Pierce Pioneer

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.

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.

COVID-19 Resources and Concerns

What financial and educational resources are and aren’t available at Pierce College amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

These are exceptional times as news of the COVID-19 virus, and responses in our region and across the world continue to evolve,” the Pierce College administration stated in an email to students, faculty and staff on March 11. 

Now, with the college campus closed, students who rely on tutoring, financial aid, Running Start or utilize child care centers find themselves having to adapt to a new norm, one that will indefinitely impact their spring quarter, children and future academic career. 

Pierce College faculty and staff are actively trying to assist as many students as possible by providing online and local resources that are in line with the continuously changing health guidelines, such as social distancing of six feet and refraining from hosting gatherings of more than 10 people.  

While some students come to the Tutoring Center for quick updates on their classes, others attend for long-term supplementary instruction with hopes of testing into a higher class. With the college closing, some are concerned that they won’t be able to get tutoring for the six-week break. That, in turn, will affect their learning. For example, Cecilia Peebles, a Pierce College student who takes an American Sign Language supplementary course said she is worried she won’t be able to retain any of the information she already learned if she can’t receive in-person tutoring.

“Because the interaction is primarily face-to-face, there will most likely be a huge gap in my learning,” Peebles said. “It puts a pause on moving forward in the language, and it’s quite frustrating.”  

Peebles added that while she believes students who participate in the Tutoring Center are dedicated and will strive to continue providing support, she doesn’t know if the Tutoring Center has a resource that will be easily accessible during the break.

However, Tutoring Center program manager Sabrina Stevenson said she is confident that the center will adapt to the changes to meet student needs. “We are working diligently to prepare an online option for students to meet with their tutors,” she said. 

The Tutoring Center will continue to operate virtually and in person throughout spring quarter and close for spring break as scheduled. Students will be able to contact their tutor through phone or email and can participate in online real-time appointments through the Peer Academic Support Success, also known as the P.A.S.S. Canvas Course. Stevenson said she hopes this digital tool will complement distance learning, especially for students taking online only courses for the first time.

Students who rely on the tutoring services aren’t the only ones concerned about the college closing. Important exams such as the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and the SAT and AP tests have been postponed until late April. This sets back Running Start students who had planned to enroll at Pierce College for fall quarter or wanted to apply for scholarships and four-year universities. The testing facilities prioritize high school seniors, which leaves many juniors who want to apply for scholarships or early enrollment without the opportunity to test for this year.  

The College Board, which schedules and proctors these exams, is working on creating extra test dates and other resources; however, the chances that the tests will be administered online is unlikely. Students can find updates on test cancellations and rescheduling at the College Board Coronavirus Updates page. 

Another challenge with the campus closure is the number of student employees who are without a job. Jenna Fitzgerald, a student who works for the Student Technology Assistance Team, said she is panicked about employment and payment setbacks. “Closing the college is smart, but extremely stressful,” Fiztgerald said. “I can’t get training for my job, and many of my coworkers are concerned because they’re not gonna get paid during this break.” 

Without employment, many students may find themselves unable to support themselves, including paying for their education. Student employees can visit the COVID-19 Communications Center intranet for updates on procedures, telework, and more. Recently, the Senate passed a $2.2 trillion emergency relief bill that will provide payments, expanded unemployment coverage and changes to student loans.

Some students who have young children between the ages of 1 to 5, receive financial aid and/or rely on meals through the K-12 school system may not be able to receive support during this unprecedented time. With the college implementing strict social distancing guidelines, finding replacement resources has been difficult. 

The child care centers at both the Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup campuses will continue to provide care for admitted children and operate at their normal hours of 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., although some limitations have been set in place. “We are going to be following more stringent protocols regarding illness for staff, children and families,” the center stated on its website. “We may be limited for admitting new children for spring quarter.” The Puyallup School District will provide childcare services Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to children of first responders.  

An overarching concern for Pierce College students, faculty and staff is whether students will be able to keep up with their spring quarter classes without interruption, especially those who weren’t prepared to take online classes. 

Pierce College administration reassures students that an academically fulfilling spring quarter lies ahead. “Spring quarter will begin on April 6 as planned,” the college’s executive team stated in an email to students on March 19. “We are finalizing plans for how courses that would normally be taught on campus will be taught remotely, as well as how labs, clinicals, and some technology courses will meet in groups of 10 or less to assure social distancing, in compliance with the Governor’s orders.”  

