Get Involved Fair

One of the annual events at Stockton University is the Get Involved Fair which was on the 19th and 20th of September this year. The fair is located in the main campus building with tables set up, all the way from B –wing continuing through most of the main campus building. The purpose of the Get Involved Fair is to not only encourage the new freshman and transfers, but also previous year students at Stockton University to join and get involved in all that Stockton University has to offer. There are various things to get involved in such as sororities and fraternities, all different types of clubs, and even volunteer activities. Essentially, it is said that there is something for everyone; you just have to find that something at this fair. The convenience of the Get Involved Fair is that you have access to meeting up with almost every organization in Stockton just to get their perspective and mission of the organization before making the decision of joining the organization and they are all located in one convenient location, the main campus center. Since it is in the convenient location, the main campus center, the Get Involved Fair is not only hard to miss due to the buzzing energy, but it is also hard to avoid if you are in the main campus center, since, wherever you go in that building the constant sound of the fair is heard. Joining multiple organizations shows your commitment to not only the education that everyone has can gain at Stockton University but also the overall experience of college. The overall experience of college include multiple things such as making friends, getting involved, gaining an education, and this list can continue endlessly, but the point is that college is more than just about getting an education. Aside from the education that you will be getting in the classrooms, the Get Involved fair is the best place to begin to experience the overall college experience, where you can choose to get involved in what the college has to offer. At the same time as getting involved and signing up for these organizations, you are gaining friends that have the same interests as you or who share the same life goals as you for example, you might befriend someone that is as passionate as you about going to dental school, who you first meet at the Pre-Health club. Also, not only are you gaining friends and getting involved, but you are also building your resume up for potential employers and graduate schools with combinations of clubs, sports, sororities, fraternities, and volunteer hours. Many of the people that are sitting at the tables trying to recruit people are incredible in a way that these people are great at putting the mission of the club out to the people walking by in the hallways and convincing people to join the club that people actually feel bad not joining the club. Also, free items are usually at every table drawing people into the table, where they would listen or read what the club is about. Overall, the Get Involved Fair is one of the best ways to kick-start the year that leads to a more positive college experience and for future goals.

Fall Day of Service

One of the annual events at Stockton University is the Day of Service which was on the 9th of September this year. The Day of Service began in the Main Campus Center where breakfast was served and students signed their names with a black sharpie on name tags. The purpose of the Day of Service was to inspire students to give back to the community. The fall Day of Service is one of the first events hosted by the university to kick-start the events the university has to offer throughout the year. After breakfast, everyone went into the Campus Event Room where the plans for the day were explained. The day was split up into four different parts which composed of going to a political event, making crafts for Ronald McDonald house, making crafts for the wellness center for suicide prevention while lunch was served, and the last part of the day was filled packing bags of rice packages.

Based on the color of the name tags, everyone was split up into four groups and sent off to their first destination which was in the lower F-wing hallway. The first part of the political event consisted of polling, where students were given four choices: strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, and strongly disagree. Based on their choices, students had to line themselves into groups on how they felt about the statement that was being said. After completing this poll, students spent their time doing various of things such as signing up to vote, writing on a large piece of paper about what environmental changes or concerns they have, and getting a pin.

Soon enough, it was time to change activities and go to the second activity. Going back to the Campus Event Room, everyone was given a choice of doing whatever craft they wanted to complete for the Ronald McDonald house. At this time, four volunteers were chosen from the group to make peanut butter jelly sandwiches for local people in need of food. During the craft event, most of the girls were found at one of the tables making intricate bracelets for the children at the hospital to wear. Others were putting together coloring books for children to color in. Some people were helping to make pillows that were going to go to people in need of them. As the music played, everyone worked diligently until the end of that activity.

Upon arriving at the third activity, which was located by Dunkin Donuts, lunch was served. While eating, everyone started to work on the crafts for the wellness center for suicide prevention. There were hundreds of rocks that were expected to be painted about suicide prevention. Also, people received small circular pieces of paper to draw and write inspirational messages on for suicide prevention. These small pieces of paper were then transformed into pins. In the coming weeks, the rocks were seen displayed throughout campus, and the pins were distributed to the students, who hanged the pins on their backpacks.

