Sustainability at State: Recycling, bikes prioritized on campus

SDSU’s campus is becoming more sustainable all the time and several strides have been made in this academic year alone to focus on sustainability.

Campus Sustainability Specialist Jennifer McLaughlin has set many goals to improve SDSU’s sustainability and has seen marked improvement across several of her focus areas, especially recycling.

This academic year saw the implementation of recycling bins in all offices across campus in January. Additionally, outdoor recycling bins are being added throughout campus, and students can expect to see recycling bins in every residence hall room this fall. McLaughlin plans to launch an educational campaign about how to use these bins so students can learn to recycle effectively.

Her goal for single-stream recycling rates on campus was to reach 25 percent by the end of June 2018. Single-stream recycling is items placed in the common blue recycling bins around campus, so this does not include recycling things like toner, ink and scrap metal.

In November 2017, the waste audit McLaughlin conducted found the single-stream recycling rate was at 13.25 percent. By February, it jumped to 16.5 percent after offices began receiving their blue bins. As of April, SDSU’s single-stream recycling rate has reached 20 percent.

“It’s been really exciting to see the single stream increase,” McLaughlin said. “I’m hopeful we can reach that 25 percent by the end of this fiscal year [June]. I think between single stream and miscellaneous recycling on campus we can get there.”

The next waste audit will be conducted April 18 and give a better understanding of recycling rates and how effectively campus is recycling the correct materials and not throwing away things that could be recycled.

In the fall, McLaughlin said one of the most common non-recyclable items in bins are coffee cups. Though they are made of paper, the waxy substance on the inside makes them non-recyclable.

McLaughlin has also assisted in getting locations for toner and book recycling on campus. There are three locations for each of these. There’s a drop-off for both toner and books in the Rotunda Breezeway. For books, the other locations are in The Union and Larson Commons. For toner there are drop offs in AME 120 and Daktronics Engineering Hall 157.

Students have also been working to make SDSU more sustainable. Students’ Association 2017-18 Finance Chair Scott Simons spearheaded an effort to ban the use of Styrofoam products in food and dining on campus. SA passed a resolution showing their support of a ban of Styrofoam containers on campus two weeks ago.

Simons worked with Aramark to discontinue the use of Styrofoam to-go containers in the Market and at Panda Express. He said they also tried to get rid of the Styrofoam cups at Chick-fil-A, however, the company is contractually obligated to use those cups.

While Styrofoam is an effective and affordable insulator and conductor, Simons said its use in food and dining contributes to a large portion of waste in landfills and felt it was one way to help reduce environmental impact.

“It’s super important to improve the space you’re in to leave it better for next generations,” Simons said. “This is a simple thing everyone can do to help the environment. Sustainability can seem like a hassle but this is one easy step.”

The Student Sustainability Council has focused on educating campus on living sustainably this year through workshops and presentations on what can and can’t be recycled, according to junior dietetics major and SSC’s vice president Anna Barr.

This spring, the council has focused on coordinating the first ever “Big Event,” a one-day community-wide volunteer event. Volunteers will help a wide variety of organizations and businesses in the community, including things like planting a garden at Dakota Prairie.

In the future, Barr hopes to get plastic bag returns at the C-Store, and as a larger project, SSC has looked into composting. Though it’s a big project and will take time, Barr said it’s achievable.

Simons plans to continue reducing the use of Styrofoam on campus and SA President Allyson Monson expects there will be more environmentally-conscious action taken by SA in the future.

“Bike share programs are a common theme seen around the table with this new body as big goals,” Monson said. “I think there are so many senators who are passionate about this and want to be more sustainable.”

New SDSU housing to break ground this summer

South Dakota State is set to break ground this summer on a new housing complex. The $20 million southeast housing project is set to open Fall 2019.

Bonds for $18 million are already issued, and the rest will come from residential life, dining services, The Union and Wellness Center revenue.

