The Ink Spot The Student News Site of Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Cambridge Thu, 17 Dec 2020 17:44:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 BLASEBALL: The Splort You Didn’t Know You Needed Thu, 17 Dec 2020 17:42:22 +0000 A Beginner’s Guide to the Meme-Ish Fantasy League Sport for Non-Sports People 

By Axel Kylander, Staff Writer 

Various Blaseball teams’ logos from season 11. Image Credit: Stealthyfrog with contributions from other artists

Blaseball is a free, text-based web browser fantasy baseball game made by indie game company The Game Band. A random number generator decides the outcomes of games played by 20 teams who play on the hour, every hour, Monday through Friday, for a total of 100 games per season. The game is largely fandriven with artists and content creators adding their own visions and interpretations to what would otherwise be a much more bland simulation.  

The game was created by Sam Rosenthal and released on July 20, 2020. Rosenthal had wanted a way to connect with non-gaming friends during quarantine. The result was a free, fan-based fake sports game that developed a cult following. 

The Ink Spot staff felt simultaneously entertained and confused while test-driving the game. Staff writer Jesse Mishler asked, “Is this game some sort of troll?” and staff writer Courtney Larson echoed his question, “This seems like a big prank.” 

But, would a prank have a player that is clearly just a frog in a wizard hat? No, it wouldn’t. This sort of whimsy and snark is what blaseball is all about. 


JOIN: To join the cult, simply sign up: 

CHOOSE A TEAM: After you create an account, choose a team to support – some teams tend to be better than others, but it varies from season to season and it is totally fine to choose a team based on which name you like best or find the funniest. 

This is where you will select your blaseball team.

CHECK TEAM STATS: Now that you have a team chosen, go to the league page to check how your team ranks! The skills level of your team’s players determines the league your team will be in. 

CHOOSE AN IDOL: Shop around a bit to choose your idol! Your idol is your favorite player in the whole game and they don’t have to be from your team. It’s often best to choose someone with high stats (which you can see by clicking on a player within a team) because you earn coins every time your idol does well. 

Each team has a page like this that displays the players’ stats.

PLACE BETS: Use your starting coins to place bets on upcoming games – this is the main way you’ll generate money to buy votes and other things from the shop. You get a passive income each time your team wins, but it starts out small until you upgrade it.  

Here are the few of the things you can buy in the shop.

That should get you started on the game! Place bets, keep upgrading and follow the news! 

We are all love Blaseball, and never forget – the Commissioner is doing a great job. (Don’t understand this statement? You haven’t really played Blaseball.) 

An example of fan-created Blaseball memes and artwork. Image Credit: Stealthyfrog
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Cambridge Concert Choir Entertains from Afar Thu, 17 Dec 2020 04:15:51 +0000 Led by music instructor Randal Buikema, the Cambridge campus concert choir created a video to share their music. 

By Ink Spot Staff


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Student Life Dooms Over Zoom Tue, 15 Dec 2020 18:34:05 +0000 Student life has hopeful plans for spring semester and onward. 

By Jesse Mishler, Staff Writer

The student life department at ARCC struggles this semester with current online formats for distance learning. Student life events still go on but are harder to generate normal attendance numbers due to accessibility, student availability and students’ uncertainty about when these events are going on and how to attend them.

Part of the reason why student life is currently down in attendance numbers is because of a mix of accessibility, stress, external life events, and scheduling. Overall, student life participation is more difficult with the effects of Covid, but student life is still going and balancing the needs of students despite the lower numbers and the burnout the students are facing.

“I think it is harder for students to know about our events because we used to be able to catch students as they walked through the cafeteria between classes and ask them to join our slime making event, for example. But now we have to rely on emails to promote our events and we know people’s inboxes can get filled up quickly,” explained Elise Kazmerzak, Coordinator of Student Engagement and Activities at ARCC Cambridge campus. 

Things that seem to work out for getting higher student turnout include giving out prizes like gift cards and hosting more asynchronous events so that people can participate when it’s comfortable for them. One thing that student life is also working on is diversifying the events and activities offered, including different types of events and speakers. For example, the department is being intentional about scheduling BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists and speakers. 

