Mount Hood

“Greater Idaho” Gaining Momentum

Written by: Mirella Barrera-Betancourt

Senate Joint Memorial 2 —more popularly dubbed the “Greater Idaho” bill— was introduced to the Oregon legislature by Republican Sen. Dennis Linthicum on Jan. 10.​​ 

If passed, the bill will seek out discussions regarding readjustments and relocations of Oregon and Idaho state lines. The bill will not set the secession into motion.

Fifteen eastern counties have been proposed to move to the state of Idaho — together, they take up approximately 65% of Oregon’s land mass and roughly 9% of the population. As of Jan. 11, 2023, 11 of the 15 Eastern Oregon counties have already voted in favor of joining Idaho, including Klamath, Lake, Union, Grant, Sherman, Morrow, Wheeler, Baker, Malheur, Jefferson and Harney. Wallowa County is next in line to vote on the prospect of joining Idaho in their upcoming May election.

The idea behind the “Greater Idaho” bill initially began with the “Greater Idaho” movement — or “Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho” —  in early 2020, led by Mike McCarter from La Pine, Oregon. The movement’s aim was to convince Oregon legislatures to readjust the Oregon/Idaho border to move conservative Eastern Oregon counties into the state of Idaho — a largely Republican state — in an effort to realign cultural differences.

“Eastern Oregon is culturally, politically, (and) economically much more similar to Idaho than it is to western Oregon,” said Matt McCaw, a spokesperson for the “Greater Idaho” movement. “Our movement is about self-determination and matching people to (the) government that they want and that matches their values.”

Oregon has a long-standing history, with its border set almost 200 years ago. However, McCaw argues that the border was enacted at a time with no cultural and political divisions.

“The policy and the government that works for western Oregon, that western Oregonians want, does not work in eastern Oregon and it’s not what eastern Oregonians want,” said McCaw.

As the “Greater Idaho” movement gains momentum across much of the Eastern Oregon counties, many Oregon residents are left questioning whether such redistricting is likely.

McCaw is confident, stating, “We absolutely believe this is possible … If that does not happen this session then we will keep trying in the next session.”

This is not the first time discussions have occurred regarding changes in state boundaries. 

In 1958, the Oregon boundary between the state of Washington was slightly amended, known as the Senate Joint Resolution 10. The measure authorized the modification of Washington state boundaries along the Columbia River.

According to “Greater Idaho” official website, there are two phases to the movement, the second which includes the eventual merging of Northern California into Idaho’s state line. Northern California counties included in the proposal include all or parts of Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Del Norte, Modoc and Lassen. Such planning, however, would be part of a future phase.

For more information about the “Greater Idaho” movement, visit their official website at, or read the Senate Joint Memorial 2 bill at 


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3 apps that help victims of domestic violence


By: Alvin Wilson

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness and Crime Prevention Awareness Month.

In the spirit of awareness, we are reviewing three apps that can aid victims of domestic violence and possibly prevent incidents from happening in the first place.


SafeTrek is an ingenious smartphone app that, as its name implies, helps the user feel safe. It was designed to be used while the user travels from an area where the feel unsafe to a safer one, but it also works well to help victims of domestic abuse.

It couldn’t be any easier to use: simply open the app, and then hold down a button until you no longer feel unsafe. When the button is released, the app will ask for a four number PIN. If the PIN isn’t entered, the app automatically notifies authorities of your location.

Although it is beautifully simple and easy to use, there is a con. SafeTrek is free to download, but it has a modest $2.99 per month fee in order to keep their call centers operating. New users can try SafeTrek out for free with its seven day free trial.

Aspire is another great app with a clever design. It allows victims of domestic violence to get information and help without worrying about their abusers finding out.

It does this by disguising itself as a news app. After setting up an account and opening the app, the user has an option to pick from three main categories: Top News, World News and Entertainment News.

The user, of course, isn’t looking for news. Under the “help” section, the user can either get help in a domestic violence situation, or get information regarding domestic violence.