Pierce College offers a COVID-19 Information Center online that will continue to provide the most recent updates regarding the college and is finalizing plans for spring quarter to continue giving high quality education to students. In the meantime, face-to-face instruction will be postponed until at least April 24. However, student services such as Financial Aid, Veteran Services, Registration and Advising will continue to be accessible to students remotely through phone and email. 

Most services that handle situation specific problems such as financial aid, encourage students to stay updated by checking the Frequently Asked Questions page and to call and leave detailed messages, so staff can answer their questions or concerns.  “All of our support services are available online, and certain core functions like the cashier and financial aid are available on-campus with an appointment,” Pierce College stated on its website. New hours of operation and contact information for these services are posted on Pierce College’s COVID-19 Student Support Center page. 

“We are impressed with the resiliency and dedication of our students, and we promise to do our best to help you reach your goals,” the Pierce College Executive Team stated in an email. “We look forward to a rather unprecedented but highly successful spring quarter.”

Do you qualify to receive money during the coronavirus outbreak?

Read the abridged F.A.Q. by The New York Times, which answers common questions about the historic $2.2 trillion emergency relief package the Senate passed on March 25 to support millions of Americans during this economic downturn. For more information, please visit The New York Times F.A.Q. on stimulus checks and the unemployment and coronavirus bill.

How large would the payments be?

Most adults would get $1,200, although some would get less. For every child age 16 or under, the payment would be an additional $500.

How many payments would there be?

Just one. Future bills could order up additional payments, though.

How do I know if I will get the full amount?

It depends on your income. Single adults with Social Security numbers who are United States residents and have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less would get the full amount. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less would receive a total of $2,400. And someone filing as head of household would get the full payment if they earn $112,500 or less.

Above those income figures, the payment decreases until it stops altogether for single people earning $99,000 or married people earning $198,000.

In any given family and in most instances, everyone must have a valid Social Security number. There is an exception for members of the military.

You can find your adjusted gross income on line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax return.

Do college students get anything?

Not if anyone claims them as a dependent on a tax return. Usually, students under age 24 are dependents in the eyes of the taxing authorities if a parent pays for at least half of their expenses.

Would I have to apply to receive a payment?

No. If the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information, it would transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has.

When would they arrive?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he expected most people to get their payments within three weeks.

If my payment doesn’t come soon, how can I be sure that it wasn’t misdirected?

According to the bill, you would get a paper notice in the mail no later than a few weeks after your payment has been disbursed. That notice would contain information about where the payment ended up and in what form it was made. If you couldn’t locate the payment at that point, it would be time to contact the I.R.S. using the information on the notice.

Closures and Available Services Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

Kotone Ochiai / Staff Photographer

On Mar. 12, Washington State governor Jay Inslee announced the closures of all private and public K-12 schools from Mar. 17 to Apr. 24. This would later extend to colleges and universities the following weekend, as the state continues monitoring the spread of the Coronavirus.

Inslee later announced on Mar. 15 that bars, restaurants, gyms, clubs, and other gathering areas with 50 or more people would be temporarily shut down statewide. As reported by the Seattle Times, Washington leaders wish to avoid any unnecessary interactions over the next two weeks.

Coffee shops, food courts, barber shops, hair salons, youth sports, theaters and bowling alleys will also close come Monday, Mar. 16. “Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and hardware stores will remain open,” the Seattle Times states.

All Pierce College campuses will be restricting social interactions and in-person courses come Tuesday, Mar. 17, and will be moving to a predominantly online instructional environment until Apr. 24.

The campuses themselves will remain open however, as Spring quarter classes will still be available. “Labs, clinics and other on-campus activities can continue if social distancing is imposed, which is defined by the Governor as keeping people at least six feet apart,” the email states.

In a previous email released by Pierce College on Mar. 13, it states that Campus Safety, IT, Facilities, Finances, Center for Global Scholars, and Payroll will remain on campus during these closures. Financial Aid will also continue to be fully available.