“We’re hopeful that things will eventually be able to happen more in person next fall semester 2021, but for the spring semester, it’s hard to say. We’ve got a few new ideas to try that will hopefully be convenient and fun for students to participate in next semester,” Kazmerzak said. 

Attendance numbers are very low this semester compared to when student life was in person, but there was high turnout for the Kahoot events in October which included three “Get Out the Vote” Kahoots.

“Student life looks a lot different online and it has made it harder for us to know what kinds of activities and events students are interested in seeing in the online world,” continued Kazmerzak. 

“We already have one speaker lined up for January 28, a Native American poet who shares his experience in growing self-acceptance and self-love through his personal identity. We’re also planning to do a Virtual Involvement Flipgrid for student clubs and organizations to promote their group and hopefully encourage new members to join them. Other ideas include more asynchronous Kahoots and more collaboration with other departments on campus.” 

Kazmerzak summarized the virtual semester, “We really appreciate the feedback from students who have attended our events and we will continue to provide programming and ways to connect with those who are able to. College is a great time to meet people and try new things, even if they are virtual, so we encourage students to keep an eye out for emails from Student Life with upcoming events!”

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Student clubs and organizations survive this semester Tue, 17 Nov 2020 18:15:17 +0000 Many student clubs are not operating but a handful are still going on.

By Jesse Mishler, Staff Writer

On September 8 Student clubs posted promotional videos in the virtual involvement fair. Almost every club will be done through zoom (or an online method) this semester and next. The virtual involvement fair did provide information about the clubs however there was not enough information for students about the clubs, how they operate, and how to join the clubs. Here is some clarification about the clubs that students can join now.

Hmong Club

The Hmong Club is an open space to talk about Hmong culture, learn about the Hmong language, and other fun activities. Anyone who is interested in the Hmong culture is welcome to join the Hmong club regardless of what campus you’re on. The club president, Emily Yang said, During those meets we usually use up half of the time to wiggle into club in which we play games, sing karaoke, chat, and etc.  The other half of the time our group members help us learn more of the Hmong language by teaching the basics all the way to modern day speaking! Currently there are six executive board/leadership positions which include the treasurer, the two spokeperson(s), the secretary, the vice president, and the president (which are all filled). Yang said, “most times we will be given topics to discuss about.  The topics range from modern society to stuff about Hmong heritage.  We are open to any topic as long as it is approachable and appropriate. “ The Hmong Club communicates through group chats.

If you have any questions about the Hmong club, email the club president at at ( The Hmong club meets every Tuesday from 12pm to 2pm and every Friday from 11am to 1pm through zoom.

Students for Life Club

Members of Students for Life hosted a table to promote their message. Image Credit: Carrena Falls

The students for life club is an open space for students who support the pro-life movement and want to learn more about it. The club president, Carrena Falls said, “Before the pandemic, we hosted events like educational table setups and making cards for moms at a pregnancy center! Our group strives to educate others about the value of life, as well as encourage and assist mothers who choose life for their babies. Now, during COVID-19, our events will include things like virtual pro-life movie showings, virtual activism events, and social-distanced sidewalk counseling outside of abortion clinics.” Before the pandemic the club would talk about current abortion news and learn more about the movement each week. Now they do the same but over zoom. Falls said, ” Our club is under Students for Life of America, and our focus is making abortion illegal and unthinkable. All of our events and meetings surround the same goal! Our activism is split into 5 pillars: Effective Education (educating others on abortion), Industry Impact (exposing the abortion industry), Public Policy (enforcing pro-life legislation), Rapid Response (peacefully protesting when something bad happens), and Supportive Services (providing resources to moms in need and those affected by abortion).”

