Mount Hood

College students have no time to live

Written by: Ruth Simonsen | Digital Media Manager

Do you ever feel like you barely have time to breathe during the week? Well, that’s likely because you don’t. As a college student — which, if you’re reading this, you probably are — you have little to no time to live a normal, functioning life. 

Now why is this, you ask? Let’s break it down. Assuming you are the average college student, you are probably taking around 16 credits this term, or roughly four classes. Each credit is supposed to fill approximately three hours of work per week, outside of the scheduled lecture period. If you’re taking four different four-credit classes, that totals out to 48 hours of work you are supposed to do in one week. 

This number is outrageous for a student, seeing as if it were a job, you’d be getting paid overtime for these hours. These ungodly hours are also not accounting for working part-time, or even full-time jobs just to help pay for a fraction of these classes. 

Let’s reassess. Classes take 48 hours of your week, and a part-time job on top of that would take at least 25 more hours. What about if you want to have a day off, specifically on the weekend? Well, you would have to find a way to cram all of your work, from both classes and your job, to make that adjustment. 

If you wanted to take Saturdays off, you would have to find a way to fit roughly 12 hours of work in each day, both paying jobs and college classes. We’re not done yet. 

So you want to get into grad school during all of this? Okay, let’s find you some internships and volunteer positions to help expand that application for you. 

You have time to make that work, right? Oh, you have a partner that you want to spend time with as well? And friends too? Well, let’s see. If you find a way to cram everything into only six days and use every single hour of those days without giving yourself time to eat, sleep or breathe, maybe you’ll have time to see your friends on Saturday. 

Oh shoot, all of your friends are working on Saturday. And your partner? They left you because you didn’t make enough time for them during the week. What are you left with? Nothing, besides your classes, your jobs, your internships, your volunteer hours and your sad excuse for a college student life. 

Don’t worry though, these are the best years of your life!

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The Western Portal is terrible

Written by: Quinlan Wedge | Photo Editor

I despise the Western Portal, and I know I’m not alone. My writing class this term focuses on tensions with digital media, and the most common complaint from fellow students is that the Portal is terrible. 

The long list of problems includes poor design and difficulty accessing financial aid, class registration and housing information. We are tired of jumping through hoops to get anywhere and having difficulty navigating an outdated interface — one with irrelevant additions, crowding, improper use of space and lack of direction and clarity. 

I designed a plan to make the portal and its systems more simple and accessible. I reorganized all content into simplified sections — including an archive for outdated apps and programs. I redid the application bar and made simple redesigns of the mismatched icons — adding an edit button to customize the apps to individual preferences. I added overviews of important things for students to keep track of and made other additions and deletions. 

Students must be able to find what they need quickly; this allows them to manage their time easier and work more efficiently.

There are still things that can be done to further redesign the portal. It would be wise to gather a panel of students to learn what the biggest problems are and what students need most. The portal needs to be made with students in mind, and it needs to be much more user friendly. 

I believe that less attention is paid to the portal than other parts of the Western online programs because the portal is only for people who are already paying to go to Western. Priority is likely given to things prospective students and donors see, not to current students. 

Several transfer students in the class, coming from Chemeketa Community College and Portland Community College, say that the Western portal is the worst they have experienced. One suggested that Portal designers should ask what students need and what they can do to get the students there. This does not seem like too much to ask. 

Students pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend Western; the systems they interact with daily must be more accessible.

I understand that computer programming is nuanced and complex, but other local colleges are able to do it well, so why can’t we? If we pay staff to work on Portal programming and computer services, we should have better website design focused on the students whose tuition goes toward staff pay. 

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Eyithe’, I AM

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

Content warning: contains mentions of death and substance abuse

Look at the ground beneath your feet. Who’s walked here? Who lived on the land long before you came into existence?

The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians is one of nine federally recognized Indian Tribal Governments in Oregon. It has its own Tribal Board of Directors and its own set of laws pertaining to and governing tribal members. Located in Southwest Oregon, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians has over 1,800 members spread from Canyonville, Roseburg and Myrtle Creek. I am a recognized member of this tribe.

Ancestral tribal grounds were primarily located along the South Umpqua river and the surrounding watershed but also stretched to parts of the Willamette Valley, Crater Lake, the Klamath Marshes and the Rogue Valley watershed. 

On April 12, 1854, a treaty was signed between the natives and the United States government — ceding more than 800 square miles of land. The tribe was paid 2.3 cents an acre and these were then resold to pioneer settlers for $1.25 an acre.

