ASSMU Elections

Tinsae Shifreaw, Staff Writer

With the end of the school year coming in just a few more weeks, we must prepare for the new changes that will lead to the 2021-2022 school year. With that in mind, we recently had the elections for The Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University (ASSMU), which began on April 9 with the results sent out on the 16th. All positions were open and there was a diverse set of candidates, ranging from current freshmen to upcoming seniors. The positions we voted on as a community were president, vice president, executive secretary, executive treasurer, the executive club representative, and the 12 senators that represent the majors and affiliation communities on our campus. Let us meet the people who are going to represent the students.

Our president is Katherine Jamerson. Her goals as president is to help enrich the college experience, continuing the foundations set by ASSMU in previous years in upgrading the student union building, and to help make heard the voices that are often left unheard in the community. She wants to help Saint Martin’s have a brighter future and to help the community grow. 

Our vice president is Andrew Oslin, who is a current junior. He has previous experience in ASSMU, acting as the Senator of Athletics for two years, and has acquired a deep understanding of how the council works and how to work hard and collaborate with different people. 

The executive secretary and executive treasurer are appointed by the incoming president and vice president. Running for the executive secretary position is Elizabeth Miller, and running for executive treasurer is Cheyenne Yap. Miller has many attributes that are conducive to the role of secretary, such as organizational skills, the ability to transcribe for meetings and communication skills to help communicate with the senators while helping to boost the social media presence for ASSMU. Yap’s goals if appointed as Executive Treasurer is to make sure all clubs have the funds for their activities and help fulfill financial requirements and responsibilities. 

The senators are up next, with there being senators for the arts and sciences, athletics, business and more. The senators also represent the commuter, international, non-traditional and military-affiliated students. The incoming senator of arts and sciences is Yuan Angelo Fernandez, who is a first-year psychology student. His goals for this position are having everyone in the community succeed by guiding the community to show their potential to build bridges and connecting them together so we as a community can evolve. He has leadership experience being an event coordinator for the Campus Activity Board, president for the NAMI Club here on campus and is an Act Six Scholar. 

For senator of non-traditional Students, Marissa Grab is the nominee. She is 33 years old as well as a single mom who knows what it means to work hard, working long hours her first two years of college to reach her goals. She aims through her position to inspire those who are at different points in their lives to continue with their schooling and also bridge the big gap between the nontraditional and the traditional students. 

Asma Ibrahim is the incoming senator of cultural diversity once again, and her goals are to advocate for the clubs running here on campus and have many ideas and events planned for the upcoming semester. With the new array of representatives in the different positions, many with promising and diverse ideas, the senate of 2021-2022 is set up to do a wonderful job representing the students of Saint Martin’s. 

Thurston County to receive money for Covid-19 relief

Brianna Lopez, Staff Writer 

The country is still suffering from COVID-19 and numbers are rising and declining rapidly. One day there are little cases and other days the cases are through the roof in numbers. Here in the state of Washington, we have officially made our way to Phase Three of lockdown, allowing us to go about our normal lives. For Thurston County, because the county is such a close-knit community, it was easier for us to go through lockdown and still move through the different phases, hence why Saint Martin’s University is in session currently. 

Due to Thurston County’s immediate response to the pandemic, according to The Olympian, the county is expected to receive a total of $56 million in just COVID Relief Funds from the Federal Government. This article was written by Martin Bilbao and he stated that these funds would be received over the course of the year. Of course, the first half will come within a couple of weeks to months and the other half would arrive within the next year or so. 

The money would be coming from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act signed by current President Joe Biden two weeks ago on March 11. The act is separated into 11,006 sections, each section stating how the country as a whole will function from now on whilst in the middle of a pandemic. For example, Subtitle B- Nutrition of the new act has to do with improvement in assistance for SNAP online purchasing and technology improvements, and the list continues from there. 

Of course, because Thurston County is not the only County in Washington, it had to be divided within the state. According to County Manager Ramiro Chavez, from the $65.1 billion that was brought together for all counties in the state of Washington, Thurston would be receiving $56 million and the money has been divided already based on how it will be used. The money will be available not only for business recovery but also for infrastructure improvements and maybe even transitional housing. 

