Christian Loftus


Young Utah artists turn to their craft to find relief from the mental health crisis


When I first pitched stories, both my ideas had the same answer to Question 5, Why is this worth covering? “Local art is always worth covering.” It was my first gut response, and as I worked on this piece, I stuck with it.

I may be a bit biased – I’m a sometime local artist myself. For years I’ve taught and performed improv comedy around Utah. It’s a somewhat embarrassing thing to admit and talking about it never got me a second date. But the long and short is that I know just how healthy engaging with creativity can be for your mind. For me, acting was a reason to exist in a single moment, a single purpose. All around me I see people getting through their day with the stories of superheroes and podcasts about Gothic murders. Maybe it’s all been on my mind because I, like so many others, have had a really hard year. What better use of publishing space, I thought, than the things that are keeping us keeping it all together.

So, I started looking carefully. I searched profiles on Facebook Marketplace filtered by Salt Lake City locations. I was recommended an Etsy page by a friend who was obsessed with the tiny little things people can knit. I remembered the work of people I’ve bumped into that left their marks on me.

Then, I was talking to the artists, and as much came out during the little prep chats as did during the interviews. I was surprised by the uniformity of response. We talked about therapy, we talked about despair in the face of inequality, we talked about little homes carved into the wall and filled with people and soft things to love. They all shared my feelings about grounding oneself through creativity.

In other words, I found a direction by accident. Not only were we making art, we were doing it to keep ourselves sane. When I shifted my research to data, I found a larger version of the same picture. Utah has never had encouraging statistics about mental health issues, but the problem was exacerbated immensely by COVID-19. Rates of everything from depression to suicide skyrocketed from their spots in 2019.

So, as I wrote, I found myself turning to face that correlation head on. My little showcase of local artists became emblematic to me of a widespread medical crisis that trailed the pandemic close as a shadow.

Writing the profile aspects were easier for me than the rest of it, maybe because of my background in creative writing. Perhaps the most difficult was finding a balance between the expansiveness provided by medical data and the personalization provided by narrative. The word count was a hateful blessing in that regard. It forced me to evaluate how much of the piece could be devoted to each intended effect. I strove to emphasize relevancy in the lead, so that the reader would contextualize the artists’ work and finish the article.

That length restriction also dictated the kind of story I was able to write. My original vision, once my direction was settled on at least, was to write a slice of life-style narrative for each artist. My reluctance to give that up drove me into the arms of William Faulkner, who famously said, “In writing you must kill all your darlings.” What surprised me was how liberating it was to be forced away from my comfortable styles and forms. I often like to think of my writing in terms of intentions. What is my intention in writing a piece? What is my intended impact on the reader when using literary conventions? How does my formatting help or hurt the communication of my intended message? With this piece, I was forced to answer these questions in excruciating brevity. It was, as my mom always says, good for me.

My intention with this piece was that it will reach an audience who, like me, didn’t know that what they were feeling was everywhere. Local art is always worth covering, and so are resources that point people with potentially life-threatening mental health issues toward acceptance and treatment. It’s an especially important message here. Utah has some of the worst rates of depression and suicide in the country. I think the artists will think it a fitting tribute to share their work to this end, since their hopes were to accomplish the same thing – acceptance, tolerance, and looking outwards.


Christian is a student and educator. He earned his associate degree at Utah Valley University, where he graduated with honors, and is finishing his B.S. in Communication at the University of Utah. Following graduation, he plans to seek a master’s degree in Writing and Rhetoric Studies.

His teaching credentials include working with first- and second-generation children of immigrants in Salt Lake City, serving underprivileged adults in Washington, D.C., and teaching classes in improv theater.

Christian has a passion for community building and has worked closely with the American Cancer Society to lobby for patients’ rights. When he’s not engaged in pursuing his professional goals, he explores his passions by writing speculative fiction, studying ancient and modern folklore, reviewing aging horror movies, and counting down the days to Halloween.

The new coronavirus shaves years off school communication growth

Story and photos by REBECCA HALE 

A middle school student participating in virtual learning in November 2020.

The new coronavirus has rocked the world of education, from preschool through college. Everyone has had to adjust to different ways of learning as this virus continues to wreak havoc across the world. Besides requiring face masks, sanitizing stations, closed water fountains, and more, COVID-19 has challenged parents, students, teachers, and staff to choose online learning, in-person learning, or dual learning.  

Yet how are we getting all of the information we need? It has become imperative for schools to create cohesive ways to communicate with families. 

Larry and Florence Weir never imagined a world as they live in today, even without COVID-19 stirring things up. Communication was easier when the couple worked in education from the 1960s through most of the 1990s. Both of the Weirs have their master’s degree, Larry in engineering, and Florence in business. 

Picture of reading homework submitted electronically to a teacher for grading.

They agreed that communication between students and parents was rudimentary, a phone call to the parents or communicating any thoughts or concerns through parent-teacher conferences. 

“We would rely on the kids to get their assignments,” Larry said during an interview. “At the junior high level, I always encouraged my teachers to contact the parents. Whether it be good news or bad news.”

Communication without resources is very difficult and time-consuming. Prior to email, faculty would try to reach parents at home. This outreach would often spill over into teachers’ personal time. 

“I think one of the limiting factors, yes, work is a limiting factor, but we would schedule our parent-teacher conferences only in the day when I first started teaching,” Florence said. “But by the end of my teaching career, we had them in the evenings.” If that still wasn’t convenient, she said they would schedule another time to meet at the parents’ discretion.  

Former educators Larry and Florence Weir used to rely on the telephone to get hold of parents.

Not having an established relationship with each child’s parents led to rocky support for teachers. If their child was ever in trouble, the Weirs said teachers were often blamed by the parent.

Once the movement to increase positive communication with parents was enforced, teachers saw a corresponding increase in effective, supportive communication from parents. 

Today, two things are driving the need for communication. One is the requirement to report COVID-19 exposures and cases. The other is a desire for instantaneous information.

Carrier SI Inc., which specializes in designing a variety of networking solutions, is seeking ways to expand real-time connections.

Richard Miller, chief executive officer of Carrier SI, said it works kind of like an insurance broker. Carrier SI is a master agent for companies including Avaya, RingCentral, GoToMeeting, Zoom that designs customized unified communication solutions for all voice, video, SMS, chat, and wireless needs securely in the cloud. 

LOGO image courtesy of Carrier SI

“I think what’s so fun about what I do is it’s never boring. I’m always designing or helping with my team design something different for each business,” Miller said in a Zoom interview. 

His company has many solutions for schools, ranging from minimal to expansive upgrades. Several services require less information technology (IT) support, which would actually reduce the cost. However, Miller said school districts are constrained by budget. Even adding a low-cost upgrade seems out of the realm of possibility. 

“We called so many of our clients and I would bet a bit more than half of them just felt like they were being ‘sold,’” or being talked into a product they didn’t need or want. “Even with the upgrade being free for 120 days,” Miller added. 

Some of the schools around Utah have been using tools including Google Classroom, Skyward, Canvas, Remind, and Alma to digitally engage with students and parents. This helps communication be cohesive among platforms — online, in-person, dual learning. 

“I think there are so many things that are good with what’s going on with COVID,” Miller said. But, “there are better ways for teachers to communicate with parents.” 

Finding what works for the needs of schools, staff, parents, and students may be difficult, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. However, Larry Weir said, “You do the best you can in any walk of life.” 

Morgan Parent



I developed the idea of writing a story about the Red Door by combining my interest in writing with my familiarity with the location. Surprisingly, there is not much coverage on the Red Door in Salt Lake City publications. Even when speaking with friends, few of them have ever heard of the place. This often means I get the honor of taking them for the first time, but more people need to know about the great drinks and the bar deserves more business!

