ASWU executive-elects speak on their hopes for the future, campaign experience

ASWU president-elect Tersa Almaw wants to get students involved with events on campus.

ASWU president-elect Tersa Almaw wants to get students involved with events on campus.

Cambria Pilger | Staff Writer

The results from the recent election resulted in junior Tersa Almaw as president, sophomore Andrews Boateng as executive vice president and sophomore Chelsea Shearer as financial vice president. Each elect had a different experience during the campaign process and looks forward to working in ASWU and developing new relationships within the Whitworth community.

Almaw wants to better unite Whitworthians in order to give them a shared experience as well as to find new ways to get more students involved in events, she said. She also hopes to spark conversation about the issues in our community.

Boateng desires to help Whitworth students become more service-oriented both on and off campus. He plans to make ASWU more inclusive through brainstorming how to incorporate different groups that do not feel like their voices are being heard currently.

One of Shearer’s goals is to make the responsibilities of the financial vice president role more known and present at Whitworth. She plans to meet with club leaders frequently and to create a comfortable environment for students to talk with her. Along with clubs and club leaders, Shearer will continue meeting new people on campus, she said.

EVP-elect Andrews Boateng hopes to make ASWU a more transparent organization.

EVP-elect Andrews Boateng hopes to make ASWU a more transparent organization.

“I think next year there’s going to be a lot of changes,” Shearer said. “I think there were so many more people voting in this election because they want change, and so I think that Teri and Andrews and I are going to implement a lot more of what students have been asking for.”

As president, Almaw also hopes to integrate intersectionality because it is very important to her, she said. Since she is taking fewer credits next semester than she usually does, Almaw said she will have more time to serve and give all that she can to the community.

One of Boateng’s goals is to make ASWU more transparent. He will work alongside Shearer to communicate with students about how their money is being used.

During the campaign, balancing work, school, campaigning and time to be alone was a challenge, Almaw said. Meeting up with new people, encouraging them to vote, and being surrounded by people for long periods was overwhelming at times, she said. It was exciting to meet new people, however, and taught her to push herself out of her comfort zone and genuinely talk to people. She learned to interact with people more and reach out to others, she said.

FVP-elect Chelsea Shearer wants to create a comfortable environment for club leaders.

FVP-elect Chelsea Shearer wants to create a comfortable environment for club leaders.

Boateng said he is glad that students were able to experience democracy on campus during the election and to get involved. The campaign period was not long enough to fully campaign, he said. He wishes there had been more time to meet one-on-one with students and to hear everyone’s voices.

“I want us to put whatever happened in the election behind us and work towards a common goal of making this campus a better place,” Boateng said. “My message is we can coexist despite our differences. I want us to be united no matter what you believe; no matter who you are.”

For Shearer, the campaign gave her time to relate to others on campus, she said. It was challenging to manage time, especially when balancing door-to-door visits, campaigning, and talking to others.

The elections were a stressful time for all the candidates, Shearer said. It was a lot of work but very fun. The candidates each grew together and realized that students want change and new ideas, she said.

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President Taylor leads blessing ceremony for new Beeksma family theology center

Cambria Pilger| Staff Writer 

As the new Beeksma Family Theology Center construction is underway, president Beck Taylor held a blessing ceremony for the new space. The ceremony took place in the chapel on April 12 with attendees from the board of trustees as well as Whitworth students, faculty and staff.

Breaking ground on a new project is always exciting at Whitworth, Taylor said. It is a tradition to gather and pray for safety of those working on the project as well as for successful completion, he said.

Ian Busik|Photographer   President Taylor giving a speech at the blessing ceremony of the new Beeksma family theology center 

Ian Busik|Photographer 

President Taylor giving a speech at the blessing ceremony of the new Beeksma family theology center 

During the ceremony, Taylor introduced another gift for Whitworth’s campus ministry. The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, gifted $3 million to establish an endowed dean of spiritual life position. This gift will allow for expanded campus ministry programs and increased chapel staff. It is believed to be the first of its kind among the nation’s Christian colleges and universities, according to a Whitworth press release from April 12, 2018.

