Category Archives: Student Activities

Educate the State Rally

On Tuesday, April 23rd, Millersville University will rally for Education Justice in front of the library. 
Come join us and share your passion for education.

Be part of the change you want to see by stepping up to voice your ideas and concerns, by learning about what legislation is proposed, by being an engaged citizen, and by forming an opinion on ways that–for example–Pennsylvania can move from the dead last state in the nation in high education (yeah… we are LAST) to something … better.  We owe this to our younger siblings, our children, our state, and our democracy, because without education, democracy falters.  So don’t just stand back… care about your world.

To Volunteer
Email Rachel Hicks

Some of the education advocates who will be attending include:

Education Justice is an intentionally broad term.  You can slice it however you want, to address a concern that you feel strongly about.  Here are some concerns that people have been talking about recently:

Higher Education (also called: University/College Funding, Post-Secondary Funding)

 This is a topic you all have some experience with—your tuition dollars and debt.  In recent decades, Pennsylvania has contributed less to the cost of running universities.  Whereas in the past, PA would use its tax dollars to support the state colleges, now it supports them less.

For example, PA spends 37.3% less per student in 2018 than it did in 2008 (adjusted for inflation).  What does that mean?  It means that the money the state isn’t putting in has to come from tuition dollars, which eventually becomes debt, your debt.  As taxpayers, we do have some say about how our dollars are spent—do you agree with the allocation? Do you know of some other ways that the state could fund education so that students and their families aren’t financially stressed?  Speak out then (with a speech on the 23rd, or a video, or a meme, or a social media campaign) on the issue.

Racial Bias in the Funding of PA K-12 Schools

Would it surprise you to find out that the K-12 schools that have more students of color in PA get less money from the Pennsylvania government per student than schools with more white students?  You would think someone might fix that, and they did with a Fair Funding formula (see attachment). Unfortunately, one of the conditions of the new formula is that it applies only to the new money brought in in taxes, leaving the vast majority of funds to be distributed in the old way. People are trying to change that—what do you think should be done to be fair?

See video: Racial Bias in PA Funding

Funding for Special Education

Do you believe that students with disabilities should have the resources they need to succeed?  It probably won’t surprise you that special education expenditures have also risen in the past 10 years—but state support, not so much.  From 2008/09-2016/17, expenditures in School District of Lancaster for Special education rose over $8 million, or 40%.  Where the state used to pay 41% of those costs, in 2016-17 it only paid 33%.  That forced local funds to cover 59% (see attachment), forcing local taxpayers to foot more of the bill.  What would be fair for covering the costs of special education?

Gender Issues

As aspects of gender fluidity became more prominent in the national discussion, debates about the rights of LGBTQ+ students became more prominent in both K-12 and universities.  Some of these revolved around practical issues (for example, issues of bathrooms), while others were more focused on support within the learning environments (for example, PA law did not explicitly protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, until in 2018 the Human Relations Commission stated that these categories were covered under sex discrimination in existing law).  Does PA do enough to support the LGBTQ+ students?  How could things be fairer? More supportive?

PA Promise

Do you want more financial support from the state for post-secondary education?  Would you consider new legislation? Consider the proposed PA Promise legislation (excerpt below is from the proposal, which is attached)—is it fair?

The Need for Investment

There is a pressing need for reinvestment in post‐secondary education and training in Pennsylvania.

  • Thirty‐five years of state disinvestment have left Pennsylvania ranked worst in the nation when it comes to higher education, sunk in the rankings by students’ high debt at graduation and the state’s high tuition and fees, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • The state ranks 40th for the share of adults 25‐64 with an education beyond high school. In over half of Pennsylvania counties (35), the share of adults with more than a high‐school degree is lower than in any of the 50 states (i.e., lower than West Virginia’s 48.1%).
  • A large body of economic research shows that lagging educational attainment translates to lower wages and incomes for individuals and slower economic growth for regions.
  • The Wall Street Journal has already labeled rural America the “new inner city,” the nation’s most troubled regions. Rural Pennsylvania has so far escaped the fates of some parts of West Virginia and Kentucky.  But if Pennsylvania’s rural counties remain higher education deserts, it would guarantee their accelerating decline over the next generation.