I found my sources by going directly to the source. The owner was on board with the idea of having me write the story and kindly answered all of my questions. The manager has been working there just a year short of how long the bar has been open and was also glad to talk about her experience. My third source is a regular of the bar who would be able to provide a customer’s view of the location.

The main obstacle to writing this story was figuring out when the owner and manager would be working so I’d be able to talk to them. The other bartenders are lovely, but I had my heart set on those two specifically.

I wanted to write a story about the Red Door from the beginning to now, touching on aspects of the location, clientele, and drinks. After getting my quotes, I like to copy and paste them into a separate document in the approximate place where they’ll make sense in the story, then start writing real sentences from there.

Unfortunately, not everything made the final cut. There was not a natural place to include that the monkey in the corner was designed and built by Mark Hofling, who has worked designing movie sets and happened to be a friend of a friend of the owner. Before the Red Door took over the space it occupies, a copy and print shop called Quick and Reilly’s stood in its place. Also left out were a couple mentions of Utah’s unique liquor laws and the working atmosphere between employees. Surprise — they get along really well, just like a true work family should.

All in all, I like spending time at the Red Door for a drink or two. The drinks are amazing and the owner is one of the most interesting people I know. Finding a way to potentially send a few more customers through the door with a school assignment was the best blend of different parts of my life I could come up with.


Messy hair and late nights – these signature traits are near constants in this young professional’s life.

A stroke of luck and dash of hard work provided Morgan the opportunity to get a taste for working in the music industry on a local and national scale. Her experience includes positions at Kilby Court, K-UTE Radio, and Universal Music Group.

When she isn’t listening to music or at a concert, she can be found writing, drawing, or taking photographs – doing something creative!

Morgan has had works published in her high school’s literary magazine, K-UTE Radio’s blog, and Pinstriped Zine. Ideally, this list will continue to grow as the years pass by.

Morgan completed her Bachelor of Science in Communication at the University of Utah in 2019. From there, she plans on relocating to the Pacific Northwest to pursue a career in marketing that will hopefully bring her back to the music industry.

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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Utah musicians discuss struggles for work and appreciation from residents

Story and illustrations by NATALIE ZULLO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reflection Blog: Finding a balance when writing about harassment

By Emily Albrecht

My Story: In the Salt Lake Fire Department, it’s still a man’s world

When it comes to talking about a subject that can be as personal and volatile as sexual harassment, it’s hard to know where to begin. I have friends that work with the Salt Lake Fire Department, and I knew that there was a story to tell about the casual sexism that borders on harassment in such a male-dominated environment. I didn’t want to write a scandalous exposé of something along the lines of Harvey Weinstein, I wanted to highlight the ways that women are still seen as objects: even when they’re doing the same type of back-breaking work as the men around them.

The first and hardest part of developing this story was finding people who were ready to talk on the record. Everyone in this story has had their names changed for privacy. If they didn’t, no one would’ve been willing to come forward. I knew from hearing offhand comments that there was something there, but when your job is on the line if someone gets wind of what you’re saying, it’s quite the deterrent to speaking freely. My issue was this: I wanted a space for both the women and the men who have seen this type of behavior to tell their story, I needed it to be reputable so I didn’t look like I was making things up, and the people who gave their stories to my piece had to be protected. I struggled with how much information was too little or too much, whether I needed to focus more on reputability or safety. In the end, I came to a conclusion that defined my writing and the rest of my process: women will always be told they’re lying. Victims will never be believed by everyone, much as they may speak their truth. I had to put their safety first, and trust that people will believe the testimonies regardless of what they’re told about the speakers.

In the end, there were a lot of things that I wish I could’ve included that I couldn’t because it jeopardized the safety of my sources. For every story that’s happened to every woman on the force, there’s ten more that are incredibly personal and would give away the source in an instant to anyone who’d seen it happen. I think for some journalists, they’d err on the opposite side of me, and maybe that’s a mistake. But I stand by my decisions, and if nothing else they taught me more about myself.

In the Salt Lake Fire Department, it’s still a man’s world

By Emily Albrecht

SALT LAKE CITY — In the Salt Lake City Fire Department, women show interest but still seem to be on the outskirts of the “boys’ club” that’s been cultivated.

Part of this is historically, firefighting has been men’s work. This dynamic has real-world consequences, and those are becoming increasingly apparent. In order to survive in industries like this, women often adapt by distancing themselves from each other or trying to become ‘one of the boys,’ which furthers preexisting norms. One of the biggest issues, however, is sexual harassment. In a study by Pew Research Center, 62% of women in male-dominated fields said that sexual harassment was an issue in their industry, as opposed to 42% in female-dominated fields. In that same study, women in male-dominated industries reported 10-20% more discrimination on the basis of sex than those in other fields.

When it comes to the SLFD, it’s evident that there are stories to be told, but victims are too scared to speak openly about it. Of the five people that were approached to be interviewed for this story, only three were willing to talk and all of them did it on the condition that the interviews would be anonymous.

Liam*, a 25-year-old male firefighter, said part of it is a culture that punishes those that speak out. He’s seen many women forced to prove themselves in ways the men aren’t required to and has friends who have experienced sexual harassment or assault but don’t want to tell anyone out of fear of being “blacklisted.”

“If you haven’t had at least five years of experience, you aren’t expected to have an opinion on anything.” Even after that, he says it is nearly impossible to make real change, saying the system just “isn’t set up for it.” The men in positions of power are, for the most part, happy where they’re at. As long as they continue to benefit from the systems, Liam doesn’t have a whole lot of hope. “It’s not a system that’s based on change. There’s a lot of opposition, culturally and otherwise.”

For the women in the department, it is evident they love their jobs. When so few of them are women, it is something they have to love, or it wouldn’t be worth it. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2018, 33.9% of EMS personnel and 5.1% of firefighters were women. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why one EMT called it a “boys’ club” or, as Liam said, a “fraternity.”

As for the actual women in the department, they’re obviously competent and passionate about what they do. Katie*, 18, and Sarah*, 22, both work with Gold Cross as first responders, and therefore spend significant time with the firefighters on calls. Sarah feels like she’s built a rapport with the men, to the point where she’s not worried if they try anything with her because she knows she can tell them to back off, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t notice the differences between how they treat men and women.

When new people come on to the team, especially guys, she tells them that although she’s treated nicely, she “is a female, so that changes the way they treat us.” It’s not always a “creepy” kind of nice, she emphasizes, but it doesn’t happen with the men on the team.

Image by Emily Albrecht

Aside from that, there are more concrete incidents or actions that get brushed off out of practicality. She’s there to do her job, and although they know better than to give her a hug and “leav[e] their hands on [her] lower back,” she doesn’t have the time to do anything about it. It’s a matter of picking your battles, and she finds it easier to say “no” and expect them to listen. “It makes me uncomfortable and then I just leave it alone.”

That said, there are some things that can’t help but put a woman on edge. “[I] knew a specific crew that had little nicknames for every woman at Gold Cross,” says Sarah. Even if some of them weren’t derogatory, some of them were, which left her wondering “well what on earth were they calling me?”

This uncertainty is echoed by Katie, saying “I feel like I need to be on my guard” around the firefighters. She’s happy with what she does, and doesn’t feel like she’s in a hostile environment, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have reservations. It’s not just about the small comments here and there that could be construed as sexual, it’s also about the attitude towards women in general.

