Salt Lake City is determined to take charge of curbing homelessness: Who is putting in the work?

Story and photos by PAIGE NELSON

As the weather warms up, tents are beginning to line the downtown streets of Salt Lake City.

Tents lining streets, garbage in flower beds, needles scattered across public parks. This is the picture that is painted in most individuals’ minds when thinking about homeless people. 

Stripping down any perception of a human living in these conditions, all the public sees is unshaven men sleeping on sidewalks and drug addicts pushing stolen shopping carts full of personal belongings. 

While this stigma surrounds low income Utahns, there is work happening behind the scenes actively trying to help individuals get off the streets and back into the community. 

Kat Kahn, director of development at The Road Home, has had ample experience helping the homeless population of Salt Lake City. 

“Our No. one goal is to move people out of emergency shelter and into housing as quick as possible,” Kahn said in a Zoom interview. “The majority of the people we serve stay under six months.”

The Road Home is one of the oldest homeless centers in Salt Lake City, established in 1923. It has grown to having three emergency shelters across the Salt Lake area, not including overflow shelters used during the winter. 

The Road Home stresses housing first. Each emergency shelter is tailored to the individual in need, and there are three options to choose from:

The Men’s Resource Center in South Salt Lake is located at 3380 S. 1000 West and houses 300 single men. 

In Midvale, another shelter is located at 529 W. 9th Ave.,where 300 beds are provided for families. 

Finally, the Gail Miller Resource Center is located at 242 W. Paramount Ave.and is a 200-bed split shelter for both men and women.

The public perception of the homeless community is one of the most challenging factors that Kahn deals with on a daily basis. Upward of 100 children facing homelessness at a time may have to jump through extra hoops to not feel the embarrassment that comes from lack of housing. School buses in Salt Lake City pick up the children at the shelters first on their way to school, and drop them off last so that their peers don’t see their living conditions. 

The Road Home helps families and individuals pay their first months’ rent so that they can get their feet under them and start providing for themselves again. Kahn explained, however, that for about 13% of homeless people that won’t work. Those who face disabilities, have substance abuse disorders, or who are chronically homeless might not make it out of the shelters in that six-month period. 

Homeless shelters in Salt Lake City work with each other, as well as apartment companies, food banks, and mental health facilities to create a healthy environment for those who come to seek help.

Volunteers of America, Utah, is a nonprofit that works with homeless shelters in the area, including The Road Home.

Andrew Johnston, chief strategy leader at Volunteers of America, said in a Zoom interview, “We’ve been doing street outreach for a number of years … there are a lot of folks who are outside all year round who don’t have housing, and we are just offering basic needs and services to them … and trying to get them housing.”

These basic needs are things like getting homeless people IDs so that they can get medical help and subsidized housing. Volunteers of America also helps people get into detox centers and off substances they might be abusing.

While lots of work is happening out in the city, there is another, smaller, community that is making great strides in helping people experiencing homelessness as well.

The basement of the student union at the University of Utah is in the process of building a new basic needs office to help students facing financial hardship and homelessness.

The University of Utah, home to 25,000 undergraduates, works daily to help find affordable housing for its students. The Student Affairs Division acts as an umbrella to multiple departments and centers on campus, including those focused on student diversity and inclusion.

Kimberly Hall, an associate director of development for Student Development and Inclusion, explained in a Zoom interview that the U helps students facing food scarcity and financial problems, and experiencing homelessness. 

“We want to take that concept and ideally help students learn to negotiate the university system as well as community resources to address their needs,” Hall said.

Student Affairs is creating a new office in the student union basement. It will be located next to the Feed U Pantry with the goal that more students will start to utilize the resources that they are paying for.  

The renovated area will be child friendly for parenting students, and will contain a financial wellness office to help with issues ranging from rent assistance to domestic violence situations. Because of its close proximity to the Feed U Pantry, students will also have access to food if they don’t have the money to cover that extra expense.

All across Salt Lake Valley the community is getting involved and making a difference in curbing homelessness.

Kat Kahn, director of development at the Road Home, is one of those individuals who is working hard every day to help people experiencing homelessness. Kahn believes that, “Anyone that wants to be housed should be able to be housed without it being really problematic.”

Populism’s only certainty is uncertainty: the causes and consequence of populism on a democratic society

Story by OWEN BENSON

Authoritarian governments are sinking their claws into every corner of the globe. Creeping command of complete control in Orban’s Hungary, Erdogan’s Turkey, Maduro’s Venezuela, is ripping their populations asunder. Upending citizens stable lives for pursuit of fleeting power via relentless institutional dismemberment. In the United States, citizens grip to a belief that its institutions are infallible. That its system of governance upholds the bulwark between freedom and tyranny.

Yet tyranny is only ever one generation away from usurping power. In the U.S. many believe that the nation is slowly careening toward this disaster. That a government will be elected that will ignore, or even tear down our safeguards. To prevent this from becoming a reality it is imperative we identify these forces before they overwhelm our governing institutions.

Many point to populism as the root cause of this decline. Populism — an obscure term, one too often applied to disparate concepts in the mind of the American citizenry. Until Jan. 6, 2021, when the concept crashed to the center of American politics during The Capitol Hill Siege. The actions perpetrated that day are often attributed to former President Donald Trump’s speech prior to the riots. This would be an oversimplification, a fundamental confusion of addressing symptoms rather than the underlying disease.

In his speech, Trump highlighted the uncertainty of the election, the political uncertainty of a volatile democratic process, and the uncertainty of a globalized society. Uncertainty makes people susceptible to populism. Politicians who claim they can manifest certainty in an uncertain world apply appeals to the most basic senses of human stability – shelter, food, money.

“Psychologically none of us like the experience of uncertainty,” said Ethan Busby, an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University. During a Zoom interview, he emphatically motions toward his head with rolling wrists in an act to mimic the chaos one can feel via these forces in one’s mind.

Ethan Busby is an assistant professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University, specializing in political psychology, extremism, public opinion, racial and ethnic politics, and quantitative methods. Busby studies extremism in democracies, and the factors that encourage and discourage extremism both at the public as well as at the elite levels. Busby’s research relies on lab experiments, quasi-experiments, survey experiments, text-as-data, surveys, artificial intelligence, and big data from Google and Twitter. Photo courtesy of Ethan Busby.

Yet, the United States possesses some of the highest rates of uncertainty in the western world according to FRED Economic Data. This is concerning, especially when one looks at the cultural uncertainty currently facing the U.S. People cite concerns over immigration, high rates of job loss due to globalization, and wealth gaps.