If you have any questions about the club or would like to join, email the club president at ( or email the club advisor at ( The club also has an Instagram (@studentsforlifearcc)

Student Senate Coon Rapids

A student senate meeting from 2018. Image Credit: Jeffrey Leonard

Student senate is an organization. Where students can share their voice on problems they face on campus and be student leaders. So far senate mainly communicates through email, but other forms of communication are being looked into. Senate President, Robert Burch, said “Before Cambridge and coon rapids didn’t connect but now, we connect more. People on Cambridge also connects with coon rapids. I really like the collaboration because even though we are different campus we are all a team. It’s nice that we can do our own thing but also collaborate. I hope that we can collaborate even after this semester/covid.” Student Senate coon rapids has a potential movie night, more kahoot trivia events, and mental health awareness events for the future. Currently senate has the President position, the vice president position, the Communications director, and the Public relations coordinator as executive board positions but only the president position has been filled. Burch said, “People showed up – We used to be able meet in person, and it would be easier to get though the agenda and talk about things. Now it’s just me and one other person. Now we can collaborate with other campus. It’s really important to collaborate with other campuses. It’s important to branch out to other people. It’s important because we’re all a team. (and sometimes the wife doesn’t work.” Anyone who was to be a student leader can join senate (Senate also give out stipends to students who put the effort in). Burch said “Student Senate is a way to engage with my peers. I have a hard time speaking with people. I have a fear of public speaking and I try to do it anyways. I try to get out of my comfort zone. I get a chance to talk to my peers. I get to have a voice that help my peers. I get to help people and I always loved helping people.

If you have any questions or would like to join Student Senate Coon Rapids, email the advisor at ( or email the club president at (

Multicultural Club

An image of the Mosaic Center where the Multicultural Club would often recruit members prior to distance learning. Image Credit: Max Brown

 The multicultural club is a student club that’s open to all students who have an interest in creating cultural diversity and want to create a welcoming environment for all students of ARCC. So far, no events are planned or will be hosted this year.  Angela Vena, the Club’s Advisor said, “We used to meet in person, and it was easy to gather people who might have been hanging out in the Mosaic Cultural Center in Coon Rapids. Now our meetings are held on Zoom and we have a much smaller turn out so far this year.” Last year the club hosted events that include food and cultural decorations. Vena said, “it will be very difficult to replicate any of our events, so we will probably focus on discussion-based events while we are in this virtual format.” For the multicultural club there is no formal executive board but there is a student representative that works with planning and administrative items.

 If you would like to join the multicultural club, email the club’s advisor ( for the zoom link. The multicultural club meets every other Wednesday at 1PM.

Creative Writing Club Coon Rapids

The creative writing club is open to students from Cambridge and coon rapids campus. Laurel Smith, the advisor said, “ All you need is enthusiasm for creative writing and the writing process. We are particularly interested in adding members who are at the beginning of their academic journey.”  Currently there are weekly meetings Wednesdays from 5-6PM. Smith said, “Currently, we are meeting over Zoom and plan to continue doing so. Meetings are fun and easy! We are also planning to utilize our D2L page quite a bit to help facilitate

The most recent copy of “Spirit River Review,” the annual literary publication created by the Creative Writing Club. Image Credit: Creative Writing Club

positive interactions between club members. Meeting time is used for student writers to provide constructive feedback to each other, to work on writing prompts, to handle club business, and to share publishing opportunities.” There currently isn’t a messenger discord (or other communication method besides zoom) but students are open to create one in the future. Right now, there is a president and vice president for the executive board, but they are considering adding other positions.

If you would like to join the creative writing club email the advisor ( for the zoom link and the D2L site


Art Club

ARCC students can attend art club meetings virtually through zoom and share their interest in art together. Art club is open to all skill levels and all forms of art are welcome here. Previously art club met in person on the coon rapids campus in the visual arts building to plan events and communicate. Now meetings are done

A mural created by the Cambridge Art Club in 2017. Image Credit: Lavell Conroy

completely online through zoom. Art club has a D2L and communicates through email. Jessica Shimek, the advisor said, “We plan to host skill share days where members of Art Club can demonstrate a craft or technique and teach the rest of the group. Art Club members will be able join the art department for some of their events and visiting artists. We have a list of virtual art events that members are encouraged to attend. More ideas are in the works.” Art club has the president and the vice president elected. 