“I think one of the main focuses and part of why this is happening is to keep Christ in the center, and this ceremony is a good way to bring everybody together and reaffirm that and just to pray over everything to come and to continue to keep Christ in the center,” sophomore Andrew Beeksma said.

Campus pastor Forrest Buckner said the ceremony was a time to acknowledge God as the giver of all gifts and to take time to receive this gift from God. It is also a chance to thank the amazing people who have given these gifts to make the project possible, he said.

It is a celebration of where the university is headed and a chance to get excited about what campus ministry and life in the chapel will be like next year, junior Tom Dale said.

There have been many supporters and sponsors for the project. The biggest contribution came from the Beeksma family, primarily Barney and Joyce Beeksma, for whom the project is named. The family donated $1.5 million in total.

Ian Busik|Photographer   Crowd gathered to attend the blessing ceremony of the Beeksma family theology center 

Ian Busik|Photographer 

Crowd gathered to attend the blessing ceremony of the Beeksma family theology center 

Along with their donation, Barney and Joyce Beeksma charged Whitworth with the task of keeping Christ at the center of all that happens on campus, Taylor said.

Whitworth’s mission is to expand God’s kingdom through higher education. The recent gifts and chapel expansion contribute to that mission of honoring God, following Christ, and serving humanity, Taylor said.

“I love creating new spaces for students to congregate, to relate to one another, to grow in relationship, to walk through life together,” Taylor said.

Buckner said the new space will also allow more students to engage in campus ministry and have natural connection with other faculty, staff, and students.

The Seeley G. Mudd chapel was first constructed in 1978. Increases in the theology department caused the department to recenter to Westminster. Theology professor Jerry Sittser originally presented his idea for the expansion to Taylor. He had a vision to re-center the theology department back into the chapel.

The renovation will be finished by the beginning of fall 2018, and there will be a formal dedication of the completed project on Oct. 11, 2018.

The theology center expansion will bring new offices for more than 20 faculty and staff as well as new student spaces. There will be a new audio and video system, more restrooms and increased seating.

The ceremony ended with a prayer of dedication from Buckner and a congressional sing of “Amazing Grace”.


ASWU holds annual executive debates

Cambria Pilger| Staff Writer 

Whitworth students and staff gathered to watch the ASWU executive candidate debate in Lied Square on Tuesday, April 10. After an introduction from each of the six candidates, the candidates answered general questions, positions-specific questions and questions from audience members.

Each candidate ran for one of three ASWU positions: president, executive vice president, and financial vice president. The candidates for ASWU president were juniors Tersa Almaw and Hunter Smit. The candidates for executive VP were sophomore Andrews Boateng and senior Ethan Clardy, and sophomores Chelsea Shearer and Bakari Green were running for the financial VP position.

Each candidate spoke on the issues they believe need change and the change they want to implement. They all said that they hope to represent students more.

Each candidate also said they have learned how to manage their time well through being involved on campus in academics, clubs, work, and relationships.

Almaw said she wants to create a space in which students can talk, come together and discuss important issues without being separated by differences. The ASWU president should lead others toward positive moral change and invite all students to respect one another and come together, she said.

“Listening allows understanding. Listening allows engagement in the conversation,” Almaw said.

Smit said he hopes to make ASWU more transparent and open and to become friends with people to make himself more accessible as president. In ASWU it is important to ask hard questions, seek the truth, and look at issues in a more binary way without letting personal agenda and personal political beliefs get in the way, he said.

“Leadership in general, when you can inspire people to do the best work possible, is great,” Smit said.

Clardy said it is important to ask questions and learn other perspectives. As  EVP, the main role is to reach out to senators and make sure ideas are addressed. He wants to input more clubs, bring ASWU members to more casual events, and take all voices into consideration when voting on topics, he said.

Ian Busik| Photographer  From left to right sophomore Andrews Boateng, senior Ethan Clardy, juniors ersa Almaw and Hunter Smit, and sophomores Chelsea Shearer and Bakari Green.

