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Valentine’s Day origin

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

Content warning: this article contains mentions of blood, animal sacrifices and violence

Valentine’s Day was originally a pagan holiday celebrating fertility — taking place from Feb. 13–15, going back as far as the sixth century B.C. Since then, Valentine’s Day has taken a turn toward romantic celebrations and acts of kindness, when originally, in Rome, men were stripped, blood was shed and animals were sacrificed, all in hopes of warding off evil curses and keeping the Roman fertility god, Lupercus, happy.

Lupercus, as well as the she-wolf Lupa — who, according to legend, protected and raised the eventual founders of Rome — inspired the title Lupercalia: the holiday now known as Valentine’s Day. The day revolved around a feast that involved animal sacrifices and streaking men. Those same men would whip women with strips of the sacrificed goats’ hides which was believed to cause ripe fertility.

The Luperci, a group of Roman priests, would perform the goat and dog sacrifices and follow it up with touching a bloody knife on two Luperci’s foreheads, which was then wiped off with wool dipped in milk. Part of the sacrificial rituals involved the Luperci laughing — a requirement to please Lupercus.

Saint Valentine holds more mystique around the founding of the holiday. The most common theory is that Saint Valentine was executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II for secretly marrying Christian couples, during the third century A.D., a time when Christians were being persecuted. 

Another legend proposes that Valentine was in love with his jailer’s daughter while imprisoned — writing her a love letter and signing it, “From your Valentine.”

Valentine was declared a Saint by the Catholic Church well after his death when he was martyred on Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day. This later became celebrated closer to the late fifth century A.D., when Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalius with a day in honor of the Saint’s martyrdom. This first example of Valentine’s Day, although similar in title, did not become the modern day celebration of love that people now know it as.

Some characteristics remain the same between modern Valentine’s Day and Lupercalia. The white color we know today to be part of Valentine’s Day relates to the milk-dipped wool from the Luperci sacrifices; red and pink correspond with the theme of blood, despite the fact that neither are current aspects of Valentine’s Day.

Contact the author at howlnews@wou.edu

Starbucks saving face

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

On Oct. 13, Starbucks sued Workers United — the union that organizes Starbucks employees —  when the union used a logo similar to Starbucks’ to make a pro-Palestine post amidst the Israel-Hamas war.

The union counter-sued for the ability to continue operating with the same Starbucks-esque logo, also claiming defamation from Starbucks for implying the union supports terrorism and violence.

The original post was uploaded to X, formerly Twitter, on Oct. 9; it was deleted within an hour of posting. About a week later, a new statement was released from the Starbucks Workers United President, Lynne Fox. The letter to Starbucks stated, “Starbucks is seeking to exploit the ongoing tragedy in the Middle East to bolster the company’s anti-union campaign.”

Since then, Starbucks has lost more than $12 billion according to the New York Post.

The company has made multiple moves to recover not only lost money, but also their reputation. In a public statement, they expressed sympathy for both Gaza and Israel and condemned all acts of hate — yet Starbucks hasn’t expressed support for their union and hasn’t met a labor agreement with any of their unionized stores despite multiple strikes and 38 issued records of unfair labor practices — a stark contrast from the sentiments published by Starbucks’ team.

Despite the money losses, Starbucks continued to advertise “Red Cup Day” and joined forces  with Stanley to release a well sought-after limited edition tumbler — which caused a massive frenzy in Targets across the country and roped in millions of dollars. Stanley, the brand behind the ultra-famous cups, reported a nearly $700 million profit jump from 2019 to 2023, partially thanks to the Starbucks-Stanley co-created cup.

Starbucks described the public response as “enthusiastic” and stated they will not be restocking — earning resellers hundreds, with secondhand pink Quenchers listed as up to $200.

Beyond that, Starbucks has unveiled new winter menu drinks, likely more ploys to keep the customers coming back — which may work if they reveal more tactics such as the Stanley cup collaboration and make the most out of their public representatives.

