What are SMU Nursing Students Up To?

Kayla May, Staff Writer 

Here at Saint Martin’s, the nursing program is “dedicated to creating a learner-centered education grounded in the university core values of faith, reason, service and community,” as explained on the university’s website.

Their goal is to “prepare nursing graduates who are committed to evidence-based practice, social justice and lifelong learning to meet the needs of the global community in the 21st century”.

Nursing has long been an in-demand profession because of the critical role it plays in the healthcare system, which has become especially evident during the pandemic. Yet, the nursing shortage is growing due to several factors.

One of the main factors contributing to nursing shortages is burnout. Working conditions with a high workload, low staffing, and long shifts lead nurses to leave and move on to a different profession. Other factors include an aging population, an aging workforce, rising travel nursing popularity, and a lack of nursing educators.

To get a sense of what nursing students at SMU are experiencing, I talked to juniors Vanessa Smoke and Bernanidino Mariano, as well as senior Abigail Burton.

Smoke and Mariano are learning about managing chronic diseases, putting in catheters, IVs, and doing wound care as well as the appraisal of different levels of evidence.

Burton explains that seniors within the Spring ’23 cohort are taking classes discussing the transition into their nursing careers and public and community health. She describes the workload seniors are dealing with. A combination of Capstone Dissertation projects, clinical practicum (working full-time in a hospital with preceptor nurses), and studying for the national board exam for nurses. Despite all of these things on her plate, Burton describes how she’s feeling about her final semester, “I am honestly so excited to graduate- I am counting down the days!”

When asked what something they have struggled with during their time in the nursing program, they all shared a common answer: time management. Mariano describes his experience, “The nursing program is such as demanding area of study that requires a balance between a heavy course load of assignments, on top of studying, and attending clinical shifts that range from four to twelve hours every week.”

The task of time management becomes even more difficult when you add athletics in the mix explains Smoke, who is a softball player, “So far in my first year of upper division nursing, I have struggled with learning how to manage all my time between academics and sports. It is a huge learning curve being in upper divisions and very humbling when it comes to exams.”

Each of them shared some tips for others nursing students or those thinking about pursuing a career in nursing. Burton and Smoke both agreed that lots of sleep should always be a priority, regardless of how much studying you have to do. They also agreed that finding a study group and taking advantage of the tutors is very beneficial.

Mariano said to not fall behind and find fulfillment in what you’re doing, “The nursing program is easy to get tired and have low motivation to continue but to truly make it through the program I think that finding fulfillment and enjoyment in being of service to others is an important part of making it through.”

Their reasoning for pursuing a career in nursing varies from wanting to give back to their community to a fascination with the human body and healthy living. They have also been inspired to care for others by caring for sick family members.

Their passions within the field of nursing also vary. Mariano has an interest in being a travel nurse and hopes to be able to travel internationally to provide care in areas with lower access to healthcare. He also is eager to be a public health nurse that “researches systemic issues that prevent these [marginalized] groups from getting the care they need and finding solutions to combat systemic barriers and biases.”

Smoke is curious about working in the OR (operating room) and being able to watch surgeries but could also see herself working in Labor and Delivery. Burton originally wanted to work in the emergency room because of the variety of patient populations and problems, but has now fallen in love with the idea of working in Labor and Delivery and, “helping mothers bring life into this world.”

Nursing has been and will continue to be a crucial part of the medical process, especially in handling any further pandemics that are thrown our way. It is important to acknowledge the hard work nursing students put in and support them in their endeavors to join such an important profession.

Marty Makeover: History, Why Now, and Next Steps

Kayla May, Staff Writer

As many of you hopefully saw in your emails, our Mascot, Marty, is getting a makeover. The Belltower was able to sit down with Nate Peters, the Vice President of the Office of Marketing and Communications, to discuss the details of this makeover.

First, it is important to know the why of it all. Why is Marty so important to Saint Martin’s community? What value does Marty bring to the campus? He answered by giving a brief history lesson and explaining the significance Marty has to our university’s culture.

