Standing with Standing Rock

This piece was originally published on here


The way Americans consume media and form opinions through news is miserable. It’s not entirely your fault, fellow Americans; the news media most consumed is often biased beyond belief, as in the case for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its fight for the protection of its culturally significant sites and water sources.
Since late August, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has peacefully protested against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This $3.8 billion project will stretch 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Illinois, snaking its way through the sacred burial grounds and other culturally significant sites of the Standing Rock Sioux. Additionally, the DAPL runs the risk of polluting the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux people living on the reservation.

Militarized police have been present at the peaceful protest sites in Morton County, North Dakota for over a week. A private security company clashed with protesters Sept. 3, unleashing dogs and pepper-spraying several water protectors (as the protesters have identified themselves to the media). All of this for oil, as iconic a symbol of capitalism and culture-crushing as any.

It’s unfortunate that the lives and culture of the Standing Rock people means less to Americans than Energy Transfer’s “light, sweet oil.” While a federal judge ruled against the tribe’s motion to halt the pipeline, the United States government released a subsequent statement halting the construction until further consultation with the tribes. A great first step, to be sure, but there is more that can be done.

In a September article for the New York Times, writer Jack Healy interviewed Jack Schaaf, a white resident of St. Anthony, North Dakota. Schaaf states his main concern with the pipeline is that he has to “navigate a police checkpoint whenever he wants to drive into Mandan for a pizza.” Healy made a conscious decision to report on the “suffering” of white residents rather than focus on the much more noteworthy suffering of the Standing Rock Sioux. Seriously? Does Healy miss the irony in writing a piece on the white ranchers (from a town built on ground taken from Native Americans) feeling threatened by the presence of an encampment of Native Americans fighting for their culture? Or, is he of the opinion their struggle isn’t important? Either way, his presentation of the situation in North Dakota, while not inaccurate, misses the point.

As someone outside the Standing Rock Sioux community, my voice should not be the only one you hear discussing this. I urge my readers to seek out voices of the water protectors. Adopt their perspectives from first-person interviews. Learn their reasons for protesting straight from their mouths. Traditional protest tactics have proven to be ineffective in the U.S. Just look to the recent protests by the Black Lives Matter group, where evidence of police brutality: in Tulsa, with the death of Terrence Crutcher; in Charlotte, with the death of Keith Lamont Scott, and countless other black men murdered by police this year.

These brave souls have blocked the construction of the pipeline with their bodies and with their hearts, and you owe them your support for protecting the planet you live on. I urge readers to show their support for the Standing Rock people and the environmentalist groups camped at the Dakota Pipeline, and to be media-literate and recognize when articles and videos are presenting you a biased view of the news. Gather your own data, do your own research, make your own decision.

New Sidewalks near Harstad

This piece was originally published on here

Many Lutes have stumbled over the cracked and cragged sidewalks on Park Avenue across from Harstad Hall, but Pierce County Public Works is working to make those struggles a thing of the past.

Work to improve the sidewalk along Park Avenue between 125th Street South and Garfield Street South began Aug. 31 and is expected to conclude mid-September. Garfield Street South will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for 10 days during the final stages of the project.

New additions include curb extensions, lights and rectangular rapid flash beacons to improve the visibility of pedestrian crossings. In addition, ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be installed on the east side of Park Avenue South at 122nd Street South and Garfield Street South.

“This work to improve pedestrian access will benefit local businesses, Pacific Lutheran University students and faculty and the surrounding neighborhood,” said Pierce County Public Works engineer Brian Stacy in a press release.

Crews removed the vegetation and trees before the school year started.

PLU contributed $50,400 to the $966,675 project.

“I think it’s really nice that the university recognizes that we do have students with disabilities,” senior Shiori Oki said. “Even as an able-bodied person, it can be cumbersome to not have a sidewalk and feel like you have to walk in the street.”

Oki lives off-campus and said her walk to and from class can be dangerous because of the lack of sidewalks, especially late at night. Pierce County Public Works currently has no plans to add sidewalks north of Garfield Street South.

