Bears Ears under threat of destruction after drastic reduction in size

Story and gallery by TANNER FAUST

After President Trump cut the size of Bears Ears National Monument by nearly 1 million acres, activists feared that was the beginning of the end for protected land in Utah. The monument’s size has been reduced from 1.35 million acres to 200,000 acres.

“This reduction in size poses a great threat to the native population and artifacts in the area. These are sacred lands and should not be tampered with,” said Ashley Soltysiak, the director of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, in a phone interview.

The monument contains many ancient artifacts that the Native American population holds sacred. Moon House is one such artifact. It is a cliff dwelling that has been with the native population for nearly 1,000 years. The reduction to the monument put Moon House and other ancient artifacts at risk.

When President Obama expanded the land of Bears Ears in 2016, he did so with the ancient artifacts in mind. An official press release from the White House stated, “The area’s cultural importance to Native American tribes continues to this day. As they have for generations, these tribes and their members come here for ceremonies and to visit sacred sites.” 

Soltysiak said, “It feels as though this was an attempt by the Trump administration to undo as much of the former president’s work as possible.” The reduction favors economic interests over the interests of ancient artifacts and sites. 

The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club also runs campaigns aimed at protecting these ancient artifacts. One, “keep public lands in public hands,” is directed toward stopping the increasing cuts to Utah’s public lands. The campaign runs on the basis of keeping our American history safe. 

The new bill, created by President Trump, signed also by Utah Congressman John Curtis, and Utah representatives Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart and Mia Love, would reduce the size of the monument by 85%. It would create a new monument at the same time out of the remaining land. 

The new monument, named Shash Jáa National Monument, would be created out of the remaining land in Bears Ears. The bill would open the land to three new opportunities. 

Mining, geothermic leasing, and the sale of Bears Ears would be allowed by the Utah legislature. The economic expansion of this land would allow for more industrial activities to be carried out in the national monument.

Mining sites across the world have all seen similar beginnings. Sites like Tanami mine, located in Tanami, Australia, were created on land that was once protected by the government. The Tanami mine has since led to numerous environmental problems, such as cave-ins that threaten the lives of the native population working at the mine.

Another similar event happened in the Four Corners National Park. The land was taken away from the National Park to create more power plants to supply the area with power. 

Like the Bears Ears National Monument, the Four Corners National Park was opened up to industrial activity. The Natural Resources Defense Council says this was in an attempt to solve the energy demands of the area. As the Four Corners area grew, its demands for energy became overwhelming.

This affected the native population of Navajo people. The largest effect was on local residents like Daniel Tso, a Navajo activist. Tso said, “The plants were giving off dangerous chemicals all the time. While we lived around it we were all breathing in those chemicals every day,” he said in a phone interview.

Native people all over the world have experienced a similar phenomenon. Government land grabs not only threaten the environment but the people living in the area as well. The Yanacocha mine in Lima, Peru, has an abundance of native protestors outside of its perimeter. They struggle to find the footing to overpower these industrial titans and take claim to their ancient land.

In many places around the world, industrial activities are the epicenter for conflict. Another example is the Tarkwa mine in Ghana, Africa. In 2018 the mine saw a hostile takeover as the native population violently fought to take the land back.

The controversy in Bears Ears has environmental groups worried. Like many places around the world, Bears Ears is under threat of losing important land and artifacts. The area means so much to native populations who have a rich history and priceless relics.

 

 

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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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Hearing loss affects more than just your grandparents

Story and gallery by WILLOW GALVAN

“No one thinks that hearing loss will happen to them, until it does,” said University of Utah student Dallin Wilkins, 20, while sitting at a local coffee shop.

Wilkins was just 13 when he started shooting guns frequently with his dad, and without using ear protection. Unfortunately that decision, and his habit of playing loud music through his headphones, catalyzed his hearing loss at a young age.

It didn’t take long for Wilkins’ hearing to quickly start to deteriorate. By the time he was 18, he depended heavily on reading the lips of those he spoke with. He also experienced an almost constant ringing in his ears. At that point, he realized it was time to see an audiologist for answers.

At first, the audiologists were surprised at the amount of hearing Wilkins had lost at such a young age. However, after learning more about his habits that led to the damage, they were surprised it wasn’t worse. It was then that Wilkins underwent the process of receiving hearing aids, which he has now worn daily for over two years.

Liz Hankins, director of audiology at House of Hearing, which has multiple locations across the Salt Lake Valley, said that noise exposure is one of the most common reasons for people to experience hearing loss. This could happen as a result of various activities including shooting guns, going to concerts, or working in loud environments.

Younger people generally assume that older individuals are the only people to experience hearing loss to this degree. “People need to just be mindful of the fact that hearing loss doesn’t just happen to old people, it can happen to younger kids. And the problem is that once those hair cells and the hearing has been affected you just can’t get it back,” Hankins said.

In fact, she said it is actually very common, with 50 million Americans experiencing hearing loss and 1 in 5 teens struggling with it as well.

Hankins also recommends those struggling with hearing loss see an ear, nose, and throat physician or an audiologist immediately. If any parents are concerned with their children’s speech or language development, Hankins said these issues are likely caused by hearing loss, and it should be ruled out immediately.

Hearing loss is so common that many companies are developing services with the intent to educate individuals on the issue at hand, including powerhouse company, Apple.

In the Apple iOS 13 update that came out in September 2019, the Health app offers a new hearing section. Here, Apple users can read about what causes hearing loss and the different levels of hearing loss. It also includes indications of when you might be experiencing it.

Some of the indications of hearing loss that are listed are: when you meet someone and it is hard to hear their name, in loud places when you miss part of conversations, and when you have ringing in your ears.

The app also has a section that provides information about why hearing health matters. It shows how hearing is measured in decibels, and how you are generally in a loud environment when decibels are over 80.

Aside from the Health app being updated with this new information, Apple Watches also have new technology to protect hearing health. If you have one of these devices, you can set up the Hearing app available on them. After it is set up, the app will monitor the level of noise exposure you are in, and alert you when it reaches a potentially dangerous level.

Josh Hankins, a hearing care specialist who also works at the House of Hearing, said the best way to preserve your hearing is by letting discomfort be your guide. By this, he recommends that when you are in an environment that feels uncomfortably loud, you change the situation by leaving or getting ear protection.

There is also a misconception when it comes to how to care for your ears. “Take care of your ears by leaving them alone,” he said. He reassures people that a little earwax is normal, and if it becomes excessive, you should seek care from a specialist. The general population uses cotton swabs to clean their ears, which is very damaging. In fact, the boxes themselves advise users not to use them in their ear canal at all.

The reason that cotton swabs are so damaging is because they actually do not clean your ears. They just push the ear wax further down your ear canal, which can lead to difficulty hearing and an uncomfortable sensation. An even more detrimental consequence of using these in your ears is the possibility of bursting your eardrum, which can cause permanent damage, according to WebMD.

While drinking his coffee, Wilkins said he wishes there were resources such as the Health app available to him when he was younger. He hopes that others use this information to protect their ears and take it more seriously than he did.

Wilkins knows firsthand how heartbreaking it was to lose his hearing, especially when it could have been prevented. He warns others to protect their ears because once they are damaged it is irreversible. “When you have hearing loss, you aren’t just missing some words in some conversations,” he said. “You are missing time with your loved ones, you are missing out on memories, you are missing out on everything.”

Art with a cause: artwork from cancer patients, caregivers, and staff at the Huntsman Cancer Institute

Story and gallery by MADISEN GATES

The Huntsman Cancer Institute stands as a gentle giant overlooking the University of Utah from the northeast corner of campus. Its massive glass structure is a symbol of excellence and elegance. The building illustrates its mission statement; “The patient first, a united effort, excellence in all we do.”

Treatment can be a stressful time for those who have cancer. The side effects for most people range from physical symptoms to emotional ones.

But what lies inside the facility is more than a treatment center for cancer patients.

For years, HCI has been a leading innovator for cutting-edge cancer research, including creative and emotional therapies.

Shelly White founded the Artist-in-Residence program in 2012 and has served as its director since then. Patients, caregivers, and HCI staff can participate in group or individual art projects every Tuesday throughout the year.  

Coming from a musical family, White said she believes that art can be both mentally and physically supportive.

She applied and was approved for a LIVESTRONG grant that offers funding for creative arts programs nationwide. She was determined to find a way to implement these benefits at HCI.

But these weekly classes are not just art workshops.

The artists leading the program each year act as mentors. Participants can learn skills in pain management and how to relieve stress. They can also spend quality time with loved ones through various art projects. These projects can include painting, mask-making, ceramics, and even designing maps. The patient is able to gain control over one aspect of their treatment – their art.

“I think a lot of the time people feel like they’re having all these things done to them that they wouldn’t choose. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, you wouldn’t choose those things,” White said. “And you get to make choices about ‘what do I want to get engaged in.’”

Each current artist will choose the artist for the next year to ensure the quality and engagement during these workshops. Every prospective artist can attend a session as a guest presenter. The current artist observes how the guest presenter interacts with the patients and attendees. This improves the success of the project to continue enriching the patients’ time in treatment.

Laura Wilson, the current mentor for the program, has been making art her whole life. Her favorite form of art is fine arts, which she studied at Carnegie Mellon to earn her BFA. Every artist is free to run the sessions in their own way. “People are just really happy to be here. The level of creativity here is really high,” Wilson said. “You have people dealing with very hard things, and they just free themselves.”

