Syracuse’s Welcoming LGBT Community

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Walking down the promenade on a windy Monday afternoon, the banner above Schine Student Center caught my eye. Schine almost always has a banner above the doorway, advertising a University Union event or bringing awareness to a campus campaign. This one held my attention, because it said, on a rainbow background “Queer and Trans Existence is Beautiful”.

LGBT resources and community spaces were not something that I looked into while determining my college of choice, but I have found that Syracuse University has many. The first week of classes, I was able to attend an event put on by the LGBT Resource center, and solidified my first friendships here while sitting on the front lawn eating ice cream at their kick-off Ice Cream Social. I haven’t attended many of their discussion groups, because often they are comprised mostly of graduate students, but that first event I went to, where students spilled out the front door of the building and covered the lawn, was a powerful motivator to find more resources and forms of community on campus.

Noah Mendez, a sophomore Forensic Science major, took some time to tell me about his experience with LGBT communities and resources on campus – specifically the LGBT learning community housed in Lawrinson hall. During his freshman year, he was able to meet people like himself, make connections, and feel a sense of community among the members. The friendships he made were lasting, and based on a shared identity. Other past and present members of the learning community comment that, as a freshman, having the learning community was a welcoming way to start their college careers.

Pride Union is a registered student organization on campus for LGBT students. It meets on Friday nights in the Hall of Languages, and it’s a great source of community on campus. They also put on some pretty cool events throughout the year: a drag show, which two years ago had RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Milk as a special guest. A less extravagant event that I’ve always enjoyed was the Pride Union clothing swap, where you can bring clothes that you no longer wear and pick up new clothes that other people have brought to pass. It’s great for sprucing up your wardrobe, and getting rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore – particularly if you’re looking to trade your old blouses for men’s button-ups or your jeans for skirts.

Syracuse University has shown me a lot of different places of community and resources for LGBT students, a refreshing and unexpected change from high school GSAs.

Meg Burnard ’20 is studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She grew up in Rochester, New York. Meg is a member of Democracy Matters, and in her free time she enjoys reading comics, going to concerts, and playing games with friends. More blogs from Meg Burnard.

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Filling Time During Spring Break

Students working on a project for the Near West Side Initiative–an organization that students regularly volunteer with

Spring Break is the one week off during the school year where you probably don’t have any obligations. In the fall, there’s Thanksgiving, and in the winter, there’s Christmas, New Year’s, sometimes Chanukah depending on the calendar. That means family holiday parties, traditions, family time. Spring Break does not have any of that! The closest thing it has to a big, important holiday is Saint Patrick’s Day, and that is really more of an excuse to eat green food.

So what does one do with a whole unencumbered week smack dab in the middle of the semester? Here are some things that Syracuse University students do:

  1. Volunteer

Nothing gives you the warm fuzzies and keeps you busy like taking your free time and using it to help others! Friends of mine stayed local this past spring break to build tiny homes for homeless people in Syracuse. Syracuse is a city with one of the largest wealth gaps in the country, so even though the area around the University is clean and nice, coming down off the hill to help the community is a great way to give back!

  1. Work

Yes, it’s boring, but going home and picking up shifts is a great way to fill up your schedule as well as your pockets! Plus, a few nights of babysitting and house-sitting is all it takes for me to feel like I’ve had a productive week off, even if I spent the rest of my time sitting around like a couch potato.

  1. Visit Friends

If your spring break lines up with other friends from home, you may just want to go home and visit them, but it’s also a great time to go visit with college friends too! Bringing someone home for Spring Break made my spring break way more fun – I had an excuse to go to the hipster coffee joints and stores that I would not have ventured to otherwise, to show a newcomer the cool parts of my town and city. Plus, a buddy who will yell at the TV with me while we watch bad reality television.

  1. Travel

Traveling could be as simple as road-tripping to Toronto or Niagara Falls for an afternoon, or as wild as jetting down to somewhere much warmer, sunnier, and maybe even beachier than Syracuse. I know people who have gone to Europe, to the Dominican Republic, to Florida, and people who drove down to see friends at nearby schools. Spring break is a great time to explore the world! Or the state. Or the campus of someone else’s college.