While setting up an account, the user adds emergency contacts to the app. If they decide they need help, they can either find the “Get Help” button, or tap three times on the top border of the app. This notifies their emergency contacts that they need help via text-message.

Aspire is free, but its creators warn that it is not a replacement for contacting the authorities. It is simply meant to be discreet.

ICE BlackBox:

ICE Blackbox is the last app we reviewed. It’s another cleverly designed app, and it is similar to the previous two with regards to the private/hidden nature of the interface.

When the app is first opened, users set up an account and add emergency contacts.

Instead of sending a text, however, it allows users to record a video of their abusers. Trusted contacts can access the video, and it is automatically saved to the cloud so the abuser has no way of deleting it.

This app also has another built-in safety feature. If the trusted contacts are unable to respond quickly enough, the app has a button that immediately calls 911.

ICE BlackBox is free to download and use.

If you need help or information regarding domestic abuse, try these apps, contact Abby’s House on campus, or visit the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence at

Women’s basketball faces turmoil

Written by: Liberty Miller | Lifestyle Editor

The Western women’s basketball team had their season cut short amidst allegations of abuse and fraudulent activity from the coaching staff. Head coach Jessica Peatross entered her first season at Western in 2023, after coaching at Division 2 school, Salem University, where she held a 14-17 record. Assistant coach Demetrius Marlow also previously coached at Salem University alongside Peatross. 

The team will not be competing in the last six games of the conference season and holds a record of three to ten in the regular season with a .231 winning percentage. In a press release statement from University President and Athletic Director Randi Lydum, it was announced that “The decision to cancel the season aligns with the highest standards of integrity and accountability within our program.” No additional information has been provided from the athletic department about the cancellation of the season, and it is uncertain whether players will retain their year of NCAA eligibility. 

A total of six sources have agreed to release statements to “The Western Howl.” All but one have chosen to remain anonymous for safety reasons.

Jessica Peatross was the Associate Head Coach at Delta College, where she eventually became Interim Head Coach before transferring to Salem University. Peatross claimed to have received a scholarship to play golf, basketball and participate in track and field. However, there are some discrepancies in the information provided in press releases concerning Peatross’ experience prior to joining the coaching staff.

An anonymous source stated that “The head coach lied on her resume that she played division one basketball when she didn’t.” Further investigation shows that the introductions for Coach Peatross into both Salem University and Western Oregon University included that “Peatross received a Division-1 scholarship to play golf, basketball and track at Chicago State University” — however, there are no digital records of Peatross ever competing or being on the roster of the Chicago State women’s basketball roster between 2010-2014, when she attended the university; there are records of Peatross competing at Chicago State in track and field and golf. 

Jack Watford, communications director for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, released an official statement to the Howl, stating that “The WBCA is aware of the announcement made on Friday by Western regarding its women’s basketball program. Other than confirming that Western Oregon head coach Jessica Peatross is a member of the association, the WBCA has no comment at this time.” 

An anonymous source who played on Salem University’s women’s team, under Peatross, stated, “I don’t think she deserves to be coaching at all — especially because she didn’t even play college basketball.”  

More allegations against Peatross include, but are not limited to, verbal abuse, threats, yelling and a lack of regard for mental health. One player claimed to have a complex relationship with Peatross, stating, “Honestly, it was very bipolar. I think her bad outweighs the good sometimes. She wasn’t a bad person at all, and we found times where we could laugh and joke around with her. But then again she was rude and I sometimes feared talking to her. I never knew what to say sometimes.” 

Another Salem University source alleges that “Coach P told one of our girls she would ruin her life if she did anything.” Another source claims that Peatross and Marlow “Threatened to cancel our season if we kept mentioning the things they were doing to their bosses.” The exact cause of the cancellation of the Western women’s basketball season, and whether or not the cancellation was a team, coach or administrative decision has not been released. 