There were, however, issues with this treaty. The natives had no concept of land ownership or land boundaries — hunting, fishing and gathering sites were all well established. The treaty also promised healthcare, housing and education to the Cow Creek Tribe, but this was ignored until 1954 with the passing of the Western Oregon Indian Termination Act, legislation to “set the Indians free.”

When settlers arrived and began to live on the ceded land, tensions began to rise. Disease swept through the tribe killing many members, including Chief Miwaleta, who now has a campground named after him in Azalea, Oregon. 

Efforts began to remove the Cow Creek to reservations in Northern and Eastern Oregon, with promises of wonderful lives on the reservation. Scouts were sent to these locations, and their first sight was that of an infant suckling on its dead mother. This is still shared among the tribe and told to people who ask why we do not have a reservation. I remember I was 10 when my mom first told me this story. 

Due to this, the tribe resisted relocation, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs sent exterminators to Oregon for the main purpose of killing the Cow Creek people. Many had already died in the Rogue Indian Wars, an armed conflict occurring in 1855 and 1856, which fueled settler-native rivalry. Many who survived this were chased to Table Rock in Medford, Oregon by the calvary and forced off the side of the plateau to their deaths.

The surviving members lived in seclusion and eventually married pioneers, miners and fur traders in the area. Seven families survived, taking or keeping the names Dumont, LaChance, Rainville, Pairseau, Rondeau and Thomason — Rainville and Rondeau are still the most prominent modern names and figureheads within the tribe. 

Though not Federally recognized, the tribe still held their councils and their way of life, ensuring to document these meetings. When the tribe pursued an aggressive approach towards restoration and recognition in the 1970s — an effort my great-grandmother and two times great aunt and uncle all played a part in — they began the process for legal validation of the tribe’s existence. 

Today, the tribe is buying our ancestral land back, owning acreage in Canyonville, Myrtle Creek, Roseburg and the surrounding areas. Seven Feathers Casino and Resort, which started out as a bingo hall in the 90s, now boasts six restaurants, a spa, an RV park and countless events within the various lounges and event centers. 

I grew up intertwined in my tribe’s culture. Until my middle school years, I spent summers at culture camps and Pow Wows, crafting and dancing in ways to honor the ancestors. There are still skills I learned at these that I remember today, my favorite being flint knapping — the art of taking obsidian and sculpting it into arrow and spearheads — and beading. 

The tribe knows the effects of intergenerational trauma and issues; my grandmother and great aunt both passed due to their drug use — both starting in their early teens.

Into my adult years, I have become distant from the culture I grew up in. I distanced myself from toxic people within my family and have not spoken to them in years. I still make my attempts to have connections; reading literature by native authors, using a sage wax melt when I want to cleanse my space, wearing my beaded earrings and keeping my hair long when so many in the past couldn’t.

I still have connections with my tribe, they help pay for my college and they are blood, after all, but part of me likes to think they can’t catch me. I am proud of my culture and the survival of my ancestors, but I choose to uphold my own traditions and my own way of life, far from them and the lifestyles many have chosen for themselves. I am not running from the culture I grew up in. I carry it and the blood of my ancestors with pride and honor. But I am far from those who wish me ill.

This Thanksgiving, think of the people who lived on the land long before the settlers arrived from the New World those years ago, the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Children, the thousands found buried under residential schools. Especially think of those who are in the cycle that was created for them, hundreds of years before they were born. Not everyone is as lucky to break the cycle like I am.

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Cringe is dead, enjoy what you want

Written by: Claire Phillips | Entertainment Editor

For the past few years, young people have been straying away from trends and exploring their personal style. There is now a place for anyone and everyone to express their identity and interests — the internet. Whether it comes down to curating a unique wardrobe or enjoying a show that dubs you a “geek” or even “Gleek”, it is essential to constantly spark your inner joy and ignore the haters. 

Fandom culture has existed for centuries. Fans of the Shakespeare play “King Lear” rewrote the ending simply because they enjoy the tragic conclusion. Similarly, fans of “Sherlock Holmes” are credited for some of the first ever fanfictions and publicly mourning the death of Holmes. These fans have never been spared from criticism, however, today, Beatles fans will ask teenage girls to “name three songs,” when the original Beatles fan base was mainly composed of teenage girls.

