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PSU Chronicles

The inside story of life at Portland State University from student bloggers
Updated: 35 min 2 sec ago

C.R.E.A.M.

April 24, 2015 - 12:42pm

By Teddi Faller

  
Nothing makes you feel older than when you have take a new job because of the financial benefits – like stable hours, higher pay, stocks and 401ks. I consider myself a die hard loyalist when it comes to jobs. This is probably because the first job I ever had was a dream and I was pulled kicking and screaming from it due to relocation.

After that I tried to find a similar job – and huzzah! — I succeeded. Unfortunately, retail and certain industries are suffering right now. The hours were inconsistent and the upward mobility was non-existent — no movement at all. I fell into that trap of comparing one job to another, which never ends well.

This leads to searching for new jobs even if you aren’t necessarily unhappy.

And if a new job offer comes along, you are faced with a difficult choice — stay with what you know or take a jump.

The scariest thing about putting in your two weeks’ notice is spending those next two weeks wondering if you made the right decision.

In switching jobs you:

1. Realize that you’re comfortable in your job
2. Realize how awful it is to be new at a job
3. Realize how much you like your coworkers
4. Realize how much you might not like your new coworkers
5. Wonder whether you made the right choice

Life is made of hard choices. Moments like these remind me that I am, in fact, a grownup. When staring student loans in the face, and the potential consequences that your loans might have on your future spouse — extra grown-up points? — career choices became more “what can I afford” rather than sticking with something that’s comfortable.

I suppose the takeaway from all this is simply to take risks when we’re young, so that when we’re older we can chase our dreams knowing we’re taken care of.


“Dorm Jealousy”

April 22, 2015 - 2:53pm

By: Zaira Carranza

Since coming to Portland State University, I have made many friends that live in campus dorms. I can’t help but be a little jealous because living in the dorms would make my life way easier. One of my friend lives on the 10th floor of the Ondine. She has the most amazing view of Portland from her room. I always go visit her to take naps. She has one roommate and two suitemates whom she shares the bathroom and kitchenette with. The dorms are more spacious than I’d expected and you can decorate it as you please. My friend keeps hers very clean and minimalistic. Some of downsides of living in the dorms are being homesick and having to deal with roommates on stressful days. Other than that they are super convenient, and I can’t wait to one day experience dorm life.


Is This Home?

April 17, 2015 - 4:13pm

By Shezad Khan

This is my fifth year at Portland State, and my last year as an undergrad. It’s very common remaining for half a decade in one place is enough to make you sick. In March I received an email letting me now that I had been accepted into a Master of Arts in English Graduate Program. Obviously, I was incredibly excited and even a little proud of myself. Can you guess where I’ll be attending school for my years as a graduate student? How about somewhere else in the state or even a neighboring state? Maybe the east coast, or even out of the country!

Alas, the answer is that I’ve decided to stay right here, in Portland, to attend Portland State for another few years.

So what is about Portland State that is so enticing? I’ve met people from several different states and several different countries who moved to Oregon so they could go to school here. Maybe I should have taken the time to ask what influenced their decision. But since I don’t have their points-of-view, I will offer mine.

  • My family moved to Portland when I was just two-years-old. Although we moved out of the city itself, Portland will always be my home.
  • My first visit to Portland State was overwhelming. It seemed enormous. Although it looks a little smaller now that I’m used to it, it’s still a giant campus.
  • The diversity of students and staff is incredible. I came from a high school of about 3,000 kids, there was diversity there, sure, but nothing compared to the wonderful cultures that mix at PSU.
  • I’m always learning something new about the campus.
  • There is always some sort of event going on. I seriously need to take advantage of this one!
  • The staff that I’ve had the honor of working with and taking classes from are simply amazing.
  • Last, but definitely not least, I have met some of the coolest people at Portland State. With so many attending students, it’s hard not to make friends.

I’ve enjoyed my last five years at PSU, and I have no doubt that I’ll continue to enjoy it during my years in the Master’s Program, regardless of how long it takes.


Wait… elections are happening?

April 17, 2015 - 3:07pm

By: Marilynn Sandoval

Did you know the ASPSU elections are going on? To be honest, I had no idea until I heard a group of people discussing running for office. In my time attending PSU, I have only voted once, and that was because someone I knew was running.

