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The Power of Orange

By Olivia Clarke

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On my bedroom curtain, secured with a safety pin, is a little square of orange fabric. I got the square when I attended PSU’s Sustainability Celebration last spring – in return for my signature on a Divest PSU petition, I received this piece of fabric as a symbol of my support for rethinking the university’s investments.

Divestment aims to deny financial resources to governments and industries that are viewed as harmful or unjust. While the hot-button divestment issue for the previous generation was South African apartheid, the current topic of concern among universities across the nation is the environment: specifically, the fossil fuel companies that are hurting it (and that receive financial support from our school every year). The Divest PSU campaign began in 2014, and it seems to be gaining momentum. Divest PSU holds weekly meetings, and those orange squares are getting more recognition around campus.

As a sustainability-minded student, I have high hopes for this campaign: I know how hard some people work to lead sustainable lifestyles, but the environment can’t be saved by our personal choices alone. Even if I carpool and recycle, my impact pales in comparison to the financial influence of my school and other universities around the country. For this reason, I support the Divest PSU organizers who are using their power as students to speak up for a more ethical PSU that stays true to its environmental values. After all, our logo isn’t green for nothing.

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Community Justice

By: Sharon Nellist

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The ASPSU voting  period ends today at 7:00 p.m.

On April 22 the student Judicial Review Board made a decision to re-start the 2015 ASPSU Election – and we all know why.

It came to light that one of the candidates for ASPSU president, Tony Funchess, was convicted of sodomy and attempted rape.

Funchess resigned as multicultural affairs director on April 22 but stated that he would still run for president.

Members of our community were heavily opposed to his decision and started a Facebook community  called Step down, Tony and petitioned for Funchess’ resignation in the election.

The candidates this second time around came forward April 30 – and Funchess is certainly absent from the ballot. In fact, it looks entirely different.

Do you think that ASPSU leaders handled the situation properly? Do you think the changes that they have made are for better or worse?

I am still reading through the 2015 Round 2 Voting Pamphlet, but I am certain that I will be submitting my ballot tonight. Nothing will improve or change if we do not speak up and VOTE!

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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 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
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For the Sake of My Sanity, Please Change the PSU Payment Plan!

By: Chelsea WareChelsea 2

I am an out of state student and PSU has offered me many opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t have if I went to school back home. I have fallen in love with Oregon and don’t plan on leaving when I graduate. That being said, being an out of state student has also been expensive. While loans and help from family make my education possible, it’s hard not to cringe every time my quarterly bill is posted.

The PSU payment plan has given me even more reason to cringe. Implemented fall quarter of 2014, the payment plan allows students to pay their tuition in three installments due on the 6th of each month. If a payment is missed, we are charged a $100 late fee. However, all students, not just those on the payment plan, must have a zero balance on their Banweb account on the 6th of each month. If they do not, they are automatically enrolled in the plan and charged the $100 fee. While I paid my tuition in full at the beginning of the term, I was charged the late fee because I didn’t know that I had a small bill from the student health clinic that had been posted the day before.

College is a privilege, and many students struggle to afford an education so that they can better their future. There are many international, out of state, low income and minority students who have unique funding structures that don’t mesh with PSU’s new plan. Some students I know didn’t get their financial aid before the 6th of the month, which happened to be only a few days into the term this winter. As a result they now have late fees to add to their already growing student debt.

PSU used to structure their payment system like many universities in Oregon do today. A 1-2% interest is added to outstanding payments each billing cycle. Therefore, the late fee is a reasonable amount compared to the student’s outstanding balance. I personally would like to see PSU go back to this system, what do you guys think?

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On Courage and the Humble Compost Pail

By Olivia Clarke

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If I stick my head out of my apartment window, I can see that the ground is littered with discarded food: two whole onions, yellow peppers, decomposing noodles. Someone above me has been tossing this stuff out of the window all year. Each time we notice new scraps, my roommate and I look vaguely upward and shake our fists: “How irresponsible!”

Next to that kitchen window sits my new compost pail. Like many students who live on campus, I returned from a final exam last term to find it sitting on my counter, shiny and expectant. It has a convenient handle, and an eye-catching label with instructions that read, “In: coffee grounds, soiled napkins, veggie scraps. Out: liquids, Styrofoam, all plastics.” The pail is straightforward and easy to use. And the thing is, I know that Food Tosser above me has one too. Yet he or she continues to chuck food into the dirt.

But maybe that’s what makes the compost pail so special. The folks at the Campus Sustainability Office know what they’re up against when they try to encourage change: old habits, laziness, lack of understanding. They know plenty of students think composting is gross, and would much sooner throw their scraps in the garbage – or out the window – and forget about them. Nonetheless, here are these compost pails. Stationed in each housing unit on West Campus, they remind me of brave little soldiers, perpetuating Portland’s relentless environmental spirit in the face of all obstacles.

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Three Tips for Staying Organized

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

As a graduate student, I’ve learned the hard way that time management and organization can be your best friends when used properly — and your bitterest enemies when not. The modern student isn’t JUST a student anymore: most of us juggle jobs, internships, volunteering, creative projects, and relationships too. As the term really gets underway, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. On the bright side, there are a lot of useful tools and tricks out there to help you stay on top of things. Here are a few that have really made a difference for me:

  1. Trello. This is my go-to app whenever I work on a collaborative project. You can create virtual assignment cards, which are organized within themed boards. You can also assign tasks, add due dates, create checklists, upload files, and color-code to your heart’s content.
  2. Wunderlist. This app is your standard to-do list on steroids. Similar to Trello, you can share task lists with others as well as set up due dates and reminders. I use this app for my personal lists because of its simplicity. I keep one for homework assignments, one for events I want to go to, and one for groceries.
  3. Labeling in Gmail. Seriously, this is a game-changer if you receive a high volume of mail. I use labels such as “reply,” “education,” and “finances.” You can even create sub-labels, assign colors, and adjust your settings so that your mail is automatically labeled and sorted.

What tools and tricks help you stay organized?