Mount Hood

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna turn around and dessert you

Written by: Gretchen Sims

Sometimes as a college student, it feels like there is no time in the day that one can take for themself. Between class, homework and a job, it is hard to find enough time to sit down and eat, much less enjoy oneself. However, it is at these times that it becomes the most crucial to keep up with the things one is passionate about. 

I started college with a dream — I wanted to be a writer. I wrote poems, journaled and poured my philosophical soul onto the page at least twice a day, but as soon as I started college that all changed. The spark I had was quickly lost to the sea of chaos that has unfortunately been my life for the past two years. 

I tried desperately to hold on to my love for reading and writing, but because reading was at the bottom of my priority list, and I was so incredibly busy, I let that go. And, as soon as I started writing as a job, whatever joy I found left in writing ultimately turned into a chore. 

What once was my sole joy in life quickly became a burden and I lost all the love I had for reading and writing. 

Recently, I have been trying to reconnect with the passions that made me want to go to college in the first place. I have been trying to pick up a book every once in a while, and I have been writing for my own prowess as well. However, this has not been easy. Once one has fallen out of love, it can be difficult to find it again.

My advice is not to give it up. If I have learned anything from my struggle these past few months to reconnect with my spark, it is that the longer something is put aside, the less likely it is to become a priority once again. 

Seeing all the bright first-years in my English classes with so much light in their eyes and hearing them discuss the books they are reading encourages me. The most important time to read and write for fun is in college and seeing their joy brings me hope that others are not repeating my mistakes. 

However, if this situation sounds familiar, pick up a book, start writing a poem or even pick up that dusty journal from the bedside table. Get out there and reconnect with the creative spark that got you to where you are today.

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Letter from the Editor

Written by: Mikayla Coleman

Hello Western,

We have come to the end of an era. As an employee of two years, it is unbelievable to me that this will be the last article I will write for the Western Howl. 

There is an overwhelming amount of things to reflect on. For one, the Western Howl celebrated its 100th year of publishing student-run news in 2023. 

I’ve had the privilege to transition through many different editorial positions at the Howl. I initially started as a News Editor — doe-eyed and so incredibly stoked to be able to get paid to write. I am happy to say that despite many challenges, that passion and drive to write and create still resides inside of me. 

There has been a huge amount of transition and change during my time at the Howl. The leadership in the team that I started with graduated in the 2021-2022 academic year — teaching me their ways and handing over the reins to me. We were a really strong and cohesive team, and I found myself wondering if I may ever be able to replicate that feeling again. In the 2022-2023 team, there were some incredibly strong returners with a few new faces sprinkled throughout. 

Leadership from higher-ups has been constantly shifting. Dealing with the losses and additions of advisors, as well as the lack of advising that existed for most of this year, has been strenuous. Leading a group of my peers in a time when communication and information were scarce proved to be incredibly challenging. I am thankful to my team for backing me up and boosting my confidence when things seemed dire. 

Despite the challenges we faced, the Western Howl has consistently been able to publish weekly issues containing relevant news and information for the Western community. The passion of our editorial team is present within each article we have published. I am incredibly grateful and proud of the creativity our section editors have been able to maintain through challenging themselves each week. We have had several of our employees move from in-person to remote positions, and I am thankful for those that have been able to maintain journalistic and workplace standards from afar. 

We would truly be nothing without our designers and photo editor. In all aspects, this part of our team figures out how to make our papers work visually — which is a huge feat. One cannot thank them without mentioning the charisma they bring into the office and their complete and utter love for Harry Styles, Taylor Swift and Elvis Presley. 

Many of the 2022-23 staff will either be graduating or not returning, but let me be clear — the staff who are returning are excellent and raising the bar for what the Howl can be. 

Gretchen Sims will be a valiant leader in welcoming and establishing a new team for the 2023-24 academic year, continuing the legacy of those who she has worked alongside. I have every confidence that her leadership will cause the Howl to grow and exceed in being a trusted community resource for students, staff and beyond. Addie Floyd will be entering Fall 2023 as a seasoned leader and accomplished head designer. Readers must stay tuned to see how they will flourish with a new team in the Fall. 

It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Howl for the past two years. In my time here, I have met and grown with friends and peers that have truly changed my life for the better. I would not change it for the world. 


Mikayla Coleman

Advice from a Graduating First-Gen college student

Written by: Mirella Barrera-Betancourt

College is already difficult enough having to navigate challenges, but it is especially challenging for a first-generation college student with nothing to draw inspiration and general conclusions from. 

I am the first person in my family to attend college. However, the label — first-generation college student and first person in the family to attend college — brought with it a very heavy burden: the pressure to live up to the expectation and become the family pride and breadwinner. 

