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From the Editor


his upcoming week I am getting my second COVID-19 vaccination shot. As someone who is immunocompromised, this means a lot to me. I am days away from being vaccinated against a virus that has completely transformed my life. Like many others, I have spent almost 13 months unable to hug my grandma, eat in a restaurant, go to the movies, or attend in-person classes. If you would have told me in early March 2020 that I would be living in leggings and baggy T-shirts, disinfecting every item I own after I go out and not leaving the house for weeks at a time, I would have never believed you. Being immunocompromised means there is an extra level of fear and danger around the possibility of me getting sick. Then add in a pandemic and all that worry and risk is amplified. I have spent countless nights staring at the ceiling thinking what would happen if I got sick. To give some insight, hypothetically, if I contracted COVID, I would have to come off my medications. If I got a fever, I would have to go to the hospital, and with my dangerously low amount of white blood cells, the odds of COVID being fatal are quite high. EMILY Now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After I am fully inoculated I will still be GERDES taking precautions for my safety and others, but a huge weight of fear will be removed. I will be able to attend college, walk into a grocery store and maybe I won’t feel the need to ASST. FEATURES vigorously apply hand sanitizer every five minutes. However, I am still worried about the EDITOR future. Is society supposed to re-emerge from our joint hibernation as if nothing happened? Are beaches going to be packed? Are new health guidelines going to be normalized? Will mask-wearing become a staple of our society? Will people begin wearing masks when they are simply sick with the flu? When college starts in the fall, will I be sitting in a normal lecture hall passively fighting over an armrest with someone who may or may not be wearing a mask and was at a party the night before? Will there be a requirement for individuals to be vaccinated before returning to campus or the workspace? I am scared because these situations contain uncertainty, but they are all possible. For decades vaccine passports have existed for traveling to different countries or parts of the world. Could the United States initiate it for COVID? How about on a state or college campus level? Maybe I have these questions because my exposure to the outside world has been so limited in the past year, but I find it hard to imagine others do not share similar concerns. So, next time you groan about having to put on a mask before entering class, remember me. Remember that it is worth it.

Continuous local and campus covid-19 coverage available at jackcentral.org

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Thank you for reading. Phone: (928) 523-4921 Fax: (928) 523-9313 Lumberjack@nau.edu P.O. Box 6000 Flagstaff, AZ 86011

THE LUMBERJACK VOL. 111 ISSUE 12 Editor-in-Chief Scout Ehrler

Managing Editor Nathan Manni

Copy Chief Nayomi Garcia

Faculty Adviser David Harpster

Print Chief Jacob Meyer

Director of Digital Content Ash Lohmann

Media Innovation Center Editorial Board Director of Social Media Maddie Cohen

Op-Ed Editor Trinity Archie

Culture Editor Katelyn Rodriguez

Sports Adviser Rory Faust

News Editor Camille Sipple

Asst. Op-Ed Editor Kylie Soto

Asst. Culture Editor Kyler Edsitty

Director of Illustration Aleah Green

Asst. News Editor Mark Fabery

Features Editor Olivia Charlson

Sports Editor Brenden Martin

Asst. Dir. of Illustration Maddie Cohen

Online News Editor Kylie Soto

Asst. Features Editor Emily Gerdes

Asst. Sports Editor Will Hopkins

Senior Photographer Michael Patacsil

Senior Reporter Molly Brown


Director of Photography & Multimedia Shawn Patti


Senior Photographer Brian Burke

On the cover Fresh tacos cook on a griddle at El Tamaleroo Mann, March 28. Brian Burke | The Lumberjack

Corrections & Clarifications The Lumberjack is committed to factual correctness and accuracy. If you find an error in our publication, please email Scout Ehrler at see86@nau.edu.

PoliceBeat March 22 At 1:33 a.m., a passerby reported an alarm at the Walkup Skydome. NAUPD and Flagstaff Fire Department (FFD) responded, and the alarm was found to have been caused by a leak in the exterior fire suppression system and Fire Life Safety was advised. At 4:36 a.m., a Chase Bank representative requested an officer check on its ATM at the NAU Bookstore, as they lost connection with it. NAUPD responded and no criminal activity was witnessed. At 7:57 a.m., an employee in lot 62 reported graffiti on a storage container. NAUPD responded and took a report. At 11:22 a.m., a student called to report an individual relieving themself on the urban trail between Knoles Drive and San Francisco Street. NAUPD responded and the nonstudent was warned of trespassing. At 3:44 p.m., work control reported an odor of gas in a Pine Ridge Village apartment. NAUPD, FFD and Facility Services responded, and the cause was determined to be a faulty oven and the gas was turned off. At 4:45 p.m., Flagstaff Police Department (FPD) received a call for a subject not breathing at a construction site near the Biological Sciences Annex. NAUPD, FPD, FFD and Guardian Medical Transport (GMT) responded. The nonstudent was found to be deceased. March 23 At 7:18 p.m., a student reported their passport lost. NAUPD responded and an officer took a report. The student later called to report they had located it.


At 7:49 p.m., NAUPD responded, and the subject reported issuing a written was transported to Flagstaff warning to an individual for Medical Center. driving on the sidewalk near lot 31. March 26 At 3:01 p.m., an employee March 24 at University Union reported a At 12:39 a.m., a student suspicious person. NAUPD reported loud music at responded, but the subject had Skyview. NAUPD responded, left the area prior to officer but no music was playing upon arrival. officer arrival. At 10:35 p.m., an At 2:47 p.m., work NAUPD officer initiated a control reported an odor traffic stop at the intersection of gas at Campus Heights. of Riordan Ranch Road and NAUPD, FFD and Facility Plaza Way. One nonstudent Services responded, and the was arrested and booked cause was determined to be a into the Coconino County maintenance issue. Detention Facility for a DUI to the slightest degree, DUI At 7:55 p.m., a student above .08 and extreme DUI. at The Suites called to report nonstudents with suspicious March 27 behavior interacting with At 3:10 p.m., a student students. NAUPD responded called to report an odor of gas and an officer took a report. at South Village Apartments. NAUPD and FFD responded, At 11:57 p.m., a student but no odor was detected and called to report a loud party. FFD cleared the area as safe. NAUPD responded, and six students were deferred for At 4:42 p.m., a underage consumption of nonstudent called to report a alcohol. noninjury traffic collision at Pine Knoll and McConnell March 25 drives. NAUPD responded At 8:15 a.m., a staff and took a report. One student member at the Science and was issued a citation for a Health building reported a failure to control speed. suspicious person. NAUPD responded, identified the March 28 nonstudent and determined At 12:39 a.m., an NAUPD they had trespassed campus- officer initiated a traffic stop at wide, and assisted the Lone Tree Road and O’Leary nonstudent in leaving campus. Street. One student was cited and released for a DUI to the At 4:40 p.m., a student slightest degree. called to late report an unknown subject following At 2:14 p.m., NAUPD them in downtown. NAUPD officers reported assisting FPD responded, but the subject was with a fight near Franklin and not in the area. Fountain avenues. At 11:02 p.m., a nonstudent at Drury Inn & Suites called to request assistance for their mother with high blood pressure. NAUPD, FFD and GMT

