After 45 years of service to Western, four faculty members were honored for their commitment at the university’s Annual Employee Recognition Ceremony. Marian Ritter, Dr. Michael Burnett, Dr. Daniel Rangel-Guerrero and Professor Farrokh Safavi have continued their dedication to students and research for 45 years. Annika Wolters the Associated Student President spoke at the ceremony on Wednesday, April 29. Her message to the more than 200 faculty members gathered in the Performing Arts Center was a challenge. She challenged all the employees to acknowledge one of their peers who they do not know for their years of service. "Thank you for being here, and thank you for staying here," Wolters said. Ritter is the head of the music library in the PAC. She arrived at Western on July 1, 1969. In her time at Western, Ritter has assisted architects in designing the music library building, and building Western's nationally recognized music collection of about 100,000 items. "I love serving the faculty and students," Ritter said, "I enjoy my job very much, it's a wonderful job." Dr. Burnett earned his PhD in American and English Literature from Claremont Graduate School in California in 1968. He then joined the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies in 1969 as one of its first faculty members. Since then, he has taught all the Fairhaven core courses, literature, human ecology, sustainability and currently is teaching a course on the Samish Sea. Dr. Burnett also teaches in the honors department. Through Fairhaven, Dr. Burnett has lead foreign study trips and taught in France and Mexico. Dr. Burnett said his greatest accomplishment in his career is working with amazing students and helping them further their careers and get excited about learning. "We are co-learners. I think that is good for the students and certainly good for me." Dr. Burnett said. Dr. Rangel-Guerrero is the associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his Masters and PhD from University of Oregon. Professor Safavi came to Western’s business department in 1969 to help develop the evolving program. He designed seven new courses in the business and administration program when he arrived. In 45 years, Professor Safavi has only cancelled class four times. "I am proud to keep the commitment to my students and not let them go without a professor," Safavi said. "I am a committed person to the goal and so I stuck with this program here for so many years because I love the students and I love the community." Safavi was the first ever recipient of a lifetime Excellence in Teaching Award in 1976. The students voted to choose the winning professor based off the teaching excellence criteria. The distinguished teaching award is intended to recognize an individual faculty member for their enthusiasm for learning and teaching. Their active involvement in student research projects, effective design of courses and ability to inspire students original thinking, according to the criteria of teaching excellence. Safavi said his greatest accomplishment is to be an educator, not just a teacher, at Western. "[An] educator is a person who is not only teaching a topic or subject but expressing interest in the total being of the individual. Developing their attitude toward life, developing all their potentials and working with them as a mentor," Safavi said. Eight other Western faculty members were also honored with the President's Exceptional Efforts Award from President Shepard. The recipients included Clint Burgess and George Lio for their work in academic affairs; Jeanne Gaffney, Mercia Merth and Clara Capron from Enrollment and student services; Doug Adelstein and Stan Wolf from the business and financial affairs office; and Max Bronsema for his work in university relations and community development.
The main room of Mount Baker Theater was packed for Pulitzer prizewinner Timothy Egan’s discussion of his book “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher” about Seattle photographer Edward Curtis. As Egan flipped through pictures taken by Curtis, he told Curtis’ life story and about his photography. Curtis, who spent 30 years photographing Native Americans in the early 20th century, was “the most famous person in Seattle” at his time, Egan said. Egan joked that he was “the original Seattle celebrity.” Curtis started out as a portrait photographer with a side interest in shooting portraits of local Native Americans, of which there were few. At the time, the only Native American allowed to live in Seattle was Chief Sealth’s daughter, Princess Angeline, Egan said. His desires broadened when, in 1891, he rescued three gentlemen who were lost on a hike. They turned out to be the head of National Geographic, head of the Forest Service, and the founder of the Autobahn Society. They were impressed by his work and arranged for him to meet Midwest Native Americans who still lived “by the old ways,” Egan said. At the start of the 20th century, there were only 200,000 Native Americans, Egan said. Curtis worried that they would die out, so he set out to shoot pictures of all the Native tribes that still kept some of their traditions, he said. Despite Curtis’ work, he died poor and forgotten by most until his work was rediscovered after his death. “This is the typical story of an artist,” Egan said. Patricia Herlevi, a former Western student with a background in theatre, art and music said that she found the photography interesting. “It’s moving to me because it’s tragic.” Christiana Claassen who does marketing and public relations for Whatcom Museum, said that Egan’s book does a good job of talking about the complex issue of the relationship between Native Americans and white people through the lens of Curtis’ life. For more information on Curtis and his work, the exhibit “Mingled Visions: Images from the North American Indian by Edward s. Curtis” is on display in the Lightcatcher building of the Whatcom Museum until May 10. His book, “The North American Indian,” is now in the public domain. Audio recordings he made of Native American songs are not available from a central source, but are also available online.
