Mount Hood

Travel through the stars

Written by: Taylor Duff | Staff Writer

Astrology isn’t just a TikTok joke; it is a complex understanding of how we fit into the universe. Astrology involves evaluating the impact of stars and planets on terrestrial events and human destiny. 

Astronomy, the study of all extraterrestrial bodies and their properties, can be seen throughout history. However, it should not be misconstrued with astrology, which can be understood instead as Divination — using the stars to determine the underlying significance of events and forecast the future. 

Divination exists in many ancient and contemporary communities, though methods differ. Popular divination methods include horoscopes, palm reading and tarot cards. Astrology originated in Mesopotamia and shifted to India in the third millennium BC, but it took on its Western form in Greek civilization during the Hellenistic period. 

Astrology is often considered a private spiritual practice, separate from any particular religion.

Astrology was central in the cultures of Mesopotamian civilizations and ancient Egyptians. Because the heavens were regarded as sacred, priests were able to predict natural and political events — requiring rulers to act according to their predictions and contributing to the creation of a rich library of astral symbols, signs and images representing and safeguarding such traditions. The Greeks later used astrology to understand personal destiny, avoid negative events and predict fortunate times. 

Zodiac signs are divided into four elements: fire, earth, air and water. The star positions at birth determine each person’s signs depending on where, when and what time that person came into the world. All 12 zodiac signs correlate with the 12 months of the year — beginning with Aries and ending with Pisces. 

The three fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius; the three earth signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn; the three air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius; and the last element, water, houses the signs Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. 

To be more complex, everyone has various additional zodiac signs that make up their personality traits. People usually refer to their “big three:” your sun is your date of birth, your moon is the position in which the moon was when you were born and lastly, your rising sign, is determined by the time of day you were born. 

Astrology is a practice, so many look to horoscopes, tarot cards or astrologers for advice or understanding. Horoscopes are a map of signs in a chart — also referred to as an astrological chart. This chart moves just as we do every day around the earth, and our zodiac signs are correlated with different planets. Because of this, depending on where our signs are positioned, a horoscope can help determine predictions in our personal lives. Horoscopes are never concrete but can give bits of insight that can be helpful tools in our day to day.

Tarot cards are a tool that helps us understand our past, present and future feelings. In many ways, using tarot cards is a form of spiritual practice; there are many different tarot decks on the market and many amazing books that help individuals learn how to use them. 

TikTok, among other places, has become a popular space for tarot card readings, where content creators pull cards and express their interpretation of the cards drawn. Astrologers, not to be confused with astronomers, are people who have studied astrology and use it to help predict people’s characteristics, life experiences and futures.      

Zodiac signs and relationship compatibility can be a controversial subject as many claim those who use astrology are simply bashing signs that have not worked in relationships for them. Signs such as Aries and Cancer “aren’t a good match,” but many Aries and Cancer relationships have come to fruition and have lasted many years. Just because a sign isn’t compatible with another doesn’t mean that relationship won’t work out. Signs are unique, and Astrology guides us in how different traits and compatibility work, but it isn’t the end all be all.

There is also the case when people disagree with astrology and say it is “fake,” but I think Astrology is not trying to be anything. Many individuals don’t like astrology as it isn’t a proven scientific fact that the stars determine our lives. This is valid, but I think it is something that we can look to for guidance, and there’s no harm in simply believing it. 

People have a choice to either make astrology their own or dismiss it, but it should be completely their choice. People are made up of many different traits and experiences that affect our worldview; I feel that astrology helps us understand personality, core values, romantic compatibility with others and even what you may look like. 

People like astrology because it gives some understanding of our place in the universe. Many practices and followings have people who choose to be a part of them for a variety of reasons, and Astrology is no different. Overall, astrology is interesting and brings people together in such a special way.   

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FAFSA needs to improve

Written by: Libby Thoma | Staff Writer

A college degree is necessary for many higher-level jobs that pay a fair and livable wage, but are inaccessible to many who are of lower income. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid — FAFSA — as most students already understand, is vital for receiving financial aid for college and therefore, for most, vital to being able to attend college. Although it is widely understood that FAFSA is the key to the future students dream about, it is overall unfair and discriminatory towards those in underprivileged communities. 

Before contemplating the prejudices of FAFSA, the technical issues must be addressed. FAFSA has an entire website page dedicated to its issues. These issues include not being able to find one’s school, parents not being able to access FAFSA after starting the form on behalf of the student, FAFSA saying the form is in progress even when completed and an entire list more. These issues can prevent students from accessing the financial aid they need, especially in a timely manner.