The university’s namesake is Saint Martin of Tours, originally a soldier in the Roman army. A legend is told of Martin coming up upon a shivering beggar in the cold; he split his cloak in two to share his warmth with the beggar. In a dream, Martin received a vision where the beggar revealed himself as Jesus Christ. This experience is what inspired him to leave the army, pursue his faith, and become a monk, teacher, and, eventually, bishop in the Catholic Church.

He dedicated his life to helping others. A life full of actions that reflect the Benedictine values of hospitality, community living, and respect for persons, values we still uphold and practice at the university today.

Peters explained that when they were going through a rebranding for athletics in 2019, they used focus groups and surveys within the community to determine their new mascot. Ultimately, the community wanted to keep Marty as the remaining mascot.

Peters articulated that the history of having a Roman soldier as our mascot is a direct nod to our Catholic tradition and heritage of what Saint Martin’s is all about. He elaborates by stating, “that right there is big piece of why Marty is such an important piece of Saint Martin’s. Because again, it’s a nod to our history.”

Marty the Saint has significant meaning to the university, which is exactly why they are going through with this makeover. When asked why the marketing department decided to do a makeover now, Peters’ first question was, “Have you seen Marty?”, and then preceded to describe how the costume is practically falling apart at the seams.

Marty is a symbol of pride and school spirit and represents our school’s namesake and history, which is why he should look presentable and put together. “The number one reason why we’re moving forward is because this mascot costume just can’t keep up,” Peters told me.

The survey is just the first step in revamping Marty’s look. The survey was sent out to 8,600 people, including students, staff, faculty, and alumni, and has already gotten 350 responses as of this weekend. It is short, with only four questions, and its main goals are to A) get people excited about getting a new Marty costume and B) start asking people what kind of mascot “vibes” they want Marty to have.

This makeover is more than just giving Marty a facelift. “As we’re looking to energize our campus community, energize our students, get our alumni back on campus and really try to get people together and recognize and be proud of the Saint Martin’s University brand, one way to do that is through a mascot,” Peters explained.

The ultimate goal is to engage Marty and the community more and make his presence more prominent on campus. They are looking to get two different Marty costumes, one for athletic-focused events and the other for PR/media events and photo-ops.

Peters wanted to emphasize that although they want to make everyone happy and pleased with the new mascot look, “it’s hard to appeal to everybody.” He goes on to express, “our team is working hard to work with the majority and make sure that everyone has input, and everyone is heard, and then we make decisions based on what the community wants.”

Moving forward, the marketing department is planning on doing a second survey, hopefully before commencement and finals week, and hopes to have a new costume in hand by the time the ’23-’24 school year begins in late August.

Program for Integrating Fostering Success

Gilbert Smith, Staff Writer

The Saint Martin’s University school website phrases what the Fostering Success Program does as, “Saint Martin’s University supports foster, homeless, and unaccompanied youth through our integrative Fostering Success program.” The website continues with, “We combine the resources needed to navigate your college career as an independent student and provide a network of contacts to help you with your journey.” Something to note is that this program is part of a scholarship program due to some support in the form of financial aid.  The Fostering Success Program is not central to Saint Martin’s University. In fact, the University of Arizona has a similar program. 

Until recently, Pamela J. Holsinger-Fuchs was the main overseer of the project on campus. Pamela helped students in need with issues relating to foster care, homelessness, and unaccompanied youth. Crystal Cardona, also from the Office of Campus Ministry and the College of Arts and Sciences, will now oversee the program. The Belltower interviewed Pamela J. Holsinger-Fuchs for her insight.

While she had many important things to say over Zoom, she first discussed the Washington Passport Network Program. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Passport Network Program has been assisting people from foster care in college and now homeless youth. It also includes McKinney–Vento students in it. Specifically, the Passport Program website says, “the Washington Passport Network is a statewide collective impact initiative committed to supporting students from foster care and the adult professionals they rely on.” We empower professionals supporting students from foster care and unaccompanied homeless youth with information, knowledge, and tools to improve practices and student outcomes. If you are a professional working to support students from foster care or those experiencing unaccompanied homelessness in accessing, persisting in, or completing post-secondary education or apprenticeships in Washington state, then we consider you a member of the Washington Passport Network. The program provides a scholarship of $5,000 per year for college. They also have to do this when applying for the FAFSA as independents through various programs offered by the federal government. She also worked in a similar program in the state of Wisconsin. There are 12 students in this program currently at Saint Martins.