Coconino County COVID-19 Dashboard data

Community transmission Case rate Positivity percentage Cumulative cases

Moderate 43.2 per 100,000 pop. 3.2% 16,943

Flagstaff Medical Center COVID-19 Resources

In-house COVID-19 patients Hospital capacity Critical care capacity

Positive: 10 | Pending: 1 186/300 31/55

NAU Student Cases

Total on- and off-campus cases


NAU announces no undergraduate Tuition Increases Mark Fabery


n an email sent to the student body, NAU President Rita Cheng announced the university will not increase tuition for undergraduate students. In addition, NAU will continue to implement the four-year pledge tuition guarantee for undergraduate students on the Flagstaff campus. The Pledge program is currently in its 13th year and holds the rate consistent for a second tuition-setting cycle at $11,896 for total tuition and mandatory fees for incoming resident undergraduate students on the Flagstaff campus, according to the email. Cheng said the decision to keep undergraduate tuition the same is a part of NAU’s mission of increasing attainment of undergraduate students in the state. However, the university is proposing an 4.45% increase in the 2021-22 residence hall rates to reflect changes, which includes simplifying the rate structure from 17 rates to five rates, reducing unit capacity from three students to two and rolling the cost of laundry into rent costs. The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) will hold a tuition hearing in conjunction with NAU, ASU and UArizona from 3 to 6 p.m. April 6. The hearing will be streamed through ABOR Live. Read more online at jackcentral.org

APRL 1, 2021 – APRIL 7, 2021 | THE LUMBERJACK



NAU Birds Aren’t Real club insists b MARK FABERY Editor’s note: This is a piece of satirical newswriting. Most information in this written article should not be accepted as proven fact.


here exists a metaconspiracy movement that has taken over NAU’s campus with the goal to out-conspire all other conspiracies. Birds Aren’t Real is the parody organization that claims the United States government participated in a genocide of birds from 19592001 by releasing a virus that killed them. Now, the movement claims, the birds have been replaced with surveillance drone replicas that watch U.S. citizens every day. NAU sophomore Brendan Trachsel is the founder of the NAU Birds Aren’t Real club, which spreads what the organization calls the “feathered gospel” to the university and the Flagstaff area. “This movement on campus is all me,” Trachsel said. “We are trying to get the word out that between 1959 and 2001, the United States government massacred all birds and replaced them with identical surveillance drones.”

The history of the group started in the 1970s to make everyone aware of the atrocities committed by the U.S. government and prevent the mass killing of the U.S. bird population. However, they were not successful and now they intend to make everyone aware of their beliefs. The Birds Aren’t Real website claims the CIA got rid of 12 billion “feathered fugitives” because directors within the organization were annoyed about the overabundance of bird feces. This led to the killing of billions of birds, metaphorically killing two birds with one stone by masscaring the U.S. bird population and replacing them with surveillance drones. The movement claims to have interviewed the last surviving CIA agent who worked on

the operation to massacre billions of birds. In a November 2019 interview posted to the organization’s YouTube channel, Eugene Price, who the group claims to be a former member of the CIA, confessed his involvement to the movement’s leader, Peter McIndoe. “I was doing security for the CIA and then they moved me into domestic intelligence, and it was while I was there that I saw some things that I really wish I hadn’t seen,” Price said in the 2019 interview. “Then one morning, I got ordered to report to a military base and I was briefed on something called ‘Operation Water the Country.’” Price explained “Operation Water the Country” was the codename for the process

“I believe that the United States government has kept this extremely under wraps, but if we look at China and Russia, they have declassified some stuff that has already shown that they have developed this for a long time.” – NAU Birds Aren’t Real Club President Brendan Trachsel

of removing all the living birds in the U.S. by dropping poison gas and replacing the birds with surveillance drones disguised as birds, which could watch people without their knowledge. Moreover, Price claimed he was the one instructed to destroy the evidence for the agency. “I was in charge of destroying the evidence and it was believed at the time that it wouldn’t be safe for the general public to know what was happening,” Price said. “There were thousands of documents, blueprints, film footage, photographs and so on like that.” Many deniers of the Birds Aren’t Real movement have made arguments against the creation of biomechanical bird surveillance equipment. However, Trachsel said countries such as China and Russia have recently declassified documents which appear to back the claims made by the group. “I believe that the United States government has kept this extremely under wraps, but if we look at China and Russia, they have declassified some stuff that has already shown that they have developed this for a long time,” Trachsel said. “So, what’s to think that the United States

Left: President of the NAU Birds Aren’t Real club, Brendan Trachsel, stands outside University Union in protest of birds, Feb. 26. Right: President of the NAU Birds Aren’t Real club, Brendan Trachsel, stands with freshmen Lexi Wall and Sheccid Bejarano outside University Union, Feb. 26. Brian Burke| The Lumberjack




birds are simply government drones government, the richest country in the world, has not already done this for years and years on end?” Business Insider and many other media outlets have reported in the past on avian-like drones, which have started patrols in at least five Chinese provinces in recent years. These drones are equipped with cameras, GPS and realistic flight patterns to keep track of its citizens. Most recently in 2019, the CIA released declassified documents from a now-defunct project known as Project Aquiline, which was based on the study of flight characteristics of birds as a way to provide a window into denied areas of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Moreover, the group also alleges bird drones have different applications. Hummingbirds, for example, are used as assassination drones and vultures are designed for public sanitation, not for surveillance. However, the movement has not provided any evidence to back up such claims. The movement has spread across social media platforms and even has its own line of merchandise as a way to spread its agenda. The group has an answer to practically all questions “antitruthers” may have, especially when it comes to owning a pet bird and the country’s love of chicken products. The attention has attracted thousands of believers to the group’s cause on social media. They currently have an Instagram following of 296,000, a Twitter following of 65,000 and a subreddit with more than 371,000 members. This form of social media marketing ultimately enticed self-proclaimed bird truther Trachsel to bring the movement to campus last fall, becoming one of 300 bird brigades in the country. “The first time I first heard about this was two years ago with an Instagram ad,” Trachsel said. “It caught my attention and that made me dive in more and it was crazy to the point where I kept on buying more merch and eventually made a club for this with about 18 members.” The organization’s website also hosts a FAQ section which answers every question an “anti-truther” may have. Their website also addresses the hot topic within the community when it comes to seeing a bird. “It is vital to not panic, and remember that this experience is not abnormal — these birds have likely been watching you for most of your life,” its website states. “Once you have regained your composure, look the bird straight in the eyes and declare the

