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St. Lawrence University

St. Lawrence University (visited 7/27/15)

~SLU 2This place is simply amazing. Everything I saw about SLU (pronounced “slew,” just like St. Louis University), starting from the individual tour, indicated that they place personal attention on students. Campus is gorgeous, even in winter, but a friend who graduated from SLU said, “Those arctic winds, though . . .” My suggestion: buy some good boots and a warm jacket and just get over the location. There’s a lot of great stuff going on here.

Really . . . who wouldn’t want to study in a Chemistry building dedicated by Marie Curie?

A chapel window dedicated to a man who saved Jewish children in the Holocaust

A chapel window dedicated to a man who saved Jewish children in the Holocaust

Or go to the annual tradition of the Adirondack-style meal that’s served outside in canoes?

~SLU chapel beanbag

One of the Chapel beanbags

Perhaps you’d like to study on beanbags in the Chapel? Plan it right (aka at 5pm), and you can also hear the chimes playing things like Hey Jude, Happy Birthday, and The Flintstones theme song. Yes . . . they take requests! (The Chapel, which had been Universal Unitarian, now has non-denominational programs. Even the windows aren’t typical stained glass: they portray sports, language, Gandhi, protests, and social activism).

The interior of Cole

The interior of Cole

Students tend to love being at St. Lawrence. “I thought it would be all salmon shorts and Massachusetts prep. It’s so not,” said the tour guide. “I didn’t even want to come visit the place. I only did under duress. What changed my mind was Cole (an old brick building that looks like a little chapel and which used to be the library). I walked in and fell in love. That’s when I decided to come here. “

The Student Center, the hub of many activities

The Student Center, the hub of many activities

There’s a ton of activity on and around campus. You can only be bored if you’re actively trying to avoid everyone and everything. Clubs run the gamut from running a thrift store to belly-dancing to Quaker meetings. The Cheese Club is immensely popular and “the best $10 I ever spent,” said my guide. The campus Funk Band is “really good! They open for Springfest bands.” There are only 4 sororities (20% of females) and 2 frats (10% of males) with a delayed rush, but these help provide some of the social life around campus. Titus Weekend allows students to load up onto 15 busses and go skiing at one of the nearby ski resorts. The Outing Club, the 2nd oldest in the country (and which also has its own theme house), are active and host things every weekend, including the highly popular Peak Weekend which gets SLU students out onto each of the 45 peaks in the Adirondacks. All students can have cars on campus, and if they want to do something off campus, all they have to do is fill their car with SLU students and the university will reimburse for gas. Last year, they spent $20,000 on this program.

Kirk Douglass hall

Kirk Douglass hall

The campus is 98% residential (only 30-40 seniors move off each year) with options ranging from traditional halls to townhouses to 16 Theme Houses or Floors. Freshmen are housed in one of six dorms, two of which hold only freshmen. Regardless of their dorm, they are housed with their First Year Program peers. Sykes, an upperclassman dorm, is directly connected to the main dining hall. Kirk Douglass Hall, another upperclassmen dorm, opened in 2014 and provides suites and AC “which is helpful for about 2 weeks.” All dorms are cable-ready, and doors are accessed by a keypad. ID cards will get you into any dorm until 11pm.

The Library

The Library

There are plenty of campus food options ranging from buffet style to grab-and-go to cafes. There are a few crunch times, but mostly there’s not much if any wait. “I really like the food. There’s lots of variety – but yeah, I can get sick of it sometimes. I can get sick of mom’s food, too, though.” There’s even the 57 Pub for students 21+. SLU has “use-not-abuse and Good Samaritan policies.

The Tree Room

The Tree Room

An upper level Treehouse Study Carrel

An upper level Treehouse Study Carrel

The library is a funky building that looks completely out of place among the rest of the campus architecture. Their Silent Room, The Yellow Pipe Room, “is SO creatively named!” said the tour guide. There are two really note-worthy parts of this library, though: First is the Tree Room on the second floor which not only has actual trees growing in it (“when they get too big, they transplant them outside and put new, smaller ones in”) but also has what they call “Tree House Study Carrels” – actual double-decker study carrels with ladders leading up to the 2nd level. “It’s an art in terms of getting up there,” said the tour guide. The other noteworthy room is the Rare Manuscript collections. “It has a bunch of museum-worthy stuff!” like an original Whitman poem, several Lincoln documents, and “a manuscript from 1593 that I had to handle with gloves.”