But Busby noted people yearn for certainty in their lives and will pursue it in any way they see fit. The use of populist rhetoric clearly defines and separates the world into tangible right and wrong. Strategic political actors can then exploit this perceived certainty, and through the use of their rhetoric provide their supporters with a feeling of moral righteousness, Busby said.

“I don’t fundamentally believe that extremists are a different kind of people than the rest of us,” Busby said. As a specialist in political psychology, he focuses on the forces that cause individuals to become susceptible to populist rhetoric. The same people you stand in line with at groceries stores, wait behind in traffic, and pass by on the street every day. These are not enigmatic boogeymen, they are our fellow citizens — fathers, aunts, cousins, and neighbors.

Everyone can be susceptible to this form of rhetoric. Populism isn’t an ideology that is reserved for a select group of people, it is an ideology built from the supposed “common people”. Attempting to project an individual — or movement — as the legitimate voice of all the people. Asserting that one person, or a particular group of people, can save the country from the elites and those who wish to dispossess them of the American Dream. Populists point to supposed oppressive forces that keep the American public subjugated, claiming the country can shed these chains and rise into prominence once again by following their vision, Busby said.

In American governance one of the bulwarks to curb this rise of deceptive rhetoric that cements populist power is through freedom of the press. Our Constitution enshrines the right to criticize the government and share ideas openly in the marketplace of ideas. Thus, our media structure has taken the form of being a crucial institution within our democratic society.

For a populist, institutions are synonymous with the ruling elite. This places a large red bullseye on the back of our media establishment for populist politicians. By discrediting the media structure, the populist politician not only scores points with their base by attacking the elites, they can begin to structure the narrative around themselves. With the rise of the digital age the threat of these institutions being worn away rises every day.

The speed at which information and misinformation flows in the digital age is unlike anything that we have seen before in human history. The proliferation and broad acceptance of social media and fake news are fracturing society, increasing uncertainty. For RonNell Anderson Jones, a law professor at S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, “It is one of the most significant challenges facing American democracy today.”

RonNell Anderson Jones researches the critical intersection of media, law, and the press. She strives to address press access and transparency, the role of the press as a check on government, newsgathering rights, reporter’s privilege, and the increasingly important and emerging role of social media law. Jones’ scholarly work has been published in a variety of books and journals from across the country including the Northwestern Law Review and Harvard Law Review Forum. Photo courtesy of RonNell Anderson Jones.

Jones specializes in media law, and particularly the newly emergent space of social media law. The rise of fake news within American society is nothing new. We have combatted its rise multiple times throughout the nation’s history, she said in a Zoom interview. However, the nation is not just seeing the rise of another wave of yellow journalism, in which salacious stories were spun by specious salesmen. We are facing something altogether new.

The fake news that proliferates today typically has a severely specific partisan point of view, purposely intended to maximize the interactions that these stories will receive via social media. Intended to inflame passions and prejudices for a precise outcome dictated by those who benefit, and even profit, from these outcomes. Jones said this resurgence of fake news in an online environment is exceedingly dangerous. Through these new avenues Americans are receiving a hyperinflated sense of reality, truly fixed within their echo chambers.

Heightened partisan tensions can only spell inevitable disaster for the United States. Through this degenerative process Americans are beginning to lose the shared common ground between themselves. “All good democracies throughout history have had some shared baseline of objective truth in their society,” Jones said. Sitting up from her chair she leaned toward the camera, emphasizing with her raised eyebrows and meticulous diction the point that we may be straying too far from this ideal.

So, with the degradation of our shared baseline, citizens are more likely to believe charismatic leaders who are professing to be telling their truth, the truth of the average citizen. This places enormous power within the hands of populist politicians since many see them as the arbiters of truth. With instant communication, Jones reiterated, this raises even more concern and speculation from followers about what truth really is. Is truth what your community tells you, what leadership tells you, what you believe, is it objective?

A populist will capitalize on this uncertainty, presenting a truth that appeals to a broad base of people. Yet, lies told big enough and loud enough, with enough uncertainty present, begin to chip away at the foundational tenets of objective truth, Jones said. Dismantling our shared common grounds, destroying our trust in each other, and devouring our relationships. This is where power for the populist snowballs.

The centralization of power within the hands of powerful charismatic leaders is dangerous, since it will perpetuate the forces of populism. A positive feedback loop is obtained through the cycle of certainty constantly being just on the horizon. The populist will strive to maintain this loop. Populism must be addressed prior to gaining any form of traction with our system of governance, for once a populist politician has obtained enough power to begin influencing a democratic process, it may already be too late.

“The populist sees an election not as an exercise of fair competition, but as an expression of the will of the people,” said Kirk Hawkins, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University. He furrowed his brow, eyes closed, accentuating each word so that it hung in the air for just a moment longer.

Kirk Hawkins is a professor of political science at Brigham Young University, specializing in comparative politics with an emphasis in Latin America. Hawkins’ current research focuses on political organizations and populism. This includes being a director of the global scholarly network Team Populism. His current projects include the creation of a global populism dataset, experimental research on populism’s rhetorical mechanisms, and the mitigation of populism’s negative consequences for society. Photo courtesy of Kirk Hawkins.

If a populist has already accumulated enough power to be democratically elected to government, it is hard to oust them from that position. They emphatically believe themselves to be the personification of the will of the people, and thus anything that contradicts this belief cannot be true, Hawkins said. With a degraded perception of the truth already in place this narrative begins to propagate.

The effective implementation of misinformation was witnessed in full by the American public in the final days of Trump’s presidency. Neither Trump, nor fanatical sections of his base, could accept the electoral loss since it violated this perception of the supposed will of the people. The will of the people — or at least a specific segment of the people — was on full display in the form of mob mentality. This was seen in stark reality the day of the riots on Capitol Hill. As Hawkins put it, “Populism is a response to the very things the rhetoric invokes.”

Hawkins is a director of Team Populism — a global project intended to bring together scholars from across the world to share their research on the causes and consequences of populism — of which Busby is also a member. Hawkins’ research focuses on populism’s effect on large systems, such as a democratic society. Through the knowledge he has gained from research Hawkins said assuredly, “Americans are not real cool with populist rhetoric; they think it’s strange and unnecessarily provocative.”

Major news agencies, polling sites, and Americans themselves repeat this sentiment. According to Reuters, The Hill, and Forbes — in addition to others — more than half of Americans believed Trump should not have completed his term following the events that transpired.

