stigmatizing life

Sara Keen// Editor-in-Chief

 

People always make statements about embracing who you are.  You have heard things such as “be who you are,” or “don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t be.”

But it seems that when one tries to do just that, they are only struck down by the very society that encouraged it.  It is as if you can only be who you are if that matches society perfectly.

Even worse, you can only embrace the positive, “socially-acceptable” life experiences you have had.  While we happily share grades, acceptance letters, and the happy sides of our past, we often hide the negative parts of our lives.

Why is it that society has forced us to feel so negatively about our own complex being, that we have to hide some of the most important events in our lives?

There is no shame in any incident that changed who you are or made you stronger.  Whether it was surviving an illness or struggling with a mental illness, no person should have to feel ashamed that they have that hardship in their life.  There is no shame in feeling at peace with your past because your past made you into who you are now.

It may be difficult to do, to say that you struggled with something awful or that you’re still struggling.  I have struggled, and more than likely so have most of the people you would encounter every day.

Sure, it probably is not the brightest idea to proudly announce or display some hardships, but there is no need for shame.

There seems to be a stigma on fairly common events that impact lives.  Mental illnesses, miscarriages, abuse, racism, and even sexism have been stigmatized as things we should not discuss.  That is not at all the case.

For a society to grow, that society must understand the problems it faces.  People cannot continue their lives hiding the awful things in life.  If a person keeps too much to himself or herself, then that person is likely to crack under the pressure.

We are not immune to pain, disgust, tragedy, or illness.  We are humans, considered the most intelligent species on Earth.

That intelligence allows us to push ourselves further into advancement.  That intelligence also causes us to think more about the world and the events that take place.

We are also compassionate and empathetic.  We can understand the feelings and emotions of others.  There should be no shame in embracing our experiences.

The human experience may be the only one we get, so do not feel ashamed of yours.

Volstate Host Halloween Party

Barbara A. Harmon

The Halloween party at Volunteer State Community College on Oct. 30 was a success.

“For a Halloween party the day before Halloween, and we counted a little over 80, that’s pretty good,” said Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities for Student Life and Diversity Initiatives.  “That’s the most we’ve ever had for a Halloween party.

“We ran out of food, which is better than having a bunch of leftovers.

“Everyone seemed to really like the costume contest, and we did a raffle—a door prize,” said Sherrell.

She said that she saw more faculty staff in attendance at this year’s party and possibly a few from the community.

Sherrell said among those that attended were also students who brought their children.

Some children participated in the coloring contest and will possibly come to the homecoming game for their prize, she said.

Domino Hunt, Secretary of the Student Government Association and a Vol State cheerleader, was overseeing the coloring contest table.

“A lot of kids were engaged,” said Hunt.  “The 3-year-olds loved it.”

“Some of the older kids were distracted, but I think they had fun.

“Everything is a superhero right now; that’s a big deal,” said Hunt.

She said those that entered the contest need to come back to the homecoming game, if they want to receive their prize.

There were 13 contestants and the winner will be announced during the halftime of the men’s game, she said.

Fran Henslee, staff, brought her three children to the party.

Henslee had attended the Halloween party at Vol State the year before last, and said she feels this year’s party was more family oriented.

She said that is why she chose to bring her children this year.

The activities she enjoyed the most at the party were the crafts, she said.

One of her children said he liked the food the best, and another said the cookies.

Lori Miller, Secretary of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, said that people were appreciative of this event.

“What I heard from everybody was it was really nice to have this offered, and thank you for putting this on,” said Miller.

Student Life and Diversity Initiatives will also be sponsoring the spirit lunch and overseeing everything for the upcoming homecoming game, said Sherrell.

“They will do a photo booth, and one of the students will run it, but Lori and I will oversee it, make sure everything goes smoothly,” said Sherrell.

She said they will also make sure all the buildings have some sort of decoration before the game.

“We [SLDI] have three family friendly events, we’ve done two and they’ve both been successful, so I’m excited to see what homecoming in going to look like,” said Sherrell.