Demetrius Marlow, also known as DJ, was previously an assistant coach with Warner University women’s varsity basketball team as well as the head coach for their junior varsity team. Marlow was also the head coach at the Tenoroc High School varsity women’s basketball team for two years. Marlow began coaching with Peatross during her stint at Salem University, where he was the assistant coach during the 2023 season. Multiple sources from Salem University shared their perspectives on Coach Marlow, particularly concerning his relationship with Peatross. 

One of the sources stated, “It was a very different vibe with only Coach Marlow. He is very capable of running a basketball team by himself, very down to earth — he is a different guy around Coach P.”  

Sorimar Morales, a Tenoroc High School basketball player who played under Marlow voiced her support, stating that “Coach DJ is someone who’s trustworthy and dependable. He’s also someone who was hard on me and my teammates but for a good cause. He’d always spread positivity, always telling the truth with his speech before and after practice.” 

Other sources conversely claim that he was unsupportive and constantly made racial remarks towards the girls within the program. Three sources stated that he regularly referred to them as “black girls” instead of their names, allegedly telling a player that she was “not supposed to be around the black girls — we’re segregating ourselves.” One other source claims that Marlow called her a “…privileged white girl — that I will never know what it’s like to be a black woman or black male, that I have it so easy.” Two of the sources from Salem University claim that Marlow called them a “waste of space,” as well as “a waste of breath” after a game; additionally, one of these sources claimed that Marlow attempted to “force a relationship between us and a boy on the (men’s basketball) team.” 

Furthermore, there are numerous allegations of physical abuse that occurred within the Salem University and Western basketball programs under both Peatross and Marlow.

An anonymous source from Western alleges that “(The) coaches have physically and mentally abused (the team) from the start of the season, having practices going over 2.5 hours and over (NCAA) rules -– ” as well as claiming that the “assistant coach even hurt (a player) so badly she had to get surgery before the season started.” 

An anonymous source from Salem University recounts their experience of physical abuse last year, alleging that “We actually had one big incident that took place — Coach Marlow was playing with (the players), and actually pushed one of the girls into a door, where she hit her head really hard. He tried to say another girl had pushed her, but he was the only one there.”

Alongside physical abuse, there are also accounts alleging that Peatross and Marlow verbally abused their players — ranging from accusations regarding invasive questions about their sexuality to demeaning language. An anonymous source from Salem University alleges that “Coach Marlow yelled at a girl during a game to the point where she hyperventilated, and after one game, Coach Peatross yelled at a girl and got in her face looking as if she wanted to fight the girl.” Sexually charged comments were allegedly repeatedly made by Peatross, with one source divulging that “Jessica would constantly ask about our sexualities, constantly asking if we liked boys or girls.” 

The allegations claim that there was irreversible damage done to the players and their season.

The anonymous source from Western claims that “Not only were we stripped of our season but we all struggled immensely and not a single person in the athletic department helped us (except) for the (athletic) training staff.” 

A Salem University source spoke about the damages inflicted on them and disclosed that “They broke down our mental health to the point where we had no repair, no uplift in any situation at all. It was kill or be killed to the point where a lot of the girl’s first years in America were ruined because they didn’t give them the proper treatment or experience. They traumatized us. Broke our bodies. We were disciplined because we were scared of what they may do, not because of how good of coaches they were. No one heard us when we seeked help, it was all turned back on us and it made us even more scared and worried about what they may do to us.” 

An official statement from Western President Jesse Peters to the Howl announced that “We remain committed to upholding the highest standards within all of our athletics programs. To that end, we have opened an investigation into these matters, and we remain committed to creating a positive and productive environment for everyone in the WOU community.”

Randi Lydum, Jessica Peatross, and Demetrius Marlow did not answer our request for comment.

Contact the author at

Chief’s kicker under fire for commencement speech

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

Kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs football team, Harrison Butker, has recently come under fire for a commencement speech he gave May 11, 2024, at Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas. Benedictine is a Catholic college and Butker is of the Catholic faith. 

