What the Fork teaches students dinner etiquette

By Aline Batawi

Staff Writer

For only a meal swipe, students practiced their dinner etiquette and mingled with alumni at the What the Fork event hosted by Entrepreneurs in Action and Career Development.  

This event was coordinated to help prepare students for the professional dinners they are most likely to attend during their careers after Alma.  

“The dinner is sponsored by EIA and co-organized by EIA and Career Development with valuable input from Susan Meyer,” said Beth Pellerito, Director of Employer Outreach. “Deb Leyes and her team at Sodexo do an amazing job of preparing a fine dining experience and delivering an extra special evening for our students.” 

“It is a great opportunity for students to test their dinner etiquette in a safe environment where making a faux pas is okay,” said Emma Herron (’18), Entrepreneurs in Action president.   

EIA has been hosting this event for several years and it offers a chance for students to attend a professional dinner for the first time when the stakes are low.     

“I decided to attend this event because I had never had an etiquette lesson before,” said Brooke Fornetti (’21). “I figured it may be useful to know in case I ever need that knowledge.”   

“As students, we are not entirely sure what a professional dinner is like until we experience one,” said Herron. “This is a great chance for us to experience one.”  

According to Pellerito, some students might feel like this doesn’t apply to them and that they wouldn’t benefit from this kind of event but you never know where your career will lead.  

“I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design and I never thought I would need to worry about business dinners,” said Pellerito. “Within the past two days I participated in four business lunches and dinners where I applied literally all the skills we share at the Etiquette Dinner.”  

During the meal, several alumni speakers had discussions with students and shared their expertise and tips for life after graduation.   

“The alumni and special guest speakers talked to students about networking, interviews and proper dinner etiquette,” said TJ Drinan (’19), a member of Entrepreneurs in Action who helped plan the event.  

“I got to meet with different people of high status and talk with other students at the dinner,” said Fornetti. “I ended up making connections with people.”   

In addition to the dinner, students had the opportunity to present their small business ideas in a competition for funding.  

“What The Fork is held in conjunction with the Jump Start Entrepreneurship Competition,” said Herron. “It’s a Shark Tank-like competition where students can present their small business ventures and receive funding of up to $5000.”   

According to Herron, students should take advantage of events like this because it is designed to help students with their futures.  

“I would love for more students to attend,” said Herron. “I know all of our schedules are busy but everyone has to eat dinner, so I hope more students can take advantage of this event in the coming years.”   

“After less-than-stellar attendance at this year’s event, we’re looking at fresh ways to deliver this information to students,” said Pellerito. “A lot of time and cost go into the planning and execution of this event, so we want to be sure we’re reaching as many students as possible with this valuable experience.”  

The goal was to have students leave feeling more comfortable in professional settings. 

“I hope students feel prepared for a formal dining situation and can apply what they learned from the event in their future,” said Drinan.  

Pellerito said that students should look for more informationScreen Shot 2018-02-12 at 1.33.36 PM about this event which will be held again next Winter semester.  






Piloted Google technology allows for interconnectivity courses

By Aline Batawi

Staff Writer

New technology pioneered by Google was used for the first time this semester by faculty and students at Alma, Albion and Calvin. It allows for classes to be taught across the three campuses.  

“This technology enables Alma to reach students on other campuses and for students to take classes not offered at their institutions,” said Justin Fonley, learning technology coordinator.   

The three colleges are the first to pilot some aspects of this technology. 

The courses offered are all 300 level classes and include “Earth, Art, and the Environment” offered through Albion, “Visual Sociology” at Calvin and “Media Theory and Culture” taught on Alma’s campus by New Media Studies Assistant Professor Anthony Collamati.  

“Especially with advanced subject matter it’s hard to offer a class as often as it needs to be offered because faculty are trying to cover the basics for students,” said Collamati. “This is a way for students here to take courses that aren’t offered at Alma.”  

This pilot technology was coordinated through the Michigan Colleges Alliance. With Google support, this is the first time this technology has been piloted in education.   

“This is a first,” said Fonley. “Alma hasn’t often gotten to be a first in working with new technologies and the technology is unique which makes it exciting.”   

“To be the very first to be piloting Google technology at Alma College of course, is exciting,” said Andrew Bare, assistant director of instructional technology. “For someone who works every day with technology in teaching and learning it doesn’t get more exciting than being able to test new Google technology.”   

The most unique aspect of this how the classes function is an interactive whiteboard called Jamboard, developed by Google. This is the first time the Jamboard has been used in an education setting.   

“What makes this whiteboard special is you can connect it to other Jamboards at the other schools,” said Bare. “So we have our Jamboard connected with a Jamboard at Albion and Calvin during classes: you can have someone write something on the screen at Calvin and it appears here at Alma.”   

“You can connect the Jamboards through an app and you can use that app on tablets, touchscreen computers, and Chromebooks and you can connect into the same session that the Jamboard is in,” said Bare. “From those tablets you can add things on to the Jamboard.”   

“The Jamboard brings so many advantages of digital instruments,” said Collamati. “It can archive things, it can connect to the internet, you can clip images and pages and drag them in, the ability to do more hands-on exercises is easier.”   

According to Bare, that aspect of the Jamboard is what has never been piloted before. Other institutions have purchased Jamboards and may or may not be using them but Alma, Albion and Calvin are the very first pilot of the Jamboard in education.   