Fans have found ways to connect both online and offline. Conventions have served as a meeting place for people with similar interests. The greatest fans will even “cosplay” as their favorite characters with intricate outfits and props. Cosplay became popular on social media apps, but unfortunately, not every cosplayer was well-received. They’re creatively doing something they enjoy, so what’s the harm?

Actually, there can be harm in being a superfan. Fans of the hit TV show “Glee” popularized the show and started calling themselves “Gleeks.” It was all good and fine until the Gleeks began harassing the actors. The leads of the show already had stressful lives: long days of learning songs and choreography led to exhaustion for both the cast and crew. 

The same goes for other popular television series, such as “Stranger Things” and “Heartstopper.” Otherwise, cringe is dead — feel free to be a Gleek, as long as respect is at the forefront of your intentions.

The difference between the Shakespearean era and today is the glorious invention of social media. If conventions aren’t accessible, there is another option: talking to people online. The days of posting flyers on theater doors are over, now just a five to ten second video can reach thousands. However, if you’re one of the brave few who share their true self online, the result could be subjection to the hateful words of close-minded people.

The truth is, those people are never going to go away. Whether they appear at school, work or online, the haters are everywhere. If their words are taken to heart and people change because of it, then they’re just being proven right, and the negativity will continue to spread. The most effective course of action is to ignore the hate, respect differences and support each other.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s draining to constantly be a hater. Reach out to the people around you, and you might find something in common. The universe will align to bring people close to you who will love you for all of your quirks. If you like to make weird noises, seek someone who will do the same. 

Whether you’re a theater kid, a cosplayer or a bookworm — there is a place for you. People like you have existed for centuries. Wear unique clothes, find time for niche passions and seek out those who are similar. In ten years, the haters won’t matter, unless you let them crawl into your head and build a home there. What’s important is the people who will let you shine.


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Ease your mind, ignore everyday villains

Written by: Liberty Miller | Lifestyle Editor

When I was in high school, I went to a bookstore near my hometown and purchased the prettiest book I could find at the reasonable price of $14.95. I had preemptively placed myself in the philosophy section of the bookstore — in the hopes that I could find a small gem of knowledge that would be more valuable than the allowance I was spending on it. What I wasn’t expecting was for that book to shape one of my most treasured life philosophies — one that I would carry all throughout my years leading up until this moment. 

When I opened the book, I was met with undecipherable chinese characters and an introduction to “The Way.” 

It was a translation of an ancient Chinese philosophy created by Lao Tzu, and when I flipped to page 122, entry 67, I read, “I myself have three treasures at hand; I keep a firm grasp on them, and protect them as I would a child carried on my back. The first, I say, is nurturing love. The second, I say, is unpretentiousness. The third, I say, is not pushing myself ahead in the world. Because of nurturing love, you are capable of courage that flows forth; Because of unpretentiousness, you are capable of being expansive; Because of not pushing yourself ahead in the world, you are capable of having the stature of an elder among people of ability.” (Tao Te Ching) 

The translation of the book, and perhaps the clear and precise manner in which Lao Tzu originally created his work, seemed to be applicable even thousands of years later in the life of a 15-year-old girl. 

The first principle, nurturing love, can be presented in many ways. Unconditional positive regard, loyalty, kindness, compassion and affection are some ways to demonstrate nurturing love in your everyday life. 

As an athlete, I do my best to show this by speaking positively about opposing teams. In my everyday life, I refrain from speaking spitefully and instead, praise and include others with kind regard. 

This is an incredible principle to incorporate into daily life. In a world where there is an abundance of criticism, negativity and needless bullying, one has the power to reject these ideals, reject the idea that complaining or talking badly about others is a rite of passage or means of assimilation. 

There is nothing more satisfying than having love and appreciation for the world and the people in it; it is there that we can find peace. 

The second principle, unpretentiousness — living life humbly and without status. We live in a world where our accomplishments and social standing are measured constantly by those we know or people who live across the world. 

Social media, academic and athletic awards, jobs, internships, houses and apartments, relationships, friendships, money, age and beauty — countless ideals and standards that hold everyone hostage on a daily basis. The way to freedom is to let these things go. 

When ego takes over, it’s easy for one to forget where they started, see where they are and act as if it is their right to be there. How I think about it is, the world is not, in fact, my oyster; instead, it is my classroom. If I let go of my ego — my need for status and adopt the mindset of a beginner — I will be leaps and bounds ahead of those who don’t want to learn, only to achieve. If I lose my need to be better, I can become the best as an individual, NOT comparing myself to others and unattainable standards. 

