CWU Observer- Winter 2021, Issue 1

Page 1

January 12 - January 19, 2021

Vol. 118 NO. 1

COVID-19’s impact on the Yakama Nation

Star Diavolikis Senior Reporter


he Yakama Nation has implemented safety measures to slow the spread COVID-19 and to protect their tribal members, such as shortening funeral procedures, limiting office hours in tribal businesses and installing dividers and sanitizing stations within the Legends Casino.

In This Issue News






Sports Engagement

10-11 12

Page 2 Vaccine eligibility

Mitchell Roland Editor-in-Chief

extending to essential workers at tribal institutions. Tribal School’s Maintenance Supervisor Justin Lewis said he “kind of feels a little safer around people” after receiving the vaccine. Once all healthcare workers receive the vaccine, the next group of recipients includes “spiritual, cultural and/or tribal government leaders.” Yakama Nation General Council Vice Chair LaRena Sohappy, upon receiving her vaccination said, “I am doing this more for my people than myself.” Vaccines continue to be distributed to tribal workers, and will eventually be given to all tribal members. All tribal members are encouraged to ensure their contact information with Yakama Nation’s IHS center is up to date. The Yakama Nation has created many preventative measures for the reservation to slow the spread of COVID-19. Yakama Nation officials have posted notices regarding what measures are being taken on the reservation from the edge of Yakima to the edge of Granger. Outside of Granger, Wapato and Yakima, the Yakama Nation posted LED traffic message boards that read “entering Yakama Nation, mask use required.” Compared to the rest of the Yakima Valley, this is one of the few public notices aside from social media posts, commercials, business owners posting fliers and the “stay safe, mask up” notices on I-82. The Yakama Nation released Public Safety Order No. 6, which lists which activities are prohibited, which have restrictions and which are allowed. The safety order was amended on Dec. 11, 2020.

The Washington State Legislature convened yesterday, and representatives from the 13th district are ready for a session which will look very different from previous years. While state representatives and senators typically meet in Olympia, this year’s 105-day session will be largely virtual. Among the items on the agenda are the passage of a biennial to fund the state government over a two year period and managing the ongoing economic and health impacts of COVID-19. Rep. Ybarra’s legislative goals Alex Ybarra, R-Quincy, said his priorities are to get businesses up and running and getting children back to school. Ybarra also serves on the Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee as well as the Health Care and Wellness Committee and is also the ranking member on the House Education Committee, which considers legislation related to K-12 education, said he will make his position known to the head of the committee. “I’m pretty sure that most everybody on the education committee wants our kids back in schools,” Ybarra said. “Obviously, we want our kids back to school, but we want them back to school safely.” Ybarra, a CWU alum, said there will not likely be any additional funding for the university this year. However, he wants to make sure CWU receives the same amount of funding as last year. While there is expected to be a reduction in tax revenue for the state due to the pandemic, Ybarra said this shortfall will be “minimal.” He said the legislature will be able to cover most of the budget with money from a rainy day fund. “We’re not going to have any extra money, but we should be sitting where there’s not going to be a shortfall,” Ybarra said. “And if there is a shortfall, we have funding to take care of the shortfall.” A bill Ybarra is working on relates to the amount of money school districts receive for transportation. Since the formula for transportation funding is based on the number of students a district transports, largely virtual learning would drastically reduce the amount of funding a district receives. “They still have their busses, they still have to maintain their busses, maintain the bus garage,” Ybarra said. “They still use all of the infrastructure, the buildings. The secretaries, the bus drivers, all of those who are still employed by school districts.”

See Yakama Nation, Page 3

See Legislature, Page 3

Page 4 Virus impact on restaurants

Page 10 Azusa football discontinued

Photo courtesy of Legends Casino Hotel Facebook page

On Jan. 5, the Yakama Nation Info Facebook page posted a flier stating the tribe currently has 1,286 documented cases of COVID-19, zero tribal members currently hospitalized from the virus and 43 deaths due to COVID-19. The flier was created with data released by Yakama Nation’s Indian Health Clinic up to Jan. 4. The flier states, “COVID-19 is deadly for our people. Native people experience COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths at a 5 times greater rate than the general population.” Cases and deaths have risen compared to statistics released on Dec. 14. At the time, 1,138 tribal members tested positive, four were hospitalized and 39 deaths were reported. According to the Yakama Indian Health Service (IHS) Facebook page, COVID-19 vaccines were starting to be distributed to tribal workers on Dec. 17, starting with healthcare workers and

Local legislators prepared for an unconventional session


January 12, 2021


Upcoming vaccination eligibility groups announced by Washington Department of Health Bailey Tomlinson News Editor An announcement outlining a timeline of groups that will be eligible for the vaccination in upcoming months was made Wednesday, Jan. 6. This timeline is phase B of Washington’s vaccination plan as described by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). “It’s important to note that we are not moving into phase 1B right now. Our state is still in phase 1A of vaccinations, and will continue to be for the next few weeks,” the DOH said. “While phase 1A is still the priority, we hope that the release of phase 1B guidance will help facilities, counties and individuals plan for the months ahead. Once we’re ready to start phase 1B, we will let our communities know how and where to get [the] vaccine.” Group B1, estimated to be vaccinated beginning mid-January, includes all people aged 70 years or older. People 50 years or older are also eligible if they are living in multigenerational households. Group B3, estimated to be vaccinated Group B2, estimated to be vaccinated through March, includes people aged 16 through February, includes essential work- years or older with two or more comorers in congregate settings aged 50 years bidities or underlying health conditions. or older who are considered high risk for Group B4, estimated to be vaccinated COVID-19. These work settings include through April, includes essential workers grocery in congregate stores, K-12 settings unschools, der 50 years childcare, old who are corrections, considered prisons, jails high risk for or detenCOVID-19. tion faciliThese work ties, public settings are transit, firethe same as in fighting and group B2. law enforceFuture ment. K-12 phases will have schools, jails eligibility inforand detenmation released tion facilities “soon” according were specito the DOH. fied to only The DOH - Washington State Secretary include staff also anof Health, Umair Shah in this group. nounced an Group online tool B2 also called Phase includes Finder, which people, staff and volunteers of all ages in allows Washington residents to detercongregate living settings, such as correc- mine their eligibility group for the vactional facilities, group homes for people cine. According to the DOH, it’s currently with disabilities and people experiencing being tested and will launch Jan. 18. homelessness that live in or access services “Phase Finder will be available in mulin congregate settings. tiple languages and will be used to confirm

Our priority has been to get the vaccine to high-priority people first.

