Honoring Juneteenth at Portland State

An Emancipation Day celebration in Richmond, Virginia, in 1905

June 19, 1865 – Juneteenth – is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free.

Some 155 years later, we at PSU continue to take steps to engage in lifelong learning and create a campus that honors our Black students and employees and embraces social justice.

  • Portland State will hold a Speak Loud & Be Proud Virtual Town Hall meeting from noon to 2 p.m. on June 19 that will address African, African American, Black, and Pan African Diaspora experiences and concerns at PSU. If you would like to attend, register here.
  • Shirley Jackson, a professor in PSU’s Department of Black Studies, will be appearing on “AM Northwest” at 9 a.m. and “Afternoon Live” at 2 p.m. to discuss Juneteenth. She will also speak at the Juneteenth Celebration March from 3-6 pm at Millennium Park in Lake Oswego.

For our Black colleagues and students who find that freedom remains an elusive concept in so many arenas, please know that we stand with you and will continue to work for true and full liberation and participation at PSU.

Social Distance Summer

By: Ragan Love

With summer just around the corner, I have been wondering how to enjoy the next few months. I don’t want to just sit inside, but I want to keep myself and loved ones safe. I love being around people, and this is a time where that really won’t happen.

When I envisioned summer 2020, I knew that I would be back home in Colorado. I was going to get a summer job and work full time for a few months. I wanted to do some fun adventuring with my friends and maybe travel somewhere with my family. My brother is going to college in the fall so this will be the last time where we are all hanging out together, and I was hoping that we could make it memorable. 

Luckily, I can still enjoy some of my favorite summer activities. I can still go hiking. It will be easy to distance myself. I also like to drive in the mountains and see nature, which I can do by myself right now and hopefully at some point with one friend. My town also has one of the last drive-in movie theaters in the country, so I can go there for a movie and stay safe in my car. 

There are things that I know won’t happen this summer because of the pandemic. In recent years my family has been spending a day at a local adventure park, but we all know it won’t be safe to go. Water World, a local water park, has announced that they will be closed all summer, and we are waiting for the other parks to follow suit. The county fair I go to happens at the beginning of August and marks the last summer adventure for the kids, but I am expecting those events to also announce that they are closing.

It has been awhile since I have seen my family in New Hampshire, and it looked like this might have been a summer where we could go visit. We did get some unexpected news, and we had to postpone a celebration of life until the end of the summer. My high school friends and I were also planning on hanging out in a little reunion this summer, but we know now that it will not happen for us this year.

I will be sad to not have an adventurous summer like I had planned, but it will be one of most memorable summers for all of us. I know that if I do what I need to this summer, even if that means missing out on fun events, life will soon come back to normal.

Facetime Friendships

By: Ragan Love

We are two months into quarantine which means it has been two months since I have seen any of my friends. I am an extroverted person, and isolation has taken a toll on me. I am missing the friendships that I just started in Portland, and I am watching my brother try to create memories with his friends before high school ends.

The friends I met at Portland State are now scattered across the country, but we still talk regularly. The friends that I always talked to before and after band class are now the friends I  Facetime with before and after the class Zoom call. Even though I miss the hugs and boba tea runs, it’s fun to see my friends’ houses, pets and family. I have also sent letters to my friends because I can’t surprise them in real life. 

Some friendships have dwindled because we don’t see each other. I felt like I did what I could to start conversations with those friends and say that I was there for them, but they faded away. I am sad to see those friendships go but I can’t spend my love and time on people who don’t want it. I am hoping that this might just be a little break that will make our friendship stronger when we can see each other again.

I am still friends with a few people from my hometown, and it is sad that I can’t see them even though we are only five minutes away from each other. We still talk, and we give each other hope that we will hang out once it’s safer. In the meantime, we are talking about our different college experiences with each other.

My best friend attends Colorado State University, and in October, she bought a plane ticket for spring break to see me and Portland. When March rolled around, the pandemic was in full swing, and we both thought it was best to postpone the trip. I ended up coming home for the quarter, so I will be able to see her soon and she will come to Portland once it’s safe. In the meantime, we are sending each other pictures of our animals and Facetiming. 