I like to complain about things that don’t get done on campus or changes that need to happen; yet I usually don’t participate in these elections. I would like to think that I’m not the only one who forgets they even happen. I assume the number of voters isn’t high.

So I decided to do some research on this year’s elections and vote. Yes, I said it, I’m going to vote this time around, and I think you should, too. Through my research, I found that this year’s elections are actually controversial and causing important debates. I would suggest you check out this article of the coverage of the elections this year [http://bit.ly/1HAM5H9]. I know some people who are running too, so that was definitely a nice surprise.

I won’t disclose my own personal votes, but I would suggest for you all to do some research and cast a vote this year. If you want a change to happen, put a little bit of work in. It wasn’t all that hard pushing some buttons and hitting submit.

Check ASPSU’s homepage to learn more about the candidates at http://bit.ly/1G3ZMyY and hurry because the poll closes at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 23rd.


The Graduation Blues

April 16, 2015 - 12:24am

By Brooke Horn

I have a countdown app installed on my cell phone. It has three events on it: Portfolio Due, Thesis Defense, and Commencement, each with their own countdown timer. It tells me that I have six days left to finish my portfolio, thirty-six days left to panic about my thesis, and fifty-nine days until I will (with any luck) walk across the stage at the Moda Center, beaming, having earned a Master’s degree in Writing and Book Publishing.

That day feels both terrifyingly close and impossibly far away. There is so much to do before then, so much that could go wrong. And yet, even though it feels like my two-year degree program started yesterday, I feel confident. My education and experiences have equipped me with both a unique range of skills and, perhaps more importantly, the confidence to go forth into the mysterious beyond of post-graduation adulthood.

Never mind that I still waited until the last possible minute to file my taxes this year, or that I opt for pizza and Netflix instead of cooking a real meal more than I’d like to admit.

Over the past two years, I’ve juggled a full graduate course load, 2-3 jobs and internships each term, a serious relationship, and a leadership position on campus. Both of my parents were hospitalized due to medical conditions within the last few months too. To be frank, I’ve been a walking bundle of stress.

If I could pass along one piece of advice to my fellow students, it would be this: learn how to manage your stress. Because you will, inevitably, face a point in your life when everything seems to come crashing down. Knowing how to relax, how to let go and take care of yourself – these are things that I never learned until I really needed them, and looking back, I wish I had learned them sooner. Now I know better: I recognize my limitations, and I listen to my body when it tells me to slow down, go for a walk, or pour a bubble bath.

But thankfully, both of my parents are recovering, my portfolio is coming along nicely, and my friends have been both patient and supportive. I bounced back. I’ve made lasting relationships – both professional and otherwise – and worked with some truly talented authors, students, and educators in my program. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I look forward to the future waiting on the other side of that stage.


Embrace the Gray

April 10, 2015 - 8:55am

 

By: Chelsea Ware

It seems like every day, whether I’m in line for coffee, riding the streetcar or in class, I hear someone complain about the rain. “I’m just so sick of this gloomy weather” or “I wish we would get more sun.” This attitude towards the rain in the Pacific Northwest astounds me!

First of all, the abundance of rain we get keeps the foliage lush and leafy. Oregon and Washington have some of the most beautiful trails, forests, and outdoor scenery. This is largely due to the fact that it rains much of the year. It keeps everything clean, green, and growing.

Secondly, as a native Californian I love the rain because I understand how much of a precious resource it is. After the lowest snowfall ever recorded and no end to the drought in sight, many homeowners in California have resorted to spray painting their dehydrated withering front lawns green. Back home my parents have to time their showers so that they don’t overuse their water ration.

Lastly, the rain makes it perfect for studying at one of Portland’s many cozy coffee shops. I love to go with friends to the Mezz café at the Pearl District Whole Foods when it’s raining. Not only do they have delicious coffee, it’s also right next to Powell’s Bookstore. So next time it’s less than sunny outside and you feel like complaining about the weather, try to remember that the rain is vital to many of the things we get to enjoy in Portland.


The Choices you make at the Fork in the Road

April 8, 2015 - 7:35am

By: Jasmin Landa

Have you ever thought about what your life would be like if you weren’t going to college right now?

Would you be working at a part-time job, traveling, or relaxing on a lawn chair thinking about the things you want to accomplish?

