Author: J. Almendarez

May 29, 2013 J. Almendarez

In the spring semester, sociology majors Rachel Wintz and Nathaniel Chriest used a grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research to conduct a study about food insecurity among UAA students.

May 29, 2013 J. Almendarez

Barbara Klita named her son, Fryderyk, after the famous Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin. It is a piece of her home country that she wanted to give to her Italian born son.

But Fryderyk, known to many as Fred, chose his last name. After he finished high school, he legally changed his last name from Veschi to Frontier, an homage to his love for his adopted home state, Alaska.

May 1, 2013 J. Almendarez

Every year, Student Life and Leadership selects a commencement speaker from the graduating class. Representing the class of 2013 is justice major Kelsey Waldorf, whose speech focuses on continuing the quest for success and personal accomplishments well after graduation.

TNL sits down with Kelsey and talks about her current goals, advice for future students, and more.

April 23, 2013 J. Almendarez

Results are in for the 2013 student government election.

Andrew Lessig and Andrew Lemish are the new Union of Students at the Univer­sity of Alaska Anchorage president and vice president.

They won the election by 33 votes over second place candidates Max Bullock and Johnnie Templeton.

510 people voted in the election.

Lessig said he waited for unofficial results to be post­ed at 5 p.m. Friday. The results were posted early, and he ran to the USUAA office from the spine of the school to see if he’d won.

His immediate reaction following the result posting was a sense of relief.

“There’s been such a big lead-up to this,” he said.

Andrew “Drew” Lemish said he was initially hesitant to look at the results alone, so he grabbed friends from the Greek Life office to check the result with him.

“I was surprised, I guess. I knew it was going to be close,” he said.

Current USUAA President Alejandra Buitrago will officially swear Lessig into office April 26. Afterward, Lessig will swear in Vice President Lemish and any new senators.

Lessig said he has been meeting with previous USUAA presidents and vice presi­dents for advice and all have provided helpful insight to the job.

While he is already preparing to take on presidential roles — such as prepping for the Planning and Budget Advisory Committee this week, where he can make sugges­tions about how university funds are allocated — he’d like to kick off his legislative focus on student activities this summer.

He said some students have already approached him about installing a Frisbee golf course on campus. He said he thinks that’s a great summer project to get started on.

Lemish said one of his first primary focuses is going to be adding to the University of Alaska discrimination policy. He said while sexual orientation is protected by uni­versity policy, sexual identity is not.

He also said he will be working with other senators throughout the summer to rewrite the USUAA constitution.

He said it has not been updated in a very long time, and many USUAA members want to see the constitution amended to reflect the organization’s present and long term needs.

On that note, Lessig recommended those with con­cerns about the university to contact him for prob­lem solving. Even if the concern is about something USUAA does not have a direct influence on, Lessig said senators can always advocate for student con­cerns regardless.

The only candidate to formally apply for USUAA Senator was Terri Lynn Draeger, who received 449 votes.

Stephen Warta, Johnny Paoletti, Dan Munoz, Jackie Odena and Russell Fay are write-in candidates who received enough votes to take seats as senators.

Concert Board Candidate Sofia Fouquet received 455 votes and write-in Garren Volper collected 24 votes. Both will be able to fill the two available seats on the board.

There were no candidates or write-ins with sufficient votes for Media Board mem­bers.

Notable write-ins for various positions this year included Chuck Norris, Darth Vader, Harry Potter, Mickey Mouse, Stan Shunpike, The Doctor and Donna Noble, Batman, Sherlock Holmes, Yogi the Bear and Seymour Butts.

Lessig said there are always notable write-ins, but all candidates must also be enrolled in at least six credit hours to be eligible for a senator seat.

He also said it is not uncommon for USUAA elections to have interesting write-in candidates.

April 9, 2013 J. Almendarez

“Inappropriate” behavior involving a cadaver on campus at the Health Science Building was reported to the University Police Department April 2.

University officials and the UPD remain mum about the incident except for the barebones facts released in a mass email sent to students and employees Thursday.

The email only states the incident was “inappropriate,” the cadaver involved was female and an act of vandalism was discovered the following day on the third floor of the same building.

Case Detective Teresa Denette said she could not comment about details pertaining to the incident or whether there are any suspects as of Friday.

She also said UPD does not know if the vandalism, confirmed to be graffiti of male genitals, is connected to the “inappropriate” incident, nor do they know when the graffiti happened.