“While I can’t talk for the entire movement, I will say that we are an organization based around resisting government tyranny, and that includes surveillance.” - reddit Moderator Jack Dawson

following statement confidently ‘I know your secret. I know that you are a surveillance drone in disguise. I know that behind those beady eyes are cameras, soaking up data and sending it to the Pentagon. I am onto you. I know you are not real.’” According to an article by Psychology Today, people believe in conspiracy theories mainly to help them understand or control a narrative. Although there are people who want to believe in conspiracies, there are groups of individuals who also want to make fun of other individuals who believe in such theories. One of the moderators on the group’s subreddit, Jack Dawson, said the group is more of a sardonic reflection of the intensity of which governments worldwide have increased surveillance and policing of their citizens, not a conspiracy theory. “While I can’t talk for the entire movement, I will say that we are an organization based around resisting government tyranny, and that includes surveillance,” Dawson said. “We also strongly oppose infringement upon free speech and the censorship of the media.” Credit for how wide-reaching this movement is has fallen

upon McIndoe, but he continues to refuse being the leader behind the group, but rather a messenger of the superior overlords. However, Trachsel said he believes McIndoe is the leader of the so-called bird brigade and the prophet of the movement’s underlying message: Birds aren’t real. “He is the leader of the bird brigade,” Trachsel said. “There is a leadership structure and Peter is the main man, he is the founder of the Birds Aren’t Real movement, but in the brigade there is their own power structure, so we don’t often interact with Peter. However, we do believe that he is the prophet of the message.” What started as an obscure 1987 conspiracy advertisement can now be seen on billboards across the country. Most recently declaring war against Newsweek, the Birds Aren’t Real organization is growing around the country to preach their “feathered gospel.” Trachsel said he hopes the U.S. government knows they will soon be exposed, as well. “I would just like the United States government to know that we are looking after you and you will be exposed, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day,” Trachsel said.

President of the NAU Birds Aren’t Real club, Brendan Trachsel, stands outside the Univeristy Union, Feb. 26. Brian Burke| The Lumberjack

APRL 1, 2021 – APRIL 7, 2021 | THE LUMBERJACK



Biden sparks outcry with media ban at the border Jorja Heinkel


uring his first press conference on March 25, President Joe Biden said he will end the media blackout at the border once changes in Mexico-United States border facilities and processes have been implemented, but did not give a timeline as to when the media ban will be lifted. Despite promises of border transparency from the Biden administration, journalists have been repeatedly turned away at the border and prevented from reporting on the overcrowded conditions of many border facilities, such as the Donna Processing Center in Texas, which PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor said is functioning at over 1,000% capacity. This overpopulation, Alcindor said, has led to a lack of beds and resources in border facilities and extended detention periods. The Biden administration received increased criticism over the media ban after Congressman Henry Cuellar released pictures of the Donna Processing Center where he said some overflow facilities were packed with double the maximum capacity expectation. In response to the controversy, Biden pointed to his policy successes at the border, such as his Feb. 2 executive order creating a government task force to reunite families at the border. An additional executive order directed funds toward the root causes of irregular immigration, which is now being overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris. However, these executive orders did not dampen journalists’ outcry over the media ban, which many reporters are calling unprecedented. NAU journalism professor Mary Tolan, who has been teaching journalism for 20 years and working as a journalist for 40 years, said the Biden administration is preventing journalists from doing their jobs. “We are supposed to be the eyes and the ears and sometimes the nose for people who can’t be there,” Tolan said. “Our job as journalists is to inform the public, tell our readers and audience what is going on out there.” As taxpayers and journalists, Tolan said the border should be public to the people, available for inspection, to review documents and open stories. In Biden’s press conference, he pointed to the past administration’s lack of funding as the


Illustration By Aleah Green

reason behind border facilities being overcrowded. Biden also expressed his intention to open more facilities and expedite the verification processes that connect migrant children to families. However, NAU Young Democrats President Jacob Carter said the failures of the last administration do not excuse Biden’s media ban. “It’s a political ploy to stop the media from holding [Biden] accountable,” Carter said. “It is a way to avoid a media scandal and a comparison of Trump’s policy to his policy.” In other words, Carter said, it is a lot of hypocrisy. Moreover, Carter criticized Biden’s explanation during the press conference that less than one-half of the minors detained in border facilities are very young, and that most of the children are teenagers.


Teenagers are still kids, Carter pointed out, who cannot reasonably represent themselves in court. “These young people are being kept in these migration facilities and are experiencing great suffering,” Carter said. “[Their age] doesn’t really excuse the situation.” Carter called the border crisis a bipartisan problem, in which both parties should pay vigilant attention and hold Biden accountable for unsafe conditions. The border media ban did bring bipartisan attention, with Democratic and Republican voices speaking out against the zero access conditions, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “No press. No cameras. What is Biden hiding?” Sen. Cruz tweeted March 19.

“Outrageous & unacceptable. I will continue to fight for press access so every American can see this crisis for themselves!” Cruz was joined by many other Republican members of Congress and reporters, such as Fox News reporter Sara Carter and CNN reporter Ursula Perano. Both parties, Carter said, ultimately want morality, fairness and ethics at the border. “Every president, regardless of party affiliation, needs to be held accountable for their policies,” Carter said. “Even if you don’t think policies are going to affect you, they will be affecting underrepresented and minority people.” Tolan also advises U.S. citizens to keep pushing for information, stay active and speak out against media suppression.



Tonesha Yazzie T

his spring is my third year (or fifth semester) as an illustrator with The Lumberjack, since I started in my freshman year. At this point in time, learning to draw is an ongoing process. I don’t think that I am naturally talented with art. Instead, as an individual who appreciates creativity, I joined the illustration department to grow skills that are not particularly innate for me. My work has always been inspired by dreams (both nightmares and sweet dreams). For example, I have a repeating dream about my departed grandmother, where I never get to see her face. It is both a nightmare and a blessing for me because I miss her; but, it’s always disappointing when I wake up before ever getting to greet her properly. Or, in another instance, I get squashed and suffocated by growing black balls like Mr. Incredible in that one scene from The Incredibles. Think about it this way: Have you ever had a dream of falling, only to wake up just at the edge of the bed? It’s very similar to that feeling. Whenever I have this dream, I often wake up tightly wrapped up in heavy blankets. Aspects of nature and objects that I see on the daily basis also have a large significance in my art. These inspirations have opened the door to various types of pieces. Since illustration is still very new to me, my work has become varied as drafts are based on my capabilities to even skillfully construct a composition. For all these reasons, the illustration department has provided an environment where I can focus on specific ideas. It has allowed me to improve over the past couple of years. I have met awesome artists who have always been willing to give advice and constructive criticism. While there is still so much I can learn, I am always grateful for the experiences that I have had in this department.