Presidential forum discusses current issues

Barbara Harmon

The Presidential Forum at Volunteer State Community College was presided over by the school’s cabinet on Oct. 26.

Jesse Versage, President of the Student Government Association (SGA), started the questions by asking if Vol State would ever add more four year programs, and if so what would they be.

“As a community college and offices of the Tennessee Board of Regents, we are not allowed to have four year programs, so that’s just not the way it works,” said Dr. George Pimentel, Vice President of Academic Affairs.

“TTP is the Tennessee Transfer Pathway; the first two years you are here, people transfer then to a university.

“The only program that’s been discussed, and that’s because of possible accreditation is nursing,” said Pimentel.

“There was some talk, over the last few months, that the university accreditation involving nurses may be going to four year BSN degrees, and that might change some things, but as it stands right now as a community college we have two year programs,” he said.

Beth Cooksey, Vice President of Business and Finance, also responded to his question.

“I mean, we do have Trevecca and Lindsey both here and TSU on our campus,” said Cooksey.

“With the growth from Tennessee Promise, we don’t really have the room for other four year institutions to come here,” said Cooksey, “because we’re full.”

A student asked if they did not plan for enough parking for the Tennessee Promise students, or if they did not account for the lost parking from the humanities building.

Cooksey said that they replaced the parking lost to the humanities building space for space, but the amount of Tennessee Promise students was unexpected.

“There was an increase of about 800 freshman this year, and some of them, as well as other students, did not register until June, July and August,” she said.

“What we are doing right now is working with the Tennessee Board of Regents, who is our governing body, to go about constructing new permanent parking,” said Cooksey.

“We have two areas on campus, maybe three that we are considering.

“But we (Vol State) have to get permission from the Tennessee Board of Regents before we start any new parking,” said Cooksey.

She said they are attempting to have something done by January, however she has doubts about them getting approval that quickly.

There should be new permanent parking by the fall semester, but she did not feel comfortable saying it would be finished sooner, she said.

They are considering making some gravel lots before then, she said.

“We are very well aware of the parking situation and our interest is to build sufficient parking for the student body,” said Cooksey.

The athletic representative asked why the overflow parking has been closed.

“We’ve been monitoring the parking area very closely, and as we have determined at this point, and we do it on a daily basis, there is no need to have the overflow parking open at this time,” said William Rogan, Chief of Campus Police.

“It seems, for whatever reason, the car population has dropped off,” he said.

Domino Hunt, Secretary of State for the Student Government Association, asked if tickets were being issued to students that were removing their stickers and parking in the staff and visitor parking spaces.

Rogan said that the campus police are issuing tickets to those students, and that actually consumes a lot of their time.

Chasity Crabtree, Chair of Association of Campus Events (ACE), asked about student leader parking.

Cooksey said it was her understanding that the student leaders would like special parking spaces, but she feels this could cause problems with the students that they have been elected to serve.

It would be unlikely that they could match these designated parking spaces to where the student leaders needed to be—resulting in empty parking spaces, she said.

“In the past, we did allow some student leaders to have a faculty staff decal,” said Cooksey.

“That seems like a better solution to me; in that, instead of creating a third category of spots that might stay vacant, we could allow some student leaders to share in a faculty staff spot,” said Cooksey.

A student asked about the procedure that would be used in the case of an emergency, after the false alarm Vol State had.

“We get the report, we respond to the area, and a decision of evacuation is made,” said Rogan.

Rogan said that every situation is different.

As far as the incident that was a false alarm went, an alert was sent out and the campus police made a traffic stop, he said.

If it would have been an actual situation, they would have put a shelter in place and they will be having a drill for this, so students will better know what to do, he said.

Alice Myers, Vice President of SGA, wanted to know if more hydration stations could be put in the Pickel Building.

“Yes, we are currently going through every building,” said Will Newman, Senior Director of Plant Operations.  “Each building is getting hydration stations.”

“Once every building has a hydration station, and it’s a main common area, we will circle back to the buildings with the higher traffic and add more,” he said.

Hunt asked if it would be possible to make a connector walkway to cross the street, for students who wanted to eat at those restaurants.