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individual eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine,” the DOH said. “Vaccine providers and immunization programs will also be able to use Phase Finder to do assessments of vaccine need by zip code.” Group priority was decided by working closely with the Governor’s office, along with using federal guidance and input from around 20,000 Washington residents through focus groups, interviews, and surveys, the DOH said. “Vaccine prioritization decisions are complex, but based in a need for equitable distribution,” Washington State Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah said. “Our priority has been to get the vaccine to high-priority people first.

A vaccine dashboard, similar to those that have been displaying COVID-19 statistics through the pandemic, will be launched by the DOH in partnership with Microsoft sometime next week, the DOH said. It will include vaccine ordering and administration data, including breakdowns by county and demographic, and is estimated to be updated three times a week. A fact sheet on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine has also been released, and should be provided by healthcare providers to those getting the vaccine before administering it. It will be available in 35 languages as of next week, the DOH said. More information, including an FAQ, can be found at the DOH’s website.

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January 12, 2021



Yakama Nation from Page 1 Tribal governmental offices are currently restricted to certain hours and follow an appointment only format. Cultural and religious ceremonies are prohibited from including participants from outside of the household, and recreational activities are prohibited. Childcare facilities have no prohibitions, however, children must participate in health screening and physical distancing is encouraged when possible. Childcare providers must wear masks. Precautions have extended into tribal funeral ceremonies. First, obituaries must omit details of funeral arrangements to prevent mass gatherings at the funeral. “Dressing service must only be open to immediate family not exceeding 10 individuals, and a viewing ceremony is not allowed unless the casket is closed,” the order said. “Pursuant to traditional teachings, children should not be allowed to attend the service, and elders and other individuals at a high risk for COVID-19 complications are urged not to attend.” Preventative measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding handshakes and hugs are encouraged. Once the dressing service is completed, the family will immediately bury the de-

Legislature from Page 1 Ybarra’s bill would give school districts funding based on the number of students they transported pre-pandemic. A second piece of legislation from Ybarra is in regard to telemedicine laws, which state certain procedures can only be conducted by a doctor or with a doctor present. Ybarra said since there are not a lot of doctors in eastern Washington, this bill would allow nurses to perform some procedures with a doctor’s virtual supervision. “In our communities, Kittitas, Grant, Chelan where we have a lot of farmworkers, and the doctor can’t get to all the locations because he’s the only guy there, he can have a nurse go out there and do a telemedicine procedure without him being present,” Ybarra said. Rep. Dent’s legislative goals His fellow representative from the 13th district, Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, has firsthand experience with COVID-19 and is also working on legislation related to the pandemic. Dent announced in October that he tested positive for COVID-19. His symptoms included pneumonia and a blood clot in his lungs, and he said while his lungs are still healing from the virus, he is “good.” During Dent’s time with COVID-19, he spent two stints in an intensive care unit. Tom Dent’s wife, Dayna Dent, also tested positive for COVID-19, though Tom Dent said her case was much milder than his.

Rep. Alex Ybarra

ceased. This skips other ceremonial observations usually acted upon during a funeral service in exchange for decreasing the opportunity for spreading the virus. “Post-burial ceremonies, including giveaways, dinners, receptions rites, etc., must be postponed until the memorial service after the COVID-19 public health emergency has ended,” the order said. Traditional tribal funeral services include ceremonies and events that span over two days. Yakima County is currently in phase two of the “Safe Start Yakima County” reopening plan. Restrictions still forbid many recreational activities such as indoor seating in movie theaters, roller rinks and other public places. One activity in the Yakima Valley currently open for business is Yakama Nation’s Legends Casino and Hotel. Many precautions have been set in place to ensure the safety of all customers who arrive, starting with a maximum level of occupancy and a security check at each entrance. Before entering, customers must answer questions regarding whether they have or have been exposed to COVID-19. Following this, security proceeds to take their temperature before allowing the customer inside. Clear plexiglass dividers are placed between every gaming machine and every seat at card games. Hand sanitizing

Photo courtesy of Yakama Nation IHS Facebook page

stations are placed throughout the property and workers routinely walk through and sanitize all unoccupied machines and open spaces. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the air, the casino is temporarily a non-smoking establishment, with the exception of designated outdoor smoking areas. Self-serve beverage stations are temporarily closed and have been replaced with stationed workers serving beverages upon request. The casino’s buffet now has

limited and spaced seating while also offering a takeout option. Compared to other casinos in the state, Legends Casino has stricter or equivalent policies to others. At Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, guidelines are the same except some of the restaurants are still closed, card games are limited and poker games remain shut down. The Yakama Nation continues to act under the safety order. The order could possibly be extended and have new regulations added or removed once there is more information.

Dent said many fellow lawmakers reached out to him for his firsthand experience with the virus. He said that while people cannot hide from a virus, they can take preventative measures through following “proper protocol” such as social distancing, washing hands and wearing a mask. In early December, Dent published an article on the House Republican’s website titled “I survived [COVID-19], but are we making the cure worse than the disease?” where he argues against a “one-size-fitsall direction for the state.” In the article, Dent called for a special session, which did not occur, so that legislators could provide more input into restrictions. Rep. Tom Dent “We have reached a point where I Committee, said childcare will be crucial believe the cure can’t be worse than the to allow people to return to work. disease,” Dent wrote in the article. “We “Without affordable child care out there, cannot destroy our economy, tear apart many of our people can’t go back to work,” hopes, dreams and watch families suffer Dent said. “And our childcare industry has and think everything will be fine.” suffered just as much as everything in this One of whole thing.” Dent’s primaDent said ry goals is to a bill he is “get the state working on moving a little would reduce bit again” ecoregulations on nomically. He child care censaid smaller ters for “the retailers have next two or been hurt three years.” the most by Dent will COVID-19 continue to related closerve on the sures over House’s Rural the last 10 Development, months. Agriculture “The bigand Natural bo x stores Resources - Tom Dent, state representative contribute Committee a lot to our as well as the tax base in Transportathe state of tion CommitWashingtee during this ton, but session. small business is just the heart and The challenges of a virtual session soul of our small communities,” Both legislators are prepped for a virDent said. “We have to get people tual session with most lawmakers away back working.” from Olympia, though meetings to pracDent, the lead Republican on the tice virtual legislating have shown the House’s Children, Youth and Families flaws in the system.

