done with it, and then enjoy the rest of spring, summer, and we’ll see them in the fall.” 

A stroll down Professor Avenue: past and present

Street View

Professor Avenue looking north from College Avenue
Photo Cred: Laura Nicklas Hine, Memories of Tremont – Cleveland’s Southside (Facebook Group)

Professor Avenue’s speed limit of 25 mph suggests that the street is a quiet, residentially friendly road, but quiet is the word that is furthest from the mark of the actual street presence.

This street has come to be known as a meca for ethnic cuisine, and is developing a reputation as an award winning destination in the food industry.  

Some of these notable restaurants include Bourbon Street Barrel Room, Dante, Fahrenheit, Treehouse Bar, and Ty Fun — which only scratches the surface for the many different cuisines you can find on this street alone in the Tremont area. Professor Avenue doesn’t just suit different tastes, it has the power to transport you back to another time, as evidenced by the Bourbon Street Barrel Room with its authentic gas lanterns in the atrium-styled dining room and copper embossed ceiling tiles. 

Success doesn’t happen overnight, and there could not be a truer statement for Professor Avenue.  This street plays a significant part in the overall quirky history of Tremont.

Before the prominent restaurants and the cultural diversity created through immigration, Tremont began its journey as hunting grounds for native people, and began to develop in the 1850s, soon becoming home to lots of residents. 

Tremont was known as University Heights from 1851-53, named after the first higher learning institution that was home to the area called Cleveland University.  Streets were labeled “Professor,” “College,” “University,” and “Literary,” to add to the flavor of the short-lived college town, not visible on the map until 1874. 

A total of 30 nationalities had lived or were living in Tremont just in 1994, and Professor Avenue has also had ethnic connections. 

St. John Cantius Catholic Church was established in 1880 by Polish immigrants. The services were held in a refurbished streetcar barn until they built a better infrastructure for the church and a conjoined school in 1913.  This building was rebuilt in 1925 in a traditional Polish cathedral style and is the same one standing oday.  They celebrate this heritage with an annual Polish Festival every Labor Day weekend, and continue to offer masses in Polish and English. 

Many of the immigrants left for the suburbs in the 1960’s, and the area experienced a decline.  The population declined from 36,686 in 1920 to 10,304 in 1980. 

The Tremont West Development Corp. was founded in 1979 and moved to Professor Ave. to aid in the revitalization and rehabilitation of the neighborhood. They recognized the impact that artists were creating and worked to draw them into the area even more.

 In the 1970’s and 1980’s artists had begun to inhabit the area, to take advantage of the affordability.  

Scott Rosenstein, Community Involvement Manager and Tremont Arts and Cultural Festival Manager at the Tremont West Development Corp. shares that, though the street is very commercial, the few homes remaining face unique challenges. 

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