PSU’s unsung heroes: Janitors keep campus buildings safe during pandemic

Janitorial Supervisor Gloria Agnew

PSU SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRIBUTOR

While most Portland State students, faculty and staff are at home learning and teaching remotely, one group is still on campus despite the pandemic: PSU’s janitors. These unsung heroes are busy cleaning the main campus buildings, student housing facilities, Little Vikings Daycare and the Student Rec Center.

According to Relay Resources, the nonprofit company that trains and employs PSU’s janitorial staff, employees prioritize high-touch, high-traffic areas and use a health clinic-grade cleaner  known to kill coronaviruses. Relay employs 85 PSU janitors, who clean more than 2 million square feet across 20 buildings — including libraries, research buildings and parking areas.

Mina Salihovic

Still ahead: Deep cleaning approximately 1,400 PSU dorms this summer. The Relay staff is ready.

As part of its mission, Relay Resources hires people with disabilities and other obstacles to employment like language barriers, offering them new opportunities to make a positive impact on the community and do meaningful work.

Sending out warm virtual vibes to all the committed workers at Relay, who are on the front lines helping make all of us safer. Thank you for your dedication!

9 ways to get ready for remote learning at PSU

Spring term usually coincides with lounging in the sun on Urban Plaza, a plethora of festivals and activities and a humming, vibrant campus. But this year, spring at Portland State will look a little different.

The trees will still be in bloom, but a global coronavirus outbreak has prompted a shift at universities nationwide — and PSU is not exempt.

Folks in our Office of Academic Innovation and Office of Information Technology have been hard at work making sure our students, faculty and staff are ready for an all-remote spring term, and have created this Remote Learning Checklist:

  1. Learn what the plan is for each of your courses. Look for communication via email or D2L from your instructors, and read your courses’ syllabi carefully.
  2. Check out the Student Guide for Learning Remotely which covers many technical details and the Remote Learning Kit which covers additional tips for learning remotely.
  3. Get Zoom-ready. You’re very likely to have at least one instructor using this video conferencing software for virtual meetings this term. If you’ve never used this before at PSU, we have a few suggestions for getting started on Zoom.
  4. Schedule yourself. Look over the dates in your course syllabi, keep track of tasks in a calendar or planner, and give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to complete your work. With no in-person class meetings, it’s extra important to pay attention to how you’re spending your time.
  5. Take care. Give yourself regular breaks from your work. Exercise, eat snacks, and gift yourself with treats when you finish tasks.
  6. Stay tuned to PSU communication. The university is regularly sharing updates and resources to support you through this remote term via emails, Virtual Viking newsletter and on our social media channels.
  7. Ask for help when you need it. See more information about accessing campus resources remotely.
  8. Stay connected to friends, family, and classmates remotely. Social networks are more important than ever right now.
  9. Take a breath. Be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your instructors. Everyone is trying to figure this out for the first time together.

For additional information, visit PSU’s Coronavirus Response webpage.

Sophie Soprani, Office of Academic Innovation

PSU Athletics Director Valerie Cleary on the power of women in sports

1988 Vikings volleyball national championship team
BY VALERIE CLEARY
Director of Athletics

It’s been a few days since the Super Bowl. Typically, on this hallowed day, two teams of men battle it out on the football field, while millions gather to cheer on their favorite team and cast their votes for the best commercial. This year felt a little different. There was a subtle, yet powerful message being sent to millions of women and girls.

  • Katie Sowers, with the San Francisco 49er’s, made history as the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl.
  • Numerous commercials prominently included women and advocated for inclusion.
  • The half-time show headlined two powerful Latina performers — Jennifer Lopez and Shakira — and numerous young girls.
Then-freshman Desirae Hansen celebrates after her shot with 20 seconds left gave the Viks the Big Sky title win in 2019.

The message was clear: Women and girls are important contributors to our world — including sports.

This week marks the 34th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, a week in which we celebrate and inspire “girls and women to play and be active, to realize their full power.” In my role as the Director of Athletics at Portland State University, I have the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact sport has on women. I see the leadership, communication and teamwork skills our student-athletes develop through their sport, I see the impact that strong female mentors have on our young men and women, and I see the future in the eyes of young girls who come to cheer our teams on each week.

The power of sport is undeniable. The impacts of participation will last a lifetime. I encourage you to advocate and support the girls and women in your life in all they do — it might just change the world.

GO VIKS!

PSU Black Studies professor reflects on MLK’s legacy

BY SHIRLEY JACKSON
FACULTY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

This marks the 20th year that all U.S. states recognized the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national holiday. 