Completing FAFSA promptly is necessary due to the application being on a first come first serve basis. 

Along with these technical issues, FAFSA bases a student’s financial aid benefits based on their parent’s income. This is a problem in a multitude of ways. In the U.S., a person 18 or older is considered an adult, so it must be asked — why are adults’ financial aid being based on their parent’s income? How does being an adult not automatically make one an independent person? Due to many parents not paying tuition and possibly being unwilling to fill the required forms, shouldn’t fall into their hands either. Students looking to receive what they need to be able to attend college can make huge decisions, such as getting married or joining the armed forces, just to receive an often necessary education. Parents should not be in charge of a student’s financial aid, the student should be.

FAFSA puts those in underprivileged households or families, such as undocumented citizens, children without access to parents or legal caregivers who aren’t considered independent, at more of a disadvantage. Although FAFSA’s website states otherwise, students with parents missing an SSN were unable to complete the FAFSA without their SSN. Although this was seemingly fixed recently, FAFSA’s ‘first come first serve’ approach has caused students to miss out on financial aid opportunities because of this oversight. Along with this, students who are labeled as ‘dependents’ on their parents’ taxes but are not on speaking terms with their parents or caregivers are also at a disadvantage. In this case, students would not be able to receive financial aid through FAFSA unless they contacted their parents. People may cut ties with their families for many reasons such as abuse, unacceptance of their identity and so much more, and that should be honored and respected. Instead, FAFSA will not grant any financial aid to these students, limiting their educational opportunities. 

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Excessive healthiness can be unhealthy too

Written by: Libby Thoma | Staff Writer

Content warning: This article contains mentions of eating disorders

Health influencers and gurus have flooded social media exponentially over time, and an obsession with an ill-defined idea of physical health has been promoted to many consumers on a daily basis. These influencers give supposed “hacks,” ideas and even inspiration to lead a physically healthy lifestyle. This obsession with health and being perfect has caused some people to take it too far. 

Where do we draw the line when dealing with health? Too far, as described in this article, is any situation taken far enough to be considered an eating disorder. According to the National Institute of Health, an eating disorder can include any preoccupation — or obsession — with food, body weight or body shape. This leads to the conclusion that those who are extremely obsessed with being physically healthy, which includes the realm of food and usually weight as well, have an eating disorder.  

There are many examples of said preoccupation, and some include obsessing over natural foods. A person could scrutinize the correct amount of healthy calories and refuse, no matter the situation, to nourish their body properly. One could obsess over exercise — which tends to be one of the more problematic and more noticeable obsessions. 

Anything that gets in the way of daily tasks and enjoying daily life should be considered a disorder. While it is of utmost importance to be healthy, it is important to maintain that and not go overboard. Ideas of going overboard could include purposefully and drastically hurting one’s body and/or brain to exercise, including in sports. This could include an inability to go anywhere where a person is unfamiliar with the food served out of fear for eating something unhealthy. This could include refusing to go see one’s parents due to fear of losing out on time to exercise — the list goes on. 

9% of the U.S. population has an eating disorder according to ANAD, and if people with obsessions regarding exercise, being healthy or fit are included, as they should be, the statistic would rise.

If the reader feels that they are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to realize these feelings are valid and to seek help. If any of this sounds familiar, contact the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders at 888-375-7767.

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The military experience

Written by: Michael Hager | Freelancer

Very few people know you can serve your country while getting your degree, and good old Uncle Sam will cover your tuition. I joined the Oregon Army National Guard four years ago when I was a junior in high school, with the intent to go to college and pursue a degree. 

Like a lot of people, my family could not afford to send me to college. One of my high school coaches was a Master Sergeant in the Army and also led the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps — JROTC — program at my school. He told me how the National Guard would pay my tuition, and there I was, 16 years old, with a decision to make.

I always kinda wanted to be in the military — my grandpa was a World War II veteran, my uncle was a veteran and one of my cousins was already in the Guard. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school, but my parents wanted me to go to college. I ended up choosing the best of both worlds. 

I met with a recruiter and he explained that once I turned 17, all I would need was my parents’ consent, and I could join the National Guard on a six-year contract. This would cover my last two years of high school and four years of college at any school in Oregon I could get into. 

After trying to convince my parents, almost exactly a month before the pandemic, I signed a six-year contract with the Oregon Army National Guard. I was able to have an older cousin swear me in, which was pretty cool. 