White said the greatest motivation to continue searching for artists to expand these projects is watching patients flourish creatively. “Seeing the whole person” develop, she said. “Giving people an opportunity for people to express themselves beyond words.”

The sessions are always kept open to allow participants more freedom while they create. There are no rules as to what a participant can or cannot create and participants are able to come and go from the art sessions in between regular treatments.

Vibrant clay tiles form a legacy piece displayed in White’s office.

A brown and red clay art piece is displayed in White’s office, which became a legacy project for one participant.

 

 “With some people, it’s a legacy,” White said. “There was another woman who was in her 40s who had daughters that were probably in their 20s who did this piece. It was a legacy piece because she wasn’t going to survive the cancer, but it was a really meaningful thing she could do with her daughters to make this piece.”

For most participants, the art represents much more than a fun craft project.

Caren Pinson has been attending the sessions for many years as a cancer survivor. She described her time in the Artist-in-Residence program as “life changing.”

“I have medical post-traumatic stress, from long before I moved to Utah and when I actually did first move over it was pretty bad. I didn’t ever really want to see a doctor again,” Pinson said. “But being here, this is really the safest place I’ve ever felt.”

Pinson continues to contribute many ideas to improve the program. She recalled a previous conversation with one of the HCI acupuncture specialists who said, “Huntsman hires compassion and they can teach everything else.”

Seven years later the program has flourished. In addition to the Artist-in-Residence program, a Writer-in-Residence and a music therapy program can be found on the HCI calendar throughout the year.

The programs aim to go even deeper in the upcoming years. It is the hope of the director to pair biologic researchers with participants to show the value of arts through basic science.

The emergence of these programs is a testament to the dedication of the staff at HCI. It is a giant not only in dominating the cancer treatment field, but also for the heart that lies within the walls.

 

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.

Traumatizing aftermath of active school shooter drills

Story and gallery by EMMA WILLIAMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos curtsey of Madyson Skelton and Jessica Brinkerhoff

Intermountain Healthcare announces groundbreaking policy that removes pharmaceutical representatives and medication samples from Utah practices and hospitals

Story and photos by BERKLEE HAMMOND

Effective May 1, 2019, Intermountain Healthcare has prohibited industry-based pharmaceutical representatives and medication samples from entering practices and hospitals throughout Utah. 

Intermountain believes this new change will increase patient safety, refine adherence to clinical guidelines, improve prescription patterns, decrease cost of medicines and eliminate operational complexity and burden.

According to a statement by Dr. Mark Briesacher, senior vice president of Intermountain Medical Group and Medical Staff, this change has been made to fulfill Intermountain Healthcare’s vision of being “a model health system by providing extraordinary care and superior service at an affordable cost.” 

Pharmaceutical representatives received a document titled “Removal of Pharmaceutical Representatives and Medication Samples from Intermountain Clinics” issued by Intermountain Healthcare. The document explains why samples and pharmaceutical reps are no longer permitted. It also states that patients are commonly given verbal instructions about appropriate use of medication samples and side effects.

This can lead to product labeling and written patient instructions that are often inadequate. These new regulations will decrease the chance for medication errors and improve patient safety.

Intermountain plans to improve adherence to clinical guidelines by removing pharmaceutical representative visits, samples, and marketing. According to a statement released to pharmaceutical companies, Intermountain would do away with professional and social pressures and would allow physicians to make unbiased decisions on behalf of their patients. 

This document explains how these steps will improve prescription patterns for patient care. Eighty-three percent of prescription promotion is done by physicians who have been educated on drugs from pharmaceutical representative visits. 

According to a 2014 study of 150,000 physicians over a 24-month period showed the detailing impacts selective, brand-specific demand and influenced prescribers. 

Intermountain Healthcare cited numerous studies that have shown physicians were three times more likely to prescribe a generic product when samples were removed from clinics.

The Medical Group Service Line’s statement indicates the changes at Intermountain will eliminate operational complexity and burden. Storage, distribution and security of medications is challenging to manage and increases the expense on care teams.

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY?

The reason behind this decision came after leading healthcare organizations like the National Institutes of Healthand the Institute for Safe Medication Practicesrecommended against utilizing pharmaceutical representatives and samples because this has a negative impact on patient safety, care quality, and costs. 

Crystal Goodrich, a local district manager of a pharmaceutical company, explained the small steps that eventually led to the new regulations.

First, she said the changes started when Big Pharma companies agreed to discontinue distributing any type of promotional materials such as sticky notes and pens to any healthcare entity. Goodrich said, “Some rules made sense.” 

Intermountain was among the other healthcare agencies that did not want their physicians being influenced by promotional materials. 

The Big Pharma agreement, including Intermountain, later prohibited physicians from going out to dinner or to special events with representatives. Goodrich remembers, “This was when the pushback from physicians started across the industry.”

According to Goodrich, Intermountain then took restrictions to another level.  Intermountain only allowed one appointed representative from each of the pharmaceutical companies statewide to have access to any and all of Intermountain’s approximately 5,000 physicians. 

Rebecca Nixon was assigned to Intermountain Healthcare exclusively as a representative 10 years ago. Nixon only visits Intermountain’s practices and clinics.

Nixon explained the adjustment from visiting clinics from all Utah healthcare entities to going exclusively to Intermountain. She shared frustration in the lack of competition in Utah with Intermountain and lack of authority from Intermountain Healthcare physicians. 

Nixon said, “The doctors are employed by Intermountain Healthcare, they are not in charge or able to make these decisions themselves.”

She said these new policies from Intermountain Healthcare will affect her job tremendously. She is now going to be reassigned to another position due to the regulations set by Intermountain Healthcare.

As of May 1, 2019, there is a new level of restriction. If a representative enters a clinic, Intermountain Healthcare urges physicians and administrative staff to not accept any medication samples, coupons, literature, vouchers or other forms of drug marketing.

Both Nixon and Goodrich stated that physicians at Intermountain Healthcare have pushed back with these new regulations. Due to the pushback, Intermountain Healthcare has now made an exception to lifesaving medications like inhalers, blood thinners and several other medications from drug representatives.  

Intermountain Healthcare physicians will now get their education from pharmacists instead of trained pharmaceutical representatives. “This certainly concerns us,” Goodrich said. Pharmacies make more revenue from generic brands than name brands. This raises concern for patient care.

“A big concern is knowing physicians at Intermountain valued our knowledge and they can’t get it anymore,” Goodrich said. Pharmaceutical representatives spend weeks, months and years becoming trained on the medication they represent. They get trained through in-person trainings, online training and continual training by district and regional representatives that monitor the accuracy of the information distributed.

This training will now be the responsibility of each physician. They will need to take the time to educate themselves on hundreds, even thousands, of medications to provide accurate and informed education to each patient. 

According to Intermountain Healthcare’s website, this not-for-profit system has more than 5,000 physicians who are affiliated with Intermountain, including about 1,400 employed physicians in the Intermountain Medical Group who provide care to patients at more than 185 clinics and offices as well as 23 hospitals.

Better safe than sorry: What to know before setting out

Story and photos by CAROLINE J. PASTORIUS

Avoiding avalanches is much easier than trying to survive one.

Outside of Denver, CO
Feb. 24, 2019

Many climbers, skiers, snowmobilers and outdoor enthusiasts are not aware of the proper precautions for avalanche and snow safety. The dangers of this type of recreation require more preparation and knowledge than you may think.

It’s not as simple as reading a pamphlet or set of instructions to prepare you to take on the outdoors, it’s about knowing what you are headed into and being fully prepared for and aware of the risks that come with venturing into nature.

Park City, UT |March 10, 2019

Mark Staples, director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center, labels himself as an extremely experienced outdoor enthusiast and emphasizes, “There is no way to assure safety once you’re out in the wilderness. But there are ways to go about it safely, and that’s the best you can do,” Staples says in a phone interview.

Park City, UT (backcountry) | March 3, 2019

The elementary rule comes first and foremost when preparing to take on this type of terrain; do not travel alone. “Always make sure you have the proper education and tools before going into the backcountry, and make sure your partner does as well,” says Jordan Hicks from REI Cooperative. Hicks also added a helpful tip. “Make sure you have a set plan before you head out and tell somebody that plan in case you’re late coming home so they can notify authorities.”

Hicks also says to be aware of your surroundings. The cause of 90 percent of avalanches that harm a victim or members of the victim’s group is caused by their own missteps. Any foreign activity caused in a natural environment that adds weight that wasn’t there before can easily trigger downfall. A helpful way to foresee the conditions on the mountain before enduring it is to check daily aspects like the weather forecast and condition of the mountain on the day of your travel, both of which are easily accessible online. He says some red flags include unsteady snow, heavy snowfall or rain, posted warning signs, wind loading, and persistent weak layers. Avoiding avalanches altogether is much easier than trying to survive one, so take the precautions seriously.

Snacks. Water. Fuel. You can never be too prepared. Josh Alexander from Utah Ski and Golf recommends that you should “bring two times more than you expect to consume on your trip.”

