CWU Observer- Winter 2021, Issue 8

Page 1

March 2-March 9, 2021

Vol. 117 NO. 8

80 CAH staff and faculty signed a petition objecting to an ‘arguably unethical’ fundraiser Mitchell Roland Editor-in-Chief

Some staff and faculty members in the College of Arts and Humanities (CAH) say they felt pressured to donate to a fundraising campaign that will award funding towards department projects based on the department that donates the most. The campaign, Choose Where Change Happens, was a two-week effort that started on Feb. 15 and ran through Feb. 28. It encouraged faculty and staff to give to any university unit, student organization or scholarship program. This could be done either through money being taken out of their paychecks or by clicking on “give” buttons located on many unit homepages.

See CAH petition, Page 3

In This Issue News Scene Opinion Sports Engagement

Page 2 Earlier vaccine access

1-5 6-11 12-13 14-15 16

Underclassmen react: A year without in-person classes Nidia Torres Staff Reporter Anyone’s life can inexplicably change in just a matter of seconds, minutes, hours, days or weeks. Underclassmen especially have felt the change as the beginning of their college experience changed almost over night last year. With hope in sight for a normal fall quarter, some underclassmen reflect on a year marked by isolation and social distancing. Hunter Rhea, a freshman biology major, reflects on the year he transitioned from being a senior high schooler to a college freshman. Rhea said he was concerned about time management the most. After having spent most of his time adapting to a specific schedule, he now is used to being a “night owl.” In Rhea’s case, that meant getting used to working on assignments late at night to turn in before the due date at midnight. Besides that, Rhea has enjoyed his time being independent and learning how to manage his time better. At the beginning of the school year, Rhea mostly worried about online school. “For the first three weeks, I was getting my assignments through Outlook because I did not know what Canvas was,” Rhea said. This lasted about three weeks before he got used to being online and using Canvas. With that taken care of, Rhea hopes to accomplish good grades and get to meet new people. Given the social restrictions, Rhea’s social life is limited to only online or distanced interactions. Throughout the pandemic, Rhea managed to get used to this new way of living. “Adapting is something I’m really good at,” Rhea said. “Due to these restrictions, I found it easier to put myself out there. I found it easier to make friends.” Although Rhea managed to adapt to these new circumstances, there were some aspects that were still affected because of this pandemic. Not being able to better interact with others and hang out with friends affected Rhea’s social life. However, upon reflection, he still remains positive. “What I’ve learned is the best is yet to come. It’s like you’re given the lucky end of the stick in this current situation,” Rhea said.

See In-person classes, Page 5 Page 8-9 The life of an RA

Page 14 CWU alumnus, Jake Forrester


March 2, 2021


Faculty Senate calls for earlier vaccine access for personnel Mitchell Roland Editor-in-Chief

Eight members of CWU’s Faculty Senate sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this week asking for higher education personnel to be included in the state’s 1B tier 2 category of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The letter, dated Feb. 22, is signed by Senate Chair Elvin Delgado, ChairElect Greg Lyman and six members of the Senate’s Executive Committee. Under Washington’s vaccine distribution phase plan, members of the 1B tier 2 group will start receiving the vaccine in the spring and summer. Groups of people currently in 1B tier 2 include “High-risk critical workers 50 years or older who work in certain congregate settings” including childcare, food processing, grocery stores and K-12 education.

According to the letter, faculty inclusion would be an important step for increased in-person instruction at CWU. “Allowing higher education personnel to join the K-12 personnel in the 1B tier 2 category would help to ensure the safety of this critical workforce and the communities in which they live while providing vulnerable student groups with the in-person education that they need and want,” the letter said. The letter said college-age students “were already a vulnerable group in regard to mental health” before the pandemic, and the past year has only exacerbated the issue. With additional in-person classes, the letter said students will be able to get “the class environment they expect from a university setting” while also allowing increased social interaction.

“Enabling higher education personnel to safely re-engage with this at-risk population will help students to stay in school and get the education they and the State of Washington need them to have,” the letter said. According to the letter, college-age students have higher COVID-19 positivity rates than students in K-12 schools. “The college-age demographic makes up 39 percent of [COVID-19] cases in Washington state,” the letter said. “CWU has many support and academic programs in areas that necessitate face-to-face engagement, from academic and mental health counseling to applied engineering and aviation as well as music, art, fashion and theatre.” In a Feb. 24 press release, President James L. Gaudino said he supported the faculty’s efforts to move into 1B tier 2.

Board of Trustees endorses opening plan Star Diavolikis Senior Reporter



The Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously endorsed a fall 2021 education plan which will allow students to return to in-person learning and near-normal capacity of residence halls, however, this plan may be altered based on local health recommendations. The plan, which involves having a normal academic quarter, would last from Sept. 22 to Dec. 10 and allow most faculty, students and staff to return to campus for the year. “The health and safety of the university community must come first,” President James L. Gaudino said in a press release. “While we are hopeful for a near-normal academic year in 2021-2022, we also understand the need to constantly assess our health-and-safety protocols.”

The residence halls will have a larger maximum capacity compared to the 2020-2021 year, and Munson hall will remain as a quarantine area. All activities on campus, including clubs and organizations that are in favor of this plan, are preparing to transition to in-person participation. “Physical distancing requirements will be relaxed but face coverings will continue to be mandatory, at least for the beginning of the fall quarter,” the press release read. However, this plan is not yet official. “Trustees, however, also stressed the plan was subject to change based on the recommendations of health and safety professionals,” the press release read. “Additionally, the plan assumes COVID-19 vaccinations will be widely available for all who wish to be vaccinated.” University sites and centers will continue to follow approved COVID-19 protocols and educational modalities.

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The Observer Staff Editor-in-Chief Mitchell Roland Managing Editor Amy Morris Online Editor News Editor Scene Editor Sports Editor

Graphic Designer Meghan Salsbury Graphic Designer Ilse Orta Mederos

Bailey Tomlinson

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Rey Green

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Star Diavolikis

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Max Hughes Madalyn Banouvong

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Ondrea Machin

Editorial Policy: The Observer is a public forum for student expression,

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of The Observer is two-fold: to serve Central Washington University as a

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Jackson Sorenson


Jake Tilley

Nidia Torres

CWU Observer

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Advertising Cait Dalton

Dakaline White

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Assistant Copy Editor Addie Adkins


Staff Reporters

Lead Designer Rebekah Blum

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“CWU believes higher education personnel should join the K-12 workforce on the 1B, tier 2 vaccination schedule because the services they provide are critical to the students and communities we serve,” Gaudino said. “Ensuring their safety is vital so they can continue to provide crucial educational resources to the students who need it most.” According to the letter, CWU saw a 10% reduction in student retention from the fall quarter to winter quarter among non-white students and a 3% reduction in retention for first-generation and Pell-eligible students. “These students need the in-person engagement personnel only can provide safely if they have been inoculated,” the letter said. It is currently unclear if Inslee has responded to the faculty senate’s letter.

in which student editors make policy and content decisions. The mission newspaper and to provide training for students who are seeking a career in journalism. The Observer seeks to provide complete, accurate, dependable information to the campus and community; to provide a public forum for the free debate of issues, ideas and problems facing the community at large; and to be the best source of information, education and entertainment news. As a training program, The Observer is the practical application of the theories and principles of journalism. It teaches students to analyze and communicate

March 2, 2021



CAH petition from page 1 Both The Observer and the communications department operate under CAH. Rebekah Blum, the lead graphic designer at The Observer, appears in a video for the fundraiser talking about the impact a scholarship made for her. Blum was not involved in the reporting of this article. According to the ground rules that were distributed by the college, Choose Where Change Happens has two prizes. A $5,000 prize will go towards “the department with the highest participation by February 28th” and a $2,500 prize will go to the department “with the largest combined total given by February 28th.” Both sets of prize money will be used towards a “high priority department need.” Eighty CAH staff and faculty members, 47 with names attached and 33 anonymously, signed a petition which was sent to CAH Dean Dr. Jill Hernandez on Feb. 11 objecting to the fundraiser. In the petition, they said they believed the $5,000 prize and the incentive structure “is inappropriate, and arguably unethical” and could contribute to a “subtly-coercive workplace where money is a signal of loyalty.” “By making the funding of departments partly dependent on monetary contributions from faculty and staff in those departments, the incentive structure creates a corrosive competition between departments to generate such contributions,” the petition reads. In the petition, the staff and faculty wrote that “incentive structure fails to respect the differing financial situations of different faculty and staff, and therefore of different departments” and staff and faculty may want to contribute donations elsewhere. “The incentive structure involves soliciting money from the salaries of employees in order to create the very funding that allows the employees to do their job, which seems both illogical and inefficient,” according to the petition. The staff and faculty’s petition pledges the authors and signers will either donate anonymously or not donate at all “until the $5,000 incentive prize is withdrawn.” Dr. Gary Bartlett, a philosophy and religious studies professor who organized the petition, said he was informed of the incentive through an email from Hernandez on Feb. 1, and started discussing the “troubling” incentive with his colleagues in the philosophy and religious studies department.

