Pierce Pioneer

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes new Vice President

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes its new Vice President of Learning and Student Success, Dr. Ilder Andres Betancourt Lopez, following an email announcement from PCFS’s President Julie White on June 3. Lopez is expected to join our Pierce community come August 2, 2021.

“[Lopez] brings a wealth of expertise to our work to create an anti-racist institution, in order to fulfill our mission at Pierce College: to provide quality educational opportunities to a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world,” White stated.

White further shares in an email announcement a biography provided by Lopez himself, which gives more insight into our new vice president. From his biography, it states that Lopez grew up in an impoverished area in Los Angeles, being born from undocumented, Latino immigrants.

“When Ilder entered Stanford University, he felt blessed but he also wondered how to best maximize the privilege,” White stated. “A career in the community colleges became the obvious answer. It was and still is the nexus of opportunity for many of his family members and peers.

“Throughout his career, Ilder applies an equity and social justice lens to all his leadership decisions. Ilder believes it is not our students that need to change but the institution that can change to better address the issues faced by our students. He has devoted his career working at the community college to fulfill this philosophy.”

Lopez is currently the Dean of Science at Bellevue College, where he has developed and overseen their division’s efforts to provide learning opportunities during the COVID pandemic. Some of Lopez’s work also includes providing culturally responsive teaching and services training to all employees through a partnership with Bellevue College and the national Puente Project.

Pierce College looks forward to welcoming its new vice president with open arms. In due time, students and staff alike will be able to get to know Lopez more personally as he becomes a part of the Pierce community.

Fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks or social distance

The CDC announced on May 13 that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing both indoors and outdoors. Unvaccinated people are still encouraged by the CDC to wear masks in public places, as well as practice social distancing.

“You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, incl. local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC stated in a tweet.

As stated on the CDC’s official site, to qualify as being fully vaccinated you must have either received a second dose in a two-dose series such as Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving your second or single-dose vaccination.

Public places the CDC still would encourage people to wear masks include hospitals, prisons, doctor’s offices, public transportation and planes. A few more liberties have been granted to fully vaccinated individuals however, alongside being able to ditch the mask and the social distancing. 

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people no longer need to be tested while traveling within the United States. Fully vaccinated individuals who may have been exposed to someone carrying COVID-19 also no longer need to self quarantine afterwards or get tested.

“However, if you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms,” the CDC stated. 

A few unknowns are still being looked at by the CDC as they make their announcement Thursday afternoon. What the CDC is still investigating regarding the vaccines includes how well they fight against other COVID-19 variants, and the vaccines effectiveness for those with weakened immune systems. How long vaccines keep people safe from COVID-19 is also still being studied by the CDC.

Lauren Kirschman of the News Tribune has since stated that the Washington state Department of Health reports 1,090 new COVID-19 cases in Washington since Wednesday. Pierce County reports 162 new cases alongside four deaths. 

More information regarding new COVID-19 cases per Washington county, testing sites and more can be found on this infographic page provided by the Washington DOH.

Quarantining Making Us Apathetic to Crime?

Crime rates continue to spike in Pierce and King County, yet support for these issues seem minimal

I began my morning the usual way, which involved waking up early to take my dog out. I walked down my steps to take her to the courtyard, only to be stopped in my tracks upon a realization — my car was not where I parked it last night.

I questioned myself at first; I must have parked it somewhere else and clearly forgot. I grabbed my keys so I could press the lock button and hear my car alarm sound off, only when I did so the sound never came. I circled the parking lot for about five minutes, growing frantic as I searched for my car to no avail. It soon became clear that my car had been stolen.

Since beginning quarantining in late March of 2020, support for crimes have felt “off” in general. Understandably, with COVID running rampant it makes sense that many officials have fires needing to be put out. But it doesn’t change the fact that with everything going on, finding support, especially for crime related concerns, feels at its lowest lately.

“In October, the FBI reported that the homicide rate across the country between January and June rose 15% compared to the same time period in 2019. In Seattle, the increase has been even greater. In 2019, there were 28 homicides in Seattle. That number has nearly doubled, with 55 homicides reported this year.” ”

— Vanessa Misciagna, King5 News

When I contacted officials, the police issued out a missing car report and that was that; from there it became a waiting game. My apartment landlords, however, were less than helpful; they had no idea what happened, and because they don’t fund any form of security on their sites — such as security patrolling our ungated community at night or even just camera installation — there was nothing that could be done on their end. 

Not even a month later on Jan. 26 my boyfriend Carl, who lives with me, had his work van broken into and all his tools stolen on the same lot. We didn’t even bother notifying the police or our apartment that time; we kind of just knew nothing could be done about it.

One thing I began questioning the day my car was stolen was the overall safety of my neighborhood. Was Lakewood always this bad, or has COVID and quarantining simply made some people become desperate thieves? It turns out, there is in fact a trend between the two, according to data provided by neighborhoodscout.com.