Alexander also shared a story about his personal experience of being buried in an avalanche and what he learned from it. “Luckily, I was well prepared for any possible situation. I went out with a buddy of mine in the backcountry of Canada a few years back, somewhere we have never been before.” In retrospect, this was a red flag. You should never travel on unfamiliar territory when visiting it for the very first time. Alexander recommends scoping out uncharted terrain a day before riding it. Also, he mentions researching the area online to check previous travelers’ comments.

The avalanche that affected him was caused by a collision he had with a snowboarder, which produced a rush of snow and carried him about 100 yards. Being unable to breathe for that time, he saw his life flash before him.

Park City, UT |March 10, 2019

After coming to a halt, Alexander realized his friend was nowhere in sight. In fact, nothing was. It was all white. “I was completely lost, and all of my calls for help got absorbed in the snow I was buried in. I knew I had to find help but I also didn’t want to use too much oxygen, since I wasn’t sure how long I would be stuck there for.” He settled his pulse and remembered focus on what he learned to do when caught in this sort of situation.

He took a deep breath and started “swimming” against gravity to get closer to the surface of the snow pile in attempt to get any sort of signal for his avalanche beacon (a small radio that transmits a lost or dangered travelers’ location to rescue crews). He soon started transmitting his device, which was caught by his partner on the receiving end. Finally, he was located, rescued, and lives to tell the story. If the pair was not prepared for the worst-case scenario and did not hold the necessary tools, Alexander had a slim chance of survival.

There is only a 30 percent chance of escaping when buried by an avalanche. Take the lessons taught and learned in this article next time you think about getting involved in avalanche-prone territory. Always remember that you are in control of your own safety in uncharted territory.

Mental Health Help for College Students

Story by ISABELLA BUOSCIO

Anxiety and depression are not uncommon mental disorders. However, some college students do not have the tools or are not comfortable dealing with these disorders. According to a report by the American Psychological Association <https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/09/numbers>, “61 percent of college students seeking counseling report anxiety, while 49 percent report depression.”

While anxiety and depression are prevalent in the student population, there is still a negative stigma around going to therapy to get help. With the rise of social media, it seems others have perfect lives and are happy always. Apps like Instagram and Snapchat are only snapshots of the best moments of someone’s life. The viewer is not seeing what is going on behind the scenes.

It’s hard to admit you need help. Whether its fear of confronting the issue, fear of being judged by the therapist or society, or fear of diagnosis there always is an excuse for not going to therapy. There is nothing wrong with needing help to deal with complex emotions. Therapy can be a beneficial thing for everyone, especially college students.

In a phone interview, Annmarie Flock, a licensed Summit County therapist, says during her sessions she tries to meet the patient “where they are at without judgment.”

“I try helping them find the words to define what is wrong,” she says, “then address how they can get through the immediate crisis and help them build the tools to deal with it over time.”

She suggests ways of coping such as medication, meditation, physical activity, changing behavior patterns, breathing exercises, finding a support system, mantras, living in the present, having a plan for when things are really dark and, most important, making an agreement to not hurt self or others.

“It’s natural to roll through dark periods, sometimes things work, and you grow out of them, some things work in different situations. The goal of therapy is to give the patient the tools to be able to safely handle the situation on their own,” Flock says.

Zoe Baukman, a first-year student, came to the University of Utah while being in a harmful relationship with her previous significant other. She said, “The situation developed negatively enough that my mental health was affected.” The stress of dealing with the person while trying to adjust to starting college was too much for her to handle.

Baukman continued, “I was in a really dark place for the first couple months of school. I had a difficult time making friends because I was so busy talking to this person, the emotional stress got too much for me and I felt trapped.” It was when Baukman started missing classes and assignments that she decided to seek guidance. Her mom could tell she was struggling and scheduled an appointment with a local therapist.

She was scared to go because she didn’t feel comfortable opening up to a stranger. Baukman confessed, “I was shaking as I walked into my appointment.” When she sat down with the trained mental health professional, she realized how toxic her situation was. She remembers crying the entire first session due to finally accepting she needed help. “I knew I needed help in the back of my mind, but I didn’t know how to get it,” she confessed.

However, therapy isn’t only for people dealing with previous trauma. Addi Poddska, a second-year student, goes to therapy to have someone to talk to. “Talking to someone who doesn’t know me in my social circles is nice because I don’t have to worry about judgment from my peers.” “I am not the type to cry but I usually end up crying in my sessions, it feels good,” Poddska joked.

Poddska goes to therapy to talk about pressure with friendships, struggles with her family and anxiety about getting into medical school. She admitted, “I go once a month to let myself accept my fears and doubts. It’s like a cleanse, I feel more focused after I go.”

For those not wanting to pay for expensive therapy, the University of Utah offers a University Counseling Center. According to the center’s mission statement < https://counselingcenter.utah.edu/>, “We provide developmental, preventive, and therapeutic services and programs that promote the intellectual, emotional, cultural, and social development of University of Utah students.” The center provides individual counseling, group counseling, couple’s counseling, psychiatric medication services, a mindfulness center, and crisis services.

As for price, the website states, “The first counseling session (“intake appointment”) is free as you and your intake counselor consider the fit between your goals and the Center’s services.” From there, individual counseling, medication, and management cost $12 a session, group counseling and workshops costs $5 a session, and couples counseling costs $30 a session.

All the sessions are treated confidentially. As the website says, “The fact that you are receiving counseling services, as well as the specific content of your UCC counseling, assessment, or psychiatric record(s), is confidential.” To get started, you can schedule an intake by calling 801-581-6826 or by going to the center in Room 426 of the Student Services Building.

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Campus map showing where the Student Service building is located.

This is a video featured on the University of Utah Counseling Center’s homepage. It explains what a student can expect for the first appointment with the center!
<https://counselingcenter.utah.edu/>

The “Me Too” movement and its impact on college campuses

By Laura Child

https://unewswriting.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/reflection-blog-laura-child/

SALT LAKE CITYThe Me Too movement’s purpose is to help survivors of sexual violence find healing, particularly young women of color from low-income communities. The movement began to gain traction when the MeToo hashtag went viral on social media platforms in 2016. Subsequently, the movement’s goal has evolved to include the expansion of global conversations around sexual assault, and to find advocates willing to share their own experiences and seek justice misconduct.

These shared experiences remind everyone of what it means to be sexually assaulted. Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity or contact that happens without consent.

The social media movement galvanized around the sexual assault case of Harvey Weinstein, but has resulted in many celebrities and individuals coming forward to share their own as victims of sexual misconduct. Men and women have found empowered and healing through sharing their voice and fighting for justice.

 Reports of sexual assaults in the workplace and on college campuses have increased since 2006. Universities have been criticized for a lack of enforcement and measure to protect students from misconduct. The social movement has forced universities to create new procedures, certifications, and resources for their students on campus. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 20-25 percent of college women and 15 percent of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college. Unfortunately, more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses don’t get reported. Since 2017, however, there has been an increase in the number of sexual assaults reported on college campuses. Many universities have worked to develop campaigns and rallies to help make their students feel safe and heard.

In 2017, thirty-two sexual assault cases were reported to the University of Utah. However, these cases were campus-only reports, which means they didn’t include the off-campus sexual assaults of U of U students, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Police Chief Dale Brophy doesn’t believe the school is seeing an uptick in sexual violence; he thinks more survivors are reporting. “More reporting is a good thing,” he says. Following an investigation on how the U handles their assault reporting, the U launched the SafeU website last year in hopes of better supporting their students. The website’s goal is to inform and provide students with several tools and resources. This website allows students to file reports under section IX. The U has also added additional forms of counseling, reporting, therapy, medical services, and police reporting.

 The U has a variety of resources for students who have been victim to sexual misconduct. “The Student and Wellness Centers helps those who have suffered by allowing them to chose the best way of healing from their own trauma,” says Ellie Goldberg, Assistant Director of Advocacy. The goal is to be a students support system by creating a safe, confidential atmosphere.

Survivor advocates, provide resources for students on campus to help heal, provide medical referrals, help financially, inform on legal justice options, or provide free counseling.  “No one should ever have to go through this trauma. If they do, we will do everything in our power to help them heal in a sensitive environment,” says Darrah Jones, one of the Survivor Advocates at the U.

 As members of the university community, it is important to become involved in the prevention of sexual assault campus. The police department at the U has held various bystander certification courses to help inform students, raise awareness, and provide skills to recognize, intervene, prevent and/or stop inappropriate comments, actions, and behaviors.

The U also provides seminars and guest speakers to help inform individuals on how to prevent these situations. ”We must teach our young adults about sexual misconduct from a young age in today’s society. The hard conversations about safe sex, intimate relationships, and social-emotional learning are conversations that can truly make a difference,” said Anita Hill, in a recent forum held at the University of Utah Alumni Center.  

As students and members of the University of Utah community, we can help end gender-based violence on campus by becoming better educated. We must unlearn rape myths, such as the belief that rapes are only committed by strangers or that alcohol can justify sexual assault. Myths like these protect the assaulters and create an environment where survivors aren’t supported. If we are aware of someone who is experiencing this, we can be supportive by believing, listening, and educating. By doing so, we can help guide them to the resources they may need. If this movement has taught me anything, it has made me believe that when we come together and voice our opinions, we can be heard and make a difference.