Pierce College has made the following updates to what will and will not be available on all campuses:

  • Concerts that were to be streamed are now fully cancelled.
  • Our Barnes and Noble Bookstore is open and enforcing social distancing protocol. They are also providing free shipping for online sales and for returning books at the end of the quarter.
  • Food services will be closed Mar. 17 to Apr. 24. Food is available in the Bookstore and vending machines.
  • The Nourish Food Truck will continue to be available on its regular schedule.
  • The Library and other campus resources will take measures to enforce social distancing.
  • The Northwest Athletic Conference has suspended all spring sports competition until April 13.
  • Human Resource interviews for new employees will be moved to online interviews.​

Any changes to this list will be implemented as soon as it’s available to the Pioneer, as we continue to keep students informed.

Washington State death tolls continue to rise amidst Coronavirus panic

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images / Courtesy Photo
An intensive care unit treating coronavirus patients in a hospital in Wuhan, China, the virus’s epicenter.

On Mar. 8, between 102 – 136 Coronavirus cases have been made in King County, with death tolls being between 16 – 19 and rising. Of the 136 cases reported, 86 of those affected were of the ages of 50 and older. Authorities request that citizens 60 and older, as well as pregnant women, avoid populated places and remain home for their own safety. 

Kiro7 stated, “Sixteen of those who died in King County were residents of Life Care Center, a nursing home in Kirkland, according to Public Health – Seattle & King County. Researchers say the virus may have been circulating undetected for weeks.”

Although there were no confirmed cases in King and Pierce County schools, some have taken safety measures to prevent the spread of germs. Clover Park Technical College took safety measures and have closed down their campus for a deep clean.

Due to being closer to the outbreak, The University of Washington in Seattle cancelled classes until the end of winter quarter. This is to try and prevent those from getting the virus.

“Friday morning, the University of Washington said though its campuses would remain open, classes would no longer be meeting in person starting Monday, Mar. 9 through the end of winter quarter on Mar. 20,” Kiro7 said. “The university’s president said that remote learning will be utilized when possible, but also notified staff that in some cases, they may need to submit grades based on work.”

While Pierce College Fort Steilacoom hasn’t taken those measures, Choi Halladay, vice president of administrations, announced in an email that Pierce is closely monitoring the Coronavirus. “Currently, leadership is working closely with public health officials to keep up to date regarding the virus and potential impacts to the college, and we are developing additional plans to mitigate those impacts,” Halladay stated.

Faculty has existing plans for emergency management specific for responding to a pandemic outbreak. Pierce is providing fact sheets in all languages from the Washington State Department of health for the Coronavirus online on their websites.

The amount of cases coming in for testing has made it harder to detect those with the virus; this makes it important to be aware and take all measures to protect oneself from getting sick. 

Public Health for Seattle & King County states, “If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, call your healthcare provider. Isolate yourself and wear a mask before leaving the house. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.”

Updated March 13th, 2020 at 2:04pm

As of Mar. 12, Washington State governor Jay Inslee has ordered all private and public K-12 schools to close from Mar. 17 to April 24.

As reported by the Seattle Times, Chris Reykdal, state school’s chief states, “Our [school] systems need to be prepared for a potentially longer closure in the near term, and [without a vaccine] we have to be prepared that this is back in the fall or still with us in the fall.”

In response, Pierce College emailed early morning on Mar. 13 that all campuses will be moving to teaching classes online. 

“As Pierce College moves to limit face-to-face instruction starting Tuesday, Mar. 17, we also need to reduce the number of staff on campus to implement social distancing guidelines, while still providing services to students and opportunities for employees to work,” the email states.

Campus Safety, IT, Facilities, Finances, Center for Global Scholars, and Payroll will remain on campus during these closures. However, students and professors are not required to be on campus during this time.

More updates will be available as the weeks pass.

Bushfires Rage in Australia

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

Firefighters from around the world join Australian firefighters in a battle against a series of Bushfires threatening the lives of Australians and Wildlife

Over thirty people have been killed in the Australian bushfires since September 2019, affecting the entire country. The states of New South Wales and Queensland officially declared a state of emergency, with other countries, including the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, having sent firefighters and military personnel to help control these fires.

Bushfires are not new to Australia. However, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, they are becoming more frequent, especially in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania. “A century ago, such conflagrations hit Victoria every 15 years. Since 2000 that interval has shrunk to between one and five years.”

These fires have slowly begun to subside, though their effects on the environment remain at risk. People are working to help the animals, with rescue workers, civilians, and even trained dogs helping wildlife affected by the fires.

