Pierce Pioneer

Gov. Inslee extends state COVID restrictions to Jan. 4

On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that current state restrictions have been extended to Jan. 4, past its original end-date of Dec. 14. Inslee has since partnered with Lisa Brown, the department of commerce director, to announ+ce an additional $50 million care package plan for small businesses in Wash.
As reported on the gov.’s official site, this three-week extension follows healthcare systems nearing high occupancy levels coming from the aftermath of Thanksgiving. With the number of potential cases not yet known, the extension allows medical systems time to increase ICU capacity before it risks being overwhelmed.
Secretary of Health John Wiesman, as cited by the Medium, goes on to state what officials aim to gain from this extension. “We all hoped a fall surge would not materialize. Sadly, that was not the case and our hospital systems continue to be heavily impacted by rising cases,” Wiesman said.
“It’s important we stay the course right now. We cannot let our guard down, even though it’s hard and we’re tired. We need people to mask up, stay home as much as possible and delay gatherings with anyone outside your home.”
Since restrictions first began, Wash. has provided billions in federal and state funds to assist small businesses and workers affected by the pandemic, according to the Medium. However, this $50 million will be strictly for businesses usage, as it comes from the Working Washington grants. Businesses meant to benefit from this care package include restaurants, gyms, venues and fitness centers.
“The needs among our small businesses are profound, and speed is of the essence,” Brown said. “This additional funding allows us to double the number of small businesses we can provide aid to, but we know it’s not enough. As we battle the toughest months of this pandemic, we need Congress to step up so we can support our businesses and workers as we continue asking them to do these hard things.”
Currently, Wash. roughly totals in 195,000 confirmed cases, with nearly 20,000 of those cases stemming from Pierce County alone, as reported by Google statistics. Despite this, Wash. ranks 15th in lowest number of cases in the United States, based on weekly case reports provided by the CDC’s official site.
Alongside this information, the Washington State Department of Health announced that since the release of WA-Notify, more than a million users have joined within 24 hours of its availability. Whether or not an app meant to help users stay on top of potential COVID exposures will help the curve in the long-run, remains to be seen.
Regular updates on COVID restrictions in Wash. are provided in full on Inslee’s official site. Quick updates on this story will continue to be uploaded here in the meantime.

WA Notify – A New COVID Exposure Tool

On. Nov. 30, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health launched the app WA Notify. The Washington Exposure Notifications will alert smartphone users of nearby residences exposed to COVID-19, without releasing personal information.

“Secure, private and anonymous exposure notification technology is an important tool for Washington,” Inslee said. “We’ve deployed WA Notify in 29 languages so as many Washington residents as possible can protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities. I encourage everyone to start using WA Notify today so we can continue to work together to contain this virus.”

As posted on DOH’s official site, WA Notify, if activated, will exchange anonymous codes with nearby phones who have also enabled the app. Patients who’ve recently tested positive for COVID will be asked by public health officials if they wish to use the app. If so, their code will anonymously alert those who’ve spent a significant amount of time with said patient regarding their potential exposure.

“If WA Notify detects you may have been exposed, a notification on your phone will direct you to a website with information about what you should do next,” DOH stated. “This includes how and where to get tested, information about keeping yourself and those close to you safe, and resources to answer your questions.”

For users concerned with privacy, DOH informed that the only piece of information being shared from users’ smartphones is the randomly generated codes they’ve entered. “We will not voluntarily collect or share any of your information with anyone, unless you choose to enter a verification code,” DOH stated. 

“If you do so, WA Notify will share your random codes with other smartphones that have been near your smartphone. The verification code cannot be linked back to you by someone who does not have access to your smartphone.”

DOH added that WA Notify is free and voluntary, meaning users have the choice of opting in. “You can opt-out at any time,” DOH stated. “Simply turn the feature off or delete the app. All random codes the phone has stored from other nearby users will be deleted and cannot be recovered.”

WA Notify can be found and installed through users’ Apple or Google app stores; this app will not self-download onto users’ phones. The app only works, however, on iPhones containing iOS versions 13.7 or later, along with 13.5: 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, Xr, Xs, Xs Max, X, SE second generation, and 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE first generations. Android users whose phones supports Bluetooth Low Energy or versions six and above can also download the app.