The last activity for the day was packing rice packages for malnutrition countries. The process started with putting a certain amount of rice, beans, and vitamins in a bag. These bags were then passed to the next station where people put enough rice to get the bag to a certain weight. After these bags were accurately weighed, the bags were sealed and placed in boxes to be shipped. One group alone made ten thousand bags for people in need in third world countries so together as a college a difference was made in the world. The day ended back in the Campus Center Event room, where students reflected over what was achieved throughout the day through a survey.

Toys for Tots Shopping

One of the things that the Honors Program does each semester is a service event that is run by honors students. This semester’s service event was Toys for Tots. Toys for Tots is a fundraiser that collects toys for less fortunate children. Honors t-shirts were sold in order to raise money to buy the toys. Around $280 was raised from selling shirts. On Sunday, November 26 some honors students got together to go toy shopping. Before going toy shopping, everyone met up in the campus center where which toy store we were going to was discussed. Since some students did not have cars on campus, everyone who had a car ended up carpooling with the students who did not have a car, on their way to Toys“R”Us. On the way to Toys“R”Us one car was following the other, since not many people knew where the store was located.

Upon getting to Toys“R”Us, all the students met up at the front entrance of the store to discuss what needed to be done. Also, people were split into groups of 3 and were assigned age groups of kids that the toys needed to be for. For example, one group was assigned infants while another group was assigned 12 to 13-year-olds. Each group was told that they could spend approximately $45 dollars to get high quality, age-appropriate toys for the age group they were assigned. Everyone split up into their groups and went to go search for some toys. After everyone picked out the toys, everyone met at the front of the store, where all the toys were organized and taken a picture of. Also, a picture of the students that went to the shopping was taken. One of the things that many people discovered during this trip was the fact that toy shopping is expensive since most people got 3 large toys for around $45 to $50. Then all the toys were ringed up altogether when it was discovered that the bill was higher than the amount of money that was raised. Thankfully, the cashier decided to provide a 15% off coupon that brought the total down to the amount that could be covered by the money raised. Everyone drove back to Stockton, where all the toys that were bought were put into the Toys for Tots boxes that are around campus.

Toys for Tots Shopping Spree

On Sunday, November 26th, I went to Toys R Us with other students in the Honors Program to shop for toys for the Toys for Tots drive. We were supposed to meet everyone in the Campus Center lobby at 2:00 before heading to the store. To my surprise, there were already a bunch of people waiting by the time I got there. Kate Volpe, the coordinator of the event, walked in a few minutes after I arrived, and we left soon after. One thing I really liked about this event was that we were able to drive ourselves to the location, rather than commuting all together on a shuttle bus. I’m not sure why I enjoyed driving myself so much, probably because I gained a sense of freedom from being able to play whatever music I wanted.
When we got to Toys R Us, we all met up outside the store and went over the game plan. Kate explained that we would be split up into groups of three with a $45.00 spending budget, and that we would receive certain age groups to shop for. After my group and I were asked to shop for 12 to 13 year olds, we quickly grabbed a shopping cart and headed into the store.
It was a lot more challenging to shop for 12 to 13 year olds than I thought it would be, mainly because it was difficult to find toys that weren’t too babyish. I called my 12 year old sister to get ideas about what her age group likes to do and she suggested art supplies, which I thought was a really good idea. We headed over to the arts and crafts section where we found a $10.00 beading set to make necklaces and bracelets. We also found a cute little ukulele for $21.00 that I thought would be perfect for our target age group. With about $10.00 left in our budget, we found a Nerf gun and proceeded to the check-out line.
Afterwards at our reflection session, the group discussed how eye-opening it was to shop for disadvantaged kids. A lot of people, including myself, were surprised by how expensive many of the toys were; With $45.00, my group was only able to purchase three gifts! The experience showed me how difficult this time of year can be for struggling parents who only want to give their kids a memorable holiday.
All in all, I enjoyed my Toys for Tots experience and look forward to participating again next year!

