Living on-campus affects students’ mental health

Words by Taylor Robinson | Illustrations by Sarah Riedlinger 

Living on-campus brings freedom, independence and new experiences. For some college students, living in a new space with new found freedoms and living closely with a roommate affects their mental health. 

Kent State requires all students to live in a residence hall for at least two years unless they can get an exemption. Some of those students say their experiences were irritating, unwelcoming and affecting their mental health.

Sitting in her bed one night, sobbing, senior business management major Lauren Gump promised herself she was going to die before 2018 ended. 

Gump recalls her mental health first deteriorating the fall semester of her sophomore year as she was living with her best friend in Olson Hall, one of Kent State’s 25 on-campus residence halls. The two of them were close, but Gump says something just happened. The two started fighting all the time and Gump stopped feeling like herself.

Kent State requires all unmarried students enrolled in nine or more credit hours to live in the university residence halls, excluding summer sessions, until the student has junior academic standing. This is unless they have an exemption from the department of residence services, according to the university policy regarding student housing.

“As an institution, we strongly believe that students benefit academically and socially by living on campus for two years,” says Kevin Mowers, director of residence life, via an email. “This past fall, students who lived on campus averaged a grade-point-average of 2.98 while those living off averaged a 2.83. The persistence rate of housing is at 91.8 percent. This means that nine out of 10 students will return to campus after their first semester.”

Irritating, difficult and lonely is how Mia Davis, freshman exploratory major who’s name has been changed, describes her first experience living on campus last semester.

Davis met her first roommate, a resident assistant (RA), on Facebook, a common strategy freshmen use to look for a roommate. A few weeks into the semester, this roommate moved out and there was a two-to-three-week period where Davis was living alone in her room. Being new to campus and not having friends yet, Davis felt lonely.

Eventually, a new RA was assigned to the room. Davis says she emailed her new roommate once or twice to see if she wanted to get coffee or talk and set their expectations for each other as roommates. Davis had a feeling things wouldn’t go well when her roommate didn’t respond to her efforts to reach out.

Davis’ new roommate situation was difficult, from her roommate keeping the TV on at night, blasting music after going out and having friends over unannounced. She couldn’t even remember the major of the girl who slept in a bed next to her.

These are all problems students encounter when they first move into dorms.   

Davis describes the experience living with her former roommate as “the most unwelcoming and uninviting experience I’ve ever had in my life.”

“It got to the point where I would try to stay in the library or do something with a club so late at night so I didn’t have to be in the room,” Davis says. “There were some nights she would go out and those were the nights I would stay in.”

Nina Schubert, a sophomore early childhood education major and founder of The Nightingale Project, believes students seem to struggle with mental health and illnesses because of the independence they receive when they start college. Finally having that sense of independence can sometimes be overwhelming for students.   

“The Nightingale Project is working to de-stigmatize mental illness and help give back” is the organization’s mission statement. Founded by Schubert in October 2017, the organization focuses on mental health advocacy and creating a welcoming community on Kent State’s campus. Last year, the Nightingale Project raised $700 to make more than 40 blankets for adolescents in psychiatric units. This year, the organization is hosting an event on April 22 in the student center ballroom, Be-YOU-tiful, promoting self-love and body positivity.

Schubert describes her own on-campus living experience as both good and bad. 

When I had those rough nights, even if I didn’t get along with my roommate necessarily, there was at least somebody else in the room with me so I couldn’t do addictive behaviors and do bad behaviors,” Schubert says. “I couldn’t self-harm with someone else in the room.”

While she appreciated having another body in her space during those rough days for small conversation and to feel safe, Schubert describes herself as an independent person and feels she works better alone.

“My bedroom is my go-to safe place. I make it as comfortable as possible so if I have a stressful day I can go back, relax and take time for myself,” Schubert says. “With a dorm on campus, you’re sharing a very small, confined space with someone, especially if you don’t get along with that person, that can cause stress and anxiety or make some of those symptoms you may already have worse.”

There is a shift in an environment that can lead to depression because there is a change of independence, freedom and lack of accountability in a college setting, Schubert says.

A study by Cristina Rodriguez at Texas State University says adjusting to the newness of college life can have negative effects on students trying to navigate their new environment, new friends and new classes. Stress accumulates from the adjustment and it can be difficult to cope with the new stressors. College students are easily overwhelmed by stress and many students may not deal with daily stressors in a healthy way, causing their mental health to decline.  

Mental illness occurs more in young adults between the ages 18 and 24 than any other age group, which is why mental illness may be an issue on college campuses, according to the study done by Rodriguez. In 2012, 31.6 percent of students were so depressed that it was difficult to function.

Schubert explains when she was living on campus, even basic hygiene routines became difficult. Some residence halls on campus have private bathrooms or suite-style private bathrooms, while others are “pod-style” community bathrooms that require students to leave their room, go down the hall to a bathroom and use their key card to swipe into the bathroom.