Residents in Lakewood have a one and 22 chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crimes as of 2020, with crime rates ranging around 46 per one thousand residents. With this, Vanessa Misciagna from King5 News also reports a rise in homicides in Tacoma during 2020, with these statistics not being seen since the early 90’s.

It is possible that part of the reason for the spike in crime is reactionary to a number of misfortunes caused from quarantining. Jason Rantz from MyNorthwest speculates that crime rates have increased due to a lack of people outside due to restrictions.

“When you look at the precincts most impacted by the burglaries, they tend to have normally busy business districts,” Rantz stated. “But at a time where there is no one around, they’re easier targets for burglaries.”

While crime rates may have gone up due to the window-of-opportunity increasing itself for criminals, I feel as though there is more to why this is happening. Since COVID began, it was mass reported that many individuals were put out of work due to restrictions. 

According to PewSocialTrends.org and the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, around 25 million Americans have filed for unemployment, with this number only continuing to increase as time passes. “Overall, one-in-four adults have had trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started,” PST stated.

With this information in mind, it makes sense that more desperate behaviors and crimes of theft have begun to increase. Many people are most likely simply trying to make ends meet, and thus may have gone to stealing from their own communities as a way to survive.

Despite the hardships many of us are facing during these times however, I find theft amongst our community to be highly deplorable and inexcusable. Job loss or even death in one’s family does not give one the right to steal one’s property or harm another individual. I myself have been struggling with keeping up with rent and small bills that I’ve never had issues with paying before, but I have not used this struggle to further disadvantage others.

The area of Lakewood I lived in wasn’t immune to crime, but I never thought I’d be a victim to it. But what hurt most was how helpless and violated the incident left me feeling. In a way, it felt as though the theft were my own fault and absolutely unpreventable.

Days after my car was stolen, I felt as though the last slither of my motivation for that horrid year had finally given way. I felt I couldn’t focus on work and I ended up dropping my fall classes due to all the stress. While my insurance company was very supportive of the incident, I still couldn’t shake the fact that I’d been robbed and something that was once mine was probably gone for good.

I never ended up getting my car back; it was filed as a loss and to this day I am still car shopping. But what this incident has truly left for me, is the idea that justice and resources for crime-related concerns during the pandemic feel minimal. 

Calling 911 and contacting the police, while being something you should absolutely do if faced with a crime, won’t magically fix the situation. But if there’s anything the year 2020 has taught me, it’s that this year is truly unnatural and I am not the only one being affected negatively by it.

Some advice I had to tell myself that day is that things can happen that are out of my control, but regardless I have to continue doing what needs to be done in my life. It took me a few weeks to get out of my funk, but I’ve since been taking classes again and working normally, thanks to the support of my family. 

Finding that motivation isn’t a quick process by any means, but it’s something that just has to be done during this pandemic.

Gov. Inslee extends state COVID restrictions to Jan. 4

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

WA Notify – A New COVID Exposure Tool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is “fake news”?

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

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




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




Statewide Restrictions for Washington Are Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington State Governor

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

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


The candidates




Jay Inslee


Is for raising minimum wage

Supports paid leave

Is for placing bans on assault weapons

Is for abortion rights

Is for COVID-19 Social Distancing Restrictions




Loren Culp


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


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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Pierce College Facing Budget Cuts Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Ciara Williams , Staff  Illustration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Uber and Lyft prices skyrocket after mass shooting in Seattle

freestocks-photos / Pixabay / Courtesy Photo

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.”

Best Streaming Platforms for Students

Mohamed Hassan / Courtesy Photo

Weighing out the cost, pros, cons, bundles, and overall content of today’s most popular streaming platforms

Netflix / Photo Credit



Deals and Bundles

Netfilx does not offer deals or bundles

Available Content

Specific to Netflix only are their Netflix Original TV shows, animes and movies such as Stranger Things, Devilman Crybaby, and When They See Us, to name a few; many of which are award winning or nominated. With just about every genre under the sun to watch, Netflix is a good platform for users looking to binge shows in bulk, or find something new to get into.


At times the sections can be lacking in content, with some shows and movies having not been updated/replaced for a year now. Meanwhile, originals on Netflix risk being cancelled without warning frequently and regardless of high viewership, such as Daredevil or Sense8, making it difficult to grow attached to some of the newer originals. Odds are once you’re done with a show, you won’t be frequenting Netflix until the next update.

Hulu / Photo Credit


$5.99/mo with ads, $11.99/mo without ads

Deals and Bundles

Hulu allows users to add multiple premium channels to your monthly subscription, including HBO and Starz. Spotify and Sprint users can also receive Hulu for free via their providers. Getting Hulu through Spotify specifically provides students with a discount which would make both Spotify Premium, Hulu (with ads) and Showtime only $4.99/mo.

