Students to create undocumented students page on Whitworth website

Undocumented students at Whitworth and students wishing to enroll at the university may soon be able to find information about scholarships and other financial aid resources on the university website.

Senior political science major Cinthia Illan-Vasquez is working with a group of students to create a web page on the Whitworth University website that would provide information about applying for nancial aid and other resources for undocumented students at Whitworth.

“As the university works toward inclusivity, there’s a greater need to provide online resources for undocumented students,” Vasquez said. “The type of resources we can provide will be crucial.”

The movement for the web page is a student-led effort. Vasquez, an undocumented student herself, has been working to create the undocumented student page with two other undocumented students, senior Karen Fierro and junior Kamau Chege.

The students are working with and have submitted a proposal for the page to professor Larry Burnley.

Some students are in full support of an undocumented student web page.

“I think this is a fantastic idea to reinforce the value of all students at Whitworth regardless of their status as citizens or noncitizens. I hope it will perpetuate understanding between students and faculty and people outside the Whitworth community about what it means to be an undocumented student,” sophomore Hannah Howell said. “More understanding is always a good thing. I support this.”

Others have concerns about the impact of the web page.

“I understand why Whitworth is doing this; however, I don’t think there is any justification for rewarding someone for being in our country illegally,” freshman Gabe Oros said.

Vasquez is hopeful the page will be one of the many efforts toward the diversity, equity and inclusion in our campus.

Vasquez hopes that the web page will be on the homepage of the official Whitworth website, but could also be on the Intercultural Student Center page or another page dealing with diversity and inclusion, she said. “We have a need to provide resources for undocumented students,” Vasquez said. “Other universities do it. Whitworth should also take the initiative to do the same.”

Universities that provide information and resources for undocumented students on their websites include UCLA, Brown University, NYU and Pacific Lutheran University. Other schools such as George Fox University and the University of Mississippi do not.

Vasquez has applied for a grant for #WhitworthUnited and was awarded funding. There will be a conference next fall for undocumented students, parents and allies in Eastern Washington.

 

Emily Goodell

Staff Writer

Contact Emily Goodell at egoodell17@my.whitworth.edu

After storm hit, many students forced out of dorms in search of power

Due to the aftermath of the most damaging windstorm to hit Whitworth’s campus, 650 students were evacuated from their dorms.

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Classes were cancelled for two days in order to deal with the damage and power loss. The university lost 126 trees during the storm, including several power lines that left many students without power for days, according to last Wednesday’s ASWU meeting.

“I live in Warren and during the windstorm, a bunch of us in Warren were like watching the trees fall back and forth,” freshman Jesse Domingo said. “And it was kind of like we were just watching our whole campus be destroyed, which was sad, but entertaining at the same time.”

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When the storm first began, students were kept updated through the blue light speakers and emergency response text messages and emails.

The first text message to be received by students, at 12:12 p.m. on Tuesday read, “Whitworth Alert: is is not a drill. Because of a fallen tree and high wind in the area, please evacuate the loop area. Use caution if outside or driving.”

A text message requested that students go immediately to their place of residence and take shelter until further notice was received by students at 12:37 p.m.

Cowles Memorial Library, Hawthorne Hall and the Lindaman Center were hit by trees and to deal with the logistical and safety issues of having students living in powerless dorms, the school evacuated hundreds of students into residence halls with power or houses off campus.

“For the rst time in my presidency, I cancelled classes, and we began the clean-up,” President Beck Taylor said in the December issue of the Mind and Heart newsletter. “Power was restored to campus late Wednesday night, after we’d moved 600 students to warmer dorms, not wanting them to spend another powerless, cold night in dark residence halls.”

In order to accommodate the influx of fleeing students, mattresses from powerless dorms were moved to provide sleeping arrangements for displaced students.

“That was when it stopped being fun,” freshman Elisah Winnika said. “I was kind of like, ‘Oh this is kind of like exciting!’ and then it was like ‘Now you have to move out of your dorms.’ And I was like ‘Okay. is is not exciting. is is stupid and annoying.’”

All classes resumed on Thursday, Nov. 19, leaving many students upset. Some students said they did not feel this was the right call on the university’s part.

“I was upset that classes were held so soon after the storm,” freshman Paige Rohrbach said. “I feel like whomever was deciding to make us go back thought it would get us back into the swing of things faster but I feel like it put unneeded worries on all of the students.”

