Some students may struggle to find time, right reasons to volunteer

Some students may struggle to find time, right reasons to volunteer

With busy class schedules and many working full or part-time jobs to support themselves, volunteering is often not at the top of students’ priority list because, in addition to prioritizing and planning, volunteering requires time.

Amanda Sevigny, a senior psychology major and vice captain of Westminster College’s Love Your Melon Campus Crew, said students might not volunteer because they are already budgeting time for the things that are important to them, such as school, family or work. To make it a priority, Sevigny suggested students find a way to donate their time to something they already enjoy doing.

“You can volunteer and simultaneously do things that you already like to do,” she said. “For those who may not have time or don’t find it pertinent to work it into your schedule, find opportunities that you are attracted to.”

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Some first-year students fear Westminster’s Four-Year Guarantee

Some first-year students fear Westminster’s Four-Year Guarantee

Westminster College’s Four-Year Guarantee is an academic plan that ensures students complete their degree in that time frame — or the college pays their tuition for the fifth year.  Though this may seem beneficial, it can be stressful for some incoming first-year students trying to decide whether to sign the contract.

The guarantee requires students to declare their major by the end of their second semester and to remain in good academic standing. It also requires them to complete a minimum of 31 credit hours per year and provides them with an academic plan telling them which classes they are required to take and when.

If the classes are unavailable and they aren’t able to graduate, that’s when Westminster steps in to pay for the fifth year.

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Some conservative students say they feel constrained in expressing their beliefs on campus

Some conservative students say they feel constrained in expressing their beliefs on campus

When Daniel Pacheco, a religious studies major at the University of Utah, started his first year at Westminster College in 2015, he said he didn’t feel he could openly express his Christian beliefs.

“Most college campuses are pretty liberal, so if you have any conservative views, you just have to be kind of be careful about what you say,” Pacheco said.

Westminster strives to promote inclusion through discussions on issues like power, privilege and social engagement, according to the college’s Diversity and Inclusion Center. But some conservative students on campus said they feel somewhat constrained in their beliefs.

“The feeling you get is just kind of like as if you are not allowed to talk about [conservative viewpoints],” Pacheco said. “But I don’t think there are any super negative repercussions to saying that you are conservative or republican.”

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Westminster College students build networks through internships

Westminster College students build networks through internships

Brianna Midgley, director of the Career Center, said she owes her current job to her previous internships. Through experience, networking and building relationships, Midgley said all students can benefit from internships.

“Westminster was looking for a business counselor and I had been working with students in business in San Diego State in my internship,” Midgley said. “I think that was a huge reason I was able to get that position here, because I had really relevant experience.”

A part-time job can carry some of the same benefits of an internship, but there are key differences, such as the structure and time frame, that may prove more rewarding to some students, Midgley said.

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Students and faculty upset by Department of Education’s changes to Title IX

Students and faculty upset by Department of Education’s changes to Title IX

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s recent decision to remove a key Title IX guideline put in place by the Obama administration has some at Westminster College worried the changes will negatively affect survivors of sexual assault.

The biggest change DeVos made on Sept. 22 to Title IX guidelines was removing a rule that required colleges to use the lowest standard of proof, “preponderance of the evidence,” when deciding if an accused student committed sexual assault. Colleges are now free to switch to a higher standard of proof known as “clear and convincing evidence,” according to The New York Times.

This means that schools are no longer required to take action against an accused student when more than 50 percent of the evidence supports the victim’s story. Colleges and universities can now change their policies to require more evidence to support the accusation before the school is required to take action against the accused student.

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Westminster president reflects on how college students have influenced his perspective of diversity

Westminster president reflects on how college students have influenced his perspective of diversity

ust months after Westminster College President Steve Morgan’s inauguration in 2015, students taped their mouths shut and brought x’ed out copies of The Forum to a faculty meeting to protest statements from administration about diversity.

Now, as Morgan prepares to retire from Westminster after 36 years, he said he now has a different perspective on the issues surrounding diversity — forcing him out of his comfort zone and teaching him a lot about himself.

“Over my experience here, my thinking has matured,” he said, noting the addition of his personal pronouns to his email signature as one such example of change. “It has been very affected by the community we have.”

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Four ways Westminster students and professors make sustainable lifestyle choices

Four ways Westminster students and professors make sustainable lifestyle choices

Amidst President Donald Trump’s rollback of environmental regulations and policies and some people’s belief that climate change is a hoax, many in the Westminster College community said they are still committed to leading sustainable lives.