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Biking into the Future with Bike Utah

Article and Photos by Shane Bryan

SALT LAKE CITY — Biking on city streets can be intimidating for new bicycle commuters. The rush of traffic, distracted drivers and the difficulty of using a map can easily deter people from riding bikes instead of getting into a car. Bike Utah, a bicycle advocacy organization, is here to help residents all over Utah get on a bike and feel safe while doing so. They work to make cities and towns all over the state more bike friendly.

Based in Salt Lake City, Bike Utah operates as a non-profit organization. The organization started ten years ago after a road cyclist was hit and killed on the Utah

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Simon Harris demonstrating proper road riding techniques (Photo by Shane Bryan)

roads. The founders quickly became aware that there needed to be some serious advocacy for safety between drivers and cyclists. The mission of Bike Utah is to “integrate bicycling into the everyday culture of the state,” says Simon Harris, Bike Utah’s Youth Program Manager. “We envision Utah as the most bicycle friendly state in the country.”

Bike Utah carries out their plan via city planning—putting traffic plans into action, and working with local governments to make the roads a safe haven for cyclists.  

Throughout the city, there are extra wide bike lanes with more room for riders and marked lines so drivers can steer clear. There are large signs specifically identifying bike lanes, and paint on the roads to show where the lane is and where bike riders have a right-of-way. Popular destinations are also clearly marked with nearby street

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Wide bike lane Eastbound on 300s (Photo by Shane Bryan)

signs, eliminating the need to use a map or phone while you ride, all in an effort to keep bikers safe.

Bike Utah has been chosen as the non-profit sponsor for the new Thousand Mile campaign, an effort to revamp old bike paths and add new ones totaling 1,000 miles. Introduced by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, the Thousand Mile campaign is intended to make Utah one of the best cycling and active transportation states in the country.

Bike Utah’s role is to “provide strategic planning, technical assistance, and financial resources so communities can begin or continue developing bicycling in their area,” according to Bike Utah, they help, “communities to advance their bicycle-related goals.” This means advancements in local bike routes to get kids to school, people to work and riders out enjoying the roads and trails. 

Multi-use pathways and mountain bike trails are also laid out in the Thousand Miles plan. Salt Lake City also has protected bike lanes, similar to ones found in Europe, in which there is a physical concrete barrier separating the bike lane and the car lane, reducing the probability of a car merging into the bike lane. Through their work, Bike 

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Concrete barrier separating the road from the bike lane Westbound on 300s (Photo by Shane Bryan)

Utah would like to inspire people to ride bikes instead of driving, to help keep our air clean and reveal the health benefits of pedaling to your destinations. Active transportation is healthy for you and the community. Riley Peterson of Salt Lake City, commutes around the city all the time whether it’s to school or to work. “I always have lights on which makes it safe and I have never had an issue with any cars,” says Peterson. “Plus, it is just more fun to ride.”

There are things you can be doing to further increase your safety on the road. For starters, follow the rules of the road. Stop at stop signs, use hand signals, and stay in your lane. Also, wear bright colors. Brighter colors will pop and grab the attention of drivers. Standing out from the line of traffic on a bike will separate you from the crowd. Having a front and rear light is also a good way to do this. Many people think that only having a front and rear light at night is important; however, Adam Olson, Manager of Trek Bike, encourages riders to use 

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LED lights can keep you safe day and night (Photo by Shane Bryan)

lights at all times. “Using lights in the day time increases your chances of being seen,” says Olson. “Drivers are more likely to see a flashing object over a cyclist with no safety warnings attached.”

Drivers are always subliminally looking for objects that they are accustomed to seeing on the road (street lights, street signs, parked cars, etc.), the flashing of a light makes it apparent to drivers that there is something else to watch out for. 

Bike Utah also hosts an amazing kids program teaching kids from an early age about bike education and safety by visiting schools statewide.  Over 250 kids have learned how to ride a bike while increasing overall bike knowledge by 67 percent. You can support Bike Utah and follow upcoming events by clicking here for more information. Next time, consider throwing a leg over a bike before you step into a car.

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Bags to Beds program makes a lasting impact upon the homeless community in Salt Lake City

Story, photos, and video by SPENCER K. GREGORY

A local student has created a service project that has impacted the homeless community in Salt Lake City.

Kaitlin Mclean, creator and director of the Bags to Beds program.

Kaitlin McLean, a fifth-year student at the University of Utah, has created a system in which the participant recycles plastic bags, creates plastic yarn, and produces mats that she said can then be used to “help our homeless neighbors.” This service project has been referred to as Bags to Beds.

“Bags to Beds is a community service project that’s looking to reduce waste for our community by breaking down plastic bags that can’t be recycled,” McLean said.

She organized this student-directed service project through the Bennion Center. The Bennion Center is a nonprofit organization on the U’s campus that serves the local community.

Since then, McLean is now the director of the program and has made a tremendous impact upon sustainability within the Salt Lake Valley.

She said that it averages about 40-50 hours of service per mat.

Students can get involved with however much time they want to spend.

One U student, Megan Peterson, said, “The project itself was really easy, and not hard to understand.”

Peterson is currently a third-year student who is studying communication with an emphasis in strategic communication. She specifically loves to help out the Bennion Center Scholars program.

Peterson mentions how she was first introduced to Bags to Beds at a Scholars social where they just ate pizza. In the meeting they casually discussed goal setting with students pursuing their work for their personal engagement within the community.

Afterward, the Scholars were unified in their efforts to cut plastic bags into objects that would later be used into “plarn.”

U students hard at work with “plarn.”

“Plarn” is the term that Bags to Beds has adopted to describe the unique process of creating the service phenomenon.

Bryan Luu offers insight as to the process and functionality of plarn making. He said, “Plarn is a form of plastic yarn. It’s what wove together these giant mats. All of it’s made from plastic bags that have just been cut into strips and tied together to resemble the yarn.”

Once the mats are made from the plarn, they are immediately distributed to a local resource center or to Project Homeless Connect.

Homeless Connect is a one-day event that helps provide services and outlets for those who are homeless. People can learn how to get involved in this project by visiting the website.

The program has a tremendous connection to the Project Homeless Connect happening in downtown Salt Lake City. “We’ll have all the mats we’ve finished throughout the year for those that are anticipating they’ll be outside this year,” McLean said.

McLean said they expect to help more than 600 individuals during 2018.
“It also gives us an opportunity to work with other people who work with this population, and also get to know the people we are serving,” she said.

This program has made a great impact upon a tremendous social issue.
Peterson said, “Even though homelessness itself is such a huge issue, they’re just trying to help a little bit by taking waste that can’t even be recycled, and then re-using them for something useful.”

Peterson added, “It also helped me focus in on an issue that I’m not thinking about all the time.”

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Bryan Luu shares his experience with Bags to Beds.

Luu, a fifth-year student at the U studying civil engineering and urban ecology, said, “My time with Bags to Beds really has shaped a lot of my community involvement because I feel as if I can continue making a difference. Just having that knowledge, is just really important. Then I can be able to still give back to my community.”

Students or other patrons can visit Bags to Beds to get actively involved. Visitors can then fill out a volunteer interest form.

Bags to Beds has trained organizations and individuals to work independently on the service project at the Bennion Center or even at home.

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Bags to Beds was founded by University of Utah student Kaitlin McLean.

So if you’re a community member, student, or local citizen in the community there are many ways for you to get engaged in this great organization. According to McLean, Bags to Beds can even personally deliver plarn right at your door.

Peterson said it’s an “easy way to get involved.”

Paige Remington, another student at the U, said, “Although I am not directly helping people who are experiencing homelessness, I am using my hands and my time to create something that will hopefully alleviate a small amount of suffering.”

Debbie Hair, the administrative assistant for the Bennion Center.

Debbie Hair is the administrative assistant for the Bennion Center. She has helped the founder of Bags to Beds from the beginning. She said, “This project went off miraculously with a lot of attention.”

Hair added, “There’s a couple of different reaches this program has, one is environment. We’re not just reaching out to the homeless to give them comfort, but we’re also repurposing those bags.”

According to Bags to Beds, the program has collected over 12,000 plastic bags for active sustainable use in the community.

Bags to Beds has a plan to prepare a model that is sustainable moving forward. McLean said, “The project will continue to flourish no matter how many students there are.”

Students through the Bennion Center and community members in the Salt Lake Valley have been the main community engagement resource, providing service hours for the program. However, the organization plans to spread to other cities.

Since the early years of the program, it has now officially become an incorporated business outside of the Bennion Center.

McLean said, “Bags to Beds is now in the process of becoming a tax-deductible nonprofit organization.” Bags to Beds has made a tremendous impact upon the homeless society in the Salt Lake Valley and will continue to change countless future lives.

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An nonprofit’s initiative to educate Utah about child abuse

Story and images by ALLISON PFERDNER

The statistic — one in five Utah kids will be sexually abused before they turn 18 — is one of the first things you’ll see when you visit Prevent Child Abuse Utah’s website. Prevent Child Abuse Utah, or PCAU, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate children and parents throughout the state in hopes of lowering Utah’s child abuse rate, which is three times the national average.

Child abuse statistics are framed and hung in the organization’s offices in Salt Lake City.

PCAU has developed an age-appropriate curriculum and staff go into K-12 schools to teach children how to recognize abuse and empower them to report it.