There’s one part of the physical exam to become a firefighter that is especially difficult, says Katie, one all of the men say “when they watch it, none of the females pass.”(?) It’s this type of attitude that’s frustrating for Katie, and part of what she called the “boys’ club.” Despite her own experiences with harassment, her hopes for the future are high. “In my career, I don’t want it to be ‘cool’ to be a female firefighter. I want it to be normal, not just nine out of 400.”

*Names have been changed for privacy.

Salt Lake City: Safe or Survival for LGBT Youth?

By Kierra Cable

SALT LAKE CITY — On April 4th, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints revised its controversial 2015 policy that stated that those living in same sex relationships are considered ‘apostates’. According to (According to the church, apostasy is characterized as when individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel. The church removed this policy from its records, allowing children of same sex relationships to be baptized and receive blessings. Instead of having the title of apostasy, same sex couples are now referred to as living in serious transgression.

Although serious transgression calls for definite consequences, removing the title of apostasy is a serious relief for same sex couples. However, the reversal of this policy has created a myriad of reactions toward the church.

Some angry members believe that it is too late. An article by Benjamin Knoll stated that the leading cause of death for youth ages 15-19 is suicide. His article Youth Suicide Rates and Mormon Religious Context, tackles the possibility of a correlation between suicide and LGBT youth in the LDS church. During the period of 2015-2019, the church had large numbers of members remove their names from the church role due to disagreement, anger, and even those who took their own life

Unfortunately, suicide is not the only danger toward Utah youth of Utah. An overwhelming amount of youth living in homelessness raises the question: Is this also connected to the predominantly Mormon population? 40% of the homeless youth living in the Salt Lake area identify as part of the LGBT community.

Jayme Anderson of the VOA Youth Resource Center works to house thirty to forty youth every night. The Youth Resource Center provides meals three times a day to youth ages 16-22. The Youth Resource Center It prides itself on being an accepting and safe space for anyone. The staff truly reflect their mission of creating safety for all youth who come through.

“The youth we see are generally coming from a religious background. By identifying as LGBT, the youth assume that they aren’t safe in their homes. Whether that’s true or not, we see a large amount of youth just wanting to be accepted and loved,” Anderson said, “The stigma of LGBT youth in the church has caused a large amount of youth to become homeless.”

Bryson, a youth involved at the VOA, stated that “I didn’t feel safe in my house. When they released the new policy in 2015, my parents tried their best to almost knock the gay out of me. They didn’t want me to be an apostate. They were embarrassed by me, but I can’t help that. I am going to love who I want to love even if it means getting kicked out on the streets.”

When the reversal came about, Bryson’s parents attempted to reach out to him. “I didn’t want anything to do with them. They already had their chance. The church should never have done that to us. Reversing the policy is like putting a bandaid on the situation, it’s bull shit.” Although Bryson’s story is not uncommon, it’s not concrete evidence for of a correlation between homelessness and the LDS church.

With the new revision to the 2015 policy, church leaders are hopeful that this will bring LGBT members and allies back into the church. “The church embodies love, just like our Savior Jesus Christ would” stated Mark Lewis, a bishop of a South Jordan stake, “With this new revision of policy we rely on our Prophet Russell Nelson to guide us as the church. We believe that prophets speak directly to God and if we have faith, we can be guided by that revelation. This new revelation will encourage members of the church who struggle with same sex attraction to feel at home. Our church beliefs on marriage haven’t change, but the way we include others has. I hope that every member and nonmember can be reminded that they too are a child of God.”

Since the reversal of the 2015 policy, we have seen many different responses to the church. A large congregation is in full support of Nelson’s revelation. Another portion of the church is angry that the policy was introduced in the first place.  An article by The Salt Lake Tribune entitled, ‘It hurt people’s hearts’ — How the LDS Church’s now-rescinded policy affected these LGBTQ believers and why the pain persists, shows both ends of the perspective well.

“When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rescinded that policy earlier this month, anger accompanied their elation, hurt tempered their happiness, bruises scarred any healing” (Salt Lake Tribune). The battle of doctrine and gay rights continues to persist and damage as time goes on. The growth of this conflict will continue to push children out of their homes and even to take their own lives. With the possible correlation of LGBT homeless youth and religious backgrounds we can potentially anticipate an increase in numbers. As a community we can come to the aid of those who need a roof over their head and people to love them unconditionally.

Word Count: 861


Teen nicotine use in epidemic proportions

by Emerald Barney

SALT LAKE CITY – Teen usage of electronic cigarettes is expanding, with 3.6 million middle school and high school-aged teens confirming their usage in a survey conducted by the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) in 2018. The overall number of users has increased by 1.5 million since 2017, making electronic cigarettes the number one teen used tobacco and nicotine product.

Electronic cigarettes, more commonly known as e-cigarettes, e-cigs, or vapes, were first introduced to the United States in 2007. Initially marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, e-cigarettes gained popularity among those trying to quit smoking. With the option to choose the nicotine levels in the products, e-cigs made cutting back on the habit a reality. After surviving bans on sales, regulations, and research, e-cigarettes have seen enormous commercial growth. Roughly 10.8 million American adults currently use e-cigarettes, with more than half of them being under 35 years old.

New products emerging on the market are offering smaller devices, rechargeable batteries, and new flavors. These products are appealing new consumers into the market – many of whom never smoked in the first place, creating nicotine addictions that weren’t there to begin with. Younger e-cigarette users are more likely to become addicted to nicotine and have greater difficulty quitting. They are also nearly four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes than those who do not use e-cigs. But e-cigs are becoming more popular among teens, 2018 saw a 78% increase in high school users, as it is seen as a social activity. Logan Loftis, a 19-year-old student at Utah State University does not own an e-cigarette but will vape when she’s with her friends. “People make fun of the ‘vape kids’ in high school, even though everyone does it,” she said. “It is seriously stigmatized. I think they are fun to use once in a while. They are quite comical too, but overall they can be fun to do tricks and ‘shotgun’ with friends.” Loftis recognizes the possible negative effects and is thankful she isn’t addicted to using an e-cig.

Many teens underestimate how addictive nicotine is and have low risk perceptions of products like e-cigarettes. Teens are more likely to experiment with different substances in their youth, especially if they believe that e-cigs are safer than cigarettes. Tau Mamata, 20, has been using a variety of e-cigarettes since he was 16 and purchased his own when he turned 19. “E-cigs don’t produce tar on the lungs. You’re not as likely to have lung or throat cancer,” he said.  “I just think they are overall safer, especially since you can control the amount of nicotine you inhale.” The NYTS found that 17.1 percent of teen users believe that “they are less harmful than other tobacco products such as cigarettes.”

One of Tau Mamata’s e-cigarettes photographed in April 2019. (AP Photo/Emerald Barney)

E-cigarettes don’t contain the carcinogens that tobacco cigarettes do, encouraging the belief that they are the safer option. However, e-cigarettes are not without toxins. Vape aerosol can contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, acrolein, and acetaldehyde – which are found in cigarette smoke and can cause irreversible lung damage. Nicotine can potentially harm adolescent brain development, particularly areas that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control.

Some brands that are popular among kids, such as JUUL, deliver especially high levels of nicotine. Users may be getting a higher concentration of toxins due to the frequency and depth of the inhalation. According to the manufacturer of JUUL, a single pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. Teens are especially susceptible to addiction to nicotine. The risks and lack of research regarding long term use are at the forefront of the restrictions and regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state lawmakers.

