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November2011 Volume 6 | Issue 5

Dear CSU Parents and Families:

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There are only two weeks left before winter break!  While we know you can't wait to see your students, please know they are working hard to remember every bit of information given to them over the semester so they can ace their final exams and finish the semester strong.  We hope you'll use tips from past eNewsletters regarding study tips and suggestions for stress relief.  Care packages are the answer to students' stress right now.  A package of goodies and all the positive reinforcement you can send will help your student know you care about them and believe in them during the last few weeks of the semester.  We suggest the following messages to help boost your students:

  • Do the best he or she can
  • Access campus resources
  • Speak directly with professors and faculty
  • Take care of him/herself physically by sleeping, eating, and exercising
  • You love them no matter their end of semester GPA

In this edition of the newsletter, we've focused on discussing final grades and are taking a look at winter break from a student perspective.  We've also included a step-by-step tutorial of FAMweb and, by special request, the link to President Frank's communications with the campus community regarding budgets, athletics, and other important items.  Just go to the Office of the President website and look for these messages under the Communications heading on the right hand side.

Lastly, we'd like to address the many comments we've received regarding a recent student death on campus.  Some of your students may have shared with you that a student died tragically on campus this past week. We’ve received a number of emails asking for additional information related to his death.  Please know first and foremost, we have to fully investigate what happened.  At this time, we do not have toxicology reports that confirm the manner of death.  The discussion of heroin in the media is, at this point, speculation based on comments from the coroner, but we have an obligation to wait for full information before passing it along to those impacted.  Once we've confirmed information, we want to respect the privacy of this student's family and honor the fact that he was a son, brother, and friend. When a member of the CSU student community passes, we focus on supporting friends, classmates, and all who are deeply impacted by the death.  Our CSU Health Network team of Counselors, Student Case Managers, and other Student Affairs professionals work individually and collectively to help students deal with the loss of a peer and access additional resources for ongoing support.

Many have asked what CSU is doing to prevent this from happening again.  While it is hard to say an institution can prevent something from happening to individuals, there have been a number of activities aimed at addressing this issue through our Student Consultation Team, the Residence Halls, the Public Safety Team, and the Fort Collins community.  Though it might not be visible externally, we are working diligently to address the issue.

While we can understand wanting to know about this from a CSU family perspective, we hope you understand why we do not send mass emails regarding this type of campus tragedy.  On a campus of over 26,000 students, we wish to honor all students for their unique qualities and accomplishments.   

We close with awe at the amount of love and support you give your students over the semester.  We're pleased to know we work with families who genuinely root for their student's success and who are always willing to seek out resources to help their students.

take care,

Jody & Kacee

Jody Donovan, Ph.D.
Dean of Students/Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs

Kacee Collard Jarnot, M.S.
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs

Parent and Family Programs
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(970) 491-5312

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Faculty Highlight:  Human Development & Family Studies

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Dr. Toni ZimmermanName: Toni Schindler Zimmerman, PhD

Title: Professor

College: Applied Human Sciences

Department: Human Development and Family Studies

Years teaching: 20 at CSU

Degrees: BA Psychology, MS Psychology, PhD Child and Family Development with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy
Areas of research:  At-risk Youth Therapeutic Mentoring, Effective Training of Marriage and Family Therapists, Analysis of Self Help, Work and Family Balance

Undergraduate Classes:  HDFS 497 Campus Corps: A Service Learning Course and KY192 Relationships: The Human Connection

1.  What advice would you give students who want to be successful at Colorado State University?

I think the most important thing is to balance your academics with your social life. You want to give your best to your classes, show up with a learner’s mind and be curious about the subjects you are studying. Work hard to get good grades so you have options like graduate school and are competitive for jobs when you graduate. But most of all good grades indicate that you understood and engaged in the material. Keep in mind that most people in the world never get an opportunity to go to college so take full advantage of your privilege and learn as much as you can about the subjects, the world and yourself while you are here. You also want to engage in an active but healthy social life. Make friends, join clubs, study abroad, volunteer on campus and in the community, get involved in diversity and inclusion on campus, go to events, go to the recreation center, get out there and socialize but be sure to do it in a safe and healthy way. And finally my advice is to be sure you know you are never alone at CSU. If you run into any trouble in your classes or personally all you have to do is reach out and so many good people here will reach back. Reach out to your instructors, your residence hall director, and so many others. We are here for you and we want you to succeed and have FUN!

