How three Salt Lake City women are fighting modern day gender inequalities with their social media platform, Fluence

Story by KATYA BENEDICT

A Salt Lake City-based company is combating gender inequalities with empowering social media posts. Nicole Wawro, Alba Fonseca, and Sinclaire Pierce are the three women behind the social media platform known as Fluence

In a technologically driven world, Fluence is discovering innovative approaches for practical solutions geared toward women.

The idea of women being at a disadvantage in society is a concept that many consider to be antiquated. But for Wawro, Fonseca, and Pierce, this was one of their founding principles — to educate and advocate for women who always felt as though they were falling behind, but couldn’t figure out why. So, after sitting down together and coming to the same realization, they decided to start a company designed specifically for women. 

Nicole Wawro sits in the Fluence podcast studio. Photo courtesy of Fluence.

The three shared similar experiences of gender-based workplace discrimination. This was a huge factor in what drove them into their research. “They fired all the women in my firm who were eligible to take maternity leave because they didn’t want to pay it out,” Wawro said in a FaceTime interview. This was what ignited her desire to stand up for women in the workplace. 

Fonseca shared instances in which she would bring up good ideas that were instantly dismissed. In later meetings a man would bring up the same idea and it would be labeled as “genius” and “perfect.” 

Pierce had always struggled with being interrupted, and it wasn’t until their research was conducted that she realized maybe there was a gender piece to it. “I always thought people interrupted because they were mean, not because the person talking was a woman,” Pierce said in a FaceTime interview. 

These new realizations led to a shared understanding — that until they made people recognize there is a problem, they couldn’t begin to solve it.

The company experienced immediate growth, quickly gaining the attention of thousands of people. “Part of it was timing, and part of it was strategic,” Pierce said. “We saw an opportunity with TikTok and we jumped on it.” They attribute a large majority of the growth to the fact that the stories they were sharing resonated with so many women, and TikTok was becoming an incredibly popular app for young women.

Fluence’s TikTok account has more than 308,000 followers.

The inequalities women face tend to remain swept under the rug, and for Fluence this seemed controversial. The entire purpose of the brand is to achieve more influence and affluence for women, which is why these inequalities are publicly recognized. “We believe that when women have more influence the world becomes a better place,” Wawro said.

Upon obtaining more recognition, Fluence received an overwhelming amount of responses from women who didn’t even understand that these were real issues. And since they didn’t understand they were real issues, they didn’t understand there were real solutions. 

Emma Watson, the actor and feminist advocate, said in her 2014 speech to the United Nations that what many young women fail to realize is that they are living in a society that for hundreds of years has been working against them.

This ideology has become a huge focal point for Fluence. “A lot of people don’t even know where to find information. Being a platform that challenges a perspective to see things differently is something so powerful,” Fonseca said.

The company produces content across Instagram, TikTok, and even music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. A recent video addressed a hand signal used to signify domestic violence in the home.

A main goal of the company is to create refreshing and accessible content that can reach a diverse group of people. Its success is based upon how many people Fluence is able to reach in terms of followers and views.

“Our audience is global — the U.S., Canada, Germany, the UK, Australia,” Pierce said when asked about its demographic. It strives to appeal and market itself toward young women. “If you can catch a 13-year-old before she experiences these horrible things … before she decides, ‘I’m not going into STEM’ — that’s so powerful,” Pierce said.

Fluence targets high school women, educating them on topics such as building confidence and fighting the stigma. From lower left: Katya Benedict, Isela Ayala, Jackie Helbert, and Karen Bruce.

Ultimately, the goal for this company is to change the world, and these three founders believe it has the power to do so. When women are lifted, when women become more active in their homes, communities, and businesses, the result is better for everyone, Pierce said. 

Alba Fonseca wears the Women’s Empowerment Pullover, which features the names Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Serena Williams, and Aretha Franklin. Photo courtesy of Fluence.

Fluence understands that to reach a global market, it has to keep in mind how differently women live in different parts of the globe. But the first step begins with education in order to help women feel more independent, valuable, and capable, no matter their situation.

“I want to empower women to do something about these issues. I want to enable them with very specific tools and resources and practical solutions to then make changes,” Pierce said. Fluence is a community, and the more people it is able to reach, the stronger this community can become. 

Alba Fonseca, left, and Sinclaire Pierce working behind the scenes for a TikTok video. Photo courtesy of Nicole Wawro.

The company does not define itself as the stereotypical feminists people most often picture. The image the owners want to portray does not include feelings of anger or distaste, but rather optimism. The brand intends to be fun, sarcastic, and lighthearted but based on high quality information.

“This company helps people feel validated and understood,” Fonseca said. Fluence centers around being a positive light for women everywhere, no matter what inequalities they might have experienced. So whether it be an informative Instagram story based on well-detailed research, or a goofy TikTok video mocking sexism in the workplace, Fluence is changing the lives of women everywhere.

The University of Utah and COVID-19

Story by CHANDLER HOLT 

The University of Utah had to change many things about the 2020-21 school year to account for the COVID-19 pandemic just like thousands of other colleges around the United States. Whether it was cancelling the majority of in-person classes or changing hours for many spots on campus where students can shop or eat, the student experience had to be altered coming into the school year to make sure that all students could attend college without contracting the virus and putting others at risk. 

COVID-19 made itself prevalent at the beginning of 2020 and has turned into a worldwide pandemic with over 225,000 fatalities in the United States alone. Some colleges such as University of Colorado Boulder and the University of North Carolina did not put enough restrictions in effect and had to add additional more-intense precautions after the schools had large COVID-19 outbreaks. 

The University of Utah emailed all students in September 2020 letting them know that the college had only a 0.5% positivity rate through the first month on campus. This translates to only 16 positive cases with over 3,000 people living on campus for the year. This number was one of the lowest in the U.S. among other Division 1 colleges. Despite a spike of positive COVID-19 cases in the Salt Lake Valley in November, the U has altered procedures as necessary and kept cases on campus as low as possible. 

Craig Caldwell, a professor in the Department of Film and Media Arts, said he had never seen anything like the COVID-19 pandemic in his 40 years of teaching. He said in a Zoom interview that many smaller disasters had occurred but nothing to the level where “students can’t interact.” Caldwell said he felt the U had done a tremendous job handling COVID-19 and he would give them a grade of “one thousand percent.”  

Cameron Vakilian, an academic advisor in the Department of Communication, shared a similar answer to Caldwell and agreed that he had never seen a calamity on this level where drastic changes had to be made to ensure the safety of every student on campus. Vakilian added in a Zoom interview that the only disaster in recent memory that brought a similar amount of distress was the murder of Lauren McCluskey that occurred on campus. McCluskey was a student athlete who was majoring in communication, which adds to the devastation that Vakilian as well as so many others felt after her death. 

Vakilian said the U has done a tremendous job handling the COVID-19 pandemic and said the university has taken the situation very seriously. He added that it is very hard to lock down a campus and a lot goes into it, but the U did it for the safety of everyone on campus. The U also has an effect on the rest of the Salt Lake Valley based on its response to COVID-19 just due its proximity. With this being said, it can be inferred that all the surrounding cities benefitted from the U handling COVID-19 so well. 

Hayley Kievman, a graduate student who also teaches an anthropology course, compared the distress from COVID-19 to the distress a hurricane would bring to a small island. Despite it being her first year teaching a course, Kievman said in a Zoom interview that she definitely noticed a difference in how professors/teachers can interact with students. She described continuous virtual meetings and classes as “awkward.” She has experience teaching younger students so that is what she based this observation on. Kievman was also quick to point out that she has seen a large dip in student participation and student focus as well. 

All three individuals said the biggest change to their work life brought on by COVID-19 was the majority of work being moved online. They also agreed it was more convenient to talk with students, but it wasn’t as personable and maybe not as effective in terms of building, or establishing, rapport.  

Caldwell brought up that body language is a very key part of communication and it’s very hard to read body language over the internet or through a webcam. Caldwell, an all-online professor even before the COVID-19 pandemic, explained that he saw way more changes in his job than he expected despite being strictly online. 

In conclusion, the U rose above the criticism and put in a large variety of rules to combat COVID-19. These rules promote social distancing and being educated on how to avoid contracting the virus. The U should be admired and studied by other colleges in the U.S. on how to deal with the pandemic. All rules that were changed in response to COVID-19 will be re-evaluated at the end of the semester to see if any changes can be moved back or slightly altered for the students’ sake. 

A glimpse into online college learning at the University of Utah

Story and photos by REEDE NASSER

Instead of facing hundreds of students or a few professors, students and staff at the University of Utah have been experiencing our new normal this 2020-21 school year due to the pandemic and limiting university events to 20 people. The majority of classes at the U have gone virtual, whether through Canvas Instructure or virtual lectures through Zoom. Education has never been so different. 

The University of Utah’s coronavirus testing center, easily accessible to all students. 

Though online learning is nothing new in this day and age, the ability to sufficiently learn through a screen has become a major point of strife for the U’s students. Students have noted a few issues when it comes to solely Canvas-based classes.

“It feels even harder now, there’s no professor or teaching assistant that can reiterate the information or answer questions quickly. It takes me hours to fully understand the information presented,” said junior Shyann Brown in a Zoom interview. She is currently majoring in accounting.

Another student indicated the lack of seeing their professor in a classroom or joining class virtually takes away from the structure they are used to. Freshman Noah Martin, who is studying engineering, said without a set time to learn and see a professor, classes don’t feel as important. 

Freshman Noah Martin following residence halls guidelines and keeping his mask on while studying.

“The classes where we have to virtually come in, I’m more likely to focus on because there’s more accountability, the professor knows we’re there but when it’s a lesson I lead myself, I will push it off to the last second,” Martin said.  

On the other hand, when students are learning, some worry that they aren’t retaining any information, simply just memorizing. 

“I don’t know anyone in my classes, I have no one to talk to about what I’ve been learning,” said Matt Idlestrom, who is majoring in business. “When I was in a classroom, a lot of information I understood much more after having a conversation with my peers. It was nice to be able to review while we were learning. By the time the exam comes I don’t remember half of the unit because after the lesson I don’t have to focus on it as much.” 

Sophomore Matt Idlestrom adhering to school guidelines by studying in a room alone and keeping his mask on. 

However, the students aren’t the only people struggling with this new form of education. Educators at the U said they too are struggling to navigate this new internet-based way of learning. They have had to restructure lessons, grading policies, learn how to use Zoom and Canvas sufficiently to instruct a class solely on those platforms, and find new ways to keep students accountable and engaged. 

Professors have mentioned multiple frustrations when it comes to this new teaching. They have observed their students keep their cameras off during class, submit assignments late, or be confused about prompts or assignment details that had not been an issue in the past. However, it seems that most instructors are frustrated when it comes to cameras being turned off. 

“[I]t’s hard to see students, it’s hard to read body language, and you know students don’t turn on their camera a lot which I find really frustrating and kind of weird,” said assistant professor, Michael Dichio in a Zoom interview. 

Instructors said they are worried that students are simply just not engaged with at-home learning. Are they really paying attention? Would they reach out if they had a question? Are they comfortable enough on a lesson before their class moves on? To answer their own questions, instructors have been creating and providing more resources than before for their students. Discussion boards, longer office hours, or midterm check-ins. Many of which their students are not utilizing to the best of their ability. 

Once filled with excited students on game day, the university’s stadium is now home to the COVID-19 virus testing center. 

Based on the interviews, there seems to be a major disconnect when it comes to the U’s students and teachers. Both groups are frustrated and confused, just trying to navigate our new normal. Students need to start looking into more active participation when it comes to their classes; participating in class or using the other resources given, turning on their camera, and proactive learning. Instructors could look at starting a weekly discussion where students can interact with each other and their teachers. 

However, the positivity of the situation should be noted as well. Educators and students alike are thankful to be able to learn in times like these. “Logging on to Zoom or Canvas adds a sense of routine and normalcy to my day, something I was struggling to get before classes had started,” said senior Kate Culkin, who is majoring in political science. 

The Mbaki brothers: Studying abroad in Utah

From left: Lawrence, 25, and Kevin, 23, at their home in southern Utah.

Story and photos by TAYLOR THORNTON

The idea of leaving home always intrigued Lawrence Mbaki. The world and all of its corners seemed to call him for exploration. 

It was a long flight from Cape Town, South Africa, to Salt Lake City. One deep breath reminded him that his life would be forever different.