Environmental sustainability can include a range of methods like veganism, eating local and green housing.

“[Sustainability] is easier than people think it is,” said Jules Harding, a senior and a vegan at Westminster. “I think a lot of times when there are global-scale issues people feel really helpless. It’s not just about driving a Prius. It’s about making changes that can almost make up for other people’s shortcomings.”

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Audition overload: theatre students spend one week trying out for entire year’s show lineup

Audition overload: theatre students spend one week trying out for entire year’s show lineup

While his peers in Westminster College’s theater program auditioned for the entire year’s lineup of shows during the first week of classes, Thomas Reilly was at a wedding.

That means the senior business major and theater minor will work behind the scenes during his last year of college instead of taking the stage.

“It gets a little crazy,” Reilly said. “Personally, it’s been a little tough for me because I have a different major. I’ve never had an audition schedule that didn’t conflict with my other classes.”

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Plans underway for expansion to Westminster's fine arts facility

Plans underway for expansion to Westminster's fine arts facility

The last time Westminster College expanded its performing arts building was in 2004. But since then, the college’s fine arts programs have grown rapidly — with the addition of a dance program, a music major, an a cappella choir, an opera program and a chamber music program.

Because of the addition of new programs, some groups have had to use off-campus facilities to practice.

But coming sometime in 2018, those capacity issues may become a relic of the past when construction is expected to begin on a new fine arts structure between the Jewett Center and Payne Gymnasium.

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Non-traditional student describes struggles and advantages of being older than his peers

Non-traditional student describes struggles and advantages of being older than his peers

After years spent growing up in the woods of Homer, Alaska, Josh Strutz decided it was time to go to school.

Strutz, now a 29-year-old senior nursing major at Westminster College, said he’s been mistaken for a teacher more than once. Though he had a late start entering college, he said he makes the most of it. Strutz said he initially felt out of place amongst so many younger students, but the avid mountain biker and snowboarder said he’s now met most of his friends through these activities.

“He finds his way around it,” said Logan Gill, a senior business management major and Strutz’s roommate. “He doesn’t even consider it when he finds other people who enjoy the same activities. That’s a much better connection than worrying about how old you are.”

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ASW Clubs receives emergency funding, expects more issues with growth

ASW Clubs receives emergency funding, expects more issues with growth

As the number of clubs at Westminster College continues to grow, the amount of funding allotted to them has declined. And though the money ASW.Clubs lost this year due to initial budget cuts has since been secured, funding might continue to be an issue as the number of clubs increase.

ASW.Senate granted ASW.Clubs $5,000 from the emergency fund at its meeting on Aug. 28.

“While I was talking to Senate last night, someone asked me, ‘What happens if we don’t approve this?’” said Elaine Sheehan, ASW.Clubs president. “And I kind of sat there for a moment and I was like, ‘This is going to sound really dramatic, but clubs will die.’”

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Westminster community unaware of significance behind campus monuments

Westminster community unaware of significance behind campus monuments

Amid national debate about the importance of monuments — most notably at the University of Virginia, where the planned removal of a statue of confederate General Robert E. Lee sparked a protest that left one person dead — such conversations are comparatively rare at Westminster College.

Clayton Keyes, an assistant professor of art at Westminster, said monuments and statues generally memorialize people of historical significance.

“We put people who are important on plinths and pedestals, memorializing them that way,” he said. “And so obviously we are doing the same thing with people that have either been impactful or important in the college’s growth or history.”

But at Westminster, many people — including Keyes — said they are unaware of the significance behind the major monuments on campus, such as the memorial benches of ‘Aunt Em’ and Mary Tuck.

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Students for Choice president encourages activism amidst current political climate

Students for Choice president encourages activism amidst current political climate

When President Donald Trump released his 2018 budget proposal in May — which put funding for entities that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood, on the chopping block — some saw it as a follow-through on his pro-life campaign promises.

But for members of Westminster College’s Students for Choice club, a college chapter of Planned Parenthood, it was another example of the need to rally harder for women’s rights and sexual health rights on campus and beyond.

“Obviously the current presidential administration is not super supportive of Planned Parenthood,” said Kate Tsourmas, a senior neuroscience major and the vice president of communications for the club, which works to educate students about healthy and safe sex.