Contact the author at howlnews@wou.edu

The male loneliness epidemic

Written by: Cami Ansley | Copy Editor

Content warning: this article contains mentions of suicide

On May 3, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy warned the public about “our epidemic of loneliness and isolation.” Within the past year, a focus has shifted to the loneliness faced by men, coining the argument that a “male loneliness epidemic” has arisen. Despite what the name may suggest, the “loneliness” attributed to this epidemic is not solely limited to romantic relationships.

For one, research conducted in 2021 found that 15% of men claim that they have no close friends, a staggering 12% increase since 1990. A study published by Equimundo in 2023 found that a majority of men, ranging from older Millennials to Generation Z, agree with the statement, “No one really knows me well,” with Generation Z having the highest percentage of agreement among all respondents. In this same publication, a majority of men stated that they only have one or two close friends in their area that they feel they can confide in outside of their family. 

In the realm of romantic relationships, men are more likely to be single and have less sex than women. A 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that six in ten men under the age of 30 are single, nearly double the rate of women at the time. The Equimundo study found that roughly one in five men are either not looking for a relationship or are unable to find sexual partners. 

These statistics about loneliness have been connected to poor mental and physical health. Specifically, greater risk of premature death, cardiovascular illness, anxiety, dementia, depression and stroke have all been associated with loneliness. 40% of the men surveyed in the Equimundo study had met the screening standards for depressive symptoms, while 44% had experienced suicidal ideation within the last two weeks.

In addition, men are nearly four times more likely than women to commit suicide, accounting for nearly 80% of all suicides despite them making up only 50% of the population. In fact, the U.S. male suicide rate reached its peak of 14.3 per 100,000 men in 2022.

In light of the emergence and popularization of the male loneliness epidemic, there has been discourse regarding its legitimacy, specifically in regards to the exclusive focus on men when it comes to discussing the general loneliness epidemic. Disparities in loneliness have been found to age, race, financial status, sexuality and disability, but, according to some critics, not for gender. The measurement of loneliness as well as the interpretation of select studies and statistics has also been cited as reasons for skepticism. 

Regardless of its specificity to the male population or not, Dr. Vivek Murthy’s publication about the epidemic of loneliness has been acknowledged as a cause for concern.

Contact the author at howlcopyeditor@wou.edu

Love languages

Written by: Libby Thoma | Staff Writer

Love languages are the basis for understanding another person’s needs, whether in a romantic, platonic or familial relationship. Love languages are people’s preferred ways of receiving and giving love. 

There are five types of love languages: physical touch, acts of service, gift-giving, quality time and words of affirmation. Although it is commonly thought that people only need one, most need all of these languages fulfilled and have one that they need more than the others. 

The first of these languages is physical touch. Although it is commonly misconstrued that this love language is focused on sex, the reality includes hugging, kissing, holding hands or even high fives — anything involving enjoying the physical company of others.

The second is acts of service, which includes giving up one’s time to do something that needs to be done or something their partner would like. 

The third language is gift-giving. Many consider this love language greedy, but this isn’t always the case.

Those with the gift-giving love language generally don’t want expensive, hard-to-get gifts — just something to show they are being thought of. An example of this could be a letter, a rock, food or just about anything depending on the person.

Quality time is another love language, which most people share a need for. This includes spending time with someone and being present and involved. 

Finally, words of affirmation include statements to show love and admiration to the partner with this love language. 

Love languages are important to understand, both for yourself and your partner. Knowing these needs is necessary to ensure a happy and fulfilling relationship. It is also crucial for a person to know their love language to communicate this to their partner.

A fulfilling relationship may include considering each other’s love languages and being conscious that a partner will have individual preferences. It may be wise to fulfill each other’s needs, so for this Valentine’s Day, ask a partner, date or even friends and family what their love languages are, so they may have the opportunity to feel loved and seen in their relationships. 