The world really is your oyster, and there’s so much that can be seen, done, and accomplished in one free week. So take it and run with it!

Meg Burnard ’20 is studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She grew up in Rochester, New York. Meg is a member of Democracy Matters, and in her free time she enjoys reading comics, going to concerts, and playing games with friends. More blogs from Meg Burnard.

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Summer College to Syracuse

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Growing up with a mom who worked in communications, I was curious about her role in developing a company’s image and reputation. During my sophomore year in high school, I wanted to find a way to learn more about the field and get a taste for college life. Syracuse University Summer College for high school students offered both.

Summer College allows high school students to take courses in various programs over a 2-, 3-, 4- or 6-week time period while living in Syracuse University housing and experiencing college life.

At first, it was exciting to live on my own, but I also had to take responsibility as there was no one to remind me to stay on top of my schoolwork. I had been away from home before, but never in an environment where I knew absolutely no one. At Syracuse, everyone was so nice! The classes I took at Summer College helped me earn college credits that I was able to apply to my undergrad studies. And best of all, it helped confirm my decision to major in public relations.

As a junior in high school, I was excited to have a goal to work toward. I felt so confident because I was certain of my major. While Syracuse was one of my top choices, I kept an open mind and visited other colleges along the east coast. But none of them felt like home. After visiting Syracuse a second time in the fall – when I could see it during the academic year – I knew it was everything I ever wanted from a school. I chose to apply Early Decision to the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and never looked back.

My Summer College experience didn’t keep me from feeling homesick my first semester, but overall, I felt more confident on campus and in the classroom having spent significant time here before enrolling. Now, after being here for a semester, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. The community at Syracuse is so inspiring and diverse. The more Newhouse classes I take, the more certain I am that I made the right choice. Courses are challenging, but the topics are so interesting and my professors are extremely knowledgeable and supportive.

I have found friends at Syracuse that I couldn’t imagine living without, and I proved to myself that I can succeed. My field of study is very broad, but I’m confident that with time, internships and more classes, I will find the specific track that’s right for me.

Regan Talley ’21 is studying Public Relations in The Newhouse School of Public Communications. She grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Regan is a member of PRSSA and in her free time she enjoys baking, going to the gym, and getting coffee with friends.

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Built-in Bestie

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The summer before I came to Syracuse University, I heard piles upon piles of sage college wisdom. Aunts, uncles, teachers, older friends, each dispensed their nuggets of College Knowledge on my waiting ears. They expected me to be stressed – about classes, about leaving home, about making friends – and tried to assuage my fears with fun stories about their time at college. Whether it worked or not, I can’t say, but I tried to absorb it all as if I was studying for a final exam.

Overwhelmingly, the advice wasn’t about classes, or dining halls, or getting lost on the first day (though to be fair, that stuff turned out to be pretty straightforward). Everyone wanted to tell me about their college roommates.

Every story seemed pretty much the same: lasting friendships, sisterly bonds. An aunt told me that my roommate would be the first person to come through for me in a jam. My dad was in one of his college roommates’ weddings.

It’s really cathartic to know going into a new, scary place where you don’t know anyone, that you’ve got a built-in friend on your very first day. Many of my peers and I were of the opinion that Facebook is mostly for moms, but everyone I knew was putting that aside to scour Groups and Pages for the perfect roommate – their perfect first friend. That seemed like a lot of work for me, so I put in a request for a random roommate and let fate guide me from there. It was only afterward that I started to fret about it. What if we didn’t like each other? What if we weren’t friends? Would my college experience be ruined?

(Spoiler Alert: no.)

Fast-forwarding to my first few days after move-in, my new roommate and I quickly realized we had next to nothing in common. She was nice and smart, and she kept to her half of the room, and for my entire freshman year, that was about as far as our friendship went. We sat in companionable silence and did our homework on opposite sides of the room. I offered her pizza when I ordered too much, and she offered me some leftover fries. Beyond that, we kept to our own circles.

