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Awaiting the Looming Changes in Campus Security

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By Chelsea Ware

June will bring many things: the end to an arduous spring quarter, warm weather, but most importantly it is when the PSU Board of Trustees will review and vote on an implementation plan for armed security on campus. In December of 2014, the PSU Board of Trustees voted 11 to 2 in favor of having an armed police force on campus and for the past 5 months they have been constructing the details of how the officers will operate.

Under the plan, PSU will hire 12 police officers to join campus security. The decision was also a result of Portland State University President Wim Weiwel’s Task Force on campus safety; a group composed of members of the PSU community who spent six months studying safety on campus. The President’s Task Force suggested that PSU should have armed officers due to PSU’s proximity to downtown, its steady growth of students, and lack of safety resources.

The deaths that have taken place in Baltimore, New York, and Ferguson have left many students feeling uneasy about PSU’s proposed security plan. However, board members have expressed their hope that PSU can work to cultivate a security department that reflects the Portland State values of diversity and accountability.

Do you think that having armed officers on campus will add to students’ safety? As someone who lives on campus, I know that I will be following the upcoming changes closely and I encourage you to also. Whether you are pro or against the upcoming changes, it is important that we all stay engaged during this process.

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Let the Spring Light Wipe out Hate

By Chelsea Ware

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“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”

― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Spring’s warm weather is almost here! I love spring at PSU because I can expect to enjoy sunny afternoons on the grass, music by the water front, and ice cream breaks in between classes. However, there is one aspect of warmer weather at PSU that I don’t look forward too, and that is the evangelical preachers in the park blocks. As someone who spends a lot of time of campus, I’ve come to see PSU as my home and find it jarring when I hear someone screaming intolerant, homophobic, anti-Semitic and vulgar comments so brazenly. Whenever I see the preachers in action, I usually also see a group of students crowded around them shouting back. While I too get tempted to join in and argue with the preachers, I make a firm point not too. I think that the best solution to deal with people who come to campus and bellow discriminatory views is to simply ignore them. I know it’s easier said than done, but one of the main reasons people like that come here is because they enjoy having the audience. Why do you think they mainly come when it’s warm out? They know that they will have the largest audience and be the most comfortable. They simply enjoy arguing with the students and feel a sense of power from starting drama on our campus. If they were actually interested in spreading the word and teachings of Jesus Christ (which is love, by the way) they would do it rain OR shine. They would donate to the ASPSU food pantry or help pick up litter. These are not logical Christians; therefore arguing with them will accomplish nothing. This is our campus, not theirs. To take it back we simply need to rise above their hatred by smiling and enjoying the good things that spring has to offer.

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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!

Photo credit to hercampus.com http://www.hercampus.com/career/career-how-tos/5-ways-fight-senioritis-land-job-after-graduation

The Graduation Blues

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

I have a countdown app installed on my cell phone. It has three events on it: Portfolio Due, Thesis Defense, and Commencement, each with their own countdown timer. It tells me that I have six days left to finish my portfolio, thirty-six days left to panic about my thesis, and fifty-nine days until I will (with any luck) walk across the stage at the Moda Center, beaming, having earned a Master’s degree in Writing and Book Publishing.

That day feels both terrifyingly close and impossibly far away. There is so much to do before then, so much that could go wrong. And yet, even though it feels like my two-year degree program started yesterday, I feel confident. My education and experiences have equipped me with both a unique range of skills and, perhaps more importantly, the confidence to go forth into the mysterious beyond of post-graduation adulthood.

Never mind that I still waited until the last possible minute to file my taxes this year, or that I opt for pizza and Netflix instead of cooking a real meal more than I’d like to admit.

Over the past two years, I’ve juggled a full graduate course load, 2-3 jobs and internships each term, a serious relationship, and a leadership position on campus. Both of my parents were hospitalized due to medical conditions within the last few months too. To be frank, I’ve been a walking bundle of stress.