Available Content

Hulu provides users with shows that would otherwise only be available through cable, such as Empire and RuPaul’s Drag Race, making it a good alternative. Hulu also regularly updates episodes as they’re aired on TV. Hulu’s deal with Funimation provides users with one of the largest selections of anime as well, rivaling that of Crunchy Roll, another anime streaming platform.


Unless you’re an anime fan, or really like sitcoms or cable network shows, Hulu isn’t the best platform to have if you’re hungry for a variety of movies. The standard Hulu plan does not have as large a selection of movies to watch; and unless you’re willing to pay more, Hulu will make you sit through ads during your viewings. It is the only streaming platform on this list which makes you pay extra to remove the ads.

Disney / Photo Credit



Deals and Bundles

Current bundles with Disney+ include adding Hulu and ESPN for only $12.99/mo.

Available Content

Disney+ provides a number of throwbacks from Disney Channel, including their original shows, Pixar movies, and other older classics such as Home Alone, making it an especially great platform for parents. Marvel and Star Wars fans would also benefit from having a Disney+, as it contains everything that has ever been produced by these two genres. Disney+ has also began posting popular original series such as the Mandalorian, which is only available on there platform. And with most Phase 4 from Marvel planning to mainly be posted on Disney+, those hoping to stay on track with Marvel can only do so with this platform.


Odds are, if you’re not a parent with young kids, or a fan of Marvel and Star Wars, Disney+ offers little to nothing beyond throwbacks that can be binged in just a few viewings.

Disney+ also does not have anything available beyond a PG-13 rating, leaving audiences who might want more mature content to rely on other platforms.

HBO / Photo Credit



Deals and Bundles

Students can receive HBO Now for $9.99/mo by providing your college status via online.*

Available Content

HBO Now provides high quality movies and series, containing many popular series such as Chernobyl, Game of Thrones, Euphoria, and Big Little Lies; as well as throwbacks like the Sopranos, True Blood, and Band of Brothers. HBO also regularly adds new movies, both originals and from theaters.


HBO, being a premium channel, is not for everyone. A majority of HBO’s shows hold an M rating and can be extremely graphic, making it a platform to avoid if that’s not something you want to worry about. And while the quality of HBO’s shows are often praised and emmy nominated, HBO does not have as large a selection of TV shows as platforms like Hulu or Netflix.

Amazon / Photo Credit



Deals and Bundles

Students can get Amazon Prime for $6.49/mo, making it the cheapest student deal on the list.

Available Content

The biggest benefit that comes from Amazon Prime Video is that it comes with your Prime account, meaning you won’t have to pay extra to see what’s available with it. While Amazon is still adding to their collection of original shows and movies, the few that have been posted are considered both popular and of high quality, such as their new original series the Boys, or the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which recently became an emmy winner.


Amazon Prime Video has the smallest selection of shows on the list that are Amazon exclusives. And while the few shows that are on Amazon have received high praise, it’s safe to say that at the moment, you’re not missing anything that you can’t find somewhere else for free, as Amazon Prime Video charges for certain shows and movies, similar to YouTube.

*Since this was written, the offer for students is no longer available for purchase.

What Does it Mean to be Equal?

Photo Illustration by Ciara Williams

After Affirmative Action was rejected in Washington’s November elections, the state is left to face the future of diversity amongst college campuses

Affirmative Action was once an active initiative in Washington State. Created for the usage of colleges to improve opportunities for women and minorities; Affirmative Action was made with the intent of leveling the playing field for everyone in America. Washington State then banned this initiative in 1998 during a state vote.

Fast forward to today and Affirmative Action was reinstated in April of 2019 by our state legislatures. This caused an uproar within our community, as many found this to be an attack on everything this country stood for.

A petition was led by the Washington Asians for Equality, as an attempt to keep Affirmative Action banned in Washington State. “It would abolish the standard of equality for all, regardless of race, as required by I-200, and replace it with a system that uses different rules for people of different races,” states the petition.

Finally, the state settled with letting this decision be made by the people, as they included it in last November’s votes. Results came in, and Affirmative Action was rejected by Washington State citizens by a vote of 50.54% to 49.46%, reinstating the ban.

One of America’s most important values included making this country fair and equal for all who choose to live here. If freedom was America’s first goal in mind, then equality is arguably the second goal. But what does it mean to be equal?

Equality is the act of treating everyone equal to one another, regardless of upbringing, race, or systemic advantages. To me, this means also considering the disadvantages an individual in America may realistically face, and making it so despite these hardships, there’s still the possibility of having an equal chance in this country.

Others would argue that true equality would be to not consider these elements in a person, but instead place every individual on the same playing field as one and the same. I would say it is impossible to do this without first considering every individual’s disadvantages in life.

Photo Illustration by Ciara Williams

In an American system originally created to favor white men, this country has spent years trying to create a balance that is fair for every citizen here. However, it is difficult to make this balance when it still remains an issue to just be considered by those who run the system.