This is undoubtedly a hopeful sign for the present, but what about the future? We are only at the beginning of the age of social media, the American people are still fumbling their way through this new medium of interaction. There are a few things that can be done at the governmental and individual level to combat the rise of populist rhetoric in the future, Hawkins said.

Education is the future. Through reinvigorating the spirit of the Enlightenment, whose ideals our government was founded upon, we can combat not only the rise of extremist rhetoric but the proliferation of misinformation. The American public needs to find its passion once again for critical thought and critical literacy, Busby said.

As a society we must repair our degrading shared baseline of ideals, facts, and direction, said Jones, the law professor. By holding each other accountable for the preservation of our way of life we eliminate the driving force of us versus them, and we reenter into a community minded future.

Through the restoration of our shared common ground, we will begin to drive out misinformation, thus eliminating another force that drives populist rhetoric. However, Jones said, none of this manages to address the problem of uncertainty in American society. Arguably the basal source of this issue in the first place.

Life may never be free of uncertainty. But if the American public can begin listening to each other again we can begin taking the first steps in the right direction. The American people need to once again recognize that people who think differently are not inherently bad or immoral people, Busby said. This sentiment destroys the bonds that hold us together.

The American public ought to stop believing that we must dominate each other to profess our particular viewpoint. To value other voices and opinions is the only way to create a more perfect solution to any given problem. No one person can be the will of the people. No individual has every answer to every problem. For Kirk Hawkins, the professor at BYU, “The way you correct prejudice is by helping people get better informed about things they don’t like.”

Maintaining the connection and sustaining the spirit on University of Utah Greek row in the midst of a global pandemic 

Story by EMMA SELLERS

Dealing with COVID-19 has been no easy feat for institutions and organizations across the globe this past year, and each has experienced hectic changes, including college Greek life. University of Utah’s Greek life is doing its best to smoothly transition to the world of virtual living and social distancing. Though this “new normal” is not ideal, keeping the community alive and strong is a priority for all sororities and fraternities across campus. 

This year has been unlike any that the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life has encountered before, and many challenges have arisen. The greatest being that all events are required to be virtual, and a large aspect of Greek life is having a connected community. It is hard to create a close-knit community when people never get an opportunity to see one another face to face. 

This challenge has been especially hard on freshmen. Any previous year attending the University of Utah and going through the recruitment process guarantees meeting new people and making new friends. Whereas this year, when the opportunity to hang out with the people in your fraternity or sorority is limited, it is much more difficult to bond. 

Alpha Phi President Katya Benedict enjoys a socially distanced 
and masked bid day event in September 2020. Photo courtesy of Katya Benedict.

Alpha Phi President Katya Benedict said in a Zoom interview that the Panhellenic Council was “worried about the number of women who would attend recruitment this year.” They believed that it would be a very scarce group of women. Yet, this year went better than they could have expected, and more women signed up for recruitment than in any past year at 550 compared to the usual 400.  

Yet, many questioned if joining Greek life and paying the dues was worth it this year, when in-person events were very limited. Matt Economos, the freshman vice president of programming for Sigma Phi Epsilon, said his decision to rush this year was worth it because he now has “a solid group of mentors and a support system to rely on.” 

Recruitment was fully virtual for both fraternities and sororities, according to the University of Utah Greek life homepage. Only very small and limited groups of people can meet together, and events need to be approved by the Panhellenic & Interfraternity Council offices. Although the houses of each chapter are not owned by the university, the members are still required to follow the rules of all students as if they were living in university-owned housing.

Though most events are required to be virtual, certain smaller events are allowed to be in person with many safety guidelines being established. Economos conducts small and safe events, such as pairing together older members with new members in masks and socially distanced. He wants each event to present an environment all parties feel safe in. Also, outdoor activities such as snowboarding and hikes can allow for active members to still engage with one another and remain healthy. 

Matt Economos stands with other members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon executive board as they participate in a philanthropy event. Photo courtesy of Matt Economos.

A big part of Greek life is the concept of traditions. Traditions that have been passed down for decades through each chapter. Benedict, the Alpha Phi president, expressed the difficulty this year because “many of the events are ritual based, so when members cannot be personally involved it feels less special.” 

Despite this difficulty, the executive boards of each chapter are putting in their best effort to keep all members engaged and excited. Benedict believes that “individually the community has stayed strong within each chapter,” but as a greater Greek community she feels they have lost strength. This year everyone was more focused on themselves and figuring out their own plans, rather than supporting all chapters’ endeavors. She believes next year the community as a whole will regain the strength they once possessed. 

Tracey Mai, Panhellenic vice president of membership, says her main responsibility is to “foster and build relationships between chapters and a good environment all around.” She said it is easier to hold certain events virtually, such as the alumni panel, because more people can attend. Yet, the greater challenge is encouraging active members to attend events virtually. 

A main reason that virtual events this year had a low attendance was due to communication and marketing. Mai said in a Zoom interview that she is “learning how important marketing is and taking that into account next year.” Oftentimes members don’t know what is going on until it is too late. 

Benedict said if she could go back and change anything about the past few months, she would “open a greater stream of communication between active members and executive members.” She believes every participant of Greek life deserves to know all the information regarding COVID-19 and be a part of the process of safety measures at every step of the way. 

One of the many images that is posted to encourage Greek life members to practice healthy COVID-19 precautions and safety measures. Photo courtesy of UofUsororities Instagram.

The Instagram pages of the different sororities and fraternities are one of the main forms of marketing that each chapter uses. Not only do they post about upcoming virtual events, they also are very informative about COVID-19 procedures. They each encourage wearing masks and social distancing, and even have “challenges” different weeks where members show on their Instagram page how they are being proactive in staying healthy with COVID-19 precautions. This might entail wearing masks along with wearing chapter letters and taking a photograph. 

Just as this virus has been extremely unpredictable these past months, so has planning for next year. Greek life executive boards have no idea what next fall will hold yet, but they are hoping for the chance to have more in-person events. Regardless, they plan to follow all city and state guidelines. If in-person activities are not possible though, they feel more prepared to better function next semester after having experienced this previous year. 

Greek life has experienced a year like no other, but has pushed through better than anyone had expected. Mai said the main goal continues to be “keeping up morale and safety within the community.”

Utah branch of Decoding Dyslexia helps empower individuals  

Story by THALESE BARNES

Imagine it’s your first day of elementary school. You are feeling nervous because of the unfamiliar surroundings, new classmates, and being away from your trusted mom all day for the first time. Just as you are settling in, the school teacher asks you to read out loud for the class. You look down at your paper, and there is not a single familiar word. You struggle to open your mouth and speak as none of the words, sounds, or letters seem to make sense. Suddenly, you feel as if there is a thick wall standing between the letters on the paper and your eyes.