In his 20-minute address, Butker denounced abortion rights, Pride Month, COVID-19 lockdowns and “the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion,” as well as criticized Catholic Priests with a Taylor Swift lyric. But, it was how he addressed the female graduates that has been condemned the most on social media.

“I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you. How many of you are sitting here now about to cross the stage, and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you’re going to get in your career?” Butker asked. “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world. But I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

Since then, Butker has faced backlash online from fans of the Chiefs and Taylor Swift alike, with a petition circulating around social media to remove him from the team. 

The nuns of Benedictine denounced Butker’s address in a statement posted to Facebook: “The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested.” Mount St. Scholastica was one of the founding churches of Benedictine College. 

Members of the Catholic Church have had mixed reactions to Butker’s commencement speech, with a majority praising him for his statement. 

“I was thinking about my dad, who was also here, and how he’s probably clapping and so happy to see what he would say is a real man (reflecting) family values, good religious upbringing and representation of Christ to people,” ValerieAnne Volpe, who graduated from Benedictine with an art degree, said to the Associated Press. “You can just hear that he loves his wife. You can hear that he loves his family.”

Other students told The Associated Press in interviews that they embrace the college’s emphasis on Catholic teaching and practice.

“It’s a renewal of some really, really good things that we might have lost,” one student said. On the other end, some Catholics have lamented their frustration with Butker’s statements. One graduate, Kassidy Neuner, told The Associated Press that the kicker should have made it clear that men can be homemakers, too.

On May 24, 2024, Butker spoke at the Regina Caeli Academy Courage Under Fire Gala in Nashville, Tennessee about the backlash he has received.

“It is now, over the past few days, my beliefs or what people think I believe have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe,” Butker said Friday. “At the outset, many people expressed a shocking level of hate. But as the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion. My hope is that tonight’s theme and our mission will embolden others, that many more will be unapologetic of their Catholic faith and never be afraid to speak out for truth, even when it goes against the loudest voices.”

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Ten years later…

Written by: Gretchen Sims | Editor-In-Chief     Hannah Field | News Editor

Western has been a key leader among Oregon Public Universities when it comes to sustainability practices. Ackerman Hall, as one example, was not only built to be sustained by solar power — Ackerman has two types of solar panels that reduce its residents’ energy consumption by 35 percent — but goes so far as to have a built-in, 30,000-gallon tank to harvest rainwater, reducing 50 percent of potable water usage by flushing toilets.

More recently, Western saw the implementation of the ReWOUsable To-Go Container program which has helped limit excess waste of to-go boxes. Additionally, Campus Dining has a Sustainable Dining Program that works to decrease its carbon footprint by buying from local vendors to support small businesses and sustainable practices, decreasing transportation costs, when possible, and opting to compost over throwing out leftover food. 

University Housing has also moved to establish a comprehensive recycling program to decrease Western’s carbon footprint further. 

However, Western has not always had a history of supporting calls of action for climate change or sustainability, whether coming from within the house — students, staff and faculty — or community members. 

In 2014, Mark Van Steeter, a current Sustainability Professor but Geography Professor at the time, encouraged Western to take a step further in the fight against climate change and pushed to further its sustainability progressivism. Van Steeter began advocating for divestment from fossil fuels, alongside the Environmental Club on campus.

“Unlikely, but you may ask ‘why divest from fossil fuels?’ The reason is that industry must adapt rapidly to a lower carbon energy source in order to remain profitable and contain the potentially disastrous consequences of global warming. The science is extraordinarily clear. A warmer planet is not inherently a problem, the problem is that we have based industrialized society on the assumption of a stable climate and now our population numbers which increase by a quarter of a million a day cannot be sustained if significant climate disruptions continue and grow,” Van Steeter said in an email to Tommy Love and Former Western President Mark Weiss, Sept. 22, 2014. 

The day after Van Steeter reached out to Love and Weiss, an email was sent out to students and staff that read:

“I believe it may be time to start a campaign at (Western). Since we are a small university with

minimal ties to the fossil fuel industry, it may be an easy statement for us to make regarding our

vision and integrity. It is an opportunity to give (Western) public attention regarding our investment in a prosperous future for our students.” 