A sexual violence investigation has been launched against Western by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), following a complaint issued by a student against the university. The investigation into the alleged Title IX violation was launched on Friday, April 17, according to an email from the OCR. As of Wednesday, April 29, 119 sexual violence cases were under investigation at 109 institutions. “Western cares deeply about ensuring a safe environment for its students, faculty and staff, and does not and will not tolerate sexual violence, or any form of violence or harassment,” Western Office of Communications Director Paul Cocke said. The university welcomes the opportunity to learn and examine its current safety standards, Cocke said. “[Title IX] prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities in federally funded schools at all levels,” according to the OCR Title IX Resource Guide. Further information regarding the complaint and investigation cannot currently be disclosed, Cocke said. The Western Front will update this story as more information becomes available.
On Wednesday, April 22, the Campus Community Coalition, CCC, held their first of two open forums discussing the concerns over legalized marijuana. University of Washington Professor Jason Kilmer and local recreational marijuana retailer Aaron Nelson presented at the forum, offering multiple perspectives on the topic. Kilmer has a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the University of Washington and works as both a researcher and professor at the university. Kilmer spoke first at the forum and presented information from research that has influenced him and research he has completed regarding the usage of marijuana and alcohol. Kilmer said over the course of the next five years he is focused on measuring the impact of marijuana legalization. Certain areas that need to be researched include the effects on physical and mental health from different strains of marijuana, the impact marijuana has on the lungs and the medical benefits it may have, Kilmer said. Having worked previously as both a counselor and researcher, Kilmer said he is grateful his job at University of Washington allows him to work in both fields simultaneously. “I feel lucky to have the chance to bridge the gap between science and practice on a daily basis,” Kilmer said. Aaron Nelson, senior vice president of operations at 2020 Solutions spoke following Kilmer’s presentation. Nelson discussed the specifics of running a recreational marijuana business and hardships that these businesses may face. Nelson said the biggest hardship his company faced was not having enough product when the stores launched. The suppliers did not have enough time to grow the product so they weren’t able to begin operating until just three months before stores opened, Nelson said. Upon opening 2020 Solutions, the average age of customer was between 40 and 60 years old, but as prices drop due to increase in supply, Nelson has seen younger customers coming in to shop, he said. “2020 Solutions is actively looking to expand throughout the state of Washington,” Nelson said. Western student Frances Dierken volunteered at the event and helped CCC set up the conference room. Dierken said she learned things she hadn’t previously known about the recreational marijuana industry at the forum. Dierken said now that marijuana is legalized she is excited to see the amount of research which will be able to be done on the effects and usage of marijuana. After the presenters finished, attendees were allowed to participate in a question and answer period. Attendees were told to fill out a blue card with their questions on it and then a spokesperson from the CCC read them to the panel of speakers. The questions asked spanned a wide range of topics. Some even asked for parenting advice to give to their youth that were interested in trying marijuana. According to their website, the CCC are focused on creating positive experiences for students living off-campus and their non-student neighbors, as well as working with alcohol retailers to encourage customers to make safe decisions when drinking. The next public forum on marijuana will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 13, at the Mount Baker Theater Encore Room at 112 Champion St.
Despite a formal cancellation by university police, about 40 runners still arrived to participate in the first Running From The Police 5K race on Sunday, April 26.
Beginning fall quarter, Western dining halls will open at 10 a.m. on weekends and holidays, allowing students to get their fix of bacon, pancakes and pizza a half-hour earlier. The earlier opening time is a result of student requests that the dining hall serve brunch before 10:30 a.m. on the weekends, Associate Director for University Residences Kurt Willis said. As a result of the change, students with a 125-meal plan will pay about $5 more for the academic year. The added half-hour will impact staffing hours the most, as it will cost around $20,000 more per academic year, Willis said. Nicholas Hall, a freshman and current employee at the Viking Commons, agrees that the new time should benefit students and won't be a nuisance to his own schedule. "I work brunch most weekends and I would be okay with getting here a half-hour earlier,” Hall said. “People are always lined up when we start at 10:30 a.m. I feel like 10 a.m. will be an improvement." Dining hall access data, which tracks how many students are in the dining hall at a time, showed that the early brunch hours were "pinch points," or points in the day with a high volume of students, Willis said. The data, when paired with feedback from students, suggest that earlier brunch times would be a better way to accommodate more students on the weekend, Willis said. Students who wake up well before the 10:30 start time gave comments to the dining hall requesting an earlier start time, he said. “I just get up early and sometimes there is not enough food around to eat, so 10 a.m. is better." freshman Leah Olver said. Although some students said they do choose to sleep in on the weekend, they acknowledge that not everyone does the same and that those early risers would appreciate the new time. “I usually don’t get up that early on the weekends. I know for people who work, [10:30 a.m.] wouldn’t be that great because they have to get up early,” freshman Leah Seitz said. Students will get an additional half-hour added to the brunch availability, as the closing time will remain at 1:30 p.m. “There will be more availability so I think students will enjoy it, we all have different schedules for when we wake up and when we want to eat. If they increase the availability, I don’t see how it could be a problem,” junior Melinda Chinen said.