However, she did say the email was sent through the Office of University Advance­ment. The UPD did not release the email sent to students and employees about the crimes.

UAA spokeswoman Jessica Hamlin said the information was released in accor­dance with the Clery Act, a federal ruling requiring all crimes nearby and on cam­puses must be disclosed to students.

She also said the email was released to her Thursday and likely took the day to write because general council, the legal team for the University of Alaska system, col­laborated with UAA administrators to write it.

She does not know why the gender of the cadaver is released, but thinks it’s to pro­mote transparency about the incident.

The general counsel office was unable to return a request for clarification about the release of information by press time.

The Northern Light independently verified that the automatic locking system in the Health Sciences Building, which restricts public access to certain areas of the build­ing, are not functioning correctly.

As of Thursday, some doors were ajar, though the cardkey locks near the doors indicated they were locked.

An employee in the facilities and maintenance department said requests to fix or modify the locks in that building are frequent.

When asked how many reports facilities have received about the locks in the HSB in the last six months, the source said, “Many — every day.”

The source refused to be identified.

Although told that a reporter was seeking informa­tion for a story, the source later did not want to give a name.

It is The Northern Light policy for employees to iden­tify oneself as a reporter working on a story during all interviews.

No students or employees in the HSB consented to be interviewed for this story Friday afternoon, though many seemed to have knowledge about details involv­ing the incident.

However, David Wartinbee, anatomy and physiology professor on campus , said a variety of actions could be considered unethical when cadavers are involved.

He said taking photos or video of cadavers or identi­fying one of the bodies to others are some of the many ways unethical behavior could be classified.

He did not speak specifically about the incident reported Tuesday, saying he first heard of the incident in the newspaper last week and does not know any other information about it.

April 9, 2013 J. Almendarez

A grief support group is available tomorrow for anyone wanting to connect with
others about the death of Mabil “Mo” Duir.

Georgia DeKeyser, interim director of the Student Health and Counseling Center and
psychiatric nurse practitioner, said the group offers an intimate setting for people to
know they are not the only ones coping with grief at this time.

“It’s a place to come together and to support each other,” she said.

April 8, 2013 J. Almendarez

A lot of people think planning to save the world is naïve. Mabil “Mo” Duir was not one of those people.
“Mabil had amazing aspirations and wanted to help so many people. He was a huge advocate for helping the underprivileged. Mabil had great ideas of ways he could change the world for the better,” business sophomore Max Bullock said.

April 3, 2013 J. Almendarez

Icy SidewalkIf you think a full cup of coffee, holding a baby or extreme caution can save you, you’re wrong.

Ice will take down just about every person at least one time during the winter. And while the least that could happen to someone who slips are wet pants or few cuts and bruises, broken bones and head injuries are also possibilities.

Most people already know this. But to echo a reminder to people about what can be done about tough spots on campus, the following is what needs to be done after a fall has happened.

1) Get a witness. After falling down, the last thing most people want to do is strike up a conversation to anyone who witnessed the humiliation. But do it. The Incident report form for the University of Alaska System requests a witness’ name, address, phone number and relationship to you. If you feel uncomfortable about asking for someone’s address, still get their phone number.

2) Immediately write down the incident with some degree of detail. Where did it take place? What time was it? Where were the bruises again? While people have 48 hours to fill out a report, the more details initially noted will only add to the legitimacy of any claims made later.

 3) Make note of anything that might have been broken by the incident. Check all the electronic devices on you. Ensure your phone, laptop, iPad, and electronic reader are all working.

4) Take photos of injuries. It’s a good idea to take photos of injuries. A small scrape on an ankle can be more telling if it swells within 24 hours and is diagnosed later as sprained or broken.

5) Report the problem areas immediately to the facilitites maintenance office. They can be reached at 907-786-6980. It’s just common courtesy to help fellow students stay safe.

Now these suggestions aren’t made to be paranoid. They’re made to keep people safe and protect investments. In every case involving injury, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

April 3, 2013 J. Almendarez

Hockey coach Dave Shyiak is parting ways with the Seawolves.

In a statement released Friday, the athletics department confirmed a search committee has been appointed and is considering national applicants to fill the position.

March 6, 2013 J. Almendarez

The mere thought of pap smears sends a shiver of discomfort down most women’s spines.

But because the test can detect potentially abnormal cell growth, it can also determine whether a woman might have cervical cancer.

March 5, 2013 J. Almendarez

Welcome to The Northern Light’s Women’s History Month special edition.

