In 2012, researchers Paul Loprinzi and Bradley Cardinal conducted a national study of more than 1,000 adults to see if regular physical activity differed between men and women. The results showed women, on average, get 40 percent less daily exercise than men.

In the same year, researchers from Northwestern University published a study in which they analyzed health and lifestyle data of 3,000 adults collected over a 20-year period. The study found that participants who had made healthy lifestyle choices early in their life were more likely to continue these choices throughout the following decades and remain at low risk for heart disease.

Combined, these studies indicate a trend: beginning at a young age, when health and fitness choices matter most, women aren’t getting enough exercise. It is this trend that Elisabeth Tavierne is fighting against.

Tavierne, an exercise science graduate from Ohio State University, is the founder and president of Changing Health, Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls, or CHAARG. As the organization’s name suggests, CHAARG’s mission is to change how college-aged women view and achieve fitness.

“Girls have this mindset that if they do cardio two to three hours, five days a week, they’ll get this healthy [lifestyle] they’re looking for,” Claudia Pagan, a sophomore journalism major at the University of Maryland and founder of the university’s CHAARG chapter, said.

“What we do is liberate girls from the elliptical,” Pagan added. “We want to show girls that being healthy requires a lot of things. You have to do a variety of workouts to achieve what you want, it’s not just cardio and a limited amount of food.”

CHAARG offers classes ranging from yoga to Zumba to PILOXING – a cross between Pilates and boxing – to help its members find activities they enjoy. Members also have access to instructors largely unavailable to college students. According to Pagan, a Nike trainer is scheduled to lead Maryland’s CHAARG chapter through boot camp exercises for the fall 2014 semester.

“All the instructors we work with are so great, and they have modifications for each girl so any girl can be a part of this organization,” said senior pharmacy major Danielle Carroll, who started the University of Toledo CHAARG chapter. “CHAARG is not meant for one type of girl, it’s meant for every girl out there.”

But in order to reach “every girl out there,” CHAARG must expand – a process that is already happening. The organization currently has more than 2,000 members across 14 universities, and is planning to add six new chapters by January, Tavierne said in an email.

Another challenge for CHAARG is expanding the program so it doesn’t solely focus on improving physical wellbeing, but catalyzes action for mental health, personal confidence and women support groups as well.

“People see the fitness side right from the beginning, but they don’t see how deep the community goes and how involved everyone is,” Pagan said. “CHAARG isn’t a sorority, but it has that sorority-type of feel to it.”

By creating this sorority-like atmosphere, CHAARG falls in line with a common recommendation among health professionals –working with friends to motivate exercise. Brittani Rettig, a certified group fitness instructor and manager of her own nationally recognized fitness blog GRIT by Brit, is one such professional.

“With the whole CHAARG initiative, I think it’s great and I think they should continue to make it about having fun,” Rettig said. “The only way change really happens is when people find some sort of activity that they enjoy.”

And while CHAARG members are benefitting physically from new and fun workouts, students really enjoy the organization’s ability to teach young women how to live overall better lives.

“I didn’t think how CHAARG could impact me personally; I didn’t think about how I would grow as an individual,” Pagan said. “I could get up in front of people and tell that what I’m so passionate about. It helped me to be more confident, and to know what I want and go for it.”

“CHAARG is reforming education outside of the classroom,” Pagan added. “With our voice, we’re breaking a stereotype and redefining what being healthy and being fit really means.”

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A few weeks ago, I sat on an airplane with my newest Amazon purchase open on my lap: Adam Braun’s Promise of a Pencil. Braun’s story was, without a doubt, incredible. He had traveled for a semester at sea and founded the global education organization “Pencils for Promise” at the tender age of 24, eventually leaving his job at Bain and Company in an epic saga of social entrepreneurial struggle. As I finished the last page, I was propelled into a bit of an epiphany. Here I was, close to Adam’s age. I was still young, had all the resources Adam had when he started his journey, and had a similar desire to change the world. So what was stopping me? In fact, what stops most of us from changing the world at such a young age?