As the community outreach program administrator for PCAU, Gwen Knight trains adults to recognize abuse, understand the reporting laws in Utah, and support the students once they report. Knight said that according to research, once adults are taught to recognize abuse and report it, they are more likely to want their children to learn about it as well.

This is Gwen Knight in her office at PCAU’s headquarters in Salt Lake City.

This brings up the topic of how PCAU brings awareness to its organization and how it gets into schools to teach its curriculum. Through community outreach programs, booths at the PTA Convention, and the many presentations PCAU does throughout the state, schools will reach out to PCAU to learn more about having the nonprofit come teach its curriculum in specific schools.

While many schools want the organization to teach its curriculum, other schools are difficult to get into. Knight provides a few counterpoints for some of the common reasons why schools say no. First, schools use the excuse of not having time for the classes. Knight said, “It only takes 30 minutes and if a child is dealing with abuse, they aren’t focusing anyway.” Second, schools don’t want their communities to perceive that their schools have children being abused in them. However, research shows that abuse happens in every demographic.

This is Safetysaurus, the puppet mascot, which is used to teach children in schools.

Parents have the opportunity to review the curriculum before it is taught and if they don’t approve, they are able to indicate that they don’t want their child to participate. The age-appropriate curriculum covers every kind of abuse including sexual, emotional, neglect, and physical abuse. It teaches children that their bodies belong to them.

PCAU is a statewide organization with community partners in Box Elder, Cedar City, the Uintah Basin, Tooele, Park City, and the Wasatch area. It trains people in each of these areas on its curriculum. This helps the nonprofit reach more people.

This organization also provides a program called Parents as Teachers in Davis County. Staff go directly to the homes of pregnant women and families with kids up to the age of 5. They provide instruction on how to raise healthy children by teaching about nutrition, sleep, safety, and discipline.

PCAU’s Certificate of Charter is displayed on the front desk in the Salt Lake office.

Rebecca Virgo, the Parents As Teachers Program administrator, says that other than reaching out to households, the program gets referrals from hospitals as well as families contacting them. The program has a list of stressors that staff pay attention to in order to know who they should reach out to. Some of these stressors are: military families, incarcerated parents, teen parents, and any type of illness present in the home.

Virgo said the biggest challenge of going into homes and working with the families is the observation that “helping is not always helpful.” When some parents receive help, they often don’t feel like they are seen as capable or trustworthy. It is more important for the visiting staff to connect the family with resources that will assist them rather than doing all the work for the parents.

A pinwheel is the symbol for preventing child abuse in America.

The staff’s main goals when they work with families are to facilitate connection, help them achieve goals, and to supply them with a wide range of parenting skills. “Your story that you grew up with doesn’t have to be your story for your children,” Virgo said.

The program is helping 120 families right now and is looking to expand to help 45 more in the near future. Due to the labor-intensive nature of this program, it can’t expand too far but Virgo suggests an alternative to families who want the extra help.

If you text utfamily to 27448, you can subscribe to Bright by Text, which sends out messages to parents of children prenatal to 5 years old. The messages contain helpful information based on the age of the child on things like child development, health and safety, and tips.

In both of these programs, Community Outreach and Parents as Teachers, Prevent Child Abuse Utah is spreading awareness and making a difference in children’s lives around the state.

As the assistant to the executive director, Ashley Workman urges everyone “not to underestimate the importance of what we do.”

“You can never teach this information too much,” Workman said.

So much growth has already happened in PCAU and the communities it works with and so much more can happen, Workman said. She wants parents to “not be surprised by the fact that the majority of abusers are people the child trusts because it’s unfortunately common.”

Workman’s plea to parents is: “If they run into a child that’s been abused, beg them to support the child.”

Prevent Child Abuse Utah’s logo on the main wall in the office.

Healthcare: what’s in the price when you’re seen by a provider?

Story and images by BRADEN ROLLINS

Whether you go to the doctor to ensure your health shouldn’t be a decision you have to make. Unfortunately, rising healthcare costs are forcing individuals to choose between other expenses and healthcare.

Many face the daunting prospect of healthcare cost. But what contributes to the cost and why are some at a disadvantage as compared to others?

Stories of healthcare costs frequent the news and media attribute one of the causes of high costs to doctors offices themselves.

Trying to decipher why healthcare costs are so high can be difficult. However, speaking with employees at a local doctor’s office and their experience with rising cost may shed light on the subject for some.

Jordan Meadows, a small family practice located in West Jordan, provides services such as physicals, blood draws, weight checks, vaccinations and other basic medical services.

Debra Bowen, the general manager of the clinic, discussed factors that contribute to the price of healthcare in the office such as payroll, collections, supplies, utilities, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Keeping quality employees is difficult in today’s economy due to the unemployment rate being so low. And with major corporations offering higher pay for similar jobs, Bowen said it is difficult for smaller clinics to compete for labor.

Bowen said more than half of the expenses to the clinic is for payroll and if they were to significantly raise wages the patient prices would increase significantly as a result. So keeping the balance between quality employees and wages is a constant problem.

Another problem faced by the clinic is outstanding balances on patients’ accounts, which are usually sent to collections. Some patients receive treatment but delay paying for it at the time of service for various reasons. Many of these unpaid accounts can come from patients who have been treated and have since felt better and no longer feel payment is necessary, Bowen said.

Medical supplies are a major cost to the clinic. Bowen said most of the cost comes from sterile equipment for examination, followed by supplies and tests to diagnose different ailments. The most expensive of the supplies are vaccinations. The use of supplies is carefully monitored so only things that are needed are ordered to reduce waste and overstock of unneeded supplies.

While rising costs are affecting most Americans, Bowen acknowledged low-income individuals and families without insurance are particularly impacted. Jordan Meadows offers cash patients a reduced price for their care while barely breaking even on the cost to the clinic.

These individuals are faced with the decision to pay a high insurance deductible or pay out of pocket. Some coverage is minimal due to the plan selected by the patient.

Bowen said these policies, known as catastrophic insurance, have high deductibles such as $5,000, which most patients would not meet in their plan year, so they choose to pay out of pocket. 

This makes treating these patients difficult, especially those who have chronic care needs such as diabetes. Some patients will come in for their initial visit, but don’t return for follow-up appointments due to the price, which can sometimes cost over $100.

Though prices can still be considered high for cash-only patients, Bowen said they are negligibly higher than the prices set by government Medicare programs. Legally the clinic cannot charge lower prices than Medicare without it being considered fraud.

John Neilsen, a family nurse practitioner, said he and the clinic assist patients by reducing prices whenever possible for cash patients, and suggesting alternatives treatments and helping them find discounts on medications.

Neilsen said it is difficult at times when the patient cannot afford their care, but it’s even more difficult when the patient has the ability to pay but chooses not to afford their healthcare due to extravagances in their lives.

A main focus of the clinic is putting people first and doing what it can to help individuals struggling to pay for services by working with each one on a individual basis.

Mariana Alvarado, the receptionist who was assisting patients, said she has dealt with many patients who can’t afford the healthcare.

Many of the patients who have no insurance or poor insurance are notified before they are seen by the provider of the price of the visit. She says it’s difficult when patients are agitated by prices. But she said she does her best to calm them and explain why services are priced as they are.

Alvarado agreed with one of her co-workers. “Being a smaller clinic we develop relationships with our patients,” she said, “and do what we can to help each patient with staying healthy while helping them afford treatment.”

Jordan Meadows provides healthcare at prices that are manageable for the majority of its patients who have good insurance. But the clinic is willing to work with those who are in positions of financial stress or have poor insurance.

While basic healthcare could be considered relatively expensive as compared to other necessities, the breakdown of expenses to your doctor’s office, especially those of smaller practices, add up to and contribute to the final price of the service provided.

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Beyond the water cycle: Life and environmental lessons from a former BLM director

Story and Photos By: JAKE PHILLIPS 

Patrick Shea’s beard was wet.

It was an oddly fitting picture of the former director of the Bureau of Land Management, who despite being out of government for 20 years, has water on his mind a lot these days. It was a rainy Thursday morning, and Shea, 70, was strolling to class.

Not on the University of Utah campus, where he’s been a research professor of biology and taught a class on urban streams for years, but at a local elementary school.

Every Thursday morning Shea teaches a class on water to fourth graders at Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City. He arrived to a roomful of damp students who had just returned from recess.

As their teacher, Hannah Dolata, instructed her students to find their seats, Shea dried off his bushy white beard. He asked them what they had learned the previous week. The students couldn’t wait to tell him about the written equation they’d learned that showed how much water they used when showering or teeth brushing.

One student proudly exclaimed that if he brushed his teeth with the water running for three minutes and showered for 10 minutes he would have had used 52 gallons of water in the process.

“I try to conserve water every day because my grandma complains about the water bill,” said Valentine, 9.

Shea then asked the students what they should do after wetting their toothbrushes.

“Turn off the water!” the students yelled in unison.

While most elementary school students learn about the water cycle, Dolata’s fourth-grade class at Rose Park Elementary School is getting a much more in-depth education about water and how it affects them. With Utah’s less-than-abundant water supplies and growing population, water conservation has become more important than ever.

Salt Lake is winning water conservation fight

Around 33 percent of Utah is considered to be true desert, meaning the state receives 5 to 8 inches of precipitation annually, according to Utah’s Comprehensive Weather Almanac. The heavily populated Wasatch Front receives around 15 inches of precipitation annually.

