Category Archives: Campus Life

Sexual Assault: “It’s On Us” to Start Talking

College is a place to learn, right? Well, what if the topics we begin to learn about make us feel uncomfortable? Is it okay to ignore those topics? Or should we press on and educate ourselves by learning why those topics make us uncomfortable?

Like many colleges across the United States, Parkland College has decided that the topic of sexual assault is one we can no longer ignore—in our classrooms or other social places. Last September, President Obama and the White House launched the It’s On Us campaign, asking Americans to pledge the following:

To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur.
To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

This pledge is a call to action for men and women at Parkland not to be bystanders to sexual assault in our community.

On January 28 at noon, Student Life is bringing a free, interactive improv show to the Parkland Theatre. Sex Signals uses humor and audience participation to educate us on what can lead to sexual assault and how our actions can improve our relationships.

Sex-Signals-Flyer-e1380055525101-294x300Please plan on attending the show to begin this important conversation at Parkland College. If you would like to sign the pledge, go to: http://itsonus.org

No Winter Break? Break the Ice Instead

Get ready for the saddest sentence in the English language: Winter break is officially over. It’s pretty easy to be bummed out about trekking through the snow and ice to get to class every day again after a month of binge-watching Netflix (I know I wasn’t the only one) and not having to worry about homework or papers.

But there is definitely a significant part of me that’s excited about starting all new classes; and with this new set of classes comes a new set of classmates. Which means it’s time to start making friends.

Now, I am self-aware enough to recognize that I am probably not the best person to be making a post about this. In fact, I could still use a lot of help in this department. But making friends, or at least acquaintances, in your classes is so important—especially when it comes to needing help with course material. I have passed many a math class through the assistance and explanations of my classmates. And it’ll make going to class seem like less of a drag if you have a few friendly faces there.

So here are a few strategies that could help break the ice (and maybe writing about them will help me to take my own advice):

• Just introduce yourself!
It could be as simple as turning to your neighbor and telling them your name. If you’re an introvert (like I am), maybe you’ll get lucky and they’ll be outgoing enough to bring you out of your shell. Opposites complement each other!

• Bond over your mutual struggles with the course material.
I think we’ve all been here—the camaraderie felt amongst a group of people who all just failed a test or did poorly on a homework assignment is strong. Use it to do better next time—together, you might be able to figure out just what you did wrong.

• Find something in common.
Whether it’s your major, the area you’re from, a hobby—chances are, there’s something! And hey, if you having nothing at all in common, you’ll probably learn something new!

These are just a few methods that might help you make friends with your new classmates. But like I said, I’m no expert on the topic. Any and all suggestions are welcome, and thanks for reading!

[Marnie Leonard is a Parkland College Student Ambassador.]

Boot Camp with Parkland College Community Education

Boot Camp with Community Education
Boot Camp with Community Education

I love to work out early in the morning. The best thing about it is that anything can happen during the day, and it is not going to get in the way of you getting your daily dose of exercise because you have already done it.

Parkland College offers a Boot Camp class through Community Education. It meets on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 6 to 7 a.m. with instructor Peg Olson. I have had the opportunity to fill in for Peg on occasion, and it is a great group of people who are very welcoming to newcomers.

Student Lynda Ramirez has taken many exercise classes with Parkland College, and she loves Boot Camp. Here’s what Lynda had to say about the Boot Camp class:

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Boot Camp had always intrigued me, but I didn’t think I was good enough to try it out. I met someone who was taking the class and found the courage to try it. That was more than a year ago! I regret that it took so long to find the courage, and wish that I had started a long time ago.

Boot Camp has something to offer everyone, no matter what the age, gender, fitness level or lack of fitness. Each person can work at their own ability level and put as much or as little into as they want; however, Peg Olson is able to bring out the best in everyone. The class is challenging for everyone, from the P90X guy to the person working out for the first time. Peg teaches modifications for every activity so that everyone can participate.

Boot Camp covers all types of fitness activities, both strength and cardio. Peg focuses on activities that incorporate as many muscle groups as possible. We don’t just do squats and lunges; we do them with a body bar held out in front of us. We don’t just run around the gym; we do it holding a weight over our heads. We don’t just do sit-ups; we do them with our feet up in the air holding a ball between our ankles. Peg never fails to find a way to make an activity more challenging!

I know that Boot Camp has made me a better person in many ways. I have made many friends and worked harder than I ever dreamed I could. At the age of almost 62, I can truly say that I am fitter and healthier than ever before. I have achieved goals that I didn’t think were possible. I will keep coming back every semester as long as I can. Fitness is important to every person, but I can attest that the older you get the more important it is. Exercise in the “second half” of life is no longer an option — it is a job. I want to be in the same wonderful shape as my mother who is 88 years old and walked eight miles with me last week.

Boot Camp is more than an exercise class. It is a family. The camaraderie is a major reason to keep coming back. New people are welcomed every semester and quickly made to feel part of the group. Everyone is encouraging and motivating. We celebrate each other’s successes. No one is more motivating and encouraging than Peg.