2.  What advice would you give parents and families of college students?

Be supportive by being your kid’s biggest fan! Support them in their school work, their social life, and in their jobs or activities. Support them in being responsible but don’t take their responsibility on for them. For instance, if they are having trouble in a class or with a friend, coach them where and how to get help and support. Let them know you are always there to cheer them on or pick them up. I think it is a good idea for students to have a job at least part time while they are in school- I would encourage this for all students.

3.  What else would you like people to know about you?

I have two daughters ages 17 and 15 so my husband and I are starting to think about college for our daughters. I love working with college students and it is exciting to think my daughters will have this opportunity soon.

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Assessment Results:  FAMweb 101

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Talking about GradesWe've gotten a ton of feedback about FAMweb - mostly positive and, as expected with any new system, some constructive.  Since unveiling FAMweb in October 2011, we've received numerous emails related to the system: users have had confusion about how it works or who initiates access, are unsure of how to use the login screen, cannot find the system on the CSU website, etc.  We've addressed these concerns individually, but want to give a step-by-step tutorial on how the system works.  Jody Donovan provided a demonstration of the system at our last RAMFAM Association meeting (the FAMweb demo begins at 73:40).  Between this resource and the outline given here, we hope it makes the system a bit more user-friendly.   

Student Steps:

First, students must provide access to trusted individuals through their RAMweb accounts.  FAMweb provides online access to certain student records to trusted individuals of a student’s choice for a time period of the student’s choosing, per FERPA.  Students can choose to provide online access to one or all of the following by clicking on "Manage Access to my Records (FAMweb)" in RAMweb:

  • Student eBilling statements
  • Student class schedule for the semester in session
  • Student unofficial transcript to date
  • Student grades from the last completed term

Students will be asked to confirm their eBilling information (if you had access to eBilling prior to the creation of FAMweb) before providing access to the other three items.  After confirming, students can "Add Someone to Your FAMweb Access List".  It is critical for students to properly enter the email address of the person they are adding.  (We've had a few issues where families don't receive instructions to create a FAMweb account because the email address was misspelled by the student.) 

Trusted Individual Steps:

Once students confirm access for a given individual, that individual will receive an email letting them know they have been granted access to certain modules within FAMweb.  This email also provides instructions for how to create a FAMweb account.  To create an account:

  • Go to the FAMweb Login site:  www.famweb.colostate.edu or click on the link in the email sent to you via FAMweb
  • Click on FAMweb Login; first time users click on Create Your Account
  • Enter the information requested - email address, name, create a password & secret question
  • Click Create Account
  • You will be sent a verification code to the email address registered in FAMweb.  Enter this code and move to the home page
  • Under "You Have Been Granted Access to the Systems Below" click on FAMweb
  • You will see access granted for each individual student at CSU and can click on any of the active links

At the end of each session, please remember to Logout at the top of the page.

If you have concerns about access, please contact your student, as he or she determines the fields you can see.  If your student has provided access and you haven't received an instruction email, ask your student to verify they correctly entered your email address.  If they have, please check your spam mail.  If your spam settings are high, your FAMweb email may be kicked back to us.  Initial FAMweb emails are sent from vpsa_famweb@colostate.edu.  Please add this email to your contact list to receive all emails.  If you have concerns about eBilling, please contact Student Financial Services.  If you are having trouble accessing the site, you can always email the Help Desk or contact them at 970-491-7276.

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Reasonable Expectations:  End of Semester Grades

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Report Card


By Jody Donovan, Dean of Students/Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs

Your students are entering what will likely be the most challenging two weeks of the fall semester.  The pressure is on to truly comprehend, critically analyze and apply knowledge gained over the past fourteen weeks to deliver on final graded assignments, papers, and exams.  Grades will be posted on students’ RAMweb accounts on December 21, 2011 and, if your students granted access to end of term grades on FAMWeb, you’ll be able to view them online as well.

As first-time college parents, my husband Nate and I have had numerous discussions with our son Matthew regarding academic expectations. We believe it is important to set the bar high because we know our son has strong academic potential. He excelled throughout his K-12 educational journey and has tentatively chosen to double major in Biomedical Science and Spanish.  Nate and I are now faced with the many years of advice I’ve given during Preview and Next Step Orientation sessions about grades, expectations, support, and consequences.