Although enrollment numbers have been stagnant, Vice President of Student Affairs Michaela Willis said about 1,000 students surveyed last year showed a high demand for this style of housing.

“We’re really excited for this opportunity,” Willis said. “We wanted to better serve our juniors, seniors and graduate students and hopefully phase one will go well and if we see a demand we can do a phase two.”

While Willis considers the timeline “aggressive” for the facilities to be open by 2019, both she and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Wermedal agree it is doable.

The complex will likely be two buildings, housing approximately 220 beds for upper-level and graduate students, Willis said. Right now, a three-story apartment complex and maximum two-story townhouse complex are planned.

Units will be a mix of one and four-bedroom, including in-unit laundry and off-street parking. The estimated costs will be between $500 to $700 a month, according to Wermedal.

After conducting architect interviews in January, the university selected Architecture Inc. from Sioux Falls to design the structures. So far, one planning meeting has been held, Willis said.

According to Wermedal, the university will hold a design charrette in March, which will include sessions for campus groups and students to provide feedback on the designs over the course of two days.

The housing project has been in the works for almost 10 years, first starting in 2009. After debating whether to work with a private contractor, the university chose to move forward on its own.

“We decided the best option was for us to build it,” Wermedal said. “We knew, this way, we could offer more budget-friendly rental rates for students, and hold the cost down for students, as well as influence management a little more directly.”

The university was originally looking at the northwest side of campus, but through student feedback, decided on the southeast area for its closeness to The Union, Wellness Center, athletics facilities and the Performing Arts Center.

The new complexes will replace State Court family housing and State Village. State Village was closed in early 2017, and State Court will be removed this summer.

The university has been relocating those residents, Willis said. Many chose their own new housing options, or graduated and moved on from Brookings. Only about a third are coordinating with the university.

The project is considered the first phase of potentially more housing for upper-level students over the next five or more years.

Lucky Eagle Tattoo lands in Brookings

Nestled right between Party Depot and Main Street Pub is Brookings’ newest hidden gem: Lucky Eagle Tattoo Company.

Lucky Eagle moved to Brookings a few months ago from Watertown, setting up shop at 408 Main Ave.

Co-owners Josh Birrittieri and Dustin ‘DJ’ Eckman only met a few weeks before becoming business partners and opening shop.

“Josh wanted to expand and I was looking to start a new business, so we were both actually looking at this building for a shop and the landlord connected us,” Eckman said.

Birrittieri, originally from San Antonio, first opened Lucky Eagle two years ago in Watertown, where he not only worked, but lived — sleeping on an air mattress at night after closing.

Eckman, from Columbus, Ohio, also has experience operating a tattoo shop, having owned one himself in Sioux Falls prior. He also has a business degree from Lake Area Technical Institute.

“He’s the business one, I’m the free spirit,” Birrittieri said.

Since opening in Brookings, Watertown’s Lucky Eagle had to close its doors when the artist overseeing operations moved out of state.

The pair said it only took about three weeks from deciding to go into business together to opening their doors. Both have owned and operated tattoo shops in the past and had much of their own equipment, furniture and know-how to get a shop up and running.

While still working to build their clientele base in Brookings, Birrittieri said clients have followed them from Sioux Falls, Watertown and surrounding areas because of the shop’s time in Watertown and participation in regional conventions.

It only took four days after their soft opening at the end of January for their first customer to walk in the doors, Eckman said, and interest has been steadily growing ever since.

Junior sports management major Aristarchus Payton stumbled upon Lucky Eagle while eating downtown and decided to check it out. He ended up getting a tattoo from Eckman.

“He is very light handed and pays attention to detail,” Payton said. “My tattoo only took about 30 minutes and I am greatly satisfied. I truly trust him as an artist now.”

Despite its downtown location, Lucky Eagle isn’t in the business of tattooing drunk patrons, which is part of why they close their doors at 8 p.m.

Although they’ve only just opened shop in Brookings, Birrittieri and Eckman have their sights set on expanding.