“On those very depressed days, I wouldn’t want to go down the hallway, swipe in, swipe out. My personal hygiene took a hit while living in a dorm and worrying about shower space and cleanliness, which can cause stress and anxiety,” Schubert says.

 Unable to get out of bed, not having an appetite and having never felt so down, Gump decided to go to the on-campus health center to see a therapist.

“One day, I couldn’t’ stop crying during a session and decided to go on medication to help,” Gump says.  

Schubert explains that students should take advantage of the services on campus like the Counseling Center in White Hall, which serves as a training clinic for graduate students in the Counselor Education and Supervision program. The services in White Hall are free to students, which is a good resource if students worry about their parents finding out or finances.

“We have a partnership with DeWeese Health Center in which programs and activities are available for our students who are struggling with mental health concerns,” Mowers says. “In addition, we offer events throughout the year in which stress relief or reduction is a major part of the activity. We want our students to find balance in their involvement so that they can find a good resolution to some of their mental health concerns.” 

Mowers says all student staff and professional staff are trained in getting students connected on campus to the resources to help with their specific needs.

“Our student staff members are trained in spotting mental health concerns and getting those students connected to resources,” Mowers says. “We put our staff through extensive training that covers a variety of topics that impact mental health, interpersonal conflicts, personal well-being. We will often partner with campus resource, local agencies and national organizations to provide training for our staff.” 

According to a 2011 report made by the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), 27 percent of students struggle with depression and 11 percent struggle with anxiety while in college. Of all the students who struggle with mental health and illnesses, only 55 percent of students accessed mental health services and support systems on campus.

Gump went through Residence Services and was able to get out of her housing contract for the spring semester her sophomore year. She began commuting from her mother’s home in Warren, and she hasn’t talked to her former friend and roommate since.

“Being with family made a huge difference, talking to someone and talking about it helps,” Gump says. “I go to therapy in the health center a couple times a month. I always talk to my mom and dad when I’m feeling really sad or having a rough day. They know what to say to bring my spirits up.”

Gump is set to graduate in December 2019, and while she keeps herself busy with school and work, she says she still experiences those dark times and days. She now lives in a house with two roommates and feels her current living situation has made her mental health deteriorate once again. Feeling like things aren’t getting any better, she is in the process of moving into an apartment and has signed a lease to live alone.

Davis came to the conclusion by Thanksgiving break her living situation wasn’t getting any better. After she went to an RA on a different floor for help, she waited until the end of the semester and eventually moved out of the room without telling her roommate.

Now, Davis lives in a single room with one suitemate she has talked to a few times, briefly. She says she loves being able to go back to her room after a bad day and feels free not having to deal with a difficult living situation. 

“Honestly, when I was moving all my stuff out, I was so happy,” Davis says. “It felt like I was breaking out of a shell. I felt like I could finally enjoy college. It really affected my mental health. I shouldn’t be crying in my room of all things. I have enough to deal with. There were some nights where she would go out and I would lay in bed and cry and think, I need to apply for another room, I can’t do this anymore.” 

Mowers advises students to pull their RA aside and talk to them about what is going on or go to the residence hall director’s office. Every floor in every building on campus has multiple staff members there to help students.

“Don’t bottle it up,” Gump says. “Talk to someone, whether it is a friend, therapist. Just talk to someone.”

Schubert’s advice to anyone struggling is to just be honest about it. It can be scary, but taking those first steps and talking with others will help. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I think that’s the biggest issue,” Davis says. “If you have a bad feeling, it’s probably right. You know what you’re going to accept and what you’re not going to accept. If you’re already not liking the vibe, it probably is not going to change.”

The Big City

By: Puja Mohan

This past spring break, my friends and I took a trip to the city that never sleeps, the city so nice, they named it twice, the Big Apple.

New York City was bustling the weekend we arrived. The rush of the city is like no other, yet somehow the chaos was both endearing and exhilarating. We attempted to cover all realms of the city, including fine dining and desserts, museums, nature, famous landmarks, retail and stores, cultural landmarks and architecture.

We started out observing the classics, such as Times Square, Central Park, One World Trade Center, the 9/11 memorial, Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange and Rockefeller Center. Another day we ventured over to the Met and American Museum of Natural History. Both free of admission, the museums offered a captivating perspective on art, history and science over the course of time from around the world that was both informative and intriguing.

And of course, no trip is complete without some delectable meals. The Plaza of Food Hall as well as Chelsea Market were locations that offered a variety of worldly cuisines, which made the selection difficult to choose from. One dessert location was Dominique Ansel, where it offered a beautiful chocolate caramel mousse cake and cookie shots, chocolate chip cookies shaped like a shot glass filled with vanilla milk. We also went to Black Tap, which offered large shakes decorated with sprinkles and chocolate chips around the glass with layers of cakes, cookies or brownies with fudge, nuts and other elaborate decorations sprinkled about – known as Freak Shakes. Holey Cream was another dessert location, which offered donuts filled with ice cream and pretty much any toppings you could think of.