Even my brother, who is a senior in high school, has changed his friendships. Because he is a senior he has missed out on a lot of the senior activities; ditch day, prom, and graduation. He and his friends have been doing their regular hangouts in Animal Crossing. They all decided to “ditch” class together on the Senior Ditch Day as if they would have all hung out on the regular ditch day. My brother’s friends and their families have all agreed to help them have a mini prom night. With his group of six friends they are all going to dress up and just spend one nice night together. It’s sad to see him miss out on these experiences, but I am glad that we are able to help make different experiences. His friends have also shifted their regular Dungeon and Dragon meetings online, and it has seemed to work well for them. 

All of our friendships look different now, but this experience will really show who is a true friend and will help strengthen those relationships in our life.

Quarantine Blessings

72220447_2652569214863055_7208176057336201216_n  by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell



Quarantine has been an unimaginably difficult time for everyone. However, I’d offer this: there have been some genuine blessings in this time, Though I’m struggling — and struggling hard — I have found a lot of beauty in this forced isolation. 


Quarantine blessings:

  1. Getting to spend more time with my fiancee! We are both incredibly busy people, leaving the house at 8:00 a.m. and returning at 8:00 p.m. most days. We rarely have full days off together — one every two weeks, maybe. We had the realization that until we retire, we may not get this much uninterrupted time together again. We’ve been enjoying it so much! Having deep conversations, working on improving our relationship. Explaining our passions to one another in as much detail as we’d like! I’ve talked more about Greek mythology and Romantic poetry in the last few weeks than I ever have before. I’ve learned more about baking and Animal Crossing than I ever thought I would! It’s lovely!
  2. Getting closer to my pets! As stated in previous entries, I live in a house with five cats and two dogs. Having come from a one-pet home my entire life — it’s been jarring. But I have had so much time to bond with the pets! We’ve improved their care, we’ve started taking our pit bull on more walks, we’ve invested in a new cat tree and fixed up the old one, and spent lots and lots of time cuddling with our cats. 
  3. Learning that I can build things! I struggle with motor skills. Things like buttoning shirts, tying shoes, and chopping veggies are very difficult for me. I know that with practice, I am a very capable learner — after all, I type 90 words per minute, with very few typos. I’ve often figured that if I can do something like what, I’m able to do other tasks involving fine motor skills. I’ll admit — I tend to avoid these things because it embarrasses me. I’m twenty years old! Buttoning a shirt takes me twice as long as your average person. However, my fiancee and I put together a cat tree. As simple as this was, I was so proud of myself. I read instructions and puzzled them out! I used tiny screws! It hasn’t fallen apart yet! This has been a very powerful lesson in my capability as a person. 
  4. Being there for friends in need! I have the excellent luck of being isolated with three people I love. Not all of my friends have been so fortunate. Some are quarantined with abusive family members. Some are alone. I have a large emotional bandwidth, and ample time to hear their concerns. I have been able to be more present in my friendships than I have in a long time. Being able to send little reminder texts: “I love you! Everything will be okay! I’m here for you!” has been helpful to them and me. While I know I am not responsible for the emotional states of my friends, I know I can help. I can be a listening ear, or offer advice if needed. At the very least, I can remind someone they’re not alone, and that’s a beautiful gift.


While the quarantine has been very difficult on all of us, I’d encourage you to look for good things within it. Finally having time to redecorate your bedroom? Deep-cleaning for the first time in ages? Baking bread? Binging shows you’ve wanted to forever? Even if all you’re doing is staying alive, that’s enough. There are small nuggets of goodness to be found in this taxing time period, and I’m lucky enough to have found some of them. 

Remote Learning For Music Majors

By: Ragan Love

Remote learning is a big transition for a music major. Most of my learning is hands-on. My classes consist of performing with and for my peers and learning how to play the piano and sing. These classes have always been in-person and this is the first time students and teachers have moved learning online. Some of my classes had little change while others are drastically different. 

Performance courses look very different online. All undergraduate music majors are required to enroll in nine terms of Performance Attendance. This is a weekly class where we listen to different musicians and answer questions about what we heard. The School of Music has canceled the class altogether. It is unknown if they will waive the requirement this term or if we will all have to take an extra term when we are back on campus. 

Another weekly class that I take is Studio Class. This is where I get to hear what the other flute performance majors (undergraduate and graduate) are working on. The flute professors have put together an unofficial Facebook group where we can post videos of performances for our peers to hear. We had our first session of performances, and it was very nice to hear my friends play and hear their comments about my performance.

