Grant Kleiman

Grant Kleiman Scholarship

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Visual Perception

Seconds after popping the strawberry into my mouth, I couldn’t breathe. My friends thought I was goofing off as I struggled for each breath. Around me classmates consumed chocolate milk and mystery meat while texting, tweeting, and posting. I wondered how someone choking could be invisible in a room with 200 people.

Profound questions raced through my head. Will I ever breathe again? Will I live a long, happy life? What’s really in the mystery meat? I placed my right fist above my belly button, grasped it with my left hand, and thrust it into my gut. My fear shot up like mercury on a thermometer. The strawberry rocketed from my mouth. My friends’ jaws dropped. My white t-shirt was pink. I averted death by strawberry.

We live in a self-absorbed, selfie-taking world where people don’t notice when someone is choking. We don’t notice that people are hurting, especially children. Kids are stressed these days. They’re scared of everything from terrorist attacks and financial problems to not fitting in and getting good grades. Families are broken. Poverty is soaring. Childhood hunger is a problem everywhere.

Maybe childhood doesn’t have to be an idyllic fairy tale, but I don’t think the adults in society realize the stress kids are under today. Helen Keller said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” I think the vision Helen Keller spoke of was the ability to see other people, actually see them without judgement or criticism. Sometimes it feels like the world has lost its vision. We all suffer from a form of emotional myopia. Maybe we need a prescription for glasses that allows us to see other human beings with eyes of compassion and kindness. Hurting people wouldn’t be invisible anymore.

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Students lobby for higher education

Every year in mid-February, representatives for Students United, an advocacy group for higher education in Minnesota, gather in St. Paul to take part in Advocacy Day. The organization represents the 70,000 students within the Minnesota State university system.

At this year’s Advocacy Day, students met with representatives and senators from each of their districts to discuss issues in higher education within Minnesota State.

SMSU Students United Organizing Intern David Shittu was present at this year’s Advocacy Day.

Shittu said that Students United lobbied for tuition cost, a grant for more funding to Minnesota State, better investment in student services to boost retention rates, and additional funds for the maintenance and upgrade of facilities in the seven state universities.

Shittu explained that students from SMSU met with Representative Chris Swedzinski and Senator Gary Dahms for discussion.

“We had positive and meaningful conversations and the opportunity to have our voices heard,” Shittu said. “It was overall a successful event with a great turn out.”

Check out more stories at the Spur

Tuition freeze helps cash-strapped students

Hey College Students!

College costs are leaving way too many of us with soul-crushing debt.

Fortunately, Minnesota State Colleges instituted a tuition freeze this year.

Tuition freeze helps cash-strapped students

The rising cost of higher education makes it challenging for college students to keep up financially. Minnesota State Colleges and the Minnesota Legislature are taking steps to help to ease the financial burden.

Minnesota State’s Board of Trustees will meet later this month to discuss a budget proposal requesting $178 million in new funding over the next two years in exchange for a tuition freeze through 2019.

During the 2015 legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Higher Education Omnibus bill to provide tuition relief and increased financial aid during the 2016-17 academic year.

Tuition and fees decreased this academic year for students at Minnesota State’s 30 technical and community colleges, equaling that of 2012-13 rates. Tuition at Minnesota State’s seven four-year universities, including SMSU, are frozen at last year’s levels.

“Affordability and accessibility ensure that our colleges and universities can be places of hope and opportunity for all Minnesotans,” Minnesota State Chancellor Steven Rosenstone said.

The current annual cost for tuition and fees at SMSU is $8,336. SMSU does not charge out-of-state tuition.

Nationally, in-state tuition and fees at four-year public universities average $9,650, according to the College Board. At many state universities, out-of-state tuition can cost up to three times more than in-state tuition. Four-year private universities charge an average of $33,480 per year.

Increased funding also expands financial aid to Minnesota students from low and middle-income families. For undergraduate students receiving state and Pell grants, the estimated average annual tuition cost for attending a technical or community college full-time is $894, and $2088 for attending a four-year Minnesota State university full-time.

Visit the SMSU Spur

 

Appy Hour: Money-Saving Tools for Smart College Students

Here are several high-tech tools (and a couple of low-tech ones) that will save you as bundle.

Smart Shopping

Ben Franklin said “A penny saved is a penny earned.” If Mr. Franklin were around today, he would love penny-pinching apps that can add up to big savings.

Are you a gamer? Level up to GameFly, your app for buying and renting video games and getting the latest scoop on new releases. Do you love music? Tune into Jango. Like the basic version of Pandora, Jango is free, seems to have fewer replays of the same songs, and plays a wider variety of musicians.

With more students living in apartments on and off-campus, “Penny Pinching at the Grocery Store” should be a required course. I’m still on the campus meal plan, so I don’t spend much time grocery shopping. However, my apartment-dwelling friends love Checkout 51, Ibotta, and other apps that offer rebates on groceries. You may have to complete a small homework assignment, such as watch a video or take a poll, before you qualify for the rebate.