The hot desert air was unlike what Mbaki was used to from the Mediterranean climate back home. Stepping off the plane reaffirmed that his dream to travel the world had just become a reality. 

It was a giant leap. He had never left his home country alone. It was an opportunity that he, an adventurer at heart, had to take as it came to him. However, he didn’t expect that something would threaten the progress of his international journey later on.

“I always wanted to study abroad,” Mbaki said. “The United States seemed like a very nice country where the program I wanted to study was better than elsewhere.” 

Early years in Cape Town

Mbaki had always had a passion for the performing arts. From playing pretend with his two younger siblings to participating in extracurricular activities in school, he has presented himself as a performer and a creative.

Mbaki decided to participate in evangelical work in Johannesburg a few years after graduating from high school. Bubbly and always joyful, it was not hard for him to make friends while there. Among those were several friends from the United States who later helped him find university study opportunities. 

The day finally came in early August 2019. Mbaki packed his bags and made the courageous leap for a new beginning. 

Mbaki began his educational pursuits at Southern Utah University the fall semester of his arrival. He soon reunited with his brother, Kevin, who also moved to southern Utah for school opportunities in early December 2019. 

Lawrence (pictured on the left) and Kevin Mbaki at their home in Cedar City, Utah. In the images below: Lawrence is an ambassador who helps other international students at Southern Utah University; SUU is home to international students from across the world.

“I’m only here because of Lawrence,” Kevin said in a phone interview. “I don’t really have a motive behind being here, besides the fact that Lawrence is here.”

While Lawrence has been pursuing his passion for the arts, Kevin has found a new love for computer science and security while studying abroad.

Things seemed to be going well for the brothers as the spring semester kicked into gear. Suddenly, with the coronavirus pandemic’s appearance in March 2020, a fear of returning home early from their studies abroad hung over their heads.

A contributing factor to an international student’s ability to study in the United States is the number of face-to-face credits they take per semester. The ratio of online to in-person classes can vary due to an institution’s policy. An international student, however, must be registered as a full-time student.

This requirement posed a massive problem for international students as universities and educational institutions began to close their doors and move to a fully online class schedule. 

“I was very fearful,” Kevin said. “I didn’t want to go back to South Africa.”

Fearful as they were, they took to action to maintain their education.

Lawrence has been an international student ambassador at Southern Utah University from his first semester of attendance. He and his fellow ambassadors met with the department heads to decide which course of action to take. 

Would it be best to send the students home to their mother country? Would the current and rapidly changing travel restrictions allow for such a move?

Jamie Orton is a director with the International Scholar and Student Services Office at Southern Utah University. That office has the primary purpose of advising, supporting, and providing aid to international visitors attending SUU. These services include providing students with proper travel advising, employment opportunities, immigration maintenance, and so on.

She worked directly with Lawrence and other ambassadors during this time. 

“[We] held an emergency meeting for all international students in March, right before the drastic adjustments were made due to the pandemic,” Orton said in an email interview. “We encouraged students to consult with their parents and families to make the best decision regarding staying in Cedar City or traveling back to their home country.”

It was a time of thoughtful consulting and rapid decision making for students and university leaders. After speaking with their families, half of the international student population decided to return home due to the coronavirus’s fearful circumstances.

Lawrence and Kevin were not among this group of fleeing students.

A view of SUU’s campus from on top of the student center.

As the situation continued to change, Lawrence said he and his fellow ambassadors worked with the school, in conjunction with the government, to adjust the regulations that are tied to international student visa requirements

The conditions for study set in the visa documentation, as mentioned above, stated that to stay in the country, a student must have an equivalent of nine in-person credits or more and a maximum of three online credits. 

With in-person lectures no longer available to students, the school worked to override the requirement so international students could maintain their visas.

The university succeeded in waiving these conditions after a time of uncertainty. Lawrence and Kevin said they were excited to remain at Southern Utah University.

With eased restrictions, they have both attended hybrid courses that allow them to continue their education and extracurricular activities safely.

Lawrence said he hopes to take his knowledge and experience from studying abroad and open a school for performing arts in his home town Cape Town.

Kevin is enjoying his time in the United States. He said he plans to increase his knowledge of computer science and cybersecurity and someday work in U.S. national security.

Misrepresentation of Soul food at the University of Utah

Story and photos by QUINCY WANSEL

The University of Utah celebrated Black History Month in 2018 in a variety of ways. For example, the Office of Equity and Diversity hosted the Blackout, an event at the Peterson Heritage Center featuring hundreds of Black faces and a celebration of Black excellence. 

Others though, renounced Black History Month by hanging a White supremacist banner over the side of the George S. Eccles Legacy Bridge and posting hateful White supremacist posters around the campus. This is not the first time that racist posters have been found around the U, but campus police and students were quick to tear them down. 

IMG-4455

Lassonde Studios is one of the residence halls on the University of Utah campus.

Meanwhile, Miller Cafe, located inside the Lassonde Studios residence hall at the U, celebrated the month by serving an interpretation of Soul food: chicken and waffles. 

Chicken and waffles is not entirely Soul food, but more a product of different regional cuisines. 

Chicken and waffles is a product of Pennsylvania-Dutch cuisine and Soul food, according to renowned chef Tori Avey. Fried chicken was already popular in the US, but waffles were brought over by the Pilgrims during their time in Holland. The Pennsylvania-Dutch were the first documented people to experiment with chicken and waffles.

The question then becomes — what is Soul food?

According to a popular source in the culinary community, Soul food is a staple in the African American community, and has been for decades. Soul food can typically include fried or smothered chicken, fried catfish, collard greens, candied yams, okra, cornbread, and so on.

This proves that Soul food and chicken and waffles are not the same. 

The stereotype is wrong — not all Black people like fried chicken. But, fried chicken is an integral part of what Soul food is.

IMG-4457

A neon sign advertises Miller Cafe inside Lassonde Studios.

Miller Cafe received an anonymous complaint about the dish. According to Mark Jacson, former chef at Miller Cafe, the people who complained said they were “offended” by the food. 

In 2018, Jacson said he was upset, and that if Mexican food and Italian food can be served, then why not historically Black food? Jacson felt that because of low Black enrollment and racist media at the U, this was another attempt from someone not in agreement with Black History Month. 

About a year elapsed without further discussion until a reporter investigated the situation. Cha McNeil, a social justice advocate at the U, said Black students living in Lassonde were the ones who filed the complaint. McNeil said the students believed Miller Cafe was “promoting a stereotype.”

By serving chicken and waffles as Soul food for Black History Month, the meal choice highlighted the stereotype that all Black people like fried chicken. After the complaint, housing at the U told Miller Cafe that “they had to take it down,” McNeil said. After the complaint, Soul food was not served at the cafe again. 

The sign above the food did not say “Soul food,” it said “chicken and waffles.” The cafe meant to advertise Soul food, but did it inaccurately. 

The students who complained then brought another issue to light — cultural awareness for chefs at the U.

By getting rid of Soul food, with the assumption that chicken and waffles is a part of that, Miller Cafe missed the opportunity to correct the misunderstanding and celebrate Black History Month.

Meligha Garfield, the director of the Black Cultural Center at the U, said diversity is a “cross-cultural collaboration including various entities to accomplish a goal.” But how can there be diversity if the goal was never accomplished? 

Jatara Smith, the Black Cultural Center’s coordinator, said the U is “outshined in the diversity sector. The university should compete and model after other institutions.”

Many colleges in this nation serve Soul food on campus regularly. For example, Howard University in Washington, D.C., has Soul Food Thursdays at its cafe, serving fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, and more. University of Hawaii-Hilo has Soul Food for Thought Cafe, where Hawai’ian and Black cultural food share the plate.

However, in 2015, Wright State University in Ohio served Soul food for Black History Month through its dining service vendor, Chartwells — the same vendor at the University of Utah. The menu depicted photographs of historical Black figures, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sojourner Truth, in the background of the menu. Black students at Wright were offended because “the vendor and school had juxtaposed Black History Month with foods associated with offensive racial stereotypes,” said Alan Yuhas with The Guardian.

Fried chicken may be a staple in Soul food, but ever since the 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation,” fried chicken has been tied to the Black stereotype — along with watermelon. In an NPR interview, race and folklore professor Claire Schmidt, at the University of Missouri, said, “It’s a food you eat with your hands, and therefore it’s dirty. Table manners are a way of determining who is worthy of respect or not.” With “The Birth of a Nation” being arguably the most racist film ever made, this stereotype took off without hesitation. “[It’s] the way people eat it,” she said. 

There is no dedicated restaurant on campus that regularly offers Soul food options, but Tawanda Owens, the executive director of Diverse Student Advocacy at the U, has plans for that. Owens suggested bringing Black culturally-aware chefs to the U for Black History Month in 2020. She hopes there will be an appropriate celebration of Black excellence at the U in collaboration with the Black Cultural Center.

The recovery of Soul food at the U is underway, along with cultural awareness and the diminishment of a stereotype that has made Black History Month a challenge in the kitchen.

 

LGBTQ+U: The community at the University of Utah

Story and photos by ANDREW LURAS

Salt Lake City is known as being one of the most Mormon cities in America. And to counter the common knowledge of that, it’s also known as one of the “gayest” cities, which many people find hard to believe.

With it being known as this type of city, many different students from out of state are probably wondering how the University of Utah may reflect those values.

The conversation of the LGBTQ+ has always been around, but it’s become such a widespread debate through politicians, news, and just everyday conversation. This community is constantly fighting for its well-deserved rights in this country, as well as the freedom to walk around safely without the lingering fear of running into the many hateful people who reside within America. 

LGBTQ+ students are seeking out which colleges and universities to attend based on many differing factors such as how accepting toward them will their future campus be. With the U, at new student orientation, the staff will kindly ask you to state your name, without it even having to be your birth name, and your pronouns, such as he/him, she/her, they/them, etc.

The LGBT Resource Center is located on the fourth floor in room 409 inside the U’s A. Ray Olpin Union building. The center was founded in 2002 by Stayner Landward and Kay Harward, both retired and moved on. This was during a time when the Mormon church was “anti-gay” with many of its teachings and practices showing some distaste toward gay marriage, according to Whit Hollis, the director of the Student Union. It started out as just an LGBT student organization with weekly meetings garnering a range of 80 to 250 students. 

Hollis attended a few of these meetings. “There was a clear need for services for that group of students, faculty, and staff of course due to the sheer size of the student organization,” Hollis said. When creating the resource center, Landward and Harward found support from the student body and administration at the U but it wasn’t always like that. 

Proposition 8, also known as Prop 8, came about during 2008. It was a ballot proposition against same-sex marriage. During this time the LGBTQ+ found themselves being targeted for hate-speech and microaggressions. “They would tell us, ‘Why do you need more rights, you already have equal rights,’ which was bullshit,” Hollis said. 

“Things have definitely been better recently. There’s still these microaggressions going around but the U has improved since the resource center first started,” Hollis said. He commented on the many different locations the resource center has occupied as it’s grown. “There was a point where I had to convert a storage closet to be the center’s main room which was ironic for the gay director to put all the gays in the closet,” Hollis said as he laughed at the idea. 

“Right now it seems to be quite successful, but we all can strive to do better, no matter where we are,” Hollis said. “The U isn’t as safe as it needs to be and that we must always strive to make the U a safe campus for all students, faculty, and staff who attend or work here.”

As of February 2019, the resource center’s director is Clare Lemke, the former assistant director of the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success at Iowa State University. “I was looking for my next step and Utah wasn’t on my radar,” she said. “I’ve been looking for different opportunities in the West and this job came up.” Lemke had been moving in order to try to find something closer to her partner’s career. When this job opportunity appeared, she became surprised by the vibrancy of diversity in the U’s campus with the many queer and transgender people she has been able to meet on campus. 

Originally, she thought she was studying to become a professor but over time she found that working in a resource center felt more “collaborative” than being a traditional educator. Currently at the resource center there are three full time staff members and two student staff members. “All of our staff here bring a wealth of different backgrounds and personalities. It’s refreshing to see for the students who visit the center,” Lemke said. 

When it comes to the changes the U has gone through in terms of LGBTQ+ acceptance, Lemke feels as if the U “isn’t just a place you go to and leave at 5 p.m. anymore.”

Lemke finds that the U is very different from her previous institution. “I don’t think I’ve been anywhere with so much of its influence being made by the different cultures within the U.” She added, “We’re constantly striving to make the U a safe space for queer and trans students, we just want to make sure we don’t let these negative experiences an LGBTQ+ student might have affect the rest of their life here.”