Pimentel said that question has come up before, but that would be a city ordinance.

Cooksey said, “Obviously we’re concerned about student safety, and I do see how students crossing what is a very, very busy roadway; I know that Dr. Faulkner reaches out to the Mayor of Gallatin and speaks to her about that.”

It might help if the students aided in that effort, as well, she said.

Versage wanted to know what was being done about how crowded it is for faculty and students and the lack of space for the clubs.

Pimentel said he was not sure what Versage meant about crowded, however the classes are full.

“Once the humanities building is built there will be more options for faculty, and it won’t feel so full,” said Pimentel.

He said the new humanities building is supposed to be finished by next fall.

Hunt asked if they would ever consider bringing back Friday classes, so the schedules would not be so tight.

Pimentel said, “the short answer is no.”

Surveys about this have been conducted for both faculty and students, and they agree, he said.

“Two years ago we did not offer a lot of classes after 1 p.m., so it was primarily a morning campus,” said Pimentel.

“Pretty much the same pressure for fitting in classes has always been the same, but now we are utilizing more of the day and alleviating some of the pressure,” said Pimentel.

“Students still take five classes a week and teachers still teach five classes a week,” he said.  “It is still the same amount of hours.”

Jason Strong, a student in SGA, wanted to know if there could be a scheduled hour and a half break for lunch, so students could participate in organizations.

Pimentel said they did a survey on this about two years ago and students had no interest in responding.

He also said that students are capable of scheduling a time for their lunches when they plan their schedules.

Taking Measures to Prevent Suicide

Sara Keen// Editor-in-Chief

 

Last week, Volunteer State Community College lost one of its students to suicide. In the hopes of avoiding another tragedy such as this, The Settler would like to provide some helpful advice to anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide or concerned that a friend may be.

College can be a stressful environment, between exams, essays, and managing time between school, work, and a social life. It may be overwhelming for some students, and it is important to remember that asking for help is okay.

Let someone know if you are experiencing these thoughts or if you are concerned about a friend. It could make a difference on a person’s life. Helping someone could be as simple as showing him or her that you care or that the person is important to you or others.

It can also help to find better ways to cope with feelings, stress or improve mental health. Sometimes it can help to write feelings out, or express what is causing them. You can learn more about yourself through this, and how you can cope with life and the world around you.

Others may choose art, such as painting or drawing. Therapists help their clients express emotions or calm their nerves using art. They are able to create a visual representation of how they feel.

For students who may not be inclined toward art or writing, physical activity can be helpful. Sunlight and exercise can often improve moods and can be helpful for people who want to take their focus away from what is bothering them.

The biggest thing that can help someone who might be considering suicide or even harming himself or herself, is to speak to someone.   It does not help you to isolate yourself from everyone.

Speak to your family, and if that is not possible, go to a close friend.   There are people who care, for everyone, and someone will help you.

Even if you do not feel comfortable going to someone you know for help, there is a multitude of resources now. There are suicide prevention lines, forums and even blogs.

For those who have difficult lives, or maybe have some awful experiences, there are resources for everything from abuse to rape.

We are fortunate enough to live in a time where people care, and do not want others to give up their lives or lose hope. Every person in the world is facing something, handling it differently, and will need to ask for help at some point or another.

Do not be ashamed of getting help for yourself.

 

Quote:
“We all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in us… I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.”

 

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network Phone Number:

(615) 297 – 1077

Person of Interest: Karen Pratt always ready to smile

Blake Bouza

 

Karen Pratt said she believes that a person can wake up in the morning and decide, “will I smile today? Or will I be a grouch?”

Pratt said she prefers to smile. “It’s just easier,” she said.

Students might have encountered Pratt’s warm, positive attitude during the lunch rush at the Volunteer State Grill. Pratt has quickly become a staple of the Grill, but she is not originally from Tennessee.

She grew up in Ticonderoga, New York, a town with only about 5,000 people.

Pratt got her Bachelor of Science degree at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh. From there she pursued her Master’s degree at Castleton State College in Vermont.

She went on to teach middle and high school students in the day, and is no stranger to the community college environment as she would teach nightly statistics classes at her town’s local community college.