“I expanded my discussion to some colleagues outside of my department, but still in the college, and everyone I talked to thought it was, to some degree, concerning,” Bartlett said. “I didn’t find anybody who thought it was a good idea.” Prior to writing the petition, Bartlett said both he and other groups of staff and faculty had made “attempts” to talk to Hernandez about Choose Where Change Happens. According to Bartlett, while Hernandez acknowledged the disagreement, she told staff and faculty members the fundraiser was okay. “She appreciated our point of view, but was not going to change the plan,” Bartlett said. While Bartlett said some faculty have indicated to him privately that they feel pressured to donate to the campaign, he does not feel pressured himself. “I don’t feel that I am in any danger of, you know, any sort of repercussions if I personally do not donate,” Bartlett said. Bartlett said he sent the petition to

“I welcome the opportunity to continue a dialogue focused on a major comprehensive capital campaign and the culture of philanthropy at CWU,” Paradis wrote in the email. “These efforts will be critical to Central Washington University’s ability to continue to provide exceptional student experiences and be a destination institution for students, faculty and staff.” Several emails and documents provided to The Observer by an anonymous source partially show the planning and implementation of Choose Where Change Happens. On Jan. 28, Hernandez instructed each department in CAH to tell Katharine Reed, the senior director of development, what the funds would be used

“By making the funding of departments partly dependent on monetary contributions from faculty and staff in those departments, the incentive structure creates a corrosive competition between departments to generate such contributions,” - excerpt from the petition

Interim Vice President of University Advancement Rick Paradis and Interim Associate Vice President of Development Shawn Lowney on the morning of Feb. 25. In response to an email from The Observer requesting an interview, Paradis wrote in a Feb. 26 email that over the years CWU has “strategically implemented plans that promote a culture of philanthropy.” According to Paradis’ email, the university has begun “developing a new comprehensive, university-wide plan to guide Central’s strategic decisions while remaining true to our core values.” Paradis wrote in his email that the four pillars of the plan are “access, opportunity and engagement,” “transformational teaching and learning,” “sustainable support and growth” and “inclusiveness and diversity.”

for by Jan. 29. A department is eligible to win both prizes, which means one department could win a total of $7,500 through the fundraiser. According to a Feb. 8 email, among items the prize could go towards are: A 3D printer and a computer for the Art and Design department. A scholarship to study abroad in the history department. The purchase and installation of a flat-screen TV in the middle of Lind Hall and modular furniture for the TV studio “that can double as a training set for the center of excellence in public speaking we would like to set up” for the communication department. Video, recording and streaming equipment for the concert and recital hall in the music department. Hernandez wrote in the Jan. 28 email the funding for the prizes will come from the dean’s unrestricted funds, and that they would begin “ramping up messaging” on Feb. 1. The Dean’s office is not eligible to receive the prize money, according to the Jan. 28 email.

“I’ll be excited to see what your fundraising dollars will support!” Hernandez wrote in the email. In an email to staff and faculty announcing the rollout on Feb. 16, Hernandez attached documents that laid out the “ground rules” for the campaign, the goals for each department and a step-by-step guide to make deductions from their paychecks on MyCWU for donations. “The Campaign is just one of the myriad ways we can positively impact our students and the community,” Hernandez wrote in the email. “As always, thank you for all that you do to meet the diverse needs of our College’s students!” On Feb. 24, Katharine Reed sent an email to the CAH department chairs that read that they are “in the home stretch” and thanked them “for all of the encouragement you have given your faculty and staff to participate in this campaign.” Reed wrote that she added a column to a campaign stats Excel spreadsheet with how many staff and faculty members have yet to donate. The column is titled “lapsed donors” which are defined in the spreadsheet as “faculty and staff who have given before but not in FY21.” According to the spreadsheet, as of Feb. 22, there are 43 lapsed donors in CAH. “I wanted to let you know how many donors you have in your department who have given in the past but are not yet giving this year,” Reed wrote in the email. “Please encourage them to renew their support and Choose Where Change Happens! Wishing you success, Katharine.” In the spreadsheet, donors are not personally identified. Reed did not respond to a request from The Observer for an interview. On Feb. 25, Hernandez sent The Observer an email in response to a request for an interview in which she wrote that the campaign has “tripled participation in faculty and staff giving, and our goal was to double it,” while declining further comment for this story. On Feb. 26, Hernandez declined an additional request from The Observer for an interview.


March 2, 2021


Barge Hall flood may cost at least $500,000 in damages, repair

Madalyn Banouvong Staff Reporter

Recent windy, and snowy weather seems to be causing serious issues in multiple areas this winter. Here on campus, cold air froze over a pipe in the Barge Hall’s fire protection system, and the failed system started releasing enough water to flood the hall at around 1 a.m. on Feb 13. The system failure on the fourth floor flooded the floors of the building below. Shane Scott, the associate vice president of campus planning and facilities management, is working firsthand with the technicalities of the flooding of Barge Hall and was able to recall the event in detail. Because the flooding happened after-hours, the boiler house on campus received the information about the incident. The boiler house attends these types of calls, since they operate 24 hours a day. The emergency originally came through as a fire because of the system’s failure, but it was quickly realized to be the opposite. Police were able to respond and could tell that the building didn’t seem to be in danger of a fire, and they were able to figure out the source of the problem with the frozen fire system. “Working with the city, they got the water shut off, they saved thousands of dollars of damages,” Scott said. Director of Custodial and Grounds Sunny Bloxham was able

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer Following the fire system failure and flooding of Barge Hall, the building had to be closed to allow maintenance to take place.

to arrive in the early morning to organize the draining of the building. This was not an easy feat, as some of the rooms had two to three inches of freezing cold standing water. The teams worked from Saturday to Monday to extract as much water as they could.

Other professionals such as con- being known, it is tough to tell exactly tractors, industrial hygienists, and how much it will cost to repair the buildinsurance adjusters also came in to in- ing in the state that it is in. vestigate this issue. Contractors have When asked about the plans to rehelped to water map the building, build, Scott said, “here at [CWU] we which means they used instruments like to keep the historic nature to the to see where the water went and track greatest extent practical to the inside of it exactly in order to measure the the building, but it’s difficult.” amount of wreckage. The National Historic Preservation “We did some rough estimates Act only protects the outside structure of Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer done building. E l l equickly n s b u rby g my I n team,” t e g r aScott t i v e the M e d i cA i nhistoric e i preservationist s c u r r e will ntly said. “But keep in mind that this is most likely be necessary on the team to help ccepting w patients under r. Logan a ahistoric building son e there’s an in- reconstruct it accurately.DCWU wants to credible amount keep Barge thes way Chave z . D rof . unknowns C h a v e zbespe cia lize i nit looks c h i now, r o pbut r awith ctic cause we have 1800s construction in the repair of the building, it’s unlikely that care that aids in the prevention of injuries and some of this area. But our first shot the inside will revert to its original state. ispat $500,000 r oleast mot e s h e dollars a l i n gand o fwet h e Editors b o d note: y s The u r rObserver o u n d isent n g Scott the could go way above that or we could an email requesting photos of the floodneck, low back, jaw, shoulder, hand, hip, knee, go below that. Though it is a signif- ing on Feb. 26. At 8:46 p.m. on Sunday, Ellensburg In te ra an t ikvlof e Medicine is c uwe r rreceived e n t l yan email from Puba ng d e .damage.” icant amount Feb. 28, Funding for the reconstruction of the lic Affairs Lstating that if we wanted the accepting new patients under Dr. ogan building is being sought from emergency photos, we would have to file a records Chavez. Dr. C vC eh za se p e'c ia liiractively zoe ic nt i c ha i rd ojp rsa c te in ctfiled Dhra .dollars, v z c his psr abecrequest. u tm s caorequest n s i s t ono f state and that case While we ing pursued. Barge Hall is jon theinational March 1, we did onot receive a response u ctth ue r ap l re av de u nng ,o fa i nv arr ii e s ty an f soft tissue c a r e t h a t a i d ss t irn nst ti o ju d register of historic places, and with that before our publication deadline. promotes