“Students might be disappointed that we’re attempting to get back to some sense of normalcy, but we think it’s best to continue the educational programs to the extent we can,” Taylor said in a Nov. 18 Facebook post.

ASWU President Justin Botejue and Executive Vice President Chase Weholt brought snacks to displaced residents the night they had to evacuate from their residence halls. Botejue said that he disagreed with the university’s decision to resume classes Thursday.

“Though I understand why administration would like to have classes the day after our windstorm, I would like to advocate on behalf of all students,” Botejue said. “I would like to say that for their common good, we should have postponed classes until Friday just to give us a little bit more time to adjust, and professors as well.”

In order to help off-campus students affected by the power loss, Sodexo provided free meals for three days for faculty, staff and students.

 

Emily Goodell

Staff Writer

Contact Emily Goodell at

egoodell17@my.whitworth.edu

The Empathy Project: who tells your story?

The Empathy Project, created last year by senior Bryce Bagley, is an audio storytelling project that seeks to facilitate empathy by sharing people’s unique stories.

Hoping to partner with Whitworth.FM., Bagley is asking students from all backgrounds to record their experiences and stories and share them with the Whitworth community.

“When there’s some group or culture or even just means of identifying a person that we’re prejudiced against, it’s because we’ve never actually encountered real people who are transgender or who are Muslim or atheist,” Bagley said.

It’s a lot harder for an individual to express hate toward a group of people when that individual is presented with a real person from that demographic Bagley said.

“By recording these interviews...we can encourage empathy, because you have a real person that’s attached to this idea,” Bagley said. “It’s not just an abstraction anymore. It’s a human being.”

The reason why Bagley chose to present stories in this way, was inspired by an audio storytelling class that Bagley took last Jan Term, where they listened to podcasts about people’s experiences in life.

“I use audio recordings because there’s so much about the emotion of the story that’s captured in a person’s voice,” Bagley said.

Bagley has interviewed five individuals so far, both people from Whitworth and people he knew before coming to Whitworth, Bagley said.

One of the impacts he hopes to have is people changing their perspective on certain minority groups or underrepresented cultures, Bagley said.

“By being open with people, you learn something about being human, regardless of who you’re being open with,” Bagley said. “My policy with the people I interview is that after I’m done interviewing them, they can ask me any question they want.”

One person Bagley interviewed is sophomore Kai Eder, who said that telling his life story was interesting, because having a third party to help him process through it helped him to see things he hadn’t before.

“It really made me think deeply about if I was the person who truly knew my own story the best,” Eder said.

Eder hopes his story will impact people and change people’s opinions on hard issues, he said.

“I think people will start being a little more mindful of the issues that transgender people or non-binary people have to deal with,” Eder said.

Bagley was impacted by Eder’s interview, he said.

“I had no idea experientially what it meant to be transgender until I talked to Kai,” Bagley said. “It completely opened my mind to what that means to live through that. To live through what it’s like to be a transgender person today.”

The implementation of the project has met with some issues. The people that have been helping with the project have either graduated or not had enough time to work on the project, including Bagley himself.

“I’ve had some setbacks... I can’t do all of it on my own and that’s definitely slowed me down a lot,” Bagley said. “But I really do want to get at least enough inertia set up before I leave that it doesn’t die.”

Bagley said that he hopes the stories will be available to listen to over Whit- worth.FM., but has not yet heard back from the new director of Whitworth.FM.

Bagley’s ultimate goal is to create deeper levels of acceptance and tolerance, he said.

 

Emily Goodell

Staff Writer

Contact Emily Goodell at

egoodell17@my.whitworth.edu

Sodexo employees share their experiences as refugees

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The world’s increasing amount of refugees may seem to be an issue far removed from Whitworth, but for refugees working in Sodexo, the issue is much closer to home.

Sodexo employee Waad Noah is a 29-year-old college student working toward a degree in automotive technology at Spokane Community College. Noah and his family immigrated to the United States six years ago from Iraq, Noah said.

In 2003 early members of ISIS came to their machine shop with prints to make weapons, Noah said.

“They started to show up at the shop, giving us prints for guns to produce and stuff, for them to murder people. And as me and my dad looked at the print, we said ‘We’re not doing that,’” Noah said. “They’re gonna use these weapons to murder innocents and if we refused them, they would have killed us. So we just left everything behind and moved to Syria.”