Pratt retired in June of 2014 just before she and her husband decided to pick up and move to Tennessee.

“It was quite an adventure for us to do something like that, just pick up and go,” Pratt said with a smile.

Her husband got a job as a store manager at Lowe’s. “I didn’t really know anybody around the area,” said Pratt. “So I said, I gotta get out because all I’m doing is sitting here and talking to my dogs.”

When a few different career websites did not work for her, Pratt’s husband suggested she try Craiglist, where she saw the ad for work at the Vol State Grill.

“I started working in the kitchen in the winter of last year,” said Pratt. “I think they moved me to cashier probably because I was making too much of a mess in the kitchen.”

“There was flour all over the place and all over me. Nobody else was having that problem, so I think it was their nice way of telling me my place wasn’t in the kitchen,” Pratt said with a laugh.

Pratt, luckily, thrives when interacting with people, especially students.

“When I was teaching middle and high school I learned that you have to have a certain personality to reach kids,” Pratt said.

“If you can’t joke around with them, if you can’t smile, you won’t grab them. When I retired, I just had to go out and be with people. It became a part of me,” she said.

“You can tell that some people are going through things sometimes. One lady just lost a son. Another girl had a miscarriage. People go through a lot. You get a sense of it. Sometimes you look at them, and they seem down. If you give them a smile, they can’t help but smile back,” Pratt said.

Pratt has seen how stress affects students as the semester wears on. “One kid walked in and told me ‘I just had a midterm. I didn’t know we were having a midterm today,’” said said.

“I offer my assistance to help kids out with their math homework, but no one has taken me up on it yet,” Pratt said while laughing.

Pratt is not unaccustomed to volunteering her time to help others. When she was 24, Pratt joined the Peace Corps on an extended stay in northern Africa. She taught calculus to the locals there.

One night Pratt opened her eyes to see a man in her room.

“We were told, in the beginning, not to move or they might kill us. He took everything. Even our alarm clock.

“After eight months, I was ready to go home. I was glad to have the experience, but I chose to go home,” Pratt said.

Students can return Pratt’s welcoming smile every day of the week at the Vol State Grill.

Recognizing Volstate Staff Member Voorhies

Michaela Marcellino

 

Marguerite Voorhies has worked at Volunteer State Community College since the day it started, July 1, 1971 as Cataloging Librarian.

Vol State, called the historic Cordell Hull Hotel home in 1971.

Voorhies could recall when the current campus opened in Feb. 1972. The Library staff was responsible for moving the collection of books belonging to the School into the Ramer Administration Building using the “Book Truck.”

Of course, as Voorhies said, “Then, we had less books.” The Vol State Library again moved when Thigpen Library opened in 1994.

“Everybody in the beginning that I was so close to, because we were over there in the administration building, retired. I just refuse to retire, as long as I have my health and half a brain!” said Voorhies.

When she was just out of college, Voorhies started at the Blue Grass Regional Library in Columbia, TN. They had a book mobile, and “we would take the book mobile to post offices, really anywhere that would take us, banks, or whatever, and leave books for people,” said Voorhies. She spent two years working at Columbia State Community College before coming to Vol State.

Voorhies’ favorite thing about working at Vol State is “working with the students, and the Vol State family.”

“[The biggest change] is the growth of the student body and college personnel. We only had a few students then,” said Voorhies.

Donna Warden, who has worked in purchasing and acquisitions at the Vol State Library for 40 years, said her favorite memory of Voorhies was filming a skit for a Media Information Resources course.

The MIR course was a required course for all incoming freshman. In this particular video, Voorhies was dressed like a biker chick, and kept saying “Honda” instead of “Harley.”

“We kept telling her, no, Harley people don’t like Honda!”

“She is such a sweet and caring lady…she has a good heart,” said Warden.

Julie Brown, who is the Technical Services Librarian at Vol State, has been Voorhies’ supervisor since Jan. 2010.

“[Voorhies] continues to be a dedicated professional. I can only hope to be as active and sharp as her when I’m her age. She comes in to work every day…she really enjoys what she does,” said Brown.