The FDA has developed the Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, targeting the prevention of youth access to tobacco products, restricting advertisements of tobacco products aimed at youth, and educating teens about the dangers of e-cigarettes. The FDA encouraged restrictions to be placed on all flavored products, excluding tobacco, mint, and menthol. The restrictions would limit flavored products to be sold in age-restricted, in-person locations, and if sold online, require strict practices for age verification. Data from the NYTS shows that 31 percent of teens who used e-cigarettes cited the availability of flavors such as candy, fruit, and chocolate as a primary reason for their continued uses of the products.

In the 2019 Utah legislative session, HB252 proposed by Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clearfield), would impose an 86 percent tax on vaping products. Ray has been trying for several years to get a tax on e-cigarettes approved to discourage teen usage. If approved, the tax could potentially generate $23.6 million each year. However, the bill failed to make it through the state senate before the 2019 session ended.

Lewie Lambros, co-owner of Vapor Dreams in Bountiful, Utah, is adamant that HB252 would be destructive to business and encourages lawmakers to enforce online sale bans. “If that bill went through it would put the vapor industry out of business,” Lambros said. “Kids have dispensable money; they don’t have bills like adults do so it’s easier for them to come up with the money.” Lambros determines that the bill would hurt business and the consumers that the products are helping. He stated that the way to eliminate teen usage to enforce punishments on teens who are caught using e-cigarettes and make access online stricter.

Teen tobacco use was nearly eradicated, but now national concern rises once again about the safety and health of the youth. Reports like those conducted by the NYTS show the concerns are justified. E-cigarettes can help encourage adult smokers to a less harmful delivery system, it just should not be at the expense of exposing a new generation to the addiction of nicotine.

Looking back on teens and e-cigs

by Emerald Barney

I’ve wanted to go into advertising for nearly seven years. I try and stay up to date on new advertisements as well as new regulations relating to advertising. At the end of 2018, the FDA was putting regulations on JUUL because they were putting out “fun” ads – bright colors, young actors, and new flavors. This was targeting teens in a way that was familiar, but it was for a product that was illegal for teens to use – nicotine.

When I came up with the idea, Utah legislators were thinking along the same lines up on the hill. Rep. Paul Ray wanted to impose an 86% tax on vape products, which seemed outrageous to me. I wanted to talk to him about it and the reasoning for it being so high. I also wanted to talk to vape shop owners to see how they felt about the FDA regulations and the bill proposed by Rep. Ray. The shop owner brought up a good point that if they wanted to limit teen use, they would tackle the online age verification issue as that’s where most kids are getting their products.

I also wanted to talk the people I know who use e-cigarettes, as we all grew up with this idea that drugs are bad, and they will kill you. I was curious why they started, why they continue, and what they think about the negative effects. What interested me was that every one of my friends told me they thought it was safer than smoking – as if that is the only alternative as opposed to not doing drugs.

The biggest issues I had was when I felt conflicted on what I wanted to report on. There is so much data from the FDA about how it can harm teens, but then after talking to the shop owners, I realized it isn’t their fault teens are addicted. They can’t always be the ones trying to discourage teen use and enforce it as well. I decided to make the points of both sources, strengthening the idea that no one wants teens to become addicted. The thing I found most interesting were that my friends spend anywhere from $30-$90 a month to keep up with their habits. The bill proposed by Rep. Ray stood on the idea that teens aren’t going to have that kind of money to spend, but I don’t see any of my friends stopping because of the price.

My Story: Teen nicotine use

Elise Dunaway’s Reflection Blog

By: Elise Dunaway

My original idea was a vaguer version of my final idea. I wanted to write about the connection college students feel to pop culture. In Fall 2017 I took an Introduction to Interpersonal Communication course. One of the concepts we talked about was parasocial relationships. In a parasocial relationship, one person puts in a lot of time and emotional energy into the relationship. The other party does not reciprocate because they’re a fictional character, celebrity, athlete, or other media figure. They don’t know the person exists. Writing about parasocial relationships was a more specific way to talk about my original idea, and I could still apply it to college students. 

I first emailed Dr. Julia Moore, the professor for the Introduction to Interpersonal Communication course I took. I also emailed a lot of professors from the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah who focus on social psychology. Dr. Bert Uchino, the Department Chair, emailed me back and was able to answer my questions. I reached out to a friend, Lily Chidester, so that I could also have the perspective of a college student. I think they were the best sources because Dr. Moore and Dr. Uchino had a lot of knowledge about the concept and Lily had a lot of experience with it. I feel like her comments are reflective of many college students’ experience. 

The only real obstacle I encountered was setting up interviews with my sources. I never heard back from a lot of people I emailed, but luckily heard back from Dr. Moore and Dr. Uchino. Finding data to use in my story was slightly difficult, but I ended up finding a great study that added a lot of insight to my topic.

I decided to focus on college students because they’re the audience for my article. I also think that teens and college students are more likely to experience parasocial relationships than older people due to the use and presence of social media in their lives. When doing research, I kept notes of what information I felt was the most relevant to the article I was trying to write. Having the notes kept me organized because I didn’t have to go back and scour through websites to find the information I wanted.

I approached writing this article as I did the other articles I had to write for this course. I found my topic, gathered sources, and tried to arrange the information in the most engaging and accessible way. I used quotes from my sources in places where they explained the concept better than I could. 

There were quite a few interesting details that didn’t make it in. My friend Lily was pretty in depth about how her parasocial relationships has strengthened her interpersonal relationships. I wasn’t able to include all of what she said about that. Dr. Moore mentioned that parasocial relationships can possibly help decrease prejudices. Dr. Uchino talked about how relationships can influence how long a person lives. While there haven’t been any studies done to see if parasocial relationships are part of this, Dr. Uchino guesses that a positive parasocial relationship could be good for mental and physical health. I wish I could have included everything they said, but my story would have been too long if I did.

Nothing in particular about writing this surprised me. A lot of what I learned about parasocial relationships made sense. I think it’s interesting that the concept of parasocial relationships isn’t more well-known because it’s something everyone experiences.

A look at parasocial relationships

Campus involvement and student success

By Michael Boswell

SALT LAKE CITY— College can be a very exciting but stressful time in our lives. Senior’s in high school develop presumptions of how hard college will be. Upon arriving, and after orientation, they find out that it isn’t that bad, that they will survive. Coming from out of state, a new school, town, and area can be quite intimidating. Some of your friends will join fraternities, sororities, and clubs while they are in college, and you, well you may do nothing. Your friends are out at their events and you are sitting in your dorm room, or your house thinking about how can you make college better, you wonder how being apart of something on campus can impact your college experience.

There are many ways to get involved on campus. Whether it be joining a fraternity, sorority, or any club, there are many ways to enjoy these experiences. Though this poses the question of what are the pros and cons of being involved on campus at the U of U. Does it really better your experience or does it add to the difficulty?

Dylan James pictured middle with fraternity brothers. (August 2018) At a Greek Week event. (Unewswriting photo/ Michael Boswell)

“There are pros and cons to everything you do.” Said Dylan James a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. “I chose to rush to better my experience. Not being from Utah, I didn’t have a lot of friends at the U. I thought it would be a great opportunity to make new friends and meet more people. Being apart of Sigma Chi makes you be accountable, you have to maintain good grades and they push you to better yourself. We also give back to the community, by holding fundraisers for Huntsman Cancer Institute. This year we were the first Sigma Chi fraternity to raise over $100,000 for the Cancer Institute. I was very skeptical to rush a fraternity, because of the movies and how they make them seem, but it has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made.”

Research has shown that joining a extracurricular organizations are beneficial to college students. They help bring students and faculty together, let students interact in a non-formal atmosphere, and allow students to strengthen their leadership and communications skills. According to a study conducted by Birkenholz “Communications skills of College of Agriculture students are enhanced through participation in student organizations and activities.” What if none of that sounds interesting to you. Maybe you aren’t a social butterfly and you enjoy your alone time. What would happen if you chose not to join a club or Greek Row. It wouldn’t be the end of the world but how could it affect or add to your college experience.