Ian Busik| Photographer

From left to right sophomore Andrews Boateng, senior Ethan Clardy, juniors ersa Almaw and Hunter Smit, and sophomores Chelsea Shearer and Bakari Green.

Boateng said he wants to work closely with senators to make sure they represent the residents and to be open and available so people can reach out to him. People want more transparency and inclusion and want their voices to be heard, he said. Whitworth has come a long way, but it is time to begin moving in the right direction, he said.

Beside international students, there are also many other minority groups such as first-generation students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities. Boateng said it is important to listen to all voices and not downplay or lift up one over another. He said he hopes to do so by going to different meetings and fostering communication.

Shearer said she wants to implement clear expectations of what’s going to happen throughout the year with ASWU and the Whitworth community. ASWU is the main thing that ties Whitworth together and presents a strong sense of community, she said.

It is important to work one-on-one with the clubs and leaders as financial VP, she said. If elected, she hopes to bring communication and compassion in the role.

Honest communication is the best policy, Green said. Through his experience, he said he has noticed that some clubs feel left out on campus, and he hopes to pursue a relationship with clubs and their leadership.

Executives should be reaching out to people on campus, regardless of position, Green said. It is important to empower the LGBTQ+ community to have its own voice as well as to learn from and support them from a basis of self-determination rather than his own actions.

Many of the candidates were asked questions regarding the international students on campus, because of recent discussions regarding the addition of an international student representative position in ASWU.

Almaw said the international student representative position is a way to advocate for those students and include them. International students are considered a minority and need to be better represented, she said. For this to become possible, ASWU needs to immerse itself in the community of international students, she said. It’s important for ASWU to be intentional about what it is doing and to include and join those students, she said.

Smit thinks international students and students that don’t fit the typical Whitworth “vibe” are underrepresented, he said. If elected, he plans to have personal conversations with students who do not feel like they fit in and work with them to allow them to feel more connected and accepted across campus to the best of his ability, he said.

The general elections will take place Thursday, April 12 and Friday, April 13. The results will be announced over the weekend.

Students walk out in support of gun control

Cambria Pilger| Staff Writer

Students across the country participated in a national walkout in support of gun control on March 14. The demonstration took place at Whitworth University as well as many other high schools and colleges in the United States. Whitworth attendees gathered at the campanile at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, each minute to honor a different victim of the recent Parkland shooting in Florida.

Photo courtesy of Maria Smith 

Photo courtesy of Maria Smith 

After the students, faculty, and staff met at the campanile sophomore Darian Kagawa-Burke spoke in remembrance of the many recent shootings across the country. Kagawa-Burke was one of the students leading the demonstration at Whitworth.

Around 10:07 a.m. the participants took a moment of silence to remember those who have been affected by shootings and those who continue to be affected.

Sophomore Kirsten Speer, another student who organized the event, shared statistics about the mass shootings that have taken place this year and last year. She encouraged the participants to start open discussion in town halls, classes, or residence halls and to reach out to legislators or congressman to voice their opinions.

“If you want change, you can’t be idle,” Speer said.

The national walkout was an attempt “to protest Congress’ response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods,” according to the #ENOUGH National School Walkout website.

Speer and Kagawa-Burke organized the demonstration at Whitworth University after hearing about the national event. They created a Facebook event and invited students, faculty, and staff to participate, Speer said.

“I think the biggest message is just that we can all come together as one and stand in solidarity for something so important, no matter what your political beliefs are,” Speer said.

Photo courtesy of Cambria Pilger 

Photo courtesy of Cambria Pilger 

There has been both positive and negative feedback in response to the walkout, Speer said.

Alina Sunoo, one of the students at the demonstration, said she has not heard many responses either negatively or positively but rather neutral reactions to her involvement.

Senior Madison Artis said that some of his co-workers thought his participation was great while others found it “laughable.”

“Others questioned the motivation of participating in the walkout as they did not realize it was purposely planned for one month after the Florida shooting,” Artis said.

Looking back in history, all the people that have been looked up to for advocating rights participated in events like this, and that is why it was important to get involved, Sunoo said. The number of students that participated exceeded expectations, but she wished even more people had showed up.