Stockton Democrats vs. Stockton Republicans Debate

On Thursday October 19th, I went to the Stockton Student Senate’s first annual Stockton Democrats vs. Stockton Republicans Debate. Three students from each party debated current and New Jersey related topics, ranging from local energy sources, to gun control, and minimum wage. The debate was mediated by two senate members and had a very strict time form. Each side was given two minutes to address the topic, and then was allowed to converse back and forth in one-minute intervals, before the mediators called for the two-minute concluding statements.

The sides that debated held beliefs that were very similar and in line with the political parties that they represented. The Democrat side promoted liberal and humanitarian views while the Republicans often voiced conservative and traditional views. These views were quite apparent in each of the topics, as the Democrats often advised for options that would primarily help the people, and were best for the society, while the republicans often cited opinions that would benefit the economy or international structure.

The topics, though applicable to the state of the entire country, were presented through the eye piece of the State of New Jersey. This was incredibly poignant, especially for a non-New Jersey native such as I, to understand the political climate of the state as they pertain to the specific topics. The issue of New Jerseys power dependency, and the origin of the power were discussed, the minimum wage and its impact on NJ were explored, gun control laws in the state in the wake of yet another tragedy, and the possibilities of free community college were all discussed as well.

These topics and discussions, especially in accessible and public forms, such as this debate are important to understand the view of our political equals, and form a more educated and grounded personally philosophy in the bipartisan arena that we all influence. It is even more important for these events to be held for the young adults of the nation, for our generation is the one that will inherit the system in just a few short years.

The regimented formats of the debates kept the discussion civil, informative and constructive. When the debaters became more excited than was preferable the mediators were able to step in and provide an unbiased middle man to bring the discussion back to an informative tone. This happened a few times, and while, the mediator stepped in, the debaters responded in kind, keeping a passionate, but respectful tone of the topic at hand.

I really enjoyed the debate, and was happy that the student senate chose to hold such an event. Such discussions can influence individual philosophies, and strengthen the understanding of our peer’s views as well. Political discourse needs not be disrespectful and angry, they can very well be civil and informative, as was seen with the first Stockton Democrat vs. Stockton Republican debate.

Constitution Day

On September 19th, 2017, I went to the Constitution Day celebration to hear Julian E. Zelizer, CNN Political analysis and political author. The main focus of his discussion was the state of the United States under the presidency of Donald Trump, and how the disapproval and controversy of the current office compares to other offices of presidents past.

First, Zelizer touched on the current issues surrounding the presidency, such as Russia’s involvement with the election, the boundaries of Freedom, and controversial executive orders, such as nuclear deals with Iran and the Refugee camp. I appreciated that the speaker first addressed the current issues of the political climate, so that we had a solid base of knowledge to build off of and compare the rest of the talk and the past presidencies to.

Zelizer then continued to talk of the Trump administration in correlation of past administrations. He focused mostly on the FDR and LBJ administrations. Both of these presidents, were similar to the Trump administration in a particular way. They attacked and disapproved of others in their own party. Zelizer focused on the power that Congress has to stop and control the presidency. Trump has a unique rhetoric that Zelizer predicted could be his own undoing. He addressed that if Trump uses his aggressive rhetoric unduly, he could box himself into a corner, just as LBJ did with the Vietnam war and G.W. Bush did with the Iraqi and Afghan Wars. Also addressed is the topic of Impeachment. Zelizer stressed that this is used only as a last resort by Congress, and is only used if Trump would try to do something incredibly drastic, or if Trump would excessively abuse his power.

Zelizer finished the talk with ways that Congress is already fighting back for what is right, publicly speaking out against Trump and some even going against the party majority to vote for their personal beliefs instead of the beliefs of the party they belong to.