APRL 1, 2021 – APRIL 7, 2021 | THE LUMBERJACK



Visting national parks preserves the environment parks and continue wearing masks outside if there is not enough room for proper distancing on crowded or narrow trails. At some parks, guests are able and encouraged to pay hroughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been visiting national parks more than ever before. This rise entrance fees beforehand in an effort to gauge capacity for the day. in interest in the parks can be largely attributed to the This also helps eliminate the amount of time guests are spending desire to get out of the house and away from the many stresses in lines, close to people or with their engines running. National parks have always been an important staple of U.S. that come with pandemic life, without being exposed to large tourism. There are blogs dedicated to planning road trips that take groups of people. This newfound interest can do more than just help people you to as many parks as possible across the country. The national get out of the house without spreading the virus. The increase parks annual America the Beautiful pass is a great resource that in visitors can also help promote the preservation efforts of allows visitors to access all parks for a yearly fee. The New York Times reported national parks saw a record national parks. The United States National Park Service was created in number of visitors in 2020. People flocked to the parks for 1872 when Congress signed an act that designated Yellowstone a socially distanced getaway, which also happened to bring as the first national park. Since then, more than 100 countries awareness to preservation efforts in the parks. Over the last 165 years, the National Park Service has been have followed in the footsteps of the U.S. and created their own national parks. In the U.S., there are now over 400 national working toward documenting and preserving natural landscapes around the country. parks dedicated to preserving natural wildlife and history. The Historical American Landscape Survey was officially The National Park Service provides a way for people to learn not only about the park itself, but also about the surrounding deemed a permanent federal program in 2000, and since then, area. Visitors are able to learn about the history and culture, more than 300 Cultural Landscape Reports have been made either by going on tours and guided hikes or just spending time and more than 700 Cultural Landscape Inventories have been in the parks and taking in the natural history, as well as taking a documented. These reports document landscape preservation in national parks. This is just one example of how the National Park look at informational placards in the parks. One of the main purposes of the National Park Service Service is working to preserve the natural history of the country. Being able to get outside and away from the monotony and is to protect the natural history of these iconic landmarks and beautiful natural areas around the country. The parks help stress of quarantine life is important. This rise in interest and visitation indicates not only an increase in awareness, but an preserve both the wildlife and the history contained within increase in funds from entrance fees, parking fees by hiring people from all backgrounds, such as and donations from visitors. There is hope historians, archaeologists, curators and that the rise in interest in the parks will more. continue postpandemic in ways that National parks are primarily can help the National Park Service funded by Congress, grow even more. according to the National The new influx of Park Foundation, with entrance fee funds has additional funds the ability to help create coming from the park new projects, help with entrances and parking upkeep of landmarks and fees. Besides that, more. funds come from By visiting the other charitable national parks, both the organizations and guests and the National donations. Park Service win. Like many Spending time outside places in the U.S., helps to decrease stress in most of the parks a time where it feels like are still operational stress is more abundant during the pandemic, than air. Taking the but with some time to go outside social distancing and enjoy the world restrictions. The around you helps National Park both personal health Service is asking and the continuation guests to wear masks of natural history in all facilities, preservation at our practice social Illustration By CHRISTIAN AYALA national parks. distancing in the

Tyler Lee

T Red lights for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene


eorgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is an extreme right wing, conservative Republican. She aligns herself with those who believe QAnon conspiracy theories. Politico reported that she expressed numerous racist and anti-Semitic views via Facebook between 2018 and 2019, which surfaced while she was running for the House of Representatives last year. Afterward, the Republican leadership rebuked her and backed her primary opponent instead. Months later, she continues to spew KYLIE SOTO hatred and was slammed in late February ASST. OP-ED for attacking Rep. Marie Newman’s EDITOR transgender daughter. Newman hung the transgender flag outside her office after a long debate on the Equality Act, and in response, Greene hung a poster that read “There are TWO genders: Male & Female. Trust The Science!” She was sued by a Los Angeles-based political action committee in which they reached a settlement that bars Greene “from blocking anyone from her public Twitter account or other social media while she’s in office. Additionally, Greene agreed to pay $10,000 in legal fees for MeidasTouch LLC. All of these actions led California Rep. Jimmy Gomez to introduce a resolution to expel her from Congress, March 19. NBC News reported that Gomez charged Greene with “a history of trafficking in conspiracy theories that ‘advocated violence against our peers, the speaker and our government.’” I agree with Gomez. Greene spreads dangerous misinformation and has a track record for disrespecting minorities and the LGBTQ+ community. Her position in the government provides her with a platform to continue spreading hate and animosity. To add to the list, she’s also expressed support for yet another QAnon conspiracy theory that suggests the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were staged and has mocked a Parkland survivor. Bottom line, Greene poses a threat to any hope of a better United States in the future. She consistently presents outlandish and even flat-out insensitive conspiracy theories as evidence to counter legitimate issues the country is facing. It is vital that she is held accountable, at the very least, for her past actions and words as she represents not only District 14 of Georgia, but also the U.S. as member of the House.




Influencers’ entitlement crosses boundaries Trinity Archie


ecently, many social media influencers and celebrities have found themselves involved in controversies involving inappropriate interactions with fans. This is nothing new. However, the alarming amount of allegations that have come to light in recent years is cause for conversation around celebrities’ relationships with fans. With such a significant power imbalance between celebrities and their impressionable — and often underage — audiences, boundaries are extremely important. Despite this, celebrities and influencers continue to use their power and privilege to take advantage of their fans. Popular YouTuber David Dobrik is currently facing backlash for sexual assault allegations made against his influencer friend group known as the Vlog Squad. In an article published by Insider, a woman said she was sexually assaulted by Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis while the influencer group was filming content for one of Dobrik’s YouTube videos. She said she was also supplied alcohol by Vlog Squad members while she was only 20 at the time of the 2018 incident. The woman, who is referred to with the pseudonym “Hannah” by Insider, explained she felt pressured by the group to provide them with content for Dobrik’s video. “It was very much an environment where it felt like saying ‘no’ was not OK,” she said in the Insider article. “It felt like from the moment we came there was an expectation that they were doing us a favor and we had to give them content. They were verbally like, ‘Why aren’t you guys being fun? Do something sort of sexy.’” Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. Much of the Vlog Squad’s YouTube content seemingly prioritizes shock factor over consent. This is a prime example of the many ways celebrities use their power to manipulate and control their audiences. Dobrik and his influencer friends used this group of women for content by any means they deemed necessary, with absolutely no regard for their safety — or at bare minimum — their consent. The interaction between the Vlog Squad and these women was completely inappropriate on the influencers’ end. They disregarded the boundaries that should exist between celebrities

and their audiences. Another disturbing allegation resulted in a lawsuit against 21-year-old TikTok star Tony Lopez. According to People, a lawsuit was filed against Lopez in which two teenage girls claim the influencer attempted to coerce them and solicit sexually explicit photos. “This case arises out of injuries suffered by minor Plantiffs after they were lured, persuaded, coerced and groomed to either engage in physical sexual acts and/or send illicit and obscene child pornographic images of themselves, to Defendants, as a result of Defendants’ illegal acts,” alleges the lawsuit according to People. The lawsuit also claims Lopez was aware the alleged victims were minors. It seems as though social media stars like Lopez think they are above the law. Of course it is unsettling that Lopez would even have any interest in inappropriate relationships with his underage fans, but it is also disturbing that he uses his influencer status to exert power over an already vulnerable teenage audience. The allegations against Lopez, Dobrik and the Vlog Squad have garnered more attention than others in the past. In 2020, YouTuber Colleen Ballinger faced backlash following allegations that she mailed lingerie to an underage fan. Adam McIntyre, who was only 13 years old at the time, detailed the incident in a YouTube video. He also claimed Ballinger maintained a friendship with him for years while he was a minor. The YouTuber uploaded her own video addressing the situation. She admitted to mailing the lingerie, but defended her actions by saying she often mails random items to fans. “In my mind at the time, this was no different than the other stuff I send to my fans as a joke,” Ballinger said. “Now in hindsight, I realize how completely stupid of me. I should have realized and recognized how dumb that was and never sent it to him.” Regardless of her intentions, Ballinger ignored not only the power imbalance of her being an influencer, but also an adult. Certainly, she knew better than to mail lingerie to an underage fan. I believe her actions were inexcusable. However, most of the internet deemed her excuses valid and seemingly let the incident fade into oblivion given Ballinger never faced any real consequences.