On Oct. 9, Van Steeter began to receive pushback for his persistence in the divestment plan. This was said in an email from James Baumgartner, the Chair of the WOU Foundation at that time:

“However, it is not appropriate, nor can I see it as anything other than a strategy to agitate, for you to make inquiries directly to the (WOU) Foundation’s investment advisor. No such firm would make disclosures about its client’s investments to random public inquiries, nor should they, and I can’t imagine me ever asking your advisors or PE(E)RS for your investment information (much less, expect them to provide it)… I will give your request appropriate consideration. However, at this point, the Foundation has decided it will not actively pursue a fossil fuel divestment policy.” 

After these email exchanges, both a student and Western Alumni requested to present before the WOU Foundation concerning the divestment, but both were denied.

On Nov. 13, 2014, Weiss divulged in an op-ed article for the Statesman Journal that, while climate change needs immediate action, divestment was not the solution. Van Steeter responded Nov. 19, also via an Opinion piece in the Statesman Journal, urging Weiss to divest. 

A few days later, Nov. 22, student activists collected over 250 peer signatures in support of divestment. 

The Foundation responded to pressure from students and staff by conducting a hearing Jan. 9, 2015, with Baumgartner and Tommy Love, executive director of the Office of University Advancement and WOU Foundation at that time. Former Western student, Beth Bello, was in attendance at this meeting. Bello founded the Environmental Club in the fall of 2014 and acted as president until she graduated in the spring of 2016. 

Both Van Steeter and Bello reported that, in this meeting, Baumgartner informed the group that he was a paid lawyer for Tar Sands Oil extraction from Canada and the Keystone Pipeline. He then went on to tell the divestment group that fossil fuel divestment would not be on the Foundation’s meeting agenda due to an incomplete proposal. 

Van Steeter attests that “All information regarding questions was provided, but not in the appropriate format.”

Baumgartner recommended the divestment advocates present before the Planned Giving and Finance Committee of the Foundation which, if found favorable, could land them back on the agenda.

The Western Howl, known at that time as the Western Oregon Journal, reported on previous meetings discussing divestment in Nov. of 2014. “…in attendance at the meeting was Tommy Love, executive director in the Office of University Advancement and WOU Foundation. Love said divesting is a complicated issue and the foundation wants to make sure they do what’s right,” wrote Laura Knudson, a former Editor-In-Chief.

Also in that article, Love reportedly said, “‘I don’t want students to think that the foundation and myself do not recognize the issue of climate change…’ Divesting is ‘one way to do it, but let’s have a campus-wide conversation to address global climate change.’”

“Unfortunately, I am not surprised that (Western)’s Board has chosen to ignore student voices and undeniable scientific evidence on the issue of climate change. During our meeting with the board in January of 2015, the chair of the WOU Foundation, Jim Baumgartner, revealed that he was a paid lawyer for Tar Sands Oil extraction from Canada and the Keystone Pipeline. He made it abundantly clear that he was worried about his personal investments and had no intention of voting to divest due to this conflict of interest. I think the entire divestment team lost hope at his words,” said Bello. 

Bello is now a teacher at North Salem High School and teaches AP Human Geography, following in Van Steeter’s footsteps. 

“At the time of our meeting, (Western)’s mission statement included the assertion that (Western) ‘Continuously improves our educational, financial, and environmental sustainability.’ One of our main arguments in the divestment campaign was that (Western)’s board was not living up to its mission statement. Nine years later, the university has removed all mention of environmental sustainability and global citizenship. I have to admit, I think it’s because they realized we were right,” said Bello.  

While the Board meeting did not end in the divestment group’s favor, Bello still managed to take something away from the experience. 