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March 2, 2021




Women’s History Month starts in March, and many remarkable women deserve to be acknowledged in this month. Before Women’s History Month was established, International Women’s Day was a day celebrated across many countries since 1911. “Many countries around the world celebrate the holiday with demonstrations, educational initiatives and customs such as presenting women with gifts and flowers,” said. The United States has officially celebrated International Women’s Day since 1909, and the United Nations has been recognized for sponsoring International Women’s Day since 1977. The concept of Women’s History Month originated in the 1970s. According to, an educational event in Santa Rosa, California was held in 1978 that inspired other areas to recognize women’s accomplishments. This eventually evolved to the Education Task Force of Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women to recognize a “Women’s History Week,” aligned with March 8 for the already-existing International Women’s Day. As more and more communities began to recognize Women’s History Week, it inspired historians and women’s groups to advocate for national recognition. President Jimmy Carter released a proclamation officially making the week of March 8 as Women’s History Week in 1980. According to presidency.ucsb.

edu, the proclamation was released on Feb. 28, 1980, where he said, “I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during National Women’s History Week, March 2-8, 1980. I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality—Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul.” Congress passed a resolution establishing a national celebration the next year, and six years later the celebration evolved into a recognized month-long celebration. Looking back in history, there are many notable accomplishments women have made. One of the most notable women is Abigail Adams, who wrote a letter to her husband, Founding Father John Adams, which explained he should keep the women in mind when making decisions. “Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold

ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation,” part of the letter read. Another woman in history who deserves recognition was Susan B. Anthony. Inspired by the Quaker beliefs she was raised on, Anthony had previously advocated for women’s rights due to the belief of everyone being equal, according to After this, she formed and participated in the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Before joining the NWSA, Stanton had already participated in anti-slavery movements and advocated for women’s rights, including writing the document, “The Declaration of Sentiments.” According to, this document focused on the Declaration of Independence by “adding the word ‘woman’ or ‘women’ throughout.” After meeting Anthony, the women worked together on articles, books and wrote speeches together. In August of 1920, ratification of the 19th Amendment was completed. Under the 19th Amendment, no woman can be denied to vote solely by her being female. This amendment is nicknamed the “Susan B. Anthony amendment,” which honors and recognizes her work. In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in Brooklyn, NY. This clinic was considered illegal due to the “Comstock Laws,” which prohibited birth control. According to sangerpapers.wordpress. com, ten days after opening this clinic, it was raided by police after the force sent an undercover female cop purchased birth control. After closing two more times due to legal concerns, she permanently closed it and instead put focus on the American Birth Control League (ABCL), which started in 1921. The britannica website states the ABCL was an organization run by Sanger that advocated for the legalization of contraceptives in the USA, and promoted women’s reproductive rights and healthcare.

5 In-person classes from Page 1 Sophomore aviation major Brett Boyd agrees that freshmen have had a disadvantage because of this pandemic. “They haven’t gotten the chance to really get out there, meet all their peers, go to in-person classes, have face-to-face time with their professors,” Boyd said. “I hope they will get to experience that, but you know it’s tough that they missed out on their first year of college because it’s a really important time for a lot of people.” Boyd reflected on how the beginning of the school year went for him. “My two biggest thoughts were one, I really wanted there to be some form of hybrid or in-person classes just because I really thrive off an academic environment,” Boyd said. “Second, I was concerned about the flight program, if anything was going to get halted or shut down due to the coronavirus, which luckily it hasn’t yet.” Boyd said in his experience as a sophomore during this school year and amidst this pandemic, he’s learned to have a “keener” time management since all his classes are online. Because of this, Boyd said he takes it upon himself to take breaks and do activities outside of school for a healthier lifestyle. “I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to finish up and get my instrument rating on time, which is usually the license we all go for in our second year,” Boyd said. Both Boyd and Rhea have similar goals and accomplishments. They both said they hope to maintain good grades and continue to remain positive amidst these circumstances. Their goals and accomplishments have kept them going and remaining positive. Academic Advisor Mayra Nambo has helped over 100 freshmen and sophomore students. She’s helped freshmen especially have a smoother transition from high school to college in orientation. “During orientation I always try my best to meet students and parents, so they know who I am and I am here to help. I was a 1st generation college student, and I had no idea what I was doing at CWU when I started, but I had great advisors who I knew I could ask questions to,” Nambo said. “So, I make it my mission to be that person for students, especially those students who, like me, are the first to go to college and their first language is not English.” Under these conditions, Nambo shares the challenges of having to advise students. However, she still encourages students to prioritize themselves first. “These times are super challenging, something I would advise a student is that their mental health is very important during this pandemic; take things slow and practice selfcare. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and clarification when in doubt,” Nambo said. According to PositivePsychology. com, setting goals for oneself helps increase and further develop the need for motivation. Amidst these times, a little motivation surely can’t hurt. Furthermore, this article states that goals are important to boost ones accomplishment skills and commitment levels. Goals help with creating strategies that better help in accomplishing goals and also cultivating skills that help with “self-efficacy” and “self-confidence.” “I’m hoping that we’re going to have a lot more in-person classes you know. We’ll have a lot more vaccines distributed around the United States,” Boyd said. “Hopefully, we can start getting back to as close to normal as we can [and] start having just really a more normal college experience next year and I’m excited and hopeful for it.”



March 2, 2021

Lent: what it means and how it’s practiced Libby Williams Staff Reporter Christians worldwide, as well as here on campus, are three weeks into this year’s observation of Lent. While the traditions associated with this period look different for everyone, the core ideologies remain the same. Dr. Lily Vuong, a professor of religious studies, described Lent as a “period marked in terms of self-discipline and penitence, [as well as] hope and renewal.” The 40-day period leading up to Easter, which is the most holy day in Christianity, is a solemn time to commemorate the weeks leading up to Jesus’s death and resurrection. “This is a time that people are supposed to be really self-reflective on the things that they’ve done and their relationships with other people,” Vuong said. One of the main traditions associated with Lent is the sacrifice of a habit or behavior for the entire 40-day period. Christians typically associate this with the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness without food or water before his crucifixion. “In the past, fasting rules were really strict – meat, eggs, butter etc. were forbidden,” Vuong said. “But nowadays, this usually translates to not eating chocolate or sugary foods, or not drinking alcohol, or [not] indulging in vices like watching excessive TV or playing a lot of video games.” Pablo Ruelas, a junior studying mechanical engineering technology, is

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer

Catholic Campus Ministry is located across the road from Shaw-Smyser Hall on Sprague St.

a peer minister for Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM), which makes him one of the leaders for the club. “As Catholics, you are called to fast, to pray and to give alms, which is like donating to whatever local charities or bringing food to the poor. There’s many different ways to give alms,” Ruelas said. “Those are the three main observances of Lent.” When it comes to prayer, Ruelas said for Catholics, this means reading the Bible or praying the rosary, or anything else that brings you closer to God. “Fasting can be anywhere from giving up candy if you really like candy,” said Ruelas. Last year he gave up soda, and the year before that he gave up eating at El Gato and Lion’s Rock at the SURC. This year he said he’s combining the two by cutting out snacking between meals, all sweets and carbonated beverages, and eating out.

Ruelas said there’s no pressure to be perfect, and it’s alright to make mistakes. “If you do fall through anywhere along the way, that doesn’t mean you should give up entirely,” Ruelas said. “You should always try your best to do what you can.” Serena Thompson is a senior studying elementary education and has been a part of Resonate Church since her freshman year. “I didn’t practice [Lent] until I got to college, because growing up I always thought it was a Catholic thing,” Thompson said. “But then I came to college and I joined Resonate, and our pastor talked about how it’s not just confined to Catholicism … it’s for anyone who wants a better relationship with Jesus.” This year, Thompson is giving up social media after she realized how many hours she had been spending on it. She said despite the difficul-

ties of the last year, she’s finding it easier than ever to give something up and focus her energy on things she finds more productive, like praying and reading her Bible. But she said if it’s not a struggle, it’s not worth giving up. “It is a huge time of self-discipline, because it’s really freaking hard!” Thompson said. “It shouldn’t be easy the things that you’re giving up, because then it’s not helping anything.” Vuong, Ruelas and Thompson all said it’s incredibly beneficial to learn about other people’s religions and cultures. “I’ve been, in a way, blessed to have my dad be in the military,” Ruelas said. “I got to move around a lot to see different cultures and a lot of different people’s religions.” He’s also met many fellow students who practice a wide variety of faiths, and said understanding religions is a great way to understand people. Dr. Vuong, who has been teaching religious studies at CWU for six years, said she discusses the importance of learning about different religions in her classes. “Understanding people’s religions really tells you what they value, what they believe in, and how they see themselves in the world,” Vuong said. “It helps us have, at the core, a better understanding of each other’s positions, and therefore the ability to have empathy for each other, to understand each other … just being able to connect with people on that level is really important.”