“We want to be a company, Lucky Eagle Tattoo Company, not just a shop,” Eckman said. “We want to potentially be the first tattoo chain in this area.”

Lucky Eagle is the second tattoo shop in Brookings, and Payton is happy to see more tattooists come to town.

“Brookings is a college town, so each year freshmen come with aspirations to get piercings and hidden tattoos,” Payton said. “Having a local tattoo parlor with reliable artists is a big deal.”

Both artists specialize in traditional Americana style, characterized by bold lining, and harsh colors and dimensions.

Eckman leans toward neo-traditional, saying he has a “more modern flair” in his work.

He started out tattooing in gray and black, but wanted to dabble in color-mixing palettes. Lately, Eckman said, his passion has been oriental style tattoos, which he doesn’t get to do often.

“Oriental style tattoos are unrealistic realism — richer color palettes, accent with brighter tones and bring elements of nature into the tattoo,” he said.

Birrittieri’s gift in traditional tattoos is something Eckman said he can mimic, but not fully replicate.

Birrittieri’s inclination toward traditional styles is evident not only in his portfolio, but also his supplies.

Eckman, like many artists, uses disposable, one-time use supplies, while Birrittieri prefers to clean his in a steam autoclave. It takes a lot of extra effort and time, but Birrittieri enjoys what is becoming an “old-school” practice and being “self-sufficient.”

Innovation and technology have evolved tattooing in many ways beyond tattooing supplies, both Eckman and Birrittieri said.

“TV brought good tattoos into people’s homes,” Eckman said. “With shows like ‘Ink Master’ and ‘LA Ink,’ tattoos became more common and accepted.”

Technique has changed with technological innovation over the years Eckman and Birrittieri have been in the business.

“A lot of the artistry is being lost,” Birrittieri said. “It’s more of a printing business than artistry these days.”

Digital technology and design has made the tattoo industry much quicker, Eckman said. This is another area where Eckman and Birrittieri differ slightly in the way they work. Eckman can draw things by hand, but he also creates designs in computer programs, while Birrittieri prefers to do it all by hand.

An unique trait of Lucky Eagle is how they price tattoos. Their minimum charge is $50, and about $10 per square inch — they charge by the size and complexity of the piece, whereas most shops have a $100 minimum per hour, Eckman said.

“Regardless of my financial situation, I’m not going to take money from a customer,” Eckman said. He said artists could potentially abuse the by-hour rule to make more money. “That’s not how we operate. We do it for the customers.”

New Year’s Eve flood in Student Union causes thousands in damage, displaces staff

The Student Union sustained thousands in damages after a frozen pipe burst and flooded the administration offices in the 150 suite behind Information Exchange over Winter Break.

The cost of damage is still being assessed. Ballpark figures have suggested between $35,000 and $50,000, but could be more, said Keith Skogstad, associate director of The Union. Insurance will cover up to $50,000 and remaining costs would come out of pocket for the university.

While campus was quiet and empty on the morning of New Year’s Eve, water had begun trickling from a sprinkler head in Assistant Director of Event Services Mark Venhuizen’s office until, finally, the frozen pipe burst. Because water was dispensing from the fire emergency pipe, it triggered the fire alarm, alerting University Police at 9:37 a.m.

Within minutes, the water flooded so deep in Venhuizen’s office that Skogstad, who’d arrived on the scene, couldn’t open the door, according to Venhuizen in a video he shared. The waterline left visible on file drawers measured 12 inches, Skogstad said.

Skogstad rushed to shut off the main water supply, but in the short time from UPD responding to the alarm and Skogstad arriving, the water had wreaked havoc on the offices.

“Most of Mark’s office is totaled,” said Jenn Novotny, senior director for The Union. “We are still waiting to find out if our office furniture can be fully restored.”

According to Director of Campus Maintenance Jim Weiss, crews had already evacuated furniture from the 16-room office suite and begun damage control by 10 a.m. Not only had the water flooded through the offices, it flowed onto Main Street, encroaching on the Market. It also seeped through to the lower level, causing damage in storage spaces and a maintenance room below.