Dent said a practice floor action last week “was a struggle.” With 98 members in Washington’s house of representatives, Dent does not know what would happen if a member was dropped from a virtual session during a vote. According to Dent, this session is “not going to be as transparent as it needs to be” because lobbyists and constituents will not be able to physically meet legislators. “Everything that happens, if you’re successful in the legislature, is because of relationships. Relationships are the most important thing you can have in politics,” Dent said. “Working on relationships through a computer screen is very, very difficult.” Happenstance meetings between legislators and constituents that occur throughout the capitol’s campus will not happen this year, as most legislators will conduct their business from their home districts. Only around 25 of the 98 representatives will be on the floor in the house chamber. Ybarra, who likened the legislative process to being at a school, is among the few who will conduct their business from Olympia. By being in Olympia, Ybarra said he can conduct some meetings outdoors. The challenges of a virtual session go beyond technical glitches, and will impact how much work gets done. Ybarra expects the legislature will only hear about 20% of the bills this session that usually go through the committee process, which can be between 2,000 and 3,000 in total. Legislators in the Democratic party are limited to introducing seven bills each during this year’s session, which means they will introduce around 400 bills in total. “Everything is going to move a lot slower,” Dent said. “A lot of stuff is going to be pushed into 2022, I’m quite sure. Or unless we get opened up and do some of this in person in the end.” Both representatives are in the minority in Washington’s government.Democrats hold 29 of the 49 seats in the Senate, 57 of the 98 seats in the House of Representatives and Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee was re-elected to his third four-year term in last November’s election. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on April 25.

Everything that happens, if you’re successful in the legislature, is because of relationships. Relationships are the most important thing you can have in


January 12, 2021


Community group works to stop local hate Mitchell Roland Editor-in-Chief A group started over four years ago which aimed to bring the Ellensburg community together has recently relaunched with the assistance of ASCWU President Mickael Candelaria. Not in our Kittco (NIOK) is a branch of the national Not in Our Town. Originally formed by CWU student Tai Jackson after Ku Klux Klan (KKK) fliers were found in Ellensburg in 2016, the group started holding meetings again in October after going largely dormant. Candelaria said the original group lasted about a year, and he helped the group get off on the ground again in late October in the lead up to the presidential election. “I thought it was super important that we started this after three or two years,” Candelaria said. “The reason for that was to make sure that community members felt safe and that we were really advocating for our town, and Ellensburg, to regardless of political affiliation, to be unified during these trying times.” Candelaria said the group’s message goes beyond presidential elections, and its main focus is to stop hate in town. While Candelaria was not a student during NIOK’s first iteration, he said he has heard about how important the group was throughout his time on campus. Right now, the group consists of about 20 students, staff and community members who “work, live and breathe Ellensburg,” Candelaria said. Candelaria said topics for this week’s meeting include discussing what to do about stickers from a white supremacy group that were recently found on campus and the events in the nation’s capital last Wednesday.

For the time being, Candelaria said the goal for NIOK is to listen to member’s concerns and spread awareness about the group. “We have actually gotten backlash from community members about NIOK, believing that we are a… super leftist organization, when in reality we are a nonpartisan and we do have folks that align with both political affiliations,” Candelaria said. The mission statement of NIOK is to “Bring Kittitas County together in seeing the strength in our diversity as we foster a safe and inclusive environment where our community can thrive together.” Sara Omrani, a CWU student, said she has been attending NIOK meetings and communicating with Candelaria “organizer to organizer.” She said it is important for them to lead these efforts since they are both people of color. “If we’re talking about marginalized people, it needs to be led by marginalized people,” Omrani said. According to Omrani, groups like NIOK are important because they make it clear that hate and intolerance will not be accepted in Ellensburg, while also not ignoring that racism still occurs. “If you identify with things like patriot front and white supremacist ideology then this is not the town where this is going to be appropriate,” Omrani said. “There are people in this town that think it belongs to them.” Shana Kessler, a CWU staff member and a member of NIOK, said the group is a collaborative effort to work “towards a better community for all of us.” According to Kessler, this means focusing on areas where community members experience hate, bigotry and other forms of discrimination in the community. This effort can

be challenging in a town like Ellensburg, Kessler said. “People are divisive,” Kessler said. “A lot of people have different individual goals and experiences for what they want to tackle when it comes to issues in our community and that can create different challenges and barriers to try and work through.” Kessler said people need to know since everyone has their own life experiences and that all of them are equally valid. Kessler wants it known that NIOK is more than an extension of CWU, even though it was originally formed by a student. NIOK is intentional in the topics they talk about, and Kessler said the group is mindful of opposing viewpoints, which doesn’t always happen when people disagree. “We saw so many people who were butting heads and not communicating with each other in a way that was going to help either party,” Kessler said. “They weren’t trying to sell each other on their beliefs or ideas, they were just oftentimes fighting.” NIOK had tried to spread into other towns in Kittitas County, including Cle Elum and Thorp, but Kessler said this has proven to be a challenge so far. The group has tried to use Facebook but has struggled to connect with pages for different communities. But not everyone in the community has been receptive towards the group, Kessler said. “If you’ve ever listened to a city council meeting in Ellensburg, on more than one occasion community members have brought up NIOK as unnecessary or creating more division,” Kessler said. “They’re just insistent that there’s no

Photo courtsey of Cory Kenoyer

racism here, no bigotry here, no problems here that this group or any other needs to be addressing.” Through NIOK, Kessler wants to find a way for community members to break down those barriers and listen more closely to each other. Kessler said “One thing that we try to be very considerate of is this idea that the university and the rest of the community are separate from each other,” Kessler said. “We’re trying to bridge that gap more and make an effort to say that the students, faculty and staff at CWU are a part of this community and want to make a positive difference here.” NIOK does not have a set meeting schedule, and they typically announce meeting details on social media about a week in advance. Their next meeting will take place Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 5 p.m. via Zoom.