How to pick up an instrument as a hobby Levi Shields Staff Reporter In a time when many students are stuck in their house or dorms, left to do their schoolwork and then figure out what to do with their downtime, learning an instrument can be a valuable and perhaps even life-changing hobby to pick up. It may be intimidating at first, but it could lead to a life-long hobby. Playing music is a stand-out hobby that, according to Music Professors Mark Samples and Bret Smith, has a multitude of benefits. Both professors said that playing an instrument is a hobby that can be practiced even as you get older. Unlike playing sports or other physical hobbies, music can continue to be played much later in life. Smith said it is never too late to start playing. Additionally, both professors said that playing music exercises the mind. Samples said that playing music exercises both fine and gross motor skills by using both great and small movements. Playing music can help with emotional and social health by acting as a catharsis, helping the musician get out their emotions, according to Samples. It can also help the musician improve socially by playing music with others. He also said that playing music can provide a sense of accomplishment. Smith said that music as a hobby can be relatively cheap, with starting requiring just the cost of the instrument. However, it could get expensive if the hobby be-

comes more serious, with new equipment and instruments creating additional costs. The extensive selection of instruments to choose from when starting to play may be overwhelming. Samples and Smith took two different approaches to tackling this. Samples gave two recommendations: the voice and the piano. He recommended the voice for its obvious accessibility, as well as the fact that it can play along with many other instruments. He recommended that aspiring musicians simply sing along with the radio to exercise their voice. He recommended the piano because it provides an easy way to visualize the music via the keyboard, but also because it is a “push-button instrument,” meaning that the musician only has to press the key to make sound, rather than having to work with other elements like breath or a bow. He also mentioned that the piano can be a gateway to other instruments, and those wishing to start on piano can buy a relatively inexpensive electronic keyboard for its wealth of features. On the other hand, Smith recommended a number of instruments based on type. He said to choose a family of instruments that you like the sound of, be it woodwind, brass, bowed string, plucked string, percussion, etc. For plucked string, he recommended the ukulele for its portability or the banjo for its popularity. For woodwind, he chose the recorder for its low price. For brass, he chose the trumpet, also for its low price. For bowed string, the violin, for its portability when compared to other bowed

string instruments. For percussion, he chose the bongos for their simplicity and portability, but also mentioned that a simple pair of drumsticks and a practice pad would work to start off with as well. He also mentioned that a good all-around starting point would be the many electronic music programs available for free online, such as Garage Band. Samples said that there are many challenges to playing music. One of these, he said, is that you have to be okay with the fact that you won’t sound good at first, as well as to get past the belief that some people have musical talent and some do not. “That’s the secret, is that effort actually is much more important than talent in the long run,” Samples said. “But for a lot of people who have just average aptitude for music, if they will commit to just working at it and growing at it, they will get better.” Smith said that there is great potential for frustration when learning music. He said to celebrate the little victories and resist the temptation to give up. If you are frustrated, he said, get a pointer from a different angle. Google the problem, as there is sure to be plenty of information online. He also said that it can be beneficial to listen to different covers and versions of the music that is being learned to get a different angle or approach and to take breaks when needed. Samples said to work past the need for motivation and to set out a particular time of day to play music and stick to it every day, regardless of how motivated you are.

Samples and Smith both gave some general tips for those wanting to begin playing music as a hobby. They both recommended experimenting with the instrument. Figure out what actions create what sounds, or come up with a sound that you want to make and then figure out how to make it. Samples urged potential musicians to have a sense of curiosity and to think of a song that they really want to play, and then find a tutorial on how to play it online. “Really, the instrument is the vehicle for your musical ideas,” Smith said.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Bret Smith

March 2, 2021



Fast food restaurant adapts to COVID-19 store. They seem to be prepared,” Harkrider said. Employees saw a new feaAs COVID-19 swept the na- ture of their benefits working tion and shut down multiple during the pandemic. “ We c a n g e t a f r e e m e d i places of establishment, one thing that stayed strong was um size meal for our shift,” t h e e m p i r e t h a t i s f a s t f o o d . H a r k r i d e r s a i d . “ We a l s o g e t CWU students and Ellensburg crew benefits where we can residents immediately drew to- order whatever we want and ward the simplicity and ease it’s 50% off. They changed the of getting a hot meal and get- rules because of [COVID-19] ting a chance to be outside of where you can take it home to help people out. Originally, the house. Crew trainer Lexi Harkrid- you weren’t able to take any free or 50 er said percent off she was food home,” fortunate H a r k r i d enough to er said. “So, earn emthis was to ployment help families last April out.” with one Some leof the n i e n c i e s m o r e have been popular a new derestauvelopment rants in d u r i n g t o w n , Harkrider’s McDonshift. ald’s. “It’s be“ I come a litstarted tle more in April, -Lexi Harkrider, r e l a x e d , ” so it was Mcdonald’s crew trainer Harkrider when the said. “ We virus had have had a already [COVID-19] started,” outbreak in Harkrider the store before, but they didn’t said. Harkrider said her make it like a big deal. They restaurant has begun a found the person, watched the slow but steady process of tapes to see who was in close contact with them so they can opening more. “ We ’ r e f i n a l l y c o m i n g i n t o n o t i f y t h o s e p e o p l e . ” Harkrider said that she apthe lobby opening up for people to come in and grab take preciates the responsibility the out food which is something owners have shown for her and we haven’t done yet. But they her coworkers. “They have all the normal have the plastic shields in gloves, masks, front of the registers so there’s regulations; a one-way path through the hand washing every hour, temGabriel Strasbaugh Staff Reporter

They have all the normal regulations; gloves, masks, hand washing every hour, temperatures when you come in the building.

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Obsever

peratures when you come in the building,” Harkrider said. According to Harkrider, employees are not allowed to come behind the counter until their temperature has been taken. When restaurants were ordered to close, Harkrider said McDonald’s doors closed not allowing anyone in but em-

ployees. Noting the number of guests, she said it was not a major change to her. According to CNN Business, McDonald’s numbers increased across the nation. McDonald’s statement in January noted a 5.5% rise in sales. Some of the restaurants continue to follow the same suit as the one in Ellensburg.

Spring break ‘Burg search begins Max Hughes Staff Reporter This spring break, a number of organizations on campus have been asked to do something unusual: encourage students to stick around Ellensburg. The Diversity and Equity Center (DEC) will take the opportunity to try out an idea recently developed by their programming staff, according to Justin Stanoli, the new program manager. Most years, organizations at CWU have little to no programming or activities for students over breaks. “So, the idea from that came from a sort of university-wide initiative that we were asked to help out with in an effort to … create some incentive to stay on campus so that we … reduce the risk of spreading [COVID-19],” Stanoli said.

A scavenger hunt marks Ellensburg has grown,” Stanthe first oli said. event run C l u e s by Stanoli for the from start s e a r c h to finwill be ish. Staposted on noli said the DEC a number Facebook of events and Inwere in s t a g r a m the finaccounts i s h i n g over the stages of s p r i n g developbreak. Acment since cording to he arS t a n o l i , rived two three to m o n t h s four clues -Justin Stanoli, ago. w o u l d “ We r e be postprogram manager ally wanted during ed to fothe weekcus on days. sort of the “ T h e y history of justice on campus, range in difficulty, which and just how much CWU at is intentional, to try to

We really wanted to focus on sort of the history of justice on campus, and just how much CWU at Ellensburg has grown.

give everyone an equitable chance of finishing it,” Stanoli said. The clues themselves will give students, new and old, a better sense of the history around campus, Stanoli said. The Assistant Director for the DEC, Katrina Whitney, was a major part of the historical information used in the event, according to Stanoli. “The idea is at the end of the week, students have a form link [that] will be shared out on social media,” Stanoli said. “And students will be able to submit all their photos throughout the weekend.” Stanoli said it was fun developing clues for the event and learning about the history of Ellensburg and CWU.

SECRET THE SECRET LIFE OF AN RA Written by Jackson Sorenson

Designed by Rebekah Blum


ot only must resident assistants (RAs) balance classes with building relationships with residents and coworkers, but former RAs at CWU said they have also had to learn how to deal with struggles with management, feeling unheard and even losing a job. As students live on campus and interact with RAs, some students might not know what happens behind the scenes as an RA. Under the housing contract, current RAs aren’t allowed to speak with student media. All of the RAs in this article have moved on from the job.