Along the Wasatch Front, Salt Lake City appears to be winning in its fight to conserve water. According to the 2014 Salt Lake City Water Conservation Master Plan, conservation has exceeded expectations and the overall trend is a reduction in water use in the area. Classroom programs like Shea’s are crucial in these efforts, the city’s Department of Public Utilities said.

Yet, with climate change and other environmental concerns an increasing reality to students both in childhood and their future adulthood, it’s especially important to teach children today about ways to address these issues, Dolata said.

While Salt Lake City has responded to calls to conserve water, planners expect the city will need to do more in the future. According to a University of Utah study conducted in 2017, the state population is expected to grow from 3.2 million to 3.9 million by the year 2030, an increase of about 22 percent.

If Salt Lake residents continue to use water at the same rate they did in 2000 Salt Lake City’s water usage is expected to increase by 23 percent by 2030, according to the Salt lake City Department of Public Utilities.

Shea asked the students about where the water they use every day comes from. He explained the majority of water in Utah comes from snow in the canyons. Then the children attempted to name some of the canyons near Salt Lake.

The class’ homework assignment was to look at the weather and to document whether it was an accurate report.

“The biggest problem for you growing up is figuring out what is true and is not true,” Shea said.

A different kind of ‘water bucket’ challenge

Shea wasn’t totally out of his element. It had been five years since he had last taught elementary students about proper water usage.

The daughter of a colleague, who Shea worked with on state water laws, was teaching fourth graders and challenged the research professor to speak to her class.

Hesitant at first, Shea said he’s come to enjoy the experience.

“The students are like sponges and want to learn more,” he wrote in an email.  

A few weeks later, the professor was back, this time leading a field trip to a water treatment plant up Big Cottonwood Canyon. With Shea was Jacob Maughan, treatment plant operator, who led a tour of the plant and explained how the facility purifies water to make it potable. From there, the energetic children then returned to their bus and traveled to City Creek Canyon.

At City Creek Canyon, a popular biking and hiking destination for Salt Lake residents, the students were met by John Wells, who manages the city’s watershed operations. With students trailing behind, Wells led the class on a walk up a winding, paved canyon road while explaining why it’s important to protect the watershed.

He told students that dogs are not allowed in the canyon to protect the water quality in the streams that the city depends on. As the students fidgeted and chatted, Dolata, their teacher, stressed the importance of showing students the real-life connection to the water cycle.

“In fourth-grade science they’re learning about Utah science and start to connect what they’re learning to the world,” she said. They “see themselves as scientists.”

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Hannah Dolata and her class overlook a water storage unit and the Salt Lake Valley.

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Dolata’s class walk across a concrete platform that serves as water storage at the Big Cottonwood Water Treatment Plant.

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Patrick Shea looks on as Jacob Maughan explains how snowmelt is cleaned and transformed to drinking water.

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Maughan telling the students what chemicals are added to unclean water to make it potable.

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Maughan advises students to be cautious in his lab, because there are dangerous chemicals present.

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Dolata and her class watch water spill over a weir used to control water flow and filter out solid matter.

Is Social Media Reality Ruining our Actual Reality?

Story By EMILIE NIELSEN 

As cellphones become central to modern living, cyberbullying has replaced spitballs and hallway taunting as the torture-du-jour for students and teenagers.

With social media sharing the “best version” of yourself some have taken it to an extreme and started using editing apps to change the shape or look of an image.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported a large rise in mental health issues, including anxiety, stemming from teenagers’ use of social media. This anxiety can be substantial enough to create everyday issues such as absence from school or the ability to complete basic tasks.

“I don’t feel comfortable going to school. I don’t feel as welcome or that I don’t have enough friends as the others,” Estelle Andreasen, 13, said.” Everyone I know has at least 500 followers. I don’t even have 100.”

Her anxiety was manageable until she got social media and now she skips school at least twice a week.

That anxiety is part of a larger issue of teenage insecurity and low self-esteem that some suggest is caused by Instagram and other social media.

Debbie Perry, a high school counselor who has been a high school counselor for 25 years, said one of the saddest parts of social media and smartphones she’s seen over the years is the risk that anyone and everyone can be bullied online.

“There has been such a large amount of people coming in over the last few years talking about the online bullying they have been receiving,” she said. “As a Counselor, we work on trying to make it a safe place at school with less use of phones to lower the ability of online bullying for our students.”

Another thing she said that she sees as a counselor is people bullying themselves because they aren’t thin enough or they didn’t go on fun spring or fall breaks like all their friends or classmates. There is also the fact that students go along with peer pressure more often due to social media.

This spurs anxiety in teenagers that they don’t have as exciting or interesting lives as their peers and they shouldn’t post to their social media accounts, even if they’re just sharing their “best face.”

Annie and Emma Black are 13-year-old twins in seventh grade. They just got their first phones for their birthday.

“I was so excited to have a phone,” said Annie. “I wanted so badly to be able to talk to my friends and be able to use Instagram!”

Their mom Amber Black is worried about Annie’s use of her phone. She and her husband feel as though they are constantly taking it away to get her to work on homework. Emma, however, won’t go on her phone until she is done with her homework.

“Annie is a little more troublesome, she wants to be on her phone all day and ignore her responsibilities,” said Amber.

“Emma, on the other hand, could care less about what is going on, on her phone. She rarely even gets on her phone when she is home and doesn’t want to ruin her grades due to her phone,” Amber added.

There are educational benefits of having access to cell phones in schools, including research and communicating with teachers and classmates.  But it can also be a huge distraction.

Multi-tasking while working on homework and looking at social media may distract teenagers, prolonging the time to complete assignments or not retaining the information they’re learning.

Deanne Kapetanov, principal at Mueller Park Jr. High in Bountiful, said multiple teachers take away phones from students every day. Students also sneak into the bathroom to respond to texts, look at Instagram or Snapchat their friends.

“It is hard to see the students be more focused on their phones walking to and from classes and spending their free time looking at social media or texting friends instead of actually spending time with each other,” Kapetanov said.

Developing social skills have also lagged in teenagers because they don’t spend time face to face. The teens and pre-teens are having a harder time making friends with others, Kapetanov said. This is creating a major risk factor for depression, suicide and other mental health issues – all issues that come along with social media.

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Alexis Lefavor

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Blog

I used to love Ichiban Sushi but in recent news I found out they were closed down by the health department. I noticed that they were popping up everywhere. I have noticed recently that sushi has been a trend. It can be really expensive! Ichiban Sushi has sushi that is advertised for half off. My story talks about how they opened back up. I want to make local sushi lovers aware of this restaurant. I also want to make people aware of the health department’s website. They are required to post all of the health inspections at established restaurants. I was not aware of this until I started doing my story.

I used Yelp and Facebook to find my sources. I read many reviews positive or negative. Many of the negative reviews matched some of the reasons that lead up to the closing of the restaurant.  I interviewed people who left these reviews and asked about their experiences. I also interviewed somebody from the health department to figure out how they run the inspection.

As I got more information from my sources, I felt I was really able to write my story. The information I received is what guided my story and made the focus. The hardest part of this was trying to find people to interview. I also reached out to the Sandy Ichiban for comment and didn’t receive anything from them. I was hoping to incorporate into my story how they were planning on making sure they were able to stay open and not face another closure. I think it’s really important for restaurants to ensure that their customers feel safe eating there, especially anything with raw meat.

About Me

My name is Alexis Lefavor. I am a junior at the University of Utah majoring in Communication. I hope to graduate by Summer 2019. My focus is strategic communication. I have always been interested in marketing, branding and public relations. I hope to find myself somewhere in one of these fields in the future.

Legalizing Medical Cannabis in Utah: Does the LDS Church Get to Decide

 

SALT LAKE CITY- The subject of religion influencing politics is a major discussion in Utah particularly concerning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ( LDS) influence in legislation regarding legalizing medical cannabis. The LDS (Mormon) church, last year, made a statement regarding legalizing medical marijuana saying “We urge a cautious approach to legislatures”. Some Utah voters question if religious views should even be involved on the floor, and if the church should be allowed such influence (verbally); especially when it comes to the well-being of the citizens of the state.

According to the most recent census numbers, sixty percent of Utah citizens are Mormon as are 80 percent of Utah legislators.  Medical marijuana (MM) supporters are concerned that LDS legislators are making their decisions based on personal religious views. While the LDS church has made their views regarding the use of cannabis very clear,  75% of Utah voters; still favor medical cannabis and are pushing to have the vote to legalize it on the 2018 ballot. Some argue that the Utah house should be pushing legalization more because the Utah public is expressing interest, and it should be the public choice rather than the senates with possible influence from the church.

“I strongly dispute the narrative regarding poll numbers,” Rep. Brad Daw (R) said when asked about public opinion regarding legalizing medical cannabis.  He discussed how under polls he conducted [not scientific] the question asked was “what level of cannabis legalization do you support” and more people, many of those who are LDS, are in favor of carefully supervised legalization rather than a full allowance of medical cannabis,. This past February, the house passed Daw’s bill (197) that requires the state to grow medical marijuana, and allow chronically ill patients to “try it. They also completely legalized cannabinoid with 10% THC for over the counter sales. “This can benefit the people who need it, and for those who need higher THC, the bill will allow research patients under careful supervision to be allowed access”

When asked if the Church had influenced decisions made by legislatures, Daw responded by saying “Removing religious opinions from politics would be hard to do…. the people on the board are elected by Utahan’s and their belief is their belief” stating that politicians would not be elected into office if the public had an issue with their decisions and personal beliefs. While the church is not opposed to limited and monitored medical use, they do make statements that the church would prefer that there be no use of cannabis; thus possibly affecting the opinion of those in Utah Senate.  Daw explained, that we don’t want to “stifle the voice of public opinion” and the LDS church has the right to freedom of speech and to represent voters just as any other organization or citizen.