I thought back to early college when I was in a phase where all I wanted to do was start a business. I remember relegating all my other career options in favor of this daring and random pursuit of entrepreneurship. The more I lamented on how to achieve results, the more I realized that I was stockpiling on one toxic resource: the “excuse”. I’m not old enough. I don’t have enough time right now. This homework isn’t doing itself. I’m not qualified enough. I don’t have enough money right now. My idea isn’t new enough. Sunday football is on. I don’t know anything about technology. I don’t know nearly enough people. I’ll just work for a few years, save up money, re-evaluate life, and then become an entrepreneur. It’s too much to learn. The list went on and on.

Our mind will believe anything we tell it. Most of the time, the excuses and reasons for procrastination alone will preclude us from doing something we feel strongly about. Ignoring the problem seems to be easier than encountering the consequences or worst case scenarios. But how do we overcome these barriers we place on ourselves? How do some people make it while others don’t?

This is where I arrived after some pondering. Part of it is perspective. “Changing the world” can sound so daunting. The idea of starting a venture and putting your entire livelihood around it can sound daunting as well. We have to start with our own personal definition of “changing the world”. We don’t always need to quit our day job. People who volunteer change the world. People who put together book drives and food recovery programs change the world. People who donate money online to causes change the world. Of course, people who start multi-national non-profits change the world too. What kind of impact do we want to make in the long-run? We don’t have to make it all at once. While thinking big is encouraged, when we think too big that we ignore pragmatism and drive ourselves into an unreachable dream, that’s when most of us tend to quit.

Second, we have to find a reason to fix everything holding us back. Money. The internet has enabled new and wild ways to fundraise. Adam Braun only started out with $25 when starting his social venture. Too much competition. Find an area that drives you and work with other collaborators in that area. We spend too much time on competition and finding that “unique idea that nobody has ever thought of in the history of ever”. Not unique enough. Changing the world doesn’t have to start with a ground-breaking idea or re-inventing the wheel. There are plenty of non-profits out there who do the same exact thing. Qualifications. The only qualification we really need is passion. It costs a lot less than a graduate degree and a thousand certifications. We have to start ignoring the guy that tells us that we need to be old and rich to be a philanthropist. If you have a passion now, don’t risk letting it rot.

Finally, we have to start connecting. Read blogs from successful young entrepreneurs. Read autobiographies from the founders of inspiring organizations we respect. Meet young people in person. Follow them on twitter. Keep learning. I follow many people my age and younger and I can always count of them for some of the most refreshing professional perspectives I get on a daily basis. It can only benefit us to use these stories as a template that age is nothing when it comes to world change.

This all puts us in a position for the hardest part: to start executing. “Zak Malamed, Student Voice Founder, once wrote, “The most disrespectful thing you can say to young people is, “you are the leaders of tomorrow.” This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy where young people are stigmatized to believe that there is a minimum age for being capable of changing the world.” Let’s stop succumbing to the stigma and change the paradigm for youth and real, tangible change. We don’t have to find the next “Pencils for Promise” but just create something that’s a reflection of a real, raw dedication towards a cause. Why not us?

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Here’s something no one tells you about college: once you’ve decided to go, there’s a lot of changes you’ll need to adapt to. This summer I was a communications intern at a research institute about five miles from my university. During my lunch breaks, I frequently drove through the main campus en route to my desired eatery, and often saw groups of prospective freshmen touring the campus.

Each time I saw these groups, I would think back to all the advice I was given before starting college, some of which was really helpful.

However, the majority of the tips I received came from either my parents’ friends who went to college in the ‘70s and ‘80s, or from Internet listicles that told me to make college “the best four years of my life,” but didn’t explain how.

In an effort to create a better list of what college freshmen should know before move-in day, I cast a net out on social media and asked my friends and followers to tell me about the best college tips they received.

Here is what I found:

1. Decide what is and isn’t important

One thing college will do to you is make you realize there aren’t enough hours in the day. And while everyone is going to tell you to “get involved with as many things as possible,” the truth is that it’s just not feasible.

When it comes to your course load, extracurricular activities, work, new friends you’re meeting, and old friends you want to keep, you’re going to have to decide where each falls on your priority list.

“The best advice someone ever gave me as a freshman was … that is was okay to be selfish and to make decisions that are going to make me the best version of myself, so that I can then be there for other people.” – Hannah Currens, junior geography major at Macalester College.

