Pierce Pioneer

Pierce faculty persist through the online transition

Jezreel Proo Staff illustrator

Math professor Judy Petkovsek endured her first quarter of online classes at Pierce College. 

Petkovsek taught one online class in previous quarters at Tacoma Community College, which gave her familiarity with online courses. However, in preparation for the spring quarter, she remained concerned for the students who believed that math could only be learned in a classroom. “My biggest fear was teaching online to students who didn’t want to take online courses,” Petkovsek said.

In April, all Pierce College classes moved online. The spring quarter of 2020 marked the first time that many teachers experienced online classes, which required faculty to adapt to a mandatory virtual environment. With Canvas, teachers could reach students through an established platform that allowed for a smooth transition online.

Petkovsek is one of many professors at Pierce College who had to adjust to teaching students virtually, rather than in person. With online classes being mandatory, the amount of productivity and self-motivation of students may be in question.

“I was teaching students who signed up for online classes, and they knew what they were getting into; they knew they had to be self-motivated, and they knew they had to work hard at this on their own.”

Petkovsek noticed a small drop in the productivity amongst her students, however, but more so in the likeness and reason for taking her class. For her Math and Society class, she witnessed a drop in productivity due to the sense that this would be her student’s only math class taken while at Pierce.

On the other hand, her Precalculus II students’ productivity either stayed the same as previous grounded classes or rose. Petkovsek mentions that these students are going into the STEM field, which requires a higher level of mathematics. “They seemed really motivated and very self-driven,” Petkovsek said. “I gave them a little bit of support, and they go and take it very far.”

English professor Kayla Pohl taught English 101 for the first time online this quarter. According to Pohl, she had experience with teaching online classes in the past, but worried for the students who may not have the resources to transition to online. 

“When you just switch everyone to online, the issue is that there are already so many inequities among Pierce college students,” she said. “There are racial inequities and financial inequities, so you have some students that just don’t have the resources to be able to do online learning.”

Virtual streaming platforms such as Zoom played a vital role in the ability to speak with students in real-time. The use of the service was not required by Pierce College, as teachers had the opportunity to host asynchronous or synchronous classes. This gave more flexibility with class schedules and allowed students to complete schoolwork outside the designated class hour.

To better serve these inequities and adapt to a virtual platform, Pohl had to change her curriculum by conforming to daily lesson plans. “Every quarter, I change a little bit based on feedback from students,” she said. “But this quarter especially was about cutting down anything unnecessary or anything that just doesn’t work well in an online format.”

Changing the format of her lesson plan meant less time to teach topics that would have required longer than a small fraction of class time. “Research says that you have to keep videos as short as possible, no more than like five or ten minutes,” she said. “I mean eventually you’re going to get down to trying to deliver content in a Tik Tok format. How am I going to translate Rhetorical Theory to a quick five-minute conversation? Not easy.”

Pohl devoted time to discussions and group activities in grounded classes, but online classes have made it harder to replicate that in an online environment. According to Pohl, an asynchronous classroom is best for an online format, where people with jobs or other outside devotions have more flexibility in the classroom. 

Yet, this quarter, she and Petkovsek noticed a small decrease in student productivity. Despite some of the difficulties professors face, many remain optimistic and determined to see this quarter through.

To help ensure productivity and connections with her students, Petkovsek used Zoom to record lectures in real-time and required weekly attendance phone calls. Petkovsek saw weekly phone calls as an opportunity to connect with students and solve any difficulties with the class. 

“I check in with them once a week for what obstacles they’re having, that week or any struggles they’re having for the week,” she said. “I check in on their grades and, if I see a grade that is low or if they missed our homework assignment, I talk to them about it.”

Likewise, Pohl also contacted her students, who may have been falling behind. “I can’t get in contact with those students like I normally could,” she said. “I’ve been emailing and messaging in Canvas as much as possible to try to reach out to these students and tell them; it’s okay if you miss an assignment, turn it in late, just don’t stop; try to keep going.”

