Hunger at KU, Divine Nine, ’80s rewind

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KU Endowment finals survival kits

Finals Survival Kits are among the staples of college life. Parents and grandparents buy care packages of healthy snacks and sweet treats, offering comfort and good-luck wishes to help sustain students through exams.

But sustenance and survival are becoming all-too-real challenges as more financially strapped college students scrape by skimping on food or skipping meals altogether. As Associate Editor Steven Hill reports in our cover story, food insecurity affects as many as one in three KU students, and a significant number of staff members and faculty face similar struggles. 

This semester, Amanda Ostgulen Painter, c’07, g’10, assistant director of new constituent development for KU Endowment, organized the sale of Finals Survival Kits to assist students and benefit the Campus Cupboard, a student-run food pantry that is one of several resources for food-insecure Jayhawks. Painter, who leads the Student Endowment Board, happily reports that more than 500 kits were sold by the Nov. 8 deadline. The Alumni Association promoted the kits to members, and come Dec. 16, the Student Alumni Network (SAN) will host its traditional free Finals Dinner for hundreds of students, the finale to a semester of Home Football Fridays and other free meals. In fall 2018, SAN launched the popular Free Food Finder in the KU Alumni mobile app, a feature that guides hungry students to nearby, no-cost nourishment. 

SAN hosts hundreds of Jayhawks for Finals Dinner to help fuel studying for exams. Photo by Dan Storey.
SAN hosts hundreds of Jayhawks for Finals Dinner to help fuel studying for exams. Photo by Dan Storey.

In our second feature, Assistant Editor Heather Biele describes the joyful unveiling of the Divine Nine Plaza, a long-awaited visible campus presence for the African American sororities and fraternities that are members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council—several of which boast lengthy, rich Greek traditions on Mount Oread. Though smaller and less visible than the Panhellenic Association sororities and InterFraternity Council organizations that traditionally have occupied houses near campus, NPHC organizations and those of the Multicultural Greek Council are represented, along with Panhellenic and IFC groups, on Chancellor Doug Girod’s Sorority and Fraternity Life Task Force, a group of 27 students, staff members and alumni that in late October submitted recommendations to the chancellor for strengthening the Greek community. He will share the group’s report and his plan in the coming weeks.

Associate Editor Chris Lazzarino discovered a quirky, charming recent acquisition of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library: old-school desk calendars that defy the dreary stereotype, offering a feast for the eyes and a fix of 1980s memories of KU as well as national and international milestones. The calendars were created by an anonymous alumnus whose artistry is a marvel to behold.

The Association’s annual color calendar, an old-school keepsake that, even in this digital era, remains surprisingly popular among members, arrives with this magazine. Alumni no doubt long for photos of their old school more than the monthly grids that accompany the iconic images, and we’re happy to oblige.

As I explained on this page in issue No. 4, the Kansas Alumni team will celebrate 2020 by unveiling a new, quarterly print edition of the magazine that will complement the growing digital content available to all at kansasalumnimagazine.org. Our New Year’s resolution remains the same since the magazine’s founding in 1902—to share KU stories with alumni who care deeply about the achievements and challenges of their alma mater and their fellow Jayhawks. Look for the latest rendition of the print magazine in late February; in the meantime, we hope you’ll visit our website often. During this season of gratitude and toasting traditions with family and friends, we give thanks for the KU stories that never cease.

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