I was sent into the process of split training: Basic Training one summer and Advanced Individual Training — AIT — the next, instead of the normal One Station Unit Training — OSUT — that everyone else would do. This meant that I would go to Basic Combat Training in the summer between my junior and senior years, at the height of the pandemic.

My Basic was supposed to only be 10 weeks but, since it was in the height of the pandemic, we had to quarantine in our barracks for two weeks. I was sent to stay with 40 strangers and the only time we were allowed outside was to get our food. Once we were all clear, we began training 

10 weeks later. A few weeks before my senior year started, we graduated from Basic Combat Training. I completed my senior year through Zoom in 2021, and I officially graduated from both high school and Basic. By that time, I had a good idea of where my unit was going to be, and I knew I wanted to be close to my unit while I went to college. That is why I chose Western: my unit is located in Salem. 

After graduation, I was all set to come to Western in the Fall of 2021, and I went back to complete AIT with all the same people I did basic with, plus another company who also did the same as us. 

At first, it was hell. We had all gone back to high school and lost all our discipline, so the first week or so was Basic all over again. 

Eventually, we completed AIT, and we were officially Military Police Officers, which was our Military Occupational Specialty. A couple of weeks before I graduated, myself and two others were told that once we went home, we were being sent to the border by former Governor Kate Brown. The state governor is the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard. 

The plans I had of attending college in the fall were over, and I was on a year-long mission. In October of 2021, instead of getting ready for my freshman year of college, I was sent on my mission, but it wasn’t to the border. Much worse, I was sent to the middle of Indiana in the winter to help process and protect the Afghan refugees that President Joe Biden sent over. 

There were around 20,000 refugees who needed to become citizens, and we were projected to be on this tiny base with nothing but a Subway and a cafeteria 10 times worse than Valsetz. 

Luckily, we were able to go home six months later in the middle of what would’ve been the spring term of my freshman year. I was able to register for the following fall semester, which puts me one year behind my peers. 

I started going to Drill, which is where we meet up one weekend a month and train for different things. I started school and continued to go to drill once a month, and then I joined the Men’s Rugby Club. 

My drill schedule interferes with matches and tournaments, but I can work it out with my coaches, and I’m still playing. Drill, for the most part, doesn’t affect my school work except during finals week. 

As a student in the military, I also have access to the Veterans’ Resource Center on campus, which connects me to other military students and resources I can use. On Veterans’ Day, they hold different events I can participate in; one such event is the annual 5K Ruck ‘n Run, which I won last year. 

This is my journey through the military, and it varies for everyone across the branches.  All in all, the National Guard is a great way to make connections, gain experience and get college paid for.

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Mental strength transforms you

Written by: Liberty Miller | Lifestyle Editor

To preface this article, I am a terrible role model to follow. I do way too many activities, have way too little time and rely far too heavily on the luck I’ve had making it this far. I am in the volleyball program at Western, which is incredible to be a part of. A large portion of that is because our weights performance coaches, Coach Jo and Coach Metzgar, do their job so well that the only thing we have to do is sleep, eat and show up. The hard part is being able to mentally show up day after day. 

Everybody has heard the famous saying, “The mind gives up long before the body does.” Nobody knows that saying better than me and my team during our twice-a-week cardio sessions. I’ve had struggles with a busy schedule, as well as having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder which makes it difficult for me to focus and perform actions correctly. It manifests during weights, when I have to remember our barbell complex or during practice, when I forget — once again — to open up my angle during serve receive. Last quarter, I was putting in 32 hours of work in addition to working another job, schoolwork, volleyball and weights sessions. 

It’s frustrating and mentally taxing. If you’re in a similar situation, you know exactly what I’m talking about. When life steps on you every day, refusing to stop and humbling you in ways you didn’t even know were possible, the mind has two choices: it can either collapse or it can grow some muscle to hold up all that weight. 

I remember thinking to myself in mid-March, “Maybe I just wasn’t made for all this. Is this where my athleticism stops? Is this my limit?” Looking back on it, my brain and body needed a break, and I went home for spring break, to vent and reflect on what I’ve been feeling so far. What flashed through my mind was all of those times I thought I wouldn’t make it through cardio. 

I decided that my new belief is — when something is wrong and my mind is tired, I’m going to fight for myself and believe in my potential. I made a few decisions to push myself forward. I took some weights off of the barbell in my brain. I started ADHD medication, I put my foot down at work — weekends only, so volleyball and school take precedence. I even reorganized my room and started opening my blinds so the sun could attempt to fix my circadian rhythm in the morning. Now, who knows whether the changes will be sustainable. However, I’ve already felt like I’ve successfully spotted my brain after it failed a lift. I took some weight off, and I worked my way back up again. Now, the weight moves easier, because I believe in my potential. 