Staff and local crews worked until about 4 p.m. that day cleaning up and salvaging what they could. The water was powerful, damaging and found its way into unexpected places.

“Mark’s desk was over here (across the room from the burst pipe), and his pencil drawer, which was closed, was full of water,” Skogstad said.

The cause is still unknown and difficult to trace exactly, but investigations suggest it may have been a result of exhaust fans being left on, allowing cold air to enter and freeze the pipe. Skogstad said this is inconclusive, though.

The wall between Venhuizen and Novotny’s office was the only structure with significant damage and may need to come down. Venhuizen’s office took the worst of it as it was a pipe in that room which cracked. The rest of the suite primarily suffered surface-level water damage. Some decorations, documents, furniture and equipment were lost and carpet will need to be replaced as well as new baseboards.

Since the flooding, employees previously housed in the office suite have been temporarily displaced, working in other locations or mobile until repairs are completed. For Novotny, who has been in her office for 13 years, this has been a bit of an adjustment.

“When I work with students I don’t imagine it’s so hard to be mobile because I see them do it all the time. I have a little to learn in the area of flexibility, but I’m surviving it,” Novotny laughed.

University Police aided in preventing a similar incident in the Einstein’s-Weary Wil’s vestibule only one day after the 150 office incident. According to Weiss and Skogstad, a line froze in that area as well, causing another leaky sprinkler head. A UPD officer making rounds through the building noticed it, though, and the main water line was shut off while a plumber made repairs, avoiding another incident.

“The floor and a couple ceiling tiles got wet but thankfully it was nothing major,” Weiss said.

Due to the record stretch of cold weather, Weiss said he heard reports of incidents similar to the office flood occurring throughout the state in the same weekend.

“It’s not as common to happen in an interior space like Mark’s office, but it does happen; and we’ve had other, minor, water-related issues in a few other campus facilities, too. It just happens this time of year,” Weiss said. “I guess that was our going away present for 2017.”

The Humane Society needs our support year-round to avoid financial crisis

In November, the Brookings Humane Society made their financial struggles known to the public. If they couldn’t raise enough funds, the Humane Society feared their doors would close by the end of the month.

After a few weeks, the Brookings community raised enough money to support the Humane Society through February, until their next major fundraising event.

We, at The Collegian, were thrilled to see our community come together and support the Humane Society. However, we hope this is not the end of strong community support for the Humane Society. We hope to see these efforts continue.

The Brookings Humane Society is operating with less money and they need our consistent support now more than ever. Brookings City Council awards an annual grant to help the Humane Society operate, but this year that funding was cut.

Now, the Humane Society heavily relies upon community support, donations and their monthly fundraising events. These events, usually partnering with local businesses, are a great time to help support the Humane Society as well as get to know their staff and other community members. Sometimes, you might even get to meet some of the furry dwellers of the Humane Society.

The Humane Society is well-integrated into our community through their partnerships with businesses for fundraising and their cheerful presence at public events. A humane society is an integral part of any community, because they lessen the number of stray animals, as well as vaccinate and spay and neuter animals.

But the Brookings Humane Society goes above and beyond those services and is a particularly special part of our community. They support our students by bringing animals to socialize with us on Main Street in The Union during Midterms and Finals Week. They can also be found at the Farmer’s Market during the summer.

Considering their tireless work to support our community and care for our animals, the least we can do is offer our support in return.

For our staff, the Humane Society is where our pets have come from. It’s where we go when we are stressed and want the emotional relief our furry friends bring.

We, at The Collegian, encourage others on campus and in the community to remember the Humane Society, not just when they are in times of need, but always. As a staff, we hope to do our part and support them in the future, and we hope others will make this commitment, too.

Whether you donate HyVee receipts, dog food, cat litter, an hour of your time, or some spare cash, the Humane Society is grateful for community support and they depend on us to help our animals thrive.