Along with communicating outside of class, allowing students to access daily Zoom recordings at any time of the day gave Petkovsek’s students more flexibility. The Zoom meetings could be watched multiple times a day, unlike a grounded classroom. According to Petkovsek, classroom interactions were still important, even though it is more difficult in a Zoom meeting. 

“I tried to make it as much of a classroom experience as possible before class starts,” she said. “I try to do small talk, like, ‘How was your weekend? What’s going on?’ I get students to kind of get to know each other, and I get to know my students.”

According to Petkovsek, using Zoom for the first time online at Pierce, brought forth difficulties with the storage and memory of the recorded videos. Many teachers experienced challenges with the limits to a non-professional Zoom account that restricted meetings to 40 minutes long. But with help from Pierce College’s E-Learning Center, the transition was smoother. “It’s been nice because we’ve gotten a lot of those bumps and bruises kind of work through so that didn’t happen the next quarter; it all kind of goes a little smoother.”

During either a grounded or online class, asynchronous or synchronous, Pohl pointed to the reason she enjoys teaching English at Pierce. “Just coaching students so they can say the things they want to say and participate in the communities that they want to participate in.”

With a quarter of online classes coming to a close, Pierce College faculty adjusted to a virtual environment on short notice. They gave students the ability to succeed at home and worked diligently to connect with students outside of class. Going forward, Pierce has an improved understanding of online courses and prepares for possibly two more quarters of social distancing. 

Pierce College Facing Budget Cuts Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Ciara Williams , Staff  Illustration

As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, Pierce College prepares for potential budget cuts due to a wide state fund decline.

On May 11, Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson sent out a mass email stating that Pierce College will be experiencing budget cuts in the 2020-2021 school year. As a response, the college is preparing a budget development process that is taking place over the next few months.

Pierce College braces for budget cuts as high as 20 percent. While that percent only accounts for less than half of Pierce’s revenue, according to Johnson, that still is a 10 percent reduction, adding up to around $6 million.

“This work will be difficult and unfortunately, painful,” Johnson stated. “There is no way to handle revenue declines of this magnitude without pain. Departments throughout the college will need to rethink and retool their entire operation.”

Along with Pierce College, multiple other state agencies could face general fund reductions of 15 to 20 percent or higher. This is due to a large decline in Washington State’s general fund revenue. 

“Currently, state officials and legislators are still trying to understand the full extent of the issue,” Johnson stated. “But preliminary forecasting by the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council points to a very large decline in revenue that started in March and could continue for several years.”

Pierce College has made a temporary plan, in hopes of getting the college’s budget through the summer and parts of fall. “Over the next few weeks, the Budget Team and the Budget Planning Groups will be working on ideas and concepts to build a temporary spending plan to present to the Board of Trustees in June,” Johnson stated. “The proposed budget will be reviewed by the District Cabinet and presented to the Board of Trustees in October for approval.”

The Budget Team is currently formed around large groups of departments and divisions throughout the district, including Instruction, Student Services, Self-Support Programs, Facilities/Safety, and Institutional Support Services, as stated by Johnson.

Many questions still remain, such as what departments will be affected by these budget cuts the most, as well as programs or student resources. However, as the months go by, Johnson assures staff that Pierce will continue to answer questions and address the situation.

“The Budget Team and college leadership will continue to share information, involve constituents, and be open and transparent in this process.”

Struggles of Taking Virtual Classroom

Because Coronavirus has spread out in the United States, many school decided moving to online classes. It has been 5 weeks since Pierce College started virtual class for entire spring quarter. Today, pioneer staff interviews students about how they feel about taking virtual classes for the first time. We interviews students from Pierce College, University of Washington, Hunter College in NYC. We will have three videos about thoughts of virtual classroom.

Videographer: Joy Kim

Editor: Kotone Ochiai

Future Image: Ciara William

 

Video by Coverr-Free-Footage from Pixabay 

Video by Vimeo-Free-Videos from Pixabay 

 

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.