I really liked this event, and came out of it feeling like I had a better understanding of the current political climate. I really liked how Zelizer compared the current Presidency to ones that have passed and gave a nuanced and comparative opinion of the current state of American Politics instead of shoehorning in his personal opinions. I was a tad disappointed though, in the lack of Constitutional reference in the talk. As the talk was for Constitution Day itself, I feel that more emphasis should have been focused on the actual constitutional repercussions of the Trump administration, in lieu of historical comparison. That said, I really enjoyed this talk, and appreciate the politically engaging activities on campus.

Intramural Volleyball

This semester, I decided to try something new with some friends: joining a volleyball team. Throughout my high school years I had played soccer and softball, and was a part of the swim team. I had always thought that volleyball was a cool sport, but never had time to try out or play. I would play in the backyard with some friends once in a while, but never play competitively. Once I found out there was an intramural league at Stockton University, I was excited to join.

After talking to a few friends, I found a team of six people who were interested in playing with me. Once November came around, we paid the bursar’s office and got t shirts made as our uniform. One of the kids on my team designed the logo himself, and we only had to pay five dollars for the shirt! We were all set to go, and everyone was looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go as smoothly as we had all hoped. We only had two boys on the team, and in order to play games each team needed two boys and two girls on the court at a time. That meant that we couldn’t afford for one of the boys to miss a game. However, one of the boys on our team started having personal issues, and couldn’t make any of the volleyball games. He had to go home almost every night, and all of our games were at night. We had to email the leaders of volleyball multiple times and ask if we could replace him with a different boy. After a lot of running around and stressing out, the people responded and told us they understood and that we could have a replacement. We were all excited and grateful that they were so understanding.

After that fiasco, however, our struggles were not over. Two of the girls on the team did not put the volleyball games on their priority list at all, so they rarely came. We played every game except one with only four players, and as a result lost every single one. One of my best friends on the team is a commuter, and she still made every single game. She would stay at my dorm overnight to avoid driving home at midnight. The other two girls lived on campus and simply chose not to come to the games because they didn’t feel like it. It was a little disappointing because we were all counting on each other to show up and play, but it was still really fun to be playing with friends, when they did all show up.

Even though the season caused my team a lot of stress, the games were really fun. It was a great way to get a group of friends together and take a break from our school work. I feel like I have become closer to the people on my team, and I have definitely strengthened friendships. It was also great that the people who run volleyball were so understanding with our predicament. Intramural sports is a great way to put yourself out there and try new things while having fun and goofing off with friends. I recommend intramural sports to anyone looking for something to do. I am upset that the season is ending soon, and cannot wait for next season.

Humans Vs. Zombies On Campus

HVZ is the acronym for a game that I played for the entire first week of November. The game is called Humans Vs. Zombies and was sponsored by the Live Action Games Club here on campus. Overall it was a positive experience and made me consider leadership positions in the club. The event itself was fun, but the most important take away was a great ice breaker/networking event with both students like me and chair members of the LAG club.

The game consisted of two teams of players: the humans and the zombies. The humans had a green armband on always and usually carried nerf guns or socks to use against their “attackers.” The zombie team had their headbands on their head and attempted to tag human players to turn them into zombies. The goal was for the humans to survive the week without being tagged, and the zombies had to try and stop them. Anywhere and anytime outside was fair play area, which made the event incredibly nerve racking. A threat could be right around the corner wherever. With nerf guns and socks, however, humans had the obvious advantage in both numbers and range to start. Starting Monday, there was a nightly mission that all humans had to attend where they had to perform various tasks under the pressure of zombies who had their own intentions. I stayed a human through Thursday night (the last night) and thus mostly got to see things from the perspective of the humans. Missions consisted of defending people, finding things, or walking through dark areas of campus.  Even in the face of looming danger, I met several new friends that I am now connected with, and while we walked, we sang songs and shot zombies. As a freshman, getting involved with clubs is hard for me, but this event made breaking the ice incredibly easy for me. Nothing bonds people like walking in the dark with people jumping out of nowhere. I also met Josh and Ryan, the President and Vice President of the club, who gave me their contact information to stay engaged throughout next semester and run for the Public Relations position in the club. This will not only look good on a resume, but will also further prepare me for PR work in the Communication fields I plan to go into. Running from zombies is also a major work out. Between shivering in the cold and running, I feel like I am ten pounds lighter!