This scenario is not far-fetched or unique. This story describes the experience of many children due to dyslexia. 

Dyslexia is more common than people think. In fact, The Center for Dyslexia and Creativity found that dyslexia is the most common neurocognitive disorder; 20% of the population is affected by dyslexia.

Many students, parents, and teachers have experienced hearing the words, “you have dyslexia,” “your child has dyslexia,” or “this student has dyslexia.” Unfortunately, despite the frequency of these phrases, very few know the basic meaning of dyslexia, and what resources are available for students and their families. 

Jared Madsen is one of those 20% who has been affected by dyslexia. He said he was diagnosed with dyslexia in first grade by a child psychologist. “The very beginning of school, I remember kids were reading these books, and they were fun and exciting. I wanted to read it, and I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.”

Following first grade, Madsen was frequently pulled out of the standard classroom to attend a resource class. He said this class was a place to stick students who couldn’t get through the school day like the other kids. This class included kids who were disruptive, had physical disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity, or dyslexia. 

Madsen said in a Zoom interview that he had empathy for his classmates. “I look back on that group of kids in that class with me and know that I was the only one that ended up graduating high school. It was so much easier to drop out.” Madsen said he begged his mom to let him drop out like all the rest of the kids in the resource class, but she wouldn’t let him. 

Jared Madsen owns Madsen Cycles, which are known for their buckets that carry children. Photograph by Travis Richardson, and use is courtesy of Jared Madsen.

He described his experience in the school system as “shattering.” He felt lonely and misunderstood. None of his teachers understood his struggles or provided the tools, resources, or education necessary to succeed after his diagnosis. 

Madsen, now 48, is not the first person to feel shattered by dyslexia and failed by the traditional school system. Despite this adversity, he now has hope for future dyslexic students because of Decoding Dyslexia. Decoding Dyslexia is a network of resources and satellite programs aimed to help young students facing the disorder.

Deborah Lynam is the founder of Decoding Dyslexia, located in New Hampshire. Lynam first became interested in helping those affected with dyslexia when her own son was diagnosed when he was in third grade.  

Concerned by the lack of support and education for those diagnosed, Lynam went to the National Center for Learning Disabilities Conference in October 2011. She left this conference with a group of new friends ready to bring awareness to their children and friends with dyslexia. As Lynam spoke with others at the conference, she said she realized that “this was a diverse group of parents, but they all had the same stories.” 

Every month following this conference, Lynam said in a phone interview, this group of parents would meet at a library in the middle of New Hampshire and discuss plans and ideas to change the face of dyslexia. After many meetings and conversations, Decoding Dyslexia was established.

There are now satellite groups of Decoding Dyslexia in all 50 states. Each state handles its group differently and is in charge of implementing its own Decoding Dyslexia program. All states are at a different stage within the movement, but they all have volunteers working tirelessly to improve resources for their respective communities.

The co-founder of the Utah branch of Decoding Dyslexia is Phoebe Beacham. Beacham was inspired to take part in the movement after watching her father, late husband, and two sons struggle with dyslexia. For the past eight years, she has been on a mission to empower parents, and she regularly presents in front of legislatures with propositions to help dyslexic Utah students succeed in the Utah school system. 

Image courtesy of Phoebe Beacham.

“We initially set out to be a resource for parents, and we are, but our niche has been to educate teachers,” Beacham said. The Decoding Dyslexia group in Utah is focused and determined to help Utah teachers understand how they can recognize a student with dyslexia and help them be successful. 

Beacham said that children who are not supported at a young age may go on to experience problems with the law. She explained that 80% of the inmates of our prisons are dyslexic. Beacham asked the important question, “So what is the difference between this millionaire who has dyslexia or this guy that ended up in prison who is dyslexic?” She answered her own question: “When you speak to successful dyslexics, the most common thread that they have — that you can string them all together with — is that they all said that there was someone that believed in them.”

This is why Beacham and the entire Decoding Dyslexia community are coming together to educate our teachers. This will not only decrease prison rates but will also help those diagnosed with dyslexia to become successful and confident readers and students. 

Jared Madsen said he felt shattered by his earlier educational experience. Sadly, many students with dyslexia echo his perspective and feel that their school systems have failed them. 

However, we need to understand that this is not the fault of teachers, as they have not received the proper education to help students with dyslexia succeed. If our teachers knew how to recognize the signs of dyslexia, the resources available, and how to teach techniques to help those affected, Decoding Dyslexia believes that the world would be much different.

Community during COVID: How University of Utah student groups are staying connected

Story by MIRANDA LAMB

Students at the University of Utah, much like the rest of the world, were sent home in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic forced classes and extracurriculars online. In the fall of 2020, students were partially brought back to campus with classes offered in a hybrid-style. This largely consisted of online teaching, and classes that were able to meet in person had spaced-out seating and mandated masks.

A return to in-person academics was made a priority, but the lack of in-person community was a persisting challenge. Campus organizations, which rely on student engagement, have worked hard to stay connected to undergraduates during the past year.

The Panhellenic community, made up of seven sororities, has found success in not only staying connected, but also in growing its community. The Panhellenic President Erin Doyle said in a Zoom interview that rather than decreasing their sisterhood events or weekly chapter meetings, sororities have worked hard to adapt these events to be online.

In August 2020, Panhellenic hosted its yearly recruitment completely virtually (although they were able to have a partially in-person bid day). Despite this unprecedented challenge, it had more women register than in 2019, and several houses saw the largest member classes that they had seen in years.

Part of Delta Gamma’s fall 2020 new member class at their bid day, wrapping up a fully-virtual recruitment. Photo courtesy of Anna Henderson.

In February 2021, several sororities participated in a successful spring recruitment. Notably, Doyle said Delta Gamma was able to welcome a spring member class of 15 women, the first spring member class that it’s had since 2015.

Members of the community miss being in person. However, Doyle said that through social media the “supportive aura of the community has been making everyone feeling more connected.” Doyle also praised the houses for their creativity. Rather than just meeting up in the park for a picnic, women have hosted virtual Jeopardy games and Zoom “speed dating” events for new members of the house to meet everyone.

The LGBT Resource Center is another resource that is “making sure there are still opportunities to be in community,” said Shelby Hearn, the coordinator of education and outreach, in a Zoom interview. Its members had to think more creatively. Similar to the Panhellenic community, one of its biggest challenges has been the loss of its in-person offices and its student lounge.