Contact the author at ethoma23@mail.wou.edu

Consumers without the power

Written by: Taylor Duff | Staff Writer

Living in America today is extremely difficult for many, and the recent rise in inflation has much to do with it. Inflation is the rate at which goods and services rise in price and occurs due to purchasing falls. Americans have been struggling to keep bills paid and manage expenses for food, gas, healthcare and education. Food prices, for instance, have increased by 11% between 2021 to 2022 and then continued to rise through 2023. This is a drastic change as prices for food increased by 2% every year since 1980.

The significant increase has caused many Americans to panic; as some may need to take on more employment and give up a lot, even including necessities. Americans have stated their concerns in millions of TikToks, Instagram reels and Facebook posts, and if people didn’t see the thousands of posts, they could just take a walk into a grocery store and see the increase in prices.

The current inflation epidemic is directly connected to the COVID-19 pandemic as supply chains were interrupted and people lost their businesses, increasing unemployment rates. There were also trillions of dollars in stimulus checks distributed, which means Americans have to pay that back in taxes whether they like it or not.     

The housing market is the largest concern involving inflation. The average three-bedroom home across America right now is $160 thousand to $800 thousand which means an average monthly payment would be roughly $1,000 to $4,000.

With homes set at half a million dollars, Millennials and Generation Z will have to settle for a one-bedroom apartment in a semi-safe area for $1,300 a month. These are just the rent prices that Americans have to take into account, not to mention their utilities such as water/plumbing, electricity, garbage/recycling and the like.

Let’s take it back just a few years and see the difference: for a three-bedroom home in 2018, rent would average $1,200 to $2,000 depending on its location. Compared to 2023, it’s approximately double what it used to be.

Let’s take it way back to 1980, when the average three-bedroom home in America was about $250 to $300, vastly different from 40 years ago when people with minimum wage jobs were making $2.90 an hour. Not to discredit Americans who had to survive off of those wages in the ’80s — many of them had kids and focused much of their time working — but in general, Americans at the time also had access to more affordable education and healthcare.  

Americans know healthcare isn’t free; much of it is insanely overpriced, and unfortunately, the average American citizen can’t afford it. Healthcare prices in 2023 averaged about $500 to $1000 per month per person, depending on what the insurance included, and that is typically just health insurance, not dental, physical therapy, medication and the like. There is the Oregon Health Plan, but only some households qualify for it and it is usually provided for children’s needs only.

Where inflation comes into play with Healthcare is the rollercoaster of oscillating inflation rates. Much of that has to do with how healthcare has to always be available; people can enter a hospital to get care no matter what, but unfortunately, the money has to be paid back through Americans’ pockets or credit agencies.

This is why many Americans have outstanding hospital bills which translate to debt. Healthcare in the ’80s averaged from  $100 to $400 depending on what was offered, which isn’t that drastic of a change, but average inflation rates from 1980-2018 increased by 5.22% per year.  

Lastly, education is at the forefront for Generation Z and future generations as many are struggling to decide whether they can afford college. Students who plan to get their Bachelor’s degree take an average of five years to complete depending on the program. In those five years, students can take anywhere from three to six courses and each course is about $300 to $500, which is the lower spectrum of costs at a less expensive university.

Most students have to get funding which generally translates to student loans. Those student loans then turn into debt reaching about $38 thousand on average. There isn’t much students can do. After all, the goal is to get a job that will repay that money, but repaying these loans will likely be difficult.

The average amount a college education cost in 1980 was about $10,000 annually compared to $26 thousand per year in 2023 which is about $104 thousand for 4 years depending on the degree completed in that time. A Harvard education in 1938 was $420 per year, which is baffling. 

As a Generation Z student working day and night for her college degree, the way America looks is frightening. Prices are through the roof and employment rates compared to inflation rates aren’t matching up. Completing university with a Bachelor’s degree doesn’t seem to mean much regarding success because, ultimately, we will all be struggling if things don’t change.

The work Americans do won’t matter soon enough and we will only be benefiting the more wealthy. Here’s hoping for change and recognition of how damaging society is and no longer claiming people are lazy or weak because of how difficult it is even to survive. Rebuilding and healing need to happen.