Why Don’t We Vote?

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

Students weigh in on today’s political state and what gets them motivated to vote, as the Democratic Primaries arrive.

The time has come again to vote for president. Whether for re-electing the current president or campaigning for another candidate, this is a tense time of the year. The Washington Democratic Primaries start on Mar. 10, where citizens vote a nominee of a major political party for the office of president.

For Pierce College student Nicole Lee, her parents instilled many values growing up, as being a first-generation citizen. One of those values included going out to vote. “One of our rights and freedoms is to vote on our elected officials and how they’re going to run this country.”

“It’s going to be our future, right?” Lee said. “What’s going to happen to [American citizens] is directly correlated to who leads our country.”

Not all citizens are required to participate in voting, whether that is registration or voting in state and national elections. However, according to the Secretary of State, in 2016 only 76.83 percent of all citizens registered to vote.

According to ABC News, in Australia, voter participation has never been below 90 percent, as citizens are automatically registered and required to vote by law. For America, the big question which remains is one that’s been asked for years – how do we get people to go out and vote?

Travis Nelson, a Political Science professor at Pierce College, said it’s important that people know what they’re voting for, and are informed. “The main thing that we should do is show a connection to how politics actually affect our daily lives,” he said. Nelson added that having more high school or college classes focusing on current events could help students become more informed.

Some contributors to people not going out to vote include voters feeling as though their participation won’t affect the results in the long run. This is partly due to the electoral college, a system still in question by many voters.

According to HuffPost, the Electoral College involves 538 electors casting votes for the President. Nelson said it plays an important role, allowing presidential candidates to pay more attention to the interests of people in the smaller states that are typically ignored.

“But if we are getting to a point where the popular vote ends up quite different from the electoral college, then I think we need to reconsider the need to have the electoral college,” Nelson said.

Rachel Mathies, a student at Pierce, said the popular vote should have more merit than what it does currently. “I don’t think it should be abolished completely,” she said. “But I believe that it should be at least revised to be more reflective of the popular vote.”

Lee also adds that although it’s a way to get things done quicker, the popular vote should matter.

According to The U.S. Census Bureau, 18 to 29-year-olds make up only 21.2 percent of voters in Washington, compared to 45 to 64-year-old voters make up 34.6 percent. Mathies said young people are outnumbered by the “baby boomers”, and are easily discouraged about their vote making a difference.

Nelson said he expects a high turnout from voters of the younger generation this year, however. “It’s possible that with what’s going on with the impeachment that people will be kind of motivated to participate in the system,” he said.

Mathies, being 20-years-old, is excited to vote this year. “I feel like even though I’m a small number of the popular vote, my voice still makes a difference,” Mathies said. “Our ancestors fought for the right to vote, and I should participate in that process.”

When pointing out the decline in voters during election years, another topic which arises is what citizens actually want out of a presidential candidate. Voters do have certain qualities they look for, which can motivate those to go out and vote.

“Some of [the candidates] have more back bone than the others and that’s ultimately the difference in my eyes,” said Lee. “How will they be approached by the world, interact with other countries or nations and their leaders?”

Democratic front runners are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, with Elizabeth Warren not far behind. Mathies said she looks for candidates who can stand their ground during debates, especially against President Donald Trump. “I don’t see it as being an actual debate,” said Mathies. “[Trump] doesn’t follow debate rules.”

For almost four years, President Trump has held the Presidential office. Trump was the first president to be impeached, acquitted and run for a second term in history. Nelson said Trump is still retaining supporters.

“It’s totally different than the past, where people have been able to run off their own merits,” Nelson said. “This impeachment process emboldens the supporters and gives more ammunition to his reelection.

With Sanders running as a democratic socialist, his platform of free college can be appealing to young people who are prospective or current students. Mathies said it’s hard to get started when you have student debt. “That’s a really huge impact on a young person because we are trying to start out lives at that point.”

