Archive | World Stories

IWU business helps prevent trafficking

Two summers ago, Brittany Hobson (sr) trained Indian women in jewelry and craft making through the Kolkata City Mission. This summer, she went back and brought home 600 pieces of jewelry, made by three women over the course of a year.

Hobson is now “testing the markets” at New Under the Son, the Barnes Student Center’s newest business, located next to Wildcutz. The business sells crafts from around the world, giving students hands-on business experience as well as supporting international artists.

One of Brittany Hobson's trainees shows her jewelry-making skills. She was one of three women who made the 600 crafts Hobson brought home.

One of Brittany Hobson’s trainees shows her jewelry-making skills. She was one of three women who made the 600 crafts Hobson brought home. // Photo provided by Brittany Hobson

“The ultimate objective is for us to be able to have goods in there that are helping people get out of human trafficking,” Dr. Harriet Rojas, Division of Business chair, said.

When Hobson returned to campus, some of her friends in Rojas’ small business management class told her about New Under the Son, initiating a partnership between them.

KCM, where Hobson worked, is a Christian organization that helps prevent Indian women from entering the sex trafficking industry. By selling the 600 pieces of jewelry Hobson received, she hopes to get the three artists working full-time in the jewelry business.

“They’re itching for more work, and they need more money,” Hobson said. “If [this partnership] continues, that would be awesome because then we know that we have constant money coming in.”

This is New Under the Son’s first year of operation, replacing The HUBexchange. It is a “completely different” type of store, Rojas said, partnering with other entities at Indiana Wesleyan University, like the Bastian Center for the Study of Human Trafficking.

New Under the Son collects most of its goods from students and faculty traveling abroad. In some cases, the business department supplies students with money to buy crafts and bring them back for the store.

It already features items from India, Nepal, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti, China, Kenya, Vietnam and Mexico.

“We have purposefully tried to buy things that are not high-end because we know that most of the student clientele would not be able to pay for those things,” Rojas said.

After paying the supplier for the goods, there is a “very, very minuscule” markup to cover business costs, Rojas said.

Student manager Kassie Watts (sr) said the goal now is to find more items that men would buy, since most of the crafts are jewelry.

Watts, a business administration major, gets practicum and internship credit for managing New Under the Son. The business’s staff consists of the 30 students in Rojas’ small business management class.

For these students, New Under the Son, as well as Wildcutz and IWU Mart, are lab experiences.

“Every entity on campus, every major, has some kind of a lab experience [where] they allow their students to have that practical work,” Rojas said. “That’s the same thing that we’re doing with the stores.”

Five businesses have operated in the location next to Wildcutz since it opened in 2006. The benefit of New Under the Son, Rojas said, is that with the word “new,” the products can adapt in years to come.

The businesses have done well in the past, Rojas said. They have even generated enough money to produce scholarships for business students for the first time this year.

According to Rojas, New Under the Son made $100 within the first week of sales.

“Obviously, we want [the students] to be successful,” Rojas said, “but … if perchance they happen to lose money one year, they’re not going to have to declare bankruptcy.”

Aside from teaching management and financial skills, these business “labs” teach students how they can be successful and still maintain their faith—a key concept in Rojas’ classes.

“You don’t have to wonder about whether or not your faith can be lived out,” Rojas said. “You can be called to be a business person, just like you can be called to anything else in terms of Christian service.”

Faith Neidig (alumna '14), back left, and Brittany Hobson, back right, pose with three of women they trained in jewelry-making. // Photo provided by Brittany Hobson

Faith Neidig (alumna ’14), back left, and Brittany Hobson, back right, pose with three of the women they trained in jewelry-making. // Photo provided by Brittany Hobson

New Under the Son serves as an example of integrating business and faith, Rojas said, since students run a business and support trafficking victims at the same time.

“[It’s] a God thing that we can all be connected,” Hobson said about business students and students traveling abroad partnering together. “All of our gifts are being used.”

Rojas hopes to post pictures and stories about the artists next to their items so that students know who they are helping when they buy something.

New Under the Son hopes to establish concrete hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Rojas encouraged students to contact her if they know of any international organizations who do similar work and could possibly partner with New Under the Son.

Posted in Front Page, News, On Campus, World StoriesComments (0)

Students work to stop world hunger

Since early last semester, a handful of students have been working toward founding a new organization on Indiana Wesleyan University’s campus to help prevent hunger on both local and international scales.

Andrew Craft (fr) has been the driving force behind the IWU chapter of Swipe out Starvation, a program that uses meal swipes to donate food to various organizations focused on feeding the hungry.

Swipe out Starvation originally began on Purdue University’s campus. Craft’s cousin, the original founder, is now partnering with him to start up a new division at IWU, according to Craft.

“It’ll be run by IWU, by me, and there’s just a few things that we have to abide by legally with the brand,” Craft said. “But other than that, we’ll be able to run this ourselves.”