Overall my experience was amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone who needs help feeling included and active. This club is very laid back, and I plan to join in on their game of Assassin that should be starting sometime next February. Of course, I will also be taking part in the second semester session of HVZ.


Stockton Spaceflight Experiments Program

This fall I participated in the Stockton Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). This is not a one day event, but took place over several weeks. Once a part of the program, you can work alone or team up with other students and develop a research proposal to send an experiment of your own design up to the International Space Station. The program is a competition against other teams from Stockton, and once the time is complete, the proposals are collected and three semifinalists are sent to Washington DC for further critique. If then chosen against dozens of other experiment proposals from across the country, you’ll actually get the opportunity to build and send your experiment to space.

This program is definitely not for those who don’t have a passion for science and space, but if you do it is a fun, challenging way to get involved in the research process. You get thrown right into the mix, but if you choose not to take the program for credits, you aren’t even going to receive a grade for it. You can do it for fun, and do it more than once as well. It is a rewarding experience that gives you hands on knowledge in the world of science and research, and bragging rights to say that you had an experiment that was sent to outer space isn’t too bad either.

The program was a lot of fun, but a lot of work as well. I recommend it to anybody who has an interest in the sciences and space research projects. You learn a lot and get to work in groups with people and a mentor professor, and it’s a competitive environment where you have to not only beat the other teams, but beat the clock and make sure everything gets done right and on time. I would definitely recommend trying it next fall, make sure to look for flyers in the USC in September.

More Food For Thought

Though I wrote in my previous blog about Stockton’s newly founded Food for Thought group in an attempt to garner awareness for the newly formed discussion group, I am writing this blog post as an update on the progress of this group as it has undergone major developments since my last blog post and seems a topic worth revisiting. While there are a lot of discussion based events that Stockton University offers to its students, Food For Thought is one of the few events that meet more than once, giving students multiple chances to enjoy the learning experience and broadening of viewpoints that it offers.

Food for Thought was founded by a Stockton University senior psychology major with the intent of garnering an understanding of student’s experiences with various aspects of the Stockton University experience while allowing students to benefit from this experience by having a chance to listen and learn from the viewpoints of students from differing backgrounds and origins. I reported in my previous blog post that I thought this organization had a great deal to contribute to the environment of Stockton University, as unlike many similar presentations it offers students the chance to talk to other students with different viewpoints. Unfortunately, the organization did not have many students taking advantage of this opportunity at its beginning, and I was worried the event would dissolve as a result.

Luckily, however, more students have taken an interest in Food for Thought since the last time I wrote, and the last two events were regularly attended by over 20 individuals. We spent the last meeting largely talking about how the town’s, schools, and backgrounds differed from the current environment that Stockton University offers to its students, and I learned a great deal from this experience. Compared to the small town I was born in I have always found Stockton University to be a diverse and accepting environment, though I have learned that in some instances that is not the case. One member present at the event who suffered from a physical disability and was wheelchair bound, explained that while Stockton did attempt to make accommodations for its students there were still many areas of campus that she has trouble accessing, and that it made her upset that she could never visit her friends in certain housing situations on campus due to the lack of elevators.

Another aspect the group ended up discussing in length was the extracurricular clubs on campus, specifically those with a cultural aspect. Many explained from experience their fear of trying to join a club that represented a culture in which they were interested in learning about but had not been born into. These students feared that because they were not a part of the club’s culture the other club members would never truly accept them, and therefore they would never be able to enjoy and learn from the club to the best of their ability. While this fear had kept many in attendance from joining these types of clubs, those that had overcome this fear and joined in spite of it felt that the cultural clubs on campus had in general been very inviting and accepting, often eager to educate others on their culture.

Food for Thought caused me to think in depth on a lot of issues I had not previously considered, and opened my mind to the opinion of others. It is an event I think others would largely benefit from, and hope that they will attend in the future.