Teacher embraces writing to ‘freak out less’

By CULLAN STAACK/Montana State News 

Walking the famous John Muir Trail in the fantastic Sierra Nevada mountain range, Mark Schlenz cannot help but consider the beauty of it all. “I like to write about nature and ecology and try to put things in terms that can influence people to have more positive values towards preserving stuff like this,” he says.

Schelnz’s book on the hike, “Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail” is a microcosm of his beliefs about the world as well as his life story: chill out more and freak out less.

“Chill out! Keep writing! Write more, freak out less,” Schelnz says, while laughing at the thought of telling his younger self these words of advice, albeit with a hint of seriousness. “And you know what they say, ‘what goes around comes around,’ and to know it keeps going around and it keeps coming around.”

Despite his love of beautiful nature hikes, playing a variety of string instruments, Chinese martial arts and yoga, as well as writing music and about anything that comes to his mind, Schlenz, who has a doctoral degree in English, carries an unmistakable sense of urgency and motivation. As a conscientious objector and a firm Donald Trump critic, Schelnz is driven to use his vast knowledge of writing and discourse to teach a younger generation the right way to communicate and learn from each other. Continue reading “Teacher embraces writing to ‘freak out less’”

DeVos appointment get mixed reaction locally

By MERRIT GEARY/Montana State News

The current political climate has yet again caused a series of discussions around the Montana State University campus. Betsy DeVos, a highly controversial figure, has been named secretary of education. So what does this mean for the students and the university?

Earlier this month, DeVos was confirmed as the Secretary of Education with a split 50-50 vote in the Senate and Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. DeVos has been in the spotlight for her controversial remarks about the position and her understanding of its responsibilities. She has made many claims that have caused many to question her ability to handle the job, saying many disputable things about gun usage at schools, campus sexual assault, and even public school funding. Continue reading “DeVos appointment get mixed reaction locally”

Ralliers target Daines’ office over DeVos

By BAY STEPHENS/Montana State News

Teachers and other concerned citizens rallied in front of Montana’s U.S. Republican Sen. Steve Daines’ office on Monday to protest president Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, who is considered inexperienced by many in the realm of education.

Kali St. Germain, a demonstration participant and Montana State University student, described the protest as stretching for at least half a block. The party marched outside Daines’ office, while some chanted, “We want education, not a corporation.”

St. Germain said that Daines’ did not appear before the crowd. A man from the office met the crowd to tell them that they “weren’t sure who they were going to vote for,” which, according to St. Germain, the crowd did not receive well. The protesters addressed postcards to the senator voicing their specific concerns, then disbanded. Continue reading “Ralliers target Daines’ office over DeVos”

Number system costs students credits

By CHELSEA ANDERSON/Montana State News

The recent shift at Montana State University Bozeman to the MSU Billings numbering system for literature classes has resulted in a loss of credits for a number of students.

The two universities have been working towards a standardized numbering system to make transitions of transfer students and their credits more efficient, According to the English department Chair Kirk Branch.

According to Branch, before the transfer to the new system, the department worked with the MSU Bozeman registrar to make sure that the new classes would count for the same credits as the older classes. Changing the numbering system involved the rewriting of the British Literature courses from time period-based class titles to Advanced British Literature I, II, and III. Continue reading “Number system costs students credits”

Prospects brighten for Romney Hall renovation


The Montana State Legislature is to vote on Romney Hall renovation plans in upcoming months, plans that would add more than 1,000 classroom seats at Montana State University, according to the university’s News Service.

The project to renovate Romney Hall would cost about $28 million to complete with Montana State University investing $1.7 million to from its reserve funds to support the project, according to the news service.

The renovation project is part of a package that includes “other state buildings and construction projects such as roads, bridges, and sewers,” according to Tracy Ellig, the executive director of university communications, “known as the ‘infrastructure package.’”

Currently, reserving classrooms at Montana State University is an extremely difficult process, with availability being rare even during the summer semester, according to Makiko Diehl, program coordinator at the MSU Office of International Programs. Continue reading “Prospects brighten for Romney Hall renovation”

Students locked out of needed writing classes

By TYLER BARTON/Montana State News

In recent years, students in some majors at Montana State University have been unable to get into the classes they need due to rapidly expanding student population. English writing majors in particular have especially experienced this problem.

Since 2010, when Waded Cruzado became president of Montana State University, the MSU student population has increased 21 percent. In 2016, MSU had over 16,000 students. For comparison, the population of Bozeman is around 43,000.