A Hostile Political Climate Disappoints Lutes


This piece was originally published on here

This year’s presidential election has been a rollercoaster of emotions and for many Lutes, this tumultuous presidential election will be the first they vote in.

“I expected it to be a more traditional presidential election, rather than the [mess] that is,” sophomore Ellie Campbell said. This is the first election she is old enough to vote in. “It seems like the candidates of this year are becoming larger and larger inflations of the far left and the far right.”

Other Lutes said this election has differed from past elections and has been an embarrassment to the country.

“I’m so disappointed. I’m so disappointed, and I’m embarrassed,” senior Theo Hofrenning said. “It’s been engaging, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s like you’re passing a car crash on the road and you can’t look away.”

“I expected it to be a little less messy,” first-year Jasper Cantrell said. “It’s really heated. There’s a lot more attacks on each other than I’ve seen in previous elections. With Obama and Romney, it was a lot more about who they were and what they represented. But Hillary and Trump are more like ‘They’re worse! They’re bad for this reason!’”

First-year Nicholas Peranti called this year’s election “dumb and comedic.”

“It doesn’t seem formal at all,” he said. “It’s just like, slinging words and talking bad at each other.”

“This election is a lot more hostile than it’s been in the past,” said Ron Berg, a junior and military veteran who has been voting since 1984. “There’s always been some mud-slinging that’s gone on, but this particular election seems to have taken it to a whole new realm.”

The Mast asked Lutes to share their thoughts on this presidential election and found Pacific Lutheran University is home to folks from all over the political spectrum.

Some students, like first-year Tim Gothier, spoke passionately about their opposition to Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary literally screws over our country. She has before, she will keep doing it,” Gothier said. He also commented on his distaste for both candidates but desire to vote for an outsider. “Both of our candidates are idiots. I mean, all people are idiots, especially people from the Hill. At least Donald’s not from the Hill.”

Junior Megan Galacga and sophomore Ellie Campbell disagreed. They told The Mast they were voting for Clinton.

Galacga said, “She just seemed like the better option than Trump. I agree with her plans, I think she planned for more environmental and green energy, and also getting rid of private prisons.”

Other Lutes decided to branch out and vote third-party this year.  

First-year Braden Schmunk said, “As of right now, I’m not really confident in either candidate running,” he said. “So, I’ll be voting third party Gary Johnson.”

Many Lutes said this election isn’t what they expected their first presidential election to look like. Schmunk said it’s “not even close.”

“I have conservative views, so I was expecting to go with the Republican candidate,” he said. “But just morally I couldn’t feel myself voting for Trump. Professionally and personally, he rubs me the wrong way, in terms of his views and the way the country should be run. I still believe in a lot of his values, but I believe more along the lines of Gary Johnson.”

Berg said the best thing Lutes can do to voice their political opinions is vote.

“Do it. It’s extremely important who gets voted in. Really, this is the only way we have to voice our opinion,” Berg said. “You can have your protest and things like that, but when it gets down to it, you casting that ballot is your only real say.”

Lutes cut loose at LollaPLUza

Otieno Terry’s performance was powerful, to say the least. Terry has played multiple fests in the Seattle area and was accustomed to performing in front of a large crowd.

This piece was originally published in Mast Magazine via
Photos by McKenna Morin.

   Lutes cut loose at LollaPLUza 2016, just two weekends before the end of the semester. Students and community members sprawled across the golf course on the uncharacteristically-warm day in early May; dancing, singing or listening to the live bands the LollaPLUza team had booked for the event.

     At 1 p.m., the gates opened and student band Head Portal started the day off strong with a set of classic covers to get the crowd going. Caleb & Denae followed them up on the B stage while seattle locals Prom Queen set up. Runaway Satellite, an acoustic rock duo,  played between Prom Queen and Otieno Terry.

     Terry’s music is a charming mix of many different genres.

     “My biggest influences were video game soundtracks, and a lot of orchestral stuff,” Terry told the Mast after his set. “Eyrkah Badu, Little Dragon, Kanye West, Outkast, Crying Baby Ray. R&B, electronic music, and hip-hop.”