“Studies have found that the more people who use exposure notification, the greater the benefit,” DOH stated. “Models based on three counties in Washington state show that even a small number of people there using WA Notify would reduce infections and deaths. Just like wearing masks, physical distancing and keeping gatherings small, WA Notify is another tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

A deepdive into ‘fake news’ and how readers can spot when they’re being given false information

A deepdive into ‘fake news’ and how readers can spot when they’re being given false information

The Gallup and Knight Foundation polled 20,000 Americans in August regarding news media biases and trust. This study found that 46% of Americans believe the media are biased, with over 80% believing the media is to blame for today’s political divide. 

Much of this mistrust stems from the fear of being misinformed, with 74% of Americans reported by Gallup and Knight believing misinformation to be the leading issue with news today. The true number of misinformation being presented by the media does not support this however. 

A study conducted by Science Advance following the 2016 elections revealed that on average people consume between five to 10 minutes of news media daily, with misinformation accounting for only about a minute of that time. 

“Turning to TV, there are no objectively fake news stations of the sort that exist online, i.e., that are exclusively or near exclusively devoted to disseminating deliberate falsehoods while masquerading as legitimate news organizations,” Science Advance stated. “Nonetheless, misinformation construed more broadly can also manifest itself in regular news programming in the form of selective attention, framing, “spin,” false equivalence and other forms of bias.”

False information makes up only a fragment of consumer’s time, but its effects continue to create distrust between viewers and their news each passing year. While the reasoning for this mistrust remains to be observed, one important thing readers can do to avoid being misinformed on news is by being aware of the tactics.

For those hoping to better gage where they can find less biased news, here’s how readers can spot the trends and tricks being used today.

What is “fake news”?

As defined by Webwise, “fake news”, or false information, is stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers. 

With the emphasis being on news, this could range from a reporter’s negligence to fact check to a newsroom purposely running a politically charged headline.

 

 

 

False information can be presented in a number of ways that may otherwise be undetectable if a reader has no reason to suspect the writer may be misinforming them. Referencing the Public Library, methods considered to be false information include (in order by severity):

 

 

 

Writen by, Lizbeth Martinez-Santos

Grocery stores in the Pierce and King County area have seen a spike in shoppers, with many aisles empty approaching the holidays. This follows Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement Nov. 15, which would have state-wide restrictions on social gatherings taking place until Dec. 14.

In a matter of hours following the announcement, people began stockpiling groceries from store to store, buying food and supplies. One such store hit hard by panic-buyers includes Costco, as the store quickly sold out of items such as bottled water and toilet paper.

As reported by Kara Kostanich from Komo News, panic-buying across the region had grown worse within 24 hours of the announcement. “A small line formed outside Costco in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood,” Kostanich stated. “A drastic difference from Sunday when lines wrapped around Costco warehouses across Puget Sound.” At one point, Costco placed a white board outside their store which listed what they did and did not have in stock.

Shopping increased over the last two weeks, but not because of the holidays. Despite being around the corner, shoppers aren’t actually thinking of the holidays at all. Most shoppers are simply looking to have enough to eat this Thanksgiving week. According to an annual report conducted by the WSU Insider, 83% of shoppers do not plan to do any in-store shopping for Thanksgiving, while 77% said the same for Black Friday.

As stores like Costco or Winco continue to resupply during the uprise in buyers, shoppers could consider visiting other stores not hit as hard by shoppers, such as Target. As of Nov. 25, Target continues to have most of its supply in stock. El Jalapeño, a small business located on 1012 72nd St E in Tacoma, is another grocery store stocked with food and supplies, having in-store shopping for all customers.

Shoppers should look into attending smaller stores within their community if trying to avoid big crowds or a shortage in supply. Going to stores such as Fred Meyer and Target make good alternatives for places like Costco. More information will be available on this topic in the following weeks.

Statewide Restrictions for Washington Are Here

Washington State issues a statewide four-week restriction on social gatherings amidst rising COVID-19 cases, taking full effect following Monday, Nov. 15. These restrictions will carry through the upcoming holidays, including Thanksgiving, with a suspected end-date of Dec. 14. This announcement comes from Gov. Jay Inslee during a press conference held on Sunday.

Inslee spoke on a potential third wave of cases projected to hit Washington during the holidays, this being the restriction’s main motivator. “Inaction here is not an option,” Inslee said. “We have to take bold, decisive action and we are doing that today.”

“Average daily cases in [Washington] have doubled just in the last two weeks. It cannot go on like this. We have to get this under control, or our medical system will soon be overwhelmed.”