David Clay Large came to Western to discuss his book “Nazi Games” on Thursday, April 23. “Nazi Games” is a novel discussing the 1936 Summer Olympic Games held in Nazi occupied Germany. It specifically examines the treatment and representation of Jewish and African American athletes participating in the games. Dawn Dietrich, director of Western Reads, introduced Large. He then continued to give an hour-long lecture on his novel followed by a question and answer with the audience. Berlin was voted to host the games in 1931, two years before the Nazi party came into power, Large said. Large went on to explain the negative reactions of U.S. citizens. Many Jewish Americans protested to boycott the games due to Adolf Hitler’s treatment of the Jews and minorities, he said. At first Hitler didn’t want to hold the games, Large explained. Although, Theodor Lewald, one of Hitler’s advisors, recommended that he host the games because it would be a good chance for propaganda. Once Hitler agreed to hold the games he kicked off all of the Jewish athletes on Germany’s team, Large said. This created controversy. Hitler agreed to compromise by allowing a half Jewish female fencer named Helene Mayer to join the team, he said. Despite the effort of many Americans, the games were not boycotted and went on as scheduled. The U.S. team was especially diverse with 18 African American athletes, six Jewish athletes and three Native American athletes, Large said. German residents treated ethnic participants fairly at the games, but unbeknownst to them the police were instructed to watch them very closely, Large explained. Citations were given out to Berlin women who flirted with Jewish athletes or athletes of color, he said. Overall, Jewish and African American athletes did very well in the games. The first and second place winners of the high jump were African Americans on the U.S. team and the decathlon winner was a Jewish American. Also, African American athletes accumulated 83 points for the U.S. track and field team, Large said. Although, this did not change the German opinion on African American athletes, an unidentified Nazi stated, that African American athletes are “gifted freaks who owe their success to their jungle inheritance,” Large said. Because of the negative opinion toward the Nazi party, the games had fewer foreign travelers than expected, Large said. Junior international business major James Ward enjoyed the lecture, he said. “It wasn’t something that particularly sparked my interest, but I found it very interesting,” Ward said. Large is an expert in German history and sport culture.
Western alumni helped The Seattle Times win their 10th Pulitzer Prize this year for breaking news for their coverage of the landslide in Oso, Washington, that took 43 lives. The Western alumni who shared in the staff award include Gina Cole, Jack Broom, Laura Gordon, Coral Garnick, Paige Collins, Mark Higgins, Katie Greene Cotterill, Ron Judd and Colin Diltz. The award, which was announced Monday, April 20, is shared by the entire newspaper’s staff. Among the Western alumni on the staff was Garnick who graduated with a journalism degree in 2009. “Winning for breaking news is a hard one to win for because it inevitably means something tragic happened,” Garnick said. “So it’s a hard thing for all of us to look back on such a tragic situation and feel excited and happy about the coverage that we did.” Paige Collins, who graduated from Western in 2012 with a journalism degree, spoke about the bittersweet feeling that comes with winning an award for covering a tragic event. “The award is something to celebrate because we did our jobs well and we are proud of the journalism we produced, but you don’t want to celebrate too much,” Collins said. The coverage of the landslide, which happened after a hillside collapsed above the Stillaguamish River and bore its way through the Steelhead Haven neighborhood, included stories, graphics, photos and videos. There was also a detailed victims page that was continuously updated as information became available after the slide. Collins spent most of her time producing the victims page. The page started out as a list of confirmed missing people and overtime grew to be more of an interactive memorial for the victims, Collins said. “By the end of this project I had all of the names of all of these people memorized and I could tell you information about their lives just off the top of my head,” Collins said. “The hardest part of that was plowing through the effort to get the work done and shoving aside the emotional aspect.” At just 27, Garnick said that winning a Pulitzer prize was never something she thought would happen this early in her career. “On my bucket list was winning a Pulitzer, to be able to say that I’m part of that is just incredible,” Garnick said. The Pulitzer Prize is awarded annually in 21 different categories that award achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition in the United States. This is the second Pulitzer for breaking news for the Seattle Times in five years.
Belina Seare was the only Associated Students presidential candidate who sat on the stage of the Viking Union Multi-Purpose Room Thursday, April 23, for what would have been the presidential debate leading up to next week’s AS elections.
In this year's Associated Students election, four candidates for vice president positions are running unopposed. These candidates spoke about their platforms and goals for their positions at the AS VP debate on Tuesday, April 21, in Academic West 204.
Juniors Jesse Doran and Patrick Eckroth debated voting accessibility and issues involved with running for Associated Students Vice President for Governmental Affairs. This position acts as a liaison between the AS and the University Relations division, the city and county governments, the State of Washington, as well as the U.S. federal government.
Junior Zachary Dove and sophomore Gabriel Alejandro Ibanez went head-to-head at a debate for Vice President of Academic Affairs, a position tasked with increasing student awareness and involvement about academic affairs of the university, as stated on the Associated Students Board of Directors website.