The reason I find that question so intriguing is that while the human mind has the capability to dream and have aspirations for the future, it is also very susceptible to thinking of the past and dwelling on it. But at the end of the day, we can only live in the present and go forward. We gain memories and experiences from our past, and they shape who we are, but life moves forward not back.

Even though your past has had a lot to do with shaping who you are, this does not mean that where you came from and what you have done in the past determines the person you want to become tomorrow. It only takes one decision to change, alter, or ameliorate the life that you had in the past. It’s not where you have been that’s important, but where it is you are going with the dreams and aspirations that are within you.

If accomplishing our ultimate dreams was an easy process, the words “hard work,” “trying,” “sacrificing” and words of encouragement would not be used as often as they are. Challenging people’s utmost potential and breaking boundaries creates leaders, innovators, and phenomenal people. So what would your life be if you weren’t doing what you are doing? Well, it’s a thought that has escaped my mind. Today is only here for 24 hours, and the seconds will soon become minutes, and time will soon fly by, so live the life that you chose as you are the painter of your own portrait.


The Miserable but Hopeful Hiker

April 6, 2015 - 8:37pm

By Olivia Clarke

When Spring Break rolled around, my friend and I decided to go backpacking in the Columbia Gorge. We arrived at the trailhead around noon, and from there we hiked up…and up…and up.

It was an unpleasant trip. The weather was cold and wet. Our gear got soaked. Our hands went numb. The trail was brutally steep. By the next day I was so sore I could hardly move. Despite all this misery, though, when we returned home we were laughing and exhilarated, and we hoped to go camping again soon. That’s the strange paradox of hiking: terrible discomfort, followed by a desire to repeat the experience.

I suspect this phenomenon must have something to do with nature. As a person who “enjoys” hiking, I believe that now and then I need to shiver in the mountains in order to remember my place. On the slopes and in the forests, we feel small. The vastness and the harshness of the wilderness still have the power to humble us. This is important in an age when we huddle in cities, dreading the inevitability of climate change. When I think of the environmental destruction taking place every day, I often feel hopeless and resigned. On backpacking trips, however, when I see all the trees and the wildflowers and I breathe in that crisp northwestern air, I realize how much life and power remains in our resilient wilderness. I keep returning to the trail because when I see all that’s left to save, I feel an unmistakable rush of hope.


Three Management Tools to Help Students Succeed

March 12, 2015 - 12:59pm

Many students get overwhelmed with the amount of readings required in each course. If you’re a graduate student putting together your literature review and/or dissertation proposal, organization is crucial. As a doctoral student, I have mounds of journal articles to sort through each week, and without the help of certain technological tools I would definitely find myself drowning in an abyss of academic articles.

I use several tools that support my process that I think could be useful for students at all levels.

Google Docs: I primarily use Google Drive Docs to jot down notes, research ideas and organize my projects. One idea that I recently started to implement is sharing a Google Excel Doc with my advisor, so that I can easily update him on my research process and findings. Try it!

Mendeley: This nifty tool is a reference manager, and it’s a lifesaver! You can access it from anywhere in the world, and you can also download it onto your desktop. Basically, you upload your PDFs, read and annotate (very useful – think of digital post-its all in one place), create groups and collaborate with others. And, last but not least, you can file your PDF articles in appropriate folders.

Zotero: Similar to Mendeley, it stores your articles and readings. You can also add images, audio and video files, and snapshots of web pages. A unique differentiation from Mendeley is that Zotero is the only research tool that identifies content in your web browser, allowing you to easily add the content to your library.

If you want to learn more about citation management tools, visit the PSU library for more information.

 