Delicious App-etizers

Comedian Kevin James says “There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap.” Pizza is hands down the most popular food on college campuses. Instead of digging through trash to find pizza coupons, you can find dozens of pizza deals on dealspotr, the web’s only crowdsourced coupon app.

I knew about dealspotr for clothing, electronics, beauty products, and consumer goods like crock-pots and other household essentials. Dealspotr has also become my go-to for a large pepperoni when late-night cravings set in.

So what’s the best money-saving tool for hungry college students? You guessed it. The crock-pot! Before you leave for class in the morning, throw some meat, carrots, potatoes, or other veggies into a crock-pot. Add some seasoning. You’ll have a delicious home cooked meal waiting for you at the end of the day. Dining in saves you about $200 a month, and you’ll probably eat healthier too!

Start Small, Grow Big

At age eleven Warren Buffett started investing money he earned from odd jobs. By age thirty, he had earned $1 million. Obviously, we’re not all going to be billionaires, but saving pennies helps the dollars add up.

Acorns is a painless way to start investing. Every time you buy something, the app allows you to round up to the nearest dollar and invest the spare change into different investment portfolios. After you have $5,000 in your account, Acorns charges a .25% commission, so you may want to move your money at that point. Anything less, the app charges $1 a month. If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to discipline yourself to invest your pocket change, check out Acorns. Years from now, your acorn could be a mighty oak.

Live Smart

Financial literacy is important to me. In high school I taught elementary school kids basic money management. As a Professional Writing major at Southwest Minnesota State University, I hope to help other students live better lives, which includes stretching their hard-earned dollars. 

The Magnificent Seven

“The Magnificent Seven” never quite lives up to the adjective in its title, yet the western delivers a beautifully shot, action-packed experience.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, “The Magnificent Seven” is based on the 1960 movie of the same name, which itself was a re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.”

“The Magnificent Seven” tells the story of seven men who come together to defend a town from a villain who is destroying the livelihood of the townspeople. Along the way, each of the seven gives up his own personal agenda in favor of honorably opposing the bad guys led by Bartholomew Bogue, brilliantly played by Peter Sarsgaard.

Bogue is a worthy villain, despite his lackluster motivation. Sarsgaard does a good job portraying a slimy, evil-to-the-core man who is willing to kill without mercy.

“The Magnificent Seven” offers enjoyable action scenes that are tons of fun to watch. Most of the action uses real stuntmen instead of CGI, which is quite refreshing.

The majority of the action occurs in the last half hour of the movie. Much of the rest of the movie is devoted to gathering the seven and preparing for the big battle with Bogue’s army. This allows for a large amount of buildup, which culminates in a worthy climax.

The movie is also well acted. Denzel Washington, portraying bounty hunter Sam Chisholm, and Chris Pratt, playing card trick-loving gunslinger Josh Faraday, deliver their typical great performances.

The standout actors are Ethan Hawke as the former Confederate sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux, and Vincent D’Onofrio who portrays Jack Horn, a slightly off-kilter mountain man. The rest of the seven, including knife fighter Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo), and a Comanche named Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), nail their respective roles.

The main problem with “The Magnificent Seven” is its lack of character development. In both “Seven Samurai” and the original “Magnificent Seven,” there is an underlying theme of regret among each of the characters about their lives as warriors. However, this theme is not deeply explored in the current film. Several of the characters have little or no back story given to them. Those that do don’t receive enough screen time.

Overall, “The Magnificent Seven” is enjoyable. While the story lacks the depth of its predecessors, it hits the mark in delivering an entertaining, western experience full of fun and excitement.

Movie Review

Imagine if someone were to discover your childhood journal

Imagine if someone were to discover your childhood journal and read it aloud to an audience.

At the English Club’s Third Annual “Mortified: Share Your Shame” event, this is exactly what happens. Except now, the reader is you.

Any and all embarrassing writing from childhood is welcome at “Mortified,” where participants laugh along with the audience at stories from awkward child- hood or teen years.

The “Mortified” reading, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 7-8 p.m. in CH 217, will be a great opportunity to watch fellow classmates hit the stage and spill childhood secrets. The sign-up sheet is on the bulletin board in the Holm & Dacey Lounge, BA 218. Students of all majors are welcome to participate and attend.

“The English Club members are excited to host an event where all students can enjoy an evening of laughter while listening to writing that may not be award-winning but will definitely be relatable,” Professor Marianne Zarzana, English Club adviser said.

“Mortified” readings began at SMSU when former creative writing student Mike McGovern learned of similar events across the country and decided to initiate a “Mortified” movement here. McGovern dreamed of creating an event where students could be entertained by stories they could identify with.

The first “Mortified” reading at SMSU was met with a crowd of students from all majors, securing the event’s continued annual presence.

Despite how relatively new the “Mortified” movement is to SMSU, the event is surprisingly widespread, with shows from St. Paul to Stockholm. In 2013, a documentary known as “Mortified Nation” captured a number of “Mortified” shows across the country and is available on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes.

Want to Be Mortified?