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Let’s support our athletes

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

A recent study done by Harvard found that collegiate student-athletes spend up to 25 hours or more a week on their sport — this includes practices, workouts, travel, film sessions and games or competitions. Add in the hours they put in for classes, homework and jobs, and it’s easy to see how much harder a student-athlete would have to work to maintain this.

Sophie Franklin, a senior in Western’s softball program, starts her day at six in the morning and has a combination of weight training, work, class and practice, all of which vary in time and intensity day by day.

Franklin described her mixed experiences with non-athletes on campus. One moment that stuck out to her was the time a group project was done and submitted without her and her group had emailed the professor saying she wasn’t available when she had sent them her schedule and times she was free. “It was very disheartening that the individuals in my group excluded me and I never really got a clear answer on why,” Franklin said. 

Out of 16 answers provided by Franklin’s teammates, 14 of them said they had more positive interactions with staff and students on campus.

Daniel Meade, a freshman thrower for track and field, reported similar positive experiences, but added a feeling of lack of support from the student body.

“I feel like track and field has very little support behind it. It was like that in high school, it’s not a very popular sport,” Meade said. “But it’s really sad when other teams that are not as successful get more popularity when we are extremely good at our sport.” 

Franklin lamented a similar lack of support from the student body.

A common complaint among the student body is that the “vibes” are not the same as the environment of Division One schools; however, it is the students that create that environment. Commonly, students dress to a theme, cheer and sing along with the cheerleaders and interact with the other fans in the stands. A large portion of the fun in the environment comes from the student and fan engagement. Western, however, does not create this environment at games; something that should be pushed for. 

 Western’s athletes work incredibly hard, often with only a month or two off before they return to practices and competition. They play through all kinds of weather and travel hundreds of miles in short periods while maintaining the academic standards that are required of them. As a student body, we should be supporting them much more than they currently receive.

“With softball, we try to do t-shirt giveaways at home games for home runs, strikeouts and general giveaways,” Franklin said. “Plus, we have fun music, great cheers and grand enthusiasm and love for our sport. I would love to see more students come and support us. Trust me, it’ll be worth attending!”

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Football championship accused of fraud

Written by: Liberty Miller | Lifestyle Editor

The recent Super Bowl match sparked more controversy than usual under the watchful and neurotic eyes of crazed pop star fans and disillusioned supporters of the sport. While most large, televised matches and championships typically garner a small minority of antagonistic outliers claiming that the competition was “rigged,” or that the referees were bribed to throw the game, the Super Bowl has gained an extreme amount of erratic misinformative hearsay on the topic. 

From the perspective of a non-athlete, it may seem feasible that this could be true, their inside knowledge being collected from viral internet videos like WWE and bad calls from referees. However, as an athlete, this is a gross misconceptualization of the processes behind large professional sports organizations, and it’s disrespectful to everyone involved in the administrative, coaching and athletic process. 

A player from Western’s football team, sophomore linebacker Kenny Brown, chipped in on the situation — “I did think it was super sketchy for a receiver to be left so wide open against one of the best defensive teams in the league, but it’s easy to get lost in the moment. Especially against a quarterback as special as Pat Mahomes. There were a lot of holding calls that went unseen for the Chief’s o-line, but they’ve never been called for holding in a championship game or higher. Which is kind of sketchy, but I thought San Francisco just choked in the end,” Brown said.

Any athlete would recognize that as hard as it is to correctly perform a game plan in a match, it would be even more difficult to maneuver an intricately scripted match. In a way, it would be similar to a dance performance. It’s hard to imagine pulling off a purposefully choreographed performance with five or six people, but illogical to think that is possible on a field with 22 players and six referees, much less on the national stage with a championship ring on the line. At the very least, this line of thinking is rather short-sighted and lacks perspective, and at its worst, it discredits the work of all the athletes and coaches in all teams across the league that compete for the championships, as well as disregards the administrative staff, trainers and other support careers that go into making the championships happen. Coach Cori Metzgar is the director of sports performance at Western, and had a few things to say about how these theories affect the people involved. “It completely discredits all the hard work they do, they put in so much effort, time and energy to be the best, I believe it makes a joke of all they do, which is the opposite of what they are. As a strength coach myself, if someone accused me of cheating or scripting the outcome of our season, I’d feel hurt and disrespected because I spend the majority of my life with the sole purpose of getting my athletes ready to compete at the highest level they can.” 

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