One student in particular, who asked to be identified as “G,” said she had some pretty odd experiences at the U as an LGBTQ+ member. “I’m a business major and a lot of the students in those buildings in particular are pretty discriminatory towards my sexuality.”

G also said her Mormon peers have invited her to church. “They would be overly friendly at first,” she said, but she felt like they were only inviting her to change her sexual orientation.

G doesn’t know how accepting the rest of campus is, but that experience left her with much anxiety. She found it harder to reach out to many of her peers or professors about this issue but she found solace in the many other friends outside of school who were LGBTQ+ accepting. G used to go to Westminster College and she felt the transition from there to the U was “an odd experience.” G said there is room for improvement at the U and we should be looking for ways to help students have an overall great campus life.

“I’ve been to the resource center a few times,” G said. “Clare [Lemke] and the staff at the center are very helpful, though I had trouble finding it at first. If you are a part of the LGBTQ+ you should definitely check out the resource center, they’re a really great group of people, especially if you had an experience on campus like mine.”  Even with G’s experience at the U, she has decided to stay and not let it affect her pursuit of a business degree. This is just one in the many cases of what it’s like to be a student at the U who is a part of the LGBTQ+. 

As much as Salt Lake City has this good image on being an open and welcoming city to the LGBTQ+, students, faculty, and staff at the U are always working on improving upon the areas they may be lacking in. Whit Hollis believes we need to focus more on the safety of our LGBTQ+ members. And Lemke knows we must prioritize these students because the negative experiences they might have on campus may affect their education here. As Hollis, Lemke, and G have agreed on, the U should always be striving to do better in order to figure out the best way to serve its students so they can have an educational, safe, and happy experience here on campus. 

 

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The importance of student access to sexual and reproductive health services

Story and Gallery by ASIA BOWN

Now more than ever students have ready access to sexual health resources through their campus health centers and their local Planned Parenthood center.

Young adults pursuing some form of education are in an interesting position; their school will more than likely have an office that provides sexual and reproductive health guidance and counseling. For many students living alone away from home it’s their first time exploring and attempting to maintain their sexual health, and they often do so with limited resources and guidance.

Many campuses utilize groups of students in the pursuit to provide better sexual health resources that can help students who didn’t receive proper counsel earlier in their lives. At the University of Utah, a group of students has been trained to assist other students with sexual health guidance and provide counsel through the ACES Peer Health Education program, which operates out of the Center for Student Wellness located in Suite 2100 of the Eccles Student Life Center.

Maya Jolley, a health educator at the Center for Student Wellness and creator of the ACES Peer Health Education program, says that we need to improve upon the current sex education curriculum and it should be introduced before students have the chance to develop bad habits. (Jolley said that ACES was once an acronym but is no longer used that way.)

One of the biggest misconceptions Jolley has encountered in her career as a health educator is that sexuality is a mere fraction of our lives. She explains a crucial lesson she learned from a mentor during her time in college, “Sexuality — regardless of what form it takes — is essentially a river that is constantly running through our body.” She added, “We need a strong, humane education to match the intensity of it (sexuality) in our bodies.”

Jolley’s team of student educators has organized numerous presentations on campus geared toward sex education and wellness. Linda Derhak, one of the original student leaders, describes one of her most rewarding experiences on the team wherein she partnered up with another team member to create a basic sex education presentation. According to Derhak, they included “general facts and communication pieces, or how to talk about sex with your partner.”

Elnaz Tahmassebi, another team member dedicated to providing education on sexual wellness, discussed the STI clinics her team organizes every semester, during which students have the opportunity to ask questions about their sexual wellness. “With the STI clinics,” she said, “I speak to people one-on-one and can actually see, like, a change and address their concerns and I feel like I’m making more of an individual change.”

For students who live in the school’s dorms or spend a considerable amount of time on campus, getting access to these STI clinics and other services is as easy as getting to class. But for students who don’t live on campus and don’t want to be there for anything but their classes, their city’s Planned Parenthood is another viable option, provided that there is one nearby. These centers provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, like contraception, cancer screenings, STD/STI testing, and various birth control options.

In college, students have enough bills to pay and it may seem unnecessary to visit a health professional for an education that many medical and education professionals argue students should have received in grade school. This assumption is entirely false and local Planned Parenthood centers offer inexpensive sexual healthcare.

For many students, Planned Parenthood centers are their primary resources for sexual and reproductive healthcare. It’s extremely important that they have continued access to these resources because without them, they’ll resort to neglecting their sexual health and develop bad habits, like never getting tested for STDs and STIs, foregoing a cancer screening because of the high price tag, and practicing unsafe sex.

In August, it was revealed that Planned Parenthood refused Title X funds in opposition to a Trump administration rule that would prevent centers from referring patients to doctors who provided abortions. While the organization’s actual abortion numbers are erroneously exaggerated by various groups working against it, it is one of the fundamental rights people have in our country. Planned Parenthood is doing everything in its power to defend these rights and continue to provide necessary healthcare services to people across the country.

In addition to STD/STI screenings, various forms of birth control, and cancer screenings, people also have access to counsel from doctors who specialize in sexual and reproductive health. People can make appointments to discuss procedures, safe sexual behavior, and past experiences to gain a more thorough knowledge of their sexual health.

As young adults grow and mature, so should their knowledge of healthy sexual practices. Without a proper sex education, young people are more likely to engage in unhealthy sexual relationships and develop negative attitudes toward sex, which can set the course for the rest of their lives if they continue to go uneducated.

If they’ve had a proper sex education students can learn to avoid abusive relationships, recognize their boundaries and those of their partners, and engage in safe sex practices. These are important lessons to learn as they get older and begin to enter more frequently into sexual relationships. Often times, students seek guidance from trusted friends and confidants, but the information they get isn’t always dependable or even true.

“There’s a lot of bad information that young people get when they only talk to their friends because they aren’t actually talking to a professional who knows what they’re talking about,” Derhak said. By seeking help from trained professionals at school health centers or local Planned Parenthood centers, students are more likely to get accurate information that will allow them to make better decisions regarding their sexual health.

The importance of access to sexual and reproductive health services for students is still grossly underestimated in our society, though strides are being made to improve student sexual health.

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Before coming to work at the U’s Center for Student Wellness, Maya Jolley worked at Planned Parenthood. Photo courtesy of Center for Student Wellness.

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The Center for Student Wellness is located near the end of a quiet second-floor hallway to the left of the main staircase.

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The center is located in suite 2100 of the Student Life Center.

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The center advertises such services as condom sales, victim-survivor advocacy, and STI testing in its window.

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Elnaz Tahmassebi, a sophomore at the U, has found purpose in educating her fellow students about their sexual health.

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Linda Derhak was one of the first students to be recruited for the ACES Peer Health Education program.

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Derhak (left) and Tahmassebi have worked to give sex education presentations and set up free STI clinics during the spring and fall semesters.

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Located at 654 S. 900 East in Salt Lake City, this Planned Parenthood center offers inexpensive sexual healthcare to its community.

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The center’s clinic is located at the bottom of the staircase in front of the building.

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Planned Parenthood’s Metro Health Center is located at 160 S. 1000 East in Salt Lake City.

 

Electric scooters and skateboards on campus

Story and photos by CHRISTOPHER STENGER

Electric scooters and skateboards are everywhere on the University of Utah’s campus. These personal transporters have such a large impact on campus and anyone who walks the campus will see the hazards they have created.   

Electrical powered personal transporters are still required to follow the same rule of non-motorized personal transporters, like bikes, which include a 10 mph zone all throughout campus. When class is getting out or about to start and the sidewalks are filled with students, it makes it more difficult for those on electric scooters and skateboards to keep a consistent speed and direction without either crashing into people or forcing pedestrians off the sidewalk.

Students have bought their own personal electric scooters or skateboards to avoid having ton pay the rental cost. The electrical scooter companies require a small fee before you use every time. Companies like Lime and Bird provide electric scooters to rent for $1 with a per minute cost ranging from 25-50 cents.

According to the U’s policy code 3-232, skateboards are defined as ‘a non-motorized device consisting of two or more wheels affixed to a platform or board upon which a rider stands and which does not have steering capability similar to that of a bicycle or brakes which operate on or upon the wheels of the skateboard.” Having these electric skateboards around campus is technically violating school policy.

According to Ginger Cannon, the University of Utah’s active transportation manager, ‘The current contract prohibits Lime and Bird from deploying scooters on school property, but does not ban the operation of the vehicles.” This stops these large companies from having the ability to mass drop scooters all around campus, she said in an email interview.   

Students around campus who do not ride these electric scooters or skateboards explained that they actually do not have serious issues with these personal transporters. Alex Dasla, a senior here at the U, said, “I believe that the scooters might be more safe to use on campus than the skateboards, but still would prefer that they both stay in the biking paths instead of the walking paths.” 

People are caught off guard when an electric scooter or skateboard flies past them while walking to their classes. Since they’re electric, it’s very difficult to hear the scooter or skateboard approaching.

William Slicer, a junior at the U, explained how he was actually involved in an electric skateboard crash, as a pedestrian. Slicer believes that “they should be required to ride in the bicycle paths and only those areas when on campus because of their stealthiness and quickness.” He added, “I am just lucky I was hit onto the grass and not into another person or the concrete.” 

Lt. Terry Fritz of the U’s campus police explained that he believes that “the issue isn’t the electrical part, but it is the mode of transportation in general. I think that the human powered and electric powered scooters as equally as dangerous on our campus.” Fritz also said “he sees more bicyclist abusing the speed limit of 10 mph than of the skateboarders and scooter riders.” This happens because they do not have a set max speed and can go well above 15 mph.

Fritz explained how he thinks that with all the electrical scooters being stranded outside campus buildings, that “they’re creating not the best image for campus.” He said that “hub locations would be very helpful with correcting the bad image of the scooters stranded all over campus.” 

Cannon has been working at the U for nearly two and half years and is constantly working to improve the ways of transportation around campus. Cannon uses social media, like Twitter, to spread news of her work to improve campus mobility. Her Twitter handle is @GingerCannonU.   

Walking around campus you will see scooters scattered all around building entrances, in bike racks or even just in front of doors. Cannon says she wants to create “Mobility Hubs” for the scooters and skateboards in the near future.

These scooters and skateboards are still new to the U but are on the uprise for campus. The U will have to adapt to these electric personal transporters and work to better their operation, as people are not going to stop riding them on campus. 

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Students in the University of Utah’s Greek life 

 Story and photos by TAYLOR SCOTT

Many people have it engrained in their mind that Greek life creates a distraction from academics. However, the Greek system at the University of Utah provides an opportunity for students to become more involved in academics and the community. Since 1909, students involved in Greek life have proven to achieve better grades and earn positions as leaders among campus organizations and clubs.

The first Greek chapter was created shortly after the University of Utah was founded in 1909. Since then, there have been 11 fraternity chapters and seven sorority chapters established on campus. Throughout past years, some people have viewed Greek life as a way for students to become distracted from academics.

While this may be the case for some students, the U’s Greek chapters have proven otherwise.

The Greek system is one of the smaller Greek organizations in the country holding 1,600 active members. With that being said, students are able to join an immediate community of students in the early stages of their college career.

Ryan Miller, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said, “While Utah has around 30,000 students, you are joining an organization of approximately 1600 – so it brings the large campus to a more intimate space.”

Students are able to connect with the sorority and fraternity chapters to choose their top house. All the chapters on campus have their own common areas of study for students to build relationships with scholars of the same interest.

Statistics have proven that students are more successful when they are a part of such groups. “You have a more direct group watching over you, similar to athletics. Instead of having a coach watch over you, you now have your peers watching you and guiding you through the proper steps,” said Walker Nasser, president of the Interfraternity Council at the U.

Enrolling into a Division 1 university with around 25,000 students can be overwhelming for students coming directly out of high school. Students are able to build relationships both academically and socially by enrolling in Greek life. Ronnie Kaye, from Sigma Phi Epsilon, said, “Joining a house is the best thing I could have ever done. I was able to meet a ton of students who share the same interests in academics and outside of school.”

With the help of your fraternity/sorority, students are able to sync up with friends of the same major and share resources with one another. “Grades do typically go up; the average Greek GPA is 3.7 which is just above the campus average,” Nasser said.