If you have any more questions and/or would like to join art club, email the club’s advisor at (

Ceramics Club

The ceramics club is an open space to share your interest in ceramics and is open to all skill levels. Mark

A bowl created by a member of the Ceramics Club. Image Credit: Robin Peterson

Lambert, the advisor said,” Average meeting is that we would get together and do something in clay.” . Currently there is no other communications method besides zoom. The ceramics club would plan out events at the start of the year and currently has the Vice President and the president position for the club.

If you have any more questions or would like to join the ceramics club, email the advisor at (



Anime Association

The Anime association is an open space for all students to talk about and appreciate anime and other forms of media like it.  The group communicates through zoom, and school email accounts but are considering a discord. The current executive board positions are the vice president and the president (Both are filled). Anthony Marchetti, the club advisor said, “The weekly meeting before the pandemic consisted of meeting in VA 208 (the Mac Lab on the Coon Rapids campus) and watching anime together. Last year, we spent most of our time watching the series ‘The Promised Neverland’. The group also held monthly potlucks and game playing meetings (board games and video games). Meetings are now conducted on Zoom. Currently, the group is watching the series ‘Black Clover’ on Hulu (one member shares their screen). We are also looking into how to replicate game days but have not arrived at a solution yet.” The Anime Association also attends an annual convention help in spring in Minneapolis called Animinneapolis which is an anime convention. This year with covid restriction s may apply to varying levels (or at all) and last year this event was cancelled.

If you have any questions or would like to join the Anime Association, email the advisor at (

Psych Club Coon Rapids

An image being used on the website to promote the Psychology Club. Image Credit: Anoka-Ramsey Community College

The Psych club is an open space to discuss and collaborate about the interest in psychology. You don’t have to be in a psych program to be in this club and is open to all students on both campuses. Recently the psych club has meet up on zoom to discuss the film “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (they meet up on zoom and so far, that’s the only communication method mentioned. Kendra Miller, the advisor said, the club is currently exploring ideas for future activities.  Hillary Gokey (Cambridge Psychology faculty) and I had planned to collaborate, but unfortunately, we didn’t get any members from the Cambridge campus, so Hillary won’t be advising the club on the Cambridge campus this year.

If you have questions about the psych club or would like to join, email the advisor at, (

Student Senate Cambridge

Prior to Covid-19, members of the Cambridge Student Senate would occasionally wear the Rocky the Ram costume around campus. Image Credit: Mackenzie Krzmarzick

 Student Senate is an organization that allows students to have their voices heard as they advocate for problems they face on campus. Student Senate Cambridge meets every other Wednesday at 3 pm through Zoom. Student

Senate Cambridge communicates digitally through Zoom, frequent emails, Discord, and Microsoft Teams. Previously Student Senate Cambridge would meet up in person with an agenda and discuss the things we would like to advocate for. Now we do the same thing but though Zoom. This is an opportunity to connect with other students and make a difference within our college and our state. Our executive positions include the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasure, Public Relations Coordinator, and the LeadMN Liaison.

If you have any questions or would like to join student senate Cambridge, email the advisor at ( or email the president at (

Ink Spot

Two Ink Spot staff members collaborate on video editing for a project. Image Credit: Mackenzie Krzmarzick

The Ink Spot (Cambridge) and the Campus Eye (Coon Rapids) is a way to empower student by giving them experience in journalism and allowing them to create their own news articles. Previously Ink spot would meet in person for individual coaching sessions on projects and communicate through messenger with the entire ink spot team as well as email. Individual coaching session times are flexible for scheduling Now we communicate through zoom for individual coaching sessions and team meetings… and email. There are no office positions but everyone who is in the ink spot is a staff member.

If you have any questions or would like to join Ink Spot, email the club advisor at ( 



Gender-Sexuality Alliance

The Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is an open and welcoming environment for all students on both campuses regardless of your race, gender sexuality, and all forms of identity.