As reported by Google statistics, Washington has seen a sharp increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,753 new cases being last reported on Monday alone. Washington state currently has 135,365 confirmed cases, with Pierce County making up 14,453 of these cases. This follows the increase of cases in Pierce County by 2,694 people since Nov. 2.

Source: www.governor.wa.gov An infographic of new cases in Washington State provided by Governor Jay Inslee

Monday’s new restrictions will primarily affect indoor gatherings and operations, as Inslee aims to limit the amount of in-person contact. K-12, higher education, child care, and court related proceedings will not be affected by new restrictions however, as stated by the Medium. Restaurants will also continue to provide take-out and delivery services as before.

Indoor gatherings have been prohibited, with gathering capacities being no more than five people at a time. Restaurants and bars will be closing indoor services as well, with religious gatherings, in-store retail and grocery stores limiting to 25% capacity. Fitness facilities and gyms will also close, alongside zoos, aquariums, bowling alleys, movie theaters and museums. 

For those looking to best prepare for upcoming restrictions, this week would be the week to get groceries and supplies. As these restrictions approach and certain facilities begin closing, shoppers have already begun stockpiling groceries and cleaning supplies, similarly to when restrictions were first introduced in March. Whatsmore, with Thanksgiving only a week away, there may be a potential shortage in groceries, as more places across the country report a rise in shoppers.

The Washington Emergency Management Division has since released a statement on Monday regarding the increase in shoppers this week. “We see the bare shelves in some places and recognize that some folks are panic buying,” the division states.

“Grocery stores are continuing to receive supplies like normal. The supply chains will remain strong as long as people only buy what they need. Don’t forget your mask and to maintain social distance in stores and please stay patient with hardworking employees, who are just trying to do their job.”

These restrictions will be here until Dec. 14. For more information on COVID-19 in Washington state and the current guidelines being placed by county, Inslee regularly reports any announcements on his personal site. Any further information and updates will be provided here until then.

How Pierce College Sees Our Presidential Candidates

Pierce College students and professors weigh in on the many ups and downs of this year’s presidential debates

From shouting interruptions and a lost message in the first Presidential debate to snarls and civilized conversations in the Vice Presidential debate, the American people were reminded of the divisiveness that continues to polarize the nation. 

In the first debate, we saw moderator Chris Wallace struggle to maintain order between the two candidates as President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden clashed in the first presidential debate on Sep. 29. The following Vice Presidential debate featured Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, who provided more policy substance in a calm and civilized manner.

Yet the vastly different debates did not change the opinions of these Pierce College students and faculty, as America gets closer to what Donald Trump and Barack Obama deem the most important election in our lifetime.

In the first Presidential debate, Trump tallied a total of 145 interruptions while Biden totaled 67 interruptions according to a Fox News analysis. Political Science professor Chris Roberts, a current council member for the City of Shoreline, was surprised by how the president conducted himself. “The fact that he was interrupting, it didn’t resemble traditional debates in that sense,” he said. 

Moreover, the constant interruptions from both candidates disallowed the American people to hear the candidates stances going into this election. Running start student Courtney Oller believed that the two candidates acted childish by talking over each other. “The President is supposed to set an example for the country,” she said. “I’m not saying it’s just that one debate that made up my mind, but I don’t feel like either of them were showing an actual maturity to be the President for the country.” 

Likewise, Eli Haugen, who plans to work in administry and is a first time voter, compared the debate to his life at home. “I felt like that was the glimpse of my childhood,” he said. “That was like my mom trying to separate me and my siblings from arguing. After a little while, I didn’t really feel like the debate was going in a good direction and it felt very out of control fast.”

Throughout the unconventional debate, each candidate had their strong moments with Trump pressuring his stance on packing the supreme court, while Biden countered with Trump’s COVID-19 response. Professor Roberts touched on Trump’s ability to stay on message and fluster his opponents. “He really stays consistent in terms of what he always comes back to his talking points,” he said. “He always comes back to his core messages and he really doesn’t let anything distract him from that.”

For Biden’s strength during the debate, Roberts pointed to his ability to stay composed. “I think the Vice President did fairly well at presenting what he wanted to present,” he said. “Sort of a calm stable feature if he was going to become president. I think that people comparing the two really got a sense of the difference in personality between the two candidates.” 

Besides character differences between the two candidates, each has different ways of handling the economy. On one hand, Joe Biden plans to raise taxes and has thought about another economic shutdown if scientists advise him to; while on the other hand, Donald Trump plans to keep his tax cuts and keep the economy open.