“Part of this act of expression is an act of protest; it’s an act of dissonance,” journalism professor Erica Salkin said. Salkin went to the demonstration to witness and be a part of the students’ involvement.

What made this walkout stand out from others is the inclusion and influence of social media, Salkin said. Students are using social media to continue the narrative of the demonstration and give it more voice, she said.

Speer said she hoped the walkout sent the message that students, faculty, and staff can come together, disagree with one another, work together, and make change.

“Whether you agree or disagree on gun control, then it’s still something that we can stand together for,” Speer said.

Just participating in the demonstration isn’t enough, Salkin said. If there is no follow-up to the protests, others may dismiss it as “novel”.

“It is important, both in the country and at Whitworth, for the lives of those lost to be remembered and honored, but a walkout without action thereafter will likely be forgotten,” Artis said.

Speer encourages others to have difficult talks with one another and to stand in solidarity, regardless of personal beliefs, about important issues like gun control.



Students share their stories alongside activist Aisha Fukushima for the Diversity Monologues

Cambria Pilger | Staff writer 

Nine Whitworth students will share their stories alongside singer, speaker, educator and 'RAPtivist,' Aisha Fukushima, as part of the Diversity Monologues. The theme of the Diversity Monologues this year is beauty and how one comes to know beauty throughout their life. The event will take place on Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m. in Cowles Auditorium.

“This is an opportunity for us as a Whitworth to write a new story of what it means to be...radically inclusive,” said assistant dean of student diversity, equity and inclusion, David Garcia.

The Diversity Monologues follow Whitworth’s mission of mind and heart, Garcia said. More than 100 people are involved in the planning and producing of the event, from Whitworth Composition Commons consultants to theater performance and tech assistants to sponsors. Forty-three students will be published in the Diversity Monologues publication, designed by junior Meghan Foulk.

“I never thought stories could be so powerful,” sophomore Utsal Shrestha said. Shrestha will be performing his monologue, called “Beauty of a Companion” at the event. “Even if you don’t go through that experience, a monologue is something where you can listen to someone, try to feel how they feel, and learn something from it, hopefully [bringing] some positive change.”

Designed by Meghan Foulk 

Designed by Meghan Foulk 

When you first hear someone’s story, you both start on different tracks, but as you get to know it more, you find similarities between one another and eventually end up on the same track, Shrestha said.

Freshman Ribenson Darcy, one of the student performers, said he hopes the audience will keep an open-mind, listen well and try to find experiences or feelings that they have in common with the speakers.

“You get from it what you choose to get from it,” Darcy said.

Senior Hannah Howell, another student performer, said that she encourages the attendees to lean into what they hear and embrace the vulnerability of those sharing as well as those attending. It may be challenging for both the presenters as well as the audience members to learn about and relate with other students’ stories, she said.

“It’s open to everyone, really, to just tell their story, whatever it is,” sophomore Karen Sobtafo Alambong said. Sobtafo will also be performing at the event.

Garcia hopes that students come to hear narratives from fellow undergraduate, graduate, and continuing studies students and recognize that the performers will share “narratives that have been historically silenced and contain solutions to life’s most complex questions.”

Diversity Monologues is about the process bringing many people together to work with one another and share narratives, Garcia said.

“The Diversity Monologues is one way in which [Whitworth is] doing more to show...students, specifically of color or underrepresented students in general, that we are interested in their stories and we value them as students here,” Howell said.

At last year’s performance, students shared about issues that are not often openly talked about like living up in a different country before coming to America, being an orphan or growing up in a violent family, Shrestha said.

Shrestha attended the most recent Diversity Monologues and developed a new sense of the performers and what motivates and has shaped them. Last year’s performance gave him hope to share his own story and reasoning to make it worthwhile.