     “Last year, we did Madaraka festival at the EMP, we did Sasquatch, we did Capitol Hill Block Party, Bumbershoot, and the Homeskillet festival in Alaska and the John Coltrane Festival in North Carolina,“ he said. With a history of performing for large crowds, it’s no wonder Terry was a natural on stage at LollaPLUza. He credits some of his success to winning Sound Off! 2014 at the EMP, an all-ages music competition that helps artists showcase their music and launch their careers.

     “Sound Off kinda set things off a little bit,” Terry said. “Sound Off got me that Bumbershoot performance and Block Party, kinda opened the door to my name, people just started booking me. Also, it was cool to hook up with other people from the sound off, and the people from the EMP are really nice. Super down to earth.”

     The following hours saw sets from Navvi, Dave B., and the PLU Dance Team.

     This year’s headliner, Pickwick, blended sweet dancing melodies with driving guitars and came into a sound all their own on stage.

Pickwick’s vocalist Galen belts out a high one over their groovy rock sound. They’re new album is scheduled to come out in fall.

     “I’d call our music rock and roll, but it’s fun to go disco at times, be chill at times, it’s been fun to try different things,” said Pickwick vocalist Galen Disston.

     Pickwick’s been hard at work recording their new album with producer Erik Blood. Blood also produced albums for Seattle artists Shabazz Palaces and Tacocat.

     “Here’s what I’ll say about it: It’s the best experience I’ve ever had making a record, we made [Can’t Talk Medicine], but it was kind of like a compilation, some songs we’d done two times already by the time we got here,” Disston said. “It felt fresh, some of [the songs] we had written right before we went into the studio. I don’t know how to describe it, but the record made this place that I want to be in […]  not the studio, just this place, metaphorically, that we were at when making it, and that i go to when i listen to it.”

     Throughout the day, a number of non-musical activities were available for participating Lutes as well; the rock wall, the obstacle course and food trucks were all hits.

Friends of 88.5 FM propose cheaper sale

This piece originally appeared in The Mast at

JEFF DUNN; News Editor:

Friends of 88-5 FM released a letter of intent last Tuesday asking Pacific Lutheran University to lower its asking price for KPLU from $7 million to $6 million, citing the $1 million the university would save by not paying severance and unemployment benefits.

Additionally, the letter of intent proposed to let KPLU continue operations on-campus in the Martin J. Neeb center, rent-free, provided that they would consolidate all of their operations to the first floor.

Former chair of KPLU’s advisory council and current chairman of the Friends of KPLU governing board Stephen Tan called the deal “substantially similar” to the offer to KUOW.

“We’re saving them over $1 million, so we’re asking for a $1 million reduction in the cash to be paid,” Tan told Current the day of the announcement.

“They are ignoring costs to the university of allowing the six month fundraising period that has already more than offset those savings.” Allan Belton; Vice President of Finance and Administration

Vice President of Finance Allan Belton said that they had received the proposal last week and are currently analyzing it. Belton also pointed out that the cost of allowing the community group effort has reached $1.5 million, which far exceeds the savings indicated by their offer.

“They are only counting what they estimate as perceived savings to the university for accepting their offer,” Belton said. “They are ignoring costs to the university of allowing the six month fundraising period that has already more than offset those savings.”

The Save KPLU campaign just passed $5 million at press time, meaning that if PLU agrees to the new proposal, Friends of 88-5 FM would only need $1.3 million more to prevent the impending sale to KUOW. Tuesday was also #GiveBIG Day, a donation holiday ran by the Seattle Foundation. Friends of 88-5 FM received so many donations through #GiveBIG, the Seattle Foundation’s website actually went down for several hours, prompting the Seattle Foundation to extend the donation time period another 12 hours.

Lutes Take Back The Night

70 students marched, yelled and brandished signs to raise awareness of sexual assault. Led by Yadira Avendano and Marisol Espinosa, the group rallied for an hour around campus.