From that first $28 million the county manager could come up with $10 million to give to  Thurston Strong. This a community that has helped countless local businesses and different organizations whilst dealing with the pandemic. Chavez stated that the money would be separated as such; $3 million, $2 million, and $5 million. The first $3 million would be given as grants for minority-owned businesses, the $2 million would be for the farm-owned businesses and the last $5 million would be for other businesses that are in need of some serious help and recovery. The county of course will have to revisit the subject to make sure that everything is in order when it comes to money. Whether or not the money is going to be used appropriately is very important not only to the county but to the U.S treasury as well.

This pandemic has harshly affected businesses both big and small. The funds are being used for the right reasons, and hopefully, with these continued resources, businesses will be back in full swing. 

Students Plans After COVID

Tinsae Shifreaw, Staff Writer

During this pandemic, many fun activities that allowed interaction were canceled, such as concerts, amusement parks and common hangout areas, so that state and federal governments can slow and stop the spread of the COVID-19 disease. Thankfully, vaccine research and distribution to the population has begun. With the state re-opening and moving to Phase Three, many places and businesses are starting to open up, allowing the businesses to host at 50 percent capacity, and allowing more freedom for citizens to participate in different, yet still limited activities. Though the state is opening up, it is a long process, with us backtracking when there is a high spike in cases across the state and taking a slow approach to opening. With this information, “what is the first thing you would do after COVID is over and safe to go around and attend the many different activities once unavailable?”  This question was asked to students, allowing them to consider what they may do after our long quarantine is over. Max Turner, a junior at Saint Martin’s University, said, “probably go somewhere crowded and just relax”. Something many people miss. Others responded the same, saying how they want to walk around without masks, enjoying the fresh air and hanging out with their friends in public places like the mall or something like the Puyallup State Fair. Freshman Ja’Tarya Hoskins says that she would go to a concert or festival with her friends, dancing and singing to the lyrics of the different songs, losing their voices over the loud beats. 

Many do plan on traveling to other states or countries, feeling the need to travel as the warm weather creeps in, kicking the cold weather of winter out, and missing the adventures in different and new places. However, some students do not have a plan, still waiting for it to officially be safe to have fun. Sophomore Asma Ibrahim had that thought when asked the question. “I haven’t thought that far ahead because it became a way of living that if I go to crowded areas now, it doesn’t feel right”. With life slowly getting back to normal, many feel the awkwardness of life  before the pandemic and before the quarantine, especially in crowded places like malls and parks. Those with high-risk family members and are attending classes online may soon be able to safely attend classes in person. They are going to be able to experience the college life that many have been hoping to witness by attending the different activities available. With the college experience in mind, different activities for classes or even just part of campus life can actually take place, allowing for bigger events, like potlucks or even dances that many have heard occurred during the previous years of many upperclassmen who attend Saint Martin’s University. 

Schools Reopening

Ailina Cunningham, Staff Writer

For students with families who live locally, it’s important to understand how schools are attempting to open back up amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and how they plan to handle the delicate balance of Education vs. Public Safety. Locally, the Thurston County school districts are opening up as we inch closer and closer to COVID-19 free schooling. This of course is not a perfect system as several schools have opted for hybrid and online classes. This is a compromise the school districts are using in order to keep the school going while also being aware of social distancing protocol and safety protocol for students and teachers. The Thurston County School District website even states that in order to get back to school, students and staff are both encouraged to take a COVID-19 test to ensure the safety, health and wellness of each person. On their website, it says “participants are encouraged to pre-register online before arriving at the testing site. Parents/guardians who pre-register their student online will also be asked to fill out a permission slip that allows test results to be shared with their student’s school district.” This is regarding a testing site that has been set up for the Thurston County School District to get tested that is located conveniently at 6005 Tyee Dr. S.W. in Tumwater. 

Currently, the plan for implementing public safety within the school district is to enact hybrid learning that allows students to opt for virtual or in-person learning as needed. Different grades are given different times that their hybrid learning styles are going to be implemented, including as early as March 15 for 6th graders. This however does not mean that masks will be excluded from the educational plan as students are still encouraged to wear a mask and promote public safety for their fellow students. The hybrid learning is the fifth part of a six-part education reopening plan which allows students to get back to pre-k COVID-19 school learning. The first two parts of the reopening plan include remaining at home and full remote learning. Steps three through five include gradual hybrid learning with an emphasis on in-person learning with each step. Currently, in Stage five, it is a requirement that in-person learning takes place at least two times a week out of the five days that school is in session with three of those days being an optional online class. Currently, much like Saint Martin’s students who are using online classes to complete their degree, students of Elementary and High School are using Google Classroom and Canvas in order to get their assignments completed and meet virtually through Zoom calls. Luckily in this age of technology, it becomes easier to adapt to learning environments such as virtual classrooms that allow people to proceed with their education no matter where they are. Even as schools open up and learning becomes more in person, maintaining the ability to have hybrid classes could be beneficial in the future and a valuable model for teachers to use to reach students everywhere.