This is not the “feminist” or “angry girl” edition. The purpose of this week’s newspaper is to shine light on topics frequently ignored by mainstream society.

But why women?

Let’s take a look at some current women’s issues.

Last month, the University of North Carolina informed sophomore Landen Gambill that she is being charged with violating the student honor code because of her involvement with a U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights class action complaint against the school.

She takes issue with the fact that the school ignored her claims about being raped and abused by her boyfriend, another student.

The university claims her participation with the class action complaint are “disruptive” and “intimidating” to her alleged rapist.

Because even when women are at their weakest and most vulnerable, our voices about our vaginas are considered “intimidating.”

And let’s not forget the Oscars where the ever-sexist movie industry stayed true to its entire history of degrading women.

Attendees laughed in unison at domestic violence being a punch line in a Chris Brown and Rihanna joke and the claim that the nonfiction film “Zero Dark Thirty” is an example of “a woman’s innate ability to never let anything go.”

Yes, many were laughing hysterically.

But it would actually be funnier if it didn’t reinforce an entire living history of direct oppression and inequality against half the world’s population.

And the sad fact is, we could have chosen to write about nearly any minority group for a special edition.

Because Mississippi’s failure to pass the 13th Amendment for 148 years after the abolition of slavery is nearly as gut wrenching as the fact that nobody noticed.

And because it’s thought that the state of Texas is moving in a liberal direction because it finally made it illegal for Border Patrol Agents to shoot undocumented immigrants from helicopters. I can think of another country that condones shooting boarder crossers. It’s called North Korea and the border is often called the DMZ.

By choosing one of 33 print issues a year we hope to present little-known facts about a historically oppressed group of people.

Maybe it will start a dialogue in the community. Maybe it won’t.

That’s not for us to decide.

But like every story we publish all year, we hope our readers take the facts we’re presenting and make informed decisions based on them.

I can’t guarantee that a special issue, much like this one, will become a TNL tradition because I won’t be the Executive Editor at TNL next spring. But I hope it does — we owe it to ourselves and each other to shine light in the darkest corners of the community.

March 5, 2013 J. Almendarez

I will not give a man a blowjob.

Whew. That’s over with. I said it. It’s taken me six and a half years to feel comfortable saying that aloud.

That’s right — six and a half years.

How in the world did a strong, assertive woman like myself go so long without confessing a hate for blowies?

The answer is easily explained: I thought refusing to give head would mean losing the physical connection I share with my partner during sex.

I thought, “Hey! If a guy goes down on me, I should go down on him.”

I thought, “I don’t want to be one of those girls who won’t try things!”

I thought it would make me “bad” at sex.

Yeah, even writing that makes me feel like an ignorant schlump for letting pop culture and society warp my brain into thinking I should do sexual things I don’t enjoy.

With my last boyfriend, it became a hassle to think about being asked to give head that I became anxious about it. I started lying and coming up with excuses for why I couldn’t do it at the moment.

That’s not to say anything bad about my last boyfriend. He is an amazing person, and looking back, I’m sure he would have respected my decision to refrain from the activity. I just couldn’t say the words aloud.

After I moved up to Anchorage last fall, I practiced saying this phrase in my mind over and over again: “I don’t give blowjobs. I don’t give blowjobs. I don’t give blowjobs.”

Recently, I was in a situation with someone I’ve been dating, and the opportunity was at full mast for me to give my practiced speech.

“I have to tell you something really important,” I said.

I looked straight into his beautiful blue eyes, and with unwavering conviction said, “I don’t give blowjobs.”

He smiled his dimply smile and said, “That’s okay. I don’t really like blowjobs that much anyway.”

Then he kissed me.

And just like that, my speech was over, and I don’t have to practice it anymore.

I’m not a dummy. I’m perfectly aware that my guy would appreciate some oral attention. But his is perhaps the only lie anyone has ever told to me that I’ve actually appreciated.

Now, the decision to write this piece has not been easy.

But in offering people a peek into my bedroom, I want all the readers to know something greater than the fact that it’s okay to not give blowjobs.

I want you all to know that only you define your sexuality and limitations.

This is especially pertinent to all the ladies out there.

The world is already telling us we’re too fat, skinny, curly-haired, straight-haired, small-breasted and large-breasted. It’s ironic how we can simultaneously be everything a woman is “supposed” to be and everything a woman is “not supposed” to be.

But when that bedroom door closes, it is just you and your partner.

