The Backpack: A news source for parents and families of students at Northern Arizona University Preparing for finals
Preparing for finals Preparing for finals
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Vol. 10 No. 18 | December 3, 2013

Parent to Parent

by Shannon Clark, Parent and Family Services Coordinator

I'm still in a bit of a turkey coma after all the food, football, and family fun of the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you enjoyed spending time with your student in person or a little extra time on Skype, FaceTime, e-mail or text if they were still at the university.

Just two more weeks before finals. It's crunch time! It is the time of year when students appreciate a little extra love from home: a care package or a note of encouragement--maybe even a countdown until the end of the semester. Students have to do the hard work, but we can remind them of some tried and true study tips:

  • Understand the test format. Cumulative, multiple choice, essay--knowing the test type will allow your student to study most effectively.
  • Study in a comfortable environment, free from distractions. If he or she hasn't already, this is a perfect time to find a favorite spot in the library to study.
  • Encourage your student to block off days and times to study for each test.
  • Many students find study groups a useful and fun way to prepare for exams. The Library has new study spaces designed especially for groups. They also have resources available to check out from the main desk, such as laptops, audio/video equipment, and more.

Extended Hours at the Library

Thanks to funding from ASNAU and the 23-Fee, the Library will be open 24-hours during reading and finals week to better serve your student.

Reading Week: Sunday, December 8-Thursday, December 12
Finals Week: Sunday, December 15-Tuesday, December 17

We are open until 10 PM Friday and Saturday, December 6-7 and 13-14.

The Scholars Cafe, adjacent to the Library, will be open until 2 AM during this time.

Shuttle Hours during Reading and Finals Week

The university shuttle will run extended hours to allow students to get to and from the Library.

Sunday: 7 PM-2 AM
Monday-Thursday: until 2 AM

What You Should Know About Meningitis

by Campus Health Services

Two universities have made national news recently regarding outbreaks of meningitis and efforts to treat the disease.

Northern Arizona University has been monitoring the national situation with regards to the serogroup B meningococcal disease associated with eight cases at Princeton University and four at the University of California Santa Barbara. Although both outbreaks are caused by serogroup B, additional molecular typing shows that the outbreaks are being caused by two different strains, indicating that the outbreaks are not related.

Menigococcal meningitis is caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitides that can infect the lining of the brain and spinal cord. There are a few different types or strains of Neisseria meningitides. In the US, types B, C and Y cause the majority of disease.

How is bacterial meningitis treated?

Treatment should be started immediately. Most people with meningitis are hospitalized and treated with antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the infection, other treatments may also be necessary.

Is bacterial meningitis contagious?

Bacterial meningitis is contagious, but generally is transmitted through direct exchange of respiratory and throat secretions by close personal contact, such as coughing, sharing drinks, kissing and being in close proximity for an extended period. Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis could include high fever, headache, and stiff neck. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, confusion, and sensitivity to light. Later in the illness, a rash that looks like purple blotches or spots on the arms, legs, and torso may appear.

How long until symptoms begin to present themselves?

They can develop over several hours or may take a few days. The incubation period can be 3-4 days with a range of 2-10 days.

Can someone be a "carrier" without experiencing symptoms?

Five to 25 percent of people may carry the bacteria in their nose or throat without getting sick, while still being contagious to others. This carrier state may last for days or months before spontaneously disappearing. Most cases of meningitis are acquired through exposure to these asymptomatic carriers.

What should I do if I develop flu-like symptoms or think I've been exposed to meningitis?

Students, staff, or faculty experiencing high fever with or without headache, stiff neck and other symptoms of meningitis should be examined at Campus Health Services, their local physician, or the emergency room after hours.

How can transmission be prevented?

Do NOT share anything that comes in contact with the mouth, including:

  • water bottles
  • lip balm
  • toothbrushes
  • towels
  • drinking glasses
  • eating utensils
  • cosmetics
  • smoking materials
  • food or drink from common source (e.g., punch bowl)

Do not cough into another person's face. Cough into your sleeve or a tissue. Wash or sanitize hands frequently. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.

Should I wear a mask to prevent exposure?

The Centers for Disease control does not recommend wearing a surgical mask to prevent exposure.