2. Make your own decisions, and live by them

Aside from a few meetings with your academic advisor, there isn’t anyone in college telling you what decisions to make. That means nobody from your high school will be pressuring you to take the same classes as them and definitely no parents to answer to about each and every grade you receive (though, if Mom and Dad are paying for your college, it’s probably a bad idea to anger them by getting Ds in your GenEds). That said, it’s up to you to decide if it’s a good idea to go to the frat party instead of study, or to skip your weekend readings and risk being unprepared for class. Again, mistakes are going to happen, but they’re forgivable as long as you can learn from them.

“It’s important to have fun in college, if you don’t you’ll go insane, but I’ve seen way too many people fail classes simply because they never go.” – Karie Langowski, junior biology and philosophy double major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

3. Lose yourself

Mahatma Gandhi once said “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” And, in classic college fashion, I’m going to ignore part of this quote to emphasize the point I’m trying to make. College is one of most useful, if not the most useful experience in determining who you are. In college you discover what you enjoy learning, what people you want to surround yourself with, what values and morals you have, what world views you believe in, and what you stand for.

Do things you never thought you would and lose yourself in things that make you happy.

“Before coming to college I never saw myself joining Greek life. But after seeing how close-knit, involved and welcoming the Greek community was, I joined and would never go back on my decision.” – Greg Donitzen, sophomore pre-middle school education major at Towson University.

4. You’re going to fail

Remember in high school how, if you didn’t do so hot on a test, it wasn’t the end of the world because there were always more exams, projects and assignments to rebound your grade? Well, spoiler alert: college isn’t like that. There isn’t much, if any, classwork, the homework is five times harder and longer than it ever was in high school, and, honestly, neither projects nor homework assignments really matter when tests count for 70 percent of your final grade (and there’s only three throughout the semester).

So whether it’s organic chemistry, calculus or the token freshman writing class, there’s going to be a time when you’re not doing well and your grades reflect that. Such a setback doesn’t mean you’re stupid or that the professor’s a jerk (though the latter might be true). Take from this one of the truest things you can learn in college: you’re going to fail, but you’re going to be okay. Pick yourself up, ask for help, and kick the crap out of the next assignment.

“I’m still learning how to fail gracefully, but I have realized failure is one thing for which high school never prepared me.” – Litty Cutchin, junior aerospace engineering major at University of Maryland.

5. You are unique, but you’re not alone

Have you ever been talking to a close friend and divulged a world view or experience that you think is completely out of the ordinary or totally unique to you and your life, only to find that your friend shares the exact same view or experience? That’s how being a college freshman is. Do you really think you’re the only one apprehensive to use the communal showers? You’re not. Do you think you’re the only one who doesn’t like the mean girls at the end of the hall? Nope, they’re rude to everyone.

The bottom line is this: while you are new, so is everyone else, and you and your fellow newbies have much more in common than you think. Don’t be afraid to talk to people about your interests and secret hobbies or how much you hate icebreakers—you may be surprised at the results.

“… Even though you may feel alone, just know everyone else is facing the same struggles whether it’s apparent or not.” – Dani Skinner, sophomore communication studies major at Grove City College.

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Follow our releases of Student Voice in a Box here: www.stuvoice.org/box

It’s been an exciting two years at Student Voice. Our team has been hard at work at creating a global conversation about empowering students, involving them in the decisions that affect their lives, and helping them take control of their education.

Earlier this year, we decided it was time to begin creating tangible resources for students and teachers to use. The conversation about student voices is stronger than it has ever been; now it needs some support from tangible resources that folks can use in their daily lives and share with each other. Student Voice in a Box is our first step in this direction.

 

Student Voice in a Box is a toolkit for teachers to use in their classrooms. Our team has been hard at work collecting stories from students and educators about their student voice experiences in the classroom. Their stories paired with the classroom resources, online tools, and project ideas.

 

Student Voice in a Box will be released in six bite-size installations over the course of six weeks. Each installation will include two teacher interviews, one student interview, one long-form classroom project, and an assortment of short-form tips and tricks. The first installation will be released on the Student Voice website next Monday, August 4th.
Follow our releases of Student Voice in a Box here: www.stuvoice.org/box
You can sign up to receive Student Voice in a Box in your email here: http://eepurl.com/ZUlof
You can learn more about Student Voice in a Box here: http://stuvoice.org/student-voice-live/for-teachers/box/

 

We look forward to sharing this with you and seeing what you think.