Illustration By maddie cohen

This is typically how these situations play out. Influencers and celebrities take advantage of fans and both the public and our legal system fails to hold them accountable. Their privilege comes with a certain level of immunity. They know this and continue to repeat these actions because there are little to no consequences.

This pattern will continue as long as we fail to evaluate celebrities’ relationships with their fans. It is time to make sure the necessary boundaries are in place during these interactions. Furthermore, any inappropriate behavior should be met with actual consequences.

APRL 1, 2021 – APRIL 7, 2021 | THE LUMBERJACK



The taqueria taking Flagstaff b Emily Rehling


crolling through any Flagstaff foodie’s Instagram profile, one dish stands out among the rest — the birria taco. It’s a Mexican specialty that makes hungry social media users everywhere ask the same question: Where can I get one of those? In Flagstaff, a new spot right off Route 66 is serving up birria tacos, quesatacos and plenty more — even ramen — for customers to satisfy cravings. El Tamaleroo Mann is the new hot spot for Mexican cuisine in Flagstaff, and the couple behind the popular food stand said they are here to stay.

When Valeria Alcoser and Everardo Orozco moved from Los Angeles to Flagstaff, they started selling tamales to make ends meet. Alcoser said she suggested to her husband they start selling birria tacos, since they saw how popular the tacos were in L.A. However, the road to where they are now was bumpy, Alcoser said. “We tried [making birria quesatacos] and the first time, it was horrible,” Alcoser said. “The first time they came out bad but, you know, he got used to it. He learned how to master the tortilla and we put our little touch to it.” While learning to make the tacos was difficult, Orozco already had experience in making the birria itself. In his hometown of

El Tamaleroo Mann co-owner Everardo Orozco places tortillas on a griddle, March 28. Brian Burke | The Lumberjack



Santa Ana, California, birria has always been a staple. “Any party you go to, it’s all birria all the time,” Orozco said through Alcoser, who translated. “There’s not an event where they don’t have birria.” Bringing that tradition to Flagstaff was an easy choice for Orozco. Alcoser explained the natural surroundings and small-town feel of Flagstaff reminded her husband of his hometown and gave him the inspiration to start their small business. She said they wanted to start something, but did not know what it was. Eventually, El Tamaleroo Mann was born from that feeling. Their popularity since then has exploded, with students especially gravitating toward the taco stand due to its strong social media presence. Sophomore Ellie Shew said she found out about the taqueria from Instagram and could not wait to try it out for herself. “I had never found a really good Mexican food place here in Flagstaff, and it looked really yummy,” Shew said. “And the prices were pretty good, too.” Shew highlighted the great service she

“The first time they came out bad but, you know, he got used to it. He learned how to master the tortilla and we put our little touch to it.” – Valeria Alcoser, co-owner of El tamaleroo MAnn experienced when visiting El Tamaleroo Mann. She said she placed her order via Instagram and only had to wait five minutes after arriving for her order to be ready. She also noted that those working at the food stand were pleasant in her interactions with them. Shew said having an authentic Mexican food restaurant in Flagstaff was a great discovery. “I normally just went to a fast food restaurant, but this was a good restaurant to

Fresh tacos cook on a griddle at El Tamaleroo Mann, March 28. Brian Burke | The Lumberjack


by storm: El Tamaleroo Mann “I think that shows that you don’t always need a big fancy building to produce good food in the end.” – Junior Neida Del Real

find,” Shew said. “The service was also really good, but the food — they were really big portions, especially for the price.” Junior Neida Del Real was also excited to have a place like El Tamaleroo Mann in town, having discovered the taqueria through social media. She felt the couple’s activity on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok made them more accessible and visible to young customers like students.

Del Real echoed Shew’s praises of El Tamaleroo Mann’s pricing and portion sizes. She said the prices at the food stand were reasonable considering how much bang one gets for their buck. However, it was the overall quality of the food that made her so enthusiastic to try it out. “The first post I ever saw from there was about their ramen and tacos,” Del Real said. “Not only did it look really yummy, but being Mexican myself, it looked like authentic Latino food after I checked out their Instagram profile — some more which made it more appealing to try.” Del Real said she felt her experience at El Tamaleroo Mann demonstrated that location is not everything when it comes to dining in Flagstaff. While El Tamaleroo Mann is currently located at an outdoor, to-go food stand, Del Real said the restaurant’s location made no difference in the quality of the food. “I think that shows that you don’t always need a big fancy building to produce good food in the end,” Del Real said. Already, El Tamaleroo Mann is making waves in the city. Alcoser said her vision for the taqueria is to make an impact on the community.

The co-owners said the taqueria might undergo some changes with its location and hinted that a permanent location is something they are working on securing. Regardless of location, Alcoser said she felt their customers would follow and her goal remains the same. “I want something that is going to be long term and something that people will always remember when they stop by with us,” Alcoser said. “I want to make history. I want to mark my history here in Flagstaff.” In terms of staying up-to-date, Alcoser said social media was the best way to stay in touch with new developments at El Tamaleroo Mann. “Stay tuned, get connected with our

Instagram and we’ll be shortly announcing something really great,” Alcoser said. “[We are] just thankful for everything that has happened, and we’re here to stay.” For more information, including location, menu and other updates, follow El Tamaleroo Mann’s Instagram or Facebook pages. A hallmark of the power of small businesses, El Tamaleroo Mann is making its mark on Flagstaff one day at a time. With customer testimonies like Shew’s and Del Real’s on top of its rapidly rising popularity, the local spot is quickly becoming a Flagstaff favorite.