So make sex what it should be — an intimate, exciting experience.

Because if we don’t own it, everyone and everything else will.

February 26, 2013 J. Almendarez

About 30 students gathered Tuesday to get answers from Chancellor Tom Case about their concerns regarding the university.

USUAA hosted the event and provided free food and drinks for attendees, who nibbled while they partook in the conversation.

February 21, 2013 J. Almendarez

Chancellor Tom Case is scheduled to attend a Q&A session with students this week, giving them the opportunity to ask questions about the future of UAA. The event is at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on the second floor of the Student Union, directly outside the Student Life and Leadership office in Room 218.

February 21, 2013 J. Almendarez

Health_CareHealth care options are not just a hot button issue nationally. At this university, possible changes affecting employee health care are on the docket.

The Joint Health Care Committee proposed nine separate motions for change in October, and it took action Feb. 1 to officially endorse some of them to the university.

Among the changes are the reorganization of health care plan options, hiring vendors to compare health care costs regionally for employees, alterations to the cost of dependents on plans, and telemedicine options, among others.

Michelle Rizk, interim chief human resources officer, has until Feb. 27 to approve or deny the changes.

Rizk did not return a phone call from The Northern Light, instead referring Kate Wattum, director of public affairs for the university system, to the newspaper.

“This is kind of a final document,” Wattum said. “We don’t expect any surprises.”

She said the new changes to health care have been in the works since October, and after several employee feedback forums, were revised several times.

Ron Kamahele, director of UAA human resource services, said any motions involving policy changes could take effect by the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Other motions involving vendor hiring might take longer to implement because a company must be contracted to best meet the needs of the university.

Wattum said because these motions have not been formally passed, there are no accurate cost savings projections. She said that because the committee has officially endorsed or struck down several motions, university officials are working to complete tasks, such as creating informational literature for employees about the changes and preparing requests for proposals to find vendors for some of the motions.


Healthcare Fact Box

Motion 1

This motion eliminates the 500 Plan, the top-level option in a three-tier system for faculty health care. Kamele said the costs of the option, in comparison to the benefits people receive from it, do not work in the best interest of people selecting it because the cost benefit minimal. Kamahele said the plan is similar to the current middle plan, except for its higher premium with a lower deductable. WHAT IS THE MIDDLE PLAN?

A high deductible plan with a health savings account will be added instead, offering employees a third option after the 500 Plan is eliminated.

This new tier’s savings account is different than the flex spending account available in the other two options.

Flex spending accounts are funded with money deducted from one’s paycheck to cover medical costs not provided by insurance. It must be used in a yearly “use it or lose it” fashion, while the savings account is rolled over each fiscal year. Money can also be optionally taken from pay to fund the savings account not covered by the health plan, such as deductibles.

He said 4 percent of employees district wide use the 500 Plan. HOW MANY EMPLOYEES AS THAT?


Motion 3

Kamahele said another proposal approves the hiring of a private vendor to compare prices at multiple medical facilities throughout the region. He said no vendors are being decided upon at this timebecause the motion is not officially approved yet. He said employees were always able to independently compare prices for services, but the vendor would help make that task easier.

“That’s just not something the university was in a position to do,” he said.


Motion 4

This motion would provide rebates or credits to employees and their spouses who make healthy life choices resulting in continued good or improved health, such as not using tobacco and exercising regularly. Compliance is optional but results in up to 30 percent in savings for the cost of biweekly health care charges.

“The actual program would have a variety, a rather wide variety, of criteria a person could meet,” Kamahele said. Some biometric indicators used could include blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol, among many other factors.

A private vendor would be hired to monitor this program, though none have been selected yet.

Kamahele said this motion would prevent employees from developing health care problems on a long-term basis.


Motion 7

JHCC also voted for changes about premiums paid for children.

“Right now, there’s a family rate, and so there isn’t a distinction in what premium you pay out of your paycheck for the coverage under the plan based upon how many children you have on the plan,” Kamahele said.

This means employees are responsible for paying the same premiums regardless of the number of dependents on their health care plan. He said the family rate went into effect at this university about 10 years ago because analysis of claims history proved that children add very little cost to the health care plan. Since then, he said faculty has encouraged university officials to rethink that concept. This new health care groups the cost of coverage into ranges depending on the size of a family.