Tricia Rabel Rabel has currently been the executive director of housing and residence life for two and a half years. She has been with CWU for six years. “We value the students. This is probably one of the hardest student jobs available and they continue to amaze me,” Rabel said. “They are the best of the best.” Rabel said she found it concerning that RAs have experienced the feeling of being easily replaced. She said that being and feeling heard can make or break the job. “Bad experiences are typically individual. The RA might have an issue with a resident and that makes them struggle and gives them a bad experience,” Rabel said. “Being valued and heard, connecting with residents and seeing the bigger picture that they are helping paint, leads to the best experiences.”

Anonymous RA One RA for almost two years, who wished to remain anonymous, said it was challenging to work in a hall with upperclassmen. The RA said they left their position in Davies Hall after only a few weeks. “I felt as if nobody was listening to me and wanted to help me,” they said. “I brought a list of concerns to my boss who basically told me that they couldn’t figure it out and, basically told me that if I couldn’t handle it then I could leave and they could find someone else.” The anonymous RA said in their job, they felt expendable and easily replaceable.


Photo by Case


Jazmyne Wardman

Photo by Abigail Stowell/The Observer

Joshua Peterson Peterson was an RA for about a year and a half and said he had a different experience being an RA. “I actually really enjoyed my time as an RA. I came out of my comfort zone and ended up loving it,” Peterson said. “It’s easy work, plus I get to help people, which I love.” Peterson said he didn’t ask for guidance from his boss very often because he relied on his knowledge and common sense to solve problems. He said that if people have a bad experience with housing, it’s usually either the social aspect or the workload. Peterson said that he ran into very few challenges in his time of being an RA. “I didn’t get good training. You get a book that tells you how to deal with situations. What the book suggested didn’t really make sense because with every problem, there are different elements that go into it,” Peterson said. “Not every situation can be addressed ‘by-the-book’ because every problem is unique and different.” Peterson said that in order for an RA to plan an event that a college student would want to do, the RA would have to talk to countless different committees. “You have to jump through 50 hoops for a small budget event. Most of the time when an RA wants to plan a fun event that college kids would want to do, a committee will reject it,” Peterson said.

ey Rothgeb/The Observer

Madison Stamey Stamey is a 2019 alumna and was an RA in Sparks Hall. Stamey said that the job is listed as “part-time,” but it doesn’t feel that way with the amount of work that goes into being an RA. Stamey said that there were lots of regulations to follow on a normal week and even more if they wanted an evening out. “This job is very time-consuming and, to those that are looking to become an RA, you should ask yourself if you are ready for the balance,” Stamey said. “The balance includes balancing classes, building relationships with residents, writing reports and doing all of the other RA-related paperwork. It can be a lot sometimes.” She urges people to be aware of what you tell people, friends or not. “You never know who might be saying things about you behind your back or where that gossip could travel to. You could very easily lose your job over a rumor,” Stamey said. Stamey said she doesn’t regret becoming an RA. She said she met many great friends here and it was hard for her to leave them all behind. “Being an RA is about being a mentor and/or a resource for students, mainly first-years. Something that I liked to do was go to dinner with the staff and try to get residents to join us. We were big on building relationships with residents,” Stamey said. “We go through so much training so that we can deal with all kinds of situations that residents might be going through and help them through it.”

Wardman was an RA for almost three years and worked in two different residence halls. She served as a manager during her final year. Wardman attested to the struggles with housing. She wanted to make her manager position her internship. She met with the director telling them that being manager was the plan for her graduation requirement and that she wouldn’t include any personal information in the documents that she had to submit. She said that the director just kept saying how much paperwork goes into being an RA and never really wanted to support her internship decision. Despite the struggles, Wardman said she enjoyed aspects of the job, especially writing personalized notes to her residents. “My residents find it comforting knowing that there are people that are reaching out and want them to be successful,” Wardman said. Wardman said the shift into COVID-19 left her feeling different. She said instead of telling residents to be quiet during quiet hours, she told residents to not be in the lounge or there were too many people present in a dorm room. Instead of building connections with her residents, she had to focus on not getting sick and making sure all of her residents were following the CDC guidelines at all times. “Many people believe that we are paid to be snitches. That is not the case. We are meant to ensure that the residents are being safe,” Wardman said. “We want to be someone that, specifically first-year students, can be relied on for help no matter the issue.”

Anonymous RA Another student, who preferred to stay anonymous, was an RA for two quarters and worked in one hall. “Housing sugarcoats everything in a job that requires bluntness. You get a bunch of different answers from all different people,” the former RA said. “No matter what answer you go with, you’ll always get into trouble from someone about it.” The source said communication is a big issue within housing. The RAs report to their Residence Hall Coordinator (RHC), and they report to the housing department. This RA said that the uppers in housing tend to dismiss issues that the RAs bring to them. Photo by Abigail Stowell/The Observer



March 2, 2021


The Beat Drop

Welcome to The Beat Drop by Sean Bessette, my weekly column where I’ll write about the music I listen to on a weekly basis. My music taste focuses around hip-hop/rap, a little R&B and a little pop. I’ll review recently released songs and albums plus general events that have happened in the music industry lately.

“After Hours” Over the past couple of months, I’ve been listening to “After Hours,” The Weeknd’s fourth studio album, relentlessly. When the album first released on March 20, 2020, I didn’t really give it much of a chance. It wasn’t until recently that I realized this album’s greatness. The tracklist has no misses. It’s nearly impossible to pick out favorite tracks because each song is so strong. “Alone Again” and “Too Late” act as the perfect introduction to the album. The strongest section is five tracks starting with “Heartless” and ending with “Save Your Tears.” “Blinding Lights” became the biggest song in the world for months. The title track’s multiple beat changes makes it an unforgettable listen. “Until I Bleed Out” is a fitting outro track. The music on “After Hours” is psychedelic. It’s eerie and dark. It’s the type of album you listen to on a late-night car drive. For me, it’s more than just the music. It’s the whole “After Hours” era. It’s a “brain melting psychotic chapter,” as The Weeknd put it on a Nov. 26, 2019 Instagram post. That’s the best way to put it. The music videos tell a complete story about a hazy night in Las Vegas. Every appearance from The Weeknd since this era started has been him in that iconic red suit from the cover. He’s devoted to the theme attached to the album, the same theme that started 16 months ago. The album has a ton of replay value. I never find myself getting tired of listening. “After Hours” is truly one of a kind and is easily one of the best albums released in 2020. It’s a shame that the GRAMMYs didn’t nominate the album for any awards.

Written by Sean Bessette Scene Editor

New Music 2/26 My favorite release last Friday was the new Pop Smoke single, “AP,” from the film “Boogie.” Pop Smoke has a large role in the film. The song is a typical, solid Pop Smoke song with a catchy hook and high energy. I enjoyed the new YG song featuring Big Sean titled “Go Big,” from the “Coming 2 America” soundtrack. I’m not sure it’ll have much replay value in the future, but it is a fun track to save for now. I listened to the deluxe release of “A N N I V E R S A R Y” by Bryson Tiller. I enjoy the original album that released on Oct. 2, 2020. I didn’t think the deluxe was necessary. The five new songs on the deluxe didn’t add much for me. I enjoyed the Big Sean feature on “Still Yours.” Other than the Pop Smoke single, the YG single and the Bryson Tiller deluxe, nothing else really piqued my interest from last Friday. On Wednesday, Feb. 24, Drakeo The Ruler released an album titled “The Truth Hurts.” For the most part, this project is boring and it runs too long. I was impressed by a couple of standout tracks. I enjoyed “Dawn Toliver” featuring Don Toliver and Ketchy The Great. Toliver’s verse on this song is elite. I also enjoyed “Talk To Me” featuring Drake. Drake’s value as a feature is showcased on this track. His hook is very strong.

”Silk Sonic” Last Thursday night, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak announced the release of a collaborative album under the band name, “Silk Sonic.” The album release date is unconfirmed but the lead single will be released this Friday, March 5. Bruno Mars hasn’t released an album in over 1,500 days, which was “24K Magic.” I’m really looking forward to hearing some new Bruno Mars. He never misses. I’m very intrigued that he chose to make his return with a collaborative album rather than a solo album. Anderson .Paak, on the other hand, last released an album in 2019 titled “Ventura.” .Paak isn’t mainstream. He’s a niche artist. He’s widely respected by a smaller audience and relatively unknown to everyone else. I was introduced to .Paak through some of his features. I then dove into his solo works. “Malibu” and “Oxnard” are great albums that I highly recommend before listening to “Silk Sonic.” .Paak’s solo albums are underrated and I really hope this album with Bruno Mars gives him some deserved recognition. This collaboration is a dream. The potential both artists have together is incredible. This album has instant classic and album of the year potential. I can’t wait for the lead single this Friday.