Asher Ward and Canada Groshens being crowned Prom Royalty at the 2019 GSA All-Inclusive Prom. Image Credit: Mackenzie Krzmarzick

The GSA previously met on Cambridge campus at 2:30 Pm on Tuesdays every week to plan events, hang out, and create a very welcoming environment for students. Now the GSA does a very similar thing but on zoom with the restrictions of covid. All events done are digitally and the GSA meets on zoom at the same time scheduled previously. There is a speed friending event planned for November 17th and other fun events will be planned through the year. We use Facebook messenger and a discord to communicate with.

If you have any questions or would like to join the GSA, email the club advisor at (

The following clubs did not respond to an inquiry about the article that were listed in the virtual involvement fair:  Creative Writing Club Cambridge, Muslim Student Association, Student Nurses Association, PTK Cambridge, Psych Club Cambridge. 

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Why You Should Vote for Mickey Mouse Wed, 21 Oct 2020 17:41:00 +0000 Making change begins with voting.

By Axel Kylander, Staff Writer

“It doesn’t matter.” 

“It doesn’t make a difference.” 

“The candidates are the same.” 

I hear these things a lot from my fellow students and I can hardly blame them for holding the underlying sentiment. Large swathes of the world are literally on fire. The country is swept up in the tides of pandemic and injustice. Despair towards politics, partisan divides and distrust in the system are surely at a peak. 

We observe all this as students; the future looks bleak and many of us feel powerless. 

But we collectively, as students, are the future – of Minnesota, of the United States. We are the ones who will fill the occupations of tomorrow, yet we are also the ones who live with the challenges of today.

Axel Kylander is the Vice President of LeadMN. Image Credit: LeadMN via Instagram.

My name is Axel Kylander. I’m 21 years old and I’ve been a student at Anoka-Ramsey for four years. In addition to being a student, I’m the Vice President of LeadMN, a student-run advocacy group that represents Minnesota’s 165,000 community and technical college students.  

One of the major initiatives LeadMN has been working on for months is a statewide, nonpartisan Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort for students. Students voted in record numbers in 2018 and LeadMN is hoping we can beat that record in 2020. 

At LeadMN, I find myself with a foot in two worlds. One is a world of policy and legislation, idealistic goals and practical realities. But the other world, my private life, is the world of a student, one where I read my textbooks and get nervous over exams.  

I talk with my peers every day and I sometimes hear the things quoted above – that there’s no point to voting. I’m not saying I don’t understand why people feel this way. I’m not grumbling about “the youths of today. I’m bridging the gap between the two worlds I live in to pass on this knowledge of politics:

One of LeadMN’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) events aimed at increasing voter turnout among college students. Image Credit: LeadMN via Instagram

It doesn’t always matter who you vote for. 

But ialways matters that you vote. 

I used to hear phrases like that and roll my eyes at the cliché. But now I see a truth in it. 

I’ve participated in advocacy to get legislation passed that helps college studentsThat work includes physically sitting down with legislators and talking about what they can do with their power to turn bills into laws. 

Every single politician is different, buthey all have something in common. Past all of thstatistics that get thrown at them, past all of the stories they hearevery politician is sure to pay attention to one thing: who votes. 

Not who you vote for, but that you, as a college student, are on their radar as a voter to win over by attending to your concerns. 

As a student population, voting is how we build our political power. Are you sick of expensive textbooks? High tuition? Struggling to have food on the table or a roof over your head? Are you like me, kept up day and night by mental health struggles? 

Are you, at the root of all of this, sick of feeling powerless, of feeling a boot-heel on your neck as you strain to reach the degree that our society says will be your ticket to a career and a better life? 

Student leaders from LeadMN visited the Minnesota state capitol for Advocacy Day 2020, during which time they met with state legislators to discuss student concerns. Image Credit: LeadMN via Instagram

Step one to changing that is voting because that is what the decision-makers at the state capitol or in D.C. notice. 

Get informed about all of the candidates in all of the races and vote your conscience. But if your conscience does not allow you to vote for anyone, do not simply stay at home. Go vote anyway. It gives you more power and influence to write in Mickey Mouse or Baby Yoda or whomever than to not vote at all.  