Motion 8

Telemedicine is also up for approval. It allows people to have the option to consult over the phone with a doctor or specialist for diagnosis or prescriptions. It also allows employees to have access to medical advice or prescription refills via telephone. Kamahele said employees who do not live in Juneau, Anchorage or Fairbanks drove this initiative.


Motion 9

This motion continues the Get the Point program, meant to help employees make healthier options in their diets, and keep track of their lifestyle in an efficient way.

“Employees appreciated that their employer would take these steps to help them,” Kamahele said. “Not every employer would do that.”

Kamahele said cost is the driver behind just about all of the motions. He said that while adding some of the motions to the health plan option can directly increase expenditures, the intent is to prevent long-term health conditions that are more costly and cause employees more damaging health problems.

“And so by coming up with some of these programs it’s thought, ‘We spend a little bit now, but maybe we’ll have a healthier work force in the future and avoid costs — avoid a heart attack, avoid Type 2 diabetes,’” he said.


Unendorsed motions

Two original motions were struck down by the JHCC, according to an email President Pat Gamble released to faculty Feb. 7.

One of them is Motion 6 and would require all faculty members to use university-provided health care with no ability to opt out.

That includes employees who are active or retired military and people of Alaska Native descent.

However, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare,  states that companies cannot deny employees an opt-out health insurance plan, allowing workers to have the option to choose the best plan for themselves.

Kamahele said the university’s general legal counsel is still interpreting the act.

“It appears, under the Affordable Care Act, opt-outs are mandatory. And so were we to enact this particular motion, well, we could do it for a year, but then it would be illegal in 2015,” Kamahele said.

The committee did not endorse this motion, and it is no longer up for consideration.

Wattum said, “They don’t want to be forced to pay insurance if they’ve already got another insurance.”

She said the committee intended to increase the pool of people paying for health insurance, thus driving individual insurance costs down. However, about 500 employees throughout the university system already had insurance and objected to this change.

Another proposal rejected by the committee was motion 5. It would have created a surcharge for employees’ spouses who have the option to buy benefits at their own job and declined to accept. The estimated cost of the surcharge was $100 per month and would not have included spouses if both work for the university or to those who do not have coverage elsewhere.

Wattum said people thought the spousal charge was unfair because it would mean some people paying more money for health care than others, while everyone would receive the same kind of benefits.

“People seem satisfied with the elimination of these two motions,” she said.

February 12, 2013 J. Almendarez

After two semesters of collecting cash, the Green Fee Board is soliciting student proposals for sustainability projects on campus.

The board has a starting budget of $34,182, funded by a $3 per student charge that began last semester.

January 29, 2013 J. Almendarez

The sky bridge connecting the Science Building, central garage and Social Sciences Building reopens Monday after being closed since the beginning of the semester.

January 22, 2013 J. Almendarez

A public meeting is taking place tonight to discuss the University Lake Drive Extension Project.

The current proposal is designed to extend and upgrade University Lake Drive, adjacent to UAA, to University Drive at Alaska Pacific University.

December 3, 2012 J. Almendarez

There’s something about the San Antonio Spurs that keeps them on people’s radar while simultaneously leaving them one of the most underrated dynasties in sports history.

November 19, 2012 J. Almendarez

There are many reasons why some people might not have a place to go for Thanksgiving—home might be too far away to go to for the short holiday, funds might be tight this year or maybe the idea of cooking a large meal for friends and family is just too daunting this time around.

Whatever the reason, those who find themselves with no place to partake in a holiday feast can find solace from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday at the Gorsuch Commons.

“It’s just another option for them,” USUAA Sen. Christine Borowski said.

The event is free and open to the public.

She said the Thanksgiving spread consists of a carving station with roast turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, candied yams, green beans, coleslaw and a variety of salads, deserts and beverages.

Mathematics sophomore John Repasky said he’ll be going to the meal because he works at resident life and his family is too far away to visit for Thanksgiving. His dad is in the Army, and his family is currently stationed in New York. He said he used to look forward to the food during the holiday season, but this year he’s just grateful to have a break from school.

Drew Lemish, outdoor leadership and administration sophomore, said he also works for resident life and will be going to the meal. He said he mostly looks forward to eating the stuffing and hearing what people are thankful for.

Borowski said volunteers are still needed Wednesday and Thursday to help prep food and set up the event.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Anita Bradbury, USUAA administrative assistant at 907-786-1203 or Christine Borowski at [email protected].

November 19, 2012 J. Almendarez

Just before 11 p.m. last night, two suspects were asked to leave Providence Hospital and, after refusing to leave, were escorted from the building by a private security staff.