 

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In late May and early June, instructors at Seattle University casted ballots on whether they wanted to unionize. Since then, not a single ballot has been counted. Instead, administrative efforts have impounded the vote and put the faculty’s unionization status in limbo.

Seattle University employs nearly 350 adjunct faculty members. Adjuncts, along with graduate student and full-time, non-tenured instructors, are referred to as contingent faculty, and make up more than 75 percent of instructors at U.S. higher education institutions, according to a 2014 report by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats

The same report states that adjuncts earn an estimated annual median salary of $22,041, meaning many of them “often live on the edge of poverty,” and make less than half the amount of full-time faculty members.

“[O]n most campuses … the majority of the teaching is now done by adjunct and contingent faculty, rather than tenured-track or tenured faculty,” adjunct communications instructor Dr. Louisa Edgerly said.

Contingent faculty also lack many of the benefits offered to tenured instructors, such as job security, career growth and smaller, less varied course loads.

When Seattle University faculty attempted to address these issues with university administrators, the response was less than proactive, according to Edgerly.

The faculty then turned to unionization as a way for contingent instructors to get the same benefits and securities as tenured instructors, and filed a petition for an official vote among campus instructors on the matter to the National Labor Relations Board, a governing body for all things related to unions.

Though the NLRB approved the faculty’s initiative, university administrators appealed the decision. The administrators reasoned that the university did not fall under the state’s, and by extension the board’s, jurisdiction because of its religious affiliation. Due to the appeal, the ballots from the vote will remain impounded until a final decision is made.

“As a student, my big concern about this is that it really makes sense to support the faculty because a union would create far more longevity for faculty on this campus,” junior public affairs major Izzy Gardon said. “Odds are good that probably none of the [adjuncts] will be at this institution come the decision for this case. It’s probably gonna be 4 to 5 years away, millions of dollars in lawyer fees, and many of them won’t be here to see that.”

Gardon is the social media director for the university’s Student Coalition for Faculty Rights, an organization devoted to students supporting their faculty. In the last year, the coalition held a rally, took photos, wrote newspaper editorials and hosted “project engage,” an event where students wrote letters to the university’s president, in an effort to educate students about the pertinent issues their instructors are facing.

Gardon is also the external chief of staff for the Student Government of Seattle University, which has lent its support to the faculty and requested the withdrawal of the administration’s appeal of the NLRB decision.

“We hold forums, we publish polls, and so if you ask your average student here, we really do reflect the climate here on campus and really try to act as a barometer of student voice,” Gardon said.

According to a recent SGSU poll, 74 percent of university students support their faculty having the choice to unionize.

While their opinions may differ from those of students and faculty, Gardon added that administrators have been flexible and supportive of the coalition’s initiatives.

Seattle University has taken steps in recent years to try to improve faculty wages and benefits, including securing $5.6 million that will go towards keeping faculty and staff salaries competitive, increasing the minimum full-time annual salary from $24,600 to $42,000, and offering modified full-time faculty appointments to part-time instructors teaching more than four classes per year.

Many people at the university are looking to these measures as a starting point for more benefits and increased negotiations between faculty and administrators. Moreover, countless students are using issues like faculty unionization as a platform to improve dialogue between them and the administration and solve many of the ingrained problems in higher education.

“Student Voice isn’t just passive; it isn’t just voice; it’s action,” Gardon said. “Student voice is action, and we really need to create an environment where students can voice their opinion.”

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The word ‘queer’ can mean many things. It can be a noun or an adjective, derogatory or empowering, a reference to gender and sexual identity or a departure from normalcy. It can also be a verb. “To queer something,” according to Dr. Charlie Glickman, a sexuality educator of nearly 25 years, “is to take a look at its foundations and question them.”

For Alex Borsa, a junior molecular biophysics and women’s, gender and sexuality studies double major at Yale University, it is the verb form of queer which matters most. As the president of the university’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Student Cooperative, which serves as the umbrella organization for all of Yale’s LGBTQ groups, Borsa works to increase visibility of queer and marginalized students and make the campus a safer, more inclusive environment.

“I think student voice means not being afraid to challenge large institutions, even the administ-ration itself, on how we think Yale should be bettered.”

Borsa achieves these goals, in part, through his participation with IvyQ, an annual, inter-Ivy League LGBTQ conference that attracts 300 to 500 attendees. The conference advocates social organization, political activism and community building among LGBTQ students and groups.

