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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Western ranked top school by the sea

Western has recently been listed as the seventh-best college by the sea for its proximity to the ocean and marine science program, according to Best College Reviews.

Western beat out schools that included the University of Washington, New York University, University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

Out of the 50 schools that were ranked, Best College Reviews took into account how close the school is to the beach, marine education availability and activities to do on the sea, according to the website.

Western takes advantage of its proximity to the sea by using the Shannon Point Marine Center, which provides support for marine science research programs at Western, according to their website.

Science education and biology professor Deborah Donovan, who holds a doctorate in marine invertebrate physiological ecology, places the focus of her research on marine snails and marine molluscs.

“Being somebody who works on marine organisms, it’s a perfect place to be because we’re right next to the ocean and we also have Shannon Point Marine Center where I do much of my work,” Donovan said.

Western provides Donovan with the perfect location to take her students to the beach while teaching marine biology classes, she said.

Associate professor of biology Benjamin Miner said that when looking for universities with full-time faculty positions, he looked all along the coast near marine environments.

He enjoys being close to the sea because it makes it easy for him to look at marine organisms, which helps him teach his class on invertebrate biology, Miner said.

“Instead of having a bunch of preserved specimens that you can’t see how they act and move, we can go out and collect live individuals and bring those specimens back and students can see them,” Miner said.

Aside from teaching about marine life at Western, Miner participates in other activities by the sea such as scuba diving.

Senior Jazzy Gerraty is a member of the sailing team and said she enjoys the recreational opportunities like windsurfing.

“I see a lot of kiteboarding, which you can’t do when you’re not near an ocean,” Gerraty said.

Being close to the water helps the sailing team because they only have to take a 15 minute drive to the water while other schools may take up to an hour, Gerraty said.

“When I was in high school I joined the competitive high school sailing team and that led me into sailing at Western,” junior Ben Kaas said.

Western provides many options to participate in activities on the water, Kaas said.

Alzata Davis, a senior and challenge course coordinator for the AS Outdoor Center said that the Outdoor Center’s expedition and Western Outdoor Orientation Trips programs do a lot of activities near the water like kayaking and sailing.

Western sits above Bellingham Bay, where many recreational activities including sailing happen. Photo by Christina Becker
Western sits above Bellingham Bay, where many recreational activities including sailing happen. Photo by Christina Becker
“Being able to go swimming in the bay is awesome. I mean it’s freezing most of the time but whenever I get to do that it’s awesome,” Davis said.

Having campus situated near the water gives students the educational and recreational opportunities that would not be so easily accessible otherwise.

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