Why I Left the Vanguard

March 11, 2015 - 2:43pm

By Shezad Khan

  • I didn’t get paid the first three months I worked for the Vanguard. The director lost my paperwork which included some sensitive information. It was later found after I was asked to fill all the forms out a second time.
  • One of my articles was attributed to someone else. This one really upset me. How can you take the time, work, and effort of a writer and put someone else’s name on it? I only heard from the chief editor once via a short email. Nothing was done to correct the problem. I was told the following issue would offer clarification. It didn’t. It was a stupid error for the Vanguard to make, and the way they handled the problem was nothing but a slap in the face.
  • They cut our pay by 33% (the least of my worries). For months I was making $45 per article if my articles were over a certain word count. After a new managing editor and a new editor for my section arrived, however, our pay was dropped to $30 dollars. Why? Because apparently the last managing editor had been mistaken about our pay. So it didn’t matter how long of an article we wrote, the pay would be the same. Did they bother to tell me that before I wrote articles nearing or reaching a thousand words? Of course not.
  • They changed the title of my article – twice. When this happened with the new editor, I was told that these things happen all the time. This would be the deciding factor in my choice to leave the Vanguard. I wrote an email asking why they would change the title without telling the writer, or why they wouldn’t give the writer the chance to come up with a new title if they didn’t think the original title was sufficient. The answer I received was that it would simply be a waste of time for the Vanguard to consider the writer’s thoughts. It doesn’t matter to me if publications feel they “have the right” to do this, I still think it’s wrong.

Tuition increases, this is really happening right now…

March 11, 2015 - 2:02pm

By: Sharon Nellist

The PSU Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow, March 12, to vote on the proposed tuition increase for the 2015-16 academic year.

The potential 5% increase will leave resident undergraduate and graduate students paying around $330 more each year. Non-resident students will have to pick up the tab with $500 more each year.

Students are affected by tuition increases: fewer enroll, they graduate later based on the course load they can afford, work longer hours at demanding jobs that interfere with academic performance, and drop out because they do not have enough money and cannot get more!

PSU’s Board of Trustees claims that the potential increase is due to flat enrollment, decreased state support, increase in costs, and the previously negotiated salary increases.

Higher education is an important part of the country’s economic advancement. Free higher education, as in other developed countries, would ultimately save money with a $15-$30 billion investment. The 30% of Americans who start college and actually graduate is evidence to the billions of dollars currently wasted. The more people there are in college, because they can actually afford it, the less unemployed people there would be seeking government assistance. College graduates without debt would stimulate the economy with the money they do have. An educated society reports a higher level of health and happiness. (Bob Samuels Huffington Post)

I kept my tuition loans low by attending a community college before transferring to Portland State; however, with the consistent increases, I am seriously worried that I will be unable to get the funding for graduate school.

Our Student Body President Eric Noll is raising a rallying cry against the increase to put pressure on the board. Students are encouraged to gather in front of the Millar Library from noon to 1 p.m. this Thursday.

What do you say? Hope to see you there!

Proposed agenda for the PSU Board of Trustees Meeting March 12, 2015


Real Talk About Internships

March 10, 2015 - 3:42am

Photo credit to Internships.com

By Brooke Horn

We’ve heard it before: Internships are a key part of your education. They provide valuable experience, they present networking opportunities, they look good on your resume, they help you transition from academia to the workplace, etc. We get it already. They’re important. What’s lacking in the conversation about internships (at least the ones I’m hearing) is how to really make them work for you. I’ve had three so far, and I’ll be the first to admit I made a few mistakes along the way. Here’s what I learned from them.

Like any relationship, it’s important to know what you want going into one so that both parties are on the same page. I’ve seen internships range from one to six months in length and require anywhere between one and 25-plus hours per week. Before you do anything else, figure out how much time you can realistically devote to interning. I made the mistake of overestimating how much time I had to give, and as a result, I’m writing this blog post at 4am. Sleep is important too, as is scheduling time for things that help you relax and genuinely make you happy.

When you interview, remember that it goes both ways. You should be asking questions and making sure that this internship will be mutually beneficial. Some things to consider: Will this internship provide you with new skills, or do they expect you to already be competent? Do you need to generate work samples for a portfolio, and if so, will this internship help you do that? Are you going to be exposed to networking opportunities? Will you be working on your own or as part of a team? Telecommuting? Not only will you impress your potential employer, but your internship experience will be that much more rewarding because you know what you want out of it.

Finally, no internship discussion is complete without acknowledging the elephant in the room: compensation. The ethics surrounding paid vs. unpaid internships deserve a blog post – or even a book – all their own, but I’ll say this: I’ve had one paid and two unpaid internships, and they ALL were irreplaceable parts of my education. It may seem incredibly unfair to have to pay tuition and fees for seemingly free labor, but you aren’t really working for free. You are gaining otherwise unattainable experience, academic credit, and networking connections. In many cases, you are also helping small businesses stay afloat in a difficult economy. My internship with local independent publisher Hawthorne Books taught me not only about publishing, but how small businesses interact with their communities.