If a democrat is elected into The White House, it could shift many aspects in the country. Lee wants to see de-escalation between the two parties and some of the social movements surrounding them. “Hopefully the attitude in this country will change,” Lee said. “I think ethically and morally in how we treat each other has been disrupted over the past four years.”

Although politics can be a complex subject, students can get more information about presidential candidates and current events by receiving updates through news apps.

To register to vote, you can visit votewa.gov.

Pierce College Appoints New Student Government President

Jessica Edmonds presents first President’s report at the Student Government assembly.

Jessica Edmonds to be the Student Government president after the former president steps down.

Jessica Edmonds has been appointed Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s new Student Government president as of Feb. 11. This decision follows January 2020, after the former president, Charles “Chaz” Serna, unexpectedly stepped down.

While details of Serna’s unexpected resignation are not yet available outside of Student Government, the changes which this decision created has sparked a new path for Student Life. “With the team right now, they feel a little bit discouraged, and they definitely need that recharge,” Edmonds said.

Serna’s decision to step down came immediately, although Edmonds said there were office frustrations present leading up to it. “I don’t think it was just him,” Edmonds said. “But he’s in a role that carries a lot of the weight of the team’s feelings.”

Edmonds said Serna has since reached out to her and given his blessings for her new leadership role. “He felt strong that I would be president, which really helps me gain that confidence,” Edmonds said.

Jaein Cho, the former administrative senator, was ratified as the new Student Government vice president soon after Edmonds’ appointment. Edmonds said she is confident that Cho can lead the team alongside her.

Edmonds said her next steps are to redirect and recharge the team. “Making sure our team and our office has the best interests of students, and that’s expressed with our events and relationships with other departments on campus.”

Edmonds studies Psychology and Latin American Studies at Pierce, and plans to transfer to the University of Washington Tacoma and get involved in their student government or activities board. 

Edmonds was working on her biggest project, the MultiCultural Fair, when she got word of Serna’s resignation. Edmonds said the whole team has assisted her in the event. “Everyone has stepped up because we know we have a vacancy,” she said. “If we wanna keep going with our ideas, we have to kind of do things a little bit out of the job title.”

Coming into a role halfway through the year can be challenging, but Edmonds feels prepared to take this on, with previous leadership training and strong connections already made with faculty, staff and students.

A Final Farewell

Former Vice President of Learning and Student Success,
Dr. Carol Green said Denise is with us right now.

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom gives their final send-off to former president Denise Yochum

For what felt like a storm for the first time since 2020 began, it wasn’t raining. 

Dim lights and classical music greets guests as they approach the Performance Lounge at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s campus. As the music swelled, a mixture of voices chatted and laughed amongst each other. Flowers and white tablecloths decorated the scenery, and the environment held a peaceful and inviting atmosphere.

It captured the essence of Pierce College’s former president, Denise Yochum, as faculty members from all around shared a final farewell together. 

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom held a memorial ceremony for Yochum on Feb. 9, following her passing on Jan. 13. It’s a rare and cherished thing to be able to rejoice in times of sorrow. Many guests were given the opportunity to comfort one another and share memories of Yochum, during and after the ceremony.

Duncan Stevenson, director of District Athletics at Pierce, shared with the crowd Yochum wanted to be remembered through laughter and smiles, rather than through tears. “As always was the case with Denise, she was very clear with me,” Stevenson said. “‘Duncan, I know people will be sad, but I don’t want the day to be a somber one’.”

“‘I want people to hold onto the good memories, to celebrate the incredible life I was fortunate to live and the amazing people who became my dear friends.’”

Yochum started out her career at Big Bend Community College, where she served as the Dean of Arts and Science for six years. From there she became the vice president of instruction at Grays Harbor College for four more years before her path eventually brought her to Pierce College.

Yochum served as Pierce College’s president for 13 years before retiring January of 2019. She pioneered a number of projects on Fort Steilacoom’s campus and was a major contributor to the college’s growing success.