Restaurants Expanding their Services during COVID

Tinsae Shifreaw, Staff Writer

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have been closed to in-person dining since March  2020. Now with Thurston County opening back up, restaurants are following suit with in-person dining at a limited capacity. Governor Jay Inslee has allowed restaurants to prepare for the influx of customers ready to dine in. In addition to the state now moving into Phase Three of the Healthy Washington Plan, which started on March 22, restaurants are now able to hold guests at 50 percent capacity. At this time, restaurants in Thurston County are open-minded about opening to 50 percent capacity; however, they are not as enthusiastic. These feelings could be due to the hard year that the restaurant and hospitality businesses had to go through. 

The hospitality industry had to shut down and reopen on multiple occasions due to random spikes of COVID-19 cases from March 2020 up until present day. At this time, with COVID-19 cases lowering in Thurston County, businesses can have less extensive restrictions. Many restaurant owners were over the moon when they found out that they could finally open, yet they believe that the path leading up to this point was damaging, with a great deal of closures and openings that set businesses backwards. Many of the employees who worked in the hospitality industry lost their jobs due to the virus. Their employer could no longer afford the employees that they hired. 1,700 local employees in the restaurant industry were let go from their jobs within this past year because businesses were unable to continue payroll due to sudden closures.

 Restaurant owners are just waiting for Governor Jay Inslee to completely open restaurants, this will allow them to re-establish a pattern for regular customers, as well as begin making a steady profit. The current difficulty that restaurants with a higher capacity change are facing is trying to hire new workers. The potential employees planning to work in a restaurant are concerned that they may get COVID-19. 

Along with Thurston County opening to Phase Three, we still have to be careful and mask up to avoid going back to Phase Two. With restaurants opening up, and  more people going outside, there are higher chances of spikes in Thurston County. Phase Four will take a lot longer than Phase Three, which took three months, to be achieved. 

Attacks on the Asian American Community

Shy Yamasaki, Staff Writer

On the night of Tuesday March 16th, a shooting in Georgia has left the Asian American community terrified. Many other acts of crimes in the Asian American community have occurred within the past few days. In keeping up with the social media posts, many people are advocating that we need to stop hating or agonizing certain communities to “get rid of” or to “stop spreading diseases.” Within the Asian American community, incidents of verbal harassment and name-calling have arised. As explained by the New York Times, “Name-calling, shunning and assault were among the nearly 3,800 hate incidents reported against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) nationwide over the last year, according to Stop AAPI Hate.” Verbal slurs and discrimination are always hurtful, but deadly violence like the shooting in Georgia is unacceptable. 

Other than these hate crimes, Stop AAPI Hate was formed to protect and prevent discrimination during the pandemic. Ever since the pandemic has started, many parts of the Asian-American population have fallen victim to hate crime over accusations of them having “brought” over the disease. Stop AAPI Hate collects and studies the hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country. Over the past year there were 3,795 incidents reported, and the number could rise because a lot of people either refrain from reporting it or just don’t want to speak upon the issues happening in their neighborhoods. According to the New York Times, “The incidents compiled by APPI Hate included mostly verbal harassment and name-calling, or about 68 percent of those reported, while shunning or the deliberate avoidance of Asian-Americans, composed about 20 percent. About 11 percent of the reports involved physical assault.” It is crucial that such incidents are reported and that the victims and their families receive justice.

In the Atlanta, Georgia shooting, there were eight injured, with six of them being women of Asian descent. There was a study released last week by CBS that revealed hate crimes in 2020 went up 150 percent, with women being the main target. 

Recently the hashtag “#StopAsianHate” has been trending to advocate for the ceasing of hate crimes against the Asian American community. Many celebrities like Mindy Kaling and Lebron James, along with politicians like Vice President Kamala Harris and other senators have been speaking out about the negative actions toward the Asian American community.

