Pierce Pioneer

In our want to social distance, has ordering delivery actually brought financial strain to restaurant businesses?

Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, third-party delivery apps such as Doordash, Grubhub, and Ubereats have seen double the amounts of customers and partnered businesses. Despite the large following these delivery apps have gathered, nobody seems to be on the winning side when it comes to ordering from them. To Irene Jiang of the Business Insider, restaurant owners may be losing money. 

“Diners are seeing their costs raised, either by delivery companies that need to pay delivery drivers or by the restaurant owners who raise prices to offset delivery fees,” Jiang stated. “And delivery drivers still make low, unpredictable wages frequently with no benefits.” 

Delivery services were popular pre-pandemic, but with the loss of dine-in options for many restaurants, delivery has become a way to substitute a loss of business and to help keep restaurants afloat. However, Jiang states that these local businesses are losing a large chunk of their money to pay for these delivery partnerships, approximately 30% in commissions. 

To offset these rates while supporting the community, look for restaurants that offer curbside pickup instead. Curbside pickup gives the restaurant all of the money directly and allows users and the restaurant staff to stay healthy and safe by social-distancing.

For those preferring delivery to takeout, Kerry Breen of Today would encourage checking to see if the restaurant delivers directly. “Third-party sites can charge restaurants a significant amount, meaning that only a small amount of what you’re spending goes to the restaurant you’re trying to support,” Breen stated. 

Delivery drivers are another piece of the food delivery puzzle, with drivers working on low salaries with little to no benefits during the COVID pandemic. Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times revealed that while drivers working for food delivery apps can earn as much as $22 per hour, including tips, many drivers say they’ve never earned anywhere close to that much.

Since many delivery drivers are relying on these apps for full time income while their places of employment are closed, it’s important to tip drivers as much as possible when placing an order. An even better way to help out your delivery drivers is to tip in cash, especially with apps like Doordash that use gratuities to provide their workers’ minimum wages. 

The blog  Maid Sailors backs this up by saying when tipping a Dasher in cash, DoorDash has no record of it. “Instead, they see that the driver has not made the minimum guaranteed amount for the order, so they kick in the amount required to meet that minimum,” Maid Sailors stated. 

“On top of that, the driver receives the cash tip that you provided. This increases the driver’s total pay for the delivery without costing you an extra penny. In addition, paying cash makes the Dasher a happier person as they can readily use the money and not have to wait until payday.”

By following some of the examples above – ordering from local deliveries, doing curbside pickup, and paying attention to the pay models of different delivery apps – customers can help our local businesses and delivery workers while not doubling the cost of a single meal.

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.

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.

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.

Toxins in Pierce College’s Backyard

Jesus Contreras / Staff Photographer
Waterfowl release nitrogen and phosphorus into the lake after eating, contributing to the algae. (Feeding the ducks is against the rules.

Waughop Lake and the toxic algae residing within

Down the hill from Pierce College Fort Steilacoom is Waughop Lake, a small body of water on the edge of the forest in Fort Steilacoom Park. The lake is surrounded by a trail where people can walk their dogs, ride a bike, or go for a quick jog. However, while the trail itself is peaceful, the lake says otherwise, as it’s home to numerous toxic algae blooms.

A neurotoxin in the lake causes a potentially lethal nerve disease in mammals; if ingested, it can cause paralysis. According to the Suburban Times, no humans have died from exposure to the toxic algae blooms, but several dogs have died after swimming in the lake.

In 2019, the City of Lakewood implemented a clean-up strategy that would remove phosphorus from the lake using Aluminum Sulfate (“alum”). However, Earth and Ocean Sciences professor, Michele LaFontaine, who did her Master’s Thesis on Lake Waughop, is against this plan. 

“It’s kind of like a Band-Aid solution,” LaFontaine said. “It fixes the condition right now, but the problem is that a lot of the chemicals are in the sediments in the lake. So what the alum treatment does is clean up the toxins that are in the water. So then the water’s clean, but then more of the toxins come out of the sediment. So you’re treating the symptoms, not the actual cause.”

Due to the potential threat of paralysis, people should avoid going into the lake. According to LaFontaine, the toxins do not affect the fish, turtles, or birds who live in and around the lake, such as the yellow perch or the largemouth bass. However, if a human or other mammal eats the fish, the toxin will affect them.

LaFontaine said a major contributor to the algae bloom was a farm previously owned by Western State Hospital. “They used to dump all kinds of garbage and debris into the lake,” LaFontaine said.

The pollution in the lake caused Waughop to go from 30 to 12 feet deep. It is also blocking a natural spring that used to feed water into the lake. Since the lake does not connect to any other body of water, the algae stay in the lake, continuing to grow.

Elysia Mbuja, Fort Steilacoom’s Biology Department Coordinator, said that the lake has an overload of nitrogen and phosphorus, which feeds the algae. “That is partly because of the waterfowl that are being fed, but mainly because there’s no inlet or outlet of the lake, so it’s dependent entirely on the water cycle,” Mbuja said. “So, when the water evaporates, the nutrients become concentrated, and that feeds the algae that grow in the lake.”

While Lakewood’s solution for the lake involves using alum, LaFontaine would rather the city go for a different method. “I think the only real solution is to dredge the sediments out of the lake and get that mucky stuff with all the excess nutrients and toxins out.” LaFontaine adds that while this is expensive, it would be a more long-term solution.

The area around Waughop Lake has since faced problems created by these toxins. Partly due to the pollution and algae altering the ecosystem, native species aren’t able to thrive. Meanwhile, the current environment is favoring invasive, non-native species, such as Scotch Broom and Himalayan Blackberries.

Pierce College, along with Fort Steilacoom Park, is working on the Garry Oak Restoration Project. The project works in the land behind Pierce College to remove the invasive species and replant native species like Garry Oaks. 

Garry Oaks, known as Oregon White Oaks, are the only oak tree native to the Pacific Northwest. It is an acorn-bearing tree with brownish-gray bark and dark green leaves. Garry Oak woodlands in Washington and British Columbia provide food and habitat for numerous species that are rare in these areas.

“We’re really fortunate to have the park and the lake right next to the college that we can study and be part of the cleanup efforts. Because it’s our neighborhood, and we need to take care of it,” says LaFontaine

For more information on the Garry Oak Restoration Project, or about the lake itself, Mbuja and LaFontaine can be contacted on Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s campus, or via email.

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.

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.

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.”

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