His mother had a good job working as a nurse, so she stayed behind for a few months in Iraq to make sure she had sustainable income, Noah said.

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Noah and his family lived in Syria for three years before they were accepted to immigrate to the U.S., Noah said.

“What made us decide to come here was not us,” Noah said. “We just wanted to get away from the situation in the Middle East...We wanted to go somewhere where it’s safe.”

Sodexo employee Rim Ado was safe in Sudan before the wars started in 2011, Ado said. She and her family moved to a refugee camp between Libya and Egypt.

“We stayed in a camp about two years,” Ado said. “Oh my gosh, it was difficult time. A hard time.”

Ado stayed in a tent with eight of her family members.

“We are close...We have to share everything together, the bad things and the happy things,” Ado said.

Ado and her family came to the U.S. in 2013. She is now a student at SCC. After finishing her education at SCC, she plans to study international relations at Gonzaga, Ado said.

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Ado said she wants her children to grow up in America, but that she also wants them to know the culture they come from.

“I am hopeful in the future that everyone in the world will be safe,” Ado said.

Senior Marianne Sfeir is from Lebanon, a country that houses a lot of refugees, some of whom Sfeir said she is happy to have as close friends.

“The only extraordinary thing about them is the unjust things that have happened to them,” Sfeir said.

 

Emily Goodell

Staff Writer

Contact Emily Goodell at

egoodell18@my.whitworth.edu

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks at Gonzaga

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said during a speech at the Gonzaga University Presidential Speaker series last Sunday. Whitworth students who attended the event held at the McCarthey Athletic Center said they were profoundly impacted by her words.

“I think when you have someone like her who’s done a lot of great things and especially being who she is...being the first female head of state in Africa, being a Nobel Peace Prize winner-these are things that are amazing and that people should aspire to,” junior political science major James Eccles said. “I think people are more likely to be inspired to aspire to those things if they meet her face to face. I think that’s incredibly important.”

Sirleaf’s perspective on Africa impacted senior communication major Addy Koneval, she said.

“She told this intricate and interesting narrative about West Africa that’s different than our preconceptions about what Africa is,” Koneval said.

“If asked to describe my homeland in a sentence, I might say something like this: Liberia is a wonderful, beautiful, mixed-up country struggling mightily to find itself,” Sirleaf wrote in her autobiography, “This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President.”

One of the struggles Liberia has faced is with the 2014 Ebola outbreak that infected over 10,000 people and killed nearly 5,000 in Liberia, according to the Center for Disease Control.

People were confused, frightened and did not know what to do against an enemy that they couldn’t see, hide from or understand, Sirleaf said.

The initial lack of response from other countries to come to West Africa’s aid prompted Sirleaf to write a letter to the world, asking for help.

“It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defense,” Sirleaf said. “The time for talking or theorizing is over. Only concerted action will save my country, and our neighbors, from experiencing another national tragedy.”

The president’s perspective on the Ebola crisis in Liberia and West Africa as a whole, specifically the involvement of the United States in the crisis impacted Eccles, he said.

“We turned our back on West Africa and didn’t really care about it until it seemed like it might affect us personally and I think that is a dangerous, dangerous mindset to have in the world that we live in today,” Eccles said. “I think it’s important to hear someone that was there experiencing that firsthand to say, ‘Hey, where were you? This is a global community and you’re a part of it. You should be doing better.’”

During her speech, Sirleaf reminded the crowd that although she is many things, the first female president to ever be democratically elected in any African nation, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, an avid advocate for women’s rights, education and peace, she is also a grandmother and that has an impact on her presidency.

“I like that she draws on the strength of being a grandmother to run the country,” senior history and Spanish major Hannah Tweet said.

“She started out as a mother of four. Her grandmothers on both sides spent their entire lives illiterate. Her mother was the first one in her family that was literate, but she still worked an incredibly hard life of labor,” Eccles said. “For her to rise above that, I think is a pretty profound message: that people should get involved and don’t let perceived barriers prevent you from doing so.”

Liberia celebrates 12 years of peace this year, Sirleaf said. When asked about her excitement for the future of Liberia, Sirleaf said that she hopes for world peace, “a peace that allows human dignity to prevail.”