New COVID-19 protocols cause issues for local restaurants and businesses Joseph Stanger Scene Editor Roughly two weeks before Thanksgiving, Gov. Jay Inslee implemented statewide restrictions on indoor dining to prevent the spread of COVID-19, causing restaurants across Washington to either adapt their businesses or close their doors. According to Kittitas County Commissioner Brett Wachsmith, most of the cases in the county are due to informal gatherings. The Public Health Department of the county works closely with the state to track where people are contracting the virus. “We weren’t seeing people getting COVID-19 going out to dinner,” Wachsmith said. “There were some, obviously, but not the majority of what our cases were. We were seeing people that were spreading COVID-19 were getting together for barbecues or having playdates with their kids.” Wachsmith said the county hasn’t received an answer from the governor’s office as to why state-wide in-person dining shutdowns were put in place. “It would be one thing if the governor’s office would reach out and actually ask for input … and they could hear what local thinking is, but it seems to me that it’s being done in a vacuum,” Wachsmith said. Wachsmith said it was difficult for local businesses to know when they could reopen due to the confusing nature of shutdown announcements, causing more hardships for owners.

“Well, [restaurants] have already purchased a bunch of food … to prepare to be open and have a big influx of customers,” Wachsmith said. “To have to throw all of that away and start over, that’s a big cost to an organization that already is not only losing money, but not being able to generate any money.” Gov. Inslee announced a new plan Jan. 5 in an effort to allow businesses to reopen safely. Instead of going county by county, the plan groups multiple counties into separate regions. Kittitas County’s region includes Yakima, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla and Columbia County. Kittitas County Commissioner Laura Osiadacz said the group Kittitas County was put with doesn’t make very much historical sense. “The plan that was announced lumped Kittitas County with ... counties that really we don’t have a historical travel pattern with or even share hospitals with such as the Tri-cities,” Osiadacz said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to anybody at the county.” According to Osiadacz, some Kittitas County patients have been transferred to and from Yakima in the past, but not to and from the Tri-Cities. “This is going to make it very difficult to provide the resources needed for Kittitas county to be able to recover from COVID-19,” Osiadacz said. “So much of the decisions are going to be based off of things that we have no control

Photograph by Casey Rothgeb

Local businesses are forced to find new ways of maintaining business in the new year of outside of our county.” Osiadacz said that the county’s push against Gov. Inslee’s plans has nothing to do with politics. “We do not believe that this action is a benefit to the people of Kittitas,” Osiadacz said. “This is strictly trying to do what we can to be the best leaders for our county.” The county is reaching out to Gov. Inslee’s office to get answers and give

input, but Wachsmith believes that the recent plans have only made the situation more confusing. “People need to see that there’s an end in sight,” Wachsmith said. “You would think with the vaccinations that people would be more optimistic, but now we have a governor who has thrown a completely different wrench into the whole system here.”

January 12, 2021



“Wonder Woman 1984” review: wonder woman, mediocre movie

Joseph Stanger Scene Editor

“Wonder Woman 1984” is the first of Warner Bros.’ new films to release simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters, making it easily accessible to those trying to be safe during the pandemic. But is the new superhero sequel worth watching? The Patty Jenkins-directed film stars Gal Gadot returning in her role as Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince. Pedro Pascal stars as the corrupt oil tycoon, Maxwell Lord, and Kristen Wiig plays Barbara Minerva, an archaeologist and Prince’s colleague. Set 66 years after its predecessor, the titular heroine has found a quieter life where she curates ancient artifacts and occasionally fights crime on the streets of Washington D.C. When a mysterious wish-granting gem falls into the hands of

a businessman with an insatiable greed, Wonder Woman must suit up and save the world from a path of destruction. Gadot’s performance is one of the few worthwhile parts of the film. In some of the action scenes, she oozes the confidence and charisma that only a character as powerful as Wonder Woman could. It’s disappointing then when her fighting ability is seemingly inconsistent for the purpose of creating tension or drama. Pascal’s performance shines early on, but the more his character develops, the harder it is to stomach his over-thetop expressions and intensity. Similarly, Wiig’s character is best in her earliest stages. As she develops, however, she loses the awkward comedic charm that makes her character initially so fun to watch. Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor, and although he died near the end of

the 2017 “Wonder Woman” film, he makes a confusing and convenient return in the sequel. Did he need to be in this film? Not really. His character serves little more than to help Diana Prince’s character arc and to act as eye candy, making him essentially a gender-swapped version of the problematic Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. While the trailers for the film boast flashy and colorful visuals, ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ ends up looking more like a car commercial than a theatrical release. Many shots in the film consist of the main characters popping with color and the backgrounds becoming muddied messes of greyish blues and greens. The visual effects on display range from mediocre to laughable. Sure, it might be difficult to believably depict a person flying through the air, but the use

of greenscreen and rope harnesses becomes so obvious that it’s almost impossible to feel immersed during any sequence of action. Some of the main set pieces within the film are sparked by random or coincidental occurrences, like a clumsy criminal happening to drop his gun in a crowded mall, or Wonder Woman’s taxi happening to drive on the exact same road at the exact same time the film’s antagonist is. “Wonder Woman 1984” is a nearly pointless piece of cinema. At a runtime of two and a half hours, a potential viewer might expect something of value to rear its head in this expensive superhero adventure. Unfortunately, the sequel feels more like a long filler episode than a worthwhile installment. Graphic by Meghan Salsbury


Written By RachelAnn Degnan

Designed By Rebekah Blum


“A majority of college students are not getting these checks because of their parents claiming them as dependents, and I feel the government is altogether skipping over us.” - Alisa Longanecker, junior majoring in psychology


s the government begins to roll out the second batch of stimulus checks to millions of Americans in need, students at CWU are feeling unsupported. Dillion Clare, a junior majoring in film studies, did not receive a check the first time, and was disappointed that the trend would continue. “It was quite annoying and bothersome because, at the time

[of the first check], I was concerned with how I was going to pay my bills,” Clare said. “There is a lot of confusion, and at first, I thought I was going to get some extra support.” Clare will not receive a check because his parents claimed him as a dependent. He said he could have used the money for essentials. “I would have paid whatever bills that I needed to with that money,” Clare said. “I ended up getting on unemployment, and I have been trying to save that up.” Alisa Longanecker, a junior studying psychology, started receiving unemployment in May. “I knew I wasn’t getting a stimulus check, and after I lost my job, I was not sure what to do,” Longanecker said. “I ended up finally learning how to sign up for unemployment, and because of [COVID-19], there was extra money available.”