~SLU quad 2SLU offers several unique academic programs including Canadian Studies (as a minor or in Combined-Major), Outdoor Studies (minor), International Economics/Languages combined major, Business in the Liberal Arts, Geology-Physics, and Native American Studies. My guide’s FYE, “Contemporary Issues in American Education,” took advantage of the school’s proximity to a Native American Nation; they went there to see how their school worked, to tutor, etc. Her largest class (Intro to Psych) had 31 students; the smallest had 6. The largest classes tend to be Intro to Bio and Intro to Chem with 70-75 students; these are broken into smaller labs and “Peer Pod” groups, “basically forced study groups,” said the tour guide.

~SLU flowersFor those wanting to expand horizons, SLU offers 24 international and 6 domestic Study Away programs. About 25% of students who go abroad will go more than once. They can even elect go abroad in the freshman year: Francophone Studies goes to Senegal, Quebec, and France. There’s also a Sustainability Semester. Part of what they do is grow food for campus. They can also go to the Adirondacks and live in a Yurt for a semester; no technology is allowed. For students wanting a shorter trip, there are study-travel classes. She got to go to Venice for free with 13 other students from the Public Sphere in Renaissance Venice class.

(c) 2015

Colgate University

Colgate University (visited 7/24/15)

~Colgate 7The first thing that I noticed (other than the hilly campus!) was the very consistent campus architecture. It’s beautiful and well maintained. At the base of the hill sits Taylor Lake, a man-made pond supposedly in the shape of a 4-leaf clover (although we couldn’t see it). Campus is safe: our tour guide never heard of anyone using the Blue Light system for actual security issues. One student fell on it accidentally, and one got scared when a deer popped out of the woods.

~Colgate quadThe student body seems very preppy – and also book smart. One of the tour guide’s favorite traditions involves a symbolic “transfer of knowledge”: professors walk up the hill with torches at the beginning of each year; at graduation, the seniors carry the torches down the hill. Colgate students grab opportunities. Our tour guide got a free trip to Oxford in his freshman year for a debate tournament.

Sculptures outside the science center

Sculptures outside the science center

Classes, not surprisingly, are small. The average class size is 19. Our tour guide had about 30 in some of his intro classes. His smallest class (Intro to Philosophy) had 7 students. Unusual majors include: Astrogeophysics, Native American Studies, Greek, and several Environmental Studies concentrations including: E. Biology, E. Economics, E. Geography, and E. Geology. Unusual minors include Applied Math, LGBTQ Studies, Jewish Studies, and Mathematical Systems Biology. The science department has a Visualization Lab “which is like a hybrid between a planetarium and IMAX.” They can show the night sky anytime in history, anywhere in the world. The sciences tend to be relatively strong here: 70-80% get into med school on the first application, almost twice the national average.

West Hall

West Hall

Dorms are coed, some by floor, some by room. The Freshman Quad has 6 dorms; West Hall was actually built by students back in the 1800s when there was a physical labor requirement. Almost 1/3 of students are involved in Greek Life (rush doesn’t happen until sophomore year). Roughly 60% of affiliated students live in Greek housing located down on Broad Street. “They’re owned by the university so they’re bound by all the rules on campus.” The dining hall is open 24/7. Freshman and sophomore meal plans are unlimited so they can get coffee or a snack without wasting a meal.

Student Center

Student Center

A student lounge

A student lounge

There’s plenty to do on campus. They bring in lots of big-name speakers like the Clintons or the Prime Minister of Israel (the tour guide didn’t know if it was the current PM or not . . .). Dancefest, a twice-yearly event, showcases the 30+ dance and music groups including the all-whistling a cappella group. Sports are popular, and there are also a lot of club teams dedicated to the less popular sports that don’t necessarily have an outlet otherwise such as Fencing, Curling, Western or English/Hunt Equestrian, Rugby, and Figure Skating.

~Colgate 6The town of Hamilton is a small, cute town with a few things to do. “We’re not going to go hungry,” said the tour guide, but if you’re looking for hopping city night-life, this isn’t the place. Shuttles run around campus and town four times an hour from 7am – 1am (3am on weekends). Syracuse is less than an hour away, and there are plenty of outdoor events like skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and kayaking available, many of which are free to students through the Outdoor Club and other college organizations. There’s a long-distance bus stop on campus so it’s easy to get to other cities (including 2 buses a day to NYC). They also run shuttles to the Amtrak and the Syracuse airport (a round-trip shuttle to the airport costs $20).