According to Fonley, the three schools are able to connect via Google Hangouts, which is a communication platform developed by Google that acts much like FaceTime.   

So far, the execution of the technology has been smooth and with the help of Google Support has been an easy use.  

“We’re in contact regularly with the Google techs who are working with us and they’re looking for our input and feedback on this,” said Bare. “They’re looking for feedback from our students and I feel the excitement from the students who are in the class because I think they’re getting the idea that this is something big.”   

According to Fonley, there have only been minor glitches and no major issues. The fluidity of the classes has not been effected and has been executed seamlessly.   

Although this technology is still in the early stages of use, there is an air of promise that surrounds it.   

“I think everyone sees potential in it,” said Collamati. “I want to give the best shot I have of trying to bring out the best that it has to offer. We want to use it to enrich the time students have here and to give them more options.”  

“I think faculty and students have a lot of ideas about how they can use this technology in different courses and that’s exciting,” said Collamati  

“I think one goal with this is strengthening course offerings,” said Bare. “It is a way of sharing strengths between campuses.”   

According to Fonley, the classes right now are small but in the future, it could expand across campuses.   

Ultimately, this new piloted technology could change the way education is approached and hopefully create a more interactive and diverse way of learning for students and faculty.   

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Big changes in housing, staffing policies

By Aline Batawi

Staff Writer

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 11.44.49 PM

Beginning in fall 2018, several changes in housing and its staffing will be enacted in what administrators say they hope will make every aspect of living on campus easier.     

Karl Rishe, vice president of student affairs, says the effort will make the campus “current” with normal student housing practices. 

According to Rishe, he and the Student Life Department have been working for the past 5 months on a plan that hopes to make every aspect of living on campus easier.   

“There will be many different changes within housing and resident life,” said Rishe, Vice President of Student Affairs. “We are bringing ourselves current.”   

According to Rishe, the first step in the plan is to move to an online housing system and away from the current paper method.   

“It’ll run online, on your phone, and a little bit like eHarmony,” said Rishe. “If you’re an incoming freshmen looking for housing, the app will ask you a few questions and pair you with your best roommate match.”   

The goal with this new program is to make it more interactive for incoming freshman. Students will even get the opportunity to look at the dimensions of their dorm room before they choose it online.   

“All first-year freshman and sophomores will live together on North Campus and everyone else on South Campus, apartments and small housing,” said Rishe.   

Gelston and Bruske will be exclusively for freshmen and Newberry and Mitchell will be for sophomores. However, there will be some overflow of juniors and seniors placed in Newberry and Mitchell, but not many.   

In addition to the housing system being online, students will be able to put in work orders, check in and out of their rooms and receive notifications regarding room-cleaning–all online.   

Along with the changes in distribution of students living on campus, changes in housing staff are planned. Currently, halls are staffed with hall directors who have ancillary positions.   

“We’re moving to Assistant Directors that will be in the halls more,” said Rishe. “Their offices will actually be in the residence halls.”  

With upcoming renovations, set to begin in summer 2018, offices will be built within the residence halls to provide services to students closer to where they live.   

“Offices that are in the CSO will also have satellite offices in the residence halls,” said Rishe. “With that, students won’t need to travel to the CSO or the student life office.”   

According to Alice Kramer, the new director of residence life, the ultimate goal is to bring more resources to students.   

“There will be three assistant directors, one for first year, second year, and upperclassmen students,” said Kramer. “Their offices will be in the halls where they are available for students.”   

“I think that having living learning communities benefit students,” said Paige Emerson (’18). “As an RA, I see how a student easily copes and makes friends when the people who live near them take the same classes as them.”  

According to Kramer, being focused on the needs of each age group is important. Freshmen need a different level of care than upperclassmen. This will be reflected in the number of RAs in each building.  

“There will be more RAs for freshman and fewer for sophomores,” said Kramer. “Freshman require more mentorship and sophomores are more future focused.”   

On South Campus, where only juniors and seniors will live, the RA position will be removed entirely.   

“Graduate assistants from Central Michigan University for higher education administration will be on South Campus,” said Kramer.  

“Research shows that a lot of times juniors and seniors don’t need RAs,” said Rishe. “Having graduate students live with juniors and seniors will give them a higher and more relatable level of service.”   

According to Rishe, RAs were informed about these changes before they came back to campus. Some RAs have mixed feelings about this new system.  

“As of now, I’m not a huge fan of the changes, but I’m open to them,” said Allison Fox (’20), an RA on North Campus. “I’m excited to see what will come.”  

Current RAs were given the choice of whether they would like to continue with their RA position.   

“Technically, jobs are being eliminated on South Campus, but we have all been given the choice to return,” said Fox. “I’m returning and I’m really excited.”  

“It’s a drastic change, but I’m not sure how to feel about it yet,” said Alexis Blakely (’19), an RA on South Campus. “I still have some questions about it and I’m trying to keep an open mind.”   

“I think some of the changes will be beneficial for the school, but others will be really hard (for students) to cope with,” said Emerson. “I think it’ll be hard for students in different years to not be allowed to live together in the same room.”  

Ultimately, the goal with these changes is to cater to the specific needs of each class on campus. With these changes, the hope is for residence life to improve and for services offered to be more accessible to students.   


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