Running Start student Michael Seebold, looked into both candidates’ plans for the economy and doesn’t believe in Biden’s economic policy to shut down. “I don’t agree with that, I don’t want the economy to shut down. I like what Trump is doing with the economy, like getting the manufacturing jobs and making the U.S. population dependent upon itself so we’re not outsourcing everything, and not relying on other countries for goods.”

With the policies and personalities of both candidates considered, Haugen and Seebold believed that there was no clear winner for the Presidential debate. Meanwhile Oller, who was also torn between both candidates, said that Biden won the first presidential debate due to his policies. “I kind of put it into sections for what they’re talking about,” Oller said. “For the first section definitely Biden, but I think Trump did have him in the next one. But overall, in the entire debate, I do think Biden had more respect; more overall better opinions.”

Moving forward a week later, the Vice Presidential debate served a more calm and organized structure which differed from the Presidential debate. The debate also carried a viral sensation with a fly landing on Mike Pence’s head, giving everyone watching something to unite with. 

According to Roberts, the Vice Presidential debate carried less stakes in the November election. He believed each candidate had a different purpose they were aiming for during the debate. “I think Senator Harris had the job of introducing herself to the nation; and I think that Vice President Pence had more of a goal of working to articulate and defend the President’s record.”

Oller, who believed that Kamala won the debate, noticed a difference in character between the two debates. “Even just sitting in the living room, you can feel the different attitude,” she said. “The way Kamala Harris would talk about something then Mike Pence would talk about something; even though he kept interrupting her, they were very much more mature than the president.”

Furthermore, Harris’ performance reminded Oller of a potentially bright future under her administration. “Kamala Harris has a lot of good ideas,” Oller said. “Honestly, as a woman myself, seeing another woman talk about all of these great expectations has really influenced me. That is what we need to see from a Vice President.”

Seebold believed that Mike Pence won the Vice Presidential debate, believing Pence put the American people first and focused on independent freedoms, while Kamala Harris planned to shut down the economy. “Kamala Harris was saying all of these restrictions that she is going to place because of Covid,” Seebold said. “I don’t have a problem with wearing a mask, it’s fine, it’s constricting my breathing; but actually quarantining and shutting down the economy, having to stay at home even though you don’t have it, I don’t agree with it.”

Going into this 2020 election, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and others have deemed this election the most important in our lifetime. This year’s election is projected to curtail the highest voter turnout in a century with over 80 million ballots already casted. Young voters are expected to sway the 2020 election by shattering their previous turnout records.

Yet, Roberts argues that this election is not the most important in our history and points to the potential political realignment in 2020. “I believe that we are at the tail end of the Reagan political era,” he said. “This election is going to really determine if we are resetting a new political cycle or if the 2016 election was the beginning of the new political cycle. I think that’s why the importance in the stakes of this election seems to be higher than most previous elections.”

According to Haugen, this election will change our country’s direction and history. “There is so much that hangs on this election,” he said. “I think that there’s a lot more that’s going on behind the scenes than what some people know. Depending on the results of this election, things that are going on behind the scenes are going to come to light whether that be even more conspiracy theories or fraud voting or whatever. I think that this election is going to change the course of our American history.”

A look at the 2020 Washington voters’ candidates and what stances are being put on the spotlight

The United States nears the end of its election season, as the final day to vote remains Nov. 3, less than a week away. As tensions between parties continue to rise, many outlets, including the Washington Post and CNBC, are reporting record numbers for early-voters.

The presidential vote comes down to former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump. While the nation collectively decides on its next president, local state government positions are also being put to the vote.

As of Oct. 20, 1.2 million early-voters have been reported by the Washington Post, a number less than those voting in the 2016 elections. While it’s easier to focus on the presidential elections, a state governor can be just as important as the next elected president. 

State laws and policies are much more likely to affect a citizen’s life on a day-to-day standpoint, as it can include issues such as taxes, travel, and local health and education. With a number of proposals being placed on this year’s ballots, including a potential new state governor, it is important to be up-to-date on what laws or restrictions might be passed this upcoming year.

While many topics and candidates are up for vote, here are the big topics being discussed on this year’s ballots:

Washington State Governor

Running for state governor this year includes Republican nominee Loren Culp, and the Democratic nominee and current state Governor Jay Inslee.

Inslee seeks out a third-term win after having served two prior as Washington’s state governor. Meanwhile Culp, while having no prior experience in politics, is a military veteran with more than 20 years of business experience.