Because no matter how you vote, it sends this message – I am paying attention and I want change. 

As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that is something politicians notice when deciding how to spend their time in office. 

Vote, then stay engaged and keep shouting for change. Make your noise with a ballot and then join us at LeadMN if you have time to make more. 

Vote and make the people able to fix what’s broken in our education system sit up and pay attention to us. 

Fellow students – vote in 2020. Our future depends on it.  


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Student Life Goes Virtual with Events All Semester Long Thu, 10 Sep 2020 14:04:08 +0000 Anoka-Ramsey Student Life hosts many virtual events over the course of the fall semester to keep student engagement up while we learn online. 

By Jesse Mishler, Staff Writer

This fall semester, Anoka-Ramsey student life is hosting many online student life programs and events. Clubs and organizations will also be virtual. In some cases, programs, events and student clubs/organizations will include both Cambridge and Coon Rapids campuses. 

Image Credit: Felipe Taconelli via Pixabay

“Over the summer, the Student Engagement and Activities Department has been brainstorming new ways of providing relevant, thoughtful programming that we hope students will find to be entertaining and helpful as we face another semester of virtual learning.” Elise Kazmerzak, the coordinator for student engagement and activities for Cambridge campus, explained. 

Kazmerzak continued, “Covid-19 has certainly impacted Student Life, causing us to shift the way we engage with students and connect them with events, activities, clubs and organizations on campus. Our main focus is for students to feel supported and engaged with the college community while keeping everyone safe and healthy 

This fall semester, information will be shared through the AnokaRamsey website, social media, student emails and other online methods of communication to share the news about student life. 

Current not all the clubs are up and running yet, but info will be provided as things become availableStudents will be emailed every two weeks about future student life events. Students who attend events will also be entered in a $25 gift card drawing every two weeks.

Image Credit: Eileen Catasus Chapman via Pixabay

“We know that this virtual learning situation isn’t exactly what a lot of people were hoping for, but we hope to make the best of it by creating new ways of connecting and helping students become involved outside the classroom. We are facing new challenges together as a campus community, and I am confident we will continue to learn and grow through it all. Kazmerzak said.  

The student life department provided this schedule of events for the month of September. Check your student email for more information and for information about future events.  

September 9th – Coffee with the Presidents (10:00 – 11:00am on Zoom) 

Meet the President of Anoka-Ramsey Community College, and the Presidents of both Cambridge and Coon Rapids Campus Student Senate! Grab your coffee and come with your questions about being a student at ARCC or just relax with coffee and company! 

September 14th – 18th – Virtual Involvement Fair All week on Flipgrid 

Clubs and Organizations are a great way to get involved and make the most of your college experience! Watch a short video introduction from a variety of ARCC Clubs and Organizations here to begin making connections and find out how to attend their meetings! 

September 15th – ARCC Leadership Exploration and Development Series: Leadership 101 (12:00 – 1:00pm on Zoom) 

In this session we will examine the foundational principles of leadership and followership. We will also discuss positional leadership and why this can be problematic. Finally, we will seek to dispel common myths about leadership. 

September 16th – Virtual B*I*N*G*O sponsored by Concordia University (12:00 – 1:00pm on Zoom) 

Join us for fun and a chance to win a prize! Open to all Coon Rapids & Cambridge ARCC Students! 

Register through this link: Join Zoom Meeting 
Meeting ID: 917 609 5195 
Passcode: 720301 

September 16th – Job Readiness Center Workshop: Resume, Cover Letter, LinkedIn and Everything In-Between!  (2:00pm – 2:45pm on Zoom) 

We hear it constantly! With the working world rapidly changing you need to make sure you have an appealing resume to make it to the next stage. Stop by for this informative session to pick up on some tips and tricks to make sure your stuff is looking right! 

September 22,  –  Meditation with ARCC Counselor Liz Iverson (12:00 – 12:30pm on Zoom) 

Mediation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thought or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgement. And eventually, you my start to better understand them as well. 