Are special cleaning precautions for meningitis?

No. The bacteria that causes meningitis does not live long outside the body. There is no evidence showing that people are at risk of catching the infection by touching surfaces like doorknobs or keyboards.

Isn't there a vaccine for meningitis?

Yes, there is a vaccine for meningitis. However, while the vaccine protects against most strains of the bacteria, it does not protect against type B, which is the type found in the cases at Princeton and UCSB.

Who is at higher risk from meningococcal meningitis?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, infants, adolescents and young adults age 16 to 21, and those over age 65 are at a higher risk of infection. People with complement component deficiency and those whose spleen is damaged or has been removed are also at increased risk. If you have questions or are concerned, please contact your personal physician.

For More Information

Where can I get additional information?

  • Your local and state health departments
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:


Have 5 minutes? Please Take The Family Weekend Survey

Please take a moment and complete our Family Weekend Survey. Whether you attended this year or couldn't make it, we would like to know how to make this weekend better for you.


Shannon Clark, Parent and Family Services Coordinator

Preparing for Finals

Your student's final exams will occur beginning Friday, December 13, and Monday, December 16 through Wednesday, December 18, 2013. Many families want to know when their student's last final is in order to make travel arrangements for winter break. Encourage your student to review each of the syllabi received during the first week of classes to determine his/her specific finals week schedule. A general schedule also can be found on the Office of the Registrar's webpage.

The Student Learning Centers have timely and relevant workshops throughout the year to help students succeed academically. It's not too late to take advantage of 1:1 tutoring, the Math Labs, Supplemental Instruction or In-Hall tutoring. No need to panic! Your student still has time to take advantage of these great workshops and tutoring services.

  • Ahhh...I Need a Break: Stress Management: December 3, 10
  • Stop the Cramming: Test Taking and Test Anxiety Strategies: December 4, 5, and 12
  • Who Wants to Pass the Final? Final Exam Prep Strategies: December 11

For more information, including times and locations, visit the Learning Centers website.

Now Hiring Resident Assistants (RAs) and Peer Mentors

It's not too soon for your student to be thinking about a job for the 2014-15 academic year. How about a job on campus as a Resident Assistant (RA) or as a Peer Mentor? Both positions have January, 2014 application deadlines.

Resident Assistants

A Resident Assistant is a student who lives and works as a peer and resource for our residential students. RAs are hired for an academic year (about nine months). Benefits includes free rent, a stipend, and a meal plan. RA responsibilities include:

  • Create open communities where students get to know their neighbors
  • Connect residents to the NAU community
  • Foster effective academic success habits
  • Reach out to residents individually
  • Encourage involvement in social and educational activities
  • Ensure facilities are maintained in a safe, clean, and healthy manner
  • Help residents resolve concerns
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Provide customer service at the front desk
  • Attend weekly meetings

For all the details, including a complete listing of RA responsibilities, qualifications, FAQ's and the on-line application visit the Housing and Residence Life website. The application process is currently open and will close on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 5 PM.

Peer Mentors

Peer Jacks is now hiring mentors for 2014. Peer Jacks is a peer mentoring program for out-of-state students coming to the university. Out-of-state students who participate in Peer Jacks are retained at higher rates than their out-of-state peers. The program gives students a head start on getting connected and meeting new people on campus.

Mentor Qualifications

  • Currently enrolled at NAU
  • Attended NAU for at least two semesters (30 or more credits) (sophomores and above are eligible)
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Available to work up to 9 hours per week
  • Must NOT work more than 10 hours per week OUTSIDE Peer Jacks
  • Preference given to students who attended NAU for their freshman year
  • Submit all required application information
  • All are welcome to apply, however, out-of-state students are preferred
  • Mentoring experience is desired
  • Commit to completing required training

The Peer Jacks website is loaded with information and the application (PDF). Encourage your student to apply today! Applications are due Friday, January 17 at 5 PM.


Parents, sign in to My Student Body to learn more about this complete alcohol, drug, and wellness program at Northern Arizona University.

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Event Highlights

See a complete listing of university events on the official university calendar website. More Flagstaff event highlights can be seen at Flagstaff 365.