At first, I felt a little gypped. I’d heard all these great roommate stories, where was my automatic BFF? But as the semester went on, I quickly found my own friends, in dining halls, in classes, on other floors of my dorm. People I did have things in common with, who I really jived with. Within a week, I had a veritable circle of new friends, who I’d only met because I wasn’t attached to my roommate all the time. One trip to the dining hall by myself, one “great T-shirt, dude, I love that show!” and I didn’t even need a built-in best friend. I’d found the people that would become my best friends all on their own.

The one thing nobody told me on my journey toward Syracuse was that in the end, you don’t have to be best friends with your roommate. At this point, I think it was better for me that I wasn’t. I branched out, met more new and interesting people than I would have otherwise.

Now, though, as a sophomore, I can tell you that having a roommate that’s also your best friend? Also a pretty sweet deal.

 

Meg Burnard ’20 is studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She grew up in Rochester, New York. Meg is a member of Democracy Matters, and in her free time she enjoys reading comics, going to concerts, and playing games with friends. More blogs from Meg Burnard.

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Staying on Top of your Courses

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College-level classes are hard. Whatever your GPA, most students would agree they could always benefit from some extra help. Luckily, Syracuse University has ample resources for students:

The Writing Center is right in the quad. Inside you’ll find a group of writers, professors or masters students, who specialize in writing–all waiting and willing to help. To get started, there is a quick online sign up, but you only need to complete this once. After that you can go to the writing center whenever you want. Appointments are thirty minutes to an hour. I just started going to the writing center so I can vouch for its effectiveness. Although I consider myself a decent writer already, every time I go to the writer center I am impressed by the techniques and recommendations that really improve whatever I am working on.

Syracuse also offers some great tutoring services from a variety of places. Business fraternities such as Beta Gamma Sigma, Alpha Chi Sigma, Beta Alpha Psi offer tutoring for specific courses and majors. Most colleges within the university also offer their own peer-tutoring services as well. Beyond that, there are even several clinics that provide services as well.

Office hours are another great way to get a better handle on your coursework. Syracuse professors hold office hours every week. These blocks of time give you the chance to directly ask your professor about the work he or she assigned. Consistently attending office hours is also  a great way for students to build real relationships with their professors, which can be extremely beneficial down the line when you start applying for jobs and internships.

So as you consider the transition from high school work to a college course load, rest easy knowing that Syracuse has resources available to help you stay on the right track.

Jalen Nash ’20 is studying pyschology in the College of Arts & Sciences. He was raised in Flatbush, New York and attended high school in New Jersey. In his free time, Jalen enjoys playing football and basketball, listening to music, reading, and writing. Jalen hopes to make a living, and be remembered, for his writing. More blogs from Jalen Nash.

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Finding Your People

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Students on the promenade

My roommate story continues this semester as my newest roommate, a transfer student who moved into the room my best friend vacated when she went abroad, packed up and dropped out last week. It was very sudden and unexpected, but there were external factors, and she was struggling to acclimate to such a large school. Sometimes it can’t be helped. It made me think, though, about what I like about going to a “large” university, with a little over twenty thousand students. I do like it, a lot, but I know that it’s not for everyone.

I like the anonymity that comes with going to a school where you can’t possibly know even a third of the population. It means that you meet new people every day – your classes are full of new faces. As I get more specialized in my major and take fewer gen-eds, I’m finding that I see more and more familiar faces, but even in classes of thirty there are always people I haven’t met. I like walking down the promenade in my own little world, getting my coffee and heading to class among people who are also doing their own thing.

Another thing that I like about going to such a big school is that it allows for a lot of diversity in extracurriculars. If I went to a school that had five thousand people in it, I probably wouldn’t have my pick of six different environmental clubs, each which focus on and do different things. I certainly couldn’t login to OrgSync, a portal for student organizations on campus, and find over three hundred different student organizations.