Michael Benitez Jr. started the Diversity Monologues at Penn State in the 1990s and later spread it to other universities. Garcia has led the event at Whitworth for three years. The theme of Whitworth’s first Diversity Monologues in 2015 was “community,” and Benitez Jr. joined the students during the performance. The second annual Diversity Monologues took place in 2017, focusing on the idea of hope, with spoken-word poet and actress, Yazmin Monet Watkins, as the guest. The theme for the third annual Diversity Monologues is beauty, and the event will feature Aisha Fukushima.

ASWU discusses a new international student representative position

Cambria Pilger| Staff writer 

ASWU members are discussing creating a new representative position for international students. The idea came from international students and is being filtered through ASWU senators, Baldwin-Jenkins senator Alex Mowery said.

“Right now, there isn’t any guarantee that international students will have a voice at all [in] ASWU, and this provides that guarantee,” Mowery said.

Results from a survey of Whitworth international students suggested that the majority of the students felt they did not have sufficient voice in ASWU, Mowery said. Ideally the position will require three hours each week and work closely with international students to represent their voices.

“I think someone in these groups should be able to better represent them than I probably could,” Warren senator Ethan Clardy said.

Clardy said the job will allow ASWU to reach out and connect better with international and minority students.

“I’m kind of shocked that it’s just coming up now,” said Pernilla Faranda, an international student from France studying at Whitworth for only one year. “International students have been coming for a long time...It should have been done before.”

Mowery said that the creation of the role will contribute to ASWU’s mission of providing a platform for all voices to be heard.


“As international students, we can’t really get involved in decisions,” Faranda said. “I think if I was here for four years I would be more involved, and it would be different.”

Since the international population is diverse and people come for different duration of time two representatives would be better, Faranda said. It’s difficult to participate in student government if you only attending Whitworth for a couple of semesters because you’re still getting used to the campus, she said. International students choose whether to attend Whitworth for one semester, one year or four years.

ASWU strives to represent more voices with the addition of the position, Mowery said.

“International students make a really huge part of Whitworth, and it’s really unfair that they just have to sort of blend in with everyone else. Their needs are very specific, and their representation should be just as specific as well,” said BMac CDA Theresa Chowa, an international student from Zimbabwe.

Chowa said sometimes international students get grouped together with minorities, but this position will give them more of a voice and encourage them to get involved in student life.

“The way I saw it, there should be one for international students, one for minority groups, and then they work side-by-side to get what those two groups need together,” Warren CDA Darian Kagawa-Burke said. “If it stays for just international students, I think that the minority groups might feel a little left out.”

The position will help integrate different viewpoints from both international and minority groups, Kagawa-Burke said.

“It’s going to give international students a chance to choose their own representation,” Chowa said.

ASWU members are willing to work with students on campus to decide whether one or two positions is better, Mowery said. Since the conversation is still fairly new to ASWU, however, there are no finalized plans for the representative position right now.

Lisa Factora-Borchers gives a lecture on intersectional feminism

Cambria Pilger| Staff writer 

Lisa Factora-Borchers, editorial director of Bitch Media (a non-profit feminist multimedia organization), visited Whitworth on March 5 to teach students and faculty about intersectional feminism and what it means to her. The purpose of her presentation was to offer the audience reflection and let them think about what kind of a campus culture they want to have, she said.

After a brief introduction from senior Austriauna Brooks, Factora-Borchers spoke about the history of feminism (more specifically the three waves of it), from the original fight for equal contract and property rights to the broader debate about rights that continues today.

Kimberlé Crenshaw first coined the intersectionality theory. It focuses on how factors like race and class shape women’s experiences and influence how they interact with other genders.

   Heidi Thom| Photographer  Lisa Factora-Borchers speaking

   Heidi Thom| Photographer

Lisa Factora-Borchers speaking

Factora-Borchers referenced the quote, “Give people more grace,” by Evette Dionne, senior culture editor at Bitch Media. She explained the importance of the quote in relation to intersectional feminism.

We experience intersectionality in multiple layers and dimensions, Factora-Borchers said. Intersectionality is a lens, not a state, she said. It is about finding a way to approach and give grace to people of all backgrounds, not about finding a way to be right.

Mainstream media began catching onto and applying these ideas of intersectional feminism with Cosmopolitan magazine and other new feminist newsletters and editors.

