Students’ safety concerns raised on campus

By Banning Ramirez
Flapjack Chronicle

With the growing recent events taking place at schools globally – ranging from the 20 elementary students that were shot at Sandy Hook to the gruesome shooting at Virginia Tech that left 37 massacred college adults back in 2007 – students across college campuses are beginning to raise a concern of their own and are beginning to ask questions: Am I safe on my own campus? What do I do when I need help?

Late last month, College of the Redwood’s Eureka campus was immediately closed and placed on lockdown after rumors of a bomb threat surfaced the internet via social media sites. Students who resided on campus were evacuated and law enforcement teams searched the campus’ 53 buildings. There have been no suspects taken into custody.

Humboldt State University Police Department’s Officer Sergeant Packer has been working for HSU for the past nine years and says that UPD’s mission in safety is both a physical and conceptual concept. Students need to physically stay safe at all times and also believe and trust in themselves that they are safe on Humboldt ground.

“If students don’t perceive the fact that they’re safe, then the students can’t excel at their education,” says Packer. “The university’s goal is to educate students, so our mission is to keep you safe. If you have that feeling in the back of your mind that you don’t feel safe, you’ll be missing out on that educational component.”

HSU students have not experienced anything close to College of the Redwood’s situation, but Sergeant Packer also does not deny that these kinds of things happen from time to time. He says that UPD often runs into more quick and frequent situations.

“We had a day when we had a broken ankle and a person suffering from dizziness and had a lapse in his ability to stay conscience, which was probably the most recent thing that happened [on campus],” Packer says.

Terri Alexander, a 19-year-old cellular molecular biology student at HSU, broke her fibula while skating to her on campus job and was left a little disappointed with student’s reactions in regards to her safety.

“I felt like the staff knew how to handle the situation by using just their skills,” says Alexander. “The nurses, my boss, and UPD knew what to do to help me transition from the position I was in to the hospital. My boss and everyone around me had this immediate reaction. It should be basic human instinct to do so.”

Alexander definitely felt safe in the hands of the staff and faculty on campus, but felt a little hesitant in the hands of students who merely just sat around and watched.

“I feel like there needs to be something on campus that helps gear students to help people that need medical attention,” says Alexander. “Not only should the staff need to know what to do, but students should learn how to help someone and get involved.”

Communications major Katie Lowe, 19, feels the same.

“It’s nice that the campus offers a lot of information on the prevention of accidents and emergencies, but stuff still can happen,” Lowe agrees. “It would be nice to know how to respond to those situations.”

Quickly responsive and reliable is the label that UPD prides itself for, but respectively shares close with another on campus resource that has a slightly different job – and gets the campus community involved as well.

The Campus Emergency Response Team on HSU’s campus is a highly trained group of 30 student and staff members that help to assist on-campus emergencies ranging from controlling small fires to assisting trapped persons after large earthquakes.

Dorie Lanni, a 37-year-old graduating political science senior, acts as CERT’s assistant emergency management coordinator.

“[CERT] pretty much does anything needed of us in an emergency situation,” Lanni explains. “It could be an earthquake or a campus evacuation, so we get the same training that professionals get.”

Lanni stands strong and takes CERT’s mission on preparation to heart – even to the point where she has a box in her car where she keeps necessary items, just in case she has to be on campus for two days.

“Safety is being as prepared as possible for events you can anticipate and events that you can’t,” says Lanni. “Whenever something happens locally, CERT is ready to go.”

Students who are interested in joining the campus’ CERT team can attend a special orientation over the summer for more information regarding the program, before the 2013 HSU CERT Academy begins in late July. The CERT team will be hosting it on campus in the Emergency Operations Center, SBS 179 on Friday, July 5 from 10 to 11 a.m. and Friday, July 12 from 4 to 5 p.m. More information can be found at cert.humboldt.edu.

“We really need to look out for each other and care for each other. It’s a great program and it’s all volunteer based,” says Lanni. “It’s all people who care about their community and want this campus to be a safe place. There have been a lot of recent events going on, so this is really good training for people to have.”

With CERT and UPD ready to respond to anything, there are many immediate services that are readily available to all students in case of an emergency on campus that can save you or someone’s life. The most commonly known safety response resource on campus is rather large, sometimes blue and looks like a pole.

The Blue Light System on HSU’s campus serves as a multipurpose safety tool for students on campus who are quickly in need of assistance.