 

The candidates

 

 

 

Jay Inslee

Inslee

Is for raising minimum wage

Supports paid leave

Is for placing bans on assault weapons

Is for abortion rights

Is for COVID-19 Social Distancing Restrictions

 

 

 

Loren Culp

Culp

Is against new state-income taxes/raising property taxes
Supports minimal government involvement
Is against stricter gun laws
Is against the Right to Work Legislation, or workers choice to joining unions

 

Referendum Measure No. 90
The Sex Education in Public Schools Measure

A Senate Bill passed in March 2019, Referendum 90 would provide a broader sexual health education for students within sixth through twelfth grade if approved. “Instruction would need to be provided at least once to students in grades K-3, once to students in grades 4-5, twice to students in grades 6-8, and twice to students in grades 9-12,” stated Ballotpedia.

If Referendum 90 is not approved, public schools would not be required to provide extensive health education to students.

 

 

Proposed Constitutional Amendment
The Authorize Fund Investment of Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Account Amendment

If rejected, Washington Legislatures would not be granted the ability to invest the Long-Term Care Services and Supports Trust Account into stocks or other methods of investment, limiting investment for the accounts to government and corporate bonds and certificates of deposit.

However, if approved, Washington Legislatures will be given the ability to take these existing accounts and place funding into stocks or other methods of investment

 

Washington Advisory Vote 32
Washington Advisory Vote 32, Nonbinding Question on Carryout Bag Tax

This concerns the maintenance or repeal of Senate Bill 5323, regarding the taxation of carryout bags in certain counties.

If voting to maintain, this would continue to impose taxes on certain carryout bags provided by retailers. If rejected, this would repeal this tax.

 

Nov. 3 is the final day for all votes to be submitted if there are any stances here you want your voice to be a part of. Votes are continuing to be held through mail in ballots, online, or in-person throughout Washington state. There is no time to waste.

Struggles of Taking Virtual Classes – Part 3

Especially for international students who are taking online classes from their home countries, a lot of struggles might have been shown up in spring quarter. One of the students that I interview, she was going to college in NYC. However, since her college dorm was closed due to Coronavirus, there were no option except going back to Japan. She shares how difficult to take virtual classes from her home country.

Videographer: Kotone Ochiai

Editor: Kotone Ochiai

Future Image: Ciara William

 

Video by Carlos Arribas from Pexels

Video by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels

My COVID Experience

COVID-19 has brought discomfort to the world as we continue to physically distance ourselves from each other. We all feel somewhat trapped and overwhelmed with what is going on; within three month of quarantine the United States isn’t taking the shutdown well. The COVID-19 virus, in my reality, isn’t what I envisioned. However it’s all I can visualize during these times. 

Being the type of individual that craves freedom on repeat every day, adjusting my schedule has been very difficult. Spring Quarter has always been something I loved, and having to sit inside, rather than taking my normal walks from school, makes this quarter less exciting. 

The shutdown defeats the purpose of school. Having school from home feels as though it is taking away some freedom we have. Although online classes already existed, it’s hard to not question and stay motivated without being in school physically. 

When it comes to the scheduled times of classes on campus, not only is that being disrupted by the shutdown, but it also has been extremely inconvenient to my ability to learn. My schedule consists of Math, English, and Art for the most part, and all of these thrive in person. With programs such as Zoom taking over and having to wake up for a lecture that is harder to understand due to the lack of interest I have in learning now.

With classes being online, I’ve noticed a shift in the amount of work we are now given. Normally each quarter, our professors would give a manageable amount of work, most likely due to the fact that we’d meet in person. The first week of school was tough with almost two assignments each class due back to back. My math class continues to have work every single day. It’s a surprise being able to catch a break.

Stress has filled up my life just from these first two weeks of school. However usually I give myself a break every other day to feel less overwhelmed. Consistency right now is hard and distractions are all around. The workload is not fair, but we have no choice but to get it done if we want to succeed.

However we now have a reason to get in contact with our professors for help. Before this, it would have been brushed off.  

We are still able to use this time for self-care, extra time with loved ones, and the things we always wanted to do but always put off. In these times, we are all able to evolve and become better as one. Looking towards the positive aspects of this pandemic is definitely something we all can work on.

As we all wish for face-to-face contact, schools, and civilizations to run back up, and just normal to come back to all of us. We all aren’t sure when the end of this pandemic will come. In the meantime to get back to that lifestyle, it is very important that we all are staying safe. 