Rosa Alueno, a cook at El Tamaleroo Mann taqueria, plates tacos for a customer, March 28. Brian Burke | The Lumberjack

APRL 1, 2021 – APRIL 7, 2021 | THE LUMBERJACK



Train Town: A railroad economy and its impacts Michael McClure


ow hums mixed in with the occasional horn blows powering through the night are familiar to anyone living in northern Arizona. These locomotives power thousands of containers full of goods all across the United States and are essential for timely delivery. Individuals working for the railroad industry often find Flagstaff to be a conveniently located stop over town, positioned perfectly for their traveling needs. Benjamin Wilemon, external corporate communications manager for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), clarified the type of traffic Flagstaff tends to see on average. “We carry numerous types of freight, however the manifest details are generally kept private,” Wilemon said. “I can tell you that we operate under a common carrier obligation, which means a railroad company is required to provide transportation to all parties upon reasonable request, including for hazardous materials.” BNSF is a 170-year-old freight company that specializes in the transportation of consumer goods in the U.S. and parts of Canada, per the BNSF website. Since the company’s inception, BNSF has acquired over 400 separate railroad lines resulting in the possession of thousands of miles in track spanning large swaths of the continental U.S., totaling 32,500 miles. For 2020 alone, BNSF generated over $20 billion in revenue, down from a high of $23 million in 2019. Its website also states over 36,000 people are currently employed with the company. In 2019, over 10 million separate car loads were recorded as being shipped and delivered at numerous locations in the U.S. In an article published by The Lumberjack, the president and CEO of Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona said more than 20,000 passengers arrived and departed from Flagstaff in 2016 through Amtrak. Flagstaff plays a critical role in this network of railways. Wilemon said the train tracks going through Flagstaff are what is known as the Southern Transcon, the main delivery route from all ports in California that head to Chicago and any town or city in between. Wilemon also said as of the last quarterly train count on a 24-hour period, an average of 74 trains are passing through downtown Flagstaff bound either for eastern cities or back to California. The nearest stopping point from Flagstaff for the BNSF trains is located roughly 50 miles east in the town of Winslow, per a BNSF report. With a population of around 9,300 at the last census count, Winslow is strategically located for logistical ease. However, many individuals reside in Flagstaff and commute regularly between train swaps in Winslow and home. Although train travel and transport is important to the northern Arizona region, issues have arisen in the past, mostly due to noise. As reported in a 2020 Flagstaff City Council report, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued guidance in 1994 requiring trains to sound their horns as a warning for at least 15 seconds but not exceeding 20 seconds. In 2005, federal law related to the FRA regulations changed to enact quiet zones, or portions of railway designated as areas of dense population where a train horn may be a nuisance for residents. Flagstaff adopted these policies of quiet zones throughout the downtown area in an


attempt to limit the amount of horn-related noise going through town, due to the intense amount of railway traffic coming through Flagstaff on a nonstop, 24/7 basis. Along with a bustling freight economy, Flagstaff is also home to a daily passenger train service provided by Amtrak. As mentioned on the Amtrak website, the Southwest Chief is an everyday train departing from both Chicago and Los Angeles running routes through Flagstaff, Albuquerque and Kansas City. Residents of Flagstaff can use this route to travel regionally, either into Southern California or into New Mexico. Junior Victoria Chavez frequently travels along the Southwest Chief in order to get home to Rancho Cucamonga, California. Chavez said having the train makes for a more affordable and convenient route home. “[Not driving] is honestly super convenient when I am just heading home for three or four days,” Chavez said. “When I am riding the train I can use the travel time to complete homework and study rather than doing it when I am at home. Keeping miles off of my car is also super nice because it saves me gas money and keeps my vehicle better preserved.” Chavez said a number of her friends back home use the train systems to get around. When college time came around, taking the train remained the same for many of them. “If anybody comes to visit me from home, I always recommend they just take the Amtrak,” Chavez said. “The station is only about a mile from my house and everything in Flagstaff is so centrally located. Saving space on parking and not having the hassle of driving usually winds up in a super easy trip.” The Grand Canyon Railway, which is famous for its tourism and dramatic sweeping views of the nearby famous canyon, also lies in the northern Arizona area. As mentioned on its website, the Grand Canyon Railway was built in the late 1800s to transport ore from the Anita Mines roughly 45 miles north of Williams. After being a mine transport for decades and eventually shutting down in 1968 due to lack of demand, the railway opened back up to serve tourists in the area in hopes of providing an unusual way to view the Grand Canyon. It is estimated over 50,000 cars were kept out of the national park by having visitors ride on the train rather than enter the national park, preventing overcrowding along with keeping vehicles out of the area. Trains and Flagstaff are often considered synonymous to many familiar with the area. Freight and travel through the Southern Transcon route of BNSF,


and partnerships with Amtrak, provide goods and commodities to millions in the American heartland while providing income to many in Flagstaff. Tourism in the Grand Canyon and Williams area provide a need for the Grand Canyon Railway as well, maintaining the history and aura of a once dominant mining line in the Southwest. Flagstaff has proven its worth among the individuals who call railway work their profession.

“When I am riding the train I can use the travel time to complete homework and study rather than doing it when I am at home. Keeping miles off of my car is also super nice because it saves me gas money and keeps my vehicle better preserved.” – Junior Victoria Chavez

Illustration By Diana Ortega


APRIL 1, 2021 – APRIL 7, 2021 | THE LUMBERJACK



‘Dancing with the Devil’: Demi in her own words


inger Demi Lovato released a new YouTube docuseries and single titled “Dancing with the Devil,” which also serves as the titular track for her upcoming album “Dancing with the Devil … the Art of Starting Over,” which was released April 1. This marks Lovato’s first album since 2017’s “Tell Me You Love Me.” Throughout the song “Dancing with the Devil,” Lovato’s powerful vocals are haunting as she provides listeners with her usual runs and high notes. The lyrics chronicle her struggles with addiction and serve as a poignant reminder of her KATELYN near-fatal overdose July 24, 2018. RODRIGUEZ “I was dancing with the devil, out CULTURE EDITOR of control / Almost made it to Heaven / It was closer than you know / Playing with the enemy, gambling with my soul / It’s so hard to say no / When you’re dancing with the devil,” Lovato belts during the chorus. The song’s release comes after the first two episodes of her four-part YouTube docuseries of the same name were released. The first episode, titled “Losing Control,” chronicles the months, days and hours leading up to Lovato’s overdose. The second, “Five Minutes from Death,” detailed the moment she was found and transported to the hospital. Lovato said in episode two she had three strokes, a heart attack, suffered brain damage from the strokes, had pneumonia and multiple-organ failure. Most of our generation grew up listening to Lovato’s music or watching her on Disney Channel in “Camp Rock” and “Sonny with a Chance.” Many of us might even remember where we were in 2018 when it was announced she had overdosed. I know I do, and it was one of the scariest days because I didn’t know if someone I looked up to was going to live. Both the song and docuseries serve as narratives of Lovato’s life behind the scenes in 2018 and show her followers that she is still alive today for a reason. In fact, Lovato said if her assistant hadn’t found her when she did, she would’ve died if it had been five or 10 minutes later. Overall, Lovato finding the courage to talk about this time in her life in full for the first time is extremely brave. Lovato is still someone I admire today and I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the docuseries and listening to her album when it comes out.