Prior to the start of fall semester, we agreed as a family that if Matthew achieved an outstanding first semester grade point average he would be able to take his car to campus for the second semester. He would have proven to us that he could handle the academic demands while balancing his part-time job(s) and transitioning to college life.  We also agreed upon a very good grade point average that if achieved for two consecutive semesters, the car would follow for the second year.  Throughout this fall semester, we’ve heard wonderful reports about what Matthew is learning in his classes, the fun he’s having both in and out of class,  and snippets of great grades and not-so-great grades.  We’ve also discussed the repeat/delete option for a few classes if the grades are unacceptable.  Unfortunately, at this time, Matthew is confident he will not have a car for second semester.

I encourage you to spend some time talking philosophically and practically about learning and grades.  Nate and I were college sweethearts and approached our academics from dramatically different positions.  I’m an overachieving perfectionist who will stop at nothing to earn the perfect grade.  Nate focuses on learning holistically in and out of class. While I would love for Matthew to earn all A’s, I also know he is learning so much about himself, about others who are different from him, and  significant subject matter from outstanding  faculty.

Regardless of the final grade point average, we both agree that Matthew needs to know we are proud of him, believe in him, and will always love him. So, we’re holding our breath, supporting our son through his first collegiate semester, and being realistic about how hard the transition can be from high school to college.

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The Diversity Talk 

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Father and Daughter Talking

By Bridgette Johnson, Director, Black/African American Cultural Center

Walking around campus looks different to many people.  It truly depends on whose lens you are looking through.  For some students it’s very diverse and for others it is not so diverse.  It is not uncommon for our students to grow up with people who are very much like them and therefore, walking on a college campus like Colorado State University can be a cultural shock.  As a result, many students do not know how to act or what to say around those individuals who are different from them.  It is likely students grow up with learned biases and stereotypes about people who are different from them and now they have to live with “those” people.  Many students want to get to know these individuals but are not sure how to, while others want absolutely nothing to do with “them.”  Sometimes guilty feelings arise because of negative thoughts lurking in their heads about “those” people.

Over the years, it feels like things have not changed as I reflect on my first days of college.  The white girl still is fascinated that I only wash my hair once a week, I worry about  if I date a person outside of my ethnicity what will my mom think, all white people are racist, the quiet girl down the hall is still being alienated because her roommate told everyone “she got stuck with the lesbian,” the Hispanic male must be an illegal immigrant, because his English is “broken”, it seems like all Asians are only majoring in engineering, and yes ,all  Native Americans go to college free ,oh yeah and let’s not forget the girl is who is acting “weird” because she has to go to the Disability Office weekly to get help; you know she really shouldn’t be in college.

I hear the same stories today, but many think we have come so far when it comes to diversity.  While some have come far, we still have a long way to go as a society before we can truly say we appreciate diversity and respect people for who they are.  No, it is not going to happen overnight, but over a lifetime we can work to make it happen.  So as your college student develops into “adulthood,” have conversations with them.  For some it may be easy, while for others it may not be so easy.  Some parents may not have had much interaction with persons who are different from them, some may have negative thoughts or have instilled these types of negative thoughts into their college student’s minds.  Either way, it is not too late to learn and just because we may think we are not “that” bad, we too can learn more.

I believe some of the first things we can do are to acknowledge where we are with diversity, respect others and be willing to listen and learn.  I encourage you to ask your college student a few of the following questions:

  • How comfortable are you with people from diverse backgrounds?
  • Do you say things that may be hurtful or disrespectful about groups of people who are different from you?  If so, why?
  • How much do you really know about people who are different from you?
  • If someone wanted to talk to you about your differences, how would you like to be approached?
  • What do you take into consideration to help you determine whether something is true about a culture?

Here are some suggestions you may find useful to share when speaking with your college student:

  • Respect that everyone has a right to their point of view
  • Increase your knowledge of and experience with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Talk openly about differences without judging
  • Keep an open mind
  • Try to see things from others’ perspectives
  • Recognize your biases and stereotypes and be willing to work on them
  • Recognize that you will make mistakes; be respectful and apologize
  • Avoid generalizations such as, “They always…”
  • Remember that all people are more alike than different
  • Become involved with people from diverse backgrounds in a club or organization
  • Attend community events that involve diversity

The University offers many established programs the throughout campus so please remind your students of these opportunities as they are exploring who they are and learning about others in the CSU community.  Encourage them to take advantage of some of the many offerings around campus.  For example CSU’s Student Diversity Programs and Services Offices are comprised of the following offices; Asian/Pacific American Cultural Center; Black/African American Cultural Center; El Centro; Native American Cultural Center; Women and Gender Advocacy Center; Resources for Disabled Students; and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center. These Offices are a part of the Division of Student Affairs. These offices function as a mutually supportive agency to promote diversity at Colorado State University and to engage in joint programmatic efforts centered on issues of diversity and inclusion.