The Greek system on campus provides many different outlets for students to become involved with the community. According to Miller, “Most of the time the Associated Students of the University of Utah president and vice president are Greek as well as student alumni boards, the Mighty Utah Student Section, and Latter-day Saint Student Association.”

Each of the 18 groups at the U have their own nonprofit organization they support every year. Students work together as a community to raise funds for their chapter’s philanthropy.

“I would look at everyone’s philanthropy as great. Beta, for example, does a lot of work with the Rape Recovery Center,” Nasser said. “Phi Delt does a lot of work with Alzheimer’s and all of their projects, Sig Chi is the leading chapter for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.”

Each chapter is able to make students aware of issues in the community and allow students from all over campus to help make a change.

Greek students are given many resources guiding them to potential job opportunities throughout the world. Students currently enrolled at the U have access to a plethora of different scholarship opportunities and connections for those eager to enter the business world. “A lot of the alums stay around the Salt Lake Valley, so if you are looking for jobs most likely there will be some connection to the fraternity and sorority community,” Miller said.

Not only does the U provide current Greek students with these benefits, there are also many alumni associations that can extend your connections worldwide after college. The creation of clubs and academic resources throughout the Fraternity and Sorority chapters has allowed students to become involved within the university and gain the resources to be successful. The relationships that are built with your brothers and sisters will continue on after college allowing you access to an endless amount of connections.

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Expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium

Story and Photos by TUCKER SCOTT

In Salt Lake City, 1927 marked the first time the Utah Utes football team defeated the Colorado Mines in their first home opener in Ute Stadium. 

In 1972 The University of Utah was donated $1 million by Robert L. Rice  to create a football stadium by the name of Rice Stadium. 

Fast forward to 1997 when a Utah alumnus, Spencer Eccles announced that George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation would donate $10 million toward the construction of the new stadium. They agreed to keep the previous donor’s name along with their name as part of the new stadium called Rice-Eccles Stadium. 

They started the remodel by replacing the stadium frame with modern steel, including a concrete and glass facility. The football schedule was never interrupted by the construction as they had it built in less than 10 months. 

Since the previous rebuild of the stadium, Rice-Eccles Stadium has hosted a variety of events from concerts, super cross, monster jam, and also the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Since the last stadium expansion, Rice-Eccles Stadium has been home to the Utes for over 20 years, giving fans the experience they have always wanted. 

In 2010 the Utah Utes received an invitation to join the PAC 10 Conference, which is now the PAC 12 conference. Since joining the conference Utah has gained a larger audience that attends the football games. For consecutive years they have been selling out the stadium and only having standing room only tickets available. 

Then there was some buzz going around about another stadium expansion. Plans started to develop as the Athletics Program wanted to expand the size of the stadium by around 5,000 seats. The estimated funding for a project like this was around $35 million in donations. 

On Aug. 13, 2019, the unexpected occurred. The Ken Garff family gifted Utah Athletics the largest donation in the history of Utah Athletics. They donated $17.5 million to the renovation of the new stadium. The other amount needed will be donated by several other revenue sources.

In a recent interview with Coach Kyle Whittingham, he said, “This really cements this project and makes it an absolute reality.” Whittingham expressed his gratitude toward everybody who is helping make this stadium expansion happen. 

The number of seats that will be added will be around 5,144. The stadium currently holds a capacity of 45,800 and the Utes have sold out 57 consecutive football games. The plans are about 1,000 more stadium seating in the corners and the rest will be premium seating with terraces on each side of the goalposts, suites, loges, club seats, and rooftop seating. 

The south bowl will be enclosed allowing fans to walk around the entire stadium without having to leave the stadium.

Ron McBride, the University of Utah head coach for the football team in 1990, took a team who was barely winning five games and turned the program around. In two years he took the program to the Copper Bowl, the program’s first bowl appearance in 28 years.  McBride said that he was excited to see the tedium expansion be complete. “This has been a long time coming,” he said. “We have been needing some more room for our fans to cheer us on.” McBride still attends the games on the sideline as he watches the team take on their opponents in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

One major thing that was discussed with the designers of the stadium expansion was seats. Fans wanted more seats so they could enjoy the game and not only be in the standing room only section. 

Cade Carter, a student at the U, was late in buying his MUSS student section ticket so he has the standing room only tickets. Although he enjoys watching the games, he dislikes the fact that he has to stand the whole game. “I really enjoy watching the games and being in that type of environment, but I really dislike how much standing I have to do,” he said. “With the stadium expansion I really am excited to see how the seating will play out next year.” 

With all this excitement about the stadium being rebuilt it has everyone anticipating the final result. The stadium is set to be finished in August 2021. 

How being involved in college can help shape one’s leadership journey and future outlooks 

Story and photos by GWEN TRAPP

With over 600 student organizations at the University of Utah, there’s something for everyone to become a part of.

From the Union Programing Council (UPC) to the Prose and Poetry Writing club, involvement on campus allows students to find their own sense of community within the hustle and bustle of college life.

Not only does being involved make the U feel smaller, but it also can help students to discover the passions and future outlooks that they didn’t know they had.

“FAB (Freshman Ambassador Board) was my favorite leadership experience to this day by far,” said Austin Matsuura, the executive director of UPC. “I always wanted to have that leadership journey, to teach people certain skills to succeed.”

Matsuura was the director of FAB within UPC his junior year of college. He worked closely with a group of around 40 first-year students, teaching them the essential skills to become campus leaders. By mentoring first-year students and inspiring them to achieve, Matsuura was able to discover his passion and future goals.

“I found that organizing in a business setting is something that I really enjoy,” he said. “It’s where I belong.” By becoming involved within UPC, Matsuura ended up changing his major from kinesiology to business management. Instead of becoming a physician’s assistant, he now plans to one day become a small-business owner.

“Being involved on campus completely changed my outlook of what I’m good at and what I like to do,” Matsuura said.

From working with first-year students to finding one’s true passion and goals, it’s important to note that not all leadership journeys are exactly the same.

Current Student Body President Anna Barnes plays a crucial role in ensuring that student voices are heard through the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU). She and her team promote involvement, advocacy and student wellness via the different types of positive programming and outreach. With this being said, there are many benefits to being involved.

But there can also be unexpected challenges in one’s leadership journey.

“One [challenge] that really stands out is when we got news that a University of Utah student, Mackenzie Lueck, was murdered,” Barnes said. Even though this tragedy took place off campus, she struggled with knowing exactly how to console students. “I remember having to prepare a statement at her vigil to read,” she said with emotion. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced.”

Despite the challenges Barnes has recently had to face, she has found that her leadership position has helped her to see what she wants to pursue in the future. “Before coming into this, I had a pretty good idea for what I wanted to do, but I didn’t realize I had a real desire to focus on policy and the legislative process.”

Barnes plans to continue to go into law, but from finding new passions in ASUU this year, she hopes to become involved specifically with policy as a potential future leader in a think tank.

Luckily, the benefits of being involved don’t stop there. Through volunteerism at the Bennion Center as both an undergraduate and graduate student, Bryce Williams, a U alumnus, shows that being involved can lead students to their future professions.

“This January will mark my fifth year working here,” Williams said.

Williams attended the U as a first-year student in 2005, where he began his leadership journey with the Bennion Center. He got involved with it through the Salt Lake Peer Court program that was originally affiliated with the Bennion Center at the time.

Williams was highly involved on campus throughout his undergraduate career. From ASUU to becoming a residential advisor, he ended up staying a total of six years as an undergraduate before making the decision to go to the U’s graduate school.

Throughout his graduate career, Williams continued to stay involved with the Bennion Center by becoming an Alternative Break staff partner. He mentored students who planned community experiences for U students to participate in during school breaks.

After a year and a half into his career and volunteering as a staff partner with Alternative Breaks, Williams met with Dean McGovern, the executive director of the Bennion Center. He offered Williams its newest position as the student program manager.

In this role, Williams is responsible for supporting and advising programs and the student leaders who run them.

“I do think it helped to have been a part of the Bennion Center because they [McGovern] were specifically looking for someone who was a former student leader and an alumnus from the Bennion Center,” he said.

Williams still works as the student program manager today, but plans to continue working and growing in higher education as well as getting involved with other student leadership opportunities.

Wanting to get involved on campus? From becoming the student body president to working for the Bennion Center, there are multiple organizations at the U that can help you get started on your own leadership journey.

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Utah musicians discuss struggles for work and appreciation from residents

Story and illustrations by NATALIE ZULLO

Upon graduating from college, professional musicians look toward their careers with hope. But outside of the campus, they worry about their careers due to the lack of professional opportunities available.

Hallie Mosteller, a violin teacher in the Sandy, Utah, area and member of the Orchestra at Temple Square said, “I maybe thought I would have a little more option. But I have found that I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I never thought I would have, like the Orchestra at Temple Square.”

Joanne Andrus, owner of Andrus Music, agrees that there are a lot of opportunities in Utah for music. She said, “I think the thing that’s great about living in Utah is that that there are a lot of avenues, a lot of venues, that you can use to make money.”

But opportunities to share music on the professional level do not come to everyone. “I think if you have a talent level, there is a lot of work out there,” Andrus added. “But you have to be the best of the best to have those kinds of opportunities.”

Those musicians who are not “the best of the best” worry about their financial future.

In a previous interview, Kasia Sokol-Borup, assistant violin professor and director of the String Preparatory Division of the University of Utah’s School of Music, said, “When people think that what we do is just this constant inspired magical moment, they feel that we should feel lucky when we’re asked to do that in front of other people.”

Mosteller, violinist in the Orchestra at Temple Square, said she gets asked to do a lot of performances for free. “Especially in Utah, you get asked to do a lot of church things like performing in church. It definitely takes a lot of work to be able to make a living performing. It’s tough. I’m a little worried about it.”

To help make ends meet, many musicians have turned to teaching children and owning their own studios. But they fear that their rates are an issue for parents.

“I do feel like music is highly valued and the arts are very import to our culture,” Andrus said. “But I do feel like people don’t like to spend a ton of money.” Andrus charges $25 per private lesson but has had experiences with parents who refuse to pay her rates.

Mosteller, who is both performing and teaching, said she worries about her future as a teacher. “I feel like you hit a brick wall teaching. I probably would need to get another job.”

Sarah Affleck, Utah mother of six, feels differently about the rates musicians offer. She said in reference to hiring private music instructors for her children, “Price was never an issue for us because we were happy to invest in that for our children. I would pay their prices because I know how genius they are.” No matter how high the price of the musician, Affleck said she feels that music is a long-term investment for her children. It is a skill that can be taken with them throughout their lives no matter their age.

Affleck’s children have been privately taught piano, guitar, voice, cello and composition from instructors around the Salt Lake Valley. When asked if Affleck hired an instructor based on a music degree and skill, she replied, “Their background in music education was less important to me. What was important to me with the instructor was how well they interacted with children. That was probably the number one over degrees or skill.”

Mosteller has felt in her performing career that her degree is not as important to employers as her skill and experience. She said, “I feel like experience is definitely more valued, like with the Orchestra at Temple Square.”

Musicians tend to take up other musical careers to help with finances giving private lessons, including teaching the arts in school orchestras, choirs and bands. But musicians are seeing the loss of music in the education system.

Sokol-Borup said, “I think the fact that people ask for so much music and [desire] it shows that music actually is a basic human need, which when you look at the way our education works, it’s as if it wasn’t.”

In reference to the current school system, Andrus said, “It’s not just STEM it should be STEAM. It shouldn’t just be science, technology, engineering and math. We need to throw the arts in there. Because that’s what makes our children people. That is what humanizes all of us is the arts.”

Leslie Henire, concert mistress of Sinfonia Salt Lake, also has noticed the lack of arts in the lives of children. “It’s necessary for us as humans to have beauty and art and culture in our lives. I just don’t see any other way. It’s a necessity and it’s becoming less and less,” she said.

Affleck feels strongly about music in the lives of children. She wants her own kids to be involved in music “for their own self-expression and creativity. Music is a powerful brain tool.” She added, “It can be used for education. It stimulates the brain.”

For many Utah musicians and parents, music is crucial in school curriculums and individual lives. Andrus said it is also a crucial part of humanity.

“That creative part of life gives a huge reason to get out of bed every day and if we lose that, we lose part of our culture, part of our humanity and we lose all the benefits that come to our brains by creating and being more than just robots,” Andrus said. “We have things that we can accomplish that are so much bigger if we include the arts in our curriculum for our kids and in our lives as adults.”