“In a way, the board’s decision not to divest from fossil fuels has empowered me. It took time, but it helped me to understand the terrible cost of human greed and how insignificant my efforts were in combating that. If we had gotten what we wanted, I might have thought that creating change is easy — all you have to do is collect signatures and wave signs and point out hypocrisy — but that’s not true. Change has to come from the top. Only constant economic pressure from citizens will force governments and industries into changing,” said Bello.

This meeting was not wholly unsuccessful for those in favor of Western’s divestment from fossil fuels. 

A Socially Responsible Fund was established in 2016, which promised a divestment from fossil fuels when the fund reached $20,000. 

“(The WOU Foundation) did make a fund that does not invest in fossil fuels or tobacco, but to my knowledge, it’s just sitting there with a small amount of money in it. And not promoted at all,” Van Steeter said.

Van Steeter, himself, donated to the fund alongside a small group of colleagues however, no changes have been spotted in regards to the promotion of the Socially Responsible Fund from 2016, the same fund that Mark and two other colleagues donated to close to eight years ago.

“On the divestment scene, I submitted to the faculty senate (a proposal) and the faculty senate passed it, approved it. But the faculty senate is simply an advisory body. And the foundation, more or less, kept telling me to get lost and would agree to meet with students, but then basically do nothing. It was a pretty interesting experience seeing how you can play like you’re acting with integrity, but you aren’t… It was a little humbling,” said Van Steeter. 

More recently, a member of the Monmouth-Independence Climate Task Force, a community group, approached Western with an idea that could both make the campus more sustainable and save the the college money — all at little or no cost due to federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act  One task force member, Skip Wenz writes a column for several newspapers in the Willamette Valley titled “Your Ecological House.” While this column first started as a sustainable home renovation guide, it has now turned into a discussion about climate change. 

Wenz also was the founder and Director of the Ecological Design Program at the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, and has worked in the sustainability field for several decades.

Wenz first met solar expert, Dan Orzech of the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, at a church in Salem that had recently installed solar panels — Orzech led this project, as well as a project to install solar panels at Oregon State University. 

In 2022, President Joseph Biden signed the IRA, providing major tax incentives for not-for-profit institutions to switch to clean energy. Wenz thought that this might be a good opportunity for Western.

“He and I, and a couple of members of our little group actually scoped out a map, a Google map, of the campus online. And he had a couple of ideas of where, you know, just from looking at the map, where some (solar panels might go),” Wenz said. 

It was around this time when Wenz began to correspond with Western’s Current President, Jesse Peters. Wenz pitched an IRA funded solar panel installation idea to Peters.

“He gave me the name of somebody there that he wanted me to write, who I did write two or three times and never heard back from,” Wenz said. 

“I’m not sure what, if anything, could happen (because of The Inflation Reduction Act). From what I know, the best way for this college to get its hands on federal money (is) to do more solar stuff. (Western could) hire (Orzech) as a consultant to plan a solar installation with IRA funding, because he’s an expert and he’s done it on several (occasions). Western Oregon is qualified, it’s a type of institution that they specifically designed this money to go to,” said Wenz. 

After not getting a response to his numerous emails, Wenz stopped pushing. 

“I didn’t wanna push too hard because I didn’t wanna alienate anybody, especially Jesse Peters… he did what a good administrator does, which is, send me to somebody else… And for all I know, you know, somebody over there is already working on it, but I haven’t heard anything about it,” Wenz said. 

Sustainable practices are usually associated with climate change, but there would be other benefits that Western could gain by switching to a local power source such as solar panels. 

“If you are replacing a consumable, like electricity, that you are buying from someone else, with what we could call capital expenses, which is equipment you buy once, and then you can use it for 20 years, you’re stabilizing the costs of the power you generate, and so the fluctuations in the electricity market won’t affect you as drastically. If you either set it up as a microgrid to be independent from the larger grid, or you add local storage, you buy resiliency in the case of natural disasters,” said Stephen Howard, a member of the Monmouth-Independence Climate Task Force. 