Voter Ann Cook, a non-Mormon who has lived in the state for more than 45 years, sees the idea of religion and its influence on the state differently. “The LDS church really does have control, if they just came out in favor of this, the bills would pass,” she said regarding the issue. Cook is in favor of citizens of Utah voting on this rather than the legislature, believing that the church’s opinion would primarily be removed if done in this manner. “ I myself suffer from chronic arthritic pain and had to retire because of it. I’m limited in what I can do and I deserve the right to legally try out cannabis to alleviate my pain.” Cook also added that she could make the effort to get products in states which have legalized them, but she does not feel comfortable obtaining such until they are legalized here in Utah.

“We regard cannabis medicine as a medical, scientific, and sociological matter,” According to TRUCE (Together For Responsible Use and Cannabis Education)  reps said in regard to the influence the church has had on Utah’s position on legalization. “Our LDS TRUCE members are generally of the opinion that medical cannabis use is not a doctrinal issue, and LDS patients in medically legal states are considered members in full good standing… as are members anywhere taking prescribed opioid medications.” TRUCE has been pushing for the decision to be put on the 2018 ballot, rather than putting it the hands of the legislature. This is in belief that voters will support full access to medical marijuana, and will keep religious affiliations away from the decision. TRUCE advocates that the church does not need to be “speaking with representatives” as it grants too much power of the state to the church. They are not advocating for recreational use, and that they simply wish that patients with chronic illnesses have the option to use cannabis to assist with their treatments.

The issue regarding church and state in Utah is easily a debatable subject. While some believe the LDS church has too much influence or control over Utah politics, others see the affiliation only as freedom of speech. With terminally ill patients begging to allow for the public to vote on the subject the legislature is moving slowly towards the idea, and many are concerned if the LDS church’s views regarding cannabis, could be conflicting with progression towards legalizing it for medical purposes.

University of Utah fraternity partners with Rape Recovery Center

Story and slideshow by MADDY HOWARD

Don’t walk to your car alone. Don’t go on a run without pepper spray. Don’t make eye contact too long. Don’t dress like you’re asking for it.

All of these are “rules” young people have been told in hope of avoiding sexual assault.

Sexual assault is an epidemic that has affected campuses nationwide. Universities such as Stanford, Brown and Baylor all have an extensive history of sexual assault on campus. Many people do not believe universities are doing enough to keep students safe.

Well, what if someone told you a fraternity was speaking out against sexual assault?

At the University of Utah, Beta Theta Pi is dedicated to making a change. Beta is a fraternity which brands itself as men of principle.

These men excel in academics with an overall average GPA of 3.4. Additionally, they have the highest GPA out of any organization, club, or team at the University of Utah, according to the office of the Dean of Students. “These men hold themselves to the highest standard possible which makes them one of the most respected fraternities on campus,” said Josie Karren, a U student and Delta Gamma member.

Beta is partnered with the Rape Recovery Center in hopes of changing sexual assault not only at the U, but across the nation.

The Rape Recovery Center is a nonprofit organization in Salt Lake City. Services include support, testing and providing hope for victims from every walk of life. RRC helps people understand they are not alone, and understand that their attack does not define them.

Beta has been working with RRC for almost five years. Stereotypes tell the world fraternity men are part of the problem and are nothing but partiers. In 2014, the U’s chapter of Beta Theta Pi was featured on the Dr. Phil show. Phil McGraw’s wife, Robin McGraw, was in awe of what these men are trying to accomplish.

Philanthropy Week is full of fundraising for the RRC and happens every fall and spring. For Beta members, it’s a time to raise money for victims. Taking place from Feb. 26-March 3, spring 2018 Philanthropy Week was a huge success, according to Noah Carr. He is the current vice president of internal programming. His duties include planning events throughout the week. Many of these events take place at the recently renovated $2.3 million chapter house.

Beta planned fun events that brought all of Greek row, and even some non-Greeks out to support. From designing hoodies to creating pop sockets as a unique way to raise money, Carr was dedicated to finding ways to raise money.

“Handling the Philanthropy Week for Beta was an unbelievable and humbling experience. Working so close with the RRC and proactively doing things for the community is what makes all the work worth it. We raised $14,000 for this great organization in less than six days and it’s an awesome feeling to know you’re making a difference,” Carr said.

In addition to raising funds for RRC, many of the fraternity members spend time volunteering. Many of these men help however they can at the RRC in their free time.

Volunteering requires 40 hours of extensive training. Many Betas are hotline counselors. This means they act as an over-the-phone counselor to victims. These volunteers have saved lives by talking to victims.

“I started picking up shifts every week. I like the idea that I am there if someone needs me,” Ravi Sharma said in a recent recruitment video. Sharma has been a member of Beta for two years and is passionate about the partnership with the RRC.

On campus, Beta started organizing sexual assault forums once every semester. These are open discussions about sexual assault that are open to anybody. The forums are designed to be a relaxed environment to talk about intense subjects.

Members of Beta Theta Pi believe men need to do more to stand up against sexual violence. During an interview, there was a clear theme. They want victims to know they are not alone. These men want to speak out on an issue that has been swept under the rug for far too long.

Anthony Panuzio, 20, the current president of Beta, said the partnership with RRC is a main reason why he even chose Beta in the first place.

“I am honored to represent a group of men that are dedicated to change. Sexual violence is something many people just don’t want to talk about. Talking about it is the only way we are going to make a difference. It makes me proud that Beta’s aren’t afraid to be the ones who speak out,” Panuzio said.

In America, someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. One in three women and one in five men will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, according to RAINN.

It is time for serious change.

Everyone knows someone who has been affected by sexual assault. In a recent video Beta Theta Pi released, John Moffitt, vice president of recruitment for Beta at the U, says, “The slogan we came up with is: to the brave survivors of sexual assault we believe you.”

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Their brothers’ keeper — Utah charity targets refugee men

Story and slideshow by PETER JOHNSTON

Leul Mengistu hits the gas pedal of his company van. The light has turned green and he is late for an appointment with Julia, a female refugee from South Sudan. A banner with a blue, yellow and red logo that reads, “Catholic Community Services,” has been slapped onto the van’s side.  

Though Mengistu helps female refugees like Julia at Catholic Community Services (CCS) he has a new focus demographic: refugee men.

“I don’t want them to fall between the cracks,” he says, one hand on the steering wheel. There are programs for women and children and youth, but men are often forgotten in refugee assistance efforts.

The International Rescue Committee reports that “refugee men, a category not prioritized by the humanitarian system for support, are often not able to access support that they need and, even more often, feel themselves to be excluded from it.”

According to CARE International, a relief organization that primarily targets women, “among humanitarian actors, donors and government agencies, there is a common perception that men are best able to look after themselves and negotiate the complexities of displacement unaided.”

The report says this perception leads to less attention for the problems of male refugees.

Mengistu acknowledges that women and children are often the most disadvantaged groups fleeing conflict in their home countries. However, he also says he deals with many refugee men who have not received needed support from other organizations because of the common belief that men are “best able to look after themselves.”

Mengistu has responded to widespread ignorance toward male refugees with the Men’s Wellness Support Group — a program that will bring together 10 to 15 refugee men for weekly classes. Each “cohort” of men will learn about topics ranging from building a budget to coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Weekly instruction will be led by men: Mengistu, a couple of class facilitators, and guest speakers specially tapped because of their area of expertise. David Harris is one such guest speaker. He is slated to teach the class on physical health and comes from a background of pediatrics and insurance management.

Harris says he sees cultural adjustment as the greatest priority of the Men’s Wellness Support Group. “They [the refugee men] need to protect their own culture,” he says, but they also “need to understand how stuff works [in the U.S.] so that they can get along.”

Mengistu once directed a support group for women that focused primarily on health. However, he too says the new support group’s objectives go beyond just physical wellness. “I want them [the refugee men] to be very competitive,” he says. “Everybody’s smart, but now it’s camouflaged!”

That intellectual camouflage refers to the invalidation of refugees’ prior work experience and professional talent in the United States.

Mengistu’s boss, Aden Batar, is the director of Immigration and Refugee Resettlement at CCS. He explains the “camouflage” problem from his own perspective.

Batar left Somalia with his family in the mid 1990s with a law degree from his home country. He says that degree and legal experience went unrecognized in the U.S.

“Can you imagine how frustrating that would be?” Batar asks. Today, he says, refugees can more easily get college degrees that match the ones they earned previously because NGOs and governmental agencies provide financial help. However, “back then [he] was lost in the middle because [he] didn’t have those systems.”

Even with revamped nonprofit and governmental aid, Batar says the Men’s Wellness Support Group “fills a gap.”

Eighty percent of CCS cases are women and children, Batar says. Men aren’t seen later unless they have a demonstrated problem.