Domestic Violence on Campus: How to Spot it and How to Respond

Brianna Lopez, Staff Writer

Domestic violence comes in many forms and can happen anywhere. On the evening of February 22, it occurred on campus on the third floor of Parsons Hall. The boyfriend of a student became upset around 10:30 P.M. when confronted about potentially cheating on his girlfriend, according to a Lacey Police report obtained by The Belltower

The report indicates the 19-year-old male hit his girlfriend and hurt two other female students and one male student who were trying to intervene. Some of the dorm’s Resident Assistants and others became involved, and the police were called. The police report included witness statements from multiple Saint Martin’s students and quoted directly from life-threatening texts and statements the suspect allegedly made to students involved in the conflict. The suspect was arrested on three assault charges and one count of domestic violence, and was taken to Nisqually Jail. The assaults on February 22 are still under investigation.

Domestic violence is a worldwide issue and is something that some are lucky enough to never witness or experience. By definition, domestic abuse is an intimate living relationship where your partner may be physically, emotionally or verbally hurting you. This has a major effect on people that happen to be victims. The difference between this domestic violence incident and many others is the titles that come with the relationship. 

Howard Thronson, Interim Director of Campus Security, was able to shed light on domestic violence and what to do in that situation. The conversation started with how Thronson defines it. Upon first getting to know someone, their true colors may be difficult to see. Thronson stated that when people get into a relationship and each person decides how far the relationship is going to go, “someone always wants more,” he said, “then they become controlling.” 

Many may think there is only one way to define domestic violence and that is if the male in the relationship hits the female. However, domestic violence is an umbrella term with a lot of topics under it. Regarding the crime, it is often assumed the man is the perpetrating party in a case. But this is not always true; in a relationship, either partner could be the offender. It is simply less common to see women hitting their husbands. We also know that there are men who may be abused in their relationships. But due to the stigma and other stereotypes of men having to be stronger and more dominant, their experiences and stories are not told as often. 

Here on campus, there are a lot of things you can do to help someone in a situation like this. This goes for everything in life: if you see something suspicious, tell someone you trust. If you know your friend is involved in a bad relationship, be there for them and refrain from saying things like, “I know how you feel,” because that may not be the case for all people. Saint Martin’s provides training for students about how to help victims as well as how to distract the aggressor. The school has only reported about one domestic violence incident in each recent year, however it is still important to know the warning signs.

Homelessness in Lacey, Washington

Brianna Lopez, Staff Writer

Homelessness has always been an issue in modern society, especially in largely populated cities, but what is being done about this issue and how are people responding? COVID-19 has caused a large increase in unemployment, which has led to individuals losing their homes. There are different programs that people can apply to in order to help themselves, but many feel it is also the duty of these highly-populated cities to help.

The City of Lacey has dealt with homelessness for quite some time. The homeless now find shelter under bridges or in homeless shelters. Unfortunately, these shelters fill up fast, leaving many individuals to face the ever-changing climate. 

Rick Walk, the City of Lacey Community and Economic Development Director, explained what the city has decided to do to help decrease homelessness and the impact it has made on his life. Walk also explained the way people have responded to the city’s plan. The Community work group consists of 30 members coming from different backgrounds such as business owners, nurses, those who have been homeless and more. 

This project to decrease homeless numbers started about a year ago. The work group along with City Council members are in the middle of processing how to perfect this work group and what would best work for the community. There was a two-week virtual open house in the summer of 2020 where they spoke about what would happen during these work groups and what they are all about. These conversations are done virtually since we are currently in a pandemic and guidelines will be continuously followed. 

Continuing the conversation with Mr. Walk, one might wonder how he feels the project has impacted him as an individual. He responded positively, considering it a “very rewarding experience.” The homeless population continues to grow, quickly exceeding the facilities that we have, so how do we decrease the numbers?

Like anyone who wants to make a change, there is the opportunity to hear very strong opinions and perspectives. How you help people understand what your perspective is on issues you feel strongly about is a very difficult task. Some people will always show up and have a completely different opinion. 

Walk also stated that he is becoming more aware of the complexity of homelessness. Drugs, mental health, family conflicts and more play a large part in it. There is a negative perspective some people have of homelessness, but by educating ourselves we may learn something that changes our point of view. In order for a community to respond in a strong way, they must work together.