There are organizations providing support for the animals. WIRES, the RSPCA, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital have been taking monetary donations for the cause. Supplies can also be sent to the Brisbane-based Rescue Collective or the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild.

Organizations that are assisting with the firefighting, rescue, and relief efforts are also in need of support. Donations can be made to the Australian Red Cross, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, or one of the Australian fire services in the states affected.

So what caused these fires? That is a complex answer since there are multiple, separate bushfires.

Arson is one contributing factor. Newsweek reports that 24 people have been charged with arson as of Jan. 7. Police have taken action against people who weren’t complying with a total fire ban.

Another factor is the conditions in Australia. Newsweek states, “Unseasonably high temperatures and drought over the last three months have contributed to the conditions that have allowed the fires to proliferate.”

As the weather gets warmer in Australia, especially around summer, the plant life becomes drier, creating more fuel for fires. Lightning is also a weather-based factor, responsible for a number of fires in Victoria.

Professor Beth Norman, who teaches Environmental Science and Environmental Geology at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, said that windy conditions are causing the fires to spread faster. “It’s differences in pressure that actually drive the wind,” said Norman. “So, if you’ve got bigger differences in pressure between one area and another, that means you have stronger winds; and the stronger the wind is, the worse the fires tend to be.”

Rising Tensions in 2020

Pixabay.com / Photo Credit

Students and Professors on campus weigh in their personal thoughts on the U.S.-Iran conflict

Beginning 2020, President Donald Trump authorized an airstrike that killed Iran’s major general Qassem Soleimani; an act not approved by congress. Iran responded by firing missiles at bases in Iraq hosting United States troops. No Americans or Iraqi people were harmed in this attack.

Trump directed the immediate deployment of troops to the Middle East a day after the attack on Iran. While Trump stated there would be no further attacks after Iran’s strike, a number of Pierce College students are still affected by this news. Pierce College students who are veterans or active duty have differing opinions with the ongoing conflict between the U.S and Iran.

Julio Russell, an 11-year U.S. Army veteran, knows how difficult it is to be deployed, having served two tours in the Middle East. “It takes a toll on soldiers, being away,” said Russell. “You come back home and everything’s the same for you, [but] not for us. They teach us how to go to war, they don’t teach you how to come back from war.” 

Russell adds it doesn’t serve America’s best interest to get into another conflict with Iran. “There’s other conflicts and other things that are more important than Iran,” he said.

According to BBC News, the tense relationship between the U.S. and Iran date back over 60-years. The initial contact with Iran was in 1953 when the U.S. and the British intelligence staged a coup to remove the citizen elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq. Within that time, the relationship has been inconsistent, with efforts from both sides having been unsuccessful.

Pierce College American history professor David Thomas, P.h.D., said the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979 and 9-11 are significant events impacting relations that have vacillated over the last 7-years. “To Iranians, we’re a bully who overthrew [their] government,” he said. “To Americans, they’re a terrorist who kidnap people.”

Even though the next steps for the U.S. and Iran is unknown, people’s opinions and assumptions come to light online. Russell’s day-to-day wasn’t directly affected other than the social media responses from what he refers to as “Facebook keyboard warriors.”

“Are you driving your kid to the recruiter line right now,” said Russell. “If they’re not there, boots-on-ground, don’t tell me nothing. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.”

Twitter sounded off after the attacks. The potential of World War 3 was the topic of all tweets, with politicians sending out information and the American people creating memes, hoping to soften the blow. Furthermore, citizens were curious if this would put Trump’s impeachment trial on hold.

According to CNN, in Dec. 2019, the House of Representatives passed both articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, has held off pressure to send the articles to the Senate.

Tony Rondone, a 26-year Air Force veteran, said he expects the conflict to be contained in the region. “[Iran] did what they were gonna do to save face because they don’t want a war with the U.S.,” said Rondone. “Keeping that in mind, we shouldn’t be provoking them, but you do what you have to.”

Thomas said there’s a chance that it erupts into a further war in the Middle East. “It’s unlikely for a world war to happen because many other countries would be wary of getting involved.”

Along with this, provoking Iran sends a message to the world about how America operates. “I worry what it looks like assassinating an official from another country when we’re not at war,” said Thomas. 