The Pennsylvania Promise

For about a billion per year, Pennsylvania could:

  • cover two years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate enrolled full‐time at one of the Commonwealth’s 14 public community colleges;
  • cover four years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate with a family income less than or equal to $110,000 per year accepted into one of the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education;
  • provide 4 years of grants ranging from $2,000 up to $11,000, depending on family income, for students accepted into a state‐related university.
  • Provide free college tuition and fees for adults without a college degree, with priority going to those seeking in‐demand skills and industry‐recognized credentials, as well as college credit.
  • Currently per capita funding for higher education in Pennsylvania ranks 47th out of 50 states.9 The increase in state spending required under the Pennsylvania Promise would raise Pennsylvania’s rank to 36th.


George Street Press Open Submissions!

George Street Press  is Millersville University’s literary magazine, open to students and faculty alike.  Submissions are open for the Spring 2019 Edition!

This year, the club will be accepting submissions until March 8th. One student/faculty/alumni university member may submit:

  • 3 poems (one poem cannot exceed two pages)
  • 2 pieces of prose (one piece should not exceed 4,000 words)
  • 2 pieces of non-fiction (one piece should not exceed 4,000 words)
  • 3 pieces of flash-fiction (each 500 words or less)
  • 5 pieces of original art (submit in .jpg format)
  • 1 experimental piece (found poems, screen-plays, the strange, genre-bending, and unknown)

To submit, please email with your name, contact info (phone number/email), as well as any notes about your pieces for the editors. All documents must be in .docx or .doc format, and art pieces must be in .jpg format. Once a piece is printed into the magazine, the writer is officially a printed author! This is a perfect opportunity for English Majors to get ahead in the creative world.

About a week before the end of the semester, the George Street Press will host a release party for the Spring 2019 Edition! Stay tuned for more information. Here are some photos from last year’s event:

Contact Kitsey Shehan or Sara Pizzo for more information about club meetings/submission guidelines or visit their Get Involved page. Photo Credit: GSP

Saxby’s Selfies

To participate in Saxby’s Selfies, invite a professor to coffee and the department will provide a $5 gift card for a “tasty beverage.” Take a selfie and send to Rachel Hicks with a quick blurb about what you talked about! 

Dr. Phannenstiel and Skyler Gibbon

On October 18th, Dr. Phannenstiel and Skyler Gibbon went out for coffee on the English Department. Their conversation covered myriad topics- from grad school opportunities to fashion.

We talked about our coffee addictions. We talked about grad school and the opportunities that come with it. We talked about the opportunities that professors and students have to participate in conferences. We talked about TV shows, like our love for John Oliver, cake-baking shows, and Atlanta.  We talked about how important writing skills are essential to all areas of study (like advocacy campaigns, science/technology). I talked about my thesis topic on the rhetorical influence and hermeneutics of black preaching…Nicole gave me sources to help with my research.  -Skyler Gibbon

Dr. Phannenstiel and Andie Petrillo

In October, graduate student Andie Petrillo and Dr. Phannenstiel grabbed coffee and talked about career opportunities after graduate school, among other things.

Back in October in the throes of juggling classwork, my G.A. duties, and rehearsing for Jesus Christ Superstar I was invited by Dr. Pfannenstiel to have a cup of coffee at Saxby’s as part of the “Saxby’s Selfie” promotion. Dr. Pfannenstiel is both my degree advisor and my thesis chair. After swapping updates on classwork and the show, Dr. Pfannenstiel and I discussed how to prepare for the real world after graduation. As someone who is interested in entering the world of academia and higher education, her advice has been invaluable in terms of building up a professional résumé and preparing myself for the higher ed job market next year. This is why I chose Millersville for my graduate degree; I wanted to be somewhere where I was a name, not a number and where my professors would help me succeed not only with my degree, but also in my career path. Not many programs would offer this, and not many professors would choose to see you as more than a glorified undergrad. -Andie Petrillo

Literary Festival – Publishing

Millersville University is hosting a Literary Festival in the McNairy Library Room 100 on November 2nd from 9am to 5pm with a keynote speaker at 7pm. Guest writers will hold sessions on writing fiction, poetry, memoir, creative essays, and journalism throughout the day. Check out the full event schedule here

From 2-2:55pm in the McNairy Library, there will be a panel focused on publishing presented by Meghan Phillips and Jamie Beth Cohen. Here is some more information about the presenters:

Meghan Phillips is a writer and editor from Lancaster, PA. Her stories and poems have been nominated for the the Best of the Net, The Best Small Fictions Anthology, Best Microfiction anthology, and the Pushcart Prize. She is the fiction editor for the Lancaster-based literary magazine Third Point Press, and an associate editor for SmokeLong Quarterly, one of the oldest literary magazines dedicated to flash fiction. Her chapbook of flash fiction, Abstinence Only, is forthcoming from Barrelhouse Books. To find out more about her writing, visit

Jamie Beth Cohen writes about difficult things, but her friends think she’s funny. Her writing has appeared in, The Washington Post/On Parenting, Salon, and several other outlets. Her debut novel, WASTED PRETTY, will be published in April 2019. It’s a YA book about what happens when a sixteen-year-old girl who usually blends in, starts to stand out. Jamie’s favorite job was scooping ice cream when she was 16 years old. She thinks everything about 16 was wonderful and amazing, except all the stuff that was horrible. Find her tweeting @Jamie_Beth_S

Be sure to check out one or more of the panels tomorrow!

Literary Festival – Poetry

Millersville University is hosting a Literary Festival in the McNairy Library Room 100 on November 2nd from 9am to 5pm with a keynote speaker at 7pm. Guest writers will hold sessions on writing fiction, poetry, memoir, creative essays, and journalism throughout the day. Check out the full event schedule here

Sessions 2 and 3 of Millersville’s Literary Festival will focus on poetry. Session 2, which starts at 10am, will feature Le Hinton and Jenny Hill. Session 3, which begins at 11am, will feature Barb Strasko and Michele Santamaria. Here is some extra information about the guest poets for these sections:

Le Hinton is the author of six poetry collections and his work has been widely published and nominated for various awards such as the 2016 Pushcart Prize, the 2016 Best of the Net, and inclusion in Best American Poetry 2014. His current collection, Sing Silence (formerly A Chorus for Cotton), was a finalist for “The Best Prize for People of Color” from Big Lucks and an honorable mention for the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize.

Jenny Hill is the author of six books of poetry, two of prose, and is a teaching artist in the Arts-in-Education program with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has been teaching creative writing for the past 18 years and her work has been anthologized in high school textbooks and appeared in numerous literary journals.

Barb Strasko is the author of two collections of poetry: Graffiti in Braille and On the Edge of Delicate Day. She was appointed the first Poet Laureate of Lancaster County by the Lancaster Literary Guild. Her poem “Bricks and Mortar” is engraved in granite in Lancaster’s main square.

Michele Santamaria works as a Learning Design Librarian at MU. She was a reader for the South Carolina Review and inaugural poetry editor for the journal Cherry Tree. Her poems have most recently appeared in BayouBellingham Review, and Portland Review. In her current manuscript, Michele is writing about Technicolor movies, family history, beauty, and race.

Class Trip to Columbia, PA – Open Seats!

If you travel just over 8 miles away from Millersville, you will get to the town of Columbia, Pennsylvania, which the nineteenth-century historian Robert Clemens Smedley labeled as the birthplace of the Underground Railroad.  In his published account of the Underground Railroad’s presence in Pennsylvania, Smedley describes Columbia as a key station on the Underground Railroad because of its proximity to the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, just across the Susquehanna River.

On Friday, October 19, 2018 two sections of Dr. Jakubiak’s class ENGL 333 African American Literature will travel to Columbia to learn more about this part of local history. They will participate in the guided tour of Underground Railroad, led by Christopher Vera, the President of Columbia Historic Preservation Society. Students will first visit Underground Railroad Exhibit at Miller Manse, where they will see many railroad artifacts and photographs. Then, they will walk to Smith & Whipper Lumber Mill, Thaddeus Stevens, first black settlement, Bank & Bridge Co. building, William Wright’s homestead, and Wrights Mansion, all sites with historical ties to Underground Railroad. The tour will end with questions.

Students will travel to Columbia with Shultz Transportation in two groups at the following times:

  1. Group 1: Departing from SMC at 9:30am, returning to Millersville at noon.
  2. Group 2: Departing from SMC at 12:30pm, returning to Millersville at 3pm.