Near where we stayed, we ate from an elegant bakery called The Greek from Greece Bakery, where it offered several breakfast items as well as authentic Greek food. We also stopped at food locations around Little Italy and Chinatown, as well as restaurants such as Ofrenda and Trattoria Dell’Arte, which offered nicely plated and delicious meals.

Aside from food, we visited several places to simply enjoy the architectural beauty, including Grand Central Terminal, the Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Soho, the HighLine, as well as travel the Staten Island Ferry to enjoy the city view at night.

Having been my first trip to the Big Apple, this journey was by no means a disappointment. We were constantly roaming the streets of New York, crowding into the NY subways and pushing through crowds in the city. Needless to say, the livelihood and energy of the city is like no other, and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and would recommend to everyone and anyone.

A cult close to home

Words by Lyric Aquino

Note: Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

At a dark time when I needed God in my life I found myself a part of what I believe to be a religious cult.

As I look back on my now-ending college career, I can’t help but reminisce on the simpler times. Memories creep back into my mind, resurfacing from drunken nights, sleepovers with friends I no longer have and late nights at the library studying ancient tools. I think of them often, my friends. The ones I gained, the ones I lost and everyone stuck in between. I never thought I would have been caught up in a modern day battle of religion, especially my own, let alone with what I now believe is a religious cult.

It was September 2016, my sophomore year in college, and I found myself to be quite lonely. I did have a solid group of friends and the five of us seemed to spend nearly every day together.  My class schedule of 18 hours was split into six classes. The days were long, difficult and stressful. Seeing my friends just wasn’t enough for me; I knew I was missing something. The depression I’ve battled with since the age of 12 seemed to settle in once again as I felt emptiness surrounding me, encompassing me in a dark void. I longed for a higher power to guide me and to pray to in an effort to escape the surrounding loneliness. It was my emptiness that led me back to my roots.

I went home for a weekend to clear my head, see my family and rejuvenate my mind after several weeks of intense work. On Sunday, I wound up in church in the same pew singing the same hymns I’ve been singing since I was a child. The light beaming through the brightly colored stained glass windows, striking my face and embracing me like a warm hug. Unfortunately, my peace didn’t last long as the thoughts I tried so hard to suppress wrapped around my neck, constricting like a snake until I was dizzy with fear.  

I was still trying to figure out who I was and get used to the responsibility of being my own person. Looking back, part of me knew I needed to find my way back to God. I started to grow my personal relationship with Him and was hoping to strengthen our relationship by joining a religious group on campus that was Christian and matched my liberal views on the world. I couldn’t find one that I enjoyed, and to be honest, I don’t think I was trying too hard after the first few. Some groups were anti-LGBTQ, pro-life or even blatantly sexist. It seemed as though every group and church I tried had something wrong with it that I just couldn’t look past. I knew there had to be others out there like me.

One church, which currently operates on Kent State’s campus, was founded in Columbus in 1970. Today, there are more than 5,500 adult members in 70 home churches. These “home churches” are smaller congregations of members who gather for Bible studies, teachings, etc. The first Northeast Ohio group from this church was formed at Kent State in 2001 and later created an on-campus organization.

My friend Sarah told me about this group during my religious crisis and she was a member. They seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. I was hesitant because of my other experiences, but I knew they couldn’t have been so bad because, like me, Sarah is a member of the LGBTQ community and has a similarly liberal mindset.

She explained to me where they met on campus and how the group provided snacks and had a social hour before the bible teaching. There was also a hangout session after which eventually lead to “the apartments” (where unmarried members of the group live) and later a bonfire at the apartments for all six home churches at Kent State.

After a short walk from my dorm, we arrived to where the group met. It was a room filled with more than 20 people Laughs boomed throughout the gathering and snacks were spread onto a table. Everyone smiled; they looked friendly and seemed normal, yet I was so unaware of what was to come.

I was immediately surrounded by Sarah’s other friends – Jessica, Brie, Elise and Chelsea – who hugged her as she introduced me. I was receiving so much attention, like a shiny new toy on Christmas morning. Everyone wanted to know where I came from, where I got my shoes, how I did my makeup, my religious beliefs, my ethnicity… I was bombarded with kindness, smiles and offers to hang out and have religious conversations.  