Sirleaf has been abused, imprisoned and exiled, according to her autobiography. During her imprisonment, she did not know whether she would live or die, Sirleaf said.

“The way that she downplayed her personal trials, like going to prison, is a testament to the strength and resilience she has,” Tweet said.

What mainly resonated with students is her advice about dreams, the same advice she gave to Harvard students during her commencement address in 2011.

“I think her closing comments that if your dream doesn’t scare you, then you’re not dreaming big enough... means that the barriers that scare us should not stop us,” Eccles said.

 

Emily Goodell

Staff Writer

Contact Emily Goodell at

egoodell18@my.whitworth.edu

One hundred parking spaces lost because of remodel

Due to the remodel of the music building, Whitworth’s parking availability is down by 200 parking spaces, half of which will not be recovered until after the completion of construction in Fall 2016. One of the reasons there’s less parking is because Fire District 9 requires that Whitworth has an additional fire lane to accommodate the expansion, which will be put in the lot behind Cowles Auditorium, Facility Services Director Chris Eichorst said.

One way Whitworth is hoping to combat the issue of having less spaces is by eventually trying to add more parking, an addition to the 100 spaces Whitworth will be getting back, Eichorst said.

“There are plans on the shelf for a new expansion to the A1 parking lot,” Eichorst said. “That would add 52 back to what we have.”

Many students on campus have expressed displeasure with the amount of parking; however, Eichorst said the numbers are favorable.

As of this week, there are 1,238 parking permits issued to on-campus students, off-campus students, faculty, staff and contractors,` and 1,662 available parking spots, according to Eichorst.

“If you look at the overall numbers that we have, we have plenty of parking. The unfortunate thing is people perceive that we don’t have convenient parking and that’s true,” Eichorst said. “We don’t intend to have convenient parking for a walking campus that Whitworth is…It’s only a ten minute walk from end to end on campus.”

Another way the parking issue is being combated is by the parking task force, a campus organization geared toward dealing with parking concerns.

Eichorst is a member of the parking task force and said that they deal mainly with the issues of parking distribution. The task force consists of various members of faculty, staff, security and student representatives Kai Eder and Breanna Lyons. The force decides which dorms should park in which parking lots and meet as needed to change or discuss distribution issues.

“We don’t have a parking problem here, we have kind of a distribution problem, so people aren’t parking in their right spaces,” Eichorst said. “If we can correct that, that would help everyone out.”

Some students agree and don’t believe there is a parking problem such as sophomore Lindsay Lackey.

“There’s less parking for sure. It’s really hard to find a spot near Ballard,” Lackey said. “A couple times I’ve had to park across the street.”

While parking on campus may be inconvenient, it is available, Eichorst said.

“We understand it’s definitely a change and we’ll get more parking spaces back, but we do have enough capacity to handle everyone’s parking needs,” Eichorst said. “If everybody parks where they’re supposed to, it will fit.”

Security officer LeRoy McCall said that the amount of people whose cars remain unregistered is a problem when addressing whether or not all cars will fit in the lot.

Students who fail to register their cars or park in lots in which they are not allowed to park may be fined, and that the consequences of not paying those fines by graduation could be a withholding of your diploma until fines are paid, McCall said.

Students who register their cars, but do not put the registration decal up may be fined, McCall said.

When one student parks in the wrong space a domino effect happens and the student who actually needs that space because it’s their designated area to park is forced to park in someone else’s spot until everyone is parking where they shouldn’t McCall said.

Aside from the issue of parking availability, concern has been raised regarding safety and lighting in the lots behind Oliver and Duvall.

“We know it’s a little dark back there,” Duvall senator Katie Holtzheimer said in an email sent to Duvall residents. “Although security is absolutely wonderful and you are safe in the back parking lot, we are looking into ways to light it up back there so we all feel a little more comfortable at night.”

The parking lots behind Oliver and Duvall are lit, with the exception of lot C4, which is not lit because it was just recently added as an expansion to accommodate more east side residents, Eichorst said. Facility services is taking student concerns regarding lighting into consideration and is working toward getting better lighting, he said.

“If people feel unsafe anywhere on campus, we always encourage them to call security and ask for either an escort or a safe ride,” Eichorst said.

McCall echoed this, saying that security is there to help.

Emily Goodell

Staff Writer

Contact Emily at

egoodell18@my.whitworth.edu