For those who’ve worked with Yochum personally however, the former president was more than just her work. To many faculty, Yochum remains a beloved part of Pierce College’s family.

“I was incredibly blessed to have the privilege of working with Denise,” Stevenson said. “During that time, she became my mentor, my sounding board, and most importantly, one of my best friends.”

As the memorial continued, those who spoke recalled traits Yochum possessed, which solidified her into the leadership role most faculty members knew her for. Mike Kelly, vice president of Grays Harbor College, recalled a few conversations that he’s had with Yochum in the past. “She had a way with words, and [could] talk to people very sophisticatedly,” Kelly said. 

Bill Bounaudi, a retired president at Big Bend Community College, shared his personal feelings of Yochum’s magnetic and strong leadership skills, as well as her willingness to lead. “She came to the rescue, or as we called it – she drew the short straw,” Bounaudi said. “She wasn’t one to be deterred by minor obstacles.”

Bonaudi spoke how Yochum’s personality made it hard for her to go unnoticed. This included a time they were out, which he could hear her laughter from another area. “She was everything,” Bounaudi said. “Typical Denise. You always knew when she was around.”

As the event came to a close, a photo montage played moments of Yochum’s life. Music filled the room once again, and laughter was brought on with one another, some sitting in comfortable silence with their neighbor.

Many speakers at Yochum’s memorial were able to capture a piece of her in their own words. Whether it be from a reflection of themselves or through old memories they shared with Yochum. One voice stuck out the most amongst the crowd came from Phil Yates, the Pierce College Foundation director, officer, and governor.

Yates shared a story to the crowd which resonated with most attendees there. He recalled a time Yochum last visited the campus after retiring in 2019. Yates recalls Yochum being given a handcrafted crown as a gift, which she wore that day.

“I envision Denise now as wearing the golden crown on her head,” Yates said. “I think of her as a gem. One of a kind, irreplaceable; a precious, beautiful gem. The finest jeweler would be hard-pressed to find any flaws in that gem.”

 What was shared that day still carries on in those who knew and loved her. Yochum may have passed on, but the treasured memories and evermore spirit lives on.

Maker Space

Coronavirus Update

Pixabay / Pexels / Courtesy Photo

As of Jan. 31, Choi Halladay, vice president of Administrative Services at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, released an email in regards to a new travel warning announced by the United States Department of State. A Level 4 travel warning was released, cautioning all U.S. citizens to not travel to China under any circumstances, as a result of the Coronavirus.

A Level 4 travel warning places a ban on any travel location that it applies to. A Level 4, as described by the Verge, is the most severe warning that can be issued by the Department of State.

According to CNN, all flights from Shanghai to Los Angeles and New York have been cancelled from Feb. 2 to Feb. 10. Throughout the rest of February, flights to San Francisco, Vancouver, Chicago, and Honolulu have also been cancelled.

Pierce College is following this travel warning by cancelling a previously scheduled International Programs recruiting trip to China, according to Halladay. Pierce will be coordinating with any exchange students who had plans, were returning to, or were leaving China.

All trips to China are being refunded as soon as possible through most commercial airlines, and trips coordinated through Pierce College. To see the travel warning issued by the United States Department of State, click here. 

Traditionally Underrepresented Clubs Voice Concerns, Ignite Change

Ty Phay / Staff Photo

Student Life hires advocate to support efforts in representing clubs

So you’re interested in starting a club at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. 

To do that, you have to fill out a request form and submit it to the Student Life office. From there, Clubs and Organizations Senator John Shead has to organize it and send it off for approval. 

Whether or not it is approved isn’t up to Shead. While Shead can help clubs with issues they’re facing, he can only provide so much support alone. And unless you come to a Clubs Council meeting, which is held every other Monday, your grievances may not ever be addressed.

Student Programs Director Cameron Cox recognized some of the ongoing challenges that Student Life recently faced. “Last year, we were short staffed; it was a little chaotic,” Cox said. Not only that, but before this academic year, no one was appointed to support the club senator with club-related issues, including funding and representation. 