So when we do leave our homes, we should keep a minimum of 6 feet of distance from everyone, wash our hands often, cover for protection, and go to the doctor if ever feeling ill. So that we can avoid getting this virus as this is a worldwide setback. In the end, we can all come back stronger, connected, and together as a whole.

Washingtonians will be required to wear mask in public or face a possible misdemeanor

Starting Friday, June 26, Washington State will issue a statewide mask mandate that will require all Washington citizens to wear face coverings while in public. This order is said to be a response to the increase of cases in certain counties.
Governor Jay Inslee made this announcement on June 20, after concerns with potentially overwhelming the county’s health care system due to a recent rise in cases, as stated on his website. Following a conference held on June 16, Inslee believes that doing so will have a positive effect on case numbers.
“As necessary economic activity increases and more people are out in their communities, it is imperative that we adopt further measures to protect all of us,” Inslee said. “Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses.”
Other news sources, including Q13 Fox and the Oregonian, state that violators of this statewide order could mean receiving a misdemeanor, which can lead up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. “Violation of the Yakima County proclamation for businesses is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine,” Q13 Fox states. “Inslee said that businesses in Yakima County that don’t comply risk losing their business license.”
As of June 25, Washington state has a total of 31,400 confirmed cases, with 1,294 deaths. Pierce County places fourth in confirmed COVID-19 cases, estimated to be around 2,672 total with 1,709 reported to have recovered. King County still leads in cases, having 9,504 total confirmed cases; however, Yakima County has recently shot to second place in confirmed cases, with 6,736 total.
A date in which the state mandate will be lifted has not been announced yet, but it is safe to say that this order will continue until the confirmed cases in otherwise county hotspots have decreased to a satisfactory level.

Bienvenido, Latin Student Union!

Myra Fehling / Staff Illustration
A map of Latin America.

A look into Fort Stelacoom’s recently ratified Latin Student Union

The ratification of Pierce College’s Latin American club became official during a Fort Steilacoom government meeting on Feb. 26. Four students represented the new Latin Student Union, filling the audience with laughter and enlightened energy. The enlightened energy carried over two weeks later to the inaugural Latin Student Union meeting. Attendance was low, but the meeting attendees brainstormed future ideas for the club, introduced themselves and brought a Latin flair into the room. 

At the student government meeting on Feb. 26, President Jessica Edmonds said that students of color at Pierce are underrepresented academically, and with the addition of the Latin Student Union, now have more opportunities to have their voices heard.

 “I’m Latin American, and I’m very proud of that heritage,” she said. “I feel that Latin American students in an academic setting are really underrepresented, as well as African Americans, or black students. I also feel that they’re underrepresented or any minority groups for that matter.”

Given that Pierce College is a two-year school, club leadership and members change regularly compared to four-year universities. According to Edmonds, there was a Latin Student Union two years ago, but due to a lack of returning members, the club ended at the Fort Steilacoom campus. 

Latin Student Union President Bryan Santiago-Reyes, who represented the club at the Student Government meeting, said that he plans to keep the club afloat for years to come. “I will honestly try my best; I can’t promise for sure that everything will carry on,” he said. “I am trying to recruit as many people as I can every quarter, keep it going, and [do] some activities so that people are involved in it.” Santiago-Reyes is a freshman at Pierce and will ensure that the club has returning leadership for the fall 2020 academic school year. 

During the Student Government meeting, Edmonds said that the returning club is an opportunity for students who may struggle with language barriers, and receive the resources needed to succeed at Pierce College. She pointed to an example of a Latino family’s struggle with Hurricane Maria, and how the Latin Student Union could help the family transition to Pierce College. “For instance, a family from Puerto Rico disclosed with us that they were displaced from the hurricane,” she said. “It was very difficult to tap into resources, scholarships, and things like that for their family.” 

Charlie Reyes-Garcia, Latin Student Union member also was displaced from Hurricane Maria and moved here due to a lack of economic opportunities. Reyes-Garcia said that the transition didn’t necessarily come from a struggle of living arrangements, but instead a lack of opportunity. “Mostly Leaving my family and relatives behind, it wasn’t much of a struggle because it was more like a decision,” he said. “My parents actually encouraged me to come here and search for a new opportunity. Other than that, it wasn’t a huge struggle, but more of an emotional one.”

The Pierce Student Government president endured her first few weeks with a busy schedule and abrupt change through the transition from vice president to president. With former president Charles Serna resigning at the end of January, Edmonds filled the role and continued her work with the multicultural fair on Feb. 25.