As a 22-year-old black woman, I understand the extra hindrances I must face in this country if I wish to get an education. I also understand the challenges I will face outside of college.

Affirmative Action was viewed as a way for minorities to be seen and considered in an educational environment, where diversity has been lacking for decades. Pierce College has been one of the most diverse colleges I’ve ever been to; a campus that has helped me best experience what it’s like to feel equal to the student next to me, regardless of who we are.

However, on my tour at Seattle’s University of Washington, I found that the only other black person I saw on campus that day was one other student on tour with me. Suddenly, I was made aware of my own race again, and how much more colleges could be doing for minorities with admissions alone.

Despite this, I’m not as confident believing Affirmative Action would actually solve any of these issues I face. I’m aware that the educational system is in need of improvements when it comes to admissions. But I have instead found that Affirmative Action may just be a double ended sword, rather than the shield it hoped to be.

Affirmative Action makes it so colleges have to take race into consideration. At first I saw no issue with this, until I started to think about it. This action would now make it where my race is the most defining part of my identity, and the real reason as to whether or not I’m accepted into a college. I can see immediately the problems that could come from this.

This Action actively puts races against one another, versus it currently just being an equal playing field. I would personally find it insulting if a college only accepted me because I am black, rather than because of my qualities. And I would hate to hear that someone else was denied just because of the race they were born with.

Diversity on college campuses is still an issue however. Minority groups still often make up only a third of the population of most college campuses. Affirmative Action may be counterproductive, but it’s intents were made out of wanting to increase educational opportunities for those who may otherwise not have them. The idea of Affirmative Action shouldn’t be scrapped, but instead improved upon in the near future.

A solution to this problem may not be clear yet, but we are on the right track.

Remembering Denise Yochum

Pierce College Historical Archives / Courtesy Photo

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom mourns the death of Denise Yochum, after a long battle with cancer. On Jan. 13, chancellor Michele Johnson announced the news of the former college president’s passing, which sparked commemorative responses from the community she impacted.

Yochum served as Pierce College’s president for 13 years before retiring last January; she remained an active member of the community even after, Johnson stated in an email. Yochum oversaw the expansion of many projects on Fort Steilacoom’s campus, including making the Science Dome interactive and renovating classrooms and student services spaces.

“Denise’s commitment to student success and her dedicated service to the college was exemplary,” Johnson stated in an email. “She has also been an active and beloved member in the local community, a state leader, and was a shining example of leadership that was grounded in integrity, skill, and courage.”

Not only was Yochum a leader, she was also a friend to many. “Denise’s quick wit has made us laugh, and we appreciated her fun and free flowing ways,” Johnson stated. “Denise’s thoughtful, caring, outgoing personality and sharp mind has endeared her to us now and long into the future.”

For Daniel Dino-Slofer, Pierce College’s media assistant, he admired Yochum’s ability to inspire others. One of his favorite memories of her was when he trained with Student Life in 2015.

“She shared her inspiring experiences with us on how she started her career path that ultimately led her to be the President of the Fort Steilacoom campus,” said Dino-Slofer. “Her story gave us student leaders a lot of encouragement on how far your efforts and goals can take you when you put your mind to it.”

Yochum will be remembered for her leadership and service for the Pierce College community. Yochum is survived by her husband Eric, sons Eric and Kyle, five grandchildren, and a large extended family, Johnson stated in an email. Yochum’s memorial will be held at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom on Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. in the Performance Lounge.

Pierce College Parking – Tips, Guidelines, and Warnings

With the school year in full swing, students are finally back on their daily grind. Which means that student parking has become a jungle of cars and impatient drivers. And if you’re anything like me, nothing turns a student off more than circling the parking lot for half an hour just to find a spot near the back of the campus. So here’s a few things to keep in mind if you’d like to avoid this in the future.

Lot A is the best lot

The advantages of parking in Lot A go without saying. Located west of the North Entrance - the first entrance way to the campus via Steilacoom Blvd. heading towards the park and Western State - Lot A gives you immediate access to both the Rainier, Olympic, and Sunrise buildings on campus, no matter how far you end up parking. Lot A has more available parking spaces than Lot B, which is typically where visitors and employees. Meanwhile Lot C is typically for Health Education HEF and the Dental Clinic, meaning that if you’re not a part of that, you’re going to spend a good 5-7 minutes just walking to where you need to be.

8 a.m. is the best time to park

This mainly applies to early birds or morning class students. The parking lot is typically barren between 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m., before students start pulling in around 8:30 a.m. So if you’re not a fan of having to park far from your class, 8 a.m. is the golden time to show up to park on campus.

Park during passing periods

If 8 a.m. seems a bit early, no need to stress about setting your alarms clocks just yet. Passing periods are typically the best times to park on campus if you’re a morning or afternoon student. This means showing up at the parking lot between, for example, 9:50 a.m. and 10:10 a.m. Students finishing up morning classes normally leave around this time, meaning that their spots will soon be open. This trend of showing up during the passing periods of average class times typically continues until around noon, where the spots become more sporadically available.