Voorhies lives in Gallatin during the week, and commutes to and from Columbia on the weekends. She has a sister and three grand-nephews there that she “loves dearly.”

“What has stayed the same [in 44 years at Vol State] is the idea that the student comes first,” said Voorhies.

Annual Volstate Fall Festival a Success

Blake Bouza
Volunteer State Community College hosted its annual Fall Festival on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015 from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. in the Carpeted/Tiled Dining Room and the balcony.

Students received a ticket with seven squares upon entering one of the dining rooms. Participants in the Festival were asked to participate in at least three of the seven items listed on the ticket to get a free lunch. A lunch of hot dogs and condiments was served at 12:30 p.m. in the carpeted dining room on a first-come, first-serve basis.

According to Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities, the idea of the event “is to offer fun activities along with interactive community service tables to encourage students, faculty, and staff to give back to the community.”

Community service tables included CAP (Children Are People) Hygiene Bags, where Service Learning and Artisan’s Alliance asked participants to fill Ziploc bags with deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, and a toothbrush to donate to Children Are People.

Team Change and The Settler collaborated to create snack bags to donate to the Shalom Zone. Participants were asked to decorate a brown paper bag and fill it with three snack items to deliver to the Shalom Zone.

Free HIV testing was offered to students in the cafeteria.

Phi Theta Kappa, Spectrum, and the Psychology Club operated a table on the balcony where participants were asked to stuff an animal to donate to hospitalized children for the Stuff-A-Plush table.

Sarah Naleby said this in particular hit close to home for her as she picked stuffing out of a large cardboard box and pushed it into the opening on the back of a plush Cocker Spaniel.

“I was in the hospital three weeks before Christmas,” said Naleby. “I remember getting toy donations like this from the local colleges.

“Even Tim McGraw gave us kids some Target gift cards,” said Naleby while laughing. “I am happy to return the favor to kids in need.”

Games were led by the Music Club and the African-American Student Union, including a ping pong table, corn hole, spider ring toss, and pumpkin toss.

Free caricature sketches were offered in the cafeteria while a free photobooth was set. According to Sherrell, students could get their picture taken with friends and a fall themed photo strip was printed out for the students to keep.

The photo and caricature booths were sponsored by the National Society of Leadership & Success, the college republicans, and Returning Student Organization.

Costume Contest Winners

Abigail Brogden

On Thursday October, 31 2015, Student Life and Diversity Issues hosted a costume contest in the dinning hall. Many students and even faculty participated in this event. There was a diversity of different costumes. First place went to Sara Malaby, who dressed up as Sally from Tim Burtons Nightmare before Christmas. Malaby went all out for this costume including body paint and fake scars. Second place went to Bean Graves as a Lasario character.

Halloween Story Contest: Schrodinger’s Man

By Kevin Yeargin

 

The following is a transcription of audio recovered from the tape recorder of Johan Verner. In the interest of public safety, the tape and every physical remnant of the experiment have been destroyed. In the interest of science, this transcription remains in the custody of the U.S. government.

VERNER [11:45 AM, Thursday]: Hello, my name is Johan Verner. I am a particle physicist here at Venkman Labs, and I am conducting what I hope to be a monumental experiment on quantum superposition. I am sequestered here inside a 20 ft. by 30 ft. bunker 1000 ft. underground. And I have with me here a device of my own design which should create a closed quantum field around the bunker, effectively turning its walls into the boundaries of a new universe. Honestly, I have no idea what will happen. Might be nothing. Could really be something. In approximately 10 minutes, I will turn the machine on. Then I will report back at 12:30 PM.

VERNER [12:30 PM, Thursday]: Well, the machine has been on for 30 minutes. I observe no physical changes. [light static, indistinct voice?] I will continue to observe the environment and, if nothing changes, report back at 4:00 PM.

VERNER [3:41 PM, Thursday]: Incredible. Absolutely incredible. Just… incredible.