Hearn said that pre-pandemic, “my door was open and students could come through. I definitely saw a lot more casual conversations — they see a picture of a cat on my desk, and talk about that, then eventually are talking about a coming-out strategy.”

The center has responded to this challenge by offering drop-in hours, Zoom appointments, and a virtual student lounge hosted via Discord. Discord will likely continue as a resource post-pandemic, Hearn said. “It remains really relevant to our students. They can dip their toe into the community while still remaining anonymous.”

Discord also allows students to find a more a relevant community. “Students can sign up for more specific channels, i.e., queer students of color, or a channel just for grad students,” Hearn said.

Although the center has seen a decrease in participation in its one-time events like its movie screenings and panel events, it has still seen consistent participation in some of its other events like its “fab Friday” hangouts (now over Zoom). It has also seen an increase in its one-on-one scheduled meetings along with the successes from the Discord channel.

Another community that has seen successful connection despite the pandemic is the Bennion Center.  BobbiJo Kanter, the associate director of student programs, said in a Zoom interview that several of its programs have had more student involvement than they did pre-pandemic.

A wall in the student union building (where the Bennion Center is located) dedicated to the Public Service Professor Award given by the center. Photo by Miranda Lamb.

The service corner located in the new freshman residence hall, Kahlert Village, has been heavily used by students. She said in an email interview that “students (and anyone from the campus community) have the opportunity to participate in projects that do not require any previous training or a significant time commitment.”

Bryce Williams, the student programs manager at the Bennion Center, said in an email interview that students have taken advantage of “ʻgrab and go’ opportunities” while still being safe. He said that they will “participate in some of our projects while watching a movie in their residence hall rooms or while they’re in a virtual class to keep their hands busy.”

Kanter said in a Zoom interview the center has also involved more students with its Alternative Breaks programs. These used to be offered at various locations across the world. However, due to travel restrictions, it has shifted to “hyper-local breaks” taking place in Salt Lake City. These are offered at no cost, which has allowed them to be accessible to more students. Kanter said this option may remain post-pandemic.

Despite its current success, getting up and moving after the initial shutdown was a challenge for the Bennion Center. Kanter said at first, “everything stopped, there were groups of students who were ready to help, but didn’t know how to.”

The Bennion Center emphasizes serving its community partners, focusing on listening to and serving their needs. Kanter said for those partners, “their priority has to be their community and their staff, so those people take priority then volunteers come after that.” It took some adjustments on both the part of the Bennion Center and its partners to navigate how to allow volunteers to help in the way they want to, but also in a way that is safe for and serves those in need.

The center has had to shift the way that it hosts its larger service projects as well. For example, the Legacy of Lowell service project typically brings in 800 to 1,000 people. However, this year participation was capped closer to 200 people, with volunteers broken into groups of 10 at each site.

Kanter said because of the smaller sizes, “we don’t get that same sense of community. People were still interested, we reached capacity. There is a demand, but for safety, we have to keep things smaller.”

Beyond just pandemic-related changes, Kanter said that the murder of George Floyd and the surrounding protests in May 2020 “mobilized students to show up — whether physically or mentally and internally,” and brought attention to “some of our systemic issues.” She said “this year had brought people together around activism. I’m not really sure we saw that with our students before.”

To serve this increased interest in activism, Kanter said in interviews that every two weeks, the Bennion Center has been virtually hosting monthly “community conversations” with other on-campus partners, namely the American Indian Resource Center, the Black Cultural Center and the Peace and Conflict Studies program in the College of Humanities. They are focusing on dialogues about “about what is happening and what they can do to change it.” She said these talks have been received well by the campus community.

Dean McGovern, the executive director of the Bennion Center, said in an email interview that “the topics vary and sessions have attracted more than 825 faculty, students, staff, and community members over the course of the dialogue series.”

Despite the changes and challenges from the pandemic, these communities were able to stay connected. The creativity and resilience of their members even resulted in solutions that will continue to serve students when in-person life continues. As Kanter said, “This year gave us an opportunity.”

COVID-19 boosted the earnings of a South Korean beauty company, while others faced bankruptcies

Story by YEH-RHYM CHEON

Masks have become essential to survive in this dark world.

It is now impossible to see the bright smiles of children or eat delicious food in crowded restaurants. We cannot even breathe in the fresh air of the coming warm spring at will.

After COVID-19 hit South Korea in 2020, life before the pandemic no longer exists.

Over the past year, the pandemic has changed many aspects of our daily lives. In particular, the high bankruptcy rate of small- and medium-sized enterprises harmed the economy in South Korea.

According to Gyeonggido Business & Science Accelerator, the business situation of companies in South Korea deteriorated in 2020. Particularly, hard-hit were small businesses, companies with less than $1billion in sales, and companies with fewer than 10 employees.    

Countless small- and medium- sized enterprises are suffering from extended social social distancing and lockdown due to the COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Francesco Ridolfi.

For small- and medium-sized enterprises that provide face-to-face service, the mandated social distancing and long-term shutdown systems make it difficult to operate and maintain the business.

Eun Kyoung Kwak, CEO of Norang EAT Academy (노랑EAT학원), has been running an education business located in Siheung, South Korea, for 14 years.

It was her pleasure to run supplementary classes such as art, mathematics, English, and Korean for elementary school students. However, her happiness will no longer exist.

“Because of the COVID-19, numbers of students have left our academy,” Kwak said in Korean over the phone.

To prevent the spread of the COVID-19, the South Korean government continues to extend the social distancing period, including the ban on gatherings of five or more people.

In order to retain students, Kwak has been offering online classes. Nevertheless, it was difficult to guarantee a high quality of teaching due to various limitations such as a lack of internet knowledge and difficulty controlling students online.

Kwak confronted financial difficulties as the number of students declined. There was no other option besides reducing the number of employees.

“I am now exhausted facing these situations caused by the pandemic. I should have dismissed them to maintain my business,” Kwak said. “I just feel sorry for the fired employees.”

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the unemployment rate in South Korea has surged as many small- and medium-sized enterprises have been going through hardship with the business operation.

Yuna Lee was one of the victims who lost her job due to the COVID-19.

Since 2019, Lee had worked part-time for six months at a mathematics academy located in Seohyeon, South Korea.

At the academy, she could take the first step towards her dream of becoming a teacher.

“Even though it was a part-time job, I worked hard because I love both children and teaching. Also, it was a great opportunity to build my career,” Lee said in Korean in a phone interview.

While she was working hard and doing well as the instructor, the COVID-19 hit South Korea, and the tragedy began.