Boot Camp is a wonderful way to start the day. I feel like I accomplish more before 7 a.m. than a lot of people do in a day or even a week! I sometimes dread getting out of bed, but nothing beats the great feeling of making it through another class and the pride that I feel.

The next session of Boot Camp starts February 3, 2015. Registration is open now; call 217/353-2055.

Community Engagement in the 505—A Core Value!

Parkland Academy Team’s Comadre and Compadre Program, a college-funded initiative, has exceeded its objective of generating community engagement with district Latino students and parents.

This semester, the Comadre and Compadre Program (CCP) has participated in 10 community outreach events that have been hosted throughout the K-12 pipeline as well as at local community centers. The program connected with well over 380 Latino families and students in Parkland College District 505.

Their outreach events inform Latino students and parents about the numerous opportunities available at Parkland College, ranging from free English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to Parkland’s Pathway Program. During these events, CCP members and coordinators have also fielded questions about financial aid,  scholarships, campus climate, and degree programs, among others.

Iroquois West High School VisitMany interactions with prospective Latino students and their families have taken place at informational events at area schools. Most recently, a Latino student panel consisting of Kenia Gonzalez, Kellyn Cuevas Tovar, and Grascon Torres shared their educational experience at Parkland College to 34 Latino students and parents at Arcola High School. Of those who attended the event, 16 high school seniors expressed a strong interest in applying and enrolling at Parkland College. The furthest outreach event took place at Iroquois West High School in Gilman, Illinois. The program coordinator as well as mentors  and mentees took the 45-minute drive up north on I-57 to interact with 23 Latino students that consisted mostly of juniors and seniors interested in learning about the Parkland College experience.

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This type of community engagement is not a program objective to be attained, but a core value. It guides the program’s approach towards providing essential information in Spanish to Latino students and parents about making college a dream come true. More importantly, program mentors and mentees serve as recognizable examples that college is possible despite the existing barriers.

The Comadre and Compadre Program will continue to fulfill its core value of community engagement in the spring 2015 semester.  Program coordinators have already scheduled a visit to Rantoul’s middle school for the month of January.

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PTK Helps with Hunger

[Jenny Olmsted, regional president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, invites you out to the Student Union this week to give back to your community.]

Did you know that 1 in 5 children in eastern Illinois struggles with hunger? Did you also know that currently 28% of the land slated for agriculture is used yearly to produce food that will be wasted or lost?

This is food, free food, that could be going to hungry mouths.

An even scarier fact is that our global population is predicted to rise to roughly nine billion people by 2050 from our current seven billion, and we can’t even feed all the people we have now with our current agricultural practices.

Yet we can surely try, and we are!

Phi Theta Kappa food drive boxes.
Phi Theta Kappa food drive boxes.

Parkland’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa —the largest and most prestigious honor society of two-year colleges—is hosting a Food Drive and an Environmental Awareness Table this week, November 17–21, in the Student Union. Please come out and donate some food or funds, or just stop by to learn something new about the environment and what you personally can do to help. The table times are listed below:

MONDAY: 8:30 a.m.–2 p.m. (Green-out day)

TUESDAY: 3– 5 p.m. (Ecosystem day)

WEDNESDAY: 8:30 a.m.–2 p.m. (Skip a meal)

THURSDAY: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. (Trash day)

FRIDAY: 10 a.m.–1 p.m. (Farmer day)

All food will be donated to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank on December 2, the “Day of Giving.” This means that the food you donate will stay in our community and be directly donated to those who need it in our area. Since Parkland’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter will not be donating the food until December 2, please feel free to make donations up until then. A donation box will be placed in Parkland’s Student Life office in the Student Union after this event. Food items needed most are beans, canned fruit, canned veggies, cereal, jelly, macaroni and cheese, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, soup, and rice.

Also have you heard of kiva.org? This is where 100% of your monetary donations will go. Kiva.org is a nonprofit organization “with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” Check it out for yourself. (Here is Phi Theta Kappa’s team link.)

Parkland’s PTK chapter is also spreading awareness about food production and how it has impacted our environment over the years during this time. Each day of the week will present a new theme with new action items that we all could do to help out. So if you can’t donate, still stop by to learn something new!

Monday’s theme was Green-out day. People came to campus dressed in green to show their support for our environment. Tuesday’s theme highlighted our ecosystem and how the species within our environment have been impacted both positively and negatively by agricultural practices.

Wednesday is Skip a Meal Day! Parkland’s chapter is not encouraging people to skip a meal but rather to raise awareness in regards to how a lot of people have no choice but to skip a meal or two. After your lunch purchase, you have the option of donating your leftover change!

Thursday’s theme is Trash Day. Do you know how much trash is generated by the food you purchase? Stop by to find out! And lastly, Friday’s theme is Farmers Day. With the increasing global population, more food has to be produced somehow and somewhere. Stop by to learn more. Our farmers work hard to ensure that the production of our food is efficient and sustainable, so don’t forget to thank a farmer this Friday!

Parkland’s Phi Theta Kappa Chapter hopes to see you there!