“[The Blue Light System] has an emergency button on there,” says Packer. “You hit it and it automatically calls 911 and immediately contacts our dispatchers.”

Packer even says students use the assistance pole late at night to contact UPD officials in case they need someone to simply walk them to their car in the parking lot on late nights.

“On our newer assistance poles, you can punch in 5555 and call our emergency dispatchers on a non-emergency system,” Packer says. “If you’re on campus, don’t feel safe and it’s late at night, an officer will come and walk you to your location at night.”

With students heading into summer, it’s safe to say that HSU’s campus has been kept safe and in good hands this past academic year thanks to the hard work of our officers and CERT members that are ready to risk their lives for another.

“We have around 8,000 students on this campus, so that’s about 16,000 eyes,” Packer says. “If you see something that doesn’t look right, just let us know.”

Bringing academia online

By Cameron Cable
Flapjack Chronicle

Like most things in common society today, education is moving more and more into the online arena. It can be seen in every facet of the education system, from high schools which provide laptops to students to entire college level courses being offered through online mediums. At Humboldt State University, every course offered each semester has a web-page tailored specifically to that class.

There are significant benefits provided by moving part or all of courses online, professors and students agree. Instructors can upload study guides, syllabi, helpful links and online quizzes and exams to online, making them all instantly accessible to any student in the class with an internet connection. Less paper waste is generated when no exams need to be printed out. Also, online tests themselves don’t waste any class time. Instructors often lose an entire day of class to exams, which could have been used teaching the next lesson. Another beneficial aspect of taking tests online is the instant feedback allowing students to know how they did on a test seconds after it’s submission.

However, there are also drawbacks to moving online.

David Stacey, an English professor, has worked with HSU extensively in developing the online system to support academia on a large scale. While he supports the use of resources online, he also described the movement as something of a “bandwagon” that schools have hopped on but are not sure of where it’s going. Because it’s such a new medium and that school systems are still relative newcomers to the online scene, Stacey believes the school system has a long way to go before they work out the kinks.

“Right now, if the CSU system moves online they’re going to do it wrong,” Stacey said.

Creating an online system will always be an expensive proposition, and at the end of it all nobody knows if the system will be effective. The biggest problem Stacey sees involves fears that the schools priorities might reflect those of the greater student body.

“The management sees little cash signs before their eyes when they consider one teacher to an infinite amount of students,” Stacey said.

For many students, moving testing online poses as many problems as it solves. One problem is that many students can’t afford a computer or Internet connection. While the school does provide computers in the library, this still poses an extra hassle for lower-income students. While physical paper tests would be in the classroom at the time of the class, students without computers have to add another errand in what could be an already busy day to not only get to the library but to also allow time in the event that the computer lab is full. This only gets worse towards the end of a semester, as computer labs across the campus begin to overcrowd.

Another drawback for students using online testing is its instability. Harold Jones, a 24-year-old chemistry major, had a wildly different experience with online testing. During online math quizzes, he would frequently get questions wrong that technically he had completed correctly, only to put the answer online in an incorrect format. This led the school’s online system to mistakenly give him a poorer grade than he deserved. Though he eventually got those grades sorted out, he related that it was “a nightmare.”

Errors can occur in numerous locations between the schools Internet servers and a student’s computer at home. HSU’s own online system, Moodle, has had a multitude of errors which have plagued both the students and the instructors using it. For example, a student taking an online multiple choice test is awarded a zero after none of his or her answers are saved. Another example would be a student writing a multi-paragraph response to a question. This student ends up losing the entire response because he or she took too long and the Internet connection timed out. The difficulty highlighted in these two examples is that it’s unclear how many events are a system-related error and how many are operator-error. This is complicated even further by the fact that Moodle is open source: meaning it’s free to use and modify, but that said modifications are to be done largely at your own risk.

The biggest flaw in online testing is its most controversial aspect: theoretically, students take these tests online at home. Because of this, there is literally no incentive towards academic honesty.

When asked if he prefers physical or online testing, Ethan Moon, a 22-year-old English major responded that he prefers in class testing because it “actually requires preparation and study” and that online students can just Google the answers.

“Fuck that Google swag, bruh,” Moon elaborated.

Joe Moore, a 21-year-old wildlife major, had a diametrically different response. Having never taken an online test, he speculated that he would much prefer it as he could simply Google the answers.

Despite the idea that the movement of academia online is inevitable, the road itself will be a bumpy one.