Like other companies, her academy also suffered financial problems from the COVID-19, and Lee eventually got fired.

“After being fired, I had to find a new job to make a living,” Lee said. “But, the reality did not allow me to do it.”

She said that other companies are not hiring new employees but rather reducing the number of employees.

Lee could take this situation as she knew how COVID-19 affected society, but now she has to handle her financial challenges.

While many people are facing economic difficulties, there is a company that has benefited from the COVID-19.

OTK Corp. is one of the small beauty companies located in Asan, South Korea. Han-Jong Kim, CEO of OTK Corp., started his business in 2010 by selling facial sheet masks.

The facial sheet mask is a beauty product made of non-woven fabric containing essence, moisturizing the facial skin.

When COVID-19 just hit South Korea, there was a limit on the number of masks purchased due to a lack of mask supply.

While everyone lined up to buy the masks, Kim turned this situation into an opportunity.

Kim produced masks out of his company’s sheet mask material. Thanks to the COVID-19, he was able to increase sales. Photo illustration by Pauline Yeh-Hyun Cheon.

“I could manufacture tons of masks with a non-woven fabric, which is a material of our sheet mask,” Kim said in Korean in a phone interview.

As a result, his product diversification strategy, applying the mask supply shortage situation, played a crucial role in increasing sales and income by 70%.

However, Kim was also worried about the situation after the end of COVID-19. He foresees sales and income to decline as the supply of masks increases over time.

Kim said that new problems arise with new social situations all the time. He added, “It is one of my challenges to resolve as a leader in an organization.”

Although Kim could generate more sales from the pandemic, he hopes for an end to COVID-19.

As an entrepreneur, Kim knows how difficult this situation can be for other companies.

He also knows that not only many companies but employees and consumers are struggling with COVID-19.

He believes that the economy of South Korea will recover when the pandemic is over. Hence, everyone will be able to live a better life than we are now.

“Even if it is impossible to take off the mask right now,” Kim said, “we will be able to breathe in the hot summer air that is coming up.”

An inside look at the University of Utah’s baseball program

Story by DANNY BAEZA

Photos by BRAD LAPP

Everyone knows that being a student-athlete is extremely difficult. But, does anyone ever think to ask, “What goes into the day-to-day process of being a Division I baseball player?”

The University of Utah has an outstanding athletic department with nationally ranked teams such as football and gymnastics. However, other sports such as baseball seem to go unnoticed.

One such example is Utah baseball — another outstanding program belonging to the Pac-12 conference in the NCAA.

So, what does go into getting the ball moving on a day-to-day basis, and what does it take to be a baseball player?

“In the fall, it usually starts with a lift in the morning around 7 am. Then, I get some breakfast to refuel after the lift. Next up is class from 10 a.m. to1 pm. From class, I head over to practice which usually starts at 1:30 p.m. Once we finish up there at around 5 p.m., I head up to get some dinner, then head home to get done with all my homework and hopefully in bed by 11 p.m.,” says Justin Kelly, a redshirt junior on the pitching staff.

Justin Kelly gets set to deliver to home plate.

Kelly is the Friday night starter for the Utes, considered by many to be the leader of not only the pitching staff, but also the team itself.

When it comes to what it takes mentally, Christoper Rowan Jr., a redshirt junior on the team says, “It takes a mature mental approach because baseball is a game of failure and if you get down on yourself you can continue to spiral downward.”

Rowan enters his fourth year with the team listed as a catcher/utility player.

Concerning the academic aspect of being a student-athlete, Kelly notes, “If you can put forth the energy to be successful on the field, you’ve got to be putting that same energy in the classroom.”

First-year athletes are expected to complete two hours of study hall a week. Along with the study hall, players are given tutors when needed and are counseled by the athletic academic advisor.

Behind the scenes, Logan Nehls manages all the logistics of getting a Division I baseball program rolling. Recently, he was awarded the position of director of operations for the program after working as an equipment manager within the Utah Athletic Department.

“I’m responsible for a lot of the logistics of the program, whether it’s coordinating meals, buses, or travel accommodations,” Nehls says.

Nehls has had his hands full. As the season gets underway, he not only has to focus on how to travel, feed, and house 35 people, but also do it while juggling COVID-19 precautions.

Athletics come with a toll, especially in a sport as mechanical as baseball. Justin Kelly suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his freshman year, forcing him to sit out for 22 months. “I had never been through any sort of injury before, let alone something as serious as Tommy John Surgery. I leaned heavily on my teammates, friends, family, and training staff to keep my head in a good place while I was getting back to good health,” Kelly says. Tommy John Surgery being the process of repairing a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow.

Christopher Rowan Jr. throws down to second.

Rowan, on the other hand, has had to go under the knife twice to repair an injured shoulder. “The second surgery crushed my spirit,” Rowan says. “I lost my love for the game for a while and if it wasn’t for my little brother pushing me and being there for me when I needed him I would have given up.”

Baseball is a game of failure. A player with a .300 batting average fails 7 out of 10 times, yet he is still considered an all-star. Managing those seven failures thus additionally makes baseball a mental game.

Rowan admits, “It’s inspiring to see little kids who want to be just like you. Kids who look up to you because you have made it this far.” That is what motivates him to keep pushing forward.

For Justin Kelly, his family motivates him. “I want to get to the point where my family is financially taken care of and I can say I’ve gotten to the point where I belong where I should be.”

Remembering to focus on what motivates them is what helps these athletes continue on, and to push through the demanding lifestyle of a student-athlete.

Not only is college baseball a difficult business, but it is another social outlet for these young men.

“I’ve created relationships that will last the rest of my life here. Some I may even consider family, that’s how close we have become,” Rowan says.

When it comes to relationships with coaches, Justin Kelly says, “I consider them sort of father figures where if I’m having any life issues or problems, I know they will take the time to listen to me and help me out the best they can.”

Kelly has advise for the next generation of ballplayers. “Don’t be discouraged when things don’t go your way, just put your head down and get back to work.”

Rowan says, “I would say that if you dream it you can achieve it. But, dreaming is only part of what needs to be done.”

Division I baseball is a difficult lifestyle, but when it comes down to it, it is nothing but young men playing a game they love.

How has remote education affected some University of Utah students?

Story by MATTHEW GRANT

Remote learning and Coronavirus. The two seem to go hand in hand, but what is the actual reality of remote learning and how has it affected some University of Utah students?

As the public works to combat and work around the current state of the world, students across all platforms have begun to adjust to remote learning. Meanwhile, professors have committed to transform their curriculum and course schedules to create a safe and educating way of learning without being physically present in the same classroom as their students. 