Writing was created as a specialization for the English degree relatively recently in Fall 2011. It grew fast for a few years, and has hovered at around 100 majors since fall of 2013. Unfortunately, the amount of classes relative to the amount of students in this major is disproportionate. Continue reading “Students locked out of needed writing classes”

Studying abroad yields lasting benefits


“It was a truly life changing experience,” said Lea Skrædderdal Schou who came to Montana State University in fall 2015 from Copenhagen, Denmark. She has countless positive memories of studying abroad, and her experience marks a common trend in students who study abroad.

Immersing oneself into another culture can have a lasting impact; at MSU students are encouraged to take time studying abroad because of its multiple beneficial effects. Culbertson Hall, bordering College Avenue, is where students can find resources on study abroad.

Four flights of stairs to the top level, a short walk down the hallway to the right and any individual can find themselves taking the first steps to another country. For some on MSU’s campus it’s also the headquarters of their international experience, as MSU was foreign soil to more than 700 (5 percent) students during the Fall 2015 semester, according to the MSU website’s quick facts page.

Yet, only 2-3 percent of MSU students go on a study abroad, according to the study abroad office at MSU, which is quite a bit less than the rest of the U.S. population of undergraduates at 10 percent, according to Open Doors database.

While the benefits of living in another country have been widely recognized, the long-term effects are not discussed to the same degree. Do students that have studied abroad have an upper hand in the job market?

Continue reading “Studying abroad yields lasting benefits”

MSU has lackluster graduation rate


If graduating in a timely manner is high on your list of priorities, Montana State University may not be the ideal choice for higher education. Over the last couple of years, MSU’s reputation has received both acclaim and criticism for graduation rates. Although increasing undergraduate enrollment has continued to set records year after year, it is not the only record being broken.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, MSU’s 2014-2015 four-year graduation rate was 23.9 percent. In 2014, the number of freshmen who graduated in six years was not much better, at just under half (49.6 percent). This is cause for some concern, since that was the second-highest ratio since 2000.

Parents of college-bound freshmen are getting acquainted with the frenzy of helping their children decide on which school to attend, and it is likely that MSU’s abysmal four-year graduation rate will prove to be an intimidating statistic—especially for those facing out-of-state tuition fees. According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly 59 percent of college students earn their degree within four years in the United States, which is more than double the rate of MSU.

Continue reading “MSU has lackluster graduation rate”

Math, ski patrolling make an eclectic mix

By ZACH FENT/Montana State News

First, her eyes begin to squint.

Then, the smile from ear to ear starts to sprout.

A quick breath.

“Oh, this is a good one,” she said with the same excitement that many patrollers get when telling accident stories from their past.

“The worst accident I’ve been on, not really the most life threatening, but a good one,” she said, “was a kid who was going to fast through trees. Some ski racers said probably 40 mph when he hit a tree.”

From her momentary pause before detailing the proper velocity of the young boy’s travel, it is likely that her speed recount has a minor growth  spurt each time she retells this particular story.

“You can still see in the tree where he hit. When we cut his pants off, there was a piece of bone missing in his femur. It was pretty intense! It fell out into my hands!”

She cupped her hands as if she was still holding the fragment of femur in her palms.

“We pulled traction and got him to the hospital fast,” she exclaimed with her signature laugh, “with a plastic goodie bag for the ortho!”

Continue reading “Math, ski patrolling make an eclectic mix”

Childhood experience leads to career in teaching

Kate Kujawa teaches in the psychology department at Montana State University.
Kate Kujawa teaches in the psychology department at Montana State University.

By MEGAN AHERN/Montana State News

Kate Kujawa may leave those who encounter her with the impression that she is a jubilant woman, as wanton as water and as carefree as a crisp breeze – albeit with a nervous laugh – but behind those wire-framed glasses and flowing blonde hair resides a strong proponent of critical thinking, understanding, self-acceptance, and empathy.

Kujawa is a professor of contemporary issues in human sexuality at Montana State University. Though Kate loves her current teaching position, she never would have imagined herself a professor prior to taking the job.

Kujawa was raised by a single mother who worked constantly to support her children. She was familiarized with responsibility and drive at an early age. She recalls that in her youth, she was responsible for coming home on her own, doing chores and homework, and sometimes cooking dinner.

Some children raised by single parents later struggle to form successful relationships of their own due to the lack of exposure to successful relationships at home, but Kujawa believes her mother’s choice to remain single had only positive effects on her.

“I think it put it into my head that you don’t need to be in a relationship to have a family, and you don’t need someone else to be happy,” she said.

Continue reading “Childhood experience leads to career in teaching”

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