From left to right: Amanda Brandao, Cam Daley
Cam Daley enjoying a football game with his girlfriend. September, 2019. (U News Writing, Michael Boswell)

“At first it was different from high school.” Said Cam Daley, a student at the University of Utah. “Since I’ve played sports my whole life and being apart of a team it was a hard transition. But since I’m not playing baseball or football anymore it makes me focus more on academics, and not the social aspect of it. Part of me would want to do it over but I am happy at where I am. My first two years I would join something but my last two I wouldn’t.” Cam also went on to talk about how his first two years he felt out of place at the U. However now he feels that his priorities are in line with school, and he feels he belongs.

In a John Hopkins University Press article it stated that, “Females and full-time students who spent more time preparing for class or otherwise engaging in academic tasks earned a higher GPA and reported higher satisfaction with their overall academic experience.” And a recent study from Ohio State University suggests that “students who work 20 hours a week or more are less likely to be involved in a student organization. Compared to students who work less than 20 hour a week, or students who do not work.”  Students who belonged to an organization felt more connected to the university, more confident, and learned problem solving skills, the article said.

Back row left to right (Players) : Darian Power, Kelsin Pupunu, Brad Jackson, Alex Egan, Nate Nelson, Will Frantz. Front row left to right: Tim Nelson, Jason Frantz, Ezequil Garcia, Nate Asper, Michael Boswell, Teddy Arlington, Rocky Mars. University Utah Rugby takes third in Las Vegas tournament in February, 2019 (U News Writing, Michael Boswell)

It can be very hard to let go of who you used to be in high school. The person you were back then will be different than who you are today.  Some students carry on some aspects whether it be sports, or friends. Nate Nelson is apart of the University of Utah Rugby team but he also works three jobs, and is a fulltime student. “It can be hard to find a balance” said Nate Nelson. “I know this won’t last forever, so that’s why I do it now. The bonds I have created through rugby and what it has taught me will last a lifetime.”

It can be hard to determine what you want out of college, whether you want the social aspect or the academics. Your priorities can and will change throughout your college journey, but to narrow down on what is important to you will help make this journey a lot easier.  College is a great experience and should be used for its full potential. There is no right or wrong on wanting to join a club or not. The worst thing you can do, is look back on your college experience and have regrets.

Michael Boswell: Reflection on Campus involvement and student success

By Michael Boswell: Campus involvement and student success

As an incoming Freshman, I remember being scared of college. The idea of college and not knowing what was in store for me was intimidating. When we were told to write a story, this idea instantly popped into my head. Since I play rugby I was curious how my college experience differed to other students. Was it beneficial to be a part of a club or organization on campus, or was there no major impact. How could joining a club or Greek Row help or make it more difficult? Locating my sources was fairly easy. I knew a lot of people apart of on-campus organizations but little who aren’t. It was also difficult to find a study on students who aren’t apart of organizations and how their success is. They were the best sources because they have been students at the U for some time now, and understand the effects of being apart or not being apart of something on campus. My focus was to provide people with a solution. If you were thinking about joining but were scared, or maybe you weren’t how could it affect or better your college experience. My writing process was broken up into multiple days. Knocking bits and pieces out time at a time. I found this to be quite effective. My brain was able to stay fresh and process information as needed. What surprised me was how passionate people were towards what they were apart of.

The Punishment of Participating in Student Production

April 15th, 2019

By Brock Bernstein

SALT LAKE CITY — Like many university students across the United States, Cian Smyth, 20, is no stranger to a slim budget.

Working 28 hours a week as a director and producer for the University of Utah’s gaming production team, one would expect Smyth to be earning more than many of the team’s other members. They would be wrong. He currently earns the same amount as everyone else: absolutely nothing.

His story is just one of many among the university’s production team. Despite this, these students continue to invest their spare time into both the recording and streaming of games for Utah’s student Esports teams.

“I think a lot of students realize the grim reality of the esports industry is [that they’ll] be doing unpaid work for quite a while,” says Smyth. “I’m not happy that our production is perpetuating that.” While he acknowledges any kind of compensation lies far within the future, Smyth is just one of many voices advocating for reimbursement for the team’s efforts.

The loudest and most supportive of these voices is that of A.J. Dimick, the 40-year-old Director of Esports at the University of Utah. “Our production team is one of the most zealous, professional and talented volunteer organizations in collegiate esports,” Dimick proudly proclaimed. “They absolutely should be scholarshipped and officially part of the varsity program. What they do for the University is a service and they do it incredibly well.” While scholarships are generally based on academic or athletic merit, Dimick feels strongly that the team’s quality of work is deserving of such an award and is quick to share his frustration of a limited budget.

“I think there are always limitations to what volunteer force can accomplish relative to what could happen with additional resources,” he admitted. “What has been accomplished is remarkable and has made the argument for what we hope comes next a very reachable reality.”

AJ Dimick
A.J. Dimick, Director of Esports for the University of Utah, showing off a game he helped to produce, Feb. 17, 2016, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dimick speaks of the importance of gaming, promoting the U’s top ranking Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) program.

According to a National Public Radio interview of Mark Kantrowitz, a recognized expert on college financing and author of Secrets to Winning a Scholarship, “less than 3/10ths of a percent of undergraduate students pursuing bachelor’s degrees have won enough money to cover their complete tuition… so most students are going to have to rely on federal grants, state grants, and money from the college itself.”

One such example would be Utah’s 21-year-old League of Legends Varsity Team Captain, James “Jayms” Tran.  The official NCSA website mentions how the University of Utah was the first Power Five school to launch a varsity esports program, having done so in 2017. Tran looks back on the time before this fondly.

“The people that you get to meet and interact with has been a really great opportunity for me, and was a reason that I played for the team in the first place,” Tran says. As he’s gotten older and looked to further his education, Tran confessed that without a scholarship he wouldn’t have been able to play for the team in 2019. “Having the scholarship allowed me to do something that I really [enjoy],” noted Tran, “which is playing competitive League of Legends. Without it, I would have to find a job in order to pay for tuition.”

While Tran doesn’t participate as a member of the production team, he remains sympathetic to their plight. “Students are attending university, and it is expensive. Not being offered money definitely hinders people’s ability to participate in production.”

U of U League Team
The U celebrates the founding of its first varsity esports team, Oct. 4, 2017, in Salt Lake City, Utah. This marks the first of many esports teams, with the U now including varsity teams for Rocket League, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and more.

A former professional player for Blizzard Entertainment’s Heroes of the Storm, Skylar “Casanova” Mulder is well-acquainted with the amount of labor needed to put on a broadcast. “FI know how important a great production team is. What we do as pros doesn’t happen without the people behind us making it look good,” Mulder laughed. “I think having scholarships or paid positions and incentives, as well as making connections and working with industry professionals in order to train more competent production staff would be amazing.”

Mulder’s career was brought to a grinding halt when Blizzard announced late on December 13th, 2017, that it would be shutting down its Heroes of the Storm Global Championship esports league. Wasting no time, he has since worked as a League of Legends caster with the University of Utah, but openly expresses his disappointment with the handling of the production team.

“I think the skills required are very much worthy of a scholarship, but if they were made paid positions with internships available for students to get experience and connections in the field, I think that would be a great alternative.” While Mulder hopes to continue casting for the U, “Casanova” is forced to supplement his income through playing in tournaments for both League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm on a weekly basis.