ROTC’s space is being infringed upon

In 1965, South Dakota State and the Army forged a contract stating that the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program requires offices, storage rooms, a gym floor and classrooms used exclusively by the program.

Since then, SDSU has impeded upon that contract at least three times.

Most recently, by drilling into the floor of the gym in DePuy Military Hall and setting up cubicles for the Department of Economics.

Now, when ROTC needs to complete necessary training, they jump through hoops to complete standard practices in their program.

ROTC needs special permission to bring training equipment to athletics facilities, like the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex (SJAC), and they also must be escorted by the University Police Department to bring training materials there — all while having a facility of their own that regularly isn’t their own.

We, at The Collegian, understand there are growing pains during construction, renovations and expansions our university is experiencing right now. However, we also feel there must be a better solution to prioritize the cadets who will be the future military leaders of our country.

At the very least, we feel our university should be able to uphold their agreement to provide the facilities and resources necessary to train cadets.

Ideally, our Editorial Board feels the next fancy new facility on our campus should be for ROTC.

Realistically, we believe ROTC deserves to have their space to themselves.

We believe the Department of Economics department could have been given a better temporary home than a gym.

We believe drilling holes into the gym floor and setting up cubicles and computers in the only training facility ROTC has is shameful.

We also believe ROTC deserves more autonomy in decisions about their facilities.

When the university works to update its contract with the Army soon, we, at The Collegian, hope ROTC gets to call the shots on their own program and their own facilities.

At the least, we hope ROTC will be shown the respect it deserves and has earned.

Exercise cultural and social awareness in selecting a Halloween costume

We’ve all seen it.

A girl in a faux leather dress and a Native American headdress.

A guy in blackface.

Someone else dressed like Jesus or a Muslim person.

Halloween is a time for creativity and fun — to dress up as a character or object and celebrate the spooky season. It, however, is not a time to play dress up with someone’s identity, culture, religion or sexual orientation.

While many often argue it can be considered a sign of respect to dress up in a costume portraying another culture or religion, we, at The Collegian, disagree. Others may say, “It’s just a costume, don’t take it so seriously.”

But a costume inherently makes a caricature out of something. It trivializes important aspects of their culture or religion.

Semehar Ghebrekidan is a graduate administrative assistant for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Access. She recently created an online graphic for the office: “Do’s and Don’t’s for Halloween,” a guide to dressing for Halloween appropriately and respectfully.

“A costume is not a skin color. It’s not a culture,” Ghebrekidan said. “This is a matter of appropriation — it’s about making those things into a costume when they’re a part of someone’s identity.”

An important factor to consider when choosing a costume is whether or not the portrayed identity is a member of a culturally or socially oppressed group.

For example, a five-year-old girl dressing as her favorite minority Disney princess, regardless of the little girl’s race, is not a situation of cultural appropriation or belittling of the minority group of that princess.

Ghebrekidan also said this doesn’t mean a white man cannot dress as Drake, his favorite rapper, just because the man is not black. But he can do it in a way that does not degrade Drake as an African-American man.

That is, the man should find a way to portray himself as Drake without needing to do blackface.

We believe one of the biggest problems with inappropriate Halloween costumes is that people often do not consider what impact their costume may have.

Additionally, retailers selling Halloween costumes should be held accountable for the products they market. Seeing a costume appropriating another culture in Walmart or on Amazon normalizes that behavior and makes it seem commonplace and acceptable.

It isn’t.

Dressing up as “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” isn’t acceptable.

Yes, he is a movie character, but he is representing a race of six million people killed during World War II.

Dressing as a Native American person isn’t acceptable.

Yes, they were characters in old Hollywood films, but that costume represents thousands of lives taken, land desecrated and decades of cultural oppression.

We, at The Collegian, urge everyone to carefully consider the potential impact of their Halloween costume this year. We all have the same goal: to enjoy Halloween in creative attire.

Just don’t play dress up with a person’s identity this Halloween.