ALANA Center

ALANA Center

Multiculturalism and diversity is big here. The ALANA cultural center has a full kitchen, offices, and meeting/class spaces; they hold brown bag lunches almost every week. There are multiple groups dedicated to a variety of religious, political, and cultural identities.

© 2015

University of Montana

UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA, Missoula (Visited 7/23-24/2012)

~.MSU panarama 1

A panoramic shot of the campus and town from the M Mountain

P1000437

The view of the main building and the oval from “The M Hike” on the hill behind the University

~MSU catapultUM has a classic university feel with big brick buildings and a large oval quad; it’s not only a beautiful campus, but it’s a manageable/ walkable size and it all seems to fit flow. As part of the counselor tour, we stayed in one of the traditional dorms for the first 3 nights. The rooms are a bit on the small side, but certainly livable. However, there was always a rush on the bathrooms which didn’t seem big enough to take care of the needs of the population on the hall. Some of the rooms were traditional doubles, and others were set up in “pods” – a common room with three single rooms off of it. None of the rooms had sinks, but the common rooms of the pods had a small fridge and microwave. None of the residential halls had AC, which students sited as one of the things they would change if they could. Only 2 of the dorms are higher than 4 floors, and all but 1 building are clumped together on one side of campus.

~MSU CSA sign~MSU farm 2Sustainability and locally sourced food is a big deal here. They have a garden on campus, and the food goes to the dining hall. The PEAS farm, about 3 miles away, is used by the university. In addition to 90 CSA shares, they provide 15-20,000 pounds of food for food banks. They offer classes on the farm for the environmental science and agricultural students. The class can be repeated three times: spring, summer, and fall so that students get the full range of what happens on the farm. The man who runs the program wants it to be meaningful experience for the students, and he’s clearly passionate about what he does. The farm is not organic-certified, but it is an organic farm: “we wouldn’t be doing anything differently. We already willingly adhere to all the standards, and becoming certified costs a lot of money and makes me jump through hoops, requiring hours of paperwork that otherwise could be spent on the land.”

One of the biggest issues I saw was that this is a very white campus, although that mimics the town, as well. Native Americans make up the largest minority population, but even that is low – like single digits low. However, there are 500 international students from 75 countries; one of the students on the panel was from Kenya and when asked about winters in Missoula, she said, “if I can survive it, anyone can survive it!”

~MSU main bldg and M

The main building with the M Mountain behind it.

~MSU stadiumMostly, students are really happy here. There’s a lot to do on and off campus. The Grizz-Cat (UM-MSU) rivalry is huge, and the annual football game sells out. One student said “I don’t even like football, but I look forward to the game every year!” Tailgating is huge, and people get really pumped up. School spirit is huge, and they turn out for a lot of games in different sports. They also like the accessibility of skiing and hiking, but say that even non-outdoorsy people fit in and find a lot to do. The movie theater is in walking distance as are restaurants, the local ice cream place, and pubs. Shuttles run frequently. First Friday (open art galleries) is popular. One of the on-campus perks that got a big shout-out is that there are resident IT students on call four nights a week who can be called to help trouble-shoot printer, internet, or computer problems. The biggest issues that students complained about was the parking situation(but that takes on an entirely different meaning here than on a really large campus), and off campus housing can be difficult to find, but not impossible. Most students find things close enough to walk or ride bikes.

~MSU acad bldg 2One of the first events we attended as a group was the Dean’s Panel where 9 Deans gave presentations about their respective colleges.