Longanecker was grateful for the support but was frustrated with the problems she had with the system. “Unemployment helped, but for me personally, it was weird because I did not get money every week, and there was a bunch of problems with the system,” Longanecker said. “It just was so unreliable, and I struggled to understand the information given to me.” Although Longanecker is grateful for unemployment, she said she is still frustrated with how the stimulus checks are being distributed. “A majority of college students are not getting these checks because of their parents claiming them as dependents, and I feel the government is altogether skipping over us,” Longanecker said. “We are in need of financial help just as much as any other Americans.” Film studies major Malik Berry, a junior, said he wishes he was getting a check to help him be more financially stable. “I have been saving money since my first job in 2015 to get a place of my own,” Berry said. “That’s just my big priority right now other than graduating from college.” Even though Berry is not getting a check, he is determined to remain positive and be an example for others. “I just got to keep my head up, and I have to continue moving forward into the future,” Berry said. “Though this is a really awful situation for all of us, I just have to continue moving forward and try to find positivity in this dark moment that we are all in right now.”




January 12, 2021

Maybe Christmas means a little bit more

RachelAnn Degnan Columnist The holidays are the best time of the year because of the feeling in the air that brings happiness and warmth to even the grumpiest around us.

I know this all too well because this year, I wanted to be like the Grinch. I wanted to hate Christmas and despise anyone who participated in the holidays. Please don’t ask me why, I don’t quite know the exact reason. It could have been that my heart was too sad, for I wanted to sit down at a table full of my loved ones and share a meal. I wanted to tell stories and watch my mother make the same seasonal jokes. I wanted my father to read the Christian Bible’s Luke chapter two like he did every year and talk about the birth of Christ. Lastly, I wanted to kick my older brother from under the table and make him jump at the most inopportune times. As December crept closer, I reminded myself I could have none of this. My brother was quarantined across the state, and both of my parents had passed away. In my sadness and anger, I decided I would hate Christmas this year. I would hate having to leave my life in Ellensburg to go to my hometown and take care of my grandparents and little cousins. I would hate the amount of money I spent on gifts, and most of all, I would hate that dreaded Christmas Eve dinner with the multiple vacant chairs. I didn’t have to go home, and I seriously considered spending my holidays binge-watching “Gilmore Girls.” But when I thought of my young cousins, aunt, uncle and grandparents, my heart was warmed, and I felt called home.

As I walked through the front door, I could smell the spiced pecans my grandmother makes every year. The house was freshly decorated with the same Nativity scenes I had played with since I was young, and our traditional white stockings hung gingerly from the fireplace. I was surprisingly reminded of how tradition-based Christmas truly is. According to PsychAlive, traditions remind us of where we came from and how much we have accomplished. For me, traditions remind me of a simpler time where I did not care about taxes or the constant growth of gas prices. I felt a calming peace rush over me as I stood in the warm suburban home I had lived in most of my high school years and remember the holidays of my past. Growing anticipation for the Christmas dinner overwhelmed my heart, yet I continued to convince myself that I needed to be a Grinch, and I was not allowed to enjoy the holidays. I struggled to keep my promise, and each day I felt happy and joyful to be surrounded with love, tradition and snow. Harvard Medical School found evidence that a “lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50% - an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.” Spending time with family renews our mental and physical health. During the holidays everyone has a chance to heal and recover from the trouble that haunts their normal days. There is a peaceful quietness that comes a few days before Christmas. The presents are wrapped, there is no homework or

work and the entire town is sparkling with lights. All activities involve some form of bonding with loved ones, and even a nice brisk walk to look at your neighbor’s decorations warms the spirit. There is a togetherness that spreads through our entire nation. Somehow, somewhere, everyone is with someone on Christmas. We remember the homeless, the starving, the orphans, and the unloved and we donate or invite them into our homes to be a part of the festivities. After all, isn’t that how the Grinch learned to love Christmas? Maybe not in his original story, but modern-day stories teach the lesson that all it takes sometimes is a single act of kindness. Just like that, my dreaded Christmas eve dinner was here. The Christmas tree was shining, the decorations were up and it was time to eat. The moment I was planning to hate the most out of 2020 had come. We all clasped hands, and my grandfather said a prayer. I looked across the table and felt a sudden peace. Now I like to think I am not sentimental, but as I looked at my 12 and 9-year-old cousins and the smiles outstretched on their faces, I remembered being their ages and the joy and happiness I felt with my family. For a grief-ridden moment, I imagined my parents sitting at the table with smiles that reminded me Christmas doesn’t come from a store, and Christmas perhaps means a little bit more. What happened then? Well in my household they say that my cold icy heart grew three sizes that day. The holidays are special because of the memories you make, so don’t take a single thing for granted, that’s a mistake!

between $30,000-$50,000 also report higher levels of stress around the holidays. Of the people in this income range, 53% reported their stress increasing during the holidays, versus 31% of people with lower incomes and 40% of people with higher incomes. According to Statista, in 2019 about 20% of Americans have a household income between $25,000-$50,000, indicating the income group reporting the highest levels of stress make up a decent amount of the population. APA found that people who reported increased levels of stress during the holidays are more likely than others to worry about the financial demands of the holidays. Of people who reported their stress increasing around the holidays, 76% reported often or sometimes worrying about money versus 55% of people who reported no change in stress. Similarly, 70% of people who reported increased levels of stress during the holidays often or sometimes felt stress about buying gifts, versus 32% of people who reported no change in stress. Another statistic worth noting from the APA is that 39% of people reported not being paid enough to afford the holidays and 27% of people reported losing hours at work they needed to pay bills being a very or somewhat significant factor of stress around the holidays.