McKinney and Vento were senators who drafted legislation to help former foster youth. This law is known today as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The program also made sure they were allowed to stay during breaks. They also get additional money for books and make them a birthday cake on their birthday.

There are two student peer mentors for the program. She helped in the program to support former foster care students and has a support network here. She previously worked in Wisconsin, where she did the same. Now that she is retired, she still meets former students from the program.

The future of the TUB: Is a new student union building in the works?

TUBMyki Dee Kim, Staff Writer 


Whether it be attending an Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University (ASSMU) meeting, playing pool at 10 p.m., or even grabbing $5 movie passes from the front desk, the Trautman Union Building (TUB) continues to be the heart of campus. From a wide variety of programs to two  offices, the TUB serves the community in a multitude of ways. 

As the campus population continues to grow and programs become more frequent, there has been talk in recent years to push for a larger student union building to accommodate current and future Saints. 

At universities such as Seattle University, the University of Portland, and Gonzaga University, student union buildings are bigger (typically two to three stories), and have the accessibility to hold more programs, and events without worrying about reaching maximum capacity of the space. At these universities, their student union building also encompasses many other on-campus services such as their respective office of campus life, several meeting rooms, dining services, bookstores, and other programming facilities for all to utilize. 

The TUB has served generations of the campus community well, but many worry that the school is beginning to outgrow the TUB. Many on campus events that typically have been held in the TUB have had to be moved due to building capacity. For example, High Stakes Bingo Night at the beginning of each semester used to be held in the TUB up until last academic year. It has since been moved to the Worthington Center as space in the TUB became scarce to meet the needs of the attending population.

Senior Business Administration major, Marcus Bufford, believes that the TUB is not necessarily a perfect space but “it’s where we gather and where we have all these fantastic community based events.”  

Bufford has fond memories attending varying on-campus events in the TUB such as Casino Night, performances by breathtaking magicians, and hilarious comedians. Bufford believes that TUB staff has done a wonderful job livening up the space, but to him, the building feels small and bland. As a student hang-out area, and a hub for the community to gather and engage with one another, he believes that there should be different types of decorations to represent different communities and ideas. 

Compared to other universities, the TUB is smaller, but he does not believe that it is a detriment to the space itself: “I say that because from what I have seen and understand about other student union buildings, a lot of them seem to incorporate other things so it’s not just a space dedicated to student community. Whereas the TUB really is and that’s what it’s main focus is.” 

If Saint Martin’s does get a new student union building in the future, Bufford hopes that it would evolve in its amenities and allow for other spaces such as workshops, a music hall, another dining facility, and other interactions that the university may allow for. 

Bufford emphasized the importance of a shared music space as he believes that music is a good form of community, and “a larger music hall would be perfect because the current building we have is small and the campus is in desperate need of a larger space for the arts.” 

He also emphasized the importance of an added coffee stand or cafeteria service in the new building as food brings people together and creates community. Bufford does worry that other on-campus spaces, such as the Norman Worthington Conference Center, would not be utilized as much by the campus community if a new student union building arrives on campus. 

In his personal opinion, Bufford does not believe that there is a current need for a new student union building and would prefer the funding for the potential building to go elsewhere such as to new and improved student scholarships, or even a larger recreation facility to accommodate all users of the space. 

Melanie Richardson, Dean of Students, has been in active and regular conversations surrounding the idea of a new student union building. Richardson noted that administration, the board, and members of the abbey have had a great deal of conversation surrounding the idea of a new building. 

Chief Financial Officer, Sarah Saavedra, is actively working on a needs-analysis with the student government to align with the needs of the university. 

With the conversations held by university executives, there was a note that creating a new building in the short term would be extremely difficult and a future campus building would include a potential performing arts building: “In the immediate future, space needs should be addressed through potential reuse of existing space.” Richardson loves that the TUB is an area students can call their own and that student services such as ASSMU and Campus Life are easily accessible for the campus population. 

