garden

Confessions of an Urban Gardener

By Olivia Clarke

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I first ventured into the PSU Community Garden last June, and I’ve been managing the Honors plot ever since. Thus far I’ve harvested strawberries, tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers, among other homegrown goodies.

The Community Garden is a great opportunity for PSU residents to make sustainable food choices and build community. However, I’ve encountered some downsides to having a vegetable garden on a college campus. Most residents leave for the summer, which happens to be an extremely important season for gardening. Plots get hopelessly overgrown during this season, and work that is put into the garden during the academic year is often wasted. Security issues have led to the installation of a lock, which puts a damper on the “community” vibe. I’ve also known some of my vegetables and bricks to go missing, and some plots even include homemade signs that read, “Please stop stealing our vegetables!” I find this lack of trust unfortunate in a community space.

Yet even considering these drawbacks and annoyances, I wouldn’t want to see the space used for any other purpose. Sure, college students might not be the most consistent or reliable gardeners, and the lock and the occasional theft can be irritating. The commitment to maintaining the communal spaces in the garden could definitely be higher. But for those of us who maintain our plots on a daily basis, gardening is a refreshing and rewarding addition to our college experience. It keeps us close to the earth, and it ensures that we know where our food is coming from. And what can I say? Those cherry tomatoes are delicious.

If you’d like to have your own plot in the Community Garden, just sign up here!

Three Management Tools to Help Students Succeed

Andreea Nica_bio photoMany students get overwhelmed with the amount of readings required in each course. If you’re a graduate student putting together your literature review and/or dissertation proposal, organization is crucial. As a doctoral student, I have mounds of journal articles to sort through each week, and without the help of certain technological tools I would definitely find myself drowning in an abyss of academic articles.

I use several tools that support my process that I think could be useful for students at all levels.

Google Docs: I primarily use Google Drive Docs to jot down notes, research ideas and organize my projects. One idea that I recently started to implement is sharing a Google Excel Doc with my advisor, so that I can easily update him on my research process and findings. Try it!

Mendeley: This nifty tool is a reference manager, and it’s a lifesaver! You can access it from anywhere in the world, and you can also download it onto your desktop. Basically, you upload your PDFs, read and annotate (very useful – think of digital post-its all in one place), create groups and collaborate with others. And, last but not least, you can file your PDF articles in appropriate folders.education and organization

Zotero: Similar to Mendeley, it stores your articles and readings. You can also add images, audio and video files, and snapshots of web pages. A unique differentiation from Mendeley is that Zotero is the only research tool that identifies content in your web browser, allowing you to easily add the content to your library.

If you want to learn more about citation management tools, visit the PSU library for more information.

Chronicles Grav

Why I Left the Vanguard

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By Shezad Khan

  • I didn’t get paid the first three months I worked for the Vanguard. The director lost my paperwork which included some sensitive information. It was later found after I was asked to fill all the forms out a second time.
  • One of my articles was attributed to someone else. This one really upset me. How can you take the time, work, and effort of a writer and put someone else’s name on it? I only heard from the chief editor once via a short email. Nothing was done to correct the problem. I was told the following issue would offer clarification. It didn’t. It was a stupid error for the Vanguard to make, and the way they handled the problem was nothing but a slap in the face.
  • They cut our pay by 33% (the least of my worries). For months I was making $45 per article if my articles were over a certain word count. After a new managing editor and a new editor for my section arrived, however, our pay was dropped to $30 dollars. Why? Because apparently the last managing editor had been mistaken about our pay. So it didn’t matter how long of an article we wrote, the pay would be the same. Did they bother to tell me that before I wrote articles nearing or reaching a thousand words? Of course not.
  • They changed the title of my article – twice. When this happened with the new editor, I was told that these things happen all the time. This would be the deciding factor in my choice to leave the Vanguard. I wrote an email asking why they would change the title without telling the writer, or why they wouldn’t give the writer the chance to come up with a new title if they didn’t think the original title was sufficient. The answer I received was that it would simply be a waste of time for the Vanguard to consider the writer’s thoughts. It doesn’t matter to me if publications feel they “have the right” to do this, I still think it’s wrong.
Sharon 6

Tuition increases, this is really happening right now…

By: Sharon Nellist

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The PSU Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow, March 12, to vote on the proposed tuition increase for the 2015-16 academic year.

The potential 5% increase will leave resident undergraduate and graduate students paying around $330 more each year. Non-resident students will have to pick up the tab with $500 more each year.*

college-tuition

Students are affected by tuition increases: fewer enroll, they graduate later based on the course load they can afford, work longer hours at demanding jobs that interfere with academic performance, and drop out because they do not have enough money and cannot get more!

PSU’s Board of Trustees claims that the potential increase is due to flat enrollment, decreased state support, increase in costs, and the previously negotiated salary increases.*

Higher education is an important part of our country’s economic advancement. Free higher education, as in other developed countries, would ultimately save money with a $15-$30 billion investment. The staggering 70% of Americans who start college and do not graduate is evidence to the billions of dollars currently wasted. The more people there are in college, because they can actually afford it, the less unemployed people there would be seeking government assistance. College graduates without debt would stimulate the economy with the money they do have. Also, an educated society reports a higher level of health and happiness. (Bob Samuels Huffington Post)

I kept my tuition loans low by attending a community college before transferring to Portland State; however, with the consistent increases, I am seriously worried that I will be unable to get the funding for graduate school.