Mulder, a former professional esports player, feels right at home commentating for the U’s varsity League of Legends games, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here Mulder is seen breaking down the two teams’ picks and bans before the match starts.

Though all members of the production team feel both pride and passion in their work, the amount of time required from each member has weighed upon even the most optimistic of the group. One such example would be Archie “LegendOfSleek” Smith, who has worked within every role possible: casting, observing, and directing whenever he’s needed. Yet even he notes of constant complaints among peers, due to the difficulty of juggling classes, actual jobs, and production. Despite his glass-half-full outlook, Smith admits just how fruitless the majority of opportunities can prove. “Esports connections are about as valuable as a lottery ticket,” says Smith. “For some people they mean everything, [but for most]: nothing.”

  • Smith broadcast

Reflection Blog


Salt Lake City: Home to Mormons and gays alike

Story and gallery by BENNY CARDULLO

Salt Lake City is known for stunning mountain scenery, the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, and the 2002 Winter Olympics. But on Jan. 10, 2019, it was also named the Gayest City in America by The Advocate magazine.

This is not the first time Salt Lake City has earned this title from The Advocate. In 2012, Salt Lake City was given the top spot on the list of the gayest cities in America, and in 2016 it made the magazine’s top-10 list.

Jimmy Kimmel quipped in 2012, “I wonder how they (The Advocate) measure this — do they walk into the local Abercrombie & Fitch and see how full it is?”

Although this is not the magazine’s procedure, the ranking process is admittedly based on non-scientific criteria. The magazine looks at the number of gay and lesbian bookstores, elected officials who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and some edgier qualifiers such as the number of International Mr. Leather competition semifinalists and the presence of nude yoga classes.

Of course these qualifiers are more abundant in larger cities such as San Francisco, Miami, Boston, and New York. But The Advocate wanted to focus on smaller cities for this year’s list.

To explain its unconventional forms of ranking, The Advocate said, “There’s the official census with information on same-sex couples as a percentage of the population, then there’s our accounting of the gayest places in the USA — and we know the twain shan’t meet. But do we really need another article telling us that the homos gather in West Hollywood and Hell’s Kitchen?”

Utah’s LGBTQ+ advocates were pleasantly surprised by the rankings.

“Well, you know, we’re all very proud of our community here, and we’ve done a lot of growing and empowering of each other and our allies in the community,” said Utah Pride Center Executive Director Valerie Larabee in a 2012 press release after Salt Lake City was named America’s gayest city.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of law found that the LGBTQ+ presence in Salt Lake City is substantially growing and becoming more open and visible at a pace quicker than the rest of the United States.

Walker Boyes, a local artist who moved with his family to Utah from California, said, “Salt Lake City is an up-and-coming place. I’d rather set roots here and build connections than live in a city where no one cares about me.” Walker continued, “I also love how you walk down the street and people wave to you, I don’t get that in LA or New York.”

While many rejoice in the progress Utah has made in their relation to the LGBTQ+ community, many still feel there is a long way to go.

Sean Edwards, who moved to Utah from Princeton, New Jersey, 12 years ago, said, “While I have felt very well-received in the LDS and Utah community, I feel like there’s still work to be done.” However, Edwards and his husband, Matt Doane, are still members of the predominant religion of Utah, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and plan to raise their future children in the faith.

“I feel like by having my family here, or our family here, we can continue to embrace diversity as a community, and I think that’s important,” Edwards said, “I think successful societies and successful communities and successful people are people who really know how to work with and get along with and collaborate with other people who are different than them. If I’m going to be an advocate for our community here I need to be willing to raise my family here.”

According to a 2013 study by Gary J. Gates, a distinguished scholar for the Williams Institute, Salt Lake City is “the gay parenting capital of the United States.” Gates’ data reveals that among couples of the same sex in the Salt Lake City area, more than one in four are rearing children.

Nicole Dicou, a former employee at Equality Utah, is getting ready to raise her baby girl in Salt Lake City with her wife Natalie. Dicou said, “My wife and I want to raise our child in Utah because we grew up here and call it home. We are close to our family here, love the mountains, and enjoy all that the state has to offer.”

Dicou added, “We can’t wait to welcome our little girl to this beautiful place.”

New marketing strategies help a local business grow

Story and photos by PAMELA SMITH

 Salt Lake City is made up of many local businesses that are run by friends, neighbors, and others in the community. These businesses help the local economy prosper. But it can be daunting competing against large corporations.

Highlighted is one local business in the Salt Lake area that has made a name for itself with little marketing — until now, when it recently changed its marketing strategies in order to grow and stay competitive.

Sacred Energy is a crystal, meditation and energy shop, located on 261 E. 4500 South in Murray. Owner Janet Wall started the company in 2016 and it has only prospered since then. She has taken the store from one location to three in just a few short years.

Being a spiritual person, Wall was constantly traveling to Phoenix to take classes and learn about the various types of energy work and uses for various crystals. Wanting to create a classroom closer to home, she thought up the idea of Sacred Energy. But, working a 9-5 job made it nearly impossible to start a business.

Three years ago, she asked the spirits to lay her off of her administrative assistant job so that she could open up Sacred Energy and help others learn this spiritual practice. Over the past three years, the store has flourished with the help of her husband, customers, and energy workers, the people who do tarot reading and run the classes. Wall says opening this business has impacted her life and “changed her world completely.”

The shop’s main location sells crystals, jewelry and healing books, and offers a variety of energy work such as sound baths, crystal healing chamber, Reiki, card readings, and aura pictures. The other two locations are energy healing retreats for people to rent and hold weekend getaways and more intimate customized classes.

Being a small business, Wall has only used Facebook and word of mouth to market the shop. Although these marketing strategies have brought her lots of customers, more crystal shops are popping up and she has had to hire a woman to work on the media presence and make her stand out.

Wall says that Google, Instagram and Twitter are a few of the media platforms she plans on having her media person use for the shop.

Sacred Energy’s website will give you full details for all the events, activities, and items you can purchase, as well as bios for the energy workers.

The moment you walk into Sacred Energy you are overtaken with a positive and calm atmosphere. The staff welcomes everyone with smiles and a helping hand to find what you need. Wall wants to know that everyone who enters into Sacred Energy has a purpose or reason for walking in. She is truly there to help people and isn’t in it for the money.

Customers who walk in bring a different kind of energy. She says that she loves to watch people grow spiritually and enjoys building relationships with them.

Erica Blewett has been going to Sacred Energy for almost three years. She heard about it through a friend and now also continues to inform her friends of the relaxed environment it provides. She has gone to other crystal stores, but none have quite the same atmosphere as Sacred Energy.

Wall says Sacred Energy is set apart from other stores such as Dancing Crane, Lotus, and Turyeas because of the “good energy you feel when you walk in and our high-quality crystals.” Although she doesn’t believe in competition, she says “there is a purpose for each business.”

Sacred Energy’s motto will surely draw in all who want to find self-awareness and feel like they are a part of a community: “To provide high rejuvenation products and services to our community; that offers spiritual awareness, growth, and transformation. Within the peaceful retreat and home away from home, clients enjoy a variety of alternative, holistic, and spiritual interpretations and modalities, all within an unbiased and loving environment.”

Crystal healer and Reiki master Michael Eakett is one of 11 energy workers who teach at Sacred Energy. He teaches mediation and he says, “It has changed my life for the better.”

Eakett was not on a “good path.” Sacred Energy gave him a place to go and be a part of a community. He promotes himself by business cards, word of mouth, and Facebook. With his way of marketing, he brings in many customers for the shop who want to grow in their spirituality.

“I want to help people be the best they can be.” he says. “I know that if I don’t meditate daily I get lost. Hopefully I can just teach people the power of mediation.”