Despite widespread apathy on the issue, Utah’s history with refugees makes it an appropriate birthplace for the program. In 2015, when 30 governors called for the cessation of Syrian refugee resettlement, Gov. Gary R. Herbert announced Utah’s continued commitment to assist refugees.

Batar also highlights the strong public-private relationship among CCS and local religious organizations as a positive sign of Utah’s tolerance of refugees. “The most welcoming state in the U.S. is Utah,” he says.

While the Men’s Wellness Support Group has public backing, it faces significant challenges.

For one, cultural conflicts between refugees’ old way of life and their new one in America could foster misunderstanding and resentment. David Harris, the guest speaker who will handle the physical health section, underlines that the program’s facilitators and guest speakers may not understand all cultural nuances of refugees’ backgrounds. “We may say something that we feel strongly about or think is obvious when they disagree or don’t think it’s obvious,” Harris says.

The key, he says, will be for facilitators to “listen really closely to what [the refugees] have to say and what their concerns are rather than being very dogmatic.”

Participating refugees will come from more than three countries. Mengistu has recruited men from Burma, Somalia and Democratic Republic of the Congo for the support group so far. His proposed solution to bridge cultural divides is to recruit participants who speak one of only two languages — Karen (a language spoken in Burma) and Swahili.

Logistics also pose a problem. Mengistu will need to resolve the scheduling conflicts of refugee men who work night and day shifts and CCS interpreters who work business hours. The program director says he and the guest speakers will adapt to the schedules of the refugees.

Regardless of the program’s potential problems, Mengistu envisions far-reaching implications for the Salt Lake City community. He says refugee men will integrate with the larger community, enjoy more family unity and become more self-sufficient fathers.

The first of the weekly classes launched April 5 with a cohort of seven participants — two from Burma, five from East Africa. If all goes well, these seven men will walk away from the CCS classroom on May 24 with the skills to start a career and find daily joy. A tall order — but like Mengistu says, “I don’t want them to fall through the cracks.”

 

 

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Concealed carry on college campuses

Story by Alyssa Gum

SALT LAKE CITY— There have been laws banning carrying concealed handguns since before the Civil War. From 1920-1930, many states adopted the Uniform Firearms Act, which said that citizens could not carry a concealed firearm without a permit. After World War II, states began to issue concealed carry permits to anyone who applied for one and who didn’t have attributes that disqualified them.  In 2004, Utah became the first state where all public universities were required to allow students with permits to carry concealed weapons on campus. With recent news of shootings and gun violence, the debate over guns has been, once again, at the forefront of political debate. Moreover, the increasing number of schools that allow campus carry has added to the list of issues being debated between gun control and gun rights advocates.

According to a recent John Hopkins University study, data cited from the National Crime Victimization Survey shows that there are approximately 102,000 self-reported instances of self-defensive gun use per year, making this a rare occurrence. In this report the authors argue that to effectively stop an active shooter, there are a lot of skills and experience required. “Shooting accurately and making appropriate judgments about when and how to shoot in chaotic, high-stress situations requires a high level of familiarity with tactics and the ability to manage stress under intense pressure,” the study asserts. The authors support this claim by citing statistics of shooting inaccuracy by police officers who are thoroughly trained. “There is no reason to believe that college students, faculty and civilian staff will shoot accurately in active shooter situations when they have only passed minimal training requirements for a permit to carry.”

Julie Gazran, a representative from Students for Gun Free Schools, agrees that students don’t need guns on campus to defend themselves. College campuses are some of the safest places in the United States and with armed law enforcement officers trained to protect students and prevent potential violent incidents, says Gazran. Indeed, most students at the University of Utah appear to agree with Gazran. In a poll taken of 62 University of Utah undergraduate students, only 32 percent of students said that they felt campus was safer because of its concealed carry policy.

“Utah law prohibits weapons on school property, including college campuses, except for firearms that are in the possession of a concealed weapons permit holder. Other narrow exceptions apply, such as guns carried by law enforcement officials,” wrote Michael Young, former president of The University of Utah, in an e-mail to students and staff. In Utah, to obtain a concealed carry permit you must be 21 years of age (you can also get a provisional permit at age 18), fill out an application, send in a valid fingerprint card, send in a passport quality photo, complete a firearms course, and pass a background check. There are many different offenses and conditions that can disqualify someone from being able to obtain a concealed carry permit.

Still, the issue may not be so simple.

Todd Hicken, the Rocky Mountain Regional Director for Students for Concealed Carry, is a strong proponent for allowing students with legal permits to carry concealed firearms on campus. “The only people who legally can bring them onto campus are police officers and concealed carry permit holders,” says Hicken.

Many who disagree with campus carry argue that campus police officers have the ability to protect students because they are trained to do so and have the ability to use their firearms correctly. Because of this, students do not need to have weapons on campus. In contrast to this narrative, police officers only receive an average of 12-14 weeks of training, and the majority of that is not for firearms. Most people who obtain a concealed carry permit (6.5% of the adult population) take the time to practice shooting and keep up with their techniques, says Hicken.

Spencer Eiting, a sophomore student at the University of Utah and provisional concealed carry permit holder, regularly practices shooting at the gun range. He has been shooting since he was young and he visits the range every few weeks. “I feel comfortable with my aim, especially at the range where I’d have to use my weapon if I needed to,” says Eiting. He feels safer with a gun on campus. Campuses are typically regarded as safe areas, but this may not be the case. A study by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, which compared the school years from 2001-2006 with those from 2011-2016, found that shootings on college campuses in this time period had increased by 153%.

In 2016 at the University of Utah, there were 8 cases of rape, 9 cases of aggravated assault, and 11 instances of domestic violence. Whether the solution to these problems is decreasing the amount of people wielding guns or allowing more people to defend themselves is unclear, but this will surely continue to be a dividing issue for years to come.

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Stop the silence, end the violence: a spotlight on the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition

Story and gallery by RACHEL BEUS

Domestic violence is an extensive problem in the U.S., but most people may not know that the problem is even more prevalent here in Utah. In the U.S., 1 in 4 women will become a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime, while 1 in 3 women in Utah will become a victim of domestic violence. This statistic helps expose how serious of a problem this is in Utah.

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition is an organization that raises money and allocates those funds to various shelters and organizations all across Utah to provide goods and resources to victims of domestic violence. The UDVC has a motto that summarizes what it does: advocate, collaborate and educate.

Christopher Davies, the current associate director of UDVC, has been involved with the organization for approximately two and a half years. Davies decided to join UDVC because he has a 15 -year-old daughter and he worried about the culture that surrounds women and how dangerous domestic violence is. “I wanted to help women, however I could,” Davies said.

With his background in business, most of his duties and responsibilities as the associate director pertain to logistics that keep UDVC running properly. Davies said, “I do things like grant management, administration support, work with the board of directors, make sure we are stable and have permits.” He likes to refer to the UDVC team as the “watchdogs” when it comes to domestic violence.

Samantha Candland is the volunteer coordinator at the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. She has been involved with UDVC for almost two years. Her primary responsibility is to manage the LINKLine, which is a 24/7 anonymous and confidential crisis hotline where volunteers answer calls to help anyone experiencing domestic violence. All volunteers participate in an extensive 32-hour training before they take any calls because they are dealing with dangerous and highly sensitive situations. Volunteers help callers with everything from information, safety planning, advocacy and referrals to services.

Candland said UDVC is an “umbrella organization” that works to provide information to the community and provide referrals to services that any victims may need. Candland said there are three levels that organizations and services fall into the micro level, mezzo, level and macro level. The UDVC falls under the macro category because it works at the state level.

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition doesn’t make all of these important strides all by itself. One of its biggest tactics toward fighting domestic violence is collaboration. The UDVC works with a variety of different organizations to help support and aid survivors of domestic violence and abuse. UDVC collaborates with a variety of other organizations including Soroptimist Women’s Organization, Allstate Insurance and Alpha Chi Omega women’s fraternity. Davies said Alpha Chi Omega Beta Nu chapter is one of the UDVC’s biggest private supporters and collaborators.

Mackenzie Turner is the current vice president of philanthropy for Alpha Chi Omega. She works very closely with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and acts as a liaison between AXO and UDVC. With her position, Turner is in charge of organizing and running Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy events that raise money to help fund UDVC. “We put on events like our walk-a-mile in their shoes and doughnut let love hurt campaign events,” Turner said. She mentioned the Purple Ribbon Benefit AXO put on in the spring of 2017 that raised over $13,000 for the UDVC.

Turner said she and Alpha Chi Omega love working with UDVC and Candland, Davies and the whole UDVC team because they are hardworking and kind. She said that all of the women of Alpha Chi Omega are very passionate about the awareness and prevention of domestic violence and are glad that UDVC is just as enthusiastic as they are about what they believe to be a very important and crucial cause.

Davies said the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition’s mission is “to make domestic violence in Utah intolerable.” If we do not make it clear that domestic violence is not only illegal but also unacceptable and educate our community and really the whole world, then it becomes an obstacle that we cannot conquer. The UDVC knows that this problem with domestic violence will not go away overnight and that as far as it has come, there is still farther to go. But, by continuing education on this topic and spreading awareness, it will continue its goal of preventing future cases of domestic violence and abuse.

If you would like to volunteer to help UDVC, you may complete an online volunteer application.