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Rec for a Cause

selfieBy James Wilson

An awesome thing about the Rec Center is that it’s more than just that place to work out. The Rec Center staff organizes a lot of events, including things that give back to the community. One of those is the Campus Rec for a Cause initiative.

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One thing they recently did, and do every month, was a community cleanup walk. On Nov. 5 they specifically focused on cleaning up our campus of all the cigarette butts everywhere. This was in partnership with SHAC to spread awareness of our new Smoke and Tobacco Free Policy. Feel free to join us once a month to give back and enjoy a cleaner campus!

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You can find more info on the Rec for a Cause Initiative here and the Smoke and Tobacco Free Policy here.


Questioning the System


by Shezad Khan

Now that I’ve officially begun my career as a graduate student, I’ve been delving into some pretty interesting conversations with my cohort. A topic that was the focus of a lively discussion that took place recently was that of the “banking concept” in education. This concept essentially places teachers and professors as holders of knowledge who deposit said knowledge into students. It’s a controversial method of teaching to say the least, but sometimes education adopts iffy frameworks.

I bring this up because we should all be well aware that the education system in this country, to put it gently, isn’t the best. I’m sure that the amount of reasons for the failure of our education system is vast, but that does not mean we shouldn’t try to figure it out. Some of the problems that come from the banking concept include elitist educators, lack of student/teacher interaction, and even the fact that students are meant to be docile in terms of doing and thinking what they’re told to.

I’m interested in discussions like this because I want to become a college professor. As we go through school, day by day and week by week, it’s easy to get stuck in this cycle of doing what’s on our syllabi and getting assignments in on time. Seldom do we stop and think about what it is we’re actually doing. But I think it’s very important for us to rebel a little. By that, I don’t mean you should flip your desks and tables in a frenzy during your class. I just mean that, sometimes, it’s healthy to criticize institutions.


Balancing School, Work and Exercise

blog1 (1)By: Xylia Lydgate

The first day of school is right around the corner, and I have yet to figure out my fall schedule —­ and I don’t mean registering for classes. Upon the start of each term, I create a “master schedule” allocating designated times for everything I need (and want) to do that day. Before the big day, I like to kick things back the old-fashioned way; I gather all my Crayola markers and create a colorful calendar masterpiece. Although I may not always look at this calendar throughout the term, having planned my schedule in advance ingrains these responsibilities into my memory and most importantly, it helps me find balance between school, work, extracurriculars and, of course, some “me” time!

It’s inevitable that I will become preoccupied with my responsibilities, but claiming that I “don’t have time” to eat, sleep or exercise is never a legitimate excuse. Making sure that I care for myself both physically and mentally is just as important as succeeding at school and work. In my schedule, I create blocks of time for eating meals and exercising. Frequent visits to the Rec Center throughout the school year has helped me to stay physically and mentally strong; it sharpens my ability to focus when returning to school and allows me to clear my mind and maintain my stamina. Keeping a specific, goal-oriented schedule handy, motivates me to stay committed to the physical and mental responsibilities that I owe to myself.

If you don’t already create a hand-drawn schedule, I suggest you give it a try! Take a little break from the screen and resort to some good ol’ pen and paper.

How do you like to stay organized?


A Major Change

Chronicles Grav

By Shezad Khan

The fact that I’ll be a graduate student in about a month has me thinking about my undergrad years and how I struggled with deciding on a major. As a new college student, I firmly believed that I was going to major in biology. Being a bio major was something I had “figured out” in high school. But as time went on, I changed my mind. I came to the realization that I wanted to major in English – a subject that I truly loved.

I recently listened to a couple of younger college students discuss their indecision about what they wanted to do. This seems universal; I hear it from friends, family members, and other students. Now that I’ve finished my undergrad, it always seems interesting how much people stress about their major.

It’s a clichéd piece of advice to tell people they have time to figure out what they want to do – but it’s true. I guess my main piece of advice for new students, or continuing students who are still undecided, is to not stress about it. I changed my major sophomore year, and I know people who have changed their majors three or four times before finding what they truly wanted. I think the key to deciding your major is your happiness. If what you’re doing doesn’t make you happy, then don’t do it.

Find a subject that you love, and go for it. No matter what anyone else says or thinks about it, stick to it. You’re going to be in college for quite some time, you may as well have a passion for it.


Permanent change from temporary work

By: Sharon Jackson

Anxiously awaiting to embark on my grand excursion to England in a few weeks, I have taken up a few temp jobs this summer. What I absolutely love about temp work is that you could call it a “paid internship.” Temp jobs are a fantastic opportunity to work, gain valuable skills, and begin potentially beneficial relationships at various businesses, non-profits, etc. in the Portland metro area – and believe me, they pay decently too. Nonetheless, there are the occasional experiences that can change your perspective of the world.


I recently spent a week at Neighborhood House, a non-profit that helps families facing hunger and homelessness by providing food, shelter, distributing grants toward rent or energy bills, and school programs for underprivileged children. It is nothing less than despairing to be enduring times like these. I know as I once lived out of my car for eight months with little work and hardly enough money for food. The people seeking assistance at the Neighborhood House should be frustrated, and rightly so. However, most people had their electricity shut off and others were there for food, but everyone held onto their hope and had a sense of humanity. These people were giving up their chairs for one another, listening for others numbers to be called for their appointments, and when they were given food or enough money to turn their electricity back on, they were extremely grateful and thanked us profusely.

What I love about temp jobs such as this one is the joy I feel for helping people in need, and the joy I feel seeing hope alive in humanity. The money is a delightful bonus, as any college student can comprehend, but it is the experiences that weigh-in the most.


You Don’t Know What You Got . . .

Student Insurance . . . plus SHAC is available, too.

Student Insurance . . . plus SHAC is available, too.

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.


Call Campus Security? Maybe not.


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.