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The Writing Center at the University of Utah

Story and photos by HAILEY DANIELSON

The world is filled with words. Every second of every day is filled with reading, writing, and speaking. But writing is one of the most complicated and demanding assignments at a college or university. Writing, especially college writing, requires a certain skill set. Each class, each professor, each assignment has different formats, rules, and guidelines. It can be tricky for students to meet all the criteria for all sorts of writing, not only adequately but skillfully. 

Many students need help with their writing, no matter their major or area of study. Students often work through these problems alone, because many have no idea the resources that schools like the University of Utah have to offer.

Photo by Hailey Danielson 2019 | Screen grab of the results for the University Writing Center.

Tucked on the second floor of the Marriot Library, across from the Protospace office, and just above the Gould Auditorium, is the Writing Center. In the 2018-19 school year, 7,200 appointments were made at the Writing Center, and 95% of the students who visited were satisfied or highly satisfied with their experience at the Writing Center. But if it’s so helpful, why did only 7,200 people visit out of the 24,743 undergraduates enrolled in the University? That’s only 29% of the student body.

Audrey Guo, a sophomore at the university, believes that the Writing Center’s unpopularity is due to the fact that “most people don’t know it even exists.” She said that the Writing Center on campus just slips the students’ minds.

But is that the only reason why the Writing Center is visited by just a fraction of students? Mary Muench, a second-year math major at the U, explained that she had heard of the Writing Center on one of her very first tours of the campus, but admits, “I don’t know enough about it. And I don’t even know how to make an appointment.

Muench was intimidated by the Writing Center as a freshman, sharing how scared she was as a first-year student talking to new people, so she never went.

If current students believe that there isn’t enough information out there, what can the Writing Center do about it? Abbey Christensen, a tutor and student coordinator at the Writing Center, said there’s no consistent form of communication that all students receive, which makes advertising for the Writing Center difficult. 

Photo by Hailey Danielson 2019 | Front desk of the University Writing Center.

Currently, the Writing Center has posters in the writing and rhetoric departments, but Christensen admits those posters only reach a certain population. But she explained that some of the best ways that the Center is promoted are through word of mouth. When a student comes into the Writing Center to get some guidance and has a beneficial experience, the student will tell their friends about the Writing Center, and then their friends will visit. Christensen said these conversations are the best type of promotion for the Center.

Anne McMurtrey, the director of the Writing Center, agreed with much of what Christensen said, but also added that the Center is on the orientation tours. And she does her best to represent the University Writing Center in classroom visits and tabling events. She said the Center even uses social media, news stories, and podcasts to spread the word.

So the word is being spread, perhaps slowly, by word of mouth, or through orientation tours or social media. But even if people are catching wind of these promotions, and are aware that the U has a Writing Center, what do they think the Writing Center does?

Guo believes the Center “allows students who want some improvement on papers or other written things to get the advice that they need.”

But when asked, Muench answered, “I don’t even know.” She said that maybe she would visit the Center to work on a resume, but is unsure if the tutors can even help with that sort of thing.

To clarify, McMurtrey said, “The Writing Center can help with so many things! Our tutors can help writers brainstorm ideas, understand their assignments’ needs, focus their arguments, support their points using proper evidence, organize their ideas, and polish their final drafts.” She added that the Center can also help students with procrastination and self-confidence as well.

Christensen said that “it would be helpful to have more students realize that we have a diverse range of tutor experiences and we’re not just English people,” and tutors can assist all students from across disciplines.

McMurtrey believes that students don’t visit the Center because some “may think they are better writers than our tutors. Some might be embarrassed to share their writing out of fear that it isn’t very good. Some may have crazy schedules, and they simply can’t make it in.”

McMurtrey said, “The UWC welcomes all currently-enrolled University of Utah students and offers free, one-to-one consultations in person and online.”

Both McMurtrey and Christensen strongly advocate for the Writing Center. They believe that everyone should come in for any written work they need help with and hope that students are aware of how the Writing Center can assist them. 

Photo by Hailey Danielson 2019 | Screen grab of the Writing Center About Us Page

Christensen wants students to know that it “doesn’t matter what you’re bringing to the table in terms of writing level or ability.” The Writing Center can help with all of it, and it’s a free service. She explained how people don’t realize how relaxed the Writing Center is, and maybe if students could recognize that, they might find the Center a lot more inviting. Knowing about the relaxed environment would help many students, like Mary Muench, who found the Writing Center scary and intimidating when she was a freshman at the University of Utah.

McMurtrey described the Writing Center as “the best place on campus, hands down!” She is proud of the fact that the Center attracts good people who just want to help others succeed. 

“The Writing Center’s energy is positive and diverse, with tutors and students from a variety of disciplinary, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds,” McMurtrey said.

To add to the warm, positive, and inviting air of the Writing Center, she added excitedly, “I often bring in baked goods!” 

At the end of the interview, Mary Muench was asked if she would ever see herself visiting the Writing Center in the future. “Personally, probably not,” she said. “But it’s possible.”

It’s possible.

And it’s that possibility that makes McMurtrey excited: “I just want to encourage students to give us a try. Our tutors are highly trained and nonjudgmental.”

Careful of The Birds, the electric scooters might hurt you 

Story and photos by RANDALL WHITMORE

As the days get shorter and the temperatures begin cooling off one thing remains constant at the University of Utah, electric scooters are still parked on nearly every intersection around campus. 

As the school year continues, many scooters are being used on campus by students and faculty as a means of transportation. Electric scooters have become extremely accessible as they are often left all over campus. Students can easily access these electric scooters using their designated apps, which can be downloaded onto any smartphone.

Despite innovative transportation, some students and faculty believe that the scooters are endangering users and other bystanders. Recent U graduate Elan Maj calls the scooters “extremely dangerous.” According to Elan, the scooters are not properly repaired and present potential risks to users. “About a year ago I was using a scooter to get home from class. As I was close to my house the handlebars had fallen out of the scooter while I was riding and I crashed.” 

Elan was not injured enough to go to the hospital but he did file a complaint with Bird, the electric scooter company he rented from. He explained that there is a designated area for reporting damage in the Bird app. Even though Elan provided pictures and a written statement, he could not prove that the damage was due to misuse. Bird refused to take further action or refund his ride. 

Users sign a waiver of liability before being able to access the scooters. The waiver states that users must be 18 years or older to ride and are required to wear a helmet before using the scooter. Elan explained that the waiver of liability makes users responsible for any injuries or damage while using the scooters. The app does not provide any incentives for reporting damaged scooters.

The app provides an incentive program for charging electric scooters in which anyone can participate. There are simple instructions on how to get paid by collecting and charging scooters. However, these individuals may not be qualified to determine what mechanical issues may have occurred to a scooter. Elan believes that there are a large number of scooters that are unfit to ride; however, Bird scooters continue to circulate Salt Lake City and the U. 

A May 2019 story in the Salt Lake Tribune stated each company is only allowed to have 500 scooters in the city at one time. With four separate companies renting scooters in Salt Lake, there are upwards of 2,000 scooters.

The Tribune reported the results of a comprehensive nationwide study of 2018 electric scooter injuries. The article explained, “Of the 249 patients who received treatment for scooter-related injuries, nearly 28 percent suffered contusions, sprains and lacerations. About 30 percent had fractures, and just over 40 percent were treated for head injuries.” In addition, “94.3% of observed riders in our community were not wearing a helmet.” Electric scooter accidents accounted for more injuries than bicycle accidents and pedestrian injuries during the study period. 

Just how safe are these electric scooters? Abigail Yensen, a nurse at the University Hospital, stated, “We have seen a number of patients in the ER as a result of electric scooter accidents. We have treated patients with injuries to collarbones, wrists, shoulders, ankles, and severe scrapes.” 

There have been no reported accidents related to electric scooters since their debut in 2018, according to officer Ryan Speers at the Department of Public Safety of the U. Public Safety had received calls from other large universities around the country also conducting similar surveys to accidents relating to electric scooters. Speers explained that other institutions are having issues with electric scooter accidents to both users and pedestrians on their campuses. 

The U has strategically placed bicycle paths where faster moving traffic can efficiently move around campus. Speers said, “We pride ourselves on our designated bike paths which most universities around the country do not have. We believe this is why we have yet to see any accidents involving electric scooters on campus.” Speers said he is excited that no one has been hurt by electric scooters on campus yet. He believes that the scooters are relieving the parking lots and easing traffic during the busiest hours on campus. 

Perhaps students are not reporting these incidents to Public Safety and instead taking matters into their own hands. Student Oscar Augustine who uses Bird scooters as a form of transportation admitted to being scared of other users of the electric scooters. He believes the scooters create a lot of fast moving traffic on campus with inexperienced riders who are not wearing protective gear. “I recently saw two girls riding one scooter who crashed as they exited a sidewalk near the stadium,” he said. Luckily neither woman was injured but Augustine said he fears that the scooters, which reach speeds up to 20 mph, could really inflict some damage.

Perhaps electric scooters are an efficient and green source of transportation for students around the U. As long as rules and university guidelines are followed users will continue using electric scooters at the U. The electric scooters will remain on campus throughout the winter and will remain a viable source of transportation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our campus, your safety, their services

Story and gallery by SALWA IBRAHIM

The University of Utah has many resources provided on campus through the Department of Public Safety. The department is made up of two divisions including the Hospital and Main campus. Both divisions run many functions available for the students, faculty, and anyone else in need here at the U.

Officers and dispatchers can be contacted in case of an emergency, whereas Security is primarily tasked with providing around-the-clock support and maintaining quality customer services every day. Both resources are determined to provide a safe campus for all citizens.

U Officer Jesse Buchanan said, “We have a fully functioning police department. Police officers that are state-certified police officers like any other police officer in the state and we have a dispatch center here on campus so if someone were to call 911 it [would go] to them. There also are many security officers as well that help citizens with all kinds of things and also provide general security for campus.” Resources are provided 24/7 every day of the year.

The Campus Security Division offers safety escorts to students, staff and faculty who are on campus late at night or at odd hours. An officer will accompany individuals to their car, dorm, or building.

Buchanan said, “Students are able to just call no matter what and we will be able to direct them to the resource they need.”

The security component is divided for the hospital services and one for main campus. Lt. Brian Wahlin runs both divisions. The Patrol Division for the University of Utah is known as being one of the largest divisions in the police department, which consists of 27 official full-time sworn policemen and one police reserve officer.

As a student, the privilege of being able to call someone, regardless of the time of day, on campus is ensuring you feel safe and get to where you need to be safely.

The U’s President, Ruth V. Watkins, said in a Nov. 2, 2018, statement to the campus community, “We’re committed to learning all we can from this tragic event and doing what we can to make the University of Utah as safe as possible. Our campus community deserves nothing less.”

The U developed a new mission statement titled “Violence Has No Place on Our Campus.” Since 2017, campus has researched ways to promote campus safety. According to a report by the task force, recommendations were created in hopes of investing in a safer campus with many comprehensive and reliable resources accessible to anyone.

More in-depth explanations of the resources include Wellness Advocates, rape aggression defense, active shooter presentations, mental health workshops, campus suicide prevention training,  alcohol risk reduction, and more. All links are included in a 2018 story.

Watkins asked the task force what she can include in the new budget for safety resources here at the U. Areas of improvement emphasized were in prevention campaigns needed to reinforce campus safety culture, improvements needed for campus physical infrastructure (security cameras, lightings, facilities), and required mandatory training for campus life related to safety issues. All strategies are constantly being produced and improved to the best way they can become for us.

SafeU, a new website, is a reminder to students, faculty, and staff of broader institutional effort to prioritize safety. These resources can prevent so many things and it will allow the U community to feel more protected. Safety is key.

All you need to know about Utah men’s basketball player Donnie Tillman

Story and photos by SAMIRA IBRAHIM

Donnie Tillman’s successful start in his first four games as a freshman paved the way for him to secure minutes in games during the rest of his collegiate basketball career.

Now a sophomore, Tillman, 19, stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 225 pounds. He has become an immediate impact for the Utah men’s basketball. He averages 20.3 minutes per game and is ranked fifth among his team members. Tillman is an important element for the Pac-12 basketball team.

Even though his sophomore season came to an unpleasant end with the team’s overall record of 17-14 and no ticket punch to the March Madness dance, Tillman has remained grounded and is ready to get to work and prepare for next season.