Iran has been active since Soleimani’s death, with protesters in the streets and their military on guard. The destruction of a Ukraine commercial airplane, killing 176 passengers with many of the victims being Iranian and Canadian, brought even more protesters out. This leaves the U.S. in a difficult position, attempting to find a way to possibly resolve this battle.

Although they were not an option in the past, Josef Kasprzak, a 13-year Air Force veteran, said a peaceful talk may be a solution to get down to the root cause. “Not all Americans are going to treat [Iran] the same way as they did in the past and vice versa,” he said.

Thomas finds a solution to this to be unlikely, with Trump unwilling to abide by the Iran Nuclear Agreement President Barack Obama signed. “I think it was a mistake to back out of the nuclear treaty to begin with,” he said. “So ideally, we could return to that sort of relationship or agreement.”

There is uncertainty among the Pierce College community whether this dispute will be resolved, if at all. Nevertheless, the history and tension between the two countries will leave a lasting memory on Americans and Iranians alike.

Student Government President Steps Down

Charles “Chaz” Serna (right) passes out  food to Spencer Howell (left) at the Welcome Daze event.     David Dino-Slofer / Courtesy Photo .  

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s Student Government president Charles “Chaz” Serna has stepped down from his position as of Jan. 29. An announcement was led hours after the resignation by Jessica Edmonds, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s Student Government vice president. 

Edmonds said there were a number of things which may have led to this decision. However, whether or not Serna’s resignation was an abrupt choice or a long time in  the making is yet to be known.

There’s a lot of frustration in general with processes and planning on the campus as a whole,” Edmonds said.

With Serna’s absence, Edmonds may replace his position. “It definitely gives me some feedback and roadmap of where I want to lead the team,” she said. Edmonds said the next steps for Student Government is to come together and redirect. 

This story will continue to develop, as the Pioneer gathers more information about the resignation.

Compassion for yourself and others

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrations

The Key to Reducing Anxiety and Depression

Compassion. The word itself can create feelings of warmth, relaxation and happiness. It’s like a soft hand-knit blanket or a steaming cup of yummy hot chocolate.

In a world where anxiety and depression are increasing among young adults and the general population, mental health specialists are looking for ways to help people and have been turning more toward teaching clients the concepts of compassion and self-compassion.

Compassion is defined as the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distressed together with a desire to alleviate it, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Self-compassion would be showing compassion to yourself.

Both compassion for others and self-compassion are proven to reduce anxiety and depression. Both are free and available any time. At its core, all you need to do is reach out to yourself and others with empathy and a helpful attitude. 

You might show self-compassion by taking 15 minutes twice a day to do something you enjoy, by keeping a gratitude journal, or by talking to yourself in positive ways, for example. You might show compassion to others by regularly writing to an elderly relative, by calling a friend who’s having a tough time and encouraging them, or by smiling at a struggling parent in a grocery store.

These simple acts of compassion reduce the fight-or-flight response that anxious or depressed people often feel. It is a natural survival instinct, but sometimes the response can go into overdrive and escalate. That’s where compassion and self-compassion can help de-escalate feelings such as fear, danger, being overwhelmed or being alone.

Pierce College Mental Health counselor Brenda Rogers, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, encourages both types of compassion. “Having compassion for others is just as important as having compassion for ourselves,” says Rogers. 

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrations

“Often I will see people who will come in for depression or anxiety and they will give a lot of grace to everyone else but not themselves. And that’s really hard. Compassion is a beautiful thing in this world. It’s how we help each other. It’s what underlies how we do good things in the world, whether that be donating your time or playing with a child. It’s giving back to the world.”

Students at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom are fortunate to have a culture of compassion. It exists like a fine piece of silk thread, woven through the various student support programs and activities on campus. The thread winds from the Food Bank truck to counselors available through the Welcome Center, to name a few.. 

In December they had massages, games, tutoring and more during finals week.  Their mantra?  ‘Friends don’t let friends go through finals week alone!’ Friends Leahana Dunahoe and Aminah Lambertis, students in the Social Service/Mental Health program, lean on each other regularly for compassion and support, as Lambertis explains.