Six Dr. Suess Books Will No Longer Be Printed

Sunya Chay, Staff Writer

Theodor Suess Geisel, better known as Dr. Suess, is one of the most well-known children’s authors of all time. There are many books published under the name “Dr. Suess” that children have been reading them for decades. However, six books have come under fire for racist imagery. The six books, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer, were all called out for their imagery. These books will no longer be published, and some schools are pulling these books off of their shelves. 

Dr. Seuss is celebrated all over the United States. Read Across America, an organization that promotes children’s literacy, promotes Read Across America Day on March 2nd every year on Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Read Across America work together to promote reading. However, in 2018, Read Across America stopped partnering with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. 

According to Vox, “when the NEA’s contract with Dr. Seuss Enterprises ran out in 2018, it chose not to renew the terms, leading to a lot less Dr. Seuss merch getting distributed to different schools. And this year, the NEA has pivoted away from Dr. Seuss entirely.” 

Since these six books are no longer being published, sales for Dr. Seuss have skyrocketed. Many people want to get these books before they are no longer on the market. However, many online stores are already taking it off of the shelves, making it harder for people to buy them.

The book If I Ran the Zoo depicts many racist images of people of color. According to Vox, the images include a point when  “the narrator declares his intention to put a ‘chieftain’ (illustrated as a man in a turban) on display in the zoo; a pair of African characters are portrayed as monkeys; and a group of Asian characters, described as ‘helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant’ from ‘countries no one can spell’ carry a caged animal on their heads.” Many of Dr. Seuss’ books also depict racist images to go along with the narration.

One of the other books that depicts racist images is And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street. According to AP News, the book has, “an Asian person… portrayed wearing a conical hat, holding chopsticks, and eating from a bowl.” These images are not only racist but are also hurtful to the communities that are affected by it. 

All of Dr. Seuss’ books published under Dr. Seuss Enterprises will no longer be published. The decision for these six books to stop publishing was last year when more attention to the racist imagery arose. According to AP News, “‘These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,’ Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement that coincided with the late author and illustrator’s birthday.” These books will no longer be published. However, the rest of Dr. Seuss’ books, such as The Cat in The Hat will be.

Amazon’s Affordable Housing

Sunya Chay, Staff Writer

Earlier this year, Amazon revealed its plan to help fund homes for low-income families. The Housing Equity Fund is a $2 billion plan to help create and maintain housing. This fund will focus on three different locations: the Puget Sound region, Nashville, Tenn., and Arlington, Va.. Amazon states, “The fund will support Amazon’s commitment to affordable housing and will help ensure moderate- to low-income families can afford housing in communities with easy access to neighborhood services, amenities, and jobs.” This fund will help those struggling to find a home get back on their feet. 

 Beyond helping families with  housing, the Housing Equity Fund will also give grants to organizations run by minorities. “Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund will provide an additional $125 million in cash grants to businesses, nonprofits, and minority-led organizations to help them build a more inclusive solution to the affordable housing crisis, which disproportionately affects communities of color.” This added fund will help minorities create more housing in areas where it is scarce. They also will provide funds for resources that are not part of the housing, including schools and transportation. With the added funds to those resources, Amazon hopes that it will help create more affordable housing and overall better communities.

Within the three locations, Amazon hopes that they can help keep the cost of housing low.  Specifically, Amazon is  planning to help those who are making between thirty to eighty percent of the average income. In Washington, Amazon aims to help keep 1,000 apartments in King County affordable for those who make eighty percent of the average income. The company is going to give a $161.5 million loan to the King County Housing Agency in order to meet their goals.  In addition, Amazon will also give a $24 million grant to keep the aforementioned 1,000 apartments affordable. With part of the grant, Amazon plans to help those who make thirty percent of the average income. While working with the agency, Amazon desires to help finance 470 units in Hampton Greens, Illahee Apartments, and Pinewood Village in King County. These units will be for households that make thirty to eighty percent of the average income for the area. 

The conglomerate is also working with Washington Housing Conservancy, giving $339.9 million in loans and $42 million in grants. In Arlington, Va., the Washington Housing Conservancy was able to buy Crystal House, which is an apartment complex. This apartment complex offers a range of apartments from loft style studios to three-bedroom apartments. This happened two months earlier than expected and is near the new Amazon Headquarters.  The development was made  using the loan that they gave to the Washington Housing Center. 

In addition to the grants in Washington, Amazon is funding $2 million dollars in loans to help fund affordable housing for low-income families. With this fund, Amazon strives to create more affordable housing resources, such as better transportation and schools that are beneficial in the affected housing markets.