There are a few seats open on both tours. If you would like to join this trip, please e-mail Dr. Jakubiak at

Literary Festival – Flash Fiction Contest

Millersville University is hosting a Literary Festival in the McNairy Library Room 100 on November 2nd from 9am to 5pm with a keynote speaker at 7pm. Guest writers will hold sessions on writing fiction, poetry, memoir, creative essays, and journalism throughout the day. Check out the full event schedule here

The Millersville University Literary Festival is sponsoring a Flash Fiction contest!

Submission Criteria:

  • Millersville students only
  • 1,000 word limit
  • Submit here (click on the “Submit Here” link) by October 15th at 11:59pm

The night before the festival (November 1st), the student fiction prize will be awarded at an open mic event in Saxby’s from 7-9pm. The winner will win a $100 prize and a spot in the George Street Press literary magazine.

Please submit your stories and come out to the open mic on November 1st!

Literary Festival – Fiction and Flash Fiction Presentation

Millersville University is hosting a Literary Festival in the McNairy Library Room 100 on November 2nd from 9am to 5pm with a keynote speaker at 7pm. Guest writers will hold sessions on writing fiction, poetry, memoir, creative essays, and journalism throughout the day. Check out the full event schedule here

Session 1 of the Literary Festival will focus on Fiction and Flash Fiction.  Presenters Curtis Smith and Don Helin will discuss writing fiction from 9-9:50am. Here is some more information about the presenters:

Curtis Smith has been featured in over seventy literary journals and is the author of five books of fiction. His work has been cited by The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The Best American Spiritual Writing and the recently released WW Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction. His most recent book is Lovepain, a novel from Braddock Avenue Books.




Don Helin is the author of five thrillers that draw from his military experience serving in a number of stateside posts as well as overseas in Vietnam and Germany. His novel, Secret Assault, was selected as the best Suspense/Thriller at the 2015 Indie Book Awards. Don is a member of International Thriller Writers, Military Writers Society of America, Penwriters, a state-wide writers group in PA.





Banned Book Week

This week, September 24th – 28th, the McNairy Library is celebrating Banned Book Week, an annual celebration of the Freedom to Read. All week banned books will be on display by the first floor circulation desk and there will be rotating banned book facts and statistics on the library monitors.

Here is the week’s schedule:

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10-2pm Button Making – Make your own buttons to support the freedom to read (Lobby). Photo booth – Take a selfie and enter to win a gift card.

Tuesday: 12:05-1:10pm Panel Discussion – Join us for a faculty panel discussion on banned books and censorship (Room 104).

For more information about the event at the McNairy Library, contact Dr. Stephanie Pennucci.

Check out the Banned Books Week website to get involved with the national event.


Break the Chain: On Screen/In Person

On September 27th, the popular On Screen/In Person series is back for a third season, starting with Break the Chain, produced and directed by Laura E. Swanson and Kirk Mason.  Break the Chain is an award-winning feature-length documentary film that highlights the growing child sex and labor trafficking industries through first-hand accounts of survivors and interviews with those working to raise awareness and create solutions.

Break the Chain Official [Trailer] HD – Laura Swanson

No Description

The evening at the Ware Center will begin with a pre-film panel at 6:15pm, including Dr. Karen Rice, Chairperson of the School of Social work at MU; Ms. Pam Pautz, Executive Director of the North Star Initiative; Sarah Fritz, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office on behalf of The Campaign Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children (CASE); and Ms. Elizabeth Bell, Awareness Representative from She’s Somebody’s Daughter. The film will begin at 7pm, ending with a Q&A session led by director Laura Swanson.

Produced and Directed by Michigan documentary filmmakers, Laura E. Swanson and Kirk Mason, “Break the Chain” is an award-winning feature-length documentary film that addresses the often hidden-in-plain-sight issue of Human Trafficking within Michigan communities and the United States. The film chronicles two survivors of Human Trafficking – providing a detailed look at how trafficking goes unnoticed within our backyards. Kwami, a child survivor of Labor Trafficking, was enslaved for nearly five years with three other children in Ypsilanti, Michigan before anyone noticed. Debbie, a survivor of Sex Trafficking, takes us through her experience of being sold for sex around the Detroit-area between the ages of 13 and 18. –

For more information, visit the Ware Center page. For free student tickets, contact Christine FilipponeImage Credit