Non exit lanes have hidden gems

To continue with parking during passing periods, don’t forget to drive through lanes that don’t immediately take you to an exit. This would include lanes 1, 3, and 5. Lanes pop up and remain vacant in these parts during passing periods.This is most likely due to people wanting to find parking in lanes 2 and 4, as they’re easier to get into and don’t require you to turn your car around. However, if you don’t mind the extra minute it takes to do so, you’ll often find more available spots here in the morning than in the other lanes.

Drive extra slow through the parking lot

It’s not only safe to drive slowly through the parking lot due to unsuspecting students backing out before looking; but driving slow will also allow these students to come out and provide you with a new available spot to park in.

Evening class students start showing up around 5 p.m.

Lanes 3 and 4 of Lot A tend to begin filling up with evening students by around 5 p.m. These lanes give students direct access to a path leading straight down to Cascade, Olympic, and Sunrise.So if you’re an evening student who wants to park under a street light, or somewhere that won’t require you to walk to far at night to get to your car, then you’ll want to show up for parking between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Otherwise, you can always ask Campus Safety to escort you to your car.

Parking lots grow empty after 1 p.m.

If you’re not too picky about where you’re parking, and don’t have morning classes to attend, then the lots tend to get empty after 1 p.m. This applies especially to lots A and B, as by 1 p.m., most students have left for home.

Never park in an exit lane between 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Exit lanes, for Lot A, include lanes 1, 2, and 4. But especially 1 and 2. If you plan on leaving the campus between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., then you better be prepared to sit in your parking spot for awhile. Most students leave during this time, meaning that the line to leave often stretches across the entire parking lot. This will leave you at the courtesy of your fellow students either giving you space to get out of your parking spot, or enter the long line of cars exiting. Accidents in the parking lot also tend to be high during this time, so if you do plan on leaving between this time, it’s better to park in lanes 3 or 5, as there’s less traffic coming your way and it provides you with easier access to exit the campus.

Never park in between class periods

For morning class students especially, never show up to park in between class periods. This means showing up to parking around 9:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m., for example. Class is normally in session around these times, meaning that parking spaces will not be available anytime soon. Showing up around this time will just have you circling the parking lot until the next passing period.

Lane 5 is meant for tiny cars

In lane 5 of Lot A, the parking lanes are slim and often crooked. Meaning, if you’ve got a truck or a van, you’re going to want to avoid parking in this lane, or risk finding some scratches on your car after class. For wider set cars, lanes 2 and 3 have really good spacious spots, including a few lanes towards the back of lane 3 and 4.The most important part about parking on campus is finding the trends and doing what works for you. Some people don’t mind waiting for an available spot if it means it burns time, others would rather save the gas and park as soon as they arrive. Whatever your preference may be, hopefully a few of these tips and guidelines can help make parking a little less annoying.

Conflicts in Iran and its Impact on Pierce College Students

Jabin Botsford / Getty Images / Courtesy Photo
President Donald Trump departs after addressing the nation from the White House on Jan. 8, 2020.

An update on what has happened, what we know so far, and what students on campus need to know regarding the conflict

With the year 2020 having barely been around for a week, the world has already been faced with a plethora of concerning dilemmas; one of the most notable conflicts being between Iran and the U.S.

With the state of the matter currently up in the air., Mmany people, soldiers especially, may be wondering what might happen next or where things will go from here. Many questions remain to be answered, but there are some answers that can be given to those at Pierce College who may be concerned.

When did this all start?

Recent conflicts between the two countries began in late December 2019, according to a timeline created by npr.org. Kataib Hezbollah, a militia group with supposed ties to Iran, attacked a K1 military base near Kirkuk, an Iraqi city. This attack resulted in the death of an American contractor and injury of several other American and Iraqi personnel.

Days later, a mob of Iraqi protesters stormed a U.S. embassy in Baghdad, an attack President Trump and White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham confirmed to be organized by Iran. “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” the President tweeted on Dec. 31. “This is not a warning, it is a threat.”

On Jan. 2, President Trump conducted an airstrike on a Baghdad airport, killing Qassem Soleimani, a respected general in Iran. “General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more… but got caught!” tweeted the President.

This preemptive strike was met with an immediate attack by Iran late Tuesday night on Jan. 7, when Iran led an airstrike that hit two bases in Iraq holding U.S. troops and coalition forces. Soon after, Javad Zarif, Iranian diplomat and Foreign Minister, tweeted a response regarding the attack.

“Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter,  targeting base from which [a] cowardly armed attack against our citizens and senior officials were launched,” tweeted Zarif.

Are we going to war?