In the beginning, the label only brought me misery and feelings of self-doubt and loneliness, as well as the constant fear of failure. I wanted to please my parents after the sacrifices they made to give me a proper education — a privilege they’ve never had — but I felt like I was not moving and succeeding at the pace of my fellow classmates. It was a classic instance of “The Imposter Syndrome” and one of many in my college journey.

In the end, I managed to persevere with the help of my family, and as a first-generation college student, I felt it was my duty to share the things I have learned in my three years of college.

Join a community of similar and like-minded individuals In my first year, I joined the On-Track Program by the Multicultural Student Services and Programs which is committed to guiding low-income and first-generation students throughout their first year in college. This program gave me an excuse to learn about the similar life experiences and thoughts that plagued my own and — albeit done virtually — left me feeling connected with my peers and with a sense of belonging. The program and the guidance it gave me was critical in helping me get on my feet. The key to managing the college experience is to connect with others; other people who are also facing the same obstacles and challenges.

Forgive yourself for mistakes — If one allows themself to ruminate and slowly drown in a sea of all the mistakes and failures one has made throughout one’s journey as a college student, it might just pull one under. It’s college; everyone is learning and starting from the knowledge of a clean and blank slate. It’s okay to make mistakes and the sooner one accepts that, the better.

Forgive your parents for their lack of understanding There were many times throughout my college journey when I would phone my mother begging for advice on a certain matter relating to college, only to be met with one of three options: silence, a very indifferent — and frankly uninterested — tone, or the usual “No se, mija.” This was frustrating. However, I cannot blame my parents for my own lack of understanding and guidance in university and educational affairs, for their encouragement was always present every step of the way and I really could not have done it without their support.

Take advantage of campus and community resources — In my case, one of the most challenging situations I had to endure as a first-generation college student was being honest with myself and admitting I needed help. One cannot know everything, especially as a first-generation student, and for many students, our parents cannot help much in terms of guidance and comfort, including navigation of topics such as financial aid and graduation. This means that one must take advantage of campus spaces and resources on campus, such as the financial aid office and student support programs.

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The 2024 Presidential Election

Written by: Nicholas Sarysz

The 2024 United States Presidential Election is just under 17 months away, which means many of the presidential nominees are declaring themselves for election, with a few big names still expected to be announced. Here is a brief overview of the democratic incumbent President Joe Biden, who is not the guaranteed Democratic nominee, and the top three Republican nominees who are fighting to be his contenders on the ballot in Nov. 2024.

President Joe Biden officially announced his reelection bid in a video that was released on April 25, 2023. By referring to the next election as a “battle for the soul of America,” Biden framed it as a choice between freedom and liberties or a smaller degree of each. 

By highlighting people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, as well as images of the attack on the US Capitol and pro-abortion rights protests, he aimed to distinguish the ideas of his administration from those of his political competitors. Biden underlined the significance of the rise of MAGA extremists, who he said threatened fundamental liberties.

When he made the official announcement from his South Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, in November, former president Donald Trump was the first candidate to announce his campaign from either party. Although he has not been very active on the campaign trail, he has recently upped his travel, making stops in important early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. 

Trump, who is widely seen as the front-runner for the GOP nomination, strengthened his position by giving a keynote speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where he topped the straw poll among attendees, in March. He continues to be a strong contender within the Republican Party, but his campaign will encounter tough legal obstacles.

The former South Carolina governor and Trump administration ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, launched her campaign for the Republican nomination in the middle of February. Haley, 51, has suggested a required mental fitness test for lawmakers above the age of 75 in an effort to establish herself as a new face in the Republican Party’s leadership — covertly making references to both former President Trump, who is 76, and President Biden, who is 80. Haley is a native of Bamberg, South Carolina and has served two successful terms as governor. Her ancestors were Indian immigrants. She made a name for herself as the senior American diplomat at the UN from Jan. 2017 to Dec. 2018 while the Trump administration was in power.

On May 24, Ron DeSantis officially began his presidential campaign. DeSantis’ announcement was delayed by technical issues just before he officially launched his campaign on Twitter Spaces, joined by the platform’s CEO Elon Musk. His staff viewed this as proof of his popularity and joked that he “literally busted up the internet.” DeSantis offered a comprehensive platform at the beginning of his campaign that included improving the nation’s crime rates, fostering energy independence and resolving immigration issues. He assured primary voters that he would take office on Jan. 20, 2025, emphasizing his dedication to providing outcomes devoid of justification. DeSantis confronts a significant obstacle in his bid for the presidency in the shape of former President Trump, who has already directed attacks at him.

Note: This piece is not meant to promote any presidential nominee over another and is strictly informational.

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Oregon author Kim Johnson visits Western

Written by: Mirella Barrera-Betancourt

On May 31, Kim Johnson — the author of the best-selling, young adult novel, “This Is My America” — visited students and the community to speak on the success of her acclaimed debut novel.