After socialising, we found seats among the others and waited for the teaching to begin. I looked around and noticed everyone brought their own Bibles, notepads and pens. The teaching began and I hung onto every word the speakers said about the Lord. This is what I had wanted for so long. It wasn’t a stuffy surmon filled with judgement and direct orders. The teachings that night were about love and light, two of the things I craved so badly in my life. I was asked what brought me to the group and what I thought of the teaching. I was thrilled to engage with so many people and have thought-provoking, real and meaningful conversations about God and the Bible. I needed guidance. I needed strength. I needed the support of this group.

Over the next three months, I dove head first into everything with the church. I went to a girls-only bible study on Mondays called Cell. It was a time to get away from the boys, support other women, have snacks and discuss the Bible. Cell lasted hours as games and pranks were played, food ordered and another reason was found to continue laughing on the red, second hand couch. On Tuesdays I went to teachings. These were open for everyone we wanted to bring. I begged my best friend Kim to come with me even though she wasn’t religious. She found the same comfort I did and joined the group as well.

After Kim joined, my new friends always wanted me to bring my other friends to home church. “I’d love to meet them,” Jessica said. Her face would light up when she talked about meeting my other friends. It never occured to me that I could’ve set up a separate time and place for all of my friends to meet. I didn’t think of the teachings on Tuesdays as a religious activity because I was just hanging out with all of my friends.

According to Goodreads, cults use manipulation or coercion to recruit and teach new members, discourage doubt or dissent and try to prevent members from leaving. Throughout my time in this church, I was isolated from people who weren’t in it. If I was friends with someone who wasn’t in it, they would use me as a way to bring them to meetings.

And so I pressured my friends Dana and Eric to come to the meetings because there was free food and it was a laid-back Christian group, it wasn’t uptight like all of the others.

When I told my Nana about the group she looked at me sternly and said, “You better be sure it’s not a cult.” When she said that I brushed it off — what did she know about my friends? About the trips to grocery stores in the middle of the night? The movie marathons? Or what about when tragedies struck and we all banded together to support friends, to care for them, to let them know we were always going to be there for one another? She didn’t know about any of that.

Dana decided the group wasn’t for her and I took it as a sense of betrayal. I couldn’t fathom that Dana thought she was better than them, than me, than Him.

She told me she was “too busy” to be part of the group and I scoffed at her. Pathetic. I wanted her to give me a real reason. All we had to do was go to Cell for at least three hours on Monday, go to teachings on Tuesdays for four or more hours, go to other prayer events throughout the rest of the week and go to central teachings with all the home churches on Saturday.

Goodreads also says cults claim to offer the only path to salvation. My church claimed they were different than other groups as they read the Bible closely so they had a better chance at salvation, and it seemed that way for a while.

I didn’t get to spend much time with Dana anymore, and as Eric and I grew closer, they wanted to meet him and get to know him especially because they all thought he was going to be my boyfriend. Eric liked me and valued our friendship, so he went.

He started making appearances here and there, but his schedule didn’t really line up with the group and although he attended the meetings, he was skeptical. He would take smoke breaks with some of the members outside, but didn’t go to our Cell group for the guys and didn’t go to the Saturday central teachings unless I went.

This pattern seemed to please everyone. I often shared our problems with the group because they were my friends. I opened up to them about his issues in religion and they concluded he was lost, sad and needed a strong support system to help him. I agreed that he did need more support, more friends and overall new outlook on life. He needed to see how much people cared about him, how blessed he was.

Spring semester I was once again taking 18 credit hours, only this time, I had beat reporting. You’re supposed to take this class with a light course load, but because I’m double majoring, I have to take at least 18 credit hours every semester to graduate on time. Naturally, I didn’t have as much time to dedicate to the church group. Mondays were the only day I could dedicate and even then it wasn’t constant. As I had gotten more comfortable with my group, I figured they’d understand if I didn’t go to as many events. But instead they were upset and concerned about my relationship with God.

At this point in time, my family was sick of the useless stories I kept telling about my friends. They were all I wanted to talk about. I wanted their approval with everything I did. I wanted to make sure my girls thought my decisions were smart because if they didn’t have my back, who did?

Because of my hectic schedule, I started to see myself get invited to fewer and fewer activities, but I always felt included. Whenever I was on the verge of a breakdown, my girls would ask me, “What can I do to help you?” Although I knew they couldn’t do anything, the offer of support made me feel like they cared. Throughout the semester they read all of my articles, cheered me on and made me feel loved. I barely finished the spring semester with any brain cells, but when I did my girls were waiting for me, proud and ready to celebrate.

My friends and I spent the summer drenched in sunscreen and prayer and I moved home to Lorain. Sarah and I would take trips to see our friends when we weren’t working, and sometimes Kim would come with us. We kept the friendships alive and even spent a few days at Sarah’s cottage on at Chippewa Lake.