Around 70 of them are just greek life, meaning that there are 70 different social, leadership, or professional fraternities or sororities at your fingertips. If, like me, greek life isn’t your jam, that leaves just about 250 other things for you to try. Want to try hosting a radio show? We’ve got that. Want to join a religious club focused on outreach in the community? There’s a bunch. Want to write for a student publication about politics? Music? lifestyle? Campus news? Jerk magazine, 20 Watts, Equal Time, and the Daily Orange are all waiting for your voice. With so many clubs and orgs, it’s so easy to make your Syracuse experience unique, and find people who like the same things you do.

Even outside of clubs and organizations, with twenty thousand students – around fifteen thousand undergrads – there’s so much room to find other people like you. I can’t imagine that, if I’d gone to a small school, I’d have been able to pull together around ten other people willing to sit around and play Dungeons and Dragons with me. I’ve carved out my spot here at SU, and even though the University is big, I’ve never felt like I couldn’t find my people.

Meg Burnard ’20 is studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She grew up in Rochester, New York. Meg is a member of Democracy Matters, and in her free time she enjoys reading comics, going to concerts, and playing games with friends. More blogs from Meg Burnard.

 

Learning to Budget as a College Student

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Syracuse Smart Money Coaches

Living on your own means learning how to budget, which is especially important in college. I’ll admit though- as a senior, I am still pretty bad at budgeting. I’ve lived away from home for three years, the last year off campus and renting a house, but I never took the time to look at my finances and make a solid plan for spending. I found myself living week to week spending way too much money and then not spending anything to make up for it.

Luckily, Syracuse provides students with resources to help plan out budgets. And especially lucky for me, one of my closest friends, Taylor Pasquariello, is part of the team of student coaches qualified to help their peers create budgets and start investing in the future.

Taylor, a policy studies major and business management minor, has been a Smart Money coach (part of the Office of Financial Literacy) since her sophomore year. I asked Taylor what inspired her to become a coach:

“It just hit me how important it is for college students to start thinking about their financial future now and to start saving, especially since so many of us have loans and are unaware of  repayment options. I also have grown up knowing family members struggling financially and I know how it affects people emotionally.”

Taylor and I met freshman year in MAX 123, (Critical Issues for the United States). We ended up joining the same sorority and now she’s one of my best friends. When I was stressing last week about my budget, she offered to walk me step-by-step through the the budget creation process. She wasn’t working, I wasn’t paying her anything, and she probably had her own work she could have been doing, but she ended up counseling me for over an hour on how I can have a fun senior year and not break the bank.

Some of her best tips? Well, for me, I spend a lot of money buying food when I’m on campus instead of cooking at home, so just taking the time to go home to eat or bringing food on campus to snack on while I’m studying has already helped me save money. Taylor also encouraged me to make a savings account so I always have some money in case of emergencies or unexpected purchases.

You don’t have to know a Smart Money coach to get free help– students can sign up for Smart Money appointments on Orange Success. It’s great that SU provides students with resources to plan financially for their futures. It’s never too early (or too late) to start saving!

Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

 

Falling for Fall at ‘Cuse

One of the many great things about attending Syracuse University is getting to experience four seasons and the fun activities that a new season brings.  Growing up in Connecticut, I have fond memories of apple picking with my family, carving pumpkins with friends and going to haunted houses every weekend in October. When I was a freshman, I worried I was going to miss out on all my favorite fall activities. However, I quickly discovered that Syracuse University, and Central New York in general, is the perfect place to be for fall fun.

For anyone who loves fall as much as I do, here’s my personal Syracuse autumn bucket list.

1.)  Go apple picking: Apple picking season runs from mid-August to mid-October, so you have plenty of time during first semester to pick your own healthy and delicious snacks. New York is one of the top five apple-producing states, so if you love apples, it’s certainly a great place to be. There are three apple orchards within a 20-minute drive from SU, and the Department of Recreation Services hosts a weekend trip to Abbott’s Farm apple orchards in September. How ‘bout them apples?

2.)  Get lost in a corn maze- There are several farms in Onondaga County that have annual corn mazes in the fall. Get a small group of friends together one weekend to have a great day outdoors. Want to make it more of a challenge? Shut off your phone so you’re not tempted to GPS your way out!