Johnson is the recipient of the Pacific Northwest Book Award and Malka Penn Human Rights Award for Children’s Literature. In addition to writing, Johnson serves as Vice Provost at the University of Oregon, constantly advocating for new methods to teach and educate new generations of students in order for them to thrive. 

Johnson said, “It really is an honor (to be here), especially to be here talking to you not as an administrator, but also talking to you as a creator; as a writer, someone who speaks truth to power or hopes to speak truth to power in the words that I write.”

“This Is My America” follows the story of Tracy Beaumont, a budding Black student journalist and social activist, fighting to clear her father’s name — who is sentenced to death row — as well as prove her brother’s innocence after he becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a white classmate.

The event opened with a keynote speaker presentation from Johnson, where she delved, in detail, into the journey she undertook as a blossoming writer; from the realization of her affinity for storytelling, to persevering and maintaining resilience even in the face of adversity and the chain of rejections from literary agents and publishers. In a display of vulnerability, Johnson shared that she spent two years submitting her work to agents, to the point where she eventually hit a total of 150 rejections.

“I tell you (this) long story because there are so many times that we see ‘no’s. There are so many roadblocks, there are so many barriers … I feel like my purpose in my work is to identify systemic barriers and move them out of the way,” said Johnson. “You gotta get past the mountain to get to your ‘yes.’”

The students and the community were invited to engage in conversation with the author after the keynote speaker presentation through a Q&A session, book signing and a writing workshop; the latter of which was solely offered to students. 

There was a question posed by an audience member, which prompted Johnson to disclose that her inspiration — not only to write, but the inspiration for the protagonist in the novel — was the lives of the students and leaders she taught and mentored. However, Johnson shares that she sees the protagonist as a small mirrored reflection of herself, pushing against the status quo.

In 2021, it was announced that “This Is My America” was selected to be developed as a film adaptation series on HBO Max, after Johnson sold the rights to the novel to a film production company in Los Angeles, California. The writing and filming are in the early planning and development stages.

Johnson’s new novel “Invisible Son” is set to release this month. The novel is now available for pre-order. 

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Our Class Cocktails

Written by: Jude Bokovoy

A few members of the Howl took the time to deeply ponder what cocktail would fit best with each major here at Western. Find the drink to clink at one’s graduation toast. 

American Sign Language — Mimosa 

Anthropology — Old Fashion

Art and Design — Jello Shot 

Arts in Dance — Lavender Lemon Drop

Biology — Warm Beer

Business — Smirnoff Ice. 

Chemistry — Azidoazide Azide

Communication Studies — White Claw  

Community Health — Aperol Spritz

Computer Science/Mathematics — Gin and tonic 

Childhood Studies — Tequila Sunrise 

Criminal Justice — Whiskey on the rocks

Earth Science Lemon Drop

Education — Kamikaze

English Studies — Pinot Noir 

Exercise Science — Spicy Margarita

Gerontology — Death in the afternoon 

History — Manhattan 

Humanities — Pina Colada 

Information Systems — Strawberry Daiquiri 

Information Technology — Dirty Vodka Martini

Interdisciplinary Studies — Long Island Iced Tea

International Studies — Moscow Mule

Interpreting Studies — Body Shot

Mathematics — Vodka shot x2

Teaching — Green Apple Martini 

Music — Gibson

Philosophy — Whiskey Sour

Political Science — A shot of tequila

Pre Nursing — Bloody Mary 

Psychology — Rum and Coke

Public Health — Chardonnay 

Public Policy & Administration —  Gin martini with a twist

Social Science — Long Island fish bowl

Sociology — Sangria 

Spanish — Mojito

Sustainability — A tall glass of water 

The Arts — Cider

Masters in anything — A full bottle of champagne.  

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Graduation Motivation

Written by: Jude Bokovoy

The time has finally come. For some this journey has taken a decade, for others it has been as short as three years. Nevertheless, this is an accomplishment to be proud of. For some, this is another degree on their path through education, for many this is the finish line. No matter where one’s headspace is at, here are a few things to think about. 

Go to events — This is the last chance to go to a Western event as a student. If something sounds interesting, might as well go check it out. If one is personally invited to an event or award ceremony, make time to attend. This is where memories are made and how one can create interesting answers when asked about one’s college experience. 

Post-grad stance — A  question many ask after finding out one is graduating is “what are your plans after graduation?” No matter if one has or does not have a specific plan, remember that all that matters is how one personally feels. All that truly matters is that one pursues their endeavors with passion. Everything will work out. All of the hard work was for something. The opportunities are there, they just may not be revealed yet. 

Lean on fellow graduates — This is one of the few moments in life where one is surrounded by many people in very similar circumstances. Use the community of graduates as a source of relief. Lean on friends, ask them how they are doing and release personal worries. Spend time with them because for most, this will be the last week with them. 

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