The process for donating, Craft said, involves using a meal swipe to purchase a donation to the three partners Swipe out Starvation is working with—Heifer International, Land of 1000 Hills and a local food bank that has yet to be determined.

According to Craft, the organization will be mostly student funded, and he is hoping they will be able to partner with churches in the area to aid some of the group’s future financial needs.

Such expenses would include the informational cards that donors receive when they donate a meal swipe.

“The cards are supposed to educate students about the impact of hunger,” Craft said. “And they don’t really see the money coming out of their pocket, so I feel like people would be more willing to help. And we can make an impact.”

Unlike other meal swipe donating programs IWU has partnered with in the past, Craft shared, Swipe out Starvation will not just be available at the end of the semester, but throughout the whole school year.

Craft is still working out many details at this point of the process, such as which aspects of IWU’s food services will participate in Swipe out Starvation and how much of a donation each meal swipe will be worth.

Craft hopes that by the end of the Spring 2014 semester, Swipe out Starvation will be fully established and running on IWU’s campus.

Posted in News, On Campus, World StoriesComments (1)

IWU expands to Australia

Three years ago, Rev. Dr. Richard Waugh, national superintendent of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand, visited Indiana Wesleyan University. Waugh advocated the demand for Christian higher education in Australia and New Zealand.

Dr. Bridget Aitchison, IWU’s dean for international programs, understood the need, having lived 20 years in Australia.

“Students in the U.S. are so fortunate to have. … [the] choice of strong Christian universities, but in most of the world there are none,” she wrote in an email to The Sojourn.

IWU and Wesley Institute officials meet to discuss partnership.

IWU and Wesley Institute officials meet to discuss partnership.              Courtesy photo // Bridget Aitchison

This thought combined with Waugh’s demand and began a “long series of conversations,” Aitchison said, ultimately resulting in the partnership between IWU and the Wesley Institute of Sydney, Australia.

Earlier this month, IWU President David Wright officially announced the board of trustees gave the university approval to acquire Wesley Institute as the first international campus of the university.

The small college, he said, was “looking for a major Christian partner to become their umbrella so that they could grow to a university status.”

Founded in 1983, Wesley Institute was Australia’s first Christian arts college, according to its official website.

Aitchison said Wesley Mission in Sydney considered closing the school five years ago, but one of Australia’s top businessmen, Phillip Cave, rescued the school, hoping one day it would reach university status with the help of a larger, Christian partner.

IWU will serve as that larger, Christian partner.

“We have a lot of work in front of us,” Wright said. “When we put this opportunity in front of the board, they said this feels like something that God wants us to do with us and in us and through us.”

An important part of this partnership, however, is to maintain the Australian identity of the school.

“One of things we’ve said to all interested parties here is that we’re not really interested in just transplanting an American university to Australia. That doesn’t serve our purposes,” Wright said.

For example, Australians taking classes at the new location will not want a U.S. degree. They’ll want an Australian degree.

“We are creating a global learning community that honors the distinctives and the identity of each of the places but is one system,” Wright said. “We want something that’s a part of IWU but that is very distinctly Australian.”

Wesley Institute was the first Wesley Christian college in Australia when it opened in 1989.

Wesley Institute was the first Christian arts college in Australia when it was founded in 1983.  Courtesy photo // Bridget Aitchison

IWU officials will spend the next nine months working out the process of partnering with Wesley Institute, Wright said. IWU will buy the institution for one dollar “because it has to transfer hands.”

Over the next five years, IWU will invest in some of its research and development money to support the financial demands of the project. It will take about $5.7 million to get Wesley Institute into a new location and “help them move from where they are to full university status,” Wright said.

According to Chief Financial Officer Duane Kilty, the funds of this project will not have a negative impact on students. For example, they will not directly lead to any tuition jumps.

Kilty said $3 million of the $5.7 million total will “renovate a new leased facility” and go toward a relocating Wesley Institute. The current lease, which cannot be renewed, expires in 2015.

Another $2 million will fund additional marketing during the first five years, and the rest will finance the development of new programs, additional faculty and other operational needs.

Wright said IWU will treat the $5.7 million as a loan the Australia location will pay back in years to come. Once IWU receives the money back, Wright said it will go toward other global opportunities for the school.

“We don’t see … IWU Australia as a way for IWU USA to make money,” Wright said. “We see this as a way for us to broaden and enrich the mission of Indiana Wesleyan University. The funds that we invest are really intended to extend the reach of Christ-centered higher education outside of this country.”

Kilty said, “Once the acquisition is complete, [there] will be wonderful benefits for Marion students.”

Aitchison hopes that having a plant in Australia will help students’ intercultural skills.

She cited Dr. Wright for saying if a student graduates and never leaves Grant County, there is still a high possibility he or she will work with international companies and suppliers.