The third principle — not pushing oneself ahead in the world. Going hand-in-hand with the previous principle, what this means to me is prioritizing the “we”: supporting other human beings over self interest. 

Biologically, our species depends on each other for survival, whether we like it or not. Bonds are what make up what we call life. In the process of putting myself first, I would tend to forget those around me who built the staircase of life that I climb. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it wasn’t built by one person either. The credit for who we are today goes to those who supported us along the way. In this manner, we can follow this principle by giving credit to those who helped build our staircase, helped write the chapters in our story. 

As a disclaimer, no one born on earth in any era will fully claim to have mastered this philosophy. 

We are fickle, we are human and we are flawed. Everyone has been a Regina George — been the opposite of everything we’ve discussed thus far. But, even the smallest of actions can be the building blocks towards a more rewarding and happy life. I think one will find if they try their best to go about life with love, gratitude and friendship, they will be more at peace with themselves than ever before. 

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Not who I knew

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

Content warning: gun violence, murder

We all have a friend who has been close to us for years. For me, it was a boy named Alex. Alex and I met during our junior year of high school during football season. He had just transferred from the 6A school in our area and was on the football team. I was the football team manager. I don’t really remember our first meeting in all honesty. 

Alex and I became fast friends and then like siblings. We were tight. 90% of my Snapchat memories from Senior year are from that f—-r either sleeping or pulling some shenanigans in class. He was especially close with my mom, sometimes even preferring to hang out with her over me when we’d fight over petty s–t.

Alex didn’t always have the best life. His biological mother abandoned him, and his adoptive family kicked him out as soon as he was 18. But, we still tried our best to stay in contact, even with our busy schedules, me with school and work, him sometimes out of service for months working for Grayback Forestry.

The last time I heard from him was Aug. 14, when he warned me about a fire that was close to Salem. My last two texts have remained unread since. Ten days prior, he had done the unthinkable.

I didn’t know about it until recently, maybe two weeks ago, only a few days after his arrest. My mom had called me and told me the news — she had found out from her former coworker. The world spun constantly that day.

Information on what happened is limited. I can’t even find the full story, but, from what I understand, Alex was somewhere he should not have been with some friends he should not have been with. Their day out ended with shooting someone and then to ensure he was dead, ran him over with their truck. His “friends” had been arrested almost immediately — it took them longer to connect Alex to the crime. The idiot had sent texts about covering up the crime and had photos of the victim’s firearm on his phone.

I think I cried all day that day. I was angry and felt like I failed my friend, like I didn’t do enough to help him. His last texts to me were looking out for me. I don’t think when the police searched his phone they even read my messages. They are still unread.

For me, the hardest thing is finding out someone you would trust with your life could do something so horrible. Alex was the person I trusted everything with in high school, the person who knew almost everything about me. We walked together at graduation. He is my brother. 

Finding out what he did was the worst. 

This is not the Alex I know. 

The Alex I know is sweet and funny. He makes smart decisions and has a somewhat steady head on his shoulders. 

At the same time, it terrifies me. What if this is truly who he is and he had just hidden it all this time? What if I had done more to help him stay on track and out of trouble?

My mom feels like she failed him too. Alex had been in her ERC — Educational Resource Center — classroom for his ADHD and that is mostly where their bond formed — where she developed her maternal feelings toward him. She still calls him her kid. 

This is not the Alex she knows either.

As I sit here on my laptop, staring at what he is being charged with, I am sobbing. This was my best friend and now he is someone I no longer know.

So far, he has had two court dates, one for the first three initial charges: second-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and aggravated assault. There was a second court date adding on two more charges: hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence. My high school best friend is being charged with four felonies and a misdemeanor.

I am not sitting here and telling this story without a purpose or a reason. Part of me wanted to share this because I know, somewhere out there, people are going through the same thing. Their brother or sister or father or mother has done something unspeakable and they don’t know how to feel. Sometimes it’s horror, sometimes it’s pain.

I also wanted to highlight how unexpected life can really be and how it changes people. I had gone weeks without thinking about Alex and this news suddenly came up and rocked my world. I was not expecting it at all. And I think in a way, him not answering my texts was almost how he could avoid having people close to him questioned about his character by the police. His way of trying to keep the people close to him out of this.

