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WSU and SMU come together to clean up downtown Winona
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WSU and SMU come together to clean up downtown Winona

From the COLLECTION: Meet some top graduates at Winona State series
WSU and SMU alumni gather to clean up downtown Winona

Alumni from WSU and SMU gathered Thursday afternoon to cleanup Second and Third streets from Johnson Street to Franklin Avenue. 

There’s this preconceived notion that if two entities who have the same ultimate goal are in close proximity to each other, then that means they are, inevitably, in conflict with one another.

Perhaps this speaks to humanity’s latent desire for some good-natured competition.

However, this means a “preconceived notion” then becomes a reality, simply because an unfounded rivalry was willed into existence for the sake of entertainment.

It’s the equivalent of a child mashing their actions figures together and saying, “Let them fight!” It’s fun for the child, but probably not very good for the action figures.

For colleges like Winona State University and St Mary’s University, it also means concerted efforts need to be taken to squelch this phantom of conflict.

Clean up Downtown Winona

The cleanup of downtown Winona Thursday afternoon was an active effort between alumni chairs from SMU and WSU to combat perceptions of conflict or competitino between the two universities. 

In an effort bring down those figurative walls, alumni from both WSU and SMU, and affiliates with Home & Community Options, participated in a street cleanup Thursday afternoon to help beautify Winona.

While the mission was a basic one — clean up any trash that is found on Second and Third streets between Johnson Street and Franklin Avenue — an added goal was bringing together alumni from the two universities and showcasing their similarities, while at the same time making the city proud of its colleges.

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“We all went to school here and we all still live here,” said Tracy Hale, director of alumni engagement at WSU. “Winona is our home and we want Winona to be proud of the campuses that are here. This is about taking down those walls and making Winona a better place and doing it together.”

The idea of a more intimate partnership began just last summer, Hale revealed, when she and SMU alumni relations coordinator Cheryl Boone Perez began brainstorming different ways to collaborate.

This resulted in members from both universities taking part in the Salvation Army’s bell ringing at Hy-Vee at Christmas time.

“We had a great response,” Hale said. “People in the community we’re so thrilled that we were doing that together.”

This positive response Hale and Boone Perez received encouraged them to plan additional collaborations between the two universities, like the street cleanup.

WSU and SMU alumni clean up downtown Winona

“We just want to take care of a place that we love and want to live in,” SMU director of alumni relations Bob Fisher said of the cleanup. 

Bob Fisher, director of alumni relations at SMU, said service is important to both universities, with Hale adding that it’s instrumental to what each university is as an institution.

“We just want to take care of a place that we love and want to live in,” Fisher said.

“It’s been a wonderful collaboration,” Hale added. “I want us to continue to grow in that, so that next time maybe we can do a Rochester volunteer event or maybe the Twin Cities and really get our alumni to partner and make our communities a better place.”


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