“I make sure that my focus is directed toward improvement rather than all the backlash and comments about our performance this season,” Tillman said. “It just allows me to focus on becoming better and getting some future wins for our team.”

Tillman was born and raised in Detroit and is the son of Donna and Johnnie Tillman with four other siblings. Out of the four boys, Tillman is the youngest. He often looked up to his oldest brother, Bishop, who played as a Division II point guard for Wayne State University. His brother basically paved the way for Tillman and his love for basketball.

As his mother Donna was a single mother raising her boys, she was also battling illness and would often get sick. There would be instances where her epilepsy got so bad, that she needed to quit her job as poker dealer for MotorCity Casino. But she was fortunate enough that it allowed her to support her son and let him finish high school.

He and his mother received a call about an opportunity to attend and play for Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. This is a nationally-recognized high school basketball program that has produced many NBA draft picks. In less than two weeks they made the decision to drop everything and move 2,000 miles away from home in time for him to enroll in the basketball program.

“Everybody thought I was crazy for leaving everything I had known and grew up with. But I knew that this was fate and written for me and so I just had to take the leap of faith. I was also only 15 years old, so you can only imagine how scared I kinda was,” Tillman said.

He and his mother sold everything in their home and everything they owned, then took a ride and never looked back. It wasn’t necessarily easy making the move, as the road trip included many tears and fond memories that they shared along the drive.

“I was always aware of Findlay Prep but they said there are going to be a lot of differences, but it is going to be the best thing for me,” Tillman said. “It took us four days to get there, I was definitely having second thoughts and didn’t know what I got myself into.”

He played three seasons at Findlay Prep where he averaged 14.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and shot 65 percent as a senior. Tillman had a few injuries in his first two seasons but still helped his team to a 33-4 overall standing record.

When Tillman decided to sign with the Runnin’ Utes at the end of his senior year in high school, his mother counted more than 20 scholarship offers. He was ranked as a four-star recruit by ESPN.com coming out of high school.

After committing to Utah, Tillman said people expected him to be an even better collegiate player than he was in high school. His mother also was excited about his decision to come to Salt Lake City because it offered a strong emphasis on families.

For his sophomore season at Utah, in a vote of the 12 conference coaches, Tillman was named Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year. 

“He is a great team player on and off the court. Donnie constantly works hard and just wants what’s best for our team. I see him making it to the league for sure,” said teammate Timmy Allen.

It’s On Us and rape culture on college campuses

Story by ALLISON COREY

After eight years of gathering data regarding sexual violence on college campuses, the Obama administration implemented It’s On Us. The organization has now reached nearly 1,000 universities and strives to rectify the country’s rape culture.

When It’s On Us came to the University of Utah, it was run by the student government. In July 2018, Christina Bargelt, 22, became acting president of It’s On Us. “I’m a survivor, and my goal is really just to help fix the things that are fixable,” Bargelt said in a phone interview. “I deserve better and so do other survivors.” Using this objective to fuel her, Bargelt has already made strides to prevent and help victims of sexual violence.

After her third and most brutal assault involving a member of the U’s Greek community, Bargelt said that it was time for her to make a change. An investigation that took longer to occur than she was initially told yielded a heartbreaking result: insufficient evidence. She then pursued a hearing that, yet again, took place almost three months late and had reached the same consensus. Bargelt took every necessary plan of action: she got a rape kit done, hired a lawyer, and had multiple other women testify on her behalf.

Despite her best efforts, Bargelt was defeated by the system. She joined part of the 33 percent of people who become suicidal within a month of their assault, and that feeling heightened when she knew that no legal action could be taken. Bargelt then decided to turn the most traumatic experience of her life into a positive one for others. “It made me lose faith and hope in this institution,” Bargelt said. “I could either wallow in self pity and hate this university, or I could take these things and grow from them so I could improve the lives of other survivors.”

Bargelt has completely transformed It’s On Us at the U. She has worked tirelessly to create relations with university administrators and many resources for victims of sexual violence. She said she forged good relationships with many of the people who helped her aftermath her assault. The Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action, the Women’s Resource Center, and other organizations have since paired up with It’s On Us. The most helpful resources for Bargelt after the assault, Victim/Survivor advocates, are now the organization’s main allies. She said, “I would not be the advocate I am today without them,” because they are an objective source that provides survivors with options. She has helped the OEO create a more transparent system, and personally speaks to roughly five new survivors each week.

Another issue with rape culture on college campuses is the discrepancy between male and female survivors. Men are often taught not to rape, and are rarely informed on resources or steps to take if they themselves are the victim. Bargelt has specifically gone to every sorority and fraternity in the U’s Greek system, and has given the exact same information about It’s On Us and rape recovery regardless of her audience’s genders. She said one of her goals as president is to destigmatize the notions surrounding male survivors.

In her mission to keep everyone, especially those involved in Greek life, informed, Bargelt gave presentations at each fraternity’s house. Ty Monroe, 19, was an avid listener when she visited his fraternity. Monroe left the Phi Delta Theta house that night with a whole new perspective. He said, “She really touched base on the fact that assaults are not specific to either males or females, it happens to both.” For some men, Bargelt’s presentations encouraged survivors to come forward. For many others, such as Monroe, the presentations offered a new viewpoint and increased acceptance for male survivors.

It is true that not as many men have experienced sexual violence as women, but that does not mean men are any less deserving of advocates. Many men are not believed or recognized once they come forward after an assault on them, and our country’s rape culture often perpetuates these notions and ostracizes male survivors.

Paul Eicker, 20, is a sophomore at the U who was raped by a girl during the fall of 2018. He said he did not press charges or seek investigation into his perpetrator because he immediately thought he would be looked down upon, called a liar, and lose support of friends and family. The fear of coming forward after an act of sexual violence is present in many survivors, but more so in men. “It took me about a month before I told anyone,” Eicker said. “People told me that I was making a big deal about nothing, and that men can’t be raped.” The reactions he got solidified his initial decision to take no further actions.

As the president of It’s On Us, Bargelt is adamant about being completely transparent in telling her story. Sexual assaults and rapes happen often on college campuses, and many people don’t know how big of a problem it is because it is rarely talked about. Bargelt is very open about her personal experience because hearing a story from another survivor frequently inspires others to come forward. Bargelt said that “part of the empowering part of being a survivor is now you have the agency to do something about it. You have the chance to give power back to yourself and you get to decide what your healing journey will be.”

In less than a year, Bargelt transformed the U into the nation’s most successful It’s On Us organization. She has laid out a 10-year plan, so even after she graduates from the U this May her legacy will live on. “I am very aggressive and do not give up on people or projects that I believe in,” she said, and she has confidence that whoever takes her place in July will maintain the positive trajectory of It’s On Us.

Traumatizing aftermath of active school shooter drills

Story and gallery by EMMA WILLIAMS

The number of school shootings broke records in 2018. Today’s youth are growing up engulfed in an epidemic of violence. According to The Washington Post, more than 187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in school since the Columbine shooting in 1999.

Earthquake and fire drills have always been viewed by education boards as a precautionary step. Now lockdown or school shooters drills are being given the same priority.

Active shooter preparation can be extremely traumatizing for all students, especially those in younger elementary grades. School protocol and drills are leaving young students between the ages of 5 and 10 upset, ill-informed and scared to return to school.

For children in younger level schooling people carrying guns are simply “bag guys.” They don’t understand the importance of staying safe because their young minds can’t grasp the sincerity of the killer’s harm.

Madyson Skelton, second-grade teacher at Diamond Ridge Elementary School in West Valley City, says her school practices two drills each year, both “a hard and soft lockdown.” Soft lockdowns are for when there is harm in the neighborhood surrounding the school. Each classroom turns off the lights and continues teaching to keep the children calm, Skelton explains.

A hard lockdown is for when the shooter is inside the school. Skelton was taught through district training to have her students stay away from doors and windows and be quiet. Skelton is in a classroom with 28 7- to 8-year-olds.

“After the drills I can always tell what students feel anxiety,” Skelton says. The students are young and confused by the drills. They are cramped up against a wall and told to be quiet. “After the lockdown drill we talk about it with the students to let them know it was just in case of an emergency.”

Skelton says there aren’t any notes sent home to parents warning them of the day and time of the drills. “It’s always the girls who say it’s scary.” Skelton says there is always a lot of giggling and squirming during the drills.

In a hard lockdown practice drill in February, Skelton says she heard one of her students ask another student why they had to do these drills. The student answered, “This is if someone is going to shoot up the school.”

She says she hushed the student and told them the drill was to keep them and their classmates safe if someone were to come into the school. Skelton explains the concern of wondering if the children had discussed with their parents what was happening in schools all around the country or, if the chatter was a result of something they had heard from another or older student.

Barrett Brinkerhoff, a 5-year-old kindergartener at Eastwood Elementary School in Salt Lake City, says he has had two drills in his classroom this year. “We go somewhere to hide so we don’t get killed or something,” he says.

Barrett says his teachers tell the students what is happening and why it is so important to be still and quiet during the drills. Barrett says the kids in his class don’t take it seriously and tease one another during the drills. He says the teachers hush them “to keep them safe so they don’t get fired.”

According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network , the best way to get prepared is to run successful drills. It describes using age-specific language, to send handouts home with students and reassure all student concerns. Determining who will need additional mental or physical support will help successfully execute these drills and minimize student and parent upset.

Barrett’s mother, Jessica Brinkerhoff, feels her child’s school could be making a better effort at informing parents who can prep their children. “Nothing was sent home or posted online — and I wish there would have been.”

Brinkerhoff says she doesn’t know what her school is advising students to do to stay safe during drills. After both drills Barret has come home anxious and curious. “I just tell him there is only so much we can control and that we have done all we can to keep you safe,” Brinkerhoff says.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network advises informing parents of all specific protocol. Identify all types of drills and what each drill is helping to prevent. Conduct informal meeting so parents can ask questions to better inform their child and ease stress.

The FBI National Webpage reports 30 total active shooter incidents in 2017 across the United States, 11 being at schools. And 250 total shooter incidents from 2000 to 2017.

The solution to solving gun violence and improving mental health isn’t as simple as performing an in-school drill. Giving students of all ages the resources, regulations and information to help prevent a possible fatality is worth all the time and effort.

Remembering delicate young minds are at stake when participating in drills will help eliminate child and parent upset. Active shooter or invader drills are terrifying to people of all ages.

Photos curtsey of Madyson Skelton and Jessica Brinkerhoff

Students turn to piracy in face of high textbook prices

Story and photo gallery by NIC NIELSEN

Downloading files illegally is nothing new. In fact, college students have been using the internet to pirate music and films for years. While this trend has been prevalent in entertainment media, it has now moved on to academics.

College students are now turning to the internet to find their textbooks. But rather than purchasing or renting from companies such as Amazon, some are opting to download complete PDFs of their required texts. With a quick Google search of the title or ISBN, students are able to download some textbooks at the risk of legal penalties in order to save hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

For University of Utah freshman Olivia Gonzales, 19, this is a popular way for her friends to save money. The chemistry major said she hasn’t participated in the trend herself, but she doesn’t blame others for wanting to save money with the prices being so high, and some professors are sympathizing as well. 

“I’m too scared of getting in legal trouble to try it, but most people I know have done this because, like, they just can’t afford really expensive textbooks on top of the ridiculous school fees,” Gonzales said. “Even my professor once sent us a link at the beginning of the semester to a PDF of the book for our class. The entire textbook.”

While students may consider receiving bootleg copies of the required texts either a miracle or unethical, U senior Kelsey Rathke, 26, has experienced something more common.

“I have had multiple classes where a teacher has a PDF chapter or two from a textbook,” Rathke, a communication major, said. “I really like those classes because, in general, they use more than one textbook, so there is variety throughout the semester, and I don’t have to pay the price for it.”

According to Policy 7-013 of the U’s research policies, copyrighted materials can only be shared to students if it constitutes a fair use, is only accessible by students enrolled in the course during that semester, and has a security measure in place to access it such as a password protection.

While some may argue students simply just don’t ever want to pay money, the cause of this trend may be a result of skyrocketing textbook prices.

In January 2018, CBS News reported that the average cost of textbooks has risen four times faster than the rate of inflation in the last decade and 65 percent of students were choosing to not purchase required texts at some point in college due to lack of affordability.