I still feel angry at my friend. I feel sad. I will not get him back for years and when I do, he will be a completely changed person, and so will I because of his actions. He will be hardened, brittle and angry. I will likely be a wife and a mother by the time he is released. And when he is, I will still be there to support him and hopefully get him on his feet. 

No matter the stupid things he does, Alex is my brother and best friend. He always will be, murder charges will never change that. Especially when I think about the situation he had to be in to do such a thing.

Alex will always be my brother. 

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Christmas consumerism

Written by: Claire Phillips | Entertainment Editor

With every passing year, Christmas decorations begin to appear in stores across the country earlier and earlier, screaming — buy me. Department store Santas invite children to sit on their laps while anxious parents buy last minute gifts to put under their decked-out trees. The genuine significance of the holiday lies far beyond neon lights and Black Friday sales — if you simply dig a little deeper.

Scrambling together enough money from last month’s paycheck to pay for gifts isn’t the only Christmas stressor. Many families prepare their homes to look home magazine-perfect before their extended relatives come to visit. Then, there’s the Christmas dinner and listening to Uncle Craig talk about politics again. For many Americans, Christmas is an anxiety-inducing time of year.

However, it doesn’t have to be. Many have lost sight of the lessons the holiday season is supposed to teach. The capitalist society of America has driven Christmas to the forefront of minds even before Halloween. The earliest I’ve seen Christmas decorations arrive in stores is right after the Fourth of July passes.

Something about the green and red popping up reminds consumers of the money they have to spend — or probably shouldn’t spend — on holiday goods. The truth is, Christmas is an easy holiday to commercialize. Companies are smart; they know what people like to buy, and that is nostalgia. That little rush of dopamine is what fuels companies during the holidays.

What was it that made Christmas so special as a child? Was it really the presents under the tree, or was it the traditions made with friends and family? Looking back, my fondest memories were reading “The Night Before Christmas” with my dad and baking cookies for our neighbors with my mom. Though waiting up for Santa to deliver toys was fun, too.

This year, many have taken to the internet to show off their handmade Christmas gifts from items they already had at home to inspire others to do the same. Garlands can be made out of dried oranges or paper stars. You can even create unique wrapping paper out of recycled paper bags and personalize each present with doodles. The opportunities for creating are endless.

Many Christmas gifts are bought simply to check another person off the list, without considering their interests. 

Stephen Hartley, a junior at Western, discussed this dilemma. “If you buy something, don’t buy it for storage,” he said. “And that’s most of what Christmas gifts are, to add to the consumerism.” Though it seems like time is extremely finite at this point in the year, try to consider what each person you’re shopping for would find personal, so their gifts don’t end up in the landfill.

You don’t need to buy an “ugly” sweater from Old Navy you’ll only wear once, the point is to peruse your grandmother’s closet for a new favorite hand-me-down. And if you don’t go to the stores, they will come to you first —  “I got an email today… about getting ‘extra spending points’ if I buy things between Nov. 30 and Dec. 7… it’s like oh, I’m already getting advertisements personalized,” Hartley said. 

So, be extra careful around the holidays when it comes to spending money. Chances are, you already have all the materials for a festive time somewhere in your home.

I love giving and receiving gifts as much as the next person. However, what makes Christmas truly special is the people you spend it with. Hartley countered this opinion — “I think you don’t have to have a holiday… to celebrate with people you love. If I want to see people, I’m going to see people.”

Especially for college students, going home for the holidays is more sweet than ever. As an out-of-state student, I cherish every moment I am able to spend with my family and friends at home. Sometimes the rush of school, work and making travel plans does get in the way of what my winter break means to me.

This holiday season, take a moment to reflect on spontaneous spending habits and think about what you’re participating in. I’m not telling you to not buy any presents — that would make me a Scrooge. Gift receivers would appreciate something more sentimental rather than a stocking stuffer that will be thrown away, or even re-gifted. Don’t deny it — we’ve all been there.

It’s a tough task to face when advertisements are constantly in your face, tempting you to constantly give in to buying goodies. I understand the difficulties concerning consumerism around the holidays. There’s a bright future ahead, however, that is more sustainable and still includes everything we love about Christmas today.

If you blink, you’ll miss the magical aspects of the season. I still look forward to playing with my grandma’s handmade Christmas countdown just like I did when I was little. My grandpa still marks the See’s Candy as being delivered from “Santa,” and I love to see him happy when I play along with it. The joy of Christmas is found within the delight you bring to others. 

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