“We have to prepare our students for the realities of a global world,” Aitchison said. “Having the links between IWU and IWU campuses in other countries will help with the internationalization of our students’ experiences.”

According to Aitchison, some IWU students have already had experience at Wesley Institute. The school, she said, is an affiliate member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and has hosted the BestSemester study abroad program in Sydney.

Wesley Institute specializes in the creative performing arts, such as music, drama, and dance.

Wesley Institute specializes in the creative performing arts, such as music, drama, and dance.  Courtesy photo // Bridget Aitchison

“This opportunity really provides a range of academic programs that our students can plug into and become a part of,” Wright said. “I believe it really will offer a rich smorgasbord of exchange opportunities, study abroad opportunities, [and] faculty collaboration opportunities.”

Wesley Institute offers undergraduate bachelor’s degrees in the per

forming creative arts, such as dance, drama, music and graphic design, Aitchison said. It also offers master’s degrees in education, counseling, music, leadership and applied ethics.

Instead of short-term study abroad trips, Wright hopes students and faculty consider staying a full year at the Australian location.

Though the board approved the partnership earlier this month, IWU must still have the approval of the Higher Learning Commission. Wright and his associates are writing a proposal for the committee due in December. The HLC, which monitors the accreditation of colleges in the North Central region, will review this proposal and either approve or deny it in June.

If the partnership goes through, IWU Australia will become the first and only Evangelical Christian university in Australia. It will also be the first Christian university of the Wesleyan Church outside of North America.

Posted in Front Page, News, On Campus, World StoriesComments (0)

IWU makes waves at town hall meeting

Indiana Wesleyan University hosted a town hall meeting Monday, Oct. 7, in the College Wesleyan Church sanctuary. The meeting consisted mainly of committee updates and an announcement regarding IWU’s first international plant in Australia.

After an opening prayer, Interim Provost Dr. Larry Lindsay took to the stage and hinted at IWU’s Australia plans during his updates of the Academic Affairs Committee. The committee, he said, had a “very healthy discussion” regarding Australia and voiced their support for the plant.

Other members of the board gave updates on their committees, and at the end of the meeting, President David Wright officially broke the news.

President David Wright speaks at the town hall meeting Monday.

President David Wright speaks at the town hall meeting Monday.

The board of trustees gave IWU approval to “move forward” in acquiring the Wesley Institute of Sydney, Australia, as the first international campus of the university.

According to Wright, IWU had been in communication with Wesley Institute for the past 18 months. The small college was “looking for a major Christian partner to become their umbrella so that they could grow to a university status,” he said.

Wright credited Dr. Bridget Aitchison, dean for international programs, for bringing this opportunity to IWU. Aitchison approached the stage and spoke about the college as well as its aspirations to become a university.

“We have a lot of work in front of us,” Wright said. “When we put this opportunity in front of the board, they said this feels like something that God wants us to do with us and in us and through us.”

IWU will spend the next nine months working out the process of partnering with Wesley Institute. IWU will buy the institution for one dollar “because it has to transfer hands.”

Over the next five years, IWU will invest in some of its research and development money. Wright said it will take about $5.7 million to get Wesley Institute into a new location and “help them move from where they are to full university status.”

The results of this partnership will make Wesley Institute the first and only Evangelical Christian university in Australia. It will also be the first Christian university of the Wesleyan Church outside of North America, Wright said.

In addition to Australia, Wright discussed the enrollment differences between this year and last. Overall, IWU experienced a 4 percent decline in enrollment this year.

“We have not turned around the challenge of declining enrollment at Indiana Wesleyan University,” Wright said. “That’s the bad news, but that’s the real news. It would be disingenuous of me to try to tell you or the board any other thing but that.”

Wright explained, however, that certain departments have improved. For example, the School of Nursing experienced a 10 percent growth and the Wesley Seminary experienced a 35 percent growth.

Executive Vice President Dr. Keith Newman at Monday's town hall meeting.

Executive Vice President Dr. Keith Newman at Monday’s town hall meeting.

Executive Vice President Keith Newman announced that US News and World Report ranked IWU as No. 17 in the midwest region, moving up ten spots from last year. He also shared about the Wings & Tots plant and upcoming change to one, unified chapel service.

According to Audrey Hahn, interim vice president and dean for the College of Adult and Professional Studies, IWU “had a great year [this past year] as far as creating new things.”

Hahn explained IWU started eight new programs at the bachelor’s and master’s level. IWU also created six new majors for its Masters in Education.

IWU received permission to expand its education department in Ohio. This means several of the education programs will be offered over there, according to Hahn. IWU is looking at future plans of expanding the education department in Illinois as well.

Also at the meeting, Jay McHenry, assistant vice president of campus planning and construction, displayed pictures of the construction process for the new science and nursing building. He said transition to the new facility will begin during spring break.

Posted in Front Page, Local Stories, News, On Campus, Other, World StoriesComments (1)

Follow The Sojourn on Twitter