Keep-Calm-and-GraduateIf I could pass along one piece of advice to my fellow students, it would be this: learn how to manage your stress. Because you will, inevitably, face a point in your life when everything seems to come crashing down. Knowing how to relax, how to let go and take care of yourself – these are things that I never learned until I really needed them, and looking back, I wish I had learned them sooner. Now I know better: I recognize my limitations, and I listen to my body when it tells me to slow down, go for a walk, or pour a bubble bath.

But thankfully, both of my parents are recovering, my portfolio is coming along nicely, and my friends have been both patient and supportive. I bounced back. I’ve made lasting relationships – both professional and otherwise – and worked with some truly talented authors, students, and educators in my program. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I look forward to the future waiting on the other side of that stage.

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Embrace the Gray

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By: Chelsea Ware

It seems like every day, whether I’m in line for coffee, riding the streetcar or in class, I hear someone complain about the rain. “I’m just so sick of this gloomy weather” or “I wish we would get more sun.” This attitude towards the rain in the Pacific Northwest astounds me!

First of all, the abundance of rain we get keeps the foliage lush and leafy. Oregon and Washington have some of the most beautiful trails, forests, and outdoor scenery. This is largely due to the fact that it rains much of the year. It keeps everything clean, green, and growing.

Secondly, as a native Californian I love the rain because I understand how much of a precious resource it is. After the lowest snowfall ever recorded and no end to the drought in sight, many homeowners in California have resorted to spray painting their dehydrated withering front lawns green. Back home my parents have to time their showers so that they don’t overuse their water ration.

Lastly, the rain makes it perfect for studying at one of Portland’s many cozy coffee shops. I love to go with friends to the Mezz café at the Pearl District Whole Foods when it’s raining. Not only do they have delicious coffee, it’s also right next to Powell’s Bookstore. So next time it’s less than sunny outside and you feel like complaining about the weather, try to remember that the rain is vital to many of the things we get to enjoy in Portland.

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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.*

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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

Lauren Singer can fit two year's worth of trash into a single mason jar. Photo credit to Trash is for Tossers.

Let’s Talk Trash

By Brooke Horn

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Lauren Singer’s green philosophy is pretty simple: produce as little waste as possible by making smart, sustainable lifestyle choices. As a whole, our society subscribes to the disposable model. We have disposable plastic ware, drink cups, water bottles, napkins, food wrappers, product packaging… the list is seemingly endless. Generating no trash might seem like an impossibility but, as Lauren shows us, we can get pretty darn close.

I discovered Lauren through this EcoWatch article last week and became really intrigued by the concept of zero-waste living. Amazingly, almost all of the trash she’s collected over two years fits in a single mason jar. Her blog, Trash is for Tossers, provides tons of useful information on how she pulls her zero-waste lifestyle off. After doing a lot of research and taking a good, hard look at my own habits, I’ve decided to follow Lauren’s lead and implement some changes in my own lifestyle.

While I don’t think that I’m ready to transition to zero-waste, I DO want to transition to zero-plastic (or as close as I can get). Plastics have been shown to leach toxins into food, and while they can be reused, they don’t decompose like other materials. Does this mean immediately disposing of all plastics in my household? No, and it shouldn’t. Throwing away these items would only ADD to the problem.

My dreaded Tupperware shelf... I plan on replacing all of that plastic with more sustainable containers.

My dreaded Tupperware shelf… I plan on replacing all of that plastic with more sustainable containers.

Instead, I plan on gradually replacing my plastic items with glass, wood, or stainless steel equivalents (which you can find here, or even at your local thrift shop). The plastic items can either be donated or recycled as I exchange them. And while I’m generally pretty good about bringing a reusable water bottle and canvas shopping bags with me wherever I go, I’d like to go one step further. By using linen bags like these when I purchase produce and bulk items, I eliminate most plastics from my shopping routine. BAM. No more plastic bags, no more plastic Tupperware. One step closer to zero-plastic and zero-waste.

For tips on how you can live a more sustainable lifestyle on campus, check out PSU’s own Green Campus Living. The blogs Project Green Dorm, Zero Waste Home, and, of course, Trash is for Tossers are also really great resources. Wish me luck on my journey to zero-plastic! Feel free to share your own tips, recipes, resources, and ideas in the comments below.