The idea of the MLK or King holiday, as it is referred to be many, started with Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s widow. After her husband’s assassination in April 1968, Coretta wanted to find a way to honor his memory and the work he was doing. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta was the result. 

Coretta continued to work diligently to have King’s birthday recognized as a holiday.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that recognized King’s birthday as a national holiday. Some states began celebrating King’s birthday in the mid-1980s, a few southern states celebrated it along with the birthday of Civil War Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee, but it took until 1990 for all states to observe the King holiday.

King’s birthday gives us the opportunity to remember the things that he did in his lifetime and spurs us to continue this work. 

His legacy includes the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the many speeches and marches he gave, and his writings such as his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which was a response to white religious leaders who warned him against embarking upon his nonviolent activities. 

In this letter, King vocalized the importance of his actions, writing, “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.” King’s statement makes clear that while things look as though they will not change, with time, they will — and not because we are loud or quiet, riotous or righteous, but because we are sound and right. The key is understanding that there are different ways of going about it and some may be quick, and some may be slower than others.  

“Make it a day on, instead of a day off,”
by engaging in service activities. Let us remember why we celebrate this day.

Following the passage of the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 and the Voting Rights Bill in 1965, King moved to other issues such as employment, housing, and opposition to the Vietnam War. 

His assassination at the age of 39 did not end the work he set out to do. 

As we celebrate his birthday, many opt to “Make it a day on, instead of a day off,” by engaging in service activities in their communities. Let us remember why we celebrate this day. 

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

Shirley A. Jackson, Portland State University Professor,
PSU Black Studies Department

5 Portland State year-end highlights

As 2019 draws to a close, we look back at 5 ways Portland State University is making a difference in the lives of our students and region.

1.

PSU launched a campus-wide effort to help students graduate by using data to spot signs of trouble and intervening quickly, as well as opened a new advising center for transfer students.


2.

PSU renovated Fariborz Maseeh Hall and opened the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, bringing art and opportunity to all.


3.

PSU has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the best institution in Oregon and the Northwest region for social mobility.


4.

PSU marked a record year for research, with recent grants of over 25 million and overall research funding up 10 percent.


5.

PSU poured $1.5 billion into Oregon’s economy.


And now … bring on 2020!

Social Media Contributor

What are the odds of a White Christmas in Portland? Not great

SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRIBUTOR

It’s that most wonderful time of year when we ask ourselves: Will there be snow?

The odds of a “white Christmas” in Portland are … well, not great. Only about 1 percent, as a matter of fact.

Only two years stand out as having true white Christmases in Portland in recent years: 2008 and 2017. If you use the Portland Airport records as a guide, which go back to the late 1930s, there have been a few other years with small amounts of snow, but nothing really accumulating.

If you look further back, there were a couple more minor white Christmases earlier in the 20th century and late 19th century. Using that longer record, the chance of a white Christmas is about … 3 percent.

But don’t get too excited. The forecast for the Christmas right now calls for warmer than average temperatures, which doesn’t support the possibility of snow on Dec. 25.

However, weather is very variable, so we can’t rule it out until the day gets closer.

— Paul Loikith, director of Portland State’s Climate Science Lab

Portland State tackles food insecurity

By PSU Social Media Contributor

Millions of students, including a staggering 42% at PSU, are food insecure. That’s why Portland State University offers many resources on campus to provide access to free food and assistance.

Food Pantry
The PSU Food Pantry is available to any PSU student taking one or more credit hours. Hours are Mon., Tues., Fri. 12:30-3:30 p.m.; Wed. & Thurs. 2-5 p.m.

Free Food Market
Everyone is welcome to come to PSU’s Free Food Market, held on the second Monday of each month, rain or shine. The market has given out over 321,000 pounds of food since April 2015. All are welcome, and volunteers are needed.

Meal vouchers
Students may get up to 5 meal vouchers per term, good for free meals at Victor’s and Ondine. There are only a few vouchers left for fall term, and more will be available for winter term.

Help for students with children
The Winter Wonder program, coordinated through the Resource Center for Students with Children, provides crucial support to our PSU students with children, many of whom struggle to make ends meet during the holiday season. 

SNAP food benefits
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal and state-funded program providing food benefits to eligible, low-income individuals and families. Special criteria exist for higher education students, and it’s now easier to qualify.

Hardship funds
Hardship Funds offered to students in School of Business, School of Social Work, College of Urban and Public Affairs, the College of Education and other departments. The Student Financial Wellness Center can connect students to resources and assist with navigating financial hardship. 

Other basic needs assistance

  • A Home for Everyone offers a list of emergency shelters.
    ahomeforeveryone.net/get-help/
  • Showers are available at the Rec Center for students.
  • Call or text 211 to find more resources or go to 211info.org