It was here I had my first doubts. Sarah, Kim and I genuinely believed there was a ghost in the cottage. At one point the three of us screamed in unison out of terror. When we were trying to share our thoughts with Brie, Elise, Chelsea and Jessica, they waved us off. “Ghosts don’t exist because they aren’t in the Bible. If it was something, it would’ve been a demon and if it were a demon we’d be a lot worse off than we are now.” We were shot down, embarrassed by how quickly our friends snapped at us.

When fall semester rolled around I was taking my usual 18 credit hours but was also working two jobs, had a radio show and was dabbling as a news anchor. My schedule became even more strict and I was limited to short social hangouts. I didn’t have free time for intense, long bible studies. I was dedicated to the Lord, but it bothered some of my friends that I was having premarital sex. By that point, I had been having sex for over a year, so I didn’t understand why it suddenly mattered. I didn’t care what they thought about my choices. I was 20, a grown woman and I could have sex with who I wanted. I refused to feel judged for taking part in something so natural.

I was slipping back into depression. I was stressed, and my friends knew it, so they came to my defense. They asked the elders of the group to aid in helping me. The elders were significantly older members of the group and dictated who dated who, who was allowed to have leadership roles and who could live together, among other things.

Cults tend to live together and marry within the group in order to adhere to the polarization of relationships, according to an article by Empowered By Christ. In the church I was with, group members only date within it, so you’re essentially dating your friend’s ex. The group dominates the apartments they live in and live with two-to-seven members per housing unit. Members live in these apartments until they’re married and then settle in homes close by so they’re always around. At one point, I was considering moving in to the apartments with everyone else. Kim found herself having to move there, and still lives there.

Jessica told me the elders advised to pray my depression away. With hard work, and a strong support system, I should be able to pray it away along with the aid of my escitalopram. I was appalled, especially because an elder was a member of Kent State’s psychology faculty. I knew this was ridiculous and downright disrespectful, but I couldn’t help but think they actually tried to help me.

They discouraged my doubt in God curing my depression and that things in life would “just work out,” another tactic cults use, according to Goodreads.

I wasn’t able to go to Cell, Tuesday teachings or central teachings, and though I still studied the Bible on my own and tried to hang out, I could start to see a shift in paradigm of our friendship.

I was planning on traveling to New Mexico to see my TehTeh (grandfather) and go through the ceremonial rites of passage to become a woman in my tribe. When I told the girls, they seemed excited for me and I told them as much as I was allowed to about my reservation, family and culture. I was beaming with pride because my indigenous heritage makes up a large component of who I am. I sat on the red couch, faces staring at me in awe, waiting to hear all about this foreign way of life. At the end of the conversation I was informed that taking part in my Native culture was deemed a “sin” against God. Any indication of spirits or ceremonial dances were not seen as holy.

Jessica, the leader, looked at me, brown eyes steady as she softened her face to make the blow easier and said, “It just doesn’t align with the Bible. It’s a sin. I hope you understand.”

They all knew how much this meant to me. How much I had saved and planned for this trip and no one said anything. Not even Kim, my best friend of six and a half years. I played it off, nodded and excused myself. I carried on for the rest of the night like it was normal and eventually went home for the evening.

Weeks passed and I decide to overlook that comment but it still stung. I was getting invited to fewer events and when I asked why my girls were bailing on me, Jessica told me that she loved being friends with me but church events are meant for people in the church. I saw Sarah’s new friends in pictures at parties and events where I used to be. She took my spot. I was angry and I was frustrated.

It seemed like every party, dinner and activity they had was a church event. It began to dawn on me that there was no separation between this group and life. It was their life. I was able to see a separation of friends who were in the group and those who weren’t: I could go to dinner with my friends and not call it a “pre-Cell dinner.”

I eventually gave up on the group as a whole. I cut all ties with everyone. After several weeks of calling, texting and me skipping out on plans, they finally took the hint. Jessica even got word from one of the elders to try to bring me back with prayer. Jessica texted me and asked if I wanted to get dinner and read the Bible because she missed me. She wanted me to come to the apartment, hang out and talk about life. I opened the messages and never replied. Jessica, Brie and Elise would text me, but I was a new person. I wasn’t interested in being part of a group of manipulative people who shut someone down for not following their guidelines.

Once they knew I was leaving for good, they tried everything to get me back in the group.

This church raises people to be within its community over every stage of life. Members stay until they become elders and from there the cycle continues.

The elders in the group dictate what goes on and control the lives of every member like marionettes. They kicked Elise out, forced her to move out of her apartment even though she was on the lease and ceased all contact with her. Sarah was kicked out for being a lesbian despite already knowing this and pretending to accept her for two years. They expressed disappointment in certain couples and if a couple had sex, the elders would tell them they should take time apart as a sort of “time-out” punishment.

Even though we aren’t friends anymore, I still worry about Kim. She’s been in the group for almost three years and I’m afraid she may never leave. When I (her best friend of six years) left, she said nothing. When Sarah got kicked out and showed up to Kim’s room crying and saying goodbye, they couldn’t talk anymore. I still have faith she might come around, I hope she realizes what they’ve done to all of us.