In the event of a new building, Richardson hopes to have a planning committee with heavy student membership and input and to allow for relevant student affairs offices and student services to be in the building while continuing to be a gathering spot for all students to join in community with one another. She hopes for student events to continue to draw increasing numbers of students and to allow spaces to accommodate hosted activities. One thing to consider is what to do with the existing TUB in the event of a new student union building. 

Richardson noted that the TUB “is beloved and there is much history to honor in the building. Space is always a sacred commodity on campus, and I imagine there would be many competing interests.” 

Through recent conversations, Richardson has appreciated the passion and advocacy from ASSMU these years with the Board of Trustees. She had wished for conversation this academic year to continue in order to strategize other options for student ideas in the future. However, she does believe that the continued advocacy of ASSMU has opened the door for additional student spaces and ultimately a new building in the future. 

The beloved TUB continues to be the heart of student activity on campus ranging from a nice study space to an awesome Campus Life event. Talk of a new student union building is currently in the works but may be seen later in the future rather than an immediate action. It is important that Saints remember to cherish the spaces and resources we currently have and to look forward to new and exciting innovations for our campus community in the future.


Winstead has big plans for sabbatical

Faculty SpotlightKaitlin Cunningham, Staff Writer 


Professor Teresa Winstead, Ph.D., will be on sabbatical at the end of this semester to pursue research projects. A sabbatical grants professors time off so they can conduct research projects that coincide with their academic discipline. This allows them time to step away from the demands of instruction in order to engage in research they can bring back to the classroom. 

Winstead’s research consists of two related projects, in collaboration with the Olympia Bupe Clinic, a sub-unit of Capital Recovery Center. The Olympia Bupe Clinic is designed primarily to provide support for heroin addicts, through the use of buprenorphine treatment. According to the clinic, “Buprenorphine (also called Suboxone) is a medication used to treat opioid use disorder. It promptly stops withdrawal symptoms and reduces opioid craving. It is long-acting, has a very low overdose risk, and minimal euphoric effect, and helps support recovery.” 

During her sabbatical, Winstead will be working with the clinic’s staff and patients to conduct research that describes how patients experience buprenorphine treatment, and specifically the impact of the treatment on patients.

In Winstead’s words, this research is meant to “contribute a deeper understanding of the experiences and perspectives of people who are undergoing buprenorphine treatment and by doing so help to dismantle misconceptions, confront discrimination, and build understanding.” 

The initial gathering of stories and personal accounts is scheduled to occur over the course of six months, and culminate in an event that allows participants to share their stories with stakeholders involved in opioid response in the South Sound region. 

In addition, Winstead was asked to lead a qualitative research study for a PEW Charitable Trusts grant that the Olympia Bupe Clinic received this year. The grant funds a larger study led by the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. The PEW research project aims to understand the multi-faceted impact of medication-assisted treatment on the lives of opioid use disorder patients’ lives. 

The final component of her sabbatical is a faculty affiliate position with the University of New Mexico’s Office for Community Health in the Department of Family & Community Medicine. As the year progresses, Winstead will visit Albuquerque, N.M. on several occasions to collaborate with faculty involved in similar research and make several public presentations. 

Unfortunately, the looming issue of cancellations and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic could interfere with the current schedule, but Winstead believes the start dates for her projects will likely be postponed temporarily as restrictions on social contacts continue. 

What students have to say about Zoom

Mary Seiner, Staff Writer


Zoom, like any online learning module, has its pros and cons. For a student body that was not prepared to learn at home with their families, Zoom incites various opinions about its applicability in a professor’s online curriculum. 

Zoom presents students with some normality in an otherwise unconventional situation. As students are stuck in a time where they must practice social distancing, Zoom gives much needed interaction that cannot be gained through Moodle posts or discussion forums. 

“In Stephen Mead’s Shakespeare class, we have scenes we have to act out real time in front of the class, and that can still happen because of Zoom,” said Max Dumyahn, a junior and History major. 

Students find that the level of interaction and engagement Zoom provides is a healthy change for their learning, at least in comparison to non-video platforms. Rather than merely completing an online assignment, the program helps students manage their time, maintain consistent schedules, and stay focused when in the presence of their classmates and professors. The direct contact can help students to engage with their class’s learning material. Zoom ultimately offers a different medium for learning, and students can find that Zoom helps them better absorb information than through Moodle. When classes are conducted strictly through Moodle discussion forums, the class engagement is typically low. 