“It is the only time that students are in such a large space comprised of almost only LGBTQ people,” Borsa said. “Being at a social event with 500 queer people is something most people don’t get to experience, [and] does a lot to change people. It was probably the single most transformative process I’ve been to in my college experience.”

Yale hosted the 2013 installment of the IvyQ conference, which has made its way to a different Ivy League school each year since its inception in 2010. Borsa served as a volunteer coordinator for the event, and assisted former Yale conference chair Hilary O’Connell with event production. In spite of a blizzard that struck New Haven, Connecticut, the same weekend as the conference, the Yale IvyQ team was able to deliver an event true to the mission of IvyQ, according to Borsa.

The 2013 conference offered light entertainment, such as dances, lunches and group breakout sessions, as well as 30 to 40 formal colloquiums and workshops from a series of students and guest speakers about topics including gender activism, asexuality, and the meaning of the LGBTQ community now versus in previous decades.

“These are always going to be issues,” Rebby Kern, the media communications and programs manager for Campus Pride, the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to making higher education more LGBT-friendly, said. “But if we can come to a place where we can talk about these issues … in a safe environment, I feel we’ve done our job as far as a movement.”

“Student voice is the opportunity to offer insights to improve the community or build new relationships that have never been explored before,” Huang said.

The conference also prompts discussion on issues, such as class, privilege, mental health, race and racism, that are present across many colleges and universities and affect marginalized groups related to or outside of the LGBT spectrum.

These discussions play a large role in IvyQ’s ability to “queer the campus,” or “challenge, question and deconstruct the status quo,” of the host school, Borsa said.
And as the number and diversity of the voices contributing to the conversation increases, so does the pressure on higher education to improve existing systems.

“I think student voice means not being afraid to challenge large institutions, even the administration itself, on how we think Yale should be bettered.”

In April, Yale held a weekend-long mental health and wellness event to address complaints from students and groups like IvyQ regarding the slow response times and lack of information coming from its Mental Health and Counseling Department, which 22 percent of the student body visits at least once per year, according to a 2011 report.

In the same month, Yale also held Take Back the Night, an event where students shared sexual experiences through speeches, poetry and song to raise awareness about sexual violence and community respect.

“For me personally, the idea of institutional commitment is the big thing,” D. Andrew Porter, a summer fellow at Campus Pride, said. “ [As a movement], we’re not just talking about LGBTQ students, and that’s causing campuses to look at all students who fall under that big umbrella word, ‘diversity.’”

The next IvyQ conference will be held in the fall of 2014 at Dartmouth College, which has received news coverage and student criticism in the past year concerning the school’s handling of homophobia, racism and sexism both on campus and in Dartmouth Greek life. In February, students presented the Freedom Budget, a sweeping reform that enumerated more than 70 actions the college could take that would help confront and diminish discrimination.

The school’s president, Philip J. Hanlon, and then interim provost, Martin Wybourne, released a statement in the wake of the Freedom Budget outlining steps the administration planned to take to address the students’ suggestions, such as allocating millions of dollars to hire and attract a more diverse campus faculty, and expanding a university program that supports minority groups in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

By April, however, student dissatisfaction was not quelled and resulted in protests outside the president’s office and the administration building.

For Nathen Huang, a senior psychology major at Columbia University and leader of Columbia’s IvyQ organization, Dartmouth’s hosting of the conference comes at an opportune time, one in which the school’s administration is primed to listen to the voices of campus students.

“Student voice is the opportunity to offer insights to improve the community or build new relationships that have never been explored before,” Huang said. “Even if not every one who goes to IvyQ comes from the activist community, there are also people who [are involved in other ways], and they’re able to express their own ideas and opinions.”

Going forward, Borsa, Huang and fellow IvyQ members want to increase access to the conference through additional funding so more people can contribute to the discussion. They also hope the organization continues to spark conversation between university officials and students about how to better educational environments.

“It’s important for everyone to think of these things,” Borsa said. “That doesn’t mean you have to be on the front lines of everything, but it does mean that it’s important to think about how social factors shape your everyday life. IvyQ challenges people to see things in a different way.”

(Dartmouth’s Office of Pluralism and Leadership did not respond to Student Voice’s request for comment before this story’s publication).

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