This church, this group, sucked me in for over a year. They demanded a large devotion of my time, isolated me, were obsessed with growth and prospective members and shunned those who left or were kicked out. And yet, I don’t regret it. They showed me I was able to stick to my guns, to have the strength to overcome losing nearly all of my friends at once. But they also gave me unforgettable memories that made college worthwhile. They gave me so much laughter, joy and fun experiences. Sometimes, when I think of them, I almost want to go back.

But this isn’t the first religious cult and it won’t be the last. Getting sucked into the facade is easy, but leaving is so much harder. Today, there are plenty of forums, websites and support groups dedicated to the eradication of the church I went to because of their cult-like behavior. I may join one —  or maybe I’ll just pray on it.

Lyric Aquino | laquino@kent.edu

Empowered Women in History

By: Cheyenne Petitpas

In the beginning, women’s history month was only one week that women were celebrated. The first National Women’s Week in history was the week of March 7, 1982, and the one week celebration went on for 13 years. In 1995, the entire month of March became dedicated to women’s history instead of just one week.

Since it’s the last week of March, and therefore the last week to celebrate women’s history, I thought I would highlight a few extraordinary women and discuss the work they did to progress women’s rights for future generations.

Karen Carpenter was a famous singer in the ‘70s who was a strong advocate for education audiences on anorexia and other eating disorders.

Jeannette Rankin was a republican from Montana who ended up being the first woman elected into congress. She was elected into the House of Representatives not once, but twice.

Janet Reno was a lawyer who served as the first female attorney general for eight years.

Margaret Butler became the first female fellow at the American Nuclear Society. She spoke out passionately about women in the STEM field.

These women used their voices to voice the voiceless. They didn’t accept the role society placed on them. Instead, they challenged it and earned their place in the world. They paved the path so women who came after them would be able to take their spots in the world, knowing it was possible to do.

This month is all about recognizing the amazing women in history and their contributions to America’s history, society and culture. Without these women, America would not be as progressive as it is today.. Don’t get me wrong, we have a lot to work on still, but it’s amazing and inspiring to take a step back and realize how far women have truly come.

Take a moment to appreciate the women in your life, and the women of the past. Recognize how powerful the future can be with women in it, and how much further we can improve as a nation.

Tips to stay motivated at the semester’s midpoint

By: Paige Bennett

As the midpoint of the semester passes by, many students feel stressed and overwhelmed, which makes it difficult to maintain a high level of motivation. Here are some tips to help you keep up the energy to get through these next several weeks.

Visualize your goals

One way to keep yourself motivated is to visualize yourself achieving your goals for the semester. Visualization is a powerful tool that encourages people to envision a scenario in which they have accomplished their goals. Research shows that when you visualize something, the neurons in your brain treat it like a real-life occurrence, which causes the brain to produce an impulse telling your neurons to “perform” the action. Essentially, this puts you in a position where you will be more likely to achieve the things you visualize.  

Break things down

If you have a lot of projects and assignments to tackle, you should focus on finding ways to break the workload down. Anything can seem overwhelming if you look at it from a big picture standpoint. By splitting large assignments into smaller, more manageable pieces, you can breathe easier knowing that everything will get done on time

A good way to do this is to assign each component of a project to a specific day of the week. If you were working on a research paper, for example, you could assign gathering sources to Monday, creating an outline to Tuesday and writing the introduction to Wednesday. Working on the paper little by little, you would be able to finish it without feeling overwhelmed. The less overwhelmed you feel, the more motivated you will be to get through the rest of the semester.

Reward yourself

It’s inevitable that every student will feel stressed, especially at the midpoint of the semester. This is why it is important to frequently reward yourself. Whether it’s a cup of coffee or a couple of hours binge-watching your favorite show, treat yourself to something you enjoy every once and awhile. Part of staying motivated is having the energy to carry you through tough challenges. However, you cannot expect yourself to have the energy if you haven’t allowed yourself to decompress. By giving yourself little rewards, you will be able to keep your motivation level up and always have something to look forward to.

Cherishing the pure beauty of Northeast Ohio

By: Puja Mohan

The spring semester is quite a dragging and overwhelming semester, with a week long break somewhere in between and the off chance of a snow or cold day. Last April, my friends and I reached the point of exhaustion and desired for the semester to be over. We decided to take a much needed break one weekend in order to relax and truly embrace the warm weather coming back. The best way to do that was by visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The drive there is only about 25 minutes from Kent, Ohio. The park offers lots of open fields where many joyfully play with their pets, toss a football around, lightly jog or blaze through the trails, or simply cease the opportunity of natural lighting and a scenic background to take pictures for Instagram. Many of my friends and I enjoyed the abundance of nature by sitting on the ledges there, overlooking its natural beauty. Unfortunately, we were not able to wait until sunset, but I can imagine the view would be astounding. The falls, the spring trees and overall mellowness of the park was refreshing from the winter weather that created a more dark and dreary atmosphere in Kent.