“The gift of being able to write and say what you want is rare,” Factora-Borchers said.

In many institutions, it might be hard to write about prominent topics like the wage gap, but Bitch Media tackles those issues without sugar-coating them, sophomore Daniel Miller said.

The presentation focused on the importance of listening well and being open to talk about one’s past. It is beautiful that it is becoming normal for people to share their stories and relate with others’ stories, Brooks said.

After Factora-Borchers spoke about different feminist icons and their impact in culture, she opened the floor to let audience members ask her questions.

During the question-and-answer portion, she paused after each question and thought about her response before responding, just like she encouraged the attendees to do, professor Nichole Bogarosh said.

“How do you even identify if you have privilege?” Miller said. “Even asking that question feels very least in my mind.”

What is important is recognizing that you have privilege, taking advantage of it, and thinking about how you can use it to help others, Miller said.

Miller’s question for Factora-Borchers was very honest, and some people do not always think about that, Brooks said.

“We need to listen to understand, and that’s how we are going to progress as a community,” Brooks said.

When you find a common ground with others who either do or do not think similarly to you and work with them, you can make change, Brooks said.

Bogarosh said that Factora-Borchers’ presentation was a very good introduction to intersectionality and how one must approach it. Hopefully, students who attended the presentation now have a better understanding of intersectional feminism and, “the start of a talk about it with other people,” she said.

Whitworth has a small, but active, student feminist population in terms of the ones who are active on campus, Bogarosh said.

Factora-Borchers said that it is important to apply intersectionality to every moment that has the power to shape views, especially interactions with others. Intersectionality can be learned through talking with those similar and different from oneself and through reading books by feminist authors.

“I really like that we have the kind of community where we can have speakers like this come and speak on these topics,” Miller said.

There are a lot of mixed views on the term “feminism”, but no matter what one’s feelings toward that word are, it is important to educate themselves on it and get evidence to back their opinions, Miller said.

The Women’s & Gender Studies faculty committee has been bringing speakers in for multiple years to present on certain subjects. The theme for this year is gender and pop culture.

“We also really wanted to hit on intersectionality and really start to talk about how different identities overlap, because oftentimes that’s missing from the discussion,” Bogarosh said.

In order to bring Factora-Borchers to Whitworth, Bogarosh helped coordinate with Bitch-on-Campus, Bitch Media’s college-visiting program, and a Washington organization that assists with bringing speakers to college campuses.

Around mid-April, the women’s and gender studies department will bring in another pop culture speaker to talk about another current women and gender studies issue in relation to pop culture, like Lisa Factora-Borchers did. On April 27, they will hold the annual Take Back the Night event, an event that aims to end sexual, relational, and domestic abuse.

Can one disagree Without Being disagreeable?

Cambria Pilger | Staff Writer

President Beck Taylor created the President’s Colloquy series to discuss complex issues such as if one can disagree without being disagreeable while exploring the cognitive and psychological characteristics that influence them. The second discussion in the civil discourse series took place on Feb. 19. The keynote speaker for the discussion was professor Nathan King, philosophy, and speaking alongside him were professors Patricia Bruininks, psychology, Nicole Sheets, writing/storytelling, and Fred Johnson, American literature/media and film studies.

Heidi Thom | Photographer   Discussants during Q&A session (left-right); Fred Johnson, Nicole Sheets, Patty Bruininks, and Nathan King

Heidi Thom| Photographer 

Discussants during Q&A session (left-right); Fred Johnson, Nicole Sheets,
Patty Bruininks, and Nathan King

“Sometimes it’s appropriate to be disagreeable,” King said.

Civil discourse is conversation aimed towards achieving knowledge and understanding about others, King said.

After president Taylor introduced the discussion, King spoke about his perspective on the issue, saying that one can disagree without being disagreeable; however, there are common fallacies of disagreements that must be worked past and characteristics that must be developed if one wants to improve their civil discourse, he said.