While the program offers students a taste of their once regular, college routine, Zoom bears some disadvantages. Some students may have internet issues at home; and while discussion forums on Moodle allow students to participate at any time, a Zoom class requires students to contribute at a definite time. Lagging and skipping, among many other technical problems, can occur frequently during a Zoom conversation; therefore, organizing class lectures or discussions over video may be challenging. 

For students living outside the Pacific Time Zone, attending a class that may be as long as two hours can be difficult to manage. The disorienting aspect of participating in class during a time that a student is not accustomed to, as well as in a setting completely different from their peers, can add unneeded anxiety in an already stressful situation. 

“I think the professors should stick to what they are comfortable with while we all adjust to the new environment, but they should definitely make sure to record each lecture using the built-in function and post the lectures on their Moodle page for students that had to miss the session or can’t attend for any reason,” Jake Nicholas, a senior Math major said. 

“I also know some professors have set up office hours as a Zoom meeting, and I feel like that can also be helpful to students if they need that extra interaction with their professors,” added Nicholas.

Dumyahn said, “I think professors should have Zoom meetings that mirror their regular class etiquette (or at least as close as possible to that), since I know a majority of us students are struggling with this transition. If the classes were conducted in a similar manner, such as with lectures or discussions, it would take some stress off of the student because we acclimated to that kind of class before switching to online, instead of the professor creating an entirely new way for us students to learn.”

Last call for withdrawal

AddDrop.plistColin Rivera, Staff Writer


With the closing of Saint Martin’s campus and classes moving online, some important policies have been changed to help students adjust to the new settings. These changes have to do with the ways that students can have their classes graded. At the end of March, Cindy Juarez, the Saint Martin’s registrar, sent out an email precisely detailing what the policies are and how to sign up for classes. 

The first major change is that the final deadline to withdraw from a class has been pushed back to May 1, at 5:00 p.m. The other policy that was highlighted in the email has to do with pass/no pass grading. Any student can write a form to shift a class in their schedule from a letter grade to a pass/no pass option. The difference between not passing, and failing a class is that failing will count against your grade while the former is neutral. Using the option on a class that is a prerequisite will in most cases still allow students to take the course after it. 

The registrar urges that students speak with their advisers before following through with this action, as there are downsides to it, as well. For instance, simply passing a class does not count for or against a student’s grade point average. Also, depending on the student’s major, a pass grade may not be adequate for programs with standards for accreditation. A pass may not be applicable to external programs, either.

Switching to this grading format can be beneficial to students who are having trouble satisfying their course requirements because of the transition to online learning. Extended deadlines and policies have been extended so that students could have a full month to see if their classes are meeting their needs. These policies have been implemented by many other schools in the region as part of an effort to not harm the education of students. 

“If a student were to transfer courses and it just shows a pass, typically, schools wouldn’t accept a pass grade for transferring in,” said Juarez. 

Since many colleges are following the same plan, ideally a student who has a pass grade in a class in the spring semester will be able to transfer that class into or out of the university. 

Another thing that Juarez made clear was that the decision to change a class’ grading format is irreversible, meaning the pass or no pass grade will stay on the recorded transcript. Juarez’s last point was, “The intention behind extending that (the deadlines), is that students can have several weeks to a month of online learning to determine whether they can be successful.”

With deadlines right around the corner, add/drop forms must be sent to the office of the registrar before Friday, May 1, at 5:00 p.m. with no exceptions. The same is also true for the pass/no pass paperwork. Both forms can be found online on the university website in the office of the registrar page. Any questions can be emailed to the Saint Martin’s registrar. 

Saint Martin’s switches to test optional admissions policy

AdmissionsGrace Gillespie, Staff Writer 


An increasing number of universities and colleges are changing their admissions policy to no longer require an admissions test, such as the SAT or the ACT. This means undergraduate students will no longer have to send universities their SAT and ACT scores. Since 2019, a host of liberal art schools have started to adopt this type of test-optional policy, with the intent that student acceptance should not be based on a single test.