The topic of minority representation led the conversation for the Student Government meeting, with the ratification of the Latin Student Union and the recap of February’s multicultural fair. Edmonds said the event was an opportunity for students of color to come together and express their differences.“I’ve heard students on campus talk for years about that representative piece,” she said. “That was my opportunity to come in [and] collaborate with students, get students involved, and show the voice[s] that’s here at Pierce.”

Pierce student Raul Maza-Sanchez, who attended the first Latin Student Union meeting, said that the club will provide resources to Latino students who lack representation at Pierce. “There’s barely any clubs or resources that we can access, so I think this is a great way for [resources] to grow.” The expanded opportunities for Latino students started with last month’s multicultural fair.

Edmonds announced her appreciation for those who attended the fair and pointed to the empowerment that the event gave to minorities. “Yesterday was a really powerful statement that we as students gave here at Pierce,” she said. “Our turnout was in the hundreds, tons of people felt empowered. They were represented in a light that they haven’t been given here yet. Us as an office really came together, helped everyone, supported each other, were open to feedback; everything was just powerful.”

The previous fair set the tone for the ratification of the Latin Student Union. Santiago-Reyes, who attended the multicultural fair, said help from Edmonds to establish the club was a direct result of the fair.

“It was related to the multicultural fair,” he said. “We wanted to get a group of Latin students, and I have a lot of Puerto Rican friends here. We kind of bound[ed] together and Jessica helped us establish what to do, ‘cause I’m a little bit new here. It’s my first time doing a club; I didn’t really know that much of what I was doing, and she helped out.”

Now that the club is up and running, Santiago-Reyes wants to offer a place for Pierce students to share their Latin culture and learn about each other. Edmonds said that clubs at Pierce should also include those outside of the featured culture. “I think any cultural clubs on this campus should promote that that’s open to not only people of that culture but for people outside of that culture,” she said. “So, if someone wants to come and learn, they are more than welcome to.”

On March 11, the Latin Student Union hosted its first meeting in room 205 of the Olympic building. Club president Santiago-Reyes introduced himself and announced planned events for the club. Those who attended also introduced themselves and helped brainstorm future events and gatherings of the club.

Some future events or activities included member dinners, movie nights, dance parties, and regular meetings in the Olympic building. The most predominant event mentioned, La Conferencia at Highline College, was originally planned to take place on April 18. According to Santiago-Reyes, the event would have hosted Latino students from around the Puget sound, as it presented transfer opportunities for students attending a community college.

 According to Santiago-Reyes, the Covid-19 pandemic forced Highline College to cancel the event. La Conferencia would have been the first event attended by the club since its ratification. Since all Pierce College locations are closed, the club suspended all meetings until the campus has opened and the nationwide ban on large gatherings has been lifted. 

Latin Student Union member, Abel Valadez-Carvajal said that going forward, the club plans to create an organized structure that features more members. “We’re just trying to figure out the certain structure and invite more members, and get it going in the right direction.” According to Santiago-Reyes, more structure will ensure that the club continues throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. However, until the pandemic scales down, the club remains on hold.

Snackless in Seclusion

贺 朱 / Courtesy Photo / Pixabay

Food Insecurity in Washington during Quarantine

What do you do when you’re hungry? Do you search for a snack at home? If there’s nothing at home, do you drive to a restaurant, sit down inside and enjoy the atmosphere?

What would you do if you were a child who was in desperate need of a meal? Your resources at home are dependent upon what your parents, guardians or other caregivers can provide. On top of that, you can’t drive to a restaurant yourself because you’re too young. 

Youth who depend on school-provided nutrition might be forced to go hungry as COVID-19 becomes a larger threat. To limit the spread of COVID-19 throughout Washington state, many institutions have been forced to close. Some of these institutions, such as schools, provide vital nourishment for low-income families. 

Groups like the Clover Park School District and Nourish Pierce County are risking their own safety and health to provide meals for students in need, despite the governor’s mandate to stay at home. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a number of statements, encouraging Washingtonians to respond to the gravity of the growing pandemic by reimagining what their everyday life could look like and reinforcing a new norm. “If we are living a normal life, we are not doing our jobs as Washingtonians,” Inslee said. “We need to make changes, regardless of size… This is the new normal.” Most recently, Inslee announced the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which requires all Washingtonians to stay home unless they are pursuing an essential activity. 