This has been made possible by virtual classrooms, and online participation groups or activities. 

Essentially the material would stay the same, but the process in which we learn it would be different in the way that it is virtual and from our own homes. 

Jack Geil, from Reno, Nevada, is currently a senior at the U studying finance. 

Geil studied in Sydney, Australia, in spring 2020 as part of the Eccles Global Learning Abroad program. [https://eccles.utah.edu/students/global/] Geil described his time in Australia as nothing short of exceptional.

Geil’s time abroad was cut short and forced him to travel home six weeks early because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Geil was required to finish the semester 100% online. 

“After leaving Australia I was already in quite the funk and disappointment, and on top of that we were required to learn and adapt to a completely new type of learning. It really took the fun out of it,” Geil said in a FaceTime interview. 

Geil, who typically takes five courses a semester, said he acknowledged his past struggles with remote learning and opted to take a lesser schedule during the fall of 2020. Geil noted that he almost deferred the semester as a whole, before recognizing that he was only a semester away from graduation and he thought it would be best to push through. 

Geil described his current semester as a time of growth. “I’ve learned to be comfortable from working in my own home. I have always needed the library, a classroom, or a place null of distractions to properly address my school work — not anymore,” Geil said in an email interview.

Among other things, Geil said it has allowed him more time to address other things in his life, such as the gym, golf, and friends, which he says is all necessary for himself to succeed in school. 

Another student was Sofie Arrivillaga. She graduated from Park City High School and is currently a communication major. 

Arrivillaga said in a FaceTime interview she has typically taken up to one online course a semester and enjoys them as “an escape from campus.” 

However, Arrivillaga explained how this semester was different from her online classes in the past. Citing her contemporary dislike of the current circumstances, she said it seems as if the classes she is now taking online were not designed to be taught that way. The transition has been less than easy, Arrivillaga said. 

She said she believes her focus has mostly remained the same, though admits she has at times floundered due to the lack of in person and scheduled engagement. Arrivillaga said specific classes in particular have caused this. She said “quantitative research and studio classes have been most difficult” for her this year. 

Arrivillaga compared the quality of her online education to in-person instruction. 

“I don’t think my education has reached the same level as previous semesters because I felt that a lot of my curriculum is all essentially busy work and not necessarily work that is expanding my knowledge,” Arrivillaga said. 

Arrivillaga said her online courses lack student responses and live debates, and instead focus primarily on lectures and note taking to prepare for a specific test rather than actually educating and understanding the curriculum.

Levi Pompoco is a senior studying business at the U and aviation at Cornerstone Aviation in Salt Lake City.

Pompoco, who is typically consumed between school, flying, and work, has said he has found peace and availability with remote learning. It offers him a more flexible and relaxed course schedule while being able to fly more than any past semesters. 

“Remote learning allows me to do everything from home and gives me more time to fly and work,” Pompoco said in a FaceTime interview. 

Jakob D. Jensen is the associate dean for research in the College of Humanities and a professor in the Department of Communication.

Due to his administrative role, Jensen typically only teaches one course a semester. Jensen, who has also never offered an online class before, said in an email he “decided to add COMM 3580 because I wanted to create a new, and fun, experience for students during the pandemic.” COMM 3580 during the fall of 2020 was an online based lecture class that showed how marketing campaigns differentiated during a pandemic.

Jensen said that the lack of live student response can cause teaching to feel very static. Noting that he typically reacts to students and enjoys being shaped by their thoughts, he wrote, “That is [harder] to simulate in online education.”

He added, “Staying focused while listening to lectures. Staying on track,” are some of the effects of online instruction.

Jensen said that though it is different, he believes it is best to keep moving forward.  He said he would continue going to school if he were in a similar position. “In the short run, I think online education can get the job done. In the long run, I don’t think it is the same experience. I really think smaller courses are hurt by it.”

“I think it is easier to replicate the experience of a large lecture class,” Jensen added. “I also think you have to adapt. I really felt like the fall semester started to click.”

How US public schools are lacking with the teaching of history regarding race

Story by MADISON KULEDGE

Why is it that students can recite the 45 presidents of the United States yet when asked to name important events of the Civil Rights Movement that becomes a challenging task?

History teaches us about our past, why things are the way they are today and most importantly it helps us shape our future by learning from our mistakes. 

“I think history is one of the most important subjects our kids can learn about,” said Michelle Bias, the parent of two Utah high school students, in a phone interview. “We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for our past.”

All across America in May 2020 following the death of George Floyd and continuing protests and riots, the public got a rude awakening to how little it truly knows about America’s history regarding race. 

George Floyd memorial in downtown Minneapolis. Photo by Abbey Dibble.

Slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement are all vital moments in our country’s racial history. Yet, many have only ever heard of these things. Teachers think that most high school students do not have an adequate understanding of America’s racial history. 

And why is that? Why is our knowledge lacking?

Currently, across the U.S. there is no unified standard for U.S. history curriculum. Each state sets its own standards. However, there is a set standard for what types of things should be studied generally, according to the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

And several states don’t mention the Civil Rights Movement, slavery or other related matters. In a recent analysis by CBS, the network found that “seven states do not directly mention slavery in their state standards and eight states do not mention the civil rights movement. Only two states mention white supremacy, while 16 states list states’ rights as a cause of the Civil War.”

Per the Utah Core State Standards for Social Studies for grades seven through 12, there are only two standards in the curriculum regarding race:

“Students will use case studies involving African American civil rights leaders and events to compare, contrast and evaluate the effectiveness of various methods used to achieve reform, such as civil disobedience, legal strategies and political organizing. … Students will identify the civil rights objectives held by various groups, assess the strategies used, and evaluate the success of the various civil rights movements in reaching their objectives, paying specific attention to American Indian, women and other racial and ethnic minorities.”

Megan Spencer, who is currently a student at the University of Utah who attended Alta High School in Sandy, Utah, said that she believes that her history education was lacking. 

“The ongoing events in our society have made me aware of so many issues regarding race that I have never learned before,” Spencer said in a Zoom interview. “I wish I would have learned this while I was in high school but now, I am left to take classes in college to learn about these important issues.”

To gain knowledge on these issues students are left to do their own learning and research or take additional classes where information is highly specific to a certain topic. 

The U offers classes regarding the history of race in the U.S. Some of these courses offered include American Slavery, American Revolution and Race, and Gender and Incarceration.

What can we do better as a society and how can we fill in this gap of knowledge? One place to start is with how the curriculum is written. 