The last weekly class that I take is my private lesson with my flute professor. During finals week Dr. Sydney Carlson sent an email to the flute studio members asking questions about our living situations – whether we were practicing with a full house or not – and the technology available to us. Dr. Carlson suggested we record every lesson so we can listen back throughout the week. Currently, I use FaceTime on my computer and record it on my phone. I think this process will work for me but I have only had two remote lessons so far. 

Even my non-music major friends have wondered how the music school will offer band class. It is interesting what the director of bands has put together. We will only have two “performances.” They will be more like fun recordings and the band will get to learn more about those when the midterm and finals week approaches. 

In the meantime, we are listening to band literature. Every week, the students get a few different pieces to listen to and answer questions about. Then, we have a Zoom meeting to discuss our thoughts about the music. Because we are not performing like usual, most non-music majors have decided not to participate in band this term. 

I am also in first-year piano, which is for music majors who came to the university with no prior piano experience. This Spring term we have to complete the Piano Proficiency Exam, which allows music majors to move to the advanced piano classes. Each week, my teacher gives us a class assignment to turn in and then an assignment for the exam. When he sends the assignments he also posts videos of tutorials and videos that show common mistakes. It’s difficult to learn an instrument without having the instructor there with you, but the professor is doing a wonderful job giving us resources and answering questions. 

My classes that don’t involve instruments include music theory, sight-singing/aural skills, and first-year honors. Music Theory has had a rocky start as it transitioned to another online platform. The professor is currently trying to use Canvas, which would allow music students to turn in assignments on an online music sheet software. This means that we all need to learn how to operate this software, including the instructor. The past few assignments we have been just to figure out how to write music online. It has been very helpful, but this means we haven’t learned any new content these past two weeks. Luckily, as we enter week three, we will start our spring quarter of music theory content.

Sight-singing is a course that coincides with theory. Students learn how to aurally understand music through dictation and singing assignments. The content for this class has been pretty easy because it drills our current skills. Assignments for this class included turning in recordings of us singing and pictures of our dictation practice. 

First-year honors has stayed very similar to what it would have been on campus. I am working on a group and individual project and we are only meeting as a class a few times for check-ins. 

With the refund from housing, I decided to take five extra credits, and I picked classes that were already online courses. I am taking American Traditions in Blues and Listening I. American traditions has us reading, listening and appreciating blues music and Listening I is the same concept but for classical music. Since these courses are originally meant for online work, this is the only part of the quarter that seems normal. 

I don’t feel like I am getting the education I paid for; however, I am still benefiting from remote learning. Sometimes the School of Music is a little old fashioned when it comes to learning, so this is allowing all of us to learn music technology like music writing software. This experience is reminding me to not take my education for granted because it can drastically change overnight. I am grateful for the professors who are trying to make the best out of this situation, but I hope that I can be back performing with my classmates in the fall.

How to Quarantine as a Newly-Engaged Couple??

72220447_2652569214863055_7208176057336201216_n by Julien-Pierre Campbell

Quarantining with roommates can be difficult. Quarantining with immediate family can drive you crazy. Quarantining when you’ve just moved in with a partner for the first time is wild! I moved in with my fiance in mid-February, and it’s been wonderful. They work full-time and perform on the weekends. I work part-time, go to school full time, and typically perform with them. We’re busy people! Now that our jobs no longer exist, however, we’re facing the dilemma of Oh, wow! This is a LOT of time together. 


Of course, we love one another. In some ways, it’s been wonderful to be at home all day with the love of my life. In other ways, our lives have gone full-stop at a vulnerable stage in our relationship. We agreed to give one another lots of space and independence when we moved in together. No one could have prepared us to be isolated in the same house for the foreseeable future.