3.)  Take a hike to see the fall foliage – The rolling hills and dense forests of Central New York offer some great hiking destinations. My personal favorite is Tinker Falls in Tully. I’ve hiked the trail in the spring and fall and had A popular hiking destination among Syracuse students is Green Lakes State Park, just a 20-minute drive from campus. Don’t have a car at school? No worries! The Department of Recreation Services offers a day trip to Green Lakes, so be sure to sign up!

4.)  Go to a haunted house- If you’re like me and love a good scare around Halloween, Syracuse has plenty. From haunted houses to hayrides, Central New York has it all. Orange After Dark, a series of late-night programs and events for SU undergrad students, offers a bus trip at the end of October to Fright Nights at the Fair. Students only pay $3! Check out scarycuse.com to get information on other haunted attractions.

5.)  Go to a pumpkin patch: Want to pick your own little pumpkin for your dorm room? Visit a local pumpkin patch. You can paint or carve a pumpkin to spruce up your new dorm décor. SU offers shuttles to local pumpkin patches in October. If you have access to a kitchen, try baking pumpkin seeds. It’s a delicious snack!

6.) Experience the Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult classic and cultural phenomenon. When you go to see Rocky Horror around Halloween, don’t expect to just sit and watch- moviegoers are active participants in counter dialogue and scene reenactments, along with a designated reenactment cast. This year, SU drama students will be reenacting a performance at Schine Underground.

7.) Take a Ghost Tour: The Onondaga Historical Association offers guided tours of different locations in the area, focusing on local legends and haunts. This year, Ben Tupper, owner of Tupper Property Management, hosted free guided haunted tours of the university neighborhood the weekend before Halloween. Pretty spooky stuff!

8.)  Sign up for Run of the Dead: I discovered Run on the Dead freshman year when I was researching fun stuff to do around Halloween in ‘Cuse. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, this is the place to find it. Run of the Dead is a 5K obstacle course run that features “zombies” chasing participants through the course. Runners wear flags and dodge zombies while navigating the obstacles (mud pits, tires, monkey bars, etc.). Think Spartan Race meets a haunted trail of terror. This is by far my favorite Halloween activity. This year, a group of friends and I ran as a team and had a blast!

9.) Volunteer: Giving back to the Syracuse community is fun and rewarding, and there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the fall. I’ve volunteered at the Salvation Army and handed out candy to Boys and Girls Club members who trick or treat at dorms around campus. You can find volunteer opportunities on the Shaw Center website.

10.) Rewatch your favorite Halloween movie with your friends- Okay, so this one isn’t technically a Syracuse event, but this is something my friends and I do every October! This year, we watched Hocus Pocus to de-stress during midterms, armed with plenty of candy and popcorn. There’s no better way to relax during midterm madness!

This list is only a peek at some of the awesome things to do during the fall in Syracuse. Add your own!

Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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Location, Location, Location

Me, a family friend, and my dad, when they came to visit for a Syracuse Men’s Basketball game.

When I first started thinking about where I wanted to go to college, I thought I wanted to go somewhere far, far away from home. Instead, I opted for Syracuse University. It had so many things I wanted: a beautiful campus, fantastic study abroad programs, a massive network of alumni. However, unlike High School Meg expected, it was less than a hundred miles from my hometown outside of Rochester, and I’ve found that it is pretty much the best possible location for me.

I’m far enough away from home that I don’t go to the same places I always did, and I don’t see the same people around as I used to. Only two or three of the people I graduated with came to Syracuse too, so there aren’t many familiar faces – which is what I was hoping for.

I’m also far enough from home that I don’t see my parents all the time. It’s easy for them to get here, if they want to or need to, but I still get to be independent and do my own thing.

However, when they do want or need to come down to ‘Cuse for a visit, it’s super convenient for everyone involved. It’s a painless drive, only about an hour and a half. That makes it too far away to justify coming just to drop something off, but not far enough away that a visit would mean booking a hotel for the weekend.  