March 22 to 28: Conventions and casting announcements Katelyn Rodriguez


his week in Hollywood brings new Disney+ release dates, birth announcements and single releases. Here’s the latest out of the entertainment industry.

Monday, March 22 According to Variety, DC Films has hired “Promising Young Woman” director Emerald Fennell to write the script for an upcoming film adaptation for comic hero “Zatanna.” _________ Marvel’s new series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” has become Disney+’s most watched series premiere to date. According to Marvel’s website, “‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ joins the premieres of Marvel Studios’ first live-action series, WandaVision, and the season two premiere of The Mandalorian from Lucasfilm as the three most-watched Disney+ Original series opening weekends to-date.” _________ Actor and director Clint Eastwood’s new film “Cry Macho” is set to make its theatrical and HBO Max debuts on Oct. 22. According to a tweet by Fandango, Eastwood is also set to star in the film. Tuesday, March 23 Variety has reported that actor David Thewlis, best known for his role as Remus Lupin in the “Harry Potter” films, has signed on to join HBO’s “Landscapers.” The limited series also stars Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman. _________ Disney announced Marvel’s highly anticipated film “Black Widow” will be available for streaming on Disney+ for an additional $30 the same day it releases in theaters, July 9. According to Variety, Disney also plans on releasing “Cruella” in theaters and on Disney+ May 28, while upcoming Pixar film “Luca” will be released exclusively on the streaming platform June 18. _________ According to The Hollywood Reporter, DC’s upcoming “Shazam” sequel “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” has cast actor Helen Mirren as its main villain, Hespera. _________

Actor George Segal died Tuesday at 87 from complications of bypass surgery, according to Deadline. Segal was best known for his roles in “Fun with Dick and Jane” and most recently “The Goldbergs.” Wednesday, March 24 Actor Jessica Alba revealed why she took a step back from her acting career in an interview with parenting website Romper. Alba stated after the birth of her first child in 2008 that, “I couldn’t go back to what I was doing before and be authentic. I just couldn’t. I didn’t care about it the same way.” She also touched on how she wanted to use her platform in a way that was meaningful. _________ It has been reported by The Hollywood Reporter that actor Pierce Brosnan has been cast in DC’s upcoming film “Black Adam” as Dr. Fate. The film also stars actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the titular anti-hero. Thursday, March 25 Actor Jessica Walter died at the age of 80 on Thursday. Walter was best known for her role as Lucille Bluth on “Arrested Development.” _________ Singer Demi Lovato released the title single “Dancing with the Devil” off her upcoming album “Dancing with the Devil … The Art of Starting Over.” _________ Singer Taylor Swift released “You All Over Me,” her new single from the vault, which features backing vocals from singer Maren Morris. Friday, March 26 Bindi Irwin, the daughter of the late Steve Irwin, announced the birth of her first child with husband Chandler Powell on Twitter and Instagram. Their daughter, whose name is Grace Warrior Irwin Powell, was born Thursday, March 25. _________ Author Beverly Cleary, best known for writing “Ramona” and “Henry and Ribsy,” died at 104 years old Friday. The Associated Press reported that no cause of death was given when publisher HarperCollins confirmed the news of Cleary’s death.


Members of NAU’s Sigma Gamma Rho sorority at Flagstaff Medical Center as they drop off donations for NICU patients, March 22. Photo courtesy of Sigma Gamma Rho

Sigma Gamma Rho sorority donates NICU tutus Caroline Travis


embers of the Xi Iota chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority partnered with the March of Dimes organization and fellow students to bring donation items to the patients and families of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC). The Xi Iota Chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority was chartered at NAU in April 1995. Since then, the chapter has hosted many fundraisers to provide support to different groups of people in need in the Flagstaff area. Junior Maylee Acosta, a member of the sorority, shared some of the mission statements of the sorority and their longstanding relationship with the March of Dimes organization. “Our mission is ‘Greater Service, Greater Progress,’ therefore Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. is continuously expanding partnerships with organizations that serve the community,”

Acosta said. “March of Dimes has been a longtime friend and ally in helping our sisters achieve Sigma’s goal of positively impacting the lives of premature babies.” March of Dimes is a nonprofit that was founded by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938. According to its website, the organization started off as research for polio and funded the vaccine for the disease. It has since developed into an operation that assists and educates in order to provide support to all babies and mothers throughout pregnancy. On top of this, they advocate and provide resource support for those families that need to have a child stay in the NICU. Tutu’s, Books and Babies was a two-day event that encouraged the student body to lend a helping hand. On March 20, students gathered at Mountain View Hall to collect items and create tutus for children in NICU. Then on March 22, members of the sorority went to FMC to drop off donations that included books,

tutus and care packages. Junior Angel Marshall, president of the sorority, shared what inspired her organization to plan a fundraiser for NICU babies. “For the Xi Iota Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., we were inspired by how many of our members knew a friend or family member who were a premature baby or had a premie and the uncertainty of knowing if that loved one would make it out of the NICU and be able to grow up,” Marshall said. “Our chapter and our graduate chapter wanted to give supplies that would help the families in the NICU and show that they are not forgotten during this time by providing a form of support.” Although this sorority has done fundraising for the NICU before, COVID conditions have made it less of an interactive experience this time around. The sorority members were unable to interact and give the donations to the NICU families personally, but the aid and support was still beneficial to the recipients regardless.

Tracye Moore, who is a former member of Kappa Sigma Sigma and the department chair for Dental Hygiene at NAU, helped the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority plan the event and talked about the future of the sorority’s involvement with FMC. “We plan to donate to FMC on an annual basis because we care about our community and this is one of the many ways we can connect NAU to the community, and contribute to the population’s needs,” Moore said. Having a child in the NICU can be a stressful experience regardless of what’s happening in the world at the time. However, COVID-19 has added an extra stress to many of the families that find themselves in the NICU this past year. The members of the Xi Iota Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority on campus have helped aid families during these difficult times and have made the experience of having a child in the NICU just a little bit easier for many of them.

APRIL 1, 2021 – APRIL 7, 2021 | THE LUMBERJACK



Bulls management is trying to escape the basement


oing into the trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls were 10th in the Eastern Conference and were looking to improve in the standings. The Bulls made a daring deal for All-Star center Nikola Vučević of the Orlando Magic. Chicago traded center Wendell Carter Jr., forward Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round picks in exchange for the big man. With two bona fide stars in Vučević and guard Zach LaVine, grouped with a strong supporting cast, the Bulls will look to propel themselves into the playoff picture. As of March 31, the Bulls were the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference and were two games behind the No. 9-seeded Indiana Pacers. With a significant upgrade GABRIEL via trade, it is easy to see the Bulls making DICKSON the playoffs with nearly two months of the regular season remaining. WRITER Coming into the 2020-21 season, the Bulls made major changes in the front office. Former general manager Gar Forman was fired last summer and John Paxson, who was the executive vice president of basketball operations, stepped down to be a special adviser. They both have been heavily criticized in the past few years for not being able to acquire good talent via trade or the draft. Some notable names that they passed on include: Draymond Green, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon, Tim Hardaway Jr., Seth Curry and Rudy Gobert. Because of these complications, ownership of the Bulls decided to bring in some fresh faces to turn around their fortunes. The names of those fresh faces are general manager Marc Eversley and executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas. Eversley has little front office experience in the NBA, as he has only been in the league a few years, but has had front office jobs with the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors. Many executives around the NBA, like Wizards GM Tommy Sheparrd, reportedly say Eversley is a knowledgeable guy who is easy to work with, but lacks experience. Karnišovas played professional basketball in Lithuania and has several years of experience in management. Karnišovas has earned a reputation as a great talent evaluator and as someone understands how to develop players. This is exemplified with his work in the Denver, where from 2013-2020, the Nuggets drafted key players like center Nikola Jokić and guard Jamal Murray. The hope is Karnišovas can revolutionize the Bulls the same way we have seen the Nuggets grow rapidly.