Contact the author at tduff23@mail.wou.edu

South Albany High School coach arrested

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

A South Albany High School teacher and CoHead Coach of the football team, was arrested on Wednesday, Jan. 3 and charged with second-degree criminal trespass and two counts of first-degree theft, which ranged from allegedly funneling funds raised for the football team into his own pocket to stealing a student’s iPhone, totaling more than $8,000 in damages.

Former teacher, David Younger, was the Head Coach at South Albany High School from 2013 to 2019 and served as a physical education and health educator in the facility. In 2019, Younger resigned to take up a volunteer position as an assistant coach at Willamette University. After this, he returned to South Albany High School in 2021 as Co-Head Football Coach.

Greater Albany Public Schools released a statement the same day regarding Younger’s arrest, disclosing that they were first alerted of financial mismanagement in November of 2023, when student money was missing from the school’s locker rooms and was reported to administration. 

This sparked an investigation by the Albany Police Department that resulted in Younger’s administrative leave and arrest. Linn County court documents named at least eleven victims —  six of whom were student athletes and one physical education teacher.

The same documents list Younger’s prior alleged theft record from August of 2023. He was viewed on security cameras unlawfully entering areas on the South Albany High School premises — the action that led to his trespassing charge.

Spencer Randall, a 2022 graduate of South Albany High School, had Younger as a health teacher in 2018 — his freshman year. 

“I remember him just being laid-back and funny, a pretty easy-going guy. It’s honestly just really surprising — I didn’t think that he would do that when I first heard about it,” Randall said. “It’s crazy.”

An earlier graduate from 2017 had differing opinions. Former football player Tanner Hemcazek worked closely with Younger — even stating that Younger had allegedly sabotaged his chance at playing college football by telling scouts he was “uncoachable” and “had a bad attitude.”

“I wasn’t really surprised at all,” Hemcazek said, regarding Younger’s arrest. “He never did his duty as a coach. He wasn’t interested in guiding players, or helping them with playing in college — I thought he was an extremely short-tempered and selfish man. He cared about his image more than anything.”

Hemcazek ultimately did not go on to play college football. He recalled his senior year when Younger supposedly benched most of his graduating class in retaliation for their dissatisfaction with his coaching methods.

“That was when he told college scouts — that had come to ask about me specifically — that they were wasting their time,” Hemcazek said.

Younger was granted conditional release from custody as long as he maintains distance from Greater Albany Public School property and victims of his alleged theft. Younger is reportedly scheduled for his next court hearing on Feb. 12. 

Contact the author at howlnews@wou.edu

Oregon’s ice storm hits Western hard

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

Western was swept by an ice storm during the week of Jan. 8 — resulting in three classless days and one late start. While students might have relaxed or studied when class got canceled, especially due to the three-day weekend, Campus Safety remained on high alert.

“Our biggest concerns were the unknown stuff,” said Associate Director of Campus Safety, Mike Hanson. “Are we going to have power outages? Where can we take students to have heat if we lose it? We were trying to plan ahead for what we didn’t know was coming up.”

A few minor rescues were conducted during the ice storm, with car trouble being a common denominator. Campus Safety generally assists with anything and everything on campus, the only service offered 24/7 at Western.

“I think we’re very lucky to be unscathed. We had a few slips and falls — we followed up with those folks — had a few pipes break, but those, ultimately, were pretty minor,” said Hanson.

Past winter seasons haven’t been as forgiving. Years prior, a destructive ice storm downed trees and severed the power for different parts of the community. Campus Safety spent a month working on the damage, even calling in other crews to assist in the clean-up.

Ice, unlike snow, cannot be easily removed or shoveled. It has to melt or break, leading to times when the best option is to wait patiently until temperatures rise. 

“Mother nature leads us down — we have to gamble for what she leads us to,” Hanson said.

According to Hanson, students behaved safely and followed instructions during the storm, which Campus Safety was thankful for.

There are multiple ways to reach Campus Safety if a student is in need of assistance: call or text Campus Safety’s phone line at (503) 838-8481 or email at safety@wou.edu.

Contact the author at howlnews@wou.edu