In short, don’t just sign up for an internship to fill a requirement or a line on your resume. Be selective, know what you want and what you have time for, and do your research. Seriously… internships quite literally changed the course of my education. If you’d like to know more, feel free to ask in the comments. I’m out of room here, but I’m always happy to help a fellow student.

If you’re on the hunt, the following resources are super helpful:

  1. PSU’s Career Center
  2. PSU’s Jobs & Internships Database
  3. Career Workshops, Classes, & Events
  4. 10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Internship
  5. Pinterest’s surprisingly good internship advice

For the Sake of My Sanity, Please Change the PSU Payment Plan!

March 4, 2015 - 9:27am

By: Chelsea Ware

I am an out of state student and PSU has offered me many opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t have if I went to school back home. I have fallen in love with Oregon and don’t plan on leaving when I graduate. That being said, being an out of state student has also been expensive. While loans and help from family make my education possible, it’s hard not to cringe every time my quarterly bill is posted.

The PSU payment plan has given me even more reason to cringe. Implemented fall quarter of 2014, the payment plan allows students to pay their tuition in three installments due on the 6th of each month. If a payment is missed, we are charged a $100 late fee. However, all students, not just those on the payment plan, must have a zero balance on their Banweb account on the 6th of each month. If they do not, they are automatically enrolled in the plan and charged the $100 fee. While I paid my tuition in full at the beginning of the term, I was charged the late fee because I didn’t know that I had a small bill from the student health clinic that had been posted the day before.

College is a privilege, and many students struggle to afford an education so that they can better their future. There are many international, out of state, low income and minority students who have unique funding structures that don’t mesh with PSU’s new plan. Some students I know didn’t get their financial aid before the 6th of the month, which happened to be only a few days into the term this winter. As a result they now have late fees to add to their already growing student debt.

PSU used to structure their payment system like many universities in Oregon do today. A 1-2% interest is added to outstanding payments each billing cycle. Therefore, the late fee is a reasonable amount compared to the student’s outstanding balance. I personally would like to see PSU go back to this system, what do you guys think?


It’s that feeling…

March 2, 2015 - 2:46pm

By: Jasmin Landa

It’s that feeling when you put all your effort into a goal and the result comes back as both a surprise and a disappointment. It’s a feeling that brings you down and saddens you with all its might. It tells you your efforts weren’t good enough and makes it hard to keep moving forward with your head held high and a smile on your face.

I have felt disappointment numerous times, and it feels like there is a barrier that I can’t quite figure out how to break through. I have pushed, pulled and plotted ways to demolish this impediment, but solutions have remained a mystery.

I am definitely not perfect, but I have grown and have not forgotten the people and experiences that have formed my identity. I learn from my leaps in life and I cherish my triumphs. Yet, even with a real identity and the knowledge and wisdom I practice, I endure a lot of disappointment. It’s like a roller coaster: I get thrills, but sometimes it seems I am perpetually falling, and it constantly tests my faith.

When I get that feeling I try to see my life’s journey elevating to another triumph. I begin to realize how much faith can carry me up to my next point in life. Faith is a powerful weapon that gives strength to my internal and external being to keep proceeding forward. Without it, I would be a destitute soul who has given up and settled for what is.

So yes, disappointment is a part of my daily life, but only a small percentage of what influences me. My life is not a sweet symphony of perfection, but one in which I’ve learned, tripped and excelled. Disappointment is vital to my identity because without it, there is no need to find a way to succeed at another level or desire. I want to be the change I want to see in the world, and one day the world will change with me. For now, I will take every outcome or state of mind I’m in as an opportunity to be grateful that I can take this day and turn it into an opportunity.


Let’s Talk Trash

February 24, 2015 - 1:33am

By Brooke Horn

Lauren Singer’s green philosophy is pretty simple: produce as little waste as possible by making smart, sustainable lifestyle choices. As a whole, our society subscribes to the disposable model. We have disposable plastic ware, drink cups, water bottles, napkins, food wrappers, product packaging… the list is seemingly endless. Generating no trash might seem like an impossibility but, as Lauren shows us, we can get pretty darn close.

Lauren Singer can fit two year’s worth of trash into a single mason jar. Photo credit to Trash is for Tossers.