Another beautiful time of year to hike and journey along the trails is in the fall. During this time of year, the leaves are covered in beautiful colors, and the weather is tolerable. My family visited around late September, and we hiked through the Summit Metro Parks. The calming fall breeze, soft sounds of the water, as well as the radiant color of the fall leaves made this park a good trip with my family. The park only being less than 30 minutes out of Kent made it even more enjoyable for my family because we didn’t need to go too far for a good nature walk.  

Downtown Kent itself even has a nature spot worth exploring: the Cuyahoga River. The green fields surrounding Kent’s campus are nice spots to play sports, have picnics or soak in some sun rays as well. However, the city of Kent does lack natural scenery, aside from the river and the campus greens. If people want to enjoy a more nature-filled scenery, they might have to drive a bit aways from Kent to enjoy the natural beauty of Ohio. The drive is well worth it though.

Don’t be afraid to get involved on campus

By: Cheyenne Petitpas

Flashback to late August: It’s only been a few days since I started living on campus. I was an intimidated freshman who was nervous yet excited to start getting involved at Kent State.

Like most new students, I visited every table I could at the Kickoff festival and signed up for far too many organizations I knew I’d never attend. I gave my email to multiple tables for one of two reasons: to get free stuff, or because I had genuine interest in the organization. I didn’t go to any of them for a while, mainly because I was nervous to go alone and didn’t make any friends on campus yet.

I eventually met a friend through a modeling/promotion gig. Basically, someone asked for volunteers to take pictures in company merchandise and only two of us who responded. The other girl brought a friend along, and I began talking to her friend over lunch. We discovered we had a lot in common. I brought up how there were so many clubs I wanted to go to, but I could never force myself to actually go. She said she felt the same way, and we discovered there was one club we both wanted to try out. She had been going for a while with her friends and invited me to tag along.

The club was More Than A Body, which is a club that focuses on supporting and comforting those who have experienced sexual assault or harassment. More Than A Body was high on my list of clubs I wanted to join, so I was stoked that I was finally going.

The meeting I went to was during the peak of the Kavanaugh case, so obviously we talked about the case and how, unfortunately, a lot of victims are blamed and justice isn’t served the way it should be. We did an activity called blackout poetry, which is where you take a section of text, highlight certain words to create a new text and color out the rest of the words. We did this with articles about the case, with printed speeches that Kavanaugh delivered, articles about Trump discussing the topic, and articles discussing other men who have committed the same crimes.

It felt powerful to cross out words of a negative text to create something more empowering and just. To turn something negative into something positive always leaves people feeling uplifted and happy. It was amazing to feel the vibe in the meeting shift as people created their poetry.

At the end, we went around and shared what we had created. Hearing some of other’s poems, I was amazed at not only their artistry regarding the wording, but how drastically they changed the tone of the text. Leaving the meeting, I felt validated and supported. I learned I was not nearly as alone as I felt I was.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to attend More Than A Body again due to classes and work, but I still highly recommend the meetings to my friends. I never thought that being with others that share my experiences would be beneficial to me, being a very shy and closed off person, but it was empowering and felt good.

Putting your goals into action

By: Paige Bennett

Goal setting is an extremely powerful tool. From entrepreneurs to athletes, many successful people set goals in order to achieve great things. As motivational speaker Mark Victor Hansen once said: “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands–your own.”

We all have things we hope to accomplish, and goal setting can help put our plans in motion. Here are a few tips on how to set goals that are both accomplishable and conducive to your schedule!

Have realistic expectations

One of the most important things in goal setting is to set realistic expectations for yourself. While it’s natural to want to have high expectations, setting lofty goals, especially when you’re first starting out, can turn you away from the goal-setting process completely. You want to make sure the standards you set for yourself are realistic and attainable. Goals should challenge you, but they should not make you feel as though you’re going up against impossible expectations. Think about your schedule and what you have going on in the upcoming weeks before you establish your goals.

Be prepared to adapt

In addition to having realistic expectations, you want to be ready to adjust your goals in case things go awry. Although it would be ideal to create goals and stick with them, it isn’t always possible. Other responsibilities may pop up and interfere with your goals.

When this happens, it is important to be ready to adapt. Instead of allowing these obstacles to deter you, think of creative ways to get around them. The steps to achieving a goal can change as your circumstances do.   