Following King’s presentation, Bruininks spoke about the Triangular Theory of Love and the negation of intimacy that comes with being disagreeable. Sheets then spoke about how judgment is easier than investigation but good questions lead to good stories that make it easier to not judge another. The final speaker was Johnson who ended the discussion portion by presenting questions to consider when having deep conversations with others.

Most of the professors used Abraham Lincoln’s quote, “I don't like that man. I must get to know him better,” in their speeches. That is the kind of mindset one should have when discussing complex issues with others, King said.

Since it is easier to judge someone before you get to know them, it’s important to ask good questions in good faith, Sheets said.

Although it is harsh, disagreement could lead to dehumanization, Bruininks said.

“It’s important that we’re having this discussion,” junior Kalani Padilla said. Padilla attended the second colloquy but was not on campus for the first.

Being intentional about having good conversations with other students after class or in the coffee shop is valuable, Padilla said.

The event concluded with a question portion where attendees could anonymously ask questions to the panel of professors.

Each colloquy so far has examined the quality of communication in a modern context. Each night, the panelists tell us how they believe we could all improve our ability to communicate with one another, junior Nicholas Bratt said. Bratt has attended both of the colloquies.

“I think it’s really interesting to hear messages that the president and the staff have to say here at Whitworth about things beyond just Whitworth,” freshman Chloe Casady, another student attendee, said.

Heidi Thom | Photographer   President Beck Taylor opening the discussion

Heidi Thom| Photographer 

President Beck Taylor opening the discussion

Hearing Bruininks’ speech about how people cognitively and socially deal with disagreements and learning about the philosophical perspective from King was very interesting, Casady said.

The range of topics covered and the variety of disciplines represented has contributed to a rich discussion, Bratt said.

“I felt like I was able to see their individual personalities… not just what they’re studying or what their profession is but [also] their hearts,” Padilla said.

It was interesting that each professor got to prepare their ideas separately and share their own perspective on the matter, Padilla said. Sheets’ message touched on a significant idea that there are nine other stories to explore rather than just the one story that is overprivileged.

“We all strive to be intellects and have greater knowledge and wisdom about the world. Engaging the opposite view of an issue and of someone else’s differing opinions is going to get you more wisdom and help you to see the issue from all different angles,” Casady said.

In the final part of the colloquy series on April 16, 2018, Whitworth professors will discuss the idea of how much free speech is too much, Taylor said.

Students and faculty share their experiences from the Hawaii missile threat

Cambria Pilger| Staff Writer

On Jan. 20, 2018 at around 8:05 a.m., an Amber Alert was sent out across Hawaii detailing a ballistic missile attack headed towards the state. At the time a group of 27 students and two faculty members from Whitworth were in Mokulēʻia, O’ahu for the month of January. They received the message while they were eating breakfast and preparing for an exam later that day. At the time of the receival, the professors took cautionary action, informing all the students about the warning and asking them to gather important items from their rooms before quickly heading to an emergency site. The group loaded into their van, pausing for a moment to pray before driving to the local high school. The professors were trained on the protocols for many emergency situations and knew the high school would be the best location to go in case of an attack. Once the students and faculty arrived, they awaited further confirmation of the missile. Some students contacted parents, friends, and relatives to say goodbye while others debated whether or not to.

“How do you react if you have thirty minutes to live?” freshman Chris Roberts said.

About 38 minutes into the alert, the group received another message: “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.”

Upon returning to the camp after the false alarm report, the professors gathered the group together to debrief, inviting the students to talk about what they were dealing with or share how they felt throughout it all, said multiple of the students. Some students offered to listen and help others work through their responses.

One of these students, freshman Rachel Coy, said that she felt calm throughout the incident, more concerned for how her fellow classmates were dealing with it than herself.

“I was so proud of our students because they were so composed. Nobody freaked out. They cared about each other very well and made dealing with that situation about as positive as it could be,” said Ron Pyle, professor of the month-long interpersonal communications course.

Pyle said that he did not think about calling his kids until after the threat ended because he was focused on what he needed to do for the students.

“What flashed through my mind was, ‘If this is real, I’m living a [fundamental] turning point in world history,” Pyle said.