There may be topics your college student has not talked with you about or question if they should.  Maybe you can start the conversation.

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27,677 Reasons to Say Thank You!

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27,667By Lindsay Sell, Assistant Director of Student Advancement Programs, Office of CSU Events & Constituent Engagement

On November 9, 2011, Colorado State University  celebrated its first ever “thanks day.” The intention of thanks day is to encourage students to say thank you to those that make their education possible. The event seeks to educate students about the people that give to CSU that make the student experience possible, notably donors. Students were asked to thank those CSU donors by writing a thank you postcard sent to many of the 27,677 donors that gave to CSU in the last year. In addition, CSU students were able to write a thank you postcard to parents and family members that also help them receive a CSU education.

Students often don’t know that what they pay in tuition covers only a portion of the overall cost to educate a student. The rest is covered by state support and private giving. So as Thanksgiving celebrations encourage gratitude, CSU provided one more way for students to say thank you.

This support takes many different forms. Donors that support CSU give to funds that allow scholarships to be dispersed, create new academic buildings, create new faculty positions to improve the educational experience, and provide extra-curricular involvement opportunities for students. Parents and family members often provide the financial resources that cover the cost of tuition, books, and living expenses and also provide much needed emotional support during a student’s educational journey.

Thank you to all the parents and family members that support CSU students' education. To highlight that gratitude, we'd like to share several photos of the event and notes written on the thank you postcards sent to parents and families.

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Coming Home:  A Student Perspective

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Jessica MitchellBy Jessica Mitchell, Senior Biology Major, Year 2 Board Member, Orientation & Transition Programs, Center for Advising & Student Achievement

Editor's Note:  So often, we call upon the advice of seasoned parent or family members to write pieces about what to expect when your student comes home for the first long break.  Either that, or we research great sites to offer tips and advice.  This year, we chose to showcase the student perspective.  Please note this is the unedited version of Jessica's perspective.  We think it's important to show both the family and student ideas as we write newsletters, so this is a student perspective on winter break.

With only one week of classes and one week of finals left in this semester, winter break is rapidly approaching.  Though I have eagerly looked forward to returning home to spend four weeks with family and friends, it can be an awkward transition for everyone.  That is, if you don’t know what to expect.  You might be thinking, I’m not your child and your child’s opinion could be totally different.  You’re right, that’s a possibility.  But, take it from a veteran student that there are unspoken issues your student will want to address.

I live on my own for nine months out of the year.  I answer to my own rules and I think I do a pretty darn good job!  When I return home, I tend to butt heads with my mom because I am living under her roof so she thinks I should follow her rules…which doesn’t necessarily go with ‘living on my own’.  With neither of us feeling like we have any leeway, break has been stressful in the past.  But, practice makes perfect – we compromise!  I know I need to respect the way my mom lives and in return, she respects my independence and the fact that I know how to take care of myself.  Though it may be hard to realize that your baby is growing up, we deserve just as much respect as the next person. 

One of the worst questions I hear over winter break is, “How’s school going?”  Don’t get me wrong, I love being a student and would make a career out of it if I could.  However, after 15 weeks of many credits, sacrificing sleep to study for exams, endless papers and presentations, and making sure classes are good to go for the next semester; the last thing I want to talk about is school.  So, my advice is: unless you have to, don’t ask!  On my break, I want to do the things that I normally don’t have time to do.  While sleeping and resting is a big one, there are plenty of others.  For me, it’s reading and going to the movies.  My mom used to give me such a hard time for sleeping-in past 7am and not doing enough “stuff.”  Now, she knows that I run out of fuel during the weeks between fall break and winter break and I need some time to recharge.  Let us get some rest!  But, encourage your student to spend some time doing the things they love.  They might not have the chance for a few more months.