The bright and gloomy affects of HSU’s weather

By Andrew Kwon
Flapjack Chronicle

From rain to shine HSU’s weather has fluctuated between down pours of rain to golden rays. But how does this change in weather affect the moods and academic performances of the students at HSU? Students have shared their experience with the drastic changes of weather of HSU and how it may indeed affect how they go on about in class and on campus.

Kyle Brown, a 18- year-old undeclared freshman at HSU, had a few words to share on how the weather may affect his general mood and willingness to learn.

“Sunny days I really do not want to go to class you know?” Brown said while talking about the bright and sunny days during the last couple weeks.

“I guess I’m a lot more happier when the sun is out shining, makes me want to do things outside,” he said.

Others however are more greatly affected by the weather than one would assume.

Rachel Wierick, a 20-year old English major, shared her opinion on how the weather affected her throughout the school year.

“I’d say it hasn’t been great when it’s really raining,” Wierick said. “I’ve already dealt with depression just on my own so I think the whole seasonal depression thing has really increased for me, especially on these rainy days. Though I actually feel like when it does rain my academics kind of improve strangely as I pretty much don’t want to go outside. I just end up studying in my room.”

Sunlight and rain definitely impact students throughout the HSU campus. The rain for example could prove problematic from students to actually make it to class.

“I’m definitely more positive when it’s sunny,” said Nigel Gunn, a 23-year-old, music major at HSU. “There have been times when I couldn’t go into the bus and ultimately missed class that day, just cause I didn’t have a proper guitar case and I really didn’t want my guitar to get wet from the rain.”

Like many students of HSU, the weather plays a part on the general mood and academic of students throughout campus. While others could love the sun and hate the rain, their are many others who might like the complete opposite weather of another individual.

But not only are the moods affected, but as mentioned above by students. Academics could also be influenced by the weather.

HSU counselor Brian McEwain, who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, said that different students respond in different ways to their environments.

“It all varies on the individual,” McEwain said. “Some people can be more sensitive to the weather than another individual.”

McEwain also goes on to explain how the weather may affect a student’s academic performance.

“If an individual is depressed based on the weather that it maybe on that day, he/ she may find it incredibly hard or even stressful to concentrate on school work,” McEwain said. “It could also be incredibly hard for them to even get out of bed, or even be motivated to do the things they may need to do. So that would definitely be an interference with someone body who’s in class.”

Now it’s not strange for some individuals to get a bit more gloomy if it were constantly dark and pouring. But as finals week approaches, one needs to keep there head out of the dark clouds and into the basking rays of light.

Heating up in Humboldt

By Alex Zepeda
Flapjack Chronicle

This spring, local Humboldt County residents left their homes and experienced a strange phenomenon in the sky. The usual dreary gray fog and gloom was replaced with blue skies and a rare, unobstructed glimpse of the amazingly bright yellow ball of light known as the sun.

Students and citizens alike celebrated by putting away their Carhartts and rain gear in favor of tank tops and shorts. With this sudden, unexpected weather change, the Humboldt State University campus was abuzz with students soaking up the sun on every conceivable lawn.

Because the heat wave was unexpected, many students changed their daily routines to embrace this rare opportunity.

Raymond Williams, a 19-year-old biology major, said that he tried to make the most of the wild weather. Williams says he was outside as much as possible.

“Every day that it was sunny, I tried to do something different,” Williams said. “I went to the beach, Mad River, I hiked around the community forest, threw a barbecue, drank beer and smoked using a magnifying glass! I also got pretty sunburned and missed a Moodle assignment but it was totally worth it.”

The heat wave was caused by a patch high-altitude northeast winds that blew warmer air towards the coast, creating abnormally high temperatures up and down the west coast, from the pacific northwest to the Bay Area.

Gregory Lerma, a 21-year-old business major, however, said the weather didn’t alter his routine much.

“I tanned throughout campus to show off my incredulous body,” Lerma said. “But other than that, it [the weather] didn’t change my overall daily activities.”

For Lerma, school is a full-time job.

“I try not to procrastinate, so the sunshine didn’t affect my study habits,” he said. “In fact, I moved up to Humboldt to enjoy the clouds and cold weather, and to escape the heat of my home town.”

Sarah Kolar, a 23 year-old math major, is also a tutor who works in the Math Lab. She noticed a definite difference in students’ attendance and work ethic when the weather changed.