Get specific

Make your goals as specific as possible. Goals like “I want to be successful” or “I want to make more money” are vague and don’t leave you with many ideas of how to achieve them. Goals should always give you a plan or a starting point, such as “I want to be successful by getting my degree” or “I want to make more money by launching my own business.” Embedding these phrases in your goals will help you turn your wants into actions. Ultimately, the more detailed a goal is, the better it will be in execution.  

Check up on yourself frequently

As you pursue your goals, check up on your progress as often as you can. It is easy to let things slip away from you if you are not holding yourself accountable for them. By analyzing your progress, you will be able to determine which goals you’re doing the best with and which ones need more work. In addition, checking in on your progress will act as self-imposed deadlines, which you can use to keep yourself on track with everything you want to accomplish.

A visit to The Land

By: Puja Mohan

Cleveland is the most city-like area I have encountered upon arriving in Kent. Not to despise the city status of Cleveland, but having been born and raised in Chicago, Cleveland is vastly different; city-wise that is. However, Cleveland radiates its own elegance. The overall ambience of the city, day or night, can be quite comforting and tranquilizing.

The fine dining Cleveland offers is far more compelling than Kent, but by no means extraordinary. For example, Chocolate Bar has overpriced items, too me anyways. However, I do appreciate the aesthetically plating of the dishes. Many of the portions, especially desserts, were much larger than I expected. I decided splitting a dish is the way to go.

If you’re looking for Mexican cuisine, Barrio offers flavorful options and is reasonably priced. They offer tasty Mexican food that you can customize through filling out a Build Your Own Tacos slip.

A comical encounter that I think of when related to Cleveland and dining was my experience at Chinanto. This is an Italian cuisine that I’ve spent maybe five minutes at. My friends and I walked into an elegant dining area with a separate coat check and elaborate designs and decor scattered about. While this should have raised suspicion among us college students, who desired a decent and affordable dining option, we were dumbfounded to discover the cost of the entrees. We immediately grabbed our coats and dashed out, but if you feel like splurging on Italian food, maybe this place is for you.

Aside from dining endeavors, Cleveland offers other fine attractions. The city itself, especially later in the day, has streets filled with bright lights and offers a sense of warmth and comfort. This adds a rather romantic vibe to the city, making it a great date night location.

Cleveland is also a great city for family and friends. My family and I visited the Cleveland Art Institute, where most collections are free admission. Though I am not an art fanatic, nor expert, I appreciated the beauty of the art as well as learning about the history and meaning behind many pieces. I would recommend a visit with family, friends or a significant other. You’ll be surprised to learn a thing or two, and the environment of this museum is serene, picturesque and inviting, especially in the summer time with the bright sunlight coming in.

Although at a limited expense, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are commonly recommended places to visit. I have yet to go to these two destination though. Likewise, many of my friends have seen the Cleveland Cavaliers play at the Quicken Loans Arena. Another option would be to grab some friends or a date and have a baller time.

The hour long journey from Kent to Cleveland is cumbersome, but rewarding nonetheless, especially if you want a change in scenery. A Friday or Saturday night adventure is highly recommended, and it’s definitely a great day trip with friends to simply hang out in the city, shop, eat and relax.

March Mania

By: Cheyenne Petitpas

One of the biggest freedoms we experience as American citizens is the right to assembly and free speech. Throughout history, it has been proven that using these rights to speak out about issues has been tremendously effective. Exercising these rights usually happens in the form of a march for a certain cause. This past month, it was for women’s rights.

In mid-January, there were numerous women’s marches across the country – New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, Washington D.C. and even one in Akron. Every state in the U.S. hosted a march with the exceptions of Arkansas and Louisiana. Even though the marches weren’t as big this year as they have been the past two years, they still ranked as number seven of the top ten protests since Trump was elected into office. With 319 marches, and roughly 700,000 participants, the voices of these women were definitely heard. Especially with all the recent legislative propositions to give congress control over a woman’s body in terms of being able to tell her what she can or can’t do with it, these marches were well timed. The marches were held as a tribute to the #MeToo movement that is far from dead, as well as in celebration of the 2018 midterm elections, where a record number of women were elected into government offices. This may seem like a small feat, but its progress in the right direction of empowering women and uplifting them to the same status as men, especially in government.

However, the marches weren’t entirely positive. The attendance declined majorly, and some marches were even canceled, because of the arctic-like weather. Subzero temps, high winds, no sun, and heavy snow all led to people choosing to stay inside rather than go march in the yucky weather. Another big problem with this year’s marches were the allegations of anti-Semitism and racial tension between the protest groups. While the allegations were denounced, many people protested the protests due to the allegations of the march organizers and leaders making anti-Semitic remarks or holding anti-Semitic views. A few marches in New Jersey had some tensions arise between the women’s march and the Black Lives Matter protests. These incidents all played a factor in this year’s marches being significantly less, as far as population, than past marches. Nevertheless, these marches still gave women the opportunity for their voices to be heard and for them to exercise their right to protest.