As of the time this article has been posted, the United States of America and Iran do not intend on going to war. Early Wednesday morning on Jan. 8, President Trump spoke via a livestream on whitehouse.gov stating that he does not wish to take things further. “The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” said the President.

Furthermore, following the airstrike on Tuesday, Zarif tweeted Iran’s stance on the matter. “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

While it is still too early to determine where either countries will go from here, it is safe to say that this conflict shouldn’t lead to any immediate attacks.

What would be a cause for war?

In the case of the U.S. and Iran conflicts, the President of both nations would have to formally declare war in order for this to happen. War crimes, such as the killing of civilians or otherwise unjust murder, and land invasion would also be cause for war by both parties. 

However, as stated above by both the President and Iranian diplomats, the possibility of these acts happening outright are not likely.


Can inactive duty soldiers be pulled back if tensions continue to rise?

Soldier’s who’ve recently gotten out might be concerned as to whether or not these conflicts would be enough to get called back for deployment. Fortunately for those not wishing to do so, the odds of this happening are very unlikely.

As referred by thebalancecareers.com, it is required for all enlisted to serve at least eight years of service, whether on active duty or as an inactive reserves, or Individual Ready Reserves. However, it would take extreme circumstances for those who ha’ve just gotten out to be called back in.

A state of emergency would have to had been issued by the President in order for the military to initiate an IRR recall. If this happened, inactive soldiers could be held for as long as needed. Without a state of emergency declared however, the President can only call less than 200,000 reserves and IRR members, which can only be held for up to 400 days max.

In the event that an active or inactive duty soldier is called for deployment while attending Pierce College, how will that affect things?

Pierce College will not penalize students with outside obligations such as a deployment. So long as students communicate with both their professors and registrations about their predicament, leaving will not do any harm to a student’s transcripts. Students will also be able to continue where they left off upon returning.

In some cases even, if a student is able to do online classes overseas, Pierce will make that available as well. But if this is not available, Pierce will replace the class on a student’s transcripts with an incomplete, I, which will have no effect on their overall GPA. 

Pierce may also allow the student to finish the class early with whatever grade they currently had at that moment.

Who can active duty soldiers and veterans talk to on campus regarding any questions?

Questions regarding education and financial concerns with anything VA related can have them answered via the Veterans Services Office on Fort Steilacoom’s campus located on the third floor of the Cascade Building.

Questions regarding transcripts, class withdrawal, or other related concerns can be brought to the Registration Desk located on the third floor of the Cascade Building to the right of the Welcome Desk.

VR Headsets to Potentially Be Used in Classrooms

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom has purchased a small set of VR headsets and is looking for student participants.

The way classrooms incorporate gaming into their courses has been subtle yet effective, so far. Games like Kahoot, an online trivia game, have students scrambling to play during class. Even simple games, such as an educational styled jeopardy on the whiteboard, manage to entice students to engage, both with technology and their classmates.

Video games have influenced the way classrooms are conducted since their creation. New devices are announced annually at conventions such as E3, and this rapidly growing market is beginning to push schools into improving their own technology. Schools are now finding ways to adapt to this ever growing climate.

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom is currently looking to test out virtual reality headsets that have the potential of being incorporated in classrooms such as for STEM and the design programs. Kyle Pierson, an educational technology specialist for the Center for Engagement and Learning, says that Pierce is still trying to formulate plans on how they can be incorporated into classrooms.

“We wanted to introduce new tools to be used in the classroom,” said Pierson. “VRs are an ever expanding and growing field that’s used in K-12, and it’s getting into higher education more frequently – more in the last couple years.”

The Employee Learning and Engagement department has purchased four headsets for the campus and are looking for students willing to test them. With vested interest and time for a trial run, this could bring a whole batch of headsets to certain classrooms in the future. This will be an ongoing experiment at Pierce, as ELAD continues to organize the logistics of it.

VR headsets used for learning is not an unfamiliar concept, but this idea is a fairly recent one for Pierce. While specific classes have not been chosen to use VR headsets, STEM and design programs seem to be the main target audience. Pierson explains how he believes VR can be applied to STEM courses in particular. 

“There’s a lot of stuff about human anatomy, chemistry, space, exploring the ocean, geology – The sciences are pretty easy to apply the headsets to because of all the apps that are already out there, which dive into all these different things that can be used in a classroom.”

People would probably initially not be as comfortable because people have this stigma that that’s not hands on experience. You’re not using things in the material world, you’re not playing with a model. Instead you’re playing with a digital model. So people might feel that you have the skills to it theoretically, but not practically.”

— Justin Hawes, a student at Pierce who’s currently pursuing psychiatry

STEM program students could see a benefit in learning with such technology. Justin Hawes, a student at Pierce who’s currently pursuing psychiatry, shared his thoughts on the usage of VR headsets for the program. “I think that it would be valuable to use VR with things that can be potentially dangerous,” he said.