For example, a few weekends ago, my parents came to town for the football game against Middle Tennessee. They got here mid-afternoon, laden with groceries and tailgating food. After a few weeks of ramen and hamburger helper, my friends and I felt like royalty as we crowded around my South Campus Apartment table with our pulled pork sandwiches. After I, my neighbors, my roommate, and my boyfriend all finished indulging in delicious, free food (free food!), we headed out to the football game. Afterwards, my parents drove home, and were back by eleven! An easy, stress-free day that I was able to spend with my parents, and then the rest of the weekend spent being a college student – eating poorly and avoiding doing laundry.

Last spring, being close to home meant that I could spend a weekend with my family, and not just for long weekends or breaks. Twice freshman year, I went home with a friend or two and soaked up the TLC of a weekend at home. For all that it’s nice to be independent, a good home-cooked meal and a bedroom to myself after a particularly stressful month is practically revitalizing.

Syracuse University strikes a perfect balance for me. I dreamt of going somewhere new, of being independent, of being able to begin college on a clean slate, and was able to accomplish that. I wanted holidays and trips home to be low-hassle, and I was able to accomplish that too. Truly, I believe I managed to have the best of both worlds here at Syracuse.

 

Meg Burnard ’20 is studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She grew up in Rochester, New York. Meg is a member of Democracy Matters, and in her free time she enjoys reading comics, going to concerts, and playing games with friends. More blogs from Meg Burnard.

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Life on South

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I spent my first year at Syracuse living in Lawrinson Hall. It was located near the edge of campus, next to the Dome and across the street from BBB (Brewster, Boland, Brockway). In that dorm I met great people, made great memories, and enjoyed a great view every time I looked out the window. Living there allowed me to learn the ins and outs of main campus and really experience campus life. Even though I loved it, when the time came to figure out where I was going to live sophomore year, I decided to head to South Campus.

Now I have moved into my apartment on Lambreth Lane. And while it’s completely different than Lawrinson, I love it even more. It has multiple rooms, a living room, AND A KITCHEN! I’m so happy I chose to live here.

One of my biggest concerns moving to South was getting back and forth to main campus. Fortunately, the buses regularly run on time and the bus stop is only a few minutes away. I can generally get from my room to main campus in fifteen to twenty minutes. Believe it or not, traveling from South to class isn’t much more difficult than traveling from Lawrinson Hall. However, it is also the first two weeks of school so I will keep you guys posted if anything changes as the winter months approach.

Maybe it’s because I’m from Jersey, but I really like how South Campus looks. There are hills, trees, lots of grass and the occasional deer. In addition to that, in the time I’ve been here I’ve seen some of the most amazing sunsets of my life. South has the look and feel of a small town mixed with the excitement of college life. It really is the best of both worlds.

The size of the apartment is a definite plus. In the dorm rooms, you could fit a lot of people in one room, but half of them would be standing up or sitting on the floor. In the apartment, people can come over and relax without having to fight for empty seats and wiggle room. This is helpful when you want to have a bunch of people over. It also helps you decorate and organize without feeling the need to cluster everything in one space.

Finally, the kitchen. Dining hall food is good, but there’s nothing like a home cooked meal. Knowing you can get out of bed and cook a full meal, or finish class and have something to go home to, is definitely worth it. Having a kitchen gives you much more control over your diet which is super important for living a healthy lifestyle. It also gives you a chance to impress your friends with some culinary skills.

Since moving to South, my experience as a student has improved. With more freedom to explore our entire campus, I have discovered many hidden gems I was unaware of before. I’ve also gotten to hang out with more of my friends who live on either South or main. These two weeks have been some of the best I’ve had at my short time at this school. I look forward to more adventures and seeing more of what South Campus has to offer.

 

Jalen Nash ’20 is studying pyschology in the College of Arts & Sciences. He was raised in Flatbush, New York and attended high school in New Jersey. In his free time, Jalen enjoys playing football and basketball, listening to music, reading, and writing. Jalen hopes to make a living, and be remembered, for his writing. More blogs from Jalen Nash.

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