With all the large corporations taking over, Sacred Energy seems to be keeping up by revamping the way it markets itself. Watch for posts on Twitter and Instagram.

Reflections on the film industry in Utah

by Ryan Michaud

While developing this story, I had to think about what it was that I truly wanted to write about.  A few different things came to mind. The one I settled on is a feature story about the film industry in Utah. Now that I had developed the idea, it was time to get some information. I was fortunate enough to know someone who works in Park City T.V. He allowed me to interview him about Sundance Film Festival. After this interview I got in contact with another individual who works in building movie sets in Utah. This gave me another view on the film industry some of the down sides to it. Once I had a decent bit of information, I realized how little I actually understood about this topic.  Having one person tell me one thing and another with a completely different view on the same topic. Having multiple sources helps eliminate the bias. I have learned a lot about news writing while working in this piece. Before this I have never done writing in this form, with a background in creative writing it has been a drastic change in writing styles. It was hard to adapt, constantly checking the AP style guide to double check all if the rules, and even now I still find myself struggling. Something that surprised me while working on this was how big the film industry in Utah really was, from movie stars at Sundance, to hiring students as extras in movies. The amount of money that goes into the making theses films is incredible, they pay their employees handsomely but it comes with a cost. Long shifts and living in hotels for weeks at a time during final days of production. The film industry is incredible, its amazing the extent we go to for the enjoyment we receive while watching screens at home.

Allison Corey


It’s On Us and rape culture on college campuses


When I started writing my story, I was unsure where exactly to go with it because rape is such a broad topic. After interviewing Christina Bargelt, however, the story practically wrote itself. Bargelt gave me thoughtful answers to questions that were personal, and borderline intrusive. Bargelt’s complete transparency is one of many reasons that I have the utmost respect for her. After Bargelt gave me so much information about It’s On Us and sexual abuse, I was easily able to find new people to interview and I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.

I primarily found my sources through the Greek community. Each of my sources is involved in different aspects of Greek life. Bargelt is in my sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Ty Monroe in Phi Delta Theta, and Paul Eicker in Sigma Nu. Eicker was a friend of mine before this process, but I did not know Bargelt or Monroe very well. The way I found Monroe may not have been the most typical when finding interviewees. I was walking through my dorm when I saw his fraternity flag hanging on his door, so I took a chance and asked him questions. These were the best sources for my article because they are involved in the two main things that I talked about: Greek life and It’s On Us.

I focused mainly on the aspects that I find to be most important: Informing people of their options and the differences in treatment of male and female survivors. I wish I could have gone more in depth about Bargelt’s assault and the aftermath because her story is so empowering.

I did face a moral dilemma while writing the story. Eicker was apprehensive to give his name for my piece because he was scared to share his story. I told him that I would not include anything he was not comfortable with, and I am thankful that he gave me permission to share his story. Even though he claims that he no longer cares about anonymity, I still felt that I was doing wrong by including his name.

Initially, writing a story in which I had free rein to talk about anything I wanted was daunting. Once I began writing and interviewing, however, my mindset completely changed. My passion for Bargelt’s cause grew tenfold, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing this piece. I’m thankful to have inspiring women like Bargelt in my life, and I hope one day I can be somebody who others look up to as well.


I grew up in Long Beach, California, where I was spoiled with warm weather year-round, a 15-minute commute to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and a two-hour drive to Big Bear Mountain. In 2018, I graduated from Los Alamitos High School, a public school of roughly 3,200 students that is on the border of Long Beach and Los Alamitos.

Growing up, I lived in a very sports-oriented household, specifically baseball. My father played baseball at California State University, Long Beach, and helped bring his team to the College World Series in 1989. Shortly after, he met my mother in a co-ed slo pitch softball league. My parents’ passion for sports kindled my love for them as well. From the ages of 5 to 17, I played softball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and flag football.

I am now a freshman studying communication at the University of Utah in hopes of becoming a force to be reckoned with within the sports journalism and broadcasting field. Ever since I was a child and found out that I could not become a Major League Baseball player, I’ve been enamored with the idea of working, rather than playing, for the MLB.

The brief time I have spent at the U has given me everything I could have asked for and more. The leap of faith I took in moving out of a home that I have always lived in, and moving to a new state with completely different weather, sights, and opportunities. Knowing that I live among some of the most incredible national parks in the nation has been a sobering experience, and I cannot wait to see what these next three years have in store for me.

Caroline J. Pastorius


Better safe than sorry: What to know before setting out


It was a long process of trial and error before I came to my final enterprise story topic. I wanted to write about something I was unfamiliar with, and something that had a lot of substance. Something that would guarantee a variety of sources, especially ones that could provide me with personal experiences. I settled on avalanche safety, since it is a relatable topic that significantly affects people in our area and also something I don’t know much about. In the end, I aimed to provide my audience with the most important points to remember for outdoor enthusiasts to assure safety.

To get a better grasp on this topic, I scoped out local outdoor recreation companies and asked if anyone was willing to answer questions revolving around outdoor recreation safety. To my surprise, I found the most fitting interviewees for my enterprise story. I made sure to ask questions in my interview that were based on what has personally worked for them to avoid accidents on the mountain. With the information I collected, I created a story made up of what I think were the most useful tips and tricks that I learned from them. Although all of this new information was overwhelming at times, I think I successfully honed in on the most important things to remember.


There is nothing quite as rewarding as playing a significant role in your community.

I had this mindset instilled in me as a child. I’ve always had a passion to benefit my community in any possible way, and from a young age I had a strong attraction and desire to be an active member of any organization I was a part of.

This mindset has stuck with me throughout my childhood and into adulthood. From it, I’ve learned great communication skills and developed prominent character and confidence in myself. I’ve also learned that practice makes perfect, which is why I continue to work on these skills at the University of Utah. I am a second-year student, studying Communication, Political Science, and Entrepreneurship. Although I love each of these subjects for different reasons, they’re all similar in the fact that they each function as a predominant facet of our community.

In a world where any ordinary person can make a significant impact on the community in which they reside with a little motivation and encouragement, I want to persuade them to understand the importance of doing so by being an example.

Lauren Hinkley


Salt Lake City’s juicing scene is on the rise


Holistic health and nutrition have been interests of mine for as long as I have been buying and cooking my own food. I believe that food is fuel and I have always made an effort to stay educated and well-informed so that I am able to power my body the most efficient and healthy way possible. I love cold-pressed juice and have experienced the benefits of it first-hand over the past year that I have worked at Pulp Lifestyle Kitchen, a local health food eatery that also produces and sells cold-pressed juice.

This story was an opportunity for me to further my knowledge on the craft, and also explore a niche of Salt Lake City that sincerely interests me. The goal of this story is to put these companies and others like them on the radar and show people what Salt Lake City has to offer in terms of wholesome local businesses.

I reached out to the owners of three local juiceries around Salt Lake to get together and talk about their businesses and all things juice. I got to chat, eat, drink and really take in the whole experience of each store. The conversations flowed more naturally than I ever expected. I knew I was going to have a difficult time not being able to include it all in my story. Narrowing down the information was by far the hardest part.

My experience at each store was also completely unique and I didn’t want to compare them to each other. Transitioning between each place in my story was challenging because I wanted to do it without mentioning them in terms of one being better than the other.

Telling this story improved my writing and interviewing skills and also furthered my knowledge of cold-pressed juicing. I hope that my reflection on my experiences with these local businesses will enlighten readers as well.