I discovered Lauren through this EcoWatch article last week and became really intrigued by the concept of zero-waste living. Amazingly, almost all of the trash she’s collected over two years fits in a single mason jar. Her blog, Trash is for Tossers, provides tons of useful information on how she pulls her zero-waste lifestyle off. After doing a lot of research and taking a good, hard look at my own habits, I’ve decided to follow Lauren’s lead and implement some changes in my own lifestyle.

While I don’t think that I’m ready to transition to zero-waste, I DO want to transition to zero-plastic (or as close as I can get). Plastics have been shown to leach toxins into food, and while they can be reused, they don’t decompose like other materials. Does this mean immediately disposing of all plastics in my household? No, and it shouldn’t. Throwing away these items would only ADD to the problem.

My dreaded Tupperware shelf… I plan on replacing all of that plastic with more sustainable containers.

Instead, I plan on gradually replacing my plastic items with glass, wood, or stainless steel equivalents (which you can find here, or even at your local thrift shop). The plastic items can either be donated or recycled as I exchange them. And while I’m generally pretty good about bringing a reusable water bottle and canvas shopping bags with me wherever I go, I’d like to go one step further. By using linen bags like these when I purchase produce and bulk items, I eliminate most plastics from my shopping routine. BAM. No more plastic bags, no more plastic Tupperware. One step closer to zero-plastic and zero-waste.

For tips on how you can live a more sustainable lifestyle on campus, check out PSU’s own Green Campus Living. The blogs Project Green Dorm, Zero Waste Home, and, of course, Trash is for Tossers are also really great resources. Wish me luck on my journey to zero-plastic! Feel free to share your own tips, recipes, resources, and ideas in the comments below.


“A Living Room On Campus”

February 23, 2015 - 9:24am

By: Zaira Carranza

Some of my favorite places at Portland State University are the cultural centers: La Casa Latina, Multicultural Center (MCC), and the Native American Student Center. There are many events held at all these centers, but the most exciting ones for me are those that teach me about the different cultural celebrations. But let’s be honest, it is also the ones with free food. I enjoy being there because I get a welcoming feeling. I can go to the MCC and lay on one of the couches and take a nap right after my biology exams. I also use the microwave whenever I bring my fancy Ramen from home. There is a social area with many tables where I meet people from all sorts of backgrounds. It is like a living room on campus. It is where I spend time with my friends as well as create new friendships. I enjoy it so much that I decided to apply for a job there. I currently work in the front desk at the Casa Latina and MCC, so if you ever want to come, you are more than welcome. Did you know that the more people who visit the cultural centers, the more funding it gets? That funding means that there could be even more events throughout the year.


Chirp, Chirp, Squawk: Rediscovering Nature in the City

February 23, 2015 - 12:14am

By Olivia Clarke

“Look!” my classmate said excitedly, pointing up into a tree in the Montgomery courtyard. “A crow!”

We were on a bird-watching field trip for our urban ecology class, led by a member of the Audubon Society. Our guide had arrived in our classroom thirty minutes earlier to give us an overview of Portland’s bird species. Then he led us outside to observe the ornithology of the campus. Our inner birders awakened, we announced each sighting with greater enthusiasm. We gleefully identified “Rock Pigeons” and “Glaucous-winged Gulls” as if they were rare and exotic specimens.

After a steep hike into the hills south of campus, we reached a clearing where we could look out over the entire city to glimpse Hood, Adams, and St. Helens in the distance. Our guide called us over to a tree to train our binoculars on a little black bird with bright red eyes and wings to match. “Ooh,” we all crooned.

We tend to think of ourselves as separate from nature, especially here in the city – “urban” and “wildlife” seem like contradictory terms. But if that disconnect were real, I don’t think my classmates and I would have found ourselves huddled together to admire a Spotted Towhee against a mingled backdrop of buildings and mountains.

Nature is persistent. We forget that it sings songs around us constantly, even in the middle of Portland. I hear these songs chirped and squawked around campus all the time, now that I’ve adjusted my ears.


“Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate; Only Love Can Do That.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

February 19, 2015 - 5:18pm

by Shezad Khan

As an atheist, one of my main goals is to make sure that my outlook on life revolves around peace and love. For this reason, I feel that it’s a shame that several atheist “scholars” have turned to using animosity to preach against those who they disagree with. It seems counterintuitive for these big names in atheism to be using the same tool that religious fanatics use to preach against their enemies – that tool being hate.