Without the support of professor Terry McGonigal and his wife, the experience wouldn’t have been the same for Pyle, he said.

Pyle said the group took time to pray again after the debrief, and the students were allowed time to reflect and respond to the event in whatever ways they needed to. Freshman Laura Waltar said she watched the waves and called her family after the event, and Roberts said the professors allowed the students the rest of the day to take their test without stress.

“It was all super fast. We got back to camp, and we just went right back to breakfast. Our food wasn’t even cold yet,” freshman Justin Li said.

He sent a few messages to his parents during the evacuation and another when the threat had been disproved. Li’s parents did not see them until after the alert had settled, leaving them more relieved than concerned, he said.

Li said multiple students explained that their friends and family heard about the circumstance after the threat had been settled, but many others contacted their family throughout the incident.

Freshmen Kristopher Seumanutafa-Noa and Faith Kahulamu, both native Hawaiians, were also in Hawaii when they were woken up by the Amber Alert message, they said. The students were in one of the families’ homes when Kahulamu’s phone vibrated. Immediately she woke Seumanutafa-Noa, telling him to call his parents and showing him the notification. They gathered with the rest of the family and waited.

Photo courtesy of Ron Pyle  The interpersonal communications students pose after their hike to the western-most tip of O’ahu, Ka’ena Point. Top row (left to right): Kiana Pieli, Jacob Howe, Justin Li, Andrew Wiebers, Ben Crews, Alyssa Peterson, Jacqui McPeck, Abby Burnett; Bottom row (left to right): Anna Rajala, Erica Sung, Laura Waltar, Sarah Sugano, Madi Binyon, Kaeden Schmidt

Photo courtesy of Ron Pyle

The interpersonal communications students pose after their hike to the western-most tip of O’ahu, Ka’ena Point. Top row (left to right): Kiana Pieli, Jacob Howe, Justin Li, Andrew Wiebers, Ben Crews, Alyssa Peterson, Jacqui McPeck, Abby Burnett; Bottom row (left to right): Anna Rajala, Erica Sung, Laura Waltar, Sarah Sugano, Madi Binyon, Kaeden Schmidt

“What you have to do is just stay inside the house and wait until something happens,” Seumanutafa-Noa said. “That was the longest thirteen minutes of my life, and we just sat there; just waited until something happened.”

After checking in on his parents Seumanutafa-Noa described reaching a point of acceptance, faithfully believing that, “No matter what, we would just see each other again.”

Kahulamu’s response was similar: “So many people were getting prepared to die...The entire world was different for [thirteen] minutes.”

However, Kahulamu said she would rather have been in Hawaii with her family than anywhere else, knowing they were all doing whatever they could and getting to talk to each person one final time.

“It gives you a new sense of things...You look at everything differently...You realize what’s important, and things that used to stress you out are nothing,” Kahulamu said.

There was a wide range of responses from students throughout the entire incident; some felt emotional while others remained calm, said Roberts. Many agreed it was an experience that brought the group closer together and gave them a new perspective on the rest of the trip. When asked to select three words to describe how they felt during the experience, the responses were all different.

Li described it at surreal, tense, and scary. Waltar, on the other hand, described it as caught-off-guard, peaceful, and reflective.

Pyle said he felt very proud of the group and relieved when the threat settled.

“That sense of togetherness has never been there at any other point in my life in a similar situation,” Sanjay Philip, a freshman on the trip, said.

Waltar saw the missile threat as an unexpected, humbling circumstance that brought many close together and allowed one another to think more reflectively about life. The professors, Ron Pyle and Terry McGonigal, encouraged their students to think about certain questions such as, ‘Where do you find security in an unsecure world?’ and, ‘What ultimately matters?’, and students connected with each other through prayer and conversation, Pyle said.

“If I were going to go with a class and have that happen to me again, I would choose those same people, and I would be so glad that we’d taken that amount of time, and we’d bonded so much,” Philip said. “Everyone’s come back with a new piece of them, and they’ve brought that to their friends and their family, and that’s been really important.”