“Cheap politics should not write our curriculum,” said Dave Harper, a Utah high school history teacher, in a phone interview. “Curriculum is and ought to be constructed by a number of groups such as parents, political leaders, teachers, and yes, student input, but not agenda-driven proponents. And such proposals must be based in accurate evidence.”

Within the history curriculum, there needs to be as much emphasis on subjects such as slavery, the Civil War and treatment of American Indians, as there is on the founding fathers and the U.S. Constitution. 

And it’s never too early to begin this teaching. Andrew Platt, an AP U.S. history teacher, said, “Children are raised in a country that is already inundated with messages about race both explicit and implicit. Children are already learning about race whether we like it or not.” Schools are a place where we can shape this teaching and inform children so they are well educated. 

Teachers are hopeful the events in the months following the death of George Floyd have taught the public and Congress that there need to be changes made with our public-school history curriculum. 

Platt said in a Zoom interview that he recently read “Caste: The Origins of our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson to better inform himself on issues regarding race. “I think this is the best way to understand America’s history with race. I think that we should teach the history of America’s racial caste system.”

Clearly, there is more work to be done. However, over the last 10 to 15 years, the United States has made improvements. TV host John Oliver said in a segment regarding the U.S. public education system, “History, when taught well, shows us how to improve the world, but history, when taught poorly, falsely claims there is nothing to improve. So we have to teach it well and continue to learn it.”

Dave Harper, the high school history teacher, said, “No school is ‘good’ the way things are and we strive to improve. Teachers constantly read and study the latest developments in their field, especially in U.S. history.”

How teachers are handling the Coronavirus pandemic

Story by DARIENNE DEBRULE

The emotional and physical health of students has been at the forefront of the discussion surrounding the reopening of Utah schools during the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers across the state are also struggling to adapt to the changes caused by the pandemic. 

In the summer the Utah State Board of Education did not require school districts to create protocols for responding to the virus. Each district was expected to create its own plan, which resulted in Salt Lake City School District moving to online classes completely, 16 districts moving to a split schedule and 25 other districts allowing students to attend in-person as normal, according to AP News.

Corner Canyon High School with an empty parking lot as the school transitioned to online learning for multiple weeks in the semester. Photo by Darienne DeBrule.

The coronavirus pandemic and lack of instruction by the districts made it so individual schools were expected to provide training to teachers regarding online instruction. However, the amount of instruction actually given was dependent on school administration and teacher coaches, said Amber Rogers, Corner Canyon High School government and history teacher, who teaches both online and in-person sections.

Teachers had to change the way they prepared for the upcoming school year since many districts opted for hybrid learning. So they had to get ready for in-person classes and were also expected to become well-versed in online instruction seemingly overnight. 

“A lot of teachers were on the verge of a breakdown,” Rogers said during a Zoom interview.

Many teachers, including Karen Millenbach at Indian Hills Middle School, frantically tried to convert their lessons onto Canvas in the allotted time before the school year. 

The front of Indian Hills Middle School with signs posted to differentiate between student, teacher, and parent entrances. Photo by Darienne DeBrule.

“It’s exhausting, even for the most experienced tech people,” Millenbach said in an email interview. 

Teachers have also been limited in their interactions with students. This has led to many educators feeling disappointed because they are unable to give their students the same quality of instruction and support as before.

The quality of online instruction has been questioned as many believe it is subpar to in-person instruction and that there is no substitute for in-person learning, according to “Pros and Cons of Online Education” by Dhirenda Kumar.

Middle school student Trinity Trimiar does research for her upcoming math project that she will submit online. Photo by Darienne DeBrule.

Rogers said over Zoom that in-person learning allows for teachers to teach a lesson and have students ask clarifying questions throughout the lesson. However, if online instruction does not take place through that platform, teachers are expected to just upload online lectures. This does not allow for students to ask real-time questions.

“Every day I have office hours during my class time, but it’s optional and only a few kids come online for content,” Rogers said. “Learning is on them right now.”

Rogers said she believes the lack of engagement from her high school students is the hardest part about teaching in this new normal. She became a teacher to help kids connect the pieces together that make them excited and passionate. But she wants to keep them safe so she will do whatever needs to be done. 

Rogers was the Canyons School District’s Teacher of the Year recipient in 2018 and she is doing everything she can to help her students be successful in this unprecedented time. 

Teachers are finding different ways to keep themselves safe inside the classroom, but some of their precautions can be hard for them emotionally.

“Teaching from my desk can be a very sad and frustrating thing,” said Millenbach, the teacher at Indian Hills Middle School.

Due to the size of her classroom, students can only be placed 3 feet apart. After having a student test positive for COVID-19 and other students rotating in and out of quarantine, she decided to teach from her desk to avoid circulating around the classroom to prevent the possible spread of the virus. 

Karen Millenbach in front of her home with a sign acknowledging her teaching efforts during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Lauren Millenbach.

While online teachers are not faced with the same in-person pressures of avoiding a COVID-19 classroom outbreak, they are still struggling to create relationships with their students via online platforms. 

Natalie Culine, an online elementary student teacher, said in a Zoom interview, “It is hard to be so far from my students, know they are struggling and not be able to offer as much support as I would like.” 

In addition to the hardships online teaching has created, teachers have also been subject to the mental and emotional stress caused by the pandemic. 

Student teacher Natalie Culine poses in front of Liberty Elementary School pre-COVID, smiling about her classroom experience. Photo courtesy of Natalie Culine.

A few weeks after schools first closed, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence reported that many teachers were experiencing overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, and confusion — the same feelings that many are currently having. 

“When our school days are over I feel emotionally exhausted and worn down,” Culine said in a FaceTime interview.

She misses the in-person interactions with colleagues and students, but said she would not feel safe if she was teaching in person. 

In-person teachers also have to deal with the emotional stress caused by being at a high risk for exposure to the virus. 

Rogers said she has not been able to visit her parents since the start of the pandemic because they have underlying health conditions and she is exposed in the classroom. 

Amber Rogers, far left, visiting her mom with her siblings before the start of the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Amber Rogers.

Political leaders and community members have debated whether it is the federal government’s, the state’s, the district’s, or individuals’ responsibility to keep teachers safe. 

Rogers, the social science teacher, drew on her knowledge of government to reflect on the debate and said, “It’s a constitutional gray area because there is no precedent for it.” 

Teachers across the state will continue to follow the guidelines set in place by the health department, school districts, and administration as the United States enters flu season. 

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. 

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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.

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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.