I know what you’re thinking, “What about me?!”  It’s natural that you’ll want to spend time with your student during the break.  And, believe it or not, we want to spend time with you as well!  Balance is the challenge.  I have had a hard time balancing family time and friend time while I am home.  It’s natural for us to want to catch up with our high school pals, but you are important, too!  Try having a certain time (or two) set aside each week for family time – have dinner, play cards, go see a movie, whatever your family does!  You’ll be surprised at your student's enthusiasm when they have the chance to catch up with you and their friends over break. 

All-in-all, winter break is just that – a break.  So even though you are still working, remember that we’ve been doing double-time for the past few weeks!  Treat us like the responsible adults that we are, and we will respect you that much more.  It’s okay, though, to demand some 1-on-1 time. 

Enjoy the holiday season with those you love.

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Gracias. Merci. Arigatou...Thank You from Call-A-Ram

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Students Walking

By Kacee Collard Jarnot, Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs and Margaret Linn, Ruffalo Cody Program Center Manager, Colorado State University Call-A-Ram

Beginning November 1, Colorado State University's phonathon program, Call-A-Ram, started calling parents and families to check in regarding student experiences and to fundraise for the Parents Fund.

Now that most of the calls have been made, we want to say thank you.  We are always grateful for the ways in which our parent and family population engages with our callers.  You ask great questions, share your student's challenges and successes, and always seek out more information about resources and programs on campus to help and support your student.

This fall, our outstanding student callers have been in contact with 5,652 family members.  Thank you for taking the time to talk with them and share your student's experience!  In addition to supporting your student by learning more about CSU, 943 of you pledged almost $74 thousand to support the Parents Fund.  Thank you for your generosity!

As a reminder, the Parents Fund exists to fund students' greatest needs, emergency health and safety updates to parents and family members, all parent and family programs, and university-wide programs that support leadership, diversity, service and learning.  It truly enhances your student's education and provides all resources for parents and families of our students.

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Campus Step Up

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Campus Step Up Participant Shirts

By Brandon Devlin, Junior English Major, Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement Student Staff Member

For the last two years I have had the good fortune to work in the Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement (SLiCE) office at Colorado State University. The events and programs SLiCE coordinates and the people who work here have been the highlights of my time at CSU. I have been involved with Alternative Spring Breaks, LeaderShape, Rams Engaging in Active Leadership (REAL) and many other SLiCE sponsored programming.  One event in particular continues to stick out as the most impactful: Campus Step Up.

Campus Step Up is a weekend-long retreat all about Social Justice held during the last weekend before spring semester begins. About 70 students join in large and small group discussions about power, privilege, identity and other issues concerning oppression and inequality. Before this retreat I had never really openly talked about things like what masculinity meant to me, and I had never really considered how much privilege I enjoy daily; privilege I have done nothing to earn. It was hard to accept that, because I benefited from an unequal distribution of power, privilege and access, I am contributing to the oppression of others. If I simply continue to reap the benefits of other people’s oppression, then I am helping to keep the unjust status quo active. This made me angry at first; I am not racist, sexist, or homophobic, why should I be lumped in the same group as people who actively oppress others? I began to realize that not taking action against acknowledged oppression is like lying by omission; I am not telling myself the whole story. By no means did the facilitators ever make me feel like a bad person, nor did I ever feel attacked. I did feel a weight of responsibility settle on my shoulders though. Luckily, the facilitators gave us clear and easy steps to begin giving back and be of service to those who may lack the same privilege we may take advantage of. For example, I am now more attentive to the sexist, racist, and homophobic remarks my friends and acquaintances make, and when I hear something offensive I comment on it and use those moments to educate if possible. I also am more attentive of the space I take up in groups (class, work, etc.), because as a white male I know that I am more likely (and encouraged) to have my voice heard. Through these simple actions I am beginning to use my privilege to decrease the oppression felt by others in an attempt to redistribute power and privilege in a more equitable fashion one small step at a time.

The lessons learned at Campus Step Up gave me the motivation to get more involved with SLiCE. This experience also got me one big step closer to realizing what I want to do after graduation: become a Student Affairs professional and provide these opportunities for other students. Literally, Campus Step Up and SLiCE, in general, has helped me shape my goals, passions, and dreams.

Please note: SLiCE is no longer accepting student applications for Campus Step Up 2012.  If your student is interested in an intensive, week-long leadership experience in the spring semester, encourage him or her to apply for LeaderShape.

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