This is also an odd situation for me because my family comes from a Muslim background. That means that every time a fanatical Islamic group – ISIL, Boko Haram, etc. – decides to spread their hatred via killing and destruction (the recent tragedy of Charlie Hebdo, for instance), it shines an incredibly bad light on Muslims in general. It has become more and more visible to me that a lot of people in this country generalize Muslims. Yes, it is racist to say that everyone in or from the Middle East is a terrorist, and yes, it is very prejudiced to say that that every Muslim is a terrorist. I may be an atheist, but I don’t ever want to see my family suffer through that. After the attacks made on September 11th, my mom wouldn’t let me go to the park after school – try explaining why to a nine-year-old kid.

So how am I supposed to feel now, that three young Muslim-American adults were killed in North Carolina and no one really seems to care? Three young Muslim-Americans killed “execution style” and the media has chalked it up to a “parking dispute.” It’s just something that doesn’t sit well with me.

Even though it seems like Muslim people are in a bad spot right now, I’m not without hope that there are people out there who understand the difference between religious people and religious fanatics as I do. Luckily, I find myself surrounded by intellectual and intelligent people – especially the friends I’ve made at Portland State. And to those who do want to use hate as their primary tool, I guess I’ll just have to chalk them up as being incredibly ignorant.


Slow ride, Take it easy

February 19, 2015 - 2:03pm

By: Sharon Nellist

I admire and sympathize at the same time with those who take more than the recommended full-time classes and are involved in every other school organization and club in hopes to save a bit of money and graduate sooner than expected. Because I once was that student – and it is certainly not for everyone.

Perhaps it is that I am a returning full-time student, in my late twenties, married, making a car payment, working several outside jobs in order to pay rent, and I’m not opposed to starting a family while trying to have the most quintessential young college experience – a campus job, events, clubs, etc. I want this experience to be great and memorable.

What I have realized is that it is possible for everyone to have this experience, even me, but you need to know how to balance these things and maintain your sanity.

  • For me I know I need 12 credit hours, no more or less, for optimal learning
  • That suggests that I have 24 hours total of study time
  • I save money by bringing my food instead of delicious food carts – allows for some creativity, or lack thereof
  • My job as a nanny gives me the flexibility around my school schedule, as it is my priority
  • I budget using a spreadsheet, they are not just for old people – I can cut back on my student loans this year!
  • I am involved in rowing, yes at 5:30 a.m. every morning, and I work for the student blog – only 2 allows me to focus on my involvement
  • And there is a whole day allotted for spending time with my husband or friends – we frequent the Saturday Market on campus

My degree may take an extra term or two to complete, but I most likely will not have a mental breakdown, my personal life will be unharmed, and I will succeed well enough to go on to Grad school and still have my perfect college experience.


Forty days of restraint

February 18, 2015 - 1:57pm

It is that time of year again when the Christians and the semi-Christians come out of the woodwork to discuss what it is they are giving up for Lent. I find myself debating between the two things I care about most – coffee and shopping. However, fortunately for my wallet, I physically cannot afford to give up coffee, and financially cannot afford to not give up shopping.

When I was in high school, shopping was not a problem, basically because I didn’t have any money to spend. But when I moved out of state to California for college, shopping became a very easy distraction. Uprooting to California by myself, accompanied by the stress of student loans, new people, and needing to find a job, was the most trying experience of my life. Throw in a dysfunctional relationship and you have my freshman year nightmare. In order to get away from it all, as far as I could with reasonable transit time, I would go to the mall. It wasn’t until Lent came up that I realized I had an actual problem.

Whether you’re religious or not, it’s never a bad idea to reflect on your behaviors and habits – and particularly why you engage in them. The idea of Lent is to tackle a particularly bad habit that interferes with your relationship to God. However, I think the idea behind Lent would do everyone a little good because it allows people to look at what actions interfere with their relationships to themselves or to their loved ones.

Is it easier to run a credit card than talk about the actual reason you’re upset? Absolutely. But does it solve any problems? Not really, and it creates a newer problem of credit card debt.

I believe anyone can benefit from 40 days of restraint, especially when control seems like the only thing you don’t have on your plate. Plus, you get to celebrate at the end so why not?


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