It has become a common routine for high school juniors and seniors pursuing higher education to take the SAT or ACT. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down face-to-face schooling, many high school seniors who had planned to take placement tests this spring are no longer able to do so.

Beginning in the school year of 2020-2021, incoming freshmen will no longer be required to submit their test scores when applying to Saint Martin’s University.

In a virtual interview, Dean of Admissions, Pamela Holsinger-Fuchs, Ph.D., shared how Saint Martin’s has been considering the change in policy for several years: “We made the change for just those seniors that were not able to test, and then opened the discussion up to make it a permanent change. It was presented to the faculty senate and our Cabinet and no one had any issues making it a permanent policy going forward.” 

At present, this is a one-year policy, but such a change becoming permanent seems to have a rather high likelihood. Holsinger-Fuchs also commented that on the whole, a student’s grade point average tends to be a stronger indicator of how they perform overall. This is evidenced by the over 1,100 colleges that have already chosen to go test optional, having shown no negative impact on their student’s academic performance.

There are some concerns with switching to this policy. Students who worked hard, studied, and took the SAT and ACT early might feel their work was for nothing. Another concern is that those hoping to receive scholarships because of their test scores might be unable to do so. 

One upside of changing to a test optional method is that it could attract more applicants to the school and lead to higher acceptance rates. The other benefits of switching to a no test admissions system are reducing stress on students while they are applying to schools because they will no longer have to worry about their scores being high enough to get into the colleges they wish to attend. Additionally, the SAT and ACT cost around $50 to take, plus the cost of a written essay and registration fee, and such a cost can be prohibitive for some families. 

Schools opting to take a test free or optional route, show that they are willing to make accommodations for students who are unable to complete the tests many universities currently require for their applications.

A sweet swirly treat: Lacey’s very own fro-yo hotspot

LimeBerryMyki Dee Kim, Staff Writer


In a cup or cone, frozen yogurt is perfect for the warm weather that is just on the horizon. Limeberry sits on the outskirts of campus and has been a quintessential part of Saint Martin’s students sweet treat experience. Students may know Limeberry as a frozen yogurt establishment right next door to the Starbucks on College Street, while others may know it as a fundraising partner for Saint Martin’s clubs and organizations. Whatever the case, Limeberry brings a sweet presence to the entire Lacey community. 

As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by friendly staff and an extremely clean and spacious store. They are open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. When you walk towards the back you must make the choice between a cup or a cone (a hard decision). Customers are able to choose from 10 flavors and are able to mix-and-match their own yogurt experiences; they can even swirl two flavors together to get double the yummy treat. 

After choosing their favorite combination, customers can move onto the coveted topping section. There are over 25 different toppings that people can choose from. Toppings include, but are not limited to: fresh fruits, hot fudge, assorted cookies, nuts, candy options, and even whipped cream. I went for my usual mix of Dole Pineapple Whip, Strawberry, and Vanilla topped with fresh strawberry, cheesecake bites, and mini chocolate chips.

If you are not into frozen yogurt, do not worry; Limeberry has got you covered. Limeberry also offers options for smoothies and even bubble tea. Smoothie options include: Peach, Wild Berry, Strawberry, Green Apple, and Pineapple Dole Whip. Bubble Tea options include Strawberry, Vanilla, Coconut, Pineapple, Mango, Avocado, Japanese Green Tea, Honeydew, Passion Fruit, Taro, Lavender, Green Apple, Banana, Watermelon, Blueberry, Chocolate, Mocha, Lychee, and Guava. They have a little something for everybody.

But what do these all cost? Limeberry offers affordable goodies for all price ranges, especially for those who are balling on a college budget. Smoothies are $3.75 and Bubble Tea is slightly higher at $3.95 a cup. For Frozen Yogurt lovers, it is just $0.59 an ounce. Make sure to not go overboard on the toppings and filling your cup, as it may cost you a pretty penny. Limeberry will also give students a 10 percent discount with their valid Saint Martin’s ID, and $1 off your order if it is your birthday. Make sure to sign up for their rewards when you go in to visit. 

Since coming to Saint Martin’s four years ago, Limeberry remains as the top sweet treat spot around campus. I can always rely on them to have the flavors and toppings I want while having a wonderful staff to greet and work with you. 