Hawes explained how VR headsets could reduce in-class risk of injury or harm in places such as science labs, which typically require hands-on approaches. Rather than dealing with dangerous materials physically, it’s possible the risk can be removed by doing so digitally.

While STEM would be using the headsets in ways that allow them to simulate learning scenarios, classes such as design could use them for creating. Instructors such as Leigh Rooney, assistant professor for digital design, have been attempting to garner interest from students.

“I’m thinking of how you can create virtual reality environments,” said Rooney. “There’s also some virtual reality applications or software that you can paint in 3D in VR, which I think is a really cool way to think about design.”

Earlier in October, Rooney sent emails to her students, creating a virtual sign up sheet for the trial run. Rooney believes that the usage of VR headsets can be an exciting and brand new learning tool that Pierce does for future classrooms.

Instructors on campus are seeing the benefit of using headsets for in class learning. But as ELAD continues to work out more of the details on the matter, certain concerns have been mentioned by students, one of them being the cost.

VR headsets within the gaming community may be seen as a gimmick; a fad that has slowly begun losing its steam over the years. And with the cost of headsets ranging between $100 – $400 on average, Pierce could be spending thousands to supply a single classroom of 30 at the risk of it being wasted.

Once a class is supplied, maintaining student’s interest in using the headsets would be the biggest challenge. VR has been around for years and arguably peaked between the years of 2012 to 2016. Nathan Jefferey, a business student at Pierce, wonders himself how exactly Pierce plans to get students to engage with such devices. 

“I don’t think it’ll be like a necessity,” he said. “A lot of students, especially older ones, I don’t think are really going to care for VR headsets.

“Some people already feel like they’re kind of goofy to wear. Even gamers are kind of like, ‘I don’t want to put that thing on’, so I can only imagine someone who’s 30, 40, or 50 years old being asked to wear a VR set.”

Cost and interest aside, other concerns such as hygiene have also been mentioned. “I’m worried about hygienics in general,” said Hawes. “I think that if people are constantly swapping them, how are they going to be handled in that regard?”

Hawes also mentions that others on campus might also be skeptical of the changes that could come from switching to VR. “People are very apprehensive to change,” he said. “I think that because it’s a little different I might be a little wary of getting into it.

“People would probably initially not be as comfortable because people have this stigma that that’s not hands on experience. You’re not using things in the material world, you’re not playing with a model. Instead you’re playing with a digital model. So people might feel that you have the skills to it theoretically, but not practically.”

Despite his fears however, Hawes feels that a problem such as student’s adjustment could easily be mended with the right methods. If ELAD could find a way to have both digital and physical teaching methods conjoin and compliment one another, the usage of VR headsets could be invaluable.

Other concerns such as hygiene, also prove to be less of an issue than feared if handled properly. Most classes at Pierce range around 50 minutes, with many STEM and Design coming close to two hours. On average, students might spend half an hour using the headsets, allowing time for them to be cleaned and properly handled like any other lab equipment.

While these concerns exist, the interest it creates is the main reason that the headsets are going through a trial run on campus. The idea is still young, but discussing both the potential costs and benefits is exactly what ELAD wants.

Pierson spoke on the importance of gathering awareness for the project, as more students interested means for better testing results. Students interested in signing up or learning more about it can do so with eLearning located in CAS 322, as they’re still accepting participants.

Affirmative Action Rejected

R. Wilfing / Courtesy Photo / Pixabay

Affirmative Action to be denied in Washington State’s November 2019 Elections, reinstating Initiative 200.

During the Washington State elections on November 5, citizens voted against Referendum 88 and the restoration of Affirmative Action – a policy favoring individuals belonging to previously discriminated groups within America. This practice would have allowed for colleges, universities, and businesses to increase opportunities for minority groups by giving them further support.

Previously in April 2019, Washington State legislatures passed Initiative 1000, repealing the ban on Affirmative Action which had been placed 20 years ago. This ban was originally passed by Washington voters in 1998 via I-200; however, recent elections have since reinstated this ban by the people. With its rejection, this leaves the state facing a number of concerns from both sides of the vote.

For Washington State government officials such as April Sims, co-chair of Washington Fairness, Affirmative Action being rejected is disheartening. As reported by NBC News, Sims states how Affirmative Action would have been a great way to level the playing fields for everyone in Washington State. Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington State, also saw Referendum 88 as a way to address what he referred to as systemic inequalities.

Despite this, not everyone in Washington saw Affirmative Action as a solution to inequality. Shortly after the passing of I-1000, a petition was led by Washington Asians for Equality. This petition was created as an attempt to keep Affirmative Action banned in Washington State by giving the vote back to the people.

“I-1000 can be summed up in one sentence: It would abolish the standard of equality for all, regardless of race, as required by I-200, and replace it with a system that uses different rules for people of different races,” states the petition. As such, petitioners felt that this vote should be in the hands of the people.

