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Posts tagged ‘community’

You Don’t Know What You Got . . .

By: Theo Burke

As I graduate, besides memories and friends, I am leaving behind the awesome Portland State student health insurance. I’ve written about this before, now I’m experiencing the difference.

Since I don’t know what job is coming down the pike or what kind of health insurance it might carry, I’ve applied for individual insurance through Cover Oregon, the state exchange that sells private health plans (with federal subsidies to help pay the premiums) under the Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare.” The state exchange will alternatively sign you up automatically for the state’s Medicaid program (the Oregon Health Plan) if you qualify.

In the real world, I will have to think more about the deductible. A deductible is an amount you pay each year (usually $250 – $1000 or higher) before any benefits are paid by your health insurer.

At PSU, the deductible was $0.00.

My present doctors might not be covered by a new insurance company. At PSU, the Aetna provider network was vast.

I will have to worry more about whether alternative care is covered. At PSU, naturopathic doctors are treated the same as primary care doctors, and chiropractors are covered up to twelve visits per year.

Weirdly enough, when I heard from Cover Oregon recently, they put me in the Oregon Health Plan, even though I reported enough income to disqualify me from that program. Now I will have to figure out the Medicaid ”world,” which works much differently than the private insurers’ system, or else contest my placement in that program with Cover Oregon.

Students, the PSU plan won’t throw you such curve balls. You have an awesome, generous health plan, and you should take advantage of it before you graduate. As I’ve said before, you don’t know what you’ve got, until you lose it.

Who would want to take summer classes?

sunset_wakeboarding-columbia-river-087_mg_9556

By: Mario Quintana

The majority of people wait all year for summer to arrive and perhaps even more so students.After months of class, hours of studying, and weeks of cloudy days, summer is ever so calming.For those who work and go to school, it is a relief to have less stress and responsibilities to deal with. So it may come as a surprise to many students to see other students taking summer classes. Yet, there are lots of reasons for taking summer classes.

I’m considering taking summer classes this year to graduate sooner rather than later. Fortunately I have the finances to take the classes if things work out. In doing so, I can save time and money by graduating earlier. Yet, there are uncertainties that come about by rushing things. What are my options after graduating? Am I considering grad school or will I join the workforce? Do I have a plan for both options?

In the end, I suppose I’m ready to finish my undergraduate degree and to move on. This is my  fifth year at PSU and taking another year is not appealing to me. It almost seems that my path to adulthood has been stagnated for numerous and personal reasons. While summer is a great time for the majority of people, it does not exempt them from their work and responsibilities. So would you take summer classes if you could?

Call Campus Security? Maybe not.

HPIM2422

Another “phalanx response”, on Sunday, March 2, in Smith.

Over Christmas, as I returned to my car at 2 a.m., I was approached by four muscular campus security officers, in three patrol cars. It was a little scary.

Someone had called in a complaint about a man “trying to break into the library, wearing a hoody.”  I had returned some books to the Millar Library dropbox, and then carried the library’s delivered New York Times closer to the revolving doors as a courtesy, pausing to read some headlines first. I’m geeky like that.

After a check with dispatch that I was a bona fide student, the four officers let me on my way. I’ve since noticed this “phalanx of four” routine is common with Campus Public Safety Office (CPSO) responses:

  • HPIM2423Last week, I saw a solo CPSO officer patrolling the Broadway. Around the corner, I spotted three more campus security responding to an incident.
  • Later in the week, a young man was panhandling all of us in line for coffee in Smith. Someone apparently reported him, as later I spied one officer stationed by the coffee joint, two more interviewing him by the Information Desk, and a fourth officer by the front door on Broadway.

Clearly, CPSO is prepared for any escape in any direction! Their “I-formation” is as impressive as any our football Vikings might run.

I refrained from calling CPSO on the panhandler, as I also did last week when I saw an unstable young man kicking all of the gravel out of the tree beds in front of the Broadway. I imagined an overreaction from CPSO similar to my experience.

Is all this manpower necessary to keep us safe? A greater risk is created, I suggest, if some students avoid calling security in the first place, concerned about overkill. Money would also be saved if CPSO responded with two-man teams.

What do you think?  In April, the university will have a security discussion that will include the question of arming these officers with guns. Tell the university what you think here, or add a comment to this blogpost. You can bone up on the recent task force report on campus safety here.

A live phone call — someone loves me

By: Theo Burke

"Hey, I didn't know it could TALK!"

“Hey, I didn’t know it could TALK!”

Not long ago, while working on a PSU Vanguard story, I received a return phone call, within 24 hours, from Scott Gallagher of the University Communications office. I nearly fell down from shock.

I had not received a live phone call in months from anyone other than my mother. And it seemed as though an ever-increasing amount of important people in my life had barricaded themselves behind “email walls.”

When I recently asked to meet with an editor at one of the three student media outlets I worked for, she simply refused to do it. Her supervisor had established a policy, she said, that editors could limit communications with writers to email. No meetings, live conversations, or body language required.

A professor supervising me on a huge term paper could only be reached by email and was only on campus two days per week. She had not even set up the voice mail on her office phone. But this makes her no different from most PSU profs —not a single professor in my three years here has used the office phone.

Mr. Gallagher reminded me what humans are capable of. Follow up.  Consideration. Professionalism. Simple human respect and kindness. And he understands that the old standards of professionalism still matter to do your job.

I submit to you all that we will not be able to live without live voice communication and nonverbal body language over the long run. We will not be able to abandon those and hold onto the jobs that we like, as well.