Howard’s interest in climate issues began when he was a student studying architecture — which led to an interest in urban design. During his nearly 25 years in the industry, Howard has learned that “…a lot of the solutions, certainly not all of them, but many solutions, to the climate (are) in the urban design space, in terms of how our buildings are built and how we access services and work and school. Where you live and how it’s developed (has) a lot to do with your personal carbon footprint, more than what you choose to buy or what you own.”

Howard mentioned that the Monmouth-Independence community that surrounds Western would also benefit from the university generating its own electricity with the installation of solar panels. 

“This is an indirect benefit to Western, but the amount of electricity that our community pulls from Bonneville, we pay a certain rate, a wholesale rate to Bonneville, and as the amount of electricity our community demands goes up, we will eventually hit a higher tier price for that electricity, so the more electricity we generate locally, the more we push off that date of having to pay more for our power. So whether it’s Western, or the local governments, or the school district, or individual homeowners, the more local power we generate, the cheaper we keep our electricity,” Howard said. 

Upon contacting President Peters for a comment, he offered one statement and redirected the rest of his questions to the Director of Marketing and Communications, Maureen Brakke, who also acts as the Public Information Officer for Western.

“Though it can be a slow and difficult process, (Western) has taken steps over the years to address sustainability. This is particularly important in a time of rapidly changing climate, and even small actions can make a difference. I have no doubt that the students and employees in our community will continue to find ways to be part of the solution,” Peters said. 

Brakke commented on some ways Western Students have previously practiced sustainability. “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, (Western)’s residence halls had a Green Team whose purpose was to implement and coordinate the residence hall recycling program which included collection and maintenance of centralized recycling locations throughout the residence halls. Additionally, they provided educational programming that increased environmental and sustainability awareness within the residence halls. This program isn’t currently active but it is a sustainability initiative that they plan to bring back soon,” said Brakke. 

It has yet to be seen who is in charge of the initiative or when it will be revived.

“Regarding your foundation investment question, the WOU Foundation Board established a Socially Responsible Fund in 2016, and we will continue to seek growth in that account. The leadership at the Foundation has changed a lot since then, but we are exploring new ways to promote and grow the fund,” Brakke said. 

The WOU Foundation did not respond to Van Steeter’s emails or calls in his effort to provide accurate, up-to-date information regarding the fund. 

“We hope to continue to make ongoing improvements to reducing, reusing and recycling on campus, and become more energy efficient, looking at using more efficient appliances, lighting, etc. Our community is also engaged in more walking, biking, carpooling and using our local Trolley, we encourage our community to continue to utilize these more environmentally friendly modes of transportation when possible. We also actively plant new trees where we have to remove trees on campus. As a public university, we follow Oregon state laws and policies regarding environmental regulation,” said Brakke.

In the end, it’s important to foster open, productive conversations about climate change. It’s easy to advocate for climate change by sounding alarms about the negative consequences of not taking action, but “…that’s really only half the conversation. We need to spend at least as much effort imagining how much better things will be when we get this right,” said Howard.

“I think as much as we need the warnings of what could go wrong, we also need something to look forward to. And without both, I think it’s a lot harder to get people on board, avoiding something that seems sort of nebulous and negative versus having a goal to reach for. And so I would encourage the campus, whether it’s the student body, or the staff and faculty, or everybody combined, to really think about the positives and what we could have if we put the work in now to build a better future,” Howard continued. 

“For a while, losing the fight for divestment made me feel hopeless, but I don’t feel that way anymore. It taught me about the insidious and pervasive reach of the oil industry. The whole experience taught me that I have a voice that can be used for change, and even if that change doesn’t happen overnight, I am one of countless people that will collectively use our voices to transform the world,” said Bello. 

“I’m not saying that we should throw all our money into sustainability and then have the rest of the university collapse,” said Van Steeter. “But we need to start putting it on the agenda whenever we’re making decisions… I would love to have Western be this icon of a small public university that focuses on sustainability and offers these really high-quality programs with small class sizes. We have all the tools to do that — (Western is) really just beautiful.”