This piece was originally published through The Mast and at
Around 70 students, staff and faculty met in Red Square for Take Back the Night, an annual rally to raise awareness of sexual assaultm on April 21.

     “We here at PLU [Pacific Lutheran University] want to be heard loud tonight. It’s an opportunity for survivors, for friends, for allies, to stand up and take back what’s theirs,” said Jennifer Childres, the women’s basketball coach, who emceed the event with Harstad’s Resident Director Melissa Williams. “This night is about our empowerment.”

Melissa Williams (left) and Jennifer Childres (right) shared stories as they emceed the event.

     The group marched its way around the campus for about an hour, yelling chants of solidarity at full volume, led by cheerleaders junior Yadira Avendano and sophomore Marisol Espinosa: “I wish I may! I wish I might! Free our lives! Take back the night!” “Wherever we go, however we dress, no means no and yes means yes!”

     Before they marched, survivors and allies shared stories and anecdotes of sexual assault. Vice President of Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis shared her story.

      “I belong to a group of student-first educators who’ve experienced sexual assault. Somehow, we have a hard time naming it,” Royce-Davis spoke to the crowd. “The group recognizes that our stories open the doors to action, along with the stories of our students and our communities. We begin to disclose, to remove the protective covers, to shine the light.”

      Not only sexual assault survivors spoke in front of the crowd, but also allies. Assistant Professor of Religion Seth Dowland addressed the crowd as an ally, bystander and supporter.

     Finally, Associated Students of Pacific Lutheran University President Ellie Lapp spoke. She addressed the question of “If these acts of violence haven’t affected you, why should you care?”

     “My answer […] always has been ‘Actually, I have been. We all have’ This space is full of people who have had experiences where their gender, sexuality, race, class, ability or other aspects of their identity have been used against them, used to maintain systems of power and oppression,” Lapp said. “These acts of aggression don’t have to be grand or severe.”

      After all the speakers, the attendees started off around campus to the tune of “Respect! Equality! That’s the way it’s gotta be!”

Nate Hansen on working at OMM

IMG_0602-copy1-620x264“Its great to see your friends all the time. I live off-campus, so I don’t get to interact with students on-campus as much anymore, especially first-years and sophomores,” Nate Hansen, a senior this year, said. “You can see what gets them going and have those conversations you don’t often get to have.

Nate Hansen’s extroverted personality makes working at Old Main Market a breeze.

“I’ve had a couple on-campus jobs, I’ve been an RA, I’ve worked in the music hall as an usher and I’ve been a note-taker, but this has been one of my favorite on-campus jobs by far.”

Nate found his vocation as an Economics major with a Women’s and Gender Studies minor.

“I’m a feminist economist,” he said. He thinks the way the two disciplines intersect is very important to the world right now.

“A lot of the issues that face our world right now are deeply rooted in economic inequalities and some of those are deeply rooted in gender issues,” Hansen said. “I think the interplay of the two disciplines is really interesting, especially in developing countries.”

Focusing back on his job, I asked Hansen which drink he absolutely hates making for people.

“No! I love it when people order anything!” he responded, loud enough for his boss to hear from the other side of the market.

Besides his classes and on-campus work, Hansen also competes for PLU’s Track and Field team. He runs the 200 meter and said he’s “trying” to be a sprinter.

With all this on his plate, Hanson had to learn the hard lesson of time management.

“That’s something I learned in my first year. It’s something you’ll have to learn. Being a student-athlete and holding a job on campus teaches you a lot of skills you can use in your life outside of college.”

Hansen also took time in our interview to reflect on his years here at PLU.

“It’s crazy how the time flies, next thing you know you’re a senior, you wonder ‘what did I do that was meaningful to me and to other people?’”

I asked him why he loves his major, and he told me he loves the way others are inspired by Economics.

“Other than loving the subject material –  when you meet people in your discipline that are really excited about what they do, it makes it so much more easy and a lot more fun, and that’s what I found in the Economics department. Get in contact with the professors. They’re more than willing to help you. Everyone’s really nice in the departments and it’s a great choice,” he said, not forgetting to add: “Pick it over science.”