According to the National Association of College Stores, the average price of a new textbook rose from $58 to $90, an increase of over 50 percent, between the 2011-12 and 2016-17 school years. Many students have expressed that this rise in price is unjustified.

“I think they are outrageous,” Rathke said of textbook prices. “I understand that they take a lot of effort and time to build, but the newest versions of textbooks are unbelievable, and for most of them the changes are minor enough that it feels like robbery.”

Students have not been the only victims of rising prices, however. According to Shane Girton, 48, associate director of the of U’s campus store, it has been selling fewer printed books because of prices set by publishers.

“Traditional print textbook sales have declined overall due to the increase in price set by the publishers, which has forced cost-conscious students to make the choice of shopping online to find the best possible deal, utilizing e-books when possible, as they are normally up to 60 percent cheaper than print textbooks, utilizing the Campus Store rental program for their textbooks, which can save them up to 50 percent, or forgoing using a textbook at all,” Girton said in an email interview.

Girton also stated that the campus store searches for “a variety of options in providing textbook content to students so that the price can be reduced where possible.” Girton said he is aware of the textbook pirating trend, but not to what extent.

“There is a risk involved in using pirated material that the student has to accept,” Girton said.

Although more expensive, some students such as freshman Thomas Young, 18, still prefer physical textbooks and purchasing from the university bookstore. 

“I prefer a hard copy of my textbooks if I can so I can write in the book because that’s how I learn best,” the U kinesiology major said. “The campus store might be expensive, but it is still the best option to get books because most of the time they have any book that your class will need right there and you don’t have to wait to have it shipped like you would for Amazon.”

Regardless of preference, Girton recommended students contact their professors after registering to see if the textbook will actually be used for the course. While it is the easier and more affordable option, textbook piracy, as with music and film piracy, can result in academic punishment or expulsion, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and possible jail time.

The most sustainable and ethical diet for people and the planet

Story and photo gallery by CAMILLE AGLAURE

With so much talk concerning diet in the media, many people find it difficult to know what to eat. What foods are ethically sourced and grown? What foods truly promote human health? What foods support the health of the planet? These are all questions that are fogging up the minds of so many people.  

One thing that Thunder Jalili, Ph.D., and a professor of nutrition and integrative physiology, and Anne Pesek Taylor, registered dietitian, at the University of Utah can both agree on is that, generally speaking, a healthier plate is one with more plants and less overly processed foods and added sugar. 

Pesek Taylor said in an email interview that balanced nutrition needs to account for individual food preferences, lifestyle factors, and include a variety of food groups so it can be maintained long-term. Pesek Taylor referred to the University of Utah’s Healthy Eating Plate, an adaptation of the government’s MyPlate created in 2011, as a useful guide to good health.

What does this mean for meat and dairy, though?

Studies like the popular health book “The China Study” and documentaries like “What the Health” and “Cowspiracy”detail the harmful effects to humans and the environment that come with the consumption of animal-based foods. Jalili said he believes that the absolute exclusion of animal-based foods is not necessarily vital. However, regarding meat, “a little still means a little,” he said. 

Jalili said the maximum recommended intake of red meat is 100 grams per day while the maximum for processed meat is 50 grams. “Once a day is still a lot,” he said, and as far as human health is concerned, many studies indicate that there is, in fact, a decrease in mortality rate among those who maintain a vegan and vegetarian diet. When considering environmental health, there is slightly more to be taken into account when writing out your grocery list.

As more media attention surrounds the question of climate change versus animal agriculture, many organizations and communities are reevaluating the importance of animal-based foods, particularly meat, in a standard, western diet. 

“Raising cows is an environmental disaster,” Jalili said. With animal agriculture accounting for 91 percent of rainforest deforestation, according to The World Bank, and more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector, according to the United Nations, Jalili said he believes that it is time for groups of people, like nutritionists, to not focus on health alone, but the bigger picture. “It’s just responsible,” he said. 

So, is a universal vegan diet the solution?

In the opinion of Christy Clay, Ph.D., an associate professor at Westminster College who teaches courses on subjects including biology, ecology, and environmental studies, “a homogenous, universal diet is exactly what has caused so many problems in our current food system.”

Clay said she believes that the current food system has created a monster of unequal distribution of foods, the elimination of native crops and variation, and potentially the loss of culture and professions. 

“We’re not understanding the limitations and values of local resources,” Clay said, as she explained the harms in seeking mainstream foods that do not naturally occur locally. Clay used the example of quinoa, a grain that grows in the Andes that is now exported to Western countries more than it is provided for locals who have depended on the grain in their diets for centuries. To be truly sustainable and ethical, Clay maintained that “diets should be bio-regional.”

For Clay, the ethical question of which foods to eat is not as simple as drastically lowering our consumption of meat. Rather, “there’s a whole dismantling of a current food system that needs to happen,” Clay said as she painted a picture of just how disrupted our way of eating has become. 

So, where do we begin?

Clay suggested that the first action to take is having the conversation about “how broken our food system is.” This consists of poor income for those in the agriculture industry, the cost and precarious nature of leasing land to farmers, a decline in community gardens, and loss of interest in crops that have fallen out of the mainstream.

“What does it look like to say we actually value this profession?” wondered Clay as she additionally suggested encouraging communities to be a space for local gardening. Already, there are a number of organizations working to do just that, including Green Urban Lunch Box, which goes from school to school, educating children on the value of local gardening while furthermore educating local farmers. 

Making a difference in your community requires collective action to encourage local agriculture and farming. Clay suggested gardening out of your own backyard. If you live in an apartment complex, ask your landlord or property owner about creating a roof garden. Clay also suggested engaging with other community gardens and protecting land to be used for local farming. Getting back in touch with a farm-to-table way of eating is imperative for a sustainable diet. Rekindling a healthy and community-based relationship with food is the best way for individuals to eat ethically, healthily, and in an environmentally friendly way. 

Exemplary Service Through the Bennion Center

by Kyle Lanterman

SALT LAKE CITY─ Since 1987, the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center has been a valuable resource by aiding the Salt Lake Community. The Bennion Center provides service to others living in the region, with many University of Utah students involved in the process. The mission statement of the Bennion Center reflects that there are strong values rooted within the center such as integrity, collaboration, diversity, engagement, and optimism to name a few. Six office spaces, a conference room, and a few couches constitute the space where students make items for the homeless or construct sustainable gardens. The center itself is extremely small compared to the impact it has on the Salt Lake Community.

The Bennion Center delivers service to address a variety of issues in the community including hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, sustainability, and health care. The people that work to make these areas in the Salt Lake Community better have bought into the mission of the Bennion Center and the work that comes along with it. Not only does the Bennion Center extend its outreach in Utah, but students and staff have done service work in many other areas in the Country. In addition, there are two service trips that are located in Cuba and Costa Rica. The outreach to these areas are inspired by a spirit of wanting to help communities that have people and environments in need. The community of the Bennion Center draws students who have want to take action in service.

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An infographic depicting the locations of service projects by students and staff from the Bennion Center from the past year. Service projects have dominated the western United States and have gone outside the country in Cuba and Costa Rica. Graphic creation credit to nationalgeoraphic.com

“So I was kind of involved with volunteer work in high school and wanted to continue doing volunteer work in college,” says Eric Nhem, a 22-year-old University student from West Valley City and Bennion Center volunteer. “My friend texted me one day and sheasked if I wanted to do this thing through the Bennion center,” Nhem continued, “I said what the heck is the Bennion Center?”

Eric

Eric Nhem, 22, a student programs coordinator the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center. Nhem hails from West Valley City and works with students to fulfill their needs for service projects. Photo courtesy; Bennion center website.

That “thing” turned out to be a once a month assignment with Project Youth, which helped Title I students learn about higher education. Nhem eventually became the director of Project Youth after two consecutive years of volunteering with them which lead him to become a student programs coordinator with the Bennion Center. Nhem’s role is vital for the Bennion Center and the work that is done there.

“Basically, my job is to coordinate with students about service projects they wish to participate in and then guide them about what needs to be done. For example, what resources they might need or who they need to take talk to,” says Nehm. “Those two areas are usually what needs to be tackled first in order for the projects to get going.”

Regardless of who needs to talk to who or what the students need, there needs to be a level of optimism brought to the table. This sense of optimism is needed for student run projects to flourish and along with enthusiasm for the service to continue. The students  display optimism in their work and and are enthusiastic about it every day and those elements are what brought Nhem to the Bennion Center originally. 

Bennion Center

The bulletin board located outside the Bennion Center, with the main sign in the background. The Bennion center is located in room 105 in the Union building on the campus of the University of Utah. The center specializes in volunteer work in areas such as hunger, sustainability, homelessness, literacy, and healthcare. Photo credit: Bennion center staff.

“I fell in love with one program that had a mission I believed in,” Nhem stated.

Believing is something that holds the Bennion Center together, as communications specialist, Jennifer Jones, will attest. As the communications specialist, it is Jones responsibility to make other aware of the great work being done at the Center.

“My job is awesome because I get to brag about all the fantastic things students are doing here!” says Jones, and there is no shortage of work to be discussed. “Just the other day we had a group of students ironing plastic bags to make beanies for hospitalized infants and sleeping mats for the homeless. That is the kind of stuff that tends to take place in the Bennion Center on a day to day basis.”

Jones is particular proud of the people she works with. “What motivates me to do my work is everyone who is involved with the Bennion Center. We have so many students from a plethora of backgrounds who are passionate about their work,” she says.

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Students collaborate as they construct arts and crafts for the Primary Children’s Hospital in the Bennion Center. The center specializes in volunteer work in areas such as hunger, sustainability, homelessness, literacy, and healthcare. Photo credit: Bennion center online blog.

On a given evening, the Bennion Center is bustling with activity. This night, students sit on couches and huddle around a coffee table discussing their current work and planning out future projects. Nhem and Jones have their own workspaces where they speak to students or other parties about current or future projects. What goes on in the Bennion Center on a day to day basis continues to change the Salt Lake Community in a positive way.

The mission of the Bennion Center is “to foster lifelong service and civic participation by engaging the university with the greater community in action, change and learning.” This mission is being accomplished routinely through the meaningful work by students at the U with the help of staff members such as Nhem and Jones. Lifelong service is being given and will continue to be given as long as the belief in projects exists along with the drive to help others and make the local community of Salt Lake City a better place.

 

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Come support esports at the University of Utah

Story and gallery by HOLLIS LEJA

Esports and video games in general are starting to become a bigger part of our culture. In a 2018 report by the Entertainment Software Association, 60 percent of Americans play video games daily, and in 2017 Americans spent over $29 billion on video games. The report also said “56% of the most frequent gamers play multiplayer games.”

The University of Utah is one of the first universities in the nation to have a college esports team. This is something to be excited about because it is likely you may be a video game fan too. Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) is the name of the department leading this change and it has created the first varsity esports team in the U’s conference.

The university’s EAE program is one of the top programs in the world for video game development. It is rated no. 3 in the nation for its undergraduate and graduate programs and has published over 100 student-made video games. The U’s esports team was the first varsity esports team in the U.S. and currently offers this unique experience across four different game titles: “Rocket League,” “Hearthstone,” “Overwatch,” and “League of Legends.”

“League of Legends” is one of the most watched third-person Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games in the world. Two teams of five players battle champions with various roles and abilities to be the first to destroy the other team’s nexus — a structure that is well-defended in the middle of each team’s base.

“League of Legends” was the first game to become part of this program back in 2017 and it boasts one of the largest followings in the esports industry. According to Riot Games, the creator of “League of Legends,” over 80 million people tuned in to watch the World Championship in 2017 and Riot expects that number to only continue growing. The 2018 World Championship concluded at the end of October and was hosted by South Korea. North America, represented by the U.S. team Cloud 9, took fourth. This is the first time an American team has placed in the top-4 since 2012 during the first Worlds Championship.

Riot sees the potential in esports just like the University of Utah does. Riot said it has over 500 university League of Legends Clubs on campuses across the U.S. For the 2019 college season Riot will be offering scholarships to both players and staff of the teams that compete. The 2019 collegiate season will start Jan. 15, just in time for spring semester.

In spring 2018, the University of Utah League of Legends Team was in the top spot for the collegiate tournaments played. AJ Dimmic, the esports director at the U, said the team was able to get over 300,000 views on Twitch last season and created over 350 hours of content. Dimmic is working hard to help the team and program continue to grow while creating a place where fans of gaming can come watch and support some of the university’s best players.