Those sharing this sentiment see Affirmative Action and Referendum 88 as an attack on equality in Washington State. However, while some feel as though I-200 allows for true equality, certain statistics state otherwise.

According to the Stranger, many legislatures within Washington viewed I-200 as a step backwards for the state when it comes to providing underrepresented groups positions in business. With both women and minorities having less than 4% of the state’s contracting dollars post I-200, this has left Washington state below its established goals.

Javier Valdez, a Seattle representative, believes that I-1000 would have been a fix to I-200. “I-200 was sold 20 years ago as something that would be fair to everyone, and that’s clearly not the case,” he said.

While both sides hold claims still in search of a proper solution, it’s not difficult to see what demographics tend to dominate college campuses, Pierce College included. But whether or not something like Affirmative Action could help with this, or if this is even a problem that needs help, is a question for another time.

New changes to the Campus Safety Office

The Campus Safety Office went through remodeling over the summer with the hopes of improving student experiences

I need help.

It’s not unusual for college students to say this on campus. Whether that help be navigating the campus, or needing personal assistance and not knowing where to get it. It’s a normal part of being a college student, and it is important to know where students can receive that support.

Pierce College’s Campus Safety Office, located on the third floor of the Cascade Building, is here to assist both new and returning students with any burning questions. Jeffrey Schneider, the Director of Campus Safety, wants all students to know that they can come to them for anything.

Ciara Williams / Staff Photos

“We’re kind of the one stop shop,” said Schneider. “If you don’t know the answer to something or don’t know where something is or who to talk to, you can come to us. We can either answer your question or put you in contact with someone who can.”

Over the summer, the Campus Safety Office went through remodeling, with the hopes of providing students a better environment. Pierce has added a glass window in the office which now closes off the area from the public. This provides students and staff privacy to air out any and all problems.

Originally, the office was a tall counter where students went with their questions. Schneider states that the old set up did not comply with American Disability Act guidelines, meaning the state would have required the remodeling. However, Schneider felt that making a few extra changes to better the student’s experiences would be a benefit for the future.

“In the past victims who needed a space to talk felt not as comfortable to do so, due to the original set up,” said Schneider. By providing privacy, the staff hopes students will feel more comfortable to come to them for help.

Campus security has also done work over the summer, including teaming with local law enforcement to better prepare in the event of an incident. On Sept. 5, Campus Safety held an all-day training in the Rainier Building with the Lakewood Police Department. Schneider states that this allows officers to better familiarize themselves with the campus

The Campus Safety Office has made itself an available source for a plethora of situations. “We’ve done everything,” said Schneider. “From call ambulances, to providing first aid, and for the case of running start students, connecting students and family members.”

On a typical day, the usual questions students bring to the office involves finding where their classroom is located or how to receive a parking permit. Though at times, students will come to the office with more serious concerns.

There has been no particular safety issues on either campus and that is outstanding. There are very few crimes that go on here, and that’s the way we like it.”

— Jeff Schneider

Schneider mentions how there are times where students are experiencing dating violence or may even be the victim of other serious crimes. Schneider makes it clear that students can bring non-school related concerns to them if needed; the office can refer students or staff to counseling or law enforcement. Ultimately, it starts with Campus Safety.

The office does what it can to alleviate any concerns students might have while on campus. Students uncomfortable with walking to their car at night after class can go to Campus Safety and receive an escort. 

If a student’s car is broken into, or a stranger or classmate is making them uncomfortable - Campus Safety is here to help with these concerns. Students seeking help only need to stay aware and ask when needed; all it takes is that first initial step from students. .

Schneider finds it important that students are aware that they are responsible for their own security as well. Campus Safety is here to serve students and will always be available, but it is up to the students to take that extra step in keeping themselves safe. “If you hear something, you have to react. Make sure that you are visible,” said Schneider, whether it be about a problem, vehicle, or a student in general.

With new students preparing to attend Pierce College this fall, many may be curious as to how Pierce intends to assure them that they are safe here. America as of recent has been going through hard times regarding gun violence and public safety, and Schneider wishes to say this to any students in need of assurance. 

“There has been no particular safety issues on either campus and that is outstanding. There are very few crimes that go on here, and that’s the way we like it. We have built in systems, and more safety mechanisms; so should an unfortunate event here happen, more people will be safe.”

What Campus safety can do for you

Campus Safety is located in CAS311

You can receive a parking pass from the Campus Safety Office

You can receive a security escort to your car, or even to the bus stop

Campus Safety can provide First Aid, CPR, and other medical assistance

Campus Safety can refer you to counseling

Campus Safety can help you locate a class or room

Any thefts or crimes on campus can be reported to them

Campus Safety can assist students going through dating/relationship violence

Campus Safety can notify students of any serious incidents happening on campus

Campus Safety regularly holds training to better improve security during any incident

Incidents on the Fort Steilacoom campus can be reported 

via their office number: (253) 964 - 6751

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