Identity Exploration

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-11-12-pm By, Melissa Pyle

One of the reasons I was drawn to Portland State University as my alma mater was the city’s unofficial motto to, “Keep Portland Weird.” I felt if a city could embrace this sentiment it would complement my own life experiences. In short, it has been a long and weird journey to get to where I am today. I am a non-traditional student, I did not come to PSU straight out of high school. In fact, I am a twenty-seven-year-old adult trying to navigate academia, and it has come with quite a learning curve of its own. The most difficult and rewarding aspect of college for me is finding comfort in exploring my identity and challenging my experiences and beliefs. Life is a journey of self-discovery and education is the hallmark of transformation. I know I’m not the same person as I was when I startedsearching this long weird journey which is both scary and exciting.

I challenge you to explore your identity, in whatever way that may mean to you. Perhaps, just look more closely at why you do something a certain way and change it or even simply try a new activity. The change doesn’t have to be tangible or indefinite, it’s an opportunity to approach life from a new perspective.

Stay Unified

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-11-12-pm By: Melissa Pyle

After the results of our November 8th election I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Where do we go from here?” Immediately I was afraid; I was afraid that all the hateful things Donald Trump spoke about could become a reality. I wept at the reality that my country will be in the control of this man, someone who could so easily discriminated on so many people. I was afraid for the federal grants I receive that allow me to attend school and I got angry thinking about the possibility of them getting taken away or reduced which would not allow me to attend school. I was afraid for my rights over my own body as a woman and I got incredibly angry thinking about someone else making my reproductive choices for me. I went back and forth for a while getting angrier and more afraid until all I could do was sob. I was crying not only for myself but for all my brother’s and sister’s that felt like our lives changed that Tuesday and not for the better but for the worse. I felt helpless but then I realized, it’s going to take a lot more than one person to get me to lose sight of my values. My actions and beliefs are strongly rooted in equality, inclusion, and integrity and that will never change no matter the circumstances. As a white cis-woman I recognize my privilege and I will not hesitate to use it against hate and bigotry. I refuse to live divided and I will support those that feel the most vulnerable by our President-elect. Together we are unified and we are strengthened by our hope for a better country. In the great words of Ted Kennedy, “What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.”

Resources Here, Resources There, but Not Everywhere

sign

By Melissa Pyle

As a student at Portland State, I have often found myself impressed at the available resources on campus that support students outside of our academic needs. For example, there is the Food Pantry to combat food insecurity, the Recreation Center to support an active lifestyle, or even SHAC which provides free and low-cost services supporting health and wellness. However, recently I was appalled to find a lack of resources in a very important and necessary place, the women’s bathroom.

A scenario some of us may be familiar with involves going to the bathroom and immediately being notified of an unexpected monthly visitor. Generally, I would pop a few quarters into a conveniently placed metal machine and graciously grab my supplies and then go about my day stress free. Unfortunately, when this happened to me I was in the Smith Memorial Student Union and instead of finding the trusted “tampon machine” there was just a sign. The sign, pictured above, read, “Feminine hygiene products are available for purchase from the University Market on the first floor of Smith Memorial Student Union and after hours at the Plaid Pantry.” PSU is better than this and should be supporting menstruation more inclusively and not suggesting they walk to an alternative location to purchase the supplies they need. I reached out to the Executive Administrative Coordinator of Finance & Administration who manages Facilities and Maintenance in Smith Memorial Student Union for a comment and they expressed, “we have just started to research best practices and create a campus standard around hygiene products in restrooms.”

As a cis-gendered woman, I know that menstruation is just a fact of life. I, along with many others with a uterus, experience a menstrual cycle, it is not gross, it is not shameful, it is natural and healthy. Providing menstrual supplies in all of the bathrooms around campus would be tangible representation of the supportive resources that PSU provides. PSU Camions of Care is a student club that is filling this gap. They not only provide menstrual supplies to low-income and/or homeless students, they also advocate for menstrual focused institutional change. Would you join me in supporting PSU Camions of Care and their November campaign, “No Shame November” and sign a petition in support of the administration providing menstrual supplies in all the bathrooms around campus? Let me know in the comments section if you are interested in being a part of this movement.