No amount of quiet, feverish tapping on our devices will replace our voices and ourselves.

The taste of a Guinness

By: Mario Quintana

Portland is home to more than 60 breweries, more breweries than any other city in the nation. It should then come to no surprise the high number types of beers that are offered across the city. There are pubs and bars all around to provide a taste of the variety of beers available. Purchasing beer at the local supermarket while cheap can deprive the consumer of the full taste of beer from a tap.

It was in Portland where I first began to get a taste of what beer was. Beforehand I lived in Portland, I only conceived beer as light and dark. I couldn’t have imagined the vast types of beers that existed. From Indian pale ales, to porters and stouts, the range of beer types is larger than most people know. I was used to drinking mainly lager beers with family and friends. However, I soon came to find my preferred type of beer.

Beer_taps

It was at an Irish pub where I had my first stout beer, a Guinness. It’s dark and heavy but it has a refreshing taste to it. Most beers tend to be too carbonated for myself, something I realized only after having a stout beer. I’ve introduced this beer type to my family back in Hood River and have had a pint with friends as well. And every once in a while, I enjoy a pint of Guinness as a sort of delicacy.

A relentless secret at PSU . . .

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There is a secret held by many a Portland State student, closely guarded, but not really secret; not shameful, but not boasted of. We keep it from others, and ourselves as well.

It is the grinding, relentless poverty of the college student. Students push poverty out of their minds, taking loan after loan each term without dwelling on the ramifications, trying to hang on until graduation, concentrating on academics.

wolf howling-md

Our university community may not fully realize how deeply many students live in the quiet perseverance of being broke and being a student. And the weird ways that poverty can manifest.

A busy student I know led a prestigious student group last year while racking up $1800 in parking fines and impoundment fees on her car. She gave up on recovering the car, and eventually purchased a different vehicle. Some students can’t afford their textbooks. I’ve visited ASPSU’s food pantry myself several times this term and in past terms.

The wolves just catch up with you. You feed the ones that must be fed, and try to ignore the howling of the others as you bear down your latest term paper. Eventually, the checkbook gets empty, the next pittance of income too far away.

That is when I have been grateful for the existence of several things:  ASPSU’s food pantry in Smith. The endless help of the Financial Aid office. Emergency loans from the Bursar’s Office. A little help from my friends in my personal life.

I would not have made it through without them.

| Community |

| Community |

Community is something we all yearn for. Community supports our dreams, our loves, the things we care for.

Are you finding yourself lost in the crowd? Being a part of such a huge school, it is easy to isolate yourself and go day by day with the same routine.

We need people.
We need relationships.
We need community.

It’s hard because sometimes community doesn’t seek you, but you have to seek out that community. Whether it be a love for sports, painting, God, music — whatever — there IS a community. If you feel alone and one in the crowd, I encourage you to try and seek out community these next few days. We cannot function without relationships with others. Being a part of a community that loves, marks a path, and supports each other is something that is irreplaceable.

|| Seek Adventure ||

|| Seek Adventure ||

Adventure is out there. Being in college has taught me to go and explore the world around me. There is something about finding a new place that makes me feel alive: going hiking, exploring a new coffee shop, or even just meeting different people along the way. Adventure is what you make it. Go out and DO.

Go explore.
Go find a mountain.
Go find a park.
Go eat new food.
Go and find a community that supports you.

I challenge all of you this week to go to a place you have never been before. Seek adventure, because you never know what you are going to find.

Rain, rain, go away and come back another day

outdoor_raining-1280x800I was dreaming that I was sailing a small ship through a tremendous storm. The rain was heavy and dense, battering the ship and causing metallic thumps that scathed my ears. Then I awoke from my sleep and the sounds had not ceased. I cleared my eyes and sat up in my seat and saw a heavy downpour battering my car, where I was sleeping.

The rain had always made me feel blue. It’s common among people deprived of sunshine to feel blue and even develop a condition known as SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. It comes to no surprise to any of us that it rains for most of the year in Portland. Still, why do so many people feel blue because of the rain?

Indigenous people tend to see the rain as sacred and as a sign of life. For some reason, it seems that modern society and individuals do not see it in the same light. Perhaps our need for comfort through materialistic and superficial things have deprived us of the opportunity to reflect on ourselves in solitude.

CRC – Part II

Columbia River I-5 Bridge

Columbia River I-5 Bridge

The Aug. 11th, Vancouver’s, Columbian editorial, “It’s time to move forward“, was insightful and accurate. Like many, I was prepared to accept that the Columbia River Crossing was dead. However, it looks like there may be a glimmer of life left in the idea. More than $170 million, countless man-hours of expert engineering data, and nearly a decade of time is invested in this project. Our State and Federal leaders must exhaust all avenues before giving up. And so I was elated when I discovered Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is working on a last ditch effort, “Oregon Lite…CRC”, http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/08/crc_lite_oregon_should_build_a.html, to still work with the CRC project and breath life into this extremely important project.

What surprised me (yet again) was the apparent anger and resentment by the Republican coalition of the Washington state Senate to even consider another idea. Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, made reference to Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber as, “uncooperative”, for even bringing forth this unique idea. Our leaders should be looking at all ideas to fix a problem — not to kill a possible solution. Such attitudes and actions tell me people’s own agendas, or egos, seem to have more value to them than looking for compromise that can address this big problem that faces the largest roadway on the Western side of North America — Interstate 5.

To value ego over the possibility of a good idea to help find a solution to the I-5 crossing is not good leadership. It is not leadership at all.

We can and must do better.

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