Here’s my best advice:


  1. Give one another space: My fiance is an introvert, whereas I’m super gregarious and high-energy. If I’m feeling social, I’ll face-time friends for a few hours in the living room. My fiance will hang out in our room watching TV, looking over tarot cards, or Facetiming their mom. 
  2. Try to remember that the outside world exists: We have a high-energy pit bull who needs walks three times a day. Taking him out, taking a little walk through the neighborhood, or even taking the trash to the curb can be very refreshing.
  3. Compromise: I love my partner to bits! We are, however, very different people. Practicing the art of compromise is the key to making relationships work.
  4.  Communicate:I cannot stress how important communication is, especially in these difficult times. Discussing our fears, hopes, and frustrations has been wonderful. Not being afraid to be vulnerable with one another has been key. 
  5. Lastly, and most importantly, BE PATIENT: A home still needs to function, even in the apocalypse, and so do its inhabitants. Chores, cooking, and schoolwork can pile up. Be patient! A little understanding goes a long way, and is incredibly appreciated. 


Times are strange and difficult. Being patient, remembering to take deep breaths, and not being scared to be vulnerable are key. So far my self-isolation with my fiance has been wonderful, and with hard work and patience, it will continue to be so. 

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

Janitorial Supervisor Gloria Agnew


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!

Moving Back Home

By: Ragan Love

I expected to spend Spring Break practicing flute and hanging out with my friends. Instead, I spent it moving out of the dorms and heading home to Colorado to begin remote learning. 

I was sad to leave Portland and my new adult life and nervous to be traveling. I get sick very easily and worried I could potentially spread COVID-19 to other people. But I knew that the safest place to quarantine would be home with my family. 

As an out-of-state student,I couldn’t take everything home with me. Luckily, I have an uncle who lives in Portland, and he let me store some of my belongings at his house. But this came with the challenge of sorting what I would keep in Portland and what I would take home with me to Colorado. 

Since I am doing schoolwork while I am at home, I had to pack all of my textbooks and flute accessories. I could only take two suitcases and two backpacks on the plane, which limited what I could bring back with me to Colorado. I also had to make sure I had enough clothing with me for the next six months. But I was surprised at the items that I was able to part with, like my ukulele and sweaters. I ended up having room to take home old textbooks that I could sell, snacks that I had just bought, and hygiene products that I was still using. 

When I moved to Portland six months ago I had my dad, mom, uncle, and grandma helping me unpack, but this time it was just me. My family did not feel comfortable being in the social setting of a college dorm so I had to move everything by myself. The most stressful part about this process was going through it alone . The dorms were empty when I moved out, so it was easy to move my belongings out.

Once I got back to Colorado, I tried to enjoy my Spring break before the quarter started back up. I have a piano at home, so I will be able to be successful in my piano class, but without a personal desk all of my school supplies are sprawled across my dining room table. My father is an essential worker and still leaves every day to his food packaging plant. My brother and I stay inside and quarantine. He is a senior in high school so we will both be working on remote learning together and it will be interesting to see how we learn  as we are both visual- and performing arts-focused. 

This is a big transition that I wasn’t prepared to take in the middle of March, but the transition feels successful so far. It will be an interesting ride with online classes, especially as a music major, but I think this experience will help us all learn how to adapt to different situations. I miss my friends, my new independence, and the city, but coming home was a good choice to help protect myself and my loved ones.

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

Senior Surrealism

By Maya Young

Over three years ago, my parents and I drove down from Seattle to Portland to tour the PSU campus. After visiting a few other campuses including Western Washington University and Evergreen College, I was instantly attracted to Portland’s unique urban setting and was very excited about the number of food carts scattered throughout the city and the campus itself. Moving ahead to September of 2017, I moved into the Ondine Residence Hall as an overwhelmed sophomore who had just graduated high school and had never lived on their own before. I quickly found a love for the campus, new friends, and all of the great food that Portland had to offer.

Flash forward to now, I am a week away from moving back home to Seattle and just completed the last of my finals for the winter term. Yesterday was my last day attending classes on-campus and I spent my walks to class looking around PSU for what felt like the last time. Almost three years have passed since I first moved to Portland, and while some stressful classes and long nights have made it feel lengthier, it simultaneously feels as if I just got here. My experience so far has shown me that being in college can be described as both the best of times and the worst of times (yes, it’s cheesy, I know). I have made amazing memories with friends, built long-lasting relationships, took interesting and useful courses in my major, and pursued a variety of great opportunities. At the same time, I also stressed over homework, experienced hardships with friends and roommates, and dwelled on my future after college. 

Despite these varying experiences, I am immensely grateful for my time at PSU and know that I will be leaving as a more well-rounded person ready to conquer anything that is ahead of me.