Karen Blair comes to SMU to discuss women’s suffrage

Women's suffrageOlivia Alvord, Staff Writer 


In commemoration of Women’s History Month and the centennial anniversary of women winning the right to vote in the U.S., Saint Martin’s University welcomed Karen Blair, Ph.D., 

History Professor Emeritus at Central Washington University, to speak. The departments of History, Political Science, and Gender and Identity Studies co-hosted the event.  

Blair’s lecture and discussion titled, “Pacific Northwest Women and Power at the Dawn of Suffrage,” was centered on prominent historical women in the Pacific Northwest, and events leading up to women’s suffrage both in Washington and throughout the U.S. 

Blair has been a part of the History Department at Central Washington University since 1987, and devotes much of her time to researching Pacific Northwest history, the history of education, and American women. Blair was granted the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Pacific Northwest Historians on Friday March 6.

One of the key points of her lecture was how Washington and the majority of the West Coast paved the way for women’s suffrage. 

According to the Washington Historical Society, “Washington was the first state in the 20th​ century, and the fifth state in the Union, to enact women’s suffrage. Washington women’s success in 1910 helped inspire the campaign that culminated in passage of the 19th​ Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, when women won the right to vote nationally.”  

In the 19th​ century, this part of the world was dominated by men. Cities were minimal and most communities were small and agricultural. Therefore, most jobs outside the home were for men: mining, logging, farming, etc. Women began to form societies such as book clubs just to get together outside of the home and talk with their peers. This was a chance for many to read things they would not have had the opportunity to do otherwise, often as a result of upbringing and poor education. 

These book clubs were typically held once a month, and granted Pacific Northwest women the ability to discuss taboo topics and engage politically, economically, and socially. 

“As women began researching, they began to feel dissatisfied with the way that no one was addressing these problems in society,” explained Blair. 

But this increased action and involvement only brought up the counterargument that the woman’s place was only in the home, and they should not be welcome to engage in activities such as book clubs. 

Blair explained the viewpoint behind this: “how dare women spend two hours a month to read a book and talk about it when they could be cleaning their home and taking care of their families.” 

Not to be torn down, however, these women decided they would learn public speaking skills and how to organize support in their communities. Not long after this, the women learned about an amazing opportunity offered by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation, which was based out of Pittsburgh. The foundation provided a generous gift of $10,000 to build a library in a town, provided the town raised taxes to pay for a librarian and books for the library shelves. The women made it their personal goal to use their newly learned skills to acquire this service for their community. 

“These women are responsible for 75 percent of the libraries in Washington State today,” said Blair. After achieving a bit of success in their communities, these women began to think outside the box and focus on new ideas such as the creation of parks, cleaning up cities, and issues specific to women and children. 

Some ideas included, “clinics that doctors might volunteer for where families who could not afford to go to the doctor could get regular checkups for their babies; and factory inspections to make sure that women had access to a restroom or a bench to sit on and rest, or a table to eat their lunch at so they didn’t have to stand out in the rain,” Blair explained.  

As women began to organize for the greater good of their communities, and the state as a whole, their numbers increased rapidly, moving from books clubs of six to crowds of 200. At this point, meeting in their homes was no longer an option.

Blair explained their motive: “if they grew bigger, this would provide a better opportunity to go to the people with the purse strings [the money] to get things done in their communities.”  

After going out in their communities to ask for money and to achieve great things, these women began to realize that because they did not have the vote, their requests and ideas were not taken seriously. Thus began the push to attend public meetings, parades, and lobby at the legislature as another way to increase support for women’s suffrage.

Blair mentioned that “women were divided on how they should ask for the vote: some decided to be ‘annoying and outrageous’ and others decided to take on the ‘polite and ladylike’ approach.”  

In 1910, Washington women gained the right to vote, followed by Oregon in 1911, California in 1912, and the U.S. as a whole in 1920. In Washington, minority groups such as Catholic men and labor union activists, who knew what it felt like to be outsiders, banded together in support of this new normal. According to Blair, “women became the backbone of the electorate,” and began to think of bigger issues like education and the conditions in which women teachers worked, which resulted in the hiring of a woman who would become the first female to hold a government position as Washington Superintendent of Schools.