“You never know what people are going through, even your friends or someone that you think looks fine and has it all together,” said Lambertis.  “When people show compassion to me, it makes me feel really good. It makes me feel, you know, that I can do it because sometimes when you’re at your lowest low and you feel like you can’t go any lower, all it takes is that one person.”

Dunahoe, mother of seven children ranging from infancy to a 22-year-old, reflects total joy as she recounts the many ways her children have helped her.

“When they say the things that they say to me, I can’t even tell you how much it really has kept me going.” she said.  “I cried on my way home and thought, ‘God, you just really have thought about me so meticulously. You’ve put these people in my life when I needed them the most.’

“And I’m the type of person – I’ll have a smile on my face and I’ll be dying inside and I’ll be going through the worst hell I could even think about going through, and I don’t tell people. I don’t talk to people about it. I don’t want my stuff bringing people down.”

Abri Wilson / Staff Writer

As Social Service/Mental Health students, Lambertis are familiar with these sorts of topics, and have some suggestions about self-compassion. “Words of affirmation can be very important,” said Lambertis. 

“Just wake up in the morning and say: ‘You are beautiful. You are going to do something good today.’ Maybe write something – put a sticky note on my mirror or a sticky note in my car that I have to see every day.”

If you have difficulty feeling compassion for yourself or others, know that compassion can be cultivated, according to Psychological Science. Athlete Bergland wrote a nice summary of a study that proved this. It included the use of ‘loving kindness meditation’ (also referred to as LKM) which is frequently used by counselors including St. Martin’s University (Lacey, WA) Assistant Professor Johanna Powell, Ph.D., LMFT.

Powell suggests that students look at what they’re saying to themselves – their inner dialogue. The goal is self-compassion rather than negative, judgmental self-talk. She suggests that students try reflecting on where they’re at, possibly by journaling,  (which helps people reprocess and analyze better). Next, students might want to fill up on things that are positive and affirming.

“Whether you look at YouTube or at Dr. Kristin Neff’s website, do some of the loving kindness meditations,” says Powell. “Once we’ve identified how we want to be with ourselves, we can have this course correction that’s helping invite us to engage ourselves differently.”

Remember, people care, you are not alone, reach out to others in kindness, and give yourself lots of loving affirmations.  You are a good person and you will get through this.

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

Serendipitous By Design

Veronica Lu / Staff Photographer
Dino-Slofer sharing his words of wisdom on how he got his business started thanks to his experience at Pierce.

Daniel Dino-Slofer, a Pierce College alumni and successful business owner, shares words of wisdom to share with equally aspiring students.

Many college students simply want to collect their degree, and find a comfortable job with reliable pay. But 32-year-old Dino-Slofer, who graduated from Pierce College in the Spring of 2019, went above and beyond the expectations set by the surrounding culture, and now runs his own successful company.

Being a student at Pierce College, Dino-Slofer never thought of himself as the entrepreneur type. “I never imagined I would get very far after graduating, in terms of being my own boss or doing something that I set my mind to,” he said. “I always thought that I would just get a job right out of college and work for someone else.”

Despite his concerns, Dino-Slofer went down a different path. Although much of what Dino-Slofer has accomplished was organized after he graduated, his journey through college was quite unique, if not also hindered by unfortunate technical difficulties. 

Dino-Slofer was on the verge of obtaining his degree in media design and production when his program got cancelled. After spending three years as a student at Clover Park Technical College  he was forced to either choose a different program at the school or complete his degree somewhere else. Dino-Slofer decided to finish his program at Pierce College. 

“I made a choice to come to Pierce,” he said. “And not only did I complete my degree, I decided to go on to get my certificate in social media marketing and project management.” Dino-Slofer attributes his success to this transfer to Pierce, saying that it was his experiences, the support and quality in the courses that he took which led him to start his own small business.

Dino-Slofer now runs Lucent Designs, a freelance photography and digital design company. The staff consists of Dino-Slofer himself, and two co-workers, Akari Nori and Andera Bautista. Dino-Slofer states that each team member is proficient in different categories of photography. “I specialize in landscape photography. Akari, she specializes in portraits, and Andrea she specializes in urban photography.”

While Dino-Slofer lives here in the Pacific Northwest, Nori and Bautista currently reside in Canada and Japan, respectively. This gives the company very different perspectives, and much variety in content between the three locations.

