About Campus Spring 2014

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Spring 2014

Girls Gotta Move

Sutra, a sixth-grader, is used to holding up her ankle-length skirt with one hand while using the other to dribble a basketball in the gym at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis. It’s no easy task, especially when she also has to readjust her hijab (headscarf) before going for a crossover and driving to the basket.

sp2014_girlsgottamoveUniversity of Minnesota postdoctoral fellow and alumna Chelsey Thul, third from left, with members of G.I.R.L.S. during basketball practice.

Sutra is one of about 30 East African girls who participate in sports activities twice a week as part of the Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports (G.I.R.L.S.) program, a joint project of the Somali Youth Enrichment Club, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview. It’s possible she will be able to wear something more comfortable on the court soon, thanks to a two-year project between G.I.R.L.S. and students in the University’s Apparel Design program.

While some of the participants in G.I.R.L.S. are able to wear shorts and go without their hijabs when playing, others, like Sutra, follow Islamic dress codes requiring females to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting, floor-length garments. The need to stay completely covered keeps many Somali girls and teens from participating in sports at all, says Chelsey Thul (M.A. ’08, Ph.D. ’12), a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pediatrics. While researching the disparities in physical activity among Minnesota adolescents from different cultures, Thul, a volunteer and consultant for G.I.R.L.S., found Somali girls in the Twin Cities to be the least active of all cultures.

So she teamed up with Elizabeth Bye, head of the Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel in the College of Design; Nicole LaVoi, associate director of the University’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport; Fatimah Hussein, founder of the G.I.R.L.S. program; and G.I.R.L.S. coaches Jennifer Weber and Muna Mohamed to come up with a solution. Knowing that input from the girls was key, they paired program participants with apparel design and students to create culturally appropriate active wear.

The girls will be involved in every stage of the design process, from internet research and watching Gopher women’s sports to sketching with the students and choosing fabrics before the final fashion show. “Like all girls, they want to be free to move their bodies, and if it’s not cute, they won’t wear it,” says Thul, explaining that these girls “just have more complex cultural needs.” — Sarah Barker

The Cold Comfort of Home

Temperatures in the single digits did not deter 45,021 Gopher fans from gathering at TCF Bank Stadium on January 17 for the Hockey City Classic, the largest attendance ever for a hockey game in Minnesota. The Classic featured the No. 1–ranked Gopher women defeating Minnesota State 4-0 and, pictured here, the No. 1–ranked men downing Ohio State 1-0.

Tweets of Yore

If we had Twitter 100 years ago, what would your Alumni Association have been tweeting? We looked back to the 1914 editions of the Minnesota Alumni Weekly to see what was trending.


Professor F.L. Washburn of the entomology department traveled to Duluth to present three lectures, with slides, on the housefly to help kick off an anti-fly campaign. #swatteam

Engineering students celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a parade followed by green tea in the library of the engineering building. #wildandcrazyguys

Mrs. George Vincent, wife of the University president, bagged a deer on a hunting trip to northern Minnesota. #gunpowderpuff

Get the latest from the Alumni Association. Follow us on Twitter @UMNAlumni.

Climate Change Noted

What does climate change sound like? University of Minnesota assistant professor of geography Scott St. George wondered if the answer might help engage students in his environmental studies class who are left cold by charts and graphs. St. George, a resident fellow with the U’s Institute on the Environment, approached student Daniel Crawford, a cellist, with the idea of setting climate change data to music.

Translating temperature records from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies into musical notes, Crawford created “A Song of Our Warming Planet,” a hauntingly rising melody that traces the upward trend in global temperatures from 1880 to 2012.

sp2014_climatechangenotedDaniel Crawford in a video still from“A Song of Our Warming Planet”

Since its June 2013 debut at Ensia (ensia.com), the digital magazine of the Institute on the Environment, a video of Crawford’s composition has logged more than 135,000 views in nearly 150 countries, been tweeted by former Vice President Al Gore, among others, and turned up on a variety of websites, from the New York Times and Salon to Scientific American.

“Data visualizations are effective for some people, but they aren’t the best way to reach everyone,” St. George told Ensia. “Instead of giving people something to look at, Dan’s performance gives them something they can feel.”

To listen to “Song of Our Warming Planet,” www.ensia.com/videos/a-song-of-our-warming-planet. — Monique Dubos


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