Designed by Meghan Salsbury

March 2, 2021



A crew of six unionized linemen are claiming the city is bargaining in bad faith David Snyder Staff Reporter

In their on-going collective bargaining negotiations with the City of Ellensburg, a crew of six unionized linemen with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 77 claims the city is using COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid offering fair wages. In turn, they claim this is an attempt to push them to leave their positions so the city can replace them with outside contractors. The two sides have been negotiating since August of last year. They will receive mediation from the Washington State Public Regulatory Commission (PERC) in March. According to Brian Gray, the crew’s union representative with the IBEW, after being at loggerheads for months on a new contract he made a tentative agreement with the city in December, but the crew voted overwhelmingly to reject it. This brought the sides back to the bargaining table. “That [rejection] was intended to send the message back to the city saying, ‘Hey, what you’re offering is unacceptable,” Gray said. “A tentative agreement at the table doesn’t mean it’s endorsed by the membership.” Gray said the crew wants a contract in the same ballpark as neighboring utilities in central Washington counties like Chelan, Grant, Benton and Franklin. But he said the city is asking them to take less. “The strategy of the City of Ellensburg is pretty dismissive of those guys,” Gray said. “Their demands are not even industry standard. There’s nobody going backward in wages,

Photo by David Snyder/The Observer The unionized linemen and the City of Ellensburg have been negotiating wages for over seven months.

and that’s exactly what the city is asking these guys to do.” In a Facebook post on Feb. 10, the city said the economic impact of COVID-19 has played a role in its negotiations. It stated, “the city is, as it must be, mindful that commitments it makes at the bargaining table must be sustainable for the city and must take account of the city’s Covid-impacted finances.” Photo by David Snyder/The Observer

Also, in that post, the city maintained that it is bargaining in good faith with the workers. Ellensburg Mayor Bruce Tabb reiterated this position during a city council meeting on Feb. 16. “The city is not seeking to break the union or force employees to leave,” Tabb said. “We have no intention whatsoever of using contractors to replace our union workforce.” Family, friends and the IBEW have led a support campaign for the linemen through social media. Many of those people tuned into the Feb. 16 meeting over Zoom, enough to max out the meeting at 100 attendees. Those who were kicked out or couldn’t get into the Zoom meeting flooded the YouTube live stream. According to the crew’s foreman Bryan Ring, when he checked the video the following day, there were over 800 views. “We’ve built a really strong relationship with the community here,” journeyman lineman Tyler Carson said. “Everybody cares about us, and it’s pretty evident.” The crew is comprised of four journeymen and two apprentice linemen. Together they make up the entire Ellensburg Light Department. According to the crew, their ratio of journeymen to apprentices isn’t safe and leads to poor working conditions. “We don’t have the right amount of journeyman to give us the training that we need and signed up for,” second-step apprentice Avery Miller said.

Over Christmas, the crew said there was an incident with a car hitting an electrical pole, but only one journeyman and an apprentice were available to tend to the damages. Without the manpower to make immediate repairs, the city had to bring in a contractor to do the work. Ring said understaffing wasn’t as bad when he started with the city almost five years ago. The light department had nine employees. However, that changed when a new supervisor came into the fold and argued for reduced staffing. According to Gray, a problem that has coincided with the crew’s reduced numbers is a recent high turnover rate with journeymen. A post on the Local 77’s Facebook page stated that nine line crew members quit working with the city in a three-and-a-half-year period. With workers coming in and out of the department, Gray said this is where the ratio becomes especially unsafe. “They’re constantly having to relearn everybody’s abilities,” Gray said. “You work as a crew. You get to learn the deficiencies and the abilities of your crew person when working on energized power lines.” Gray added that the electrical industry normally doesn’t have a lot of turnover, making the City of Ellensburg’s turnover rate alarming. “You have to look deep to find out why,” Gray said.

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March 2, 2021

It’s too soon to reopen schools OPINION

Ilse Orta Mederos Columnist

When I first heard the discussion about opening schools once more, I was skeptical. It made me question how effective it could be in the long run if they were to open schools once more, since we still have the ongoing issue of COVID-19. In this situation, I feel like there would be two main issues that we would be facing. First, there is no guarantee that by the time children go back to school in an in-person setting everyone involved will be vaccinated. Second, we don’t know if every school will be able to implement proper measures to maintain a clean and safe environment for everyone. It also brought forward the question of whether there will be guidelines that every school district will need to follow, and how they will make sure those guidelines will be enforced in order to avoid having another surge of COVID-19 cases. Everyone knows that children, especially young ones, are full of energy and need to be able to release that energy otherwise they can become cranky. When schools first started closing it didn’t look so bad, maybe a few weeks of being able to sleep in and not having to attend classes. Nonetheless, this quickly became boring, and for some even anxiety inducing a study from the revealed. Their inability to go out and play with their friends made this all the more unbearable for those children who thrive in social interactions. To top it off, they were expected to keep up with their school work and maintain good grades while the world as they knew it crumbled around them. The United States in particular made it hard for things to go “back to normal.” There

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Obsever

were a lot, and still are a lot, of people who didn’t follow the proper steps to keep themselves and others safe, which has prolonged the issue for longer than needed. Regardless, allowing school to re-open for the new school term could also help lessen a big burden for some families. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been quite obvious that people have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. A lot of people had their workload increased while maintaining the same salary, while others lost their jobs and even their homes. When schools closed, it created even further conflict for some families who could

not afford to stay at home to watch their young children if they wished to continue being able to pay for necessities. And, while online classes allowed students to continue learning in a safe environment, it did not take away the fact that for some families, it was not a sustainable option. While I do have to agree that having schools re-opening could bring benefits for the children themselves such as having access to food, essential services and child welfare, it should not blind people to the risks that these actions create. Although children can be considered low-risk, this does not guarantee they won’t get sick. According to the Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children can also be asymptomatic and can carry COVID-19 and infect others who could be high-risk. All of this could ultimately lead to an increase of COVID-19 cases, which would then force schools to close and students to attend online classes, making all of this process a waste of time. It might be hard to hear, but ultimately, having an online setting might be the safest decision everyone can make in terms of keeping COVID-19 controlled. At the same time, resources should go into making sure that children and their families are getting the help they need to do online classes.

CWU robs seniors of graduation

Taylor Korrell Guest Columnist

On Jan. 21, CWU announced that the spring 2021 commencement will be held virtually. This announcement brought up various emotions of frustration, disappointment, heartbreak and despair. For students who have worked tirelessly for years and devoted blood, sweat, tears and money to this institution in anticipation of this one simple but important event at the end of their college journey, the thought of having a virtual ceremony is a punch to the gut. Commencement is a significant and momentous occasion that signifies the completion of an academic journey and the success that each individual student has incurred throughout their experience as a student. The choice to make spring commencement virtual came months ahead of the actual ceremony, bringing up the question of how the school could know that six months later the state of the pandemic would not have progressed enough to constitute a safe and healthy in-person commencement ceremony. Many students brought up multiple points that negated the school’s early decision of a virtual ceremony. This premature decision makes the students and families of the CWU community wonder if this decision was made in an effort to save money and take the easy way out of the situation instead of exhausting other options for holding a safe and COVID-19 friendly in-person commencement ceremony.

Graphic by Ilse Orta Mederos

Multiple students wrote on the Instagram post announcing the virtual commencement ceremony that they are receiving or previously graduated with degrees in event planning from CWU and that through this education they have the knowledge that there are options available to make a safe in-person commencement ceremony possible. CWU has already announced that the graduating class will be separated into four separate virtual ceremonies. This makes me wonder why it is not possible to do four smaller in-person commencement ceremonies to make it possible to socially distance all students on the football field outside.

After much consideration, it seems possible that CWU could continue with four separate ceremonies that could be distributed between Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 13. This way all the students could remain socially distanced, all students could be required to wear masks to further protect all participants and each student could be permitted a specific number of guests to attend the ceremony so that all guests can accurately and safely be spaced when watching their student graduate. The ceremonies take place outside on the football field which already provides a safer environment that is pandemic-friendly. There is even the option to have each student that wants to participate in an

in-person commencement ceremony be tested for COVID-19 prior to the ceremony. It is also important to note that by June 12 the majority of high-risk individuals will have been vaccinated and the vaccine will have been distributed to many more individuals than we are currently seeing. I want to thoroughly encourage CWU to reconsider their decision to make spring 2021 commencement virtual and instead reevaluate how they could make an in-person ceremony possible. Making this ceremony virtual in a tremendous disservice to all graduating students of spring 2021 as well as their families. Throughout every student’s trials and tribulations in their college experience they have looked forward to the final goal of having their family and friends celebrate their success and accomplishments with them as they celebrate with their fellow students at their commencement ceremony. Graduating from college is a significant accomplishment and milestone for not only students but their families. These families have been beside their students helping to encourage and support them in their journeys. As a first-generation college student and student worker myself, this decision of a virtual commencement ceremony is disheartening to me as well as my family. CWU, please do not rob all of these students that gave you years of hard work, tuition, effort, and their lives of one simple but monumental occasion when there are other possible options to make a safe and healthy in-person spring 2021 commencement ceremony.