“When the weather is nice, I noticed that students are more motivated to finish up work to go outside,” said Kolar. “Even though there was a lot of homework due, it seemed that students were waiting until later in the day to come in and work on their homework, instead of coming in earlier in the afternoon, like they normally do. I know on a personal level I still did my homework, but I made sure to pick a location where I could feel the sun and be in a warm place.”

Anthony Reyes, a 20-year-old chemistry major, said that the recent weather has helped motivate him to get in better shape.

“I woke up the other day and I saw the sun streaming through my windows,” Reyes said. “I decided that I was going to bike to school instead of ride the bus like I usually do. I rode my bike to school all week last week and it was great. I can’t believe I never tried that before. After class, I bike to the marsh or around the plaza then go to my friends house or something before going home to study.”

No more heat waves were expected as the semester came to a close.

The Emerald Triangle Seminar

By Angela Edmunds
Flapjack Chronicle

Growers, consumers and retailers of the cannabis plant face major problems when it comes to education, communication, environment protection and legality.  All of these aspects of the cultivation of marijuana concern and affect the others. The Emerald Triangle class at Humboldt State University attempts to address and discuss all of these issues and more.

Joshua Meisel, a co-director of HIMMR and a professor of sociology at HSU, supervised the event and spoke on behalf of the program.

“There are so many different lenses through which we can study this issue and, marijuana, very much, becomes a looking glass to broader issues of concern in our community,” Meisel said.

HSU offers Sociology 280: The Emerald Triangle as a class during the spring semester. The program is designed and provided by Humboldt State’s unique Institute for Marijuana Research. This year the class took place this year on April 13 and 14. The two class periods were composed of many presenters speaking on behalf of their jobs, practices and opinions about the uses and impacts of marijuana on the community within the Emerald Triangle. Experts in law enforcement, cultivation, environment, wildlife, policy and prohibition were all present.

“I think it’s really important for students to understand the nuanced ways in which we can understand the significance of marijuana in this region,” said Meisel.

The Emerald Triangle is considered the marijuana-producing trifecta of our region, which consists of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties. The community in this area is comprised largely of people connected to the cultivation, production, sale, and transport of the what many consider to be a medicinally and economically helpful plant cannabis. Student and teachers at Humboldt State University would agree that comments have been made on multiple occasions about the practices and stigmas surrounding this area about the cultivation of cannabis.

Diana Recendez, 18-year-old business major,  said she did not attend the seminar but thinks it may be counterproductive for the image of HSU. 

“Sure, pot is everywhere around here,” said Recendez. “People always mention [marijuana] when I say I attend Humboldt State. I don’t think this seminar is the best program to enhance our school’s image, but I do think that people in this area understand its importance.”

Student of many majors and ages attended the seminar with lots of questions, many having to do with legalization and the future of the industry.

“It’s nice to see that most people involved are more worried about how to move forward and make it work, than how to shut it down, because [marijuana] is prevalent,” said Kathryn Boynton, 23-year-old psychology major. “I think it’s essential to be aware of what’s going on  [when] living here. It’s important.” 

The class addressed many issues that are not usually considered when thinking about the cultivation of cannabis. Presenting the issue on a larger and broader scale allowed students to see the more serious aspects of the industry.

Large-scale, illegal grows, sometimes on public land, can have extremely detrimental impacts on surrounding habitat and environment. On the other hand, large organic grows on private land, do not have nearly the same impacts. But since they are both groups producing cannabis, it becomes hard to distinguish the good guy from the bad. Sustainable and smart farming techniques are encouraged but they are difficult to enforce when dealing with the drug force. It becomes harder to enforce and regulate environmental crimes when there are still gray areas about legality of procession and cultivation.

Scott Greacen, executive director of Friends of the Eel River, spoke about his position.

“I’m part of a group of environmental activists in the region who have seen a real need, first to acknowledge that these harms are real—there are significant impacts on public trust values that we care a lot about: water quality, biological diversity, the things that make this region really special, are actually at risk from this industry,” said Greacen.

One of the strongest messages of SOC 280 was the significance of education and communication among the community about marijuana related issues. A large struggle for the movement is the gap in disclosure of accurate and helpful information for growers, consumers, and retailers.

“[It is important] to understand what causes the different kinds of impacts so that we can best address the problems through policy changes, through education, through all the different possible mechanisms, for changing peoples’ behavior, ” said Greacen.

Sociology 280 has been taught at HSU for roughly 15 years and will return in the spring of 2014.