Some of Inslee’s earliest mandates include banning all events of 250 people or more, closing all K-12 schools and limiting face-to-face contact at post-secondary schools. All bars, restaurants, and entertainment facilities have been ordered to temporarily shut their doors to patrons. 

With these mandates, it is expected the state will see an increase in demand for childcare and food resources. With children out of school, parents, guardians, and caregivers are forced to either find alternative childcare or stay home from work themselves. As social distancing measures increase to slow the spread of the virus, the U.S. economy might begin to slow down.

During this time, families that depend on free and reduced lunch programs through their local school district may be caught off-guard, and in need of vital nourishment. Many local groups are trying to support these communities with less food security and resources. 

One such support group is the Student Nutrition and Transportation departments within the Clover Park School District. CPSD operates within Lakewood and parts of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and encompasses the Pierce Fort Steilacoom campus. On their website, CPSD reported that their district serves over 12,000 students between the ages of 5 and 18. Of these students, 71 percent qualify for and benefit from the free and reduced lunch program. 

During the governor-mandated school closures, the district organized a way to deliver breakfast and lunch by bus to all children ages 18 and younger, regardless of whether they are enrolled in CPSD. They recruited volunteers, including some from Pierce College, to bag meals that would eventually get passed out at 69 bus stops throughout the Pierce community.

The meal-delivery service is directly impacting members of the community, including Melanie Love, a mother of three. She described how the delivery times have helped give her kids a sense of structure while out of school. “We get through as much schoolwork as we possibly can… so we can spend most of the afternoon outside playing,” Love said. 

She also shared how the free meals support daily organization and portion control. “It has helped to have the breakfast; the lunch. Like okay, ‘You’re having this for breakfast… You can have that for snacks… Don’t just go eat all the stuff at once!’ Because that’s what my kids would do,” Love said.

Even before CPSD announced their plans to provide meals, local students were preparing to do the same on their own time. Christian Aguilar, the senior class president at Lakes High School, organized a system of food collection and delivery for local food-insecure families. 

By spreading the word through social media, Christian managed to collect and distribute 130 bags of non-perishable foods. He prioritized the collection of pre-packaged items with long shelf lives. Each bag included goods like mac and cheese, bread, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, ramen, soup, and a variety of snacks. Christian worked alongside CPSD counselors to identify which students would need the most support. “Our goal was to cover the middle schools that were not a priority, to fill the gap,” Christian said.

Tacoma Public Schools are also providing walk-up and drive-through services from 10 a.m. to noon at several middle schools to provide free breakfast and lunch meal distribution for any child under 18, regardless of whether they live or attend school in the district. In addition, all of the elementary schools in the Puyallup School District are providing a weekly meal ration at all of their 22 elementary schools on Mondays from 11 a.m. to noon.

Other school districts, such as the union of Seattle Public Schools, also planned ways 

to feed their local youth. In SPS, starting March 16, employees are distributing grab-and-go sack lunches to students at 26 select school locations Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Seattle-area food bank volunteers will also supply weekend food bags for all families in need at any of the 26 school locations listed. Students are being instructed to refrain from eating them at the school to ensure they practice social distancing and good hygiene. 

In the Pierce College community, Jonas Upman, the Economic Mobility Coordinator, assures students that the Nourish Mobile Food Bank will maintain its regularly scheduled stops at the Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom campuses. Food is provided based on household size, and no ID is required. The mobile food bank can be accessed on the Puyallup campus on Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. outside the Arts & Allied Health Building. Alternatively, for those living closer to the Fort Steilacoom campus, the food bank is available Tuesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot D. Students can find updates on other food resources on the college’s Get Help page.

With the growing fear surrounding the virus, food and supplies in hygiene pantries are running low. Specifically, the Fort Steilacoom Campus Student Food & Hygiene Pantry needs donations. Upman, who works alongside Student Life, has asked for donations of packaged foods with a long shelf-life; for example, he said items such as ramen, juice boxes, trail mix and packaged dried fruit will last. This pantry serves over 300 students every month, and “anything that can be spared would be appreciated,” Upman added. 

In this time of global panic, it’s vital humanity does it’s best to stay calm and respect others. Groups of Washingtonians are providing care and support for the state’s hungry youth in need every day, despite the risk of infection. Schools are offering to feed youth until the end of the school closure. From this information, it can be assumed meals will stop being provided at the district’s summer release date. Hopefully by then, COVID-19 will be less of a risk to the public health.

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