From the time I first started exploring and learning about marketing and advertising, I knew it would be the perfect career path for me. Marketing involves creative, visual, and social methods to communicate and persuade a population to buy or support a product or action. As someone who thinks and operates both logically and creatively, marketing engages and excites both sides of my brain, allowing me to utilize all of my strengths.

I believe the best marketing is done by people who feel a personal connection to the mission and identity of their company. Some things I am passionate about include sustainability, nutrition, and holistic living. I hope that one day I will work for a company that promotes similar values and interests to mine. I also strive to conduct marketing practices that are organic, sincere, and beneficial to my community and the clientele that it reaches.

I have gained experience in marketing through several internships in social media and public relations. Most of the work I do is digital content creation whether that be graphics, photography for social media, or blog posts. I pride myself on always creating visually stimulating, persuasive, and engaging content.

I am a lover of people, art and humanity. I always see the glass as half full and believe that a positive attitude can open infinite doors for a person, both professionally and in their own self-discovery. I strive to live a peaceful, healthy, and fulfilling life and I find my purpose in helping others do the same.

Reflection Blog: Laura Child

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

As the Me Too social movement has become more prevalent in the last two years, I thought it would be a great topic to write my enterprise story on. I have become passionate about inequality issues surrounding women’s rights and wanted to learn more about how this movement has effecting women. Our enterprise story was supposed to be tied to the University of Utah so I thought that putting an emphasis on how sexual assault affected college campus’ would be my main focus. I hoped to provide a background on the movement and how it has affected universities and their safety protocols when dealing with sexual misconduct.

In order to find my story content, I wanted to provide on campus resources, statistics, and personal experiences. I was able to interview some of our campus advocates and understand some of their hopes as sexual assault counselors. By talking to them, I was also able to gain a better understanding about how we can prevent these assaults on campus. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to interview anyone that had had a personal experience to share with the story. I felt like this was going to be a stretch as this information is so sensitive. There were a lot of different angles I wanted to include within the story which helped shaped my story beginning with the history of the movement to how we can improve our own safety at universities.

As I wrote this story, I was surprised by some of the statistics I came across. It has become such a significant issue that is in constant need of safety improvements. I wish I was able to connect with more of the police force on campus and individuals who have gone through their own personal experiences. I felt like I was able to create an interesting, educational piece which has allowed me to be more educated on the issue.


Cheyenne Peterson

My Story: Causes to college student stress and helpful resources at the U 

My Blog 

About Me: Cheyenne Peterson is a third year student at the University of Utah, studying Communication with a emphasis in Journalism and obtaining an entrepreneurship certificate. Cheyenne’s aspirations are to become a pro-staff for Bass Pro Shop and host/co-host an outdoor channel television series.

Cheyenne currently works with a company called Hybridlight, as a sales representative and on product design. She travels, giving trade show demonstrations and educating customers on the company’s products.

Linked In Profile 

Cheyenne Peterson Reflection Blog

My Blog: When I sought out for what I wanted to write for my enterprise story, I originally was set on some business related stories, but I realized that none of the topics were sticking with me and I began to stress. So I thought, why not just write it on stress and how stress can impact students on campus? I’m sure there’s other students who feel the same way.

I believe that my story can be educational and informing, to those who need to know where they can go for resources, when dealing with stress. I also believe that it is a relatable story, hence why I used two students view on their stress during the college season. 

Gathering information for my story was quite easy, since it is such a relatable topic. I had interviewed two students, a doctor, and a health coach. I started each interview with what their current status was (student, doctor, etc). I then asked what experiences they have had with stress and how they believe they can maintain stress. I asked if they knew of any resources available to help with stress, as well.

I choose to write more about the students stories on how stress had affected them, due to believing that students want to be heard and I wanted other students to be able to relate. I then furthered my writing to where to go if needed assistance to stress. Later, I wrote a short discussion on how stress can make existing issues more chronic like diabetes.

Reflecting on my writing, I noticed it went a different direction than what I was going for, but that’s the beauty of writing.

My Story: Causes to college student stress and helpful resources at the U  

About Cheyenne Peterson

Causes to college student stress and helpful resources at the U

Story and photos by: Cheyenne Peterson

SALT LAKE CITY — You must get straight A’s. You must work to pay off your student debt. You must land a good, six-figure job. And you must do this, all while rubbing your stomach and patting your head. It seems like college these days is the recipe for a physically and mentally drained college student.

Many students attend the University of Utah determined to accomplish and do great things. But when stressors appear, life can become overwhelming. In many ways it can be very harmful to a students’ success.

Taylor Dewey, a junior at the University of Utah, has experienced the chasm that is college stress. It occurred while traveling home from a three-month summer study abroad in Bali, Indonesia. Dewey’s friends and family warned her that she would experience reverse culture shock, what they believed to be worse than culture shock. She didn’t really believe it would happen to her, but after just a week to adjust to America at the beginning of her next semester of college, it came. 

“Not only was there a 14-hour time change, but I had different priorities in Bali than I do in America.” Dewey started a new semester believing she would be motivated to succeed, but that was not the case. She soon realized that the opposite was true. Dewey believes that her body didn’t have enough time to adjust to the stress of culture shock. She isolated herself from her family and friends, which was followed by depression.

“It (depression) really just came out and I realized that I needed help when I got back from Bali. The stress from adjusting back to America, triggered me into a depressive state, says Dewey. “I lowered my school work motivation and started failing my classes. That wasn’t normal for me. I even lost motivation to even eat, shower, and other things like that. It really was not good.”

Trevor James, a senior at the University of Utah, also experienced abnormal stress while working two jobs and studying biomedical engineering.  “I was doing research and I was also working at the Cheesecake Factory, about 20 hours a week, so I never really had a day off,” he says. “I had to work the weekends and I would get off really late, then I would have to work at the research lab before school, really early.”

The pattern was unhealthy and unsustainable. “I wasn’t getting enough time for sleep and when I was getting ready for sleep, I would get really stressed about how I was going to have to get up in a few hours.” The stress left him unable to sleep. Even when he found the time for five or six hours of planned sleep, he says, “I would only end up falling asleep for three or four of them.”

James did this for a few months until he realized he was doing too much. James knew he would be better off if he didn’t do so much and decided to quit his job at the Cheesecake Factory. 


Salt Lake City, Utah. The Health Wellness Center (HWC) located in the University of Utah’s Student Life Center.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 85 percent of the 20 million American college students, have been overwhelmed with how much work load they have and 30 percent of these college students have had stress effect their school work.

Located at the University of Utah Student Life Center, the Center for Student Wellness, offers a variety of services for students including individual well sessions. Health educator Jenna Templeton explains what happens during a individual wellness session.

“This is a one-on-one conversation with a coach that we assign to you, about any determined goals that you would like to achieve, whether it is on healthy behaviors to how to manage stress.” Templeton suggests that students overwhelmed with stress take these into consideration; do something you enjoy everyday, set limits and say no to requests that you don’t have time for or would be too stressful. Accept that you can’t control the uncontrollable, and learn and practice relaxation techniques.

The Center for Student Wellness is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Appointments with a wellness coach can be scheduled via email at or phone (801) 581-7776. Wellness coaches will need time to prepare for your appointment, so walk in appointments are not recommended.

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Contact information for the University of Utah Counseling Center.

Another great resource is the University Counseling Center, where you can just walk in for an appointment or call (801) 581-6826. Trevor James, after his stress overload, attended the University’s Counseling Center and says the it gave him a moment to talk to someone and take a moment to “just breathe.”

When stress becomes routine over long periods of time,  it can begin to manifest itself physically. Stress can make existing problems worse like depression, cardiovascular risk, and diabetes — and when you’re sick it will be harder to recover.