  • The Arts and Science college is the largest on campus with a lot of collaboration across departments and across colleges. Students can find their niche in the college but have the flexibility to try a lot of things. One of the most unique offerings in this college is Irish Studies which includes language study (the only place west of the Mississippi to offer it), culture, dance, etc. They offer exchanges with various places in Ireland. They also have a nationally recognized Native American Studies program in which student are engaged in the communities in Montana and around the country. Their Environmental Studies program is also nationally ranked, and there are lots of pre-programs (nursing, law, medicine), and advising for these programs is extensive. Their system of professional and faculty advisors for all majors is strong. The university also runs a biological research center on Flathead Lake (the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi). Why studying/doing research here, the students can live in university-provided housing.
  • ~MSU acad bldg 1The School of Business offers all the traditional majors which can be found on the website, but two are worth a special mention:
    • The Certificate Program in Entertainment Management (only Vanderbilt and Cornell offer this, as well). 600 students are enrolled in the program which is the most interdisciplinary in the business school. They’ve even been on the cover of Poll Star Magazine.
    • The Entrepreneurship Program which is an Endowed program. Students participate in a statewide competition in which 50-75 business plans get sent in. They pick 15 as semi-finalists who come for 2.5 days to compete for the $10,000 first prize; all of them get to present to investors, so even without winning, they get exposure to potential funding.
  • The College of Technology (soon to be Missoula College, Univ. of Montana) is a 2-year college attached to the main university. Students come from all over the country, and they become part of the university – they live on campus, they use all the facilities – so they get a two-year experience on a four-year Research-1 campus. They have access to smaller classes in 35 programs across five departments (including Applied Computing and Electronics, Culinary Arts, Diesel Welding/Heavy Equipment Operations, and Health Professions). Admission to the College of Tech only requires a HS degree or GED. If they earn 12 credits with a 2.0, they can transfer automatically into UM.
  • The School of Health offers complete accredited programs like Pharmacy (including a 2-4 PharmD program or a 4-3 program if they come in with a BS in a related area like kineseology), PT, Public Health, and Social Work (both BSW and MSW). All accredited. Only programs in the state.
  • In the Visual and Performing Arts College, students can do work in Fine or Visual Arts, Music, Dance, and Theater among other areas; they also have large offering for non-majors. Their $250,000 in scholarship money went largely to those majoring in the school, but some were offered to non-majors if they participated in marching band or for people who play “in-need” instruments. Many study abroad offerings for the majors include Vienna (Art History, Music, etc) and Bali. Dancers performed at Kennedy Center – selected 2/3 years to perform there. Some unique programs to be aware of are the Digital Art/Animation degree and the BFA in Sonic Art (recording engineers, sound in film or live concerts).
  • In Education and Human Sciences, students come in as a major in the particular subject and then apply to pick up licensure. Other majors include Communicative Sciences and Disorders (with a clinic open to the public providing lots of research and hands-on for the students), Clinical and School Psych, Health and Human Performance (athletic training, exercise science, health promotion) and Work physiology and Human Metabolism.
  • The Journalism School is one of the oldest undergrad journalism in the country. Students can major in print, online, photo, and multi-media areas as well as an interdisciplinary major combined with Native Studies. This is one of the schools that require internships, and students regularly get recognized with the Hearst Award. Over $110,000 in scholarships are awarded each year, largely alumni funded
  • ~MSU catapult

    This had been used to haul logs using horsepower; it now sits outside the Forestry Building.

    In the College of Forestry and Conservation, students can mix disciplines such as education, environmental law, and computer applications. It’s important to know that most students in this field will need a Masters for a permanent position. Wildlife Forestry is the largest program in the college (about 40%), and students can focus on terrestrial or water studies. The newest major is Wildland Restoration which deals with reclaiming land, invasive species, and fire control among other things. Students interested in more of a business side can major in Parks Recreation and Tourism Management to become such things as Park Rangers, Land Stewards, or work in a Nature Conservancy. Students can do work over the summer in Fiji, India, Vietnam, and other places, as well as learn winter rescue techniques in Montana and White-Water rescue in Costa Rica.

  • Finally, UM has opened up their Global Research Initiative to all students. When students are accepted to the University, they’re invited to express interest in joining the GRI. From that pool, UM gets a wide span of students and interests (not all business, not all honors, not all female). They look for a cohort that spans the range of majors and credentials. The pilot program took about 235 students in its second year. The program is privately funded, and they will keep it going as long as they can, which they hope will be a long time! Part of the program involves travel and international experiences; when accepted into the program, all US students will be given a passport (if eligible). Every year, the students focus on a specific project or theme:
    • The 1st year revolves around small seminars (examples: Doing the Right Thing, Truth vs. Truthiness) in which they explore a big, enduring question having to do with public health, world poverty, economics, etc.
    • The 2nd year moves into Models of Leadership. Students participate in retreats, lectures, workshops, etc.
    • During the 3rd year, the program will help fund an internship, study abroad, research, or service learning (maybe pay for airfare, etc). Students have to do one of those.
    • The 4th year is the capstone in which students work together in groups of about 15 on one of the big problems. For example: if they’re interested in malaria, they’ll be put into a multi-disciplinary group to problem solve, so they could be working with a biologist, linguist, business major, and education major. The project they complete could be an ad campaign, writing grants, etc.

(c) 2012

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