For Ocean Candler, a junior public health major and the new president of Students for Choice, that national pushback means it’s an important time for individuals to become involved in activism related to reproductive health rights.

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Westminster students unsure how to handle average of $30,442 in student debt

Westminster students unsure how to handle average of $30,442 in student debt

The average student who graduated from Westminster College’s class of 2016 walked away not only with a diploma but also with $30,442 of student debt, according to a report published by LendEDU.  

Westminster has the highest student loan debt per borrower out of eight universities in the state, the report shows — but some students said they don't understand what that will look like when they graduate.

“It’s kind of intangible,” said Rosanise Odell, a senior environmental science major, who declined to disclose the amount of her student loan debt. “It’s more money than I’ve dealt with in my life, but at the same time I know that it’s lower than most people’s debt when they graduate.”

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Westminster's Honors College welcomes largest first-year class

Westminster's Honors College welcomes largest first-year class

Westminster College’s newly-founded Honors College welcomed the largest incoming first-year class in its 30-year history — but members of Honors said that doesn't mean it will lose its quality and sense of community.

When the nationally-recognized Honors program, which was founded in 1987, transitioned into a college this semester, it also grew 63 percent. The new 2017-2018 incoming first-year class has 67 students compared to last year’s cohort of 41.

“This year we had the largest incoming class yet, but the College is adapting well to that,” said Jadie Adams, a senior math major. “It still feels like a tight community.”

Stephanie Santarosa, the assistant director of Honors and fellowship advising, said members of the new College hope to expand programing and opportunities for students across campus.

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President Steve Morgan announces plan to retire after 37 years at Westminster

President Steve Morgan announces plan to retire after 37 years at Westminster

After 37 years at Westminster College and three years serving in its chief executive position, President Steve Morgan announced Thursday his plan to retire at the end of the 2017-2018 academic school year.

Morgan, Westminster’s 18th president, spent most of his nearly four decades at the college in a variety of administrative positions and stepped into his current role in July 2015.

“It has been a marvelous experience for me to have spent most of my professional life at Westminster,” he said in a video message sent to the student body via email. “This was not a position I sought after, but one I accepted out of love for the institution and this community.”

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Ben Pok code switches for success

Ben Pok code switches for success

Ben sat down with the Cambodian prince and crossed his legs. Each time the prince spoke, Ben responded back, sometimes with a question or counter statement. His friend, sitting in the next seat, leaned over and whispered, “Dude, what the hell is going on? This is not okay.”  

Though crossed legs and conversational responses are not considered inappropriate behavior in the United States, different cultures have different standards for conduct—presenting challenges for students who are part of multiple cultures. In this case, Westminster ASW President Ben Pok didn't switch back to the norms of his home culture while in Phnom Penh, Cambodia two summers ago—a phenomenon known as code switching.   

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Male-identified students failed to respond to Westminster's Campus Climate Survey

Male-identified students failed to respond to Westminster's Campus Climate Survey

When first asked, Brendan McKelvy said he couldn’t remember if he’d taken the Campus Climate Survey on sexual assault and misconduct.

He later said he hadn’t.

“I didn't ever make it a priority,” McKelvy said in an email. “I don't think males relate to these topics as much as females.”

Westminster College’s Campus Climate Survey, which was administered during the Spring 2017 semester, failed to garner enough responses from male-identifying students — an issue colleges and universities across the nation experience.

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“If it's not from Bucaramanga, it’s crap.”

“If it's not from Bucaramanga, it’s crap.”

It was inevitable that Deyanira Ariza-Velasco, an associate professor of Spanish at Westminster College, would be become an educated, powerful and successful woman.

She was her mother’s daughter after all, she said.

“She’s an extraordinary woman,” said Han Kim, a public health professor at Westminster. “I think many people kind of underestimate her or they think of her as a foreigner because, you know, she has an accent and they think she’s just this outspoken Latin woman.”

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ASW says budget is in line with its goals and priorities

ASW says budget is in line with its goals and priorities

With declining enrollment numbers at Westminster College, fewer students pay student fees — meaning ASW has to stretch the money it gets a little further each year.

ASW approved its annual budget of $231,640 at its last senate meeting in April — $8,000 less than its members had to work with for in the 2016-2017 school year and more than $17,000 less than in the 2015-2016 school year.

“I always tell [students], ‘This is going to be your first conflict,’” said Karnell Black, ASW’s adviser. “We can’t do everything.”

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