Dino-Slofer’s inspirational, outgoing personality has not gone unnoticed by his fellow students either. “(Daniel is) always in the background, taking pictures, and he’s usually doing it on campus. Chances are if there’s any event going on, he’s covering it.” said an friend of Daniels, who. 

Yet another friend, Ren, who wished his last name to be undisclosed, has known Daniel since he first started attending Pierce College. “He was very outgoing when I initially met him, and that still hasn’t changed.” said Ren.

Dino-Slofer’s innovation and success can speak to many young minds, and be an encouraging light when it seems that students dreams may never come to fruition. Dino-Slofer offers some words of encouragement to current and future students who wish to become entrepreneurs like himself. 

“Whatever your dream, whatever your goal is, go for it, even if you don’t entirely have a complete plan in your mind. Take the first steps, get things started. Seek out the information you need to start your own business, your own freelance or whatever thing you want to start, and as you get better at it, it’ll come naturally.”

Coronavirus – What You Need to Know

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A new virus has emerged in Wuhan, China and is spreading rapidly. The Coronavirus, a disease most often found in animals such as birds, has been traced to a public seafood market and has infected over 600 people and killed 20 since emerging late December, according to The New York Times.

One individual has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus in the Snohomish County of Washington State, making them the first case in the United States. However, they are currently in good condition as they’re being monitored by doctors.

While much isn’t known about the virus, doctors are currently researching everything they can about it. A cure however, has yet to be announced. 

The fatality rate is currently at 3 percent, with a wide range of mild to severe symptoms similar to pneumonia, such as coughing, fever, and sore throat. As of now, researchers are inferring that it spreads the same way as other respiratory viruses; through coughing and sneezing, according to The Washington Post.

The virus poses the highest risk to those in China, making the likelihood of it becoming severe in the States slim. Even in China, the disease seems to be most negatively affecting people who already had adverse health issues such as respiratory problems, or a weakened immune system, according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, China is taking cautionary measures to limit the spreading of this virus. According to The Verge, all Lunar New Year celebrations have been cancelled in Wuhan, Macau, Zhejiang, and Beijing. Health screening at major airports in the United States and China are being done. In China, all transportation has been cancelled in the city of Wuhan.

The World Health Organization decided that as of now this disease is not a public health emergency, after meeting on Jan. 22. However, the organization is consolidating again on Jan. 29 to reconsider their previous stance, as they hope to re-evaluate how contained the virus is.

Uber and Lyft prices skyrocket after mass shooting in Seattle

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With a suspect at large and multiple roads closed with no pending date, those hoping to travel to Seattle this weekend may need to reconsider

A mass shooting took place on Third Avenue and Pine Street, in Seattle, Washington, leaving 1 dead and 7 injured, including a 9-year-old boy. The shooting took place around 5 p.m. Wednesday on Jan. 22 after a dispute occurred outside a McDonald’s, according to the Seattle Times. Two suspects – Marquise Latrelle Tolber and William Ray Tolliver – have been identified and remain at large.

Seattle has issued numerous road closures across the city following the shooting, with no official time on when they’ll be uplifted. This has caused a surge in prices for Uber and Lyft users, with some prices reaching beyond $100 for a ten minute drive.

According to GeekWire, people leaving the area post-shooting began reporting the increased prices on Twitter. User Hannah Herber screenshotted her Lyft prices, which were $249.55 just to go north of Seattle. “You bet!” tweeted Hannah. “This is a ride that may be 20-30 minutes and is usually about $35. How is this okay?”

Jason Wiltshire, another user, tweeted his criticism of Uber following the shooting. “Good old Uber, always ready to profit out of a tragedy.”

Lyft has since released a statement to GeekWire, giving condolences for those affected by the shooting. “When we learned what happened, we implemented a cap on prime time pricing, which automatically enabled during periods of high demand,” said Lyft. 

“We plan to reimburse or credit users in the surrounding area who were affected by this increased pricing.” Uber and Lyft prices have slowly begun lowering since releasing a statement, prices currently ranging between $16 to $25 in King County, and $65 to $90 if traveling from Lakewood.

Transportation has been rerouted following the shooting, with SDOT Traffic tweeting an ongoing traffic warning on Jan. 22. “If you can, avoid downtown streets and/or delay your commute if you’re in the downtown district. Seeing high travel times due to multiple street closures in the area for investigations.”

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