The Queer Support Club faced privacy and funding issues, while members of Indigenous at Pierce, before formally being ratified, said they felt unheard and unsupported by Student Life. 

Isaac Pennoyer, Queer Support Club president, said the group faced problems with getting transgender essential items, including binders and packers. These are items that can help transgender students with transitioning. Recently, the transgender essential items have been approved for purchase by Pierce College Fort Steilacooom’s president Julie White.

Pennoyer added that the Queer Support Club met in an open area, which he said did not provide them a safe space. Queer Support recently received a higher level of privacy when the Student Life club senator booked them a classroom. Even so, Pennoyer said the meeting place isn’t ideal.

“We were put in a room that is not optimal for what kind of club that we have,” Pennoyer said. “We need a place that is quiet and personal and [where you can] shut the door without a bunch of students needing to come in for a class, which is basically what we’re dealing with now.” 

Ty Phay / Staff Photo
Ashley Good(left) and Iopu Ignacio (right) are making fliers for awreness for MMIW: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Meanwhile, Indigenous at Pierce’s club president, Ashley Good, said she feels as though Student Life doesn’t do enough to help refer Native American students to the club. 

Good said that Indigenious at Pierce’s mission is to create a space for Native American and non-native students alike to share their experiences and be part of a community. However, she said she feels as though a lack of support and recognition from Student Life has made spreading their club’s goals difficult. 

“I think ‘unsupported’ is a good word for it. [There was] not really a lot of communication,” Good said. “If there is any communication, I feel like it’s pressured on the club to be able to have that, which is difficult for students sometimes.”

Clubs aren’t the only groups on campus that have faced issues. Members of ASPIRE – a grant-funded program whose mission is to support Asian, Pacific Islander, and low-income students – said that they feel as though their program is not taken seriously.

ASPIRE’s outreach assistant Iopu Ignacio said that when it comes to Student Life putting on cultural events, they wouldn’t collaborate with ASPIRE unless they asked. However, activities between ASPIRE and Student Life have gradually increased this quarter. 

Up until recently, Shead and Cox have attempted to handle most of the clubs issues. Now that Student Life has hired a Student Engagement Specialist, Walter Lutsch, he will work directly with clubs on their concerns. “I am here to support the club senator and make sure they are getting as much out of that time here in Student Government as possible,” Lutsch said.

Lutsch will oversee administrative work, support Student Life with campus events, and handle purchases and reservations. Lutsch said he hopes to bring his experiences and passion for clubs to Pierce. He wants to bring in the ideas, programs, and structural elements he learned at both Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College.

“I love clubs so much,” Lutsch said. “They are what started me on this path, and I feel I can bring this specific focus, and all my years working in clubs, and as a club leader to this.”

While the new SES settles into his role, Student Life is slowly improving their communication and organization methods. “For clubs, I am taking the steps to develop a plan to create an entire Canvas module, to help ease organization issues,” Shead said. “I don’t know how accounts will work, but I’m hoping this is something the new [SES] position can help with.”

While the SES was never an official position until recently, Student Life previously had an administrative assistant handling most of the campus club’s paperwork. When the assistant left in July 2018, Student Life chose to take their time looking for a new person for the position.

“[Student Life] recognized they needed a club focus [person],” Lutsch said. “Somebody who can really come in and focus on that and make it the best that they can be; I am honored and excited to be that person.”

These are the faces of fun at Pierce

They spend their time dreaming up ways to make each week something special for their peers

Anne Hammond / Staff Photographer

Yajahira Parham

Special Events Coordinator

[email protected]

Parham hopes to surpass event attendance goals, attract students who don’t normally attend events and create new events.

Last year she worked as an Entertainment and Recreation coordinator for Student Life.

“Planning events is like a piece of pie for me now,” says Parham. “I definitely like going all out.”

As an organizer and planner at heart, she is also focused on her board goal of increasing attendance at all board events and activities.