VERNER [4:00 PM, Thursday]: Umm, hmm. I, uh, have discovered a strange phenomenon that I will attempt to describe here. Physical contact with the walls produces some sort of rippling effect, almost as if I were touching… I don’t know, touching water.

VOICE [4:01 PM, Thursday]: W-w-w-water.

VERNER [4:01 PM, Thursday]: Did you hear that? I will, umm, I will play the recording back to see if it picked up that voice. I will report back in one hour at the latest.

VOICE [4:02 PM, Thursday]: L-l-l-latest.

No further recordings Thursday.

No further recordings Friday.

VERNER [3:31 AM, Saturday]: I’ve just had… I’ve just…

VERNER [7:55 AM, Saturday]: I was right. I was so right. The experiment is a success. I have just made first contact with another form of intelligence. We talked for hours about Mozart, about elementary physics, about nothing at all! It was so engrossing that I did not sleep for the past, what is it, two days?! I will get some rest and then attempt to communicate further with my new friend. He does look tired. He is now sitting in the corner of the room, behind the bed. He is not looking at me.

VOICE [7:57 AM, Saturday]: [indistinct screaming, language unknown]

VOICE [8:43 PM, Saturday]: [whispering] Johan… Johan… [static]

No further recordings Saturday.

No further recordings Sunday.

No further recordings Monday.

No further recordings Tuesday.

No further recordings Wednesday.

UNKNOWN [11:00 AM, Thursday]: I am.

ASSISTANT [11:30 AM, Thursday]: [indistinct rustling] [hatch opens] Got it. Dr. Verner? The lights are off. What’s that smell? [flick of the light switch, rustling continues] Oh my god. I can’t, no… no!

End of recording.

The bodies of Dr. Johan Verner and his assistant were never recovered. The bunker was destroyed with dynamite, and the shaft leading to the bunker was filled with cement.

Halloween Story Contest: The Quiz

April Young

It was the stuff of nightmares. My alarm sounded five times that morning, yet I’d slept through each alert. By the time I was in my car, tying my shoes as I navigated the busy commute, I was already late for class. The professor had hinted at a quiz, and while I’d barely glanced over the assigned reading, I hoped to get by on my brilliant ability to guess and my artistic flair; maybe a smiling velociraptor at the top of the page would convince the professor to go easy on me.

It must’ve been Perfect Attendance Day on campus. Passing through the gates, I realized  the only thing less likely than earning an ‘A’ today was finding a parking spot. I circled each lot like an exhaust-spewing buzzard, begrudgingly giving way to a group at the crosswalk. My foot itched over the gas pedal.

I gave up with a growl and returned to the highway, flying through a yellow light and sliding into the Publix lot. I scowled at the brightly colored decal on my back windshield.

Greasy spots on the pavement don’t have to take quizzes, I thought optimistically as I put one foot over the yellow line on Nashville Pike. Someone must’ve fired a racing pistol. Every lane came alive! I made a mad dash across two of the five lanes, horns blowing from every direction. The turning lane opened just as I reached it. I closed my eyes and lunged across the final two lanes, surprised when I finally felt grass under my feet.

My heart beat wildly as I entered Ramer. It didn’t slow down as I noticed the ominous quiet. Were some of the lights out? Where was everyone?

A check of my watch gave me hope: only an hour late. My professor probably wouldn’t notice. I slipped into the classroom and took the only open desk, right in front.

“Quiz time!” my professor trilled.

I breathed a sigh of relief but immediately began to choke. I hung my head as I pictured my backpack tucked into the passenger seat of my car.

The girl to my right gave me a look of disgust when I asked for paper. The girl to my left threw the pen I requested at my head, narrowly missing my eye. I waited for the first question. It never came—at least, not in a language I understood. My professor made a series of sounds, and my classmates began to scribble furiously. “What are they writing?” a voice in my head screamed. I slammed my head against the desk. I was going to fail—at life!

I awoke with a cry. It had been a nightmare. I wasn’t late, and I wouldn’t fail the quiz. I was going to give the quiz. My students had no idea.

I giggled as I tucked my hooves into loafers and brushed my hair over my horns. I grabbed my pitchfork on the way out. It was going to be a great day.