September 24th – Virtual Yoga with Elise Kazmerzak (noon – 1pm on Zoom) 

Yoga can help relieve stress, improve flexibility, strength and balance. Join Elise for an all-levels yoga class. No experience necessary, everyone is welcome! Tune in on Zoom with your yoga mat if you have one. 

September 29th – Diversity Dialogues (11:00am – 12:00pm on Zoom) 

Join us for a monthly discussion about current events in diversity. Topics will be determined by what is currently happening in the world of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

September 30th – Job Readiness Center Workshop: Virtual Job Searching in Times of Pandemic (2:00pm – 2:45pm on Zoom) 

Things are different, but you still need a part-time, full-time or internship. Attend this session and learn how to navigate the virtual landscape of job hunting. We’ll discuss how to leverage job searches from the comfort of your own home and more! 


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Grade Inflation: Do You Know What You Are Paying For? Mon, 11 May 2020 03:18:45 +0000 A counselor, faculty member and student weigh in on whether or not courses at ARCC are “easier” than they should be.

By Jackson Yates, Staff Writer

During a faculty development day in January 2020, ARCC President Kent Hanson addressed the faculty and instructed them to consider the overall rigor of their courses.

Due to the stigma around community colleges and the education they provide, it is a common misconception that community college classes are less rigorous or difficult than those at a university. Underlying President Hanson’s request was the concern that the education being provided at ARCC might not compare to a four-year school.

With the admissions scandal that was uncovered in the beginning of 2019, a microscope has been placed on higher education. More students are critically evaluating the quality of their education, especially now that classes in the Minnesota State System have moved to an entirely online format in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Course rigor is tied into the problem of grade inflation, which is when rigor decreases so that students can earn higher grades. This problem has grown over the past few decades, as colleges have begun to rely on contingent (non-permanent) faculty members to teach the majority of their courses. Currently, about 70% of faculty across the country are contingent and the only metric for their success is the end-of-semester student evaluation survey results, which tend to be better if instructors provide an easy class and grade students generously.

Students boasting straight As at a community college may be the result of instructors offering more “grace” and helping them to overcome challenges rather than the result of easier courses or lenient grading. Image Credit: ATIS457 via Flickr

Carissa Johnson, one of the TRIO SSS advisors at ARCC Cambridge campus, said that though she doesn’t see many instances of grade inflation for the students whom she works with, classes and instructors vary in difficulty and instruction styles. How an instructor forms the curriculum of their class is at their discretion due to the faculty union and the terms of their contracts. That would account for that large range in styles and difficulty levels of courses.

“Based on talking to faculty as well as talking to students, there is a lot variety between instructors as well as departments. However, there is not a lot of difference between associates’ level and bachelors’ level.” says Johnson. In her experience, when a student has gone to community college and succeeded, they will not struggle with university-level work.

In psychology instructor Hillary Gokey’s experience as both a contingent and now a permanent instructor at Anoka-Ramsey, over time she found that she has not become an easier grader but rather a more thorough one. Gokey reflected on how grading at a community college and grading at a university are different because community colleges generally attract non-traditional, PSEO and other students who have unique and challenging circumstances.

Gokey stated that though grading may be more lenient, the rigor of the curriculum and course material does not go down. “I have termed this semester, ‘the semester of grace’. This does not mean rigor is any less. It simply means I want to be understanding of the many different needs people will face during these uncertain times. ARCC has a diverse student population, that I take into account, in a normal semester, so when COVID hit, I put this thought into overdrive. Students who already felt like they could not take on anymore could be faced with many more obligations, and other students might thrive in this environment.”

Gokey further explained that grace is key to this spring semester’s sudden switch to online learning. “I believe you can have rigor and grace. There are going to be many opinions on how online learning went this semester. We will learn from our mistakes as well as our successes. We were forced to transition quickly! I believe faculty, staff, administration and students did a phenomenal job this semester.”

Out of five students who were interviewed for this article regarding grade inflation and rigor in their classes at Anoka-Ramsey, none of them felt they had experienced grade inflation at ARCC.