March 2, 2021



The benefits of having an organized space Abigail Stowell Columnist It has been said multiple times by parents, “Why isn’t your room clean?” “Do your dishes!” “Wipe down the counter top please!” But has it ever been noticed that these things weren’t just for better habits of cleaning, but of a better sound mind at the end of the day? College students are always busy and most are going through mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, etc. Can having clean areas affect your emotional state or the way you do things? These habits we develop as we grow older can affect the way we handle ourselves, having a messy room could affect the mental and productive part of our mind. “When I get frustrated or especially tired and stuff, things tend to pile up in my room quite a bit,” Jackie Tran, a professional creative writing student at CWU said. Messes in rooms or any common areas can bring up the emotion and the mental motivation just by having a disordered room with laundry that needs to be done, or cups that need to be washed, or just simply throwing a bag of chips away. Some might just clean the area just to be productive and to feel better emotionally. “Funny enough I actually clean to make myself feel better,” Tran said. However not everyone is like this. She also mentioned “a lot of people, will actually get more frustrated and keep piling things up instead.” Emotions can take over in ways people might not even recognize until everything is too much, and

Graphic by Ilse Orta Mederos

personal spaces become unbearably messy. The frustration may build up to the point that either a friend points it out or the person can’t deal with it anymore and does it out of spite.

Bryan Bader, an aviation student at CWU, when asked what kind of ambiance do you get from being in an area or space that is messy, answers with “out of control” when a person doesn’t keep up with their

own cleaning space, it becomes more difficult to control their own life. As if when having a clean and organized space it can balance out one person’s life. Bader also said, “Not necessarily would it have to do with my emotions, it would more have to do with my mindset.” Many students, whether at CWU or another university, may have been in this situation. A student who is doing school full time may encounter the big to-do list throughout the day homework, studying, buying groceries, maybe going to a part-time job, exercise, maintaining a social life, calling their parents or loved ones back home, maybe even practicing an instrument. Then after everything is done, what is left to maintain? Getting enough sleep but also making sure that laundry is done and the dishes are done. Then eventually cleaning up anything, whether it’s clothes laying around or having piles of homework sitting out. Keeping a routine that is so simple yet so frustrating, it’s always one thing after another. Yet to maintain a clean space can be extra work. There are so many reasons to put it off, but for what cost? Despite the prevalent amount of things on the to-do list, what must also be thought of is the voice inside of each and everyone of us and what is it telling you? What is more important for you? It can be said that it is easier to just put it off, but it might just end up giving you the short side of the stick. You never know, sustaining an organized area and may just end up helping your mental health.

Why do people still want to use my culture as their mascot? Star Diavolikis Columnist I am so tired of having to defend my culture from those who only want to reap benefits from it while simultaneously refusing to address or help with any Indigenous issues. A recent bill passed through the Washington state house that bans non-tribal Washington schools to use Native American imagery as their mascots, logos and team names. The only exception is schools nearby or on tribal land that got approval from the local tribe. A lot of people are upset about this bill and wish it did not pass. The catch, though, is that these people are not Native American. These are people who are unaffected by the imagery, and see no harm in it as it does not affect them or their background. KIMA Action News reported on the passing of this bill, and the Facebook comments were simply outrageous. “Bet they’ll complain when they’ve cancelled themselves and there’s not a single building or statue left to honor their heritage!” a comment read. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaw pooooooor whittle guys. They get offended super easily,” another comment read. On a side note, there is a great difference between an educational building, memorial or statue compared to a school’s mascot.

Why do they still want to use my culture as their symbols in society, like Native people are their made-up character that they can use as they please? Why do our feelings not matter in these situations? Why do others get to decide if we can be offended or not? Excuses commenters provided revolved around the idea that using our image as their mascot is a sign of respect and is educating the public on Native Americans, and that we should be grateful. In short, no. I do not feel any respect given from a kid in a headdress and red face paint doing war whoops. I do not feel any respect given from the band who mimics tribal drumming as their “Warriors” run out from the locker room. I also do not feel a graphic of a chief provides any sort of educational information. I have been exposed to offensive imagery since I could first remember, and I have been defending my culture since I was 12, if not younger. Why has society not learned and evolved from this? I understand some may simply not relate to the concept of having their sacred culture be appropriated in everyday life, which can be a leading reason as to why people do not understand why we are bothered by this. An example could be Celtic heritage being ap-

Graphic by Ilse Orta Mederos

propriated with the basketball team, or stereotypes of Irish people being posted everywhere during St. Patrick’s Day. However, I will say this. Simply because you are an unaffected and unbothered party in this situation does

not give you the right to speak over the voices that are affected and directly involved. I do not dictate what you find offensive, so why do you get to dictate what I can be offended by?


March 2, 2021


CWU alumnus Jake Forrester gears up for more minor league baseball this spring Deacon Tuttle Staff Reporter

According to Forrester, the Indians have a nice complex with varied amenities that allow for bonding. He Minor league baseball is kicking off is anticipating the chance to experionce again. Jake Forrester is a pitch- ence this with others after an extended period apart. er who is “I’ve been working to waiting to land a spot see my teamon a Clevemates, the land Indiboys. We’ve ans farm been excited team once to get back to more by it,” Forrester continuing said. to excel in Since he his craft. was 5 years After old, he has his college played base career with ball. When C W U , asked about Forrester what made first spent him love time in the -Jake Forrester, the sport, summer of he said that 2019 playCWU alumnus you have to ing Rookie put the time ball. When in to learn. 2020 and ForrestCOVID-19 er is fond arrived, of the inthe minor league season was canceled due to tricacies of baseball as opposed health and safety concerns. This left him to other sports he grew up eager to train and prepare for the next participa ting in. The moment he decided to opportunity to play. That opportunity is coming on April 1 with spring training. love baseball first began at little “I at least want to get to High A. If I go league practice. He had said, “I beyond that, it’s a bonus,” Forrester said. want to be bigger than A-Rod.”

I just threw my first bull-pen yesterday and my warmup pitches were at 90 miles per hour.

Forrester claims that everyone laughed, and this drove him to do his best at baseball. To analyze his performance and compare with others he said he and his dad watch baseball together. Forrester said that it is always beneficial to get an outside perspective for progress. He is currently working on developing his hip rotation and

Photo Courtesy of Jake Forrester

throwing power. Explosiveness is the answer in his eyes. “I just threw my first bull-pen yesterday and my warmup pitches were at 90 miles per hour,” Forrester said. According to Forrester, this had made a big difference in his performance recently. Forrester said his goal is to win a championship and be the best he can be for his future teammates.

Sports nutritional resources on campus

Ondrea Machin Staff Reporter CWU’s athletic program offers student athletes access to nutritional resources that can help them better understand how to fuel their body. Most DII colleges don’t have access to a dietitian for their student athletes, but CWU is one of the first DII programs to have access to a dietitian and graduate assistant. Having this program gives athletes the opportunity to get a personalized nutrition plan. Kelly Pritchett, who is an associate professor in nutrition and exercise science, said nutritionists make recommendations for athletes but the athletes are not expected to follow them. They want to create a general awareness of fueling their body and what it should look like, Pritchett said. “[We] want to provide them with a good understanding of fueling their body for practice and games and what their energy needs may look like,” Pritchett said. Student athletes have a couple options when it comes to seeking nutritional information, which includes one-on-one nutritional meetings with the two dietitians on campus, Kelly Pritchett and Sophia Berg, small group meetings or team talks. CWU athletics also has a small fueling station for students after they finish a weight-lifting session. The fueling station only consists of chocolate milk right now, but athletics hopes to provide more options in the future, according to Pritchett. Sports nutrition graduate assistant Sophia Berg said in the past they of-

Photo courtesy of CWU @cwusportsnutrition

CWU athletics is one of the only Division II programs that offers student-athletes a nutrionist specialized just for them. . fered cooking demonstrations and “Our recommendations for them is to have individual needs and we do now those are online. They also going to differ depending on their sport, really take an individual approach offer personal hydration plans, a kind of where they are, what kind of goals with each athlete,” Berg said. sports nutrition class and a nutrition they have and things like that,” Berg said. If athletes have questions or 101 course. However, athletes need to beware of want to talk with one of the diBoth Pritchett and Berg said they falling into diet culture and “quick fixes,” etitians, they can directly contact tailor their recommendations based as well as trusting their body and learn- Pritchett or Berg via email, ask on an individual approach because ev- ing to eat intuitively, Pritchett said. their coach to get in contact with ery athlete is different, and they have “There is a lot [of] nutritional misin- them or message on Instagram different needs for fueling their body. formation out there, each athlete is going @cwusportsnutrition.