Kenny Green works as game studio relations for the University’s EAE program and volunteers his time as the head coach for the League of Legends Team on campus. He is also a student pursuing his master’s degree in game production. He’s been playing “League of Legends” since it came out on beta for PC in 2009.

Green said he tries to instill a “culture of being a family” with his players. The team works on building trust with one another and practices up to 20 hours a week, helping each other improve at the game as they prepare for the 2019 season.

The U currently has 11 students on scholarship for the League of Legends team, each pursuing different degrees varying from organic chemistry to pre-med. Green said his players are just like any other student-athlete on campus and are held to the same standards. Students in the program must be enrolled as full-time students, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and progress through 20 percent of their degree with each season.

Like most of the players and coaches in the program at the U, Green is very passionate about his role with the team and video games in general. He said some of the biggest challenges they face right now are space and budget. The program is on campus in building 72 located at 332 S. 1400 East, Suite 240, formerly used by the College of Law. Green said he is working on making a bigger area for teams to practice and so people can come watch the team play local games in the old mock courtroom in building 73 located at the same address.

The U and EAE are invested in esports on campus and in improving the program. The student-athletes and staff have worked hard to represent the best the U has to offer. Dimmic, Green and the team said the best way students can support the team and program is to come watch the games on campus and subscribe to the university esports Twitch channel. With student support the U can continue to be a leader in innovation and invest in programs like the ones in EAE.

Chi Omega Sorority Promotes Make-a-Wish

Story and gallery by VIRGINIA HILL 

As a college student, it can be hard to get involved with service or even think about anything other than yourself and school. But an unlikely group is encouraging students to get involved in philanthropy and making it fun. Chi Omega, or Chio, is hosting a service-oriented week to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Chi Omega is a national sorority with the local chapter being part of the University of Utah campus. Chio attracts hundred of women every year and encourages friendship and sisterhood. According to the Chio’s mission statement, it strives to promote friendship, personal integrity, service to others, academic excellence, community, campus involvement, and personal development. While sororities throughout the country may get a reputation contrary to this mission statement, the annual efforts of the local Chio chapter to host a Wish Week in service to the Make-A-Wish Foundation demonstrate its devotion to the sorority’s mission.

Savanna Dubell, president of the local chapter of Chi Omega, made it clear how important service is to her and the members. She explained Chio’s history with Make-A-Wish and the dedication to service. “For almost 30 years Chio has had a national philanthropy, it is a cause that the sorority believes in and that all chapters would work to raise money for. A while ago they made a partnership with Make-A-Wish and that is who we continue to work with today,” she said.

From Sept. 24-27, Chio hosts Wish Week, a week completely devoted to planned, paid admission events that attract peers to come and participate in philanthropic efforts. This annual event changes from year to year depending on plans made by the director of philanthropy.

Eliza Parkin, the 2018 director, gave a brief summary of the week she planned: “Monday was dessert night, where girls bake or buy treats and other students come and buy them, Tuesday we partnered with Buffalo Wild Wings to bring wings to our house where boys or girls can compete in a wing eating contest, Wednesday we partnered with Chipotle so they will give us a portion of all profits made at one of their locations, and Thursday we hosted a big soccer tournament for anyone who wants to watch or participate.”

With all these events there is some sort of purchase or buy-in, and Parkin explained that 100 percent of the money went toward Make-A-Wish to help one particular child.

This child is an important one and the focus of all of Chio’s efforts. With the philanthropic efforts each year, Chio is able to donate the money to a particular child through Make-A-Wish. Both Parkin and Dubell feel that this personal approach to donation and philanthropy “incentivizes the girls to work towards something meaningful and feel that their efforts and money are going toward something real.”

This year’s 2018 Wish Girl is Mackenzie, a 13-year-old who has been battling cancer. According to Chios interviewed for this story, Mackenzie has a bubbly personality that has not been diminished by her personal health struggles. Mackenzie has a wish to go to Disney World and with the efforts of Chio, they hope to reach this goal by the end of the year. The women have all been able to meet Mackenzie and are touched by her story.

Meggie Nelson, a sister of Chi Omega, said, “Mackenzie and Make-A-Wish are very close to my heart and our chapter wants to do everything it can to raise money for her.”

Chios are pushing to completely fulfill her wish and are on track to do so. The Chio women’s efforts to do just that are tremendous, they worked tirelessly to plan and orchestrate great events, they posted announcements and calls to action on social media to encourage friends to come and participate. These events turned out to be packed with students and peers enjoying themselves and contributing what they could to this cause.

The women’s devotion to this has been encouraging and sets an example to others about service. This devotion seems to be a national effort as well. According to the national Chi Omega website, chapters have raised “more than 20 million dollars and have volunteered over a million hours for Make-A-Wish.” But Wish Week is just the beginning of Chio’s philanthropic efforts this 2018 school year. According to Parkin, the chapter will continue to host events and find ways to raise money for Mackenzie through the end of the school year. There is even talk of hosting a masquerade ball to further their efforts. The work of Chio and its leaders has made for a successful Wish Week.

 

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Sorority members flashing the Chi Omega sign at Dessert Night.

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Sorority members and their peers showing support for the week’s events.

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Gearing up for the wing contest.

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Sorority girls posing with Wish Girl Mackenzie.

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Rows of college students prepare for the wing competition.

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Mackenzie is introduced to the group of students.

 

 

Reaching out to China’s past

Story and gallery by PORTER L. ANDERSON

The Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City has for many years been a free and open facility where visitors can come and conduct research about their ancestors. The library is the largest genealogical library in the world and attracts people from all walks of life to travel to Utah just to take part in the work that takes place there.

Recently the library has implemented a new interactive activity for those visitors who come from China. “The Genealogical Society of Utah and the Family History Library have always been working to build an open and informative experience for visitors of our great state,” said Yvonne Sorenson, the library’s administrative representative.

The Family History Library is located on Temple Square, which is the most visited tourist site in all of Utah. Temple Square is a large plot of land with many different facilities that are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Christian church that has a strong following in Utah.

The interactive experience that can be found on the main floor of the Family History Library is meant to be the first look into genealogical work for those who haven’t had much experience before. Visitors are guided by the volunteers that work in the library to several different stations where they are able to learn about famous relatives, facts about their birth, interesting stories about ancestors, and so much more.

The newly remodeled main floor has been open for almost two years but just recently the administration decided to create an experience specifically for Chinese guests who couldn’t take part in the regular activities due to lack of Chinese records in the library.

“We realized that so many international visitors would come to visit Temple Square but, we would often have to turn them away from our interactive activities. We wanted to help reach out to these people in any simple way we could to help the guests get excited about family history work while making them feel welcome to our facilities,” Sorenson said.

The Chinese experience has been in place for almost three months and the results have been nothing short of amazing. One of the translators for the library, Charles Garrett, said, “It is so amazing to see these wonderful people come to the library and be so excited to see that they can learn simple things like the origin of their last name. They just seem to light up and get excited to learn more about their families.”

While the program is still in the testing phases it remains very simple but, with the results that have been observed over the past few months, the administration of the library is really excited to continue building on the experience. “I would love to see the experiment we have created grow to a more substantial point,” Garrett said when asked how he felt about the future of the program.

While the future of the program seems bright, no concrete plans have been made to improve the activities or even keep them up and running after the test period is over at the end of the year. The patrons of the library are very inspired by the activity and seem genuinely excited to revisit the library if they were to visit Utah again.

“This was very interesting for me because it taught me a lot of information about myself that I didn’t know. I only wish the building had the materials for me to do more searching into my past,” said Li-Wei Chen, a visitor who is traveling from Shanghai.

This is the exact result that the library administration was hoping to see from these visitors. “We were hoping that we could build the excitement that we see the locals get when visiting but, we’re a little short on resources to do it. I think the team in charge of the program has done a wonderful job creating this experience and I hope that we decided to put more effort and keep the program for the long-term,” Sorenson said.

The library has access to thousands of genealogical resources but few of those are Chinese, which makes the program that much more impressive. The program being added for the long-term would be a great addition to the library but would also help the state of Utah as well. Creating global attractions like the Family History Library builds the state’s reputation as a place that welcomes all visitors.

With the inclusion of the Chinese experience in the Family History Library, it shows that the LDS church is aware of the importance it holds in building tourism and attending to the growing international attention that Utah is getting.

Sorenson added, “We want to continue to create a global experience here that can be enjoyed by all. The journey may be difficult and we may struggle to find a way but, we are determined to help all find the joys that genealogical work can bring to an individual.”

How part-time job affects GPA and tips to success

Story and gallery by SEOK LEE

People work in companies and students go to college to study to get better jobs after they graduate. To study in a university, students pay lots of tuition fees to university administration. The reason why people go to college is that some jobs require a university diploma.

In other words, people want to have better jobs by investing money in college tuition like a stock market. Parents bankroll money for their child’s future and child spends time for their future. Even some students supply money by themselves without parents’ financial support.

Students have a part- or full-time job to earn money for tuition fees. Also, some students work to gain industry experience and to be a more competitive applicant in the job market. Moreover, some people work part-time to earn pocket money for themselves. These show that college students work a part- or full-time job for various reasons.

As a result of a survey with 10 college students at Marriott Library, eight out of 10 students currently have a part- or full-time job, and two students have worked a part-time job in the past, but they mention that they are now concentrating more on their studies.

More college students who are currently working answer that they work 11 to 20 hours a week. Nine out of 10 respondents to the questionnaire say that working less would lead to higher academic achievement.

They say that if they worked fewer hours, they would have more time to spend studying. Also, they respond to the questionnaire that working while attending college had somewhat negatively affected their GPA.

One respondent said that working less would not lead to higher academic achievement. He said in the questionnaire that it is only an excuse for not having time to study because of a part- or full-time job.

He points out one survey question and says if people want to get higher GPA or college success, it is essential to study a lot. The survey question that he answered was: how many hours a week do you study for classes?

According to survey results, most respondents respond that they study 11 to 20 hours per week. He said that he studies more than 30 hours per week. He said working a part -or full-time job to earn money for tuition is not a good idea.

Instead, studying hard and trying to get a scholarship is more beneficial for the future. He says that he applies for scholarships and he also accepts subsidizing financial aid in the university.

Good scholarships are needed to study hard. ASUU offers a tutoring system to all university students. It is located in the Student Services Building, third floor. ASUU provides tutoring service in its office and library. Kassidy L. Giggey, a learning specialist in ASUU’s Learning Success Center, says, “Large numbers of students use tutoring and one or two students per week come to ASUU and ask for tutoring.”

In order to get good grades while working, she suggests making a schedule and posting it where a student can see at easily. She recommends doing this for a month as a habit. When a student plans to make a schedule, she says, “It is recommended to study six or seven hours per class.”

She emphasizes, “It is regrettable that many students are not yet familiar with this program, and our office is ready to help students at any time.”

The Learning Success Center, which is located in the Student Services Building, third floor, also provides online resources to support study tips such as better note taking, study guides, time management, study skills and more. These online resources help students to study easier and better.

The Academic Advising Center, located in the Student Services Building, fourth floor, and major advisors also help students succeed in college. One academic advisor named Steve Hadley says, “Lots of students work part-time but they take over 15 credits. This is one of the reasons students get tired before graduation.”

He says, “If students have a part-time job, I advise them not to take more than 15 credit hours and if students have a full-time job, I advise them not to take more than six to seven credit hours. For a better school life, balance in work and study is needed.”

He also says, “In fact, many students want to get good grades and ask me for advice that they do not have enough time to study because of work. It is always welcome to help students so please make an appointment on the website anytime.”

The Student Success Advocate Office is in Sill Center near the Union. This program was made five years ago and it also supports students’ college success. Because it is not the old program, it has not been known to many students yet.

April Ollivier, who works in the Student Success Advocate Office, says, “Learning Success Center and Student Success Advocate Office is quite different. The ASUU tutoring system in the Learning Success Center is providing more academic skills to students but the Student Success Advocate Office gives advice to students with ordinary issues too.”

She also mentions, “Student Success Advocate Office provides texting system so they text students whether they are fine in college or not.”

According to survey results, a part- or full-time job affects GPA somewhat negatively but there are some tips to succeed in college life. Both studying hard gives success in university and engaging in clubs and activities help students succeed in college too.

University provides lots of programs for students to succeed in college life such as Learning Success Center’s ASUU tutoring system or Student Advocate Office provides. Hopefully, all students have a good university life before doing social activities after graduate.