Student Sam Miller said that when it comes to class difficulty, “I think it is a good and natural transition straight out of high school into ARCC. ARCC is a very good steppingstone to get into higher education.”

Miller continued, “I think that you have to be careful when talking about this kind of thing. The main focus of a college should be to improve students’ livelihoods and improve their careers in opening doors for them to be better. Essentially, aside from that part of it, grade inflation can be a problem because you may not have the training you need to go into your career.” Miller believes that at the end of the day, the thing that is the most important when it comes to the education you receive is that it prepares you and enables you to move ahead in your career and goals.

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Student Life Announces Yearly Award Winners Mon, 11 May 2020 01:17:42 +0000 The Student Life Department honors outstanding students and student leaders from afar this year instead of recognizing them at the annual awards ceremony, which would have been on May 7. 

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Student on the (Digital) Street – How Has Your Distance Learning Experience Been? Sun, 03 May 2020 19:31:27 +0000 Ten different mass communication students each asked an ARCC classmate about how their time spent during the Covid-19 lockdown has been going. 

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Campus White Board Creates Platform for Potentially Inappropriate Content Tue, 07 Apr 2020 21:09:53 +0000 Psychology club addresses recent not-safe-for-work content posted on their public white board.

By Jesse Mishler, Staff Writer

The Cambridge campus psychology club whiteboard has been an ongoing source of inappropriate content near the cafeteria, which has been a cause of concern for some students. The psychology club board has been this way because it’s a place where anyone can post what they feel like posting, anonymously.

Psychology club president Travis Nelson explained that the purpose of the white board is to share club updates, mental health info and the question of the week. Hillary Gokey, the faculty advisor for psychology club, said that the question of the week on the board is important “because we see value in uniting students on a forum, as simple as it is. It is a fun way to keep students thinking about different topics and having a place to write/read.”

Despite the idea behind the question of the week being positive, content on the white board has sometimes been offensive or inappropriate. Nelson explained that inappropriate content is anything that is considered not-safe-for-work. Likewise, Gokey said that determining what content is inappropriate can be tricky and subjective. “If something is written that makes you think, ‘hmmm…that doesn’t really seem appropriate and/or nice,’ we will consider removing it. A good rule of thumb is to be nice! Don’t try to shock anyone – that is not the purpose of the board.”

This recent picture of the whiteboard from March shows that students have written questionable and irrelevant content, including a statement about defunding Planned Parenthood and false information about the Covid-19 outbreak. Image Credit: Yuri Malik

Content that has been removed in the past included things like sexual comments, hate speech and arguments on the white board. Student Mikhayl Turnock said that he has witnessed inappropriate content. “I have erased a few of them; some of them were quite inappropriate.”

The psychology club whiteboard is an open forum that everyone can see and write on and by hosting inappropriate content, it can create an unfriendly, unwelcoming environment that is “detrimental to the student body. Especially considering there are PSEO students, so we gotta [sic] keep it okay for kids, too,” according to Nelson.

Having the right to speak how you want is important, but it is just as important to be civil to one another and respect that responsibly. Regarding drafting a content removal policy, Nelson said, “We haven’t yet, but that’s definitely something I’ll bring up next meeting. That’s a wonderful idea so we can be more upfront with how that business is handled.” Gokey explained, “It might turn into a conversation that does not have an answer we all agree on, but it is important to consider.”

As of right now, students can report inappropriate content, according to Gokey. “Anyone can read it and report comments. It is in a populated area, so it is easy to check. Of course, there is also an eraser by the board, so anyone can erase – though we don’t want people to do that; we prefer they send me or a faculty/staff member a message.”

When deciding on the questions to be put up on the white board, Gokey said “Normally, once a week. We had a slow start this semester, but we are up and running now! We have a new banner on the top of the board, so if you have not checked it out, you should take a peek.”

While there are no students currently on campus to write on the board, as we are all working remotely right now, perhaps the board will be thriving again in the fall without any inappropriate content.

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