Health problems Chronic stress can have a large impact on physical health. According to Healthline, stress can lead to symptoms such as headaches, increased depression, insomnia, tense muscles, weakened immune system, high blood pressure and stomach issues, among others. According to American Addiction Centers, people also tend to binge drink and increase alcohol consumption around the holidays. Not only does this apply around winter holidays, but holidays such as the Fourth of July, Cinco de Mayo and Thanksgiving. While alcohol consumption may be linked to celebration, it should also be noted that alcohol can be used as a crutch during social situations and in times of stress, according to Very Well Mind. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to heart conditions, high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. According to Patient Care, numerous studies have found a link between the holidays and cardiovascular events including heart failure, cardiac mortality and acute myocardial infarctions (heart attacks). So, with all this in mind, it’s no surprise that chronic stress combined with the influence of alcohol around the holidays leads to health problems.

Conclusion Holidays put very unnecessary pressure on people, particularly Americans. The commercialization and high expectations that come with the holidays have a great impact not only on people’s mental health but physical health as well. There are many other factors that could be brought up about why the holidays may not be as great as they’re made out to be by movies and commercials. But, these are some of the most significant ways holidays have a negative impact on people’s lives and society. Rather than the holidays making people feel obligated to go see family members that may create stress and buying extravagant gifts when money is already scarce, people should use time throughout the year to visit family when they actually want to and buy their friends and family nice things when they have the means to. I personally don’t really celebrate holidays at all. But, until the mass commercialization and stress of holidays stop, I don’t think people who do want to celebrate can ever truly be happy celebrating.

Making a case against the holidays

Abigail Duchow Columnist I don’t think holidays are really as great as they’re made out to be by Hallmark movies. Holidays have become a commercialized plague of stress, money and health problems that include very little reward.

Stress and financial strain A 2019 article published by PR Newswire found that 61% of Americans were “dreading the winter holidays due to spending,” with 57% specifically dreading Christmas. One in three Americans were losing sleep over how they’ll pay for the holidays, about 25% expected to incur debt during the holiday season, and nearly one in five were still paying off bills from the previous year’s holidays. A study published by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2006 found that 38% of people reported higher levels of stress during the holidays. This stress was disproportionately reported by women, with 44% of women reporting an increase in stress versus 31% of men. The reason for this discrepancy is that women more often reported taking on the primary responsibilities of holiday celebrations, such as cooking, cleaning and shopping. As for the rest of the people, 54% reported stress levels staying the same, and only 8% reported a decrease in stress during the holidays. Also found by the APA, people who have a lower middle household income

Graphics by Rebekah Blum

January 12, 2021



Trump’s temper tantrum lead a mob to Capitol Hill Addie Adkins Columnist We were told to “remember the 5th of November” and to “beware the Ides of March.” Now there will be a tale so cautionary about the 6 of January. Only it won’t be a fictional one. Jan. 6 started out like any other day for me. I made my family breakfast, we watched TV and I planned out my day which looked like any other day. Around 11:30 a.m., I received a message from an old friend about the Capitol Building being breached by a mob of pro-Trump rioters and I was astonished. I hadn’t seen or heard anything about a protest, and I had been on Facebook most of the morning. She sent me an article from the Washington Post. “Live updates: U.S. Capitol is on lockdown as protesters clash with police and breach the building,” the headline read. I scoured the entire article in a state of disbelief. My first thought: “There’s no way this is happening.” My first response: “This is disgusting.” I had schoolwork to do. That didn’t happen. I think I made lunch and dinner, I’m not sure. I know I was on my phone way too much. I couldn’t look away. I began pouring over article after article, video after video, trying to understand what happened, why it happened and what will happen going forward. Each new article or video brought on a new wave of disbelief, anger and anxiety. According to NPR, at 1 p.m. EST, a joint session to confirm the Electoral College votes began. Vice President Mike Pence presided and declared to Congress in the form of a letter “that

”Scene on the Stairs” Brett Davis - Flickr

he does not have unilateral authority to overturn the election results.” Meanwhile, about two miles away at the White House, President Donald Trump held a rally. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, spoke before the president in a short address to the rally participant where at one point said, “So, let’s have trial by combat!” After Giuliani spoke, Trump took the stage with an approximately 70-minute speech asserting his already disputed claims of election fraud, condemning “weak Republicans” and finally telling supporters to “fight like hell” and to march on the capitol. Trump poured gasoline on an already burning dumpster fire. According to NPR, a little after 2 p.m.

a mob of Trump supporters breached the steps of the Capitol building. It took only about 10 minutes after that for them to break down glass doors and windows to enter the building. At 2:38 p.m., Trump tweeted out to his supporters to be “peaceful,” about a half an hour too late. It took Trump a full hour and a half to direct the activation of the National Guard. The hypocrisy of it all. Just 7 months ago on May 30, 2020, during a protest in front of the White House, Trump wrote on Facebook if anyone were to break into his front yard “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, [he had] ever seen.”

Yet a group of his supporters were able to violently breach the Capitol building with what appeared to be little obstruction and attempt to break into the Senate Floor. No vicious dogs, no ominous weapons. I’m transported back to four years ago where cries of “not my president” rang through many streets. Many people said things like, “we would never riot in the streets if our candidate lost.” I was just as flabbergasted at the protestor’s reaction in 2016, especially since Hilary Clinton conceded the election after seeing she would lose the electoral college. This mob of extremists made a lot of those people eat their words. It caused a lot of people to lose faith in Trump. It caused a lot of people to lose faith in the strength of our democracy. The most hopeful thing I am seeing is the level commitment of some of our elected officials to uphold the constitution and laws of our country, and to protect the American people. They are actually doing their job for once. Unfortunately, I am also seeing a lot of misguided theories and undereducated responses to all of this. A lot of people still want to believe in Trump. A lot of people still want to believe that he is a better President than President-elect Joe Biden ever will be. However, if people just spent an hour on reputable news sites reading articles or watching the speeches that happened that day just an hour before the insurrection on Capitol Hill, I really think the would see and hear how Trump is just a petulant, sore loser throwing a tantrum trying to get the referees to overturn the call. How Trump and Giuliani haven’t been arrested for inciting a riot that caused the death of five people is beyond me.