Our Student Body President Eric Noll is raising a rallying cry against the increase to put pressure on the board. Students are encouraged to gather in front of the Millar Library from noon to 1 p.m. this Thursday. #NOSTUDENTVOICEPDX

What do you say? Hope to see you there!

*Proposed agenda for the PSU Board of Trustees Meeting March 12, 2015

Photo credit to Shockoe.com

Real Talk About Internships

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Photo credit to Internships.com

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

We’ve heard it before: Internships are a key part of your education. They provide valuable experience, they present networking opportunities, they look good on your resume, they help you transition from academia to the workplace, etc. We get it already. They’re important. What’s lacking in the conversation about internships (at least the ones I’m hearing) is how to really make them work for you. I’ve had three so far, and I’ll be the first to admit I made a few mistakes along the way. Here’s what I learned from them.

Like any relationship, it’s important to know what you want going into one so that both parties are on the same page. I’ve seen internships range from one to six months in length and require anywhere between one and 25-plus hours per week. Before you do anything else, figure out how much time you can realistically devote to interning. I made the mistake of overestimating how much time I had to give, and as a result, I’m writing this blog post at 4am. Sleep is important too, as is scheduling time for things that help you relax and genuinely make you happy.

When you interview, remember that it goes both ways. You should be asking questions and making sure that this internship will be mutually beneficial. Some things to consider: Will this internship provide you with new skills, or do they expect you to already be competent? Do you need to generate work samples for a portfolio, and if so, will this internship help you do that? Are you going to be exposed to networking opportunities? Will you be working on your own or as part of a team? Telecommuting? Not only will you impress your potential employer, but your internship experience will be that much more rewarding because you know what you want out of it.

Finally, no internship discussion is complete without acknowledging the elephant in the room: compensation. The ethics surrounding paid vs. unpaid internships deserve a blog post – or even a book – all their own, but I’ll say this: I’ve had one paid and two unpaid internships, and they ALL were irreplaceable parts of my education. It may seem incredibly unfair to have to pay tuition and fees for seemingly free labor, but you aren’t really working for free. You are gaining otherwise unattainable experience, academic credit, and networking connections. In many cases, you are also helping small businesses stay afloat in a difficult economy. My internship with local independent publisher Hawthorne Books taught me not only about publishing, but how small businesses interact with their communities.

In short, don’t just sign up for an internship to fill a requirement or a line on your resume. Be selective, know what you want and what you have time for, and do your research. Seriously… internships quite literally changed the course of my education. If you’d like to know more, feel free to ask in the comments. I’m out of room here, but I’m always happy to help a fellow student.

If you’re on the hunt, the following resources are super helpful:

  1. PSU’s Career Center
  2. PSU’s Jobs & Internships Database
  3. Career Workshops, Classes, & Events
  4. 10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Internship
  5. Pinterest’s surprisingly good internship advice
Teddi Faller

Forty days of restraint

lentblogIt is that time of year again when the Christians and the semi-Christians come out of the woodwork to discuss what it is they are giving up for Lent. I find myself debating between the two things I care about most – coffee and shopping. However, fortunately for my wallet, I physically cannot afford to give up coffee, and financially cannot afford to not give up shopping.

When I was in high school, shopping was not a problem, basically because I didn’t have any money to spend. But when I moved out of state to California for college, shopping became a very easy distraction. Uprooting to California by myself, accompanied by the stress of student loans, new people, and needing to find a job, was the most trying experience of my life. Throw in a dysfunctional relationship and you have my freshman year nightmare. In order to get away from it all, as far as I could with reasonable transit time, I would go to the mall. It wasn’t until Lent came up that I realized I had an actual problem.

Whether you’re religious or not, it’s never a bad idea to reflect on your behaviors and habits – and particularly why you engage in them. The idea of Lent is to tackle a particularly bad habit that interferes with your relationship to God. However, I think the idea behind Lent would do everyone a little good because it allows people to look at what actions interfere with their relationships to themselves or to their loved ones.

Is it easier to run a credit card than talk about the actual reason you’re upset? Absolutely. But does it solve any problems? Not really, and it creates a newer problem of credit card debt.

I believe anyone can benefit from 40 days of restraint, especially when control seems like the only thing you don’t have on your plate. Plus, you get to celebrate at the end so why not?

Power of Words

Memoir Writing at PSU

Andreea Nica_bio photo

By Andreea Nica

When I tell people I’m writing a memoir, they usually appear surprised and ask: “Aren’t you too young?”

In 2013, I began writing “Freeligious,” a memoir and narrative nonfiction about my detachment from a charismatic religious sect and community. As a former evangelical, my gradual transition from the Pentecostal community spanned 10 years. The book focuses on identity, power and society with the aim of empowering those who have left — or who want to leave — their religious systems. Since then, I’ve taken a memoir writing course in Seattle, joined a writing group and received attention from media outlets such as Fox News Radio. Around 200 pages later, I realized I still needed help organizing my book.

I decided to take a memoir writing class with instructor and author Paul Collins in PSU’s English Department this winter term. The course has been extremely helpful in not only focusing on creating new content, but organizing my existing work. While the workshops (each student and the instructor reviews the student’s work and provides open feedback) initially can be an uneasy experience, they have certainly been most useful. As a Ph.D. Sociology student, being the only non-MFA student in the course has also helped me learn from others’ writing skills and expertise.

Although some find it unexpected that I’m writing a memoir at a “young age” or while pursuing a doctoral degree in the social sciences, I believe following more than one passion or goal can be most satisfying in life.

If you’re interested in taking a course in PSU’s English Department, visit: http://www.pdx.edu/english/