Van Steeter remains hopeful that someday the college will divest from fossil fuels.

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ASWOU elections

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

The Associated Students of Western are expecting to elect President Brenda Rocio Martinez, Vice President Fernando Robles and Judicial Administrator Morgan Pemberton into office for the 2024-2025 academic school year. The trio is running as a team and remains unopposed.

Expected incoming president, Rocio Martinez, described herself as a proud first-generation Latina student at Western. “I am running for ASWOU President to represent and support all students who want their voices heard. My candidacy is driven by my understanding of the unique challenges and aspirations of being the first in my family to pursue higher education,” she wrote on Presence, the website permitting for the ASWOU election.

“I am committed to using my and others’ perspectives to advocate for crucial changes that support our diverse student populations, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued.”

Rocio Martinez explained her initiatives to be primarily focused on bridging connections between students and higher-ups in attempts to “enrich the university experience.” Simultaneously, Rocio Martinez pledges to expand relationships, resources and support for everyone.

Robles, running for Vice President, left a statement as well: “I’m running for vice president because I would want to make an impact on campus.”

Judicial Administrator candidate Pemberton stated, “I’m running for judicial office because I care deeply about our campus community and making sure everyone’s voice is heard… One thing you should know about me is that I’m all about diversity and inclusion. I truly believe that embracing our differences makes our community stronger and more vibrant.”

Pemberton also promoted creating a collective judicial system that properly reflects the campus’s values and promotes fairness and equality in the community.

ASWOU opened elections March 8 and cannot conclude until 10 percent of the student body has voted — allowing for enough student voices to be heard so that the results can be deemed fair.

All other open positions allow for write-in candidates, meaning that anyone may be named to potentially fill the position. The write-in positions include the following: Senate President; three openings on the Incidental Fee Committee; 11 openings for ASWOU Senate: Senate Candidates; and three openings for the ASWOU Judicial Board: Judicial Candidates.
As of May 29, voting is still ongoing. To vote, students must list their V number and certify that they are Western students and will abide by the election results.

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MMIWCTS Awareness Month

Written by: Lili Minato | Freelancer

Content warning: this article contains mentions of murder and violence. 

May is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Children and Two Spirit Awareness Month. May 5 is National Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. Native and Indigenous communities in North America have experienced an epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous people for decades. 

Native Hope — a resource for Native communities — released a statement on the crisis. “Sisters, wives, mothers and daughters are gone from their families without clear answers. There are families whose loved ones are missing — babies growing up without mothers, mothers without daughters and grandmothers without granddaughters. For Native Americans, this adds one more layer of trauma upon existing wounds that cannot heal. Communities are pleading for justice.” 

For dozens of years, Indigenous women have gone missing and experienced violence, and police have historically been unhelpful in finding these women. This is how the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Movement began. Family and community members have fought to find and bring justice to those lost and victimized. 

In recent years, there has been an increase in awareness. In 2021, Secretary of the Interior and Laguna Pueblo Tribal citizen, Deb Haaland, created the Missing and Murdered Unit. This unit was open for Indigenous people to assist with cases and to make their voices heard. 

In 2023, the Not Invisible Act Commission released an over 200-page report to Congress, detailing their findings surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous people and over 300 recommendations on how to address the epidemic. 

While the awareness movement first focused on the missing and murdered Indigenous women, it has now moved to focus on children and Two-Spirit people as well.

The symbol for MMIWCTS is a recognizable red handprint, which is usually placed over the mouths of individuals. This represents standing with victims who have been silenced. 

Murder is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women and 84 percent of Indigenous women and girls have experienced violence. The violence against Indigenous women has reached epidemic levels and is considered a national crisis. 

May is a critical month for remembering MMIP loss, educating oneself and becoming aware of the silent epidemic that has been occurring.

Special thanks to the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe. 

For more resources and education, check out Native Hope’s website —

For survivor support on campus, look to Abby’s House in the Werner University Center in room 106 or on their website —

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