Call Campus Security? Maybe not.

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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 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.

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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.

Three Steps to Surviving Finals

Tired, slow and unmotivated are just three of the words that describe, well, most of us right now. We are scrambling to figure out what classes to register for and cramming for midterms and our last chance to get an A in that class we’ve been frustrated with all term.

Hey, there are still three more weeks left — isn’t that lovely. This week, however, we need to rejuvenate ourselves and take time to just relax. Of course, we still have to study, but we have the next three weeks to study until our pens run out of ink and pencils break.

So now you are asking, “What I should do instead of pulling my hair out?” Easy.

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Step one: Put that book and pencil down. Yes, you heard me right, put it down.

Step two: Go outside by yourself or with a friend, grab a Frisbee or any sport ball and just play. Or go on a walk to refresh your mind.

Step three: Cook yourself dinner, and no, mac-and-cheese or ramen noodles don’t count. Create a meal with chicken, tuna, or if you’re a vegetarian go for a fresh salad with fresh produce and nuts added to it. We all seem to think snacks will get us through the day, but you’re only losing energy by not satisfying your hunger.

Understanding that we all may not have enough time to make that meal, we still have to remember to check our health and listen to what our body is telling us.

Good luck to everyone on midterms and finals!

America – SHUTDOWN

Are we really, "Closed for Business"?

Are we really, “Closed for Business”?

There is no one reading this that has not heard that our U.S. Government is, “SHUTDOWN”.

As of midnight on October 1, 2013, the U.S. Government went into shutdown mode because Congress could not agree on a budget for fiscal year 2014. It has occurred 17 times in the past, but this time it is different- and it will affect some students at PSU.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, ACA, which was put into law on March 23, 2010, PSU stepped up and revised its existing health insurance plan. The school is now offering a very comprehensive and affordable health care package benefiting many students. But some members of Congress do not like this law, ACA, and have made it a priority to have it repealed. They do not wish to approve a national budget unless the ACA is repealed. President Barrack Obama has refused to compromise with them and considers this action to repeal this important and existing law, “Unacceptable”. Thus, the government is in stalemate and our government in a shutdown mode.

Because of the current government shutdown many federal agencies have to furlough federal employees because they no longer have the money to pay them. Over 800,000 federal employees are being laid off now. Included in this are many employees of the Veterans Administration. This is the agency, which takes care of our veterans in terms of health care, educational assistance and disability payments. PSU students who are veterans and using educational assistance via the V.A. may have their benefits cut or even stopped until this shutdown is resolved.

This event is unique in our history. Congress has never before failed to pass a budget with the sole reason, “We don’t like this existing law. Repeal it- or we will not allow our government to function.”

In times past the government has shut down for a variety of reasons, a new bill before Congress, arguments over how the government spends its money (our money), etc. But it has never before gone into shutdown over an existing law.

Let us hope our Congress and our President can resolve their differences. Arrive at a compromise where our government does not have to, SHUTDOWN. And PSU students will continue to get excellent healthcare from the school and our veterans, who have given so much for this country, can once again receive the financial benefits due them.

You Are Not Alone

For the longest time, I felt that no one could ever really understand my troubles. We all have issues, concerns, and problems, but I felt I was on my own. I am the first one in my family to attend a university, and this tends to be a bit overwhelming and exciting for most students. Yet, over time I kept feeling frustrated, lost, and even sad. I simply didn’t know what was going on with me. This kept happening for a while and it got worse.

It wasn’t until I had several panic attacks that my family and I knew something was wrong. Our family doctor knew what was going on. He diagnosed me with Anxiety Disorder. I was a bit relieved to know what I had yet; my symptoms persisted even after getting on medication. Time passed by and I started to feel better.

However, I just had a recent panic attack. It has been over a year since I had one. I realized that I needed to take care of myself better by getting professional help and by reaching out to everyone I know. I was relying on my medication too much, and hadn’t developed a support system. This is critical for a well-rounded and healthy recovery and growth. I advise everyone to reach out for support from everyone they know and to go to SHAC or any medical center to get professional help. You are not alone, there is help out there.

Weighing in on PSU

Kari Anne McDonald works the runway at PSU's first Love Your Body Fashion Extravaganza. In background, emcee Poison Waters engages the audience.

This past Thursday in the Smith Ballroom, PSU’s Love Your Body Fashion Extravaganza featured a fashion show with models who definitely were outside of the size zero seen on most runways. The focus of the fashion show was to highlight loving your body no matter what size or shape it happens to be. By deciding to be a part of this show, I had to face my own inner insecurities between weight and health.

It seems to be a focus of media attention that the United States is becoming bigger around the waistline. In Portland, a city that tends to be very health conscious and that also is known for having a strong foodie culture, this can be a source of conflict. College is certainly a time when students are faced with the fears about the “freshman fifteen” weight gain, and how to transition from a system of mandatory physical activity in schools to self-motivated physical activity.

One consequence of this transition may be adding extra pounds. Fat acceptance can certainly be a loaded subject for many individuals. One question that frequently arises is, “How can we promote health while still accepting those who are overweight?” Somewhere in all of the haze of health information and media messages there must be a balance between health and weight.

If anything, this recent Love Your Body Fashion Extravaganza shows the PSU campus that you do not have to be traditionally skinny in order to be sexy or feel good about your body. For myself, I have had to let go of my fears about being “too fat” and instead focus on getting back to my love of running. I may still have those few extra pounds, but in this way, I feel healthy.

Weigh in with your own thoughts: What do you do to accept your body and stay healthy, while possibly still keeping on those extra pounds? Do you think that people can still be healthy while being overweight?