Reasons why being in a long distance relationship isn’t such a bad thing Amy Morris Columnist


ong distance relationships have been known to fail and be a strenuous experience by some people. However, I have a different outlook on them. I have been in a long

distance relationship for over a year now, and it has taught me so much. I will admit living close to the person who shares part of your heart is nice. Forming a relationship at the start can be hard though. With this generation it can be hard to know someone’s intentions. With dating apps and social media in play, a lot of people aren’t looking for a real connection. To be in a long distance relationship a person has to be committed. Long distance relationships also allow for an emotional connection to form before a physical one does. It can be easy to get caught up in physical attraction rather than actually forming one with the heart. Not everyone is good at long distance I will admit, but if that person is worth it then the distance won’t

matter. Taking the time to connect with someone as a person regardless of getting anything in return is a beautiful experience. I don’t think long distance is a good experience when it lasts forever, but when it’s only a couple months or years it’s not such a bad thing. Being in a long distance relationship can make a couple appreciate the time spent together more too. I know I never take time spent with my person for granted.There are so many people in my life I see so often. However, when you don’t see someone every day the time spent becomes more special. According to an article by The Atlantic, “long-distance couples report being more in love than those in the same place.” In contrast to that finding, long distance couples are also more likely to break up when they start living together compared to couples that aren’t long distance. Visiting each other often for longer periods of time can be a good way to ease into the shock of living together that may lead to a break up. Long distance has its challenges and upsides but a healthy balance of staying connected versus having enough space is important.

Graphic by Bekah Blum

I know a fear some people have is losing oneself in a relationship when they spend so much time with a person. Being in a long distance relationship allows a person to keep that independence outside the relationship. However, staying connected is the most important aspect of a long distance relationship. According to research by the Gottman Institute, “happy couples turn towards their partners approximately 20 times more than couples in distress during everyday.” Staying connected can simply mean sending a text message, FaceTiming, watching TV virtually together or doing other activities that help a person feel closer to their partner. When two people live in completely different locations they are living completely different lives as well. Without an effort to stay connected, there is no tie between those two people’s lives. At the end of the day, I think long distance relationships have too much of a negative stigma when it’s really not all that bad. I’ve been told by so many people that my relationship wouldn’t last because we’re long distance. While long distance may require more effort to stay connected, it’s really not all that different than a normal relationship.


January 12, 2021


Self Isolation breeds better mindset for new members of Men’s Basketball team “This pandemic gave me the opportunity to remember what life is all about, enjoying it,” Gennett said. “The time Nothing sounds better than a fresh spent with my family doing activities we start after a year like 2020. With sports were never able to do because of a craon hold for a while, this gave student ath- zy basketball schedule will always be remembered letes time to sit and well down and reflect needed.” on their lives Gennett outside of their said he’ll sport. A few never take members of the This year I want to be more playing basMen’s Basketketball for mindful and thankful for ball team took granted. He some time to self what I have and to also take said it was a reflect and set struggle tryNew Year’s resadvantage of everything I ing to find an olutions. have been given so I can beopen park to Freshman shoot hoops Guard Colby come the best man I can be, to at. Usually Gennett said Gennett has actually do it. his New Year’s access to inresolution was door basketto “simply enjoy - Gaige Ainslie, Freshman ball courts, life during the but due to forward pandemic.” COVID-19 “2020 will be restrictions viewed as a dark that was no time for a while longer a posbut for me, I saw sibility. it as an opportu“By doing the little things like making nity to grow as a person,” Gennett said. Gennett said he just wanted to be bet- DIY projects to help dribbling and shooting ter whether it was for basketball or not. at your house, that made the difference,” He said he took full advantage of all the Gennett said. “It’s the little things in life that are now so important during this time.” free time that got put into his life.

Rey Green Sports Editor

Photo courtsey of Gage Ainsli

Colby Gennett from Post Falls High School drives to the basketball to finish an acrobatic lay up. Freshman forward Gaige Ainslie said the little resources I had then once I am he has learned that your life can change back to a gym and weight room every day, I would be one of the hardest workers, completely in one day. “This year I want to be more mindful because I knew what it was like to have and thankful for what I have and to also nothing,” Ainslie said. CWU’s men’s basketball team finished take advantage of everything I have been given so I can become the best man I can last season 17-11 falling just short of a playoff run. In the upcoming season head be,” Ainslie said. Ainslie said everything that hap- coach Brandon Rinta says he will make pened last year has made him work sure his team is well prepared for the seaharder because he didn’t know whether son. Rinta said COVID-19 has given the or not he was going to be able to workout consecutive days at certain gyms due to coaching staff more time to look at the game at a much deeper level and says the COVID-19 restrictions. “I thought that if I worked hard with staff is way better because of it.

GNAC member Azusa Pacific discontinues football Sean Bessette Senior Reporter Last month, GNAC member Azusa Pacific University (APU) ended its football program effective immediately after 55 years of competition in the NCAA and NAIA. “You hate to see any program discontinue because it ultimately affects those student athletes, coaches and staff personnel,” CWU Director of Athletics Dennis Francois said. “For a lot of them, it’s the reason why they came to a university, whether it be athletics or academics, and when those [programs] get discontinued or dropped, it’s heartbreaking for those student athletes and coaches.” According to an official release on, one of the biggest reasons for the discontinuation of the program was the extensive travel necessary for APU to participate in all of their scheduled away games. In 2019, APU had to take air travel for all six of their away games. This made APU the only DII school that had to fly for all of their away games. With APU ending its program, a large hole opens up in CWU’s schedule. There are now only three GNAC schools with football programs, including CWU, Western Oregon and Simon Fraser. One solution to this is a scheduling alliance between the Lone Star Conference (LSC) and the GNAC. LSC member institutions are located in the southwestern United States.