March 2, 2021



Indoor football kicks off this spring Derek Harper Staff Reporter Football isn’t over after the Super Bowl because indoor football starts up in May. Fans have multiple cities around the state where they can go to check out an indoor football game. The American West Football Conference (AWFC) includes teams throughout Idaho, Washington and Oregon. In Washington, fans can check out the Tri-City Rush based out of The Hapo Center in Pasco, the Yakima Canines based out of the Yakima SunDome and the Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks based out of the Town Toyota Center. In the higher level Indoor Football League (IFL), fans can check out the Spokane Shock at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. Both the AWFC and IFL kick-off this May. The Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks however, don’t have their first home game until June 5 against the TriCity Rush at 7 p.m. Opening night for the Rush sees them taking on the Oregon High Desert Storm May 15 at 6 p.m. This will be Tri-City’s inaugural season in the AWFC after the Tri-Cities Fire folded mid-season in 2019. For the Canines, they’ll open at home May 9 against the Rush at 6 p.m. The Canines were set to debut in 2020, but their inaugural season was pushed to this spring. The Shock open their inaugural season in the IFL at home against the Frisco Fighters May 15 at 7:05 p.m. A pre-season game is expected prior to that against the Tampa Bay Tornadoes, but a date and time is yet to be determined. The Shock, like the Yakima Canines of the AWFC were set to debut in 2020 but were forced to push it back a year.

Photo Courtesy of

Tri-City Rush head coach and offensive coordinator Brandon Tate and head coach of the Spokane Shock, Billy Back both emphasized that they’re looking forward to getting out in front of fans this spring. Tri-City has a rich history of indoor football with the Tri-City Fever who played in a few different leagues existing for many years. Before folding mid-season, they had the Tri-Cities Fire and now the Rush. But the Rush are looking to put their own stamp on things this spring. “We definitely have our own style, our own way that we do things, but we definitely look at a lot of what the Fever did,” Tate said. “I mean they were one of the most successful arena football organizations around, I remember them

from start to finish and just the presentation they put on, there was never a break in the action.” Tate explained how as soon as there would be a commercial break there’d be something happening on the field. Getting fans involved and close to the action was another thing both he and Back talked about. With indoor football, if the ball goes into the stands, fans get to keep it. Fans sometimes even get a player in their lap if he goes over the boards for the ball. For Spokane, this is a new era of Shock football after they folded in 2015 under different ownership. Previously, the Shock existed as members of the Arena Football 2 (AF2) from 2006-2009, which was a development league for the Arena Football League

(AFL). In the AF2, Spokane won the championship in 2006 and 2009 before joining the AFL in 2010. In the AFL they won a championship their first year. When the team folded after the 2015 season, the Spokane Empire launched and played for two seasons from 20162017. The Empire folded after the 2017 season. The Shock brand was reacquired from the AFL in exchange for the rights to the Empire brand for a new AFL team based out of Albany, NY. Head coach Billy Back looks to build off the previous franchise’s success with his successful resume in various leagues including. This includes a championship in his first year in the National Arena League (NAL) with the Carolina Cobras and success in the IFL with the Wichita Falls Nighthawks. Back said the Spokane Shock brand is special in the arena and indoor football world like many other franchises. A few other notable franchises he named off in addition to Spokane included the Green Bay Blizzard, Iowa Barnstormers and Arizona Rattlers. For him, the opportunity to be the head coach of the Shock was basically a dream come true. “The Spokane Shock name itself, I remember back in the day I told my wife if the Shock ever came back I’d like to take that head coaching job,” Back said. He explained when he initially said that, he was joking around and but when it happened, he said he felt stunned. For fans, he touched on what people can expect when they attend a Shock game and what makes the indoor game unique. “The indoor game, it’s fast, it’s quicker, you watch other leagues and new guys come into these games and the timing’s not quite there,” Back said.

Men’s basketball suffers a tough loss against now two-win Saint Martin’s University Dakaline White Staff Reporter In the first of a two-game stint versus the Saint Martin’s Saints, the men’s basketball team falls 80-73. Senior Guard CJ Hyder and Senior Forward Marqus Gilson both ended the game with team-high 15 points. Hyder was 6-11 from the field, with three three-pointers to his credit. Gilson was an efficient 5-6 from the field. Following his only miss, came with 12:13 left on the clock where he followed through with an offensive rebound and a put back for two. After winning the opening tip, Redshirt Sophomore Guard Lewis Pope hit a three off an assist credited to Senior Guard Xavier Smith. With 14:53 still remaining in the first half, Hyder knocked down another three-pointer for the Wildcats cutting the Saints lead to just three. With 7:54 left in the first half Gilson made two free-throws which got the team their 16th and 17th points of the game. Although, still down by 13 points. In the last five minutes of the half CWU missed six shots in a row but at the buzzer, Freshman Guard Colby Gennett made a cor-

ner-three to cut the Saints lead to 18 points. Gennett played 15 minutes, shot 2-2 from the field and ended the game with seven points. Starting the second half, Gilson came out and made two layups followed by Senior Guard Xavier Smith’s jumper from the paint which was his third made shot in the game. Smith finished the game with 13 points. After being down by double digits the whole game, Senior Forward Matt Poquette made two free-throws cutting the Saints lead to just nine. With 13:10 left on the clock Gennett who was assisted by Freshman Guard Jalai O’Keith, was fouled on a made layup. Gennett converted the and-1 opportunity. After an offensive rebound by Gilson, he made a tough layup bringing CWU to within six points. The score was 51-45. With 4:57 left in the game, Gilson blocked a layup by the Saints which was rebounded by Smith who brought the ball up court and made an inside jumper making the score 67-56, Saints up.

Photo Submitted Photo Courtesyby ofTyler CWUUnsicker athletics

Xavier Smith (right) drives base line to to score a basketball in last Saturday’s game.

CWU called a 30 second timeout hoping to plan a comeback in under five minutes. With only 19 seconds to go, Sophomore Guard Micah Pollard grabbed a defensive rebound and went coast-tocoast for a fastbreak jumper.

Never having the lead, CWU ended the night shooting 45.8% from the field in an 80-73 loss to Saint Martin’s. The men’s basketball team looks to get their first win of the year when they finish off their two-game series against the Saints in Lacey tonight (Feb 27).


March 2, 2021



Weekly Calendar march 3 12-1 p.m. Collections Chat: Focus on Asian Studies with Professor Chong Eun Ahn* 3-4 p.m. Diversity and Equity Center Living Room*

march 4 6-7 p.m. “Coded Bias” Film Screening and Discussion Panel* 7-9 p.m. Geek Out, Game Out - SURC Rooms 135, 140, 137A, 137B, *

march 5 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ASCWU Primary Election - SURC Pit (100C), ** 12-1 p.m. Candlelight Protests: Stories of Mass Movements from South Korea* 7:30-9:30 p.m. En Las Sombras, A Staged Reading*

march 6 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ASCWU Primary Election - SURC Pit (100C), ** 7:30-9:30 p.m. En Las Sombras, A Staged Reading* 8-9:30 p.m. Comedian Anthony Moore*

march 7 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ASCWU Primary Election - SURC Pit (100C), ** 7:30-9:30 p.m. En Las Sombras, A Staged Reading*

march 8 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ASCWU Primary Election - SURC Pit (100C), ** 2-3 p.m. ASCWU Public Meeting* 7-9 p.m. Monday Movie Madness: The Other Guys - SURC Theatre Rm 210, *

march 9 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ASCWU Primary Election - SURC Pit (100C), ** 12-1 p.m. Racism & Criminal Justice Reading Series* 3-4 p.m. Talking Gender Series* 7-9 p.m. Board Game Night - SURC Rooms 135, 140, 137A, 137B, *

march 10 7-9 p.m. Trivia Wednesday*

*Virtual location for online events **Student Union Operations Non-Location

Madlib written by Meghan Salsbury Graphic by Rebekah Blum


CWU Observer