She plans to earn an AA in dental hygiene and then continue at Pierce in a special program.

Anne Hammond / Staff Photographer

Kaela Belen

Issues and Awareness Coordinator

[email protected]

Belen organizes events that raise awareness for certain causes such as mental health, Breast Cancer Awareness and Hispanic heritage. Mental health is a priority for Belen.

“I want students to know where they can get help and know the resources and hopefully help people feel like they belong,” said Belen.

She hopes students feel like Pierce College is a community and a family where they can get to know each other, not just a school. She wants to help students build connections and feel happier as a result.

“I like to think big,” she said.

Belen wants students to remember an event. That it made an impact on them, they got something out of it and it helped them or a friend.

Belen is an education major who came from a large family and loves to cook.

Anne Hammond / Staff Photographer

Tracy Vo

Outreach Coordinator

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Vo wants to create memories, opportunities for creativity, and attract new students to engage more in college so they learn how much Pierce College cares for them.

When students complete their college education, she wants them to leave with lots of good memories, in addition to knowledge. She feels that Student Life events can affect students in positive ways and increase their happiness.

“We can find more services for the students, such as the free bus pass,” says Vo.

Vo says she is passionate about what she is doing; she’s creative, very organized, a good learner and loves working with people.

“My strong point is that I’m an international student and I want to create new things that all students can enjoy,” says Vo. 

“People are curious about differences.”

Vo is studying business at Pierce College and ultimately will specialize in marketing elsewhere.

Anne Hammond / Staff Photographer

Dennis Johnson

Communications Coordinator

[email protected]

Johnson is in the digital design program, and is passionate about helping students with mental health by providing speakers, resources, and by increasing awareness of what exists.

“I just want to sit down and talk to people,” said Johnson. “Because a lot of people who suffer from depression don’t want to talk. They just keep to themselves and will be the ones hiding in the back of the room.”

During the first two days of classes he was personally walking lost students to their classes as part of the board’s ‘Welcome Days.’

Johnson’s also focused on improving the social media presence on Instagram, Facebook and possibly Twitter by updating it regularly and providing a lot of relevant content that’ll keep students up-to-date regarding events.

Johnson is enthusiastic about a campus cleanup effort, including a focus on trash, recycling, and landscaping.

“We are committed to the students,” says Johnson.

Anne Hammond / Staff Photographer

Taimane Rice

Entertainment and Recreation 

Coordinator

[email protected]

Rice is studying digital design, and has creative ideas on how to broaden the variety of students at events.

“I want to ensure that we create a platform that accommodates both Running Start students but also students who may just want to come by on the way to class, who probably have to go pick up their kids later and maybe have a job as well,” says Rice.

She wants to entice more people to sporting events, including those held off campus.

Rice has exciting plans for an international Passport Café with free drinks and tables with treats.

She grew up in a big family where her mom entertained, then she became a wedding planning assistant for her aunt.

“After a while I ended up becoming her right hand,” says Rice. “She put that little bug in me to want to be able to plan things.

“I like that ability to be able to affect somebody so much that even years later they’ll remember it,” says Rice. 

Kaitie Ferencik

Promotions Coordinator

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As a digital design student, Ferencik creates constantly -- all the posters, flyers, handbills, and the quarterly event calendar.

“The calendar has a list of all the events that Student Life holds which is really cool because almost every single one of them has free food, free resources, giveaways, games, things that they can do,” says Ferencik.

She’s looking forward to creating three very different calendars – fall, winter, and spring – that are gender-neutral, and easy to read and navigate.

Ferencik is also making sure that all promotional material is posted in ways that students can access it.

“Our biggest issue is reaching certain demographics of students, like students that take online classes or nighttime classes,” says Ferencik. “I’d really like to create promotional banners for Canvas. We have a very large demographic of people that are not right-out-of-high-school college students, so our goal is finding events that they would like to go to as well as students that are just out of high school.”

 

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