Photo courtsey of CWU atheletics

Michael Roots (Middle) running for a touchdown against Azusa Pacific back in 2019. “The Lone Star Conference is definitely going to play a major part in us continuing to have a very competitive schedule and have that opportunity to push on with football at CWU,” Francois said. This scheduling alliance means football will face schools that CWU has never faced before. “I’ll be excited to play new teams that we haven’t faced before,” senior running back Michael Roots said. While there is excitement for what

the future brings, there’s also room to reminisce on some of the memorable moments between CWU and APU in recent history. “It was a great rivalry. Every single game was a barnburner. You knew you had to bring your ‘A’ game every time you went against them,” Fisk said. The most recent matchup between CWU and APU resulted in a 27-24 victory for the Wildcats on Nov. 2, 2019. Roots rushed for 196 yards on 22 attempts and

one TD on the evening. Before discontinuing the program, APU won four division championships during their eight years in the GNAC, including a shared championship with CWU in 2018. “It’s a blow to DII football on the west coast. We feel terrible for the players and the coaching staff of that program,” Fisk said. “Azusa had quality people surrounding their program and we had a mutual respect for one another.”

January 12, 2021



Health is wealth for women’s basketball athletes

Rey Green Sports Editor The quarantine theme for members of the women’s basketball team was a lot of self love and self care. Being isolated produced productivity and time was not wasted. Every moment alone was valued and taken advantage of. Senior forward Kassidy Malcolm said she developed new hobbies since basketball was taken away from her. “In the springtime, during quarantine I started focusing on yoga,” said Malcolm. “I did yoga in the past but [quarantine] gave me more time to actually do it.” Malcolm said that it was the perfect time to implement yoga into her life because it allowed her to focus on relaxation and things within the practice. “I go to Indigo Yoga here in town but since it closed down, the instructor would still do Zoom classes,” Malcolm said. “Instead of doing it in a class, everyone got to do it at home.”

Another hobby Malcolm started was journaling during her free time. “At first I was actually journaling about [COVID-19], because this is crazy,” Malcolm said. “I was doing a timeline, writing down everyday what’s going on today, number of cases and things like that.” Malcolm said later on in the year she would write down what she is grateful for like her health and her family’s health. She said the whole experience has been eye opening. “Life is precious, [I’ve learned] how quickly it can be taken away from you,” Malcolm said. The third hobby that Malcolm got into was hiking on trails with her sister. “I got to hike at Colchuck, Lake Serene, Pete Lake and Yosemite and they looked amazing,” Malcolm said. New transfer student and senior guard Kizzah Maltezo said she used her time wisely and decided to work on her mental health, personal health and developing a better nutrition plan.

“During this whole quarantine I honed in to taking care of myself first,” said Maltezo. “I was sitting there by myself and realized that I need to take care of me.” Maltezo said she’s not ashamed to acknowledge that she has been struggling. “I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety as a student athlete for a while now, probably for more than two years,” Maltezo said. “2020 was very hard on my mental health but thankfully quarantine was a blessing in disguise. I had the time to practice healthy mental health habits.” Maltezo said she likes to stay fit and it was definitely hard without basketball practice and workouts. She would work out everyday at the same time so she would have her own set schedule. “That was my personal growth, I’ve never had to make my own schedule because I’ve always had people tell me what to do,” Maltezo said.

Maltezo said she also struggled with eating frequently because she was always on the go and just never had the time. She said she then started to develop her own nutrition plan. “I used to only eat once a day, but now I make sure I eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack,” Maltezo said. Maltezo said she now enjoys cooking and has been cooking for herself during quarantine. “My favorite meal to make is dinner, I’m definitely a dinner person,” Maltezo said. “My favorite dish to make is some roasted veggies, quinoa and a steak.” The women’s basketball team finished 19-11 after making it to the GNAC tournament. Head coach Randi Richardson-Thornley will lead the Wildcats and have them prepared for the upcoming season.

Doing yoga while onPhotograph a hike in theCourtesy PNW of Kassidy Malcolm Photographs Courtesy of Kassidy Malcolm


January 12, 2021


Photograph by Casey Rothgeb

A fisherman makes his way to the river in search of an adventure.

OBSERVER STAFF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS Mitchell Roland: Spend less time on Twitter, and spend more time unwinding. Bailey Tomlinson: Read more books. Joseph Stanger: Take more breaks from the computer. Rey Green: To stop procrastinating and putting things off. Amy Morris: To not let small things get to me and to keep my focus on graduating. Casey Rothgeb: To practice yoga every day for at least 30 days and try to keep it a part of my routine after that!

Bekah Blum: To stay more positive and proactive. Meghan Salsbury: Learn how to salsa dance. RachelAnn Degnan: To find positivity in everything I can. Star Diavolikis: To work on my physical and mental health and to become more of a well rounded person. Sean Bessette: To surround myself with people/things that make me happy. Abby Duchow: To never have another new year’s resolution. Addie Adkins: Make time for self care.

Weekly Calendar Jan. 13

Jan. 14

Jan. 15

Jan. 16

7-9 p.m. Trivia Wednesday -Virtual Location for Online Events

4-5 p.m. Learning the Lingo & Building Your Brand -Virtual Location for Online Events

7-9 p.m. Paint Social Make & Take Winter Theme -Student Union and Recreation Center Ballroom Rm 215A, Virtual Location for Online Events

National Nothing Day

Jan. 17

Jan. 18

Jan. 19

Jan. 20

Ditch your New Year’s resolution day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Tatiana Garmendia: Her Kind Exhibition Opens -Randall Hall, Room 141

Penguin Awareness Day


7-9 p.m. Monday Movie Madness: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl - Student Union and Recreation Center Theatre Rm 210, Virtual Location for Online Events

CWU Observer

3-4 p.m. Talking Gender Series -Virtual Location for Online Events

6-7 p.m. Plotting Your Career -Virtual Location for Online Events

4-5 p.m. Tips for Landing Your Dream Job -Virtual Location for Online Events