Redshirt junior guard Luke Avdalovic plays in the first round of the 2021 Big Sky Conference Tournament against No. 7-seed Portland State, March 10. Photo courtesy of NAU Athletics

NAU basketball perseveres through challenging COVID-19 season Sean Clark


welve days and 19 days. This was the length of the two COVID-19 pauses that plagued NAU men’s basketball this season. The start of NAU’s season was delayed by 12 days due to positive cases within the program. This further complicated the preparation for the 2020-21 season, which was already hindered due to NCAA restrictions for in-person practices. “This summer, we were restricted with COVID, couldn’t work out as much as we wanted to with the newcomers coming in, so we lost a lot of time with that with a young team,” NAU head coach Shane Burcar said. “[We] played Arizona with two and a half days of practice, which is not an ideal situation for any team.” NAU’s season did not begin until Dec. 7 when the Lumberjacks lost 96-53 at UArizona. Their rough start continued with a 0-5 record before picking up their first win on Dec. 22 against the Denver Pioneers. On Jan. 29, NAU picked up a crucial win over the Northern Colorado Bears, 68-64. However, COVID-19 struck once again, forcing NAU to go on another pause that lasted 19 days. This forced teammates to be away from one another and the coaching staff to coach and mentor their players virtually. “[Coaches were] making sure we were doing our workouts, doing our conditioning off the court so we’re ready when we came back to work through that period we had off,” redshirt freshman forward Carson Towt said. His teammates also talked about how the team was still really close, even in the wake of games being canceled in this crazy season. “It’s the closest group of guys that we have ever had as a

team,” redshirt junior forward Nik Mains said. “The coaches are always checking in on us and checking in to see how we are doing, making sure everything is okay. If we needed anything, they would be there for us.” After the pause, NAU lost its last four regular season games heading into the Big Sky Tournament in Boise, Idaho. However, with a week off, NAU had a string of 10 practices in a row, allowing the players to develop chemistry and prepare for the postseason despite a lackluster 5-15 record. “I think it shows the character of our guys,” Burcar said. “Not once did we have a problem, not once did we have an attitude, no off-court issues.The guys just kept believing in what was going on and I think that tells you about the character of our young men.” His players had the same sentiment when it came to building a winning culture. “I think he [Burcar] has a huge competitive spirit that he tries to instill in all of us and everyone he recruits has what he has,” Towt said. “He recruits winners. He is a winner, he has won his whole life. He knows how to win.” This spirit and chemistry propelled the No. 10-seeded Lumberjacks to a huge 77-66 win over the No. 7-seeded Portland State Vikings in the first round, NAU’s first win in the Big Sky Tournament since 2015. “I don’t think a lot of people expected us to come out and beat them and get out of the first round, since we haven’t done that at NAU in quite some time,” redshirt junior guard Cameron Shelton said. “We believed we could begin to change this program and continue to turn the program around, even though we haven’t had the type of success we wanted during the regular season.” NAU lost to the Eastern Washington Eagles in the

SPORTS quarterfinals, 66-60, in a hard-fought game. Eastern Washington went on to win the Big Sky Tournament, defeating the University of Montana and Montana State in the semifinals and championship game by double-digit points. The fact that NAU won a tournament game was significant for the program, as it rebounded from a disappointing loss in the first round of the tournament against Idaho State a year ago. “Last year, I said when we lost to Idaho State that it was a necessary evil,” Burcar said. “This year, to get that momentum into our 2021-22 season, I thought it was important for our guys to get that feeling of winning in that tournament.” In 2020, the No. 6-seed Lumberjacks lost in an upset to the 11th-seed Idaho State Bengals, 64-62. “You don’t want to play in that first game now,” Burcar said. “It would be nice to get up there with a first-round bye next year and understand you win that game, now you’re in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament.” NAU finished with a 6-16 record overall with a 4-10 mark in conference play. Shelton averaged 19.2 points per game, leading the team throughout this tumultuous season. “The best thing I took away from this season was being able to spend time with this unique group of guys and build relationships with the guys we had on this team,” Shelton said. Even with Shelton and redshirt junior guard Luke Avdalovic entering the transfer portal as graduate transfers, they left their mark on this program, putting NAU in a promising position moving forward. “Luke [Avdalovic] and Cam [Shelton], who put up great numbers, left us in a great spot and we wish them well,” Burcar said. With the lack of a true offseason and without fans, this was a challenging season for the Lumberjacks. However, Burcar said that this offseason, he can use it to build the program to new heights and reengage the community. “We couldn’t build any momentum with our fan base, with our community,” Burcar said. “That stuff really hurts you when you are trying to build a program. We look forward to this offseason and moving forward, we are excited about the guys that we are recruiting. Hopefully we can have some camps in the summer to build our community, especially the youth of Flagstaff and those that are interested in NAU, and also get recruits back on campus and the performance center being built.” NAU’s win over Portland State in the Big Sky Tournament could help propel the program. With a full offseason to work with, there is reason for optimism for NAU men’s basketball moving forward.

NAU head coach Shane Burcar draws up a play with his coaching staff in quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament against Eastern Washington, March 11. Photo courtesy of NAU Athletics

Redshirt junior forward Nik Mains (15) passes the ball while looking at redshirt sophomore forward Keith Haymon (13) against Northern Colorado, Jan. 29. Brian Burke| The Lumberjack

Upcoming NAU Games NAU Football vs Cal Poly: CANCELED Big Sky Semifinals: NAU Volleyball VS Weber State: Thursday, April 1, 3 p.m. (PluTO tv) NAU Soccer @ Northern Colorado: Saturday, April 3, 1 p.m. (Pluto TV) NAU Soccer @ Northern Colorado: Monday, April 5, 11 a.m. (Pluto TV) NAU Men’s Tennis @ Air Force: Wednesday, April 7, 2 p.m. NAU Men’s Tennis @ Metropolitan State University of Denver: April 8, 2 p.m. APRIL 1, 2021 – APRIL 7, 2021 | THE LUMBERJACK




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The Lumberjack -- April 1, 2021  

The Lumberjack -- April 1, 2021