Brad Munn, deputy chief of police for the University Police Department, said the department was notified by the Anchorage Police Department that the male suspect pulled, “what appeared to be a knife” on at least one security guard and threatened to kill him.

The woman allegedly spit on a security guard, also.

It is not immediately clear why the suspects were asked to leave the hospital, nor how many security guards escorted the pair form the building.

Both suspects were last seen walking toward the bus stop located in front of the Consortium Library, located on Providence Drive.

University Police dispatcher Pete, badge #215, said last night that the suspects are both Alaska Natives. The male is about 5’9”, while the woman is about 5’4”.  Both were wearing dark colored clothing.

Munn said the UPD was likely notified of the incident because of the proximity of the event to the campus.  He said it is not clear whether the suspects were on campus.

He also said the Anchorage Police Department brought a canine to the area to assist in locating the suspects, but the search was unsuccessful.

At about 11 p.m., the InformaCast system, an emergency notification system that allows the phones on campus to be used as speakerphones by the UPD, informed those on campus about the event.

Emergency management associate Manch Garhart said the notification system is different than the newest messaging system, UA Alert System, that students and employees in the UAA system were invited to sign up for via their UA email accounts in late October.

Manch said that while he knows the newest UA Alert System is in place to inform people of emergencies, he does not know, nor does he control, when the system is used.

“That’s not my privy,” he said.

He said his boss, Lieutenant Ron Swartz, would know the answer to that question.

Swartz did not respond to The Northern Light by press time.

A representative from Providence Hospital, who would not reveal her name, said she could not confirm or deny the event. She said the hospital typically does not release statements about disturbances for the sake of protecting the identity of possible patients and employees.

News Editor Keldon Irwin contributed to this report. 

November 12, 2012 J. Almendarez

Some of the newly-elected legislators in the state will be attending an open luncheon to mingle with students and answer questions in a panel format from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday in Room 307 of the Consortium Library.

Government Relations Director Terri Draeger said at the USUAA meeting Friday that she encouraged all students to attend the luncheon or submit questions that can be asked to legislators on their behalf.

She said after the meeting that the event is free and a taco bar, chips and dip, cookies and beverages will be provided to attendees.

Senator Andrew Lessig will begin asking the legislators questions at about 2:30 p.m. and give them about 2-3 minutes to respond to each question.

The Lunch with Legislators event has been taking place since 2009.

Questions can be submitted to Draeger at [email protected] edu.


USUAA President Alejandra Buitrago nominated air traffic control Professor Sharon LaRue to be the faculty representative serving on the Green Fee Board.

She said USUAA adviser Paula Fish emailed faculty members in mass to solicit interested people.

Buitrago said six people responded, three were ineligible to serve in the role and LaRue was the only one to immediately respond to her when she tried to make contact with them. She also said LaRue wrote a thoughtful essay saying why she wanted to serve on the committee. She has experience with sustainability, such as starting a community garden, teaching about sustainability at Eagle River Elementary and serving on the UAA sustainability committee paper reduction work group. She has also worked to create a recycling guide for the UAA community, and devotes a week to sustainability in upper level classes she teaches.

Buitrago said, “I think she’ll become a great addition to the students we already have in the group.”

Senator Victor de Carli, who is also chair of the Sustainability Committee for USUAA, said, “I wonder how much we actually searched for people.”

He said while he realizes there is a deadline to fill the position on the committee, he thought there might be more people interested in being the faulty representative. Buitrago said she thought the faculty was well-informed about the position and expects them to follow up on filling positions they’re interested in. LaRue was voted into the position with eight people for, one against and two abstaining.

Carli and Senator Seen So abstained from the vote and Senator Max Bullock voted against.

Bullock said after the meeting that he voted against the appointment because he also thought there might be more qualified or interested faculty members who want to fill the position but might not have known  about it.

Bullock also updated the union about the bike share program he has been working on. He said it was approved and endorsed by the sustainability office this week and that he would be meeting with Bill Spindle, Vice Chancellor for administrative services, Wednesday to talk about the next step to making the program a reality.

The bike share program will provide bicycles students can rent for free with their Wolfcard from a kiosk for two hours at a time. Bullock started the program with the hope of assisting students commute across campus.

Carli also updated the union about the “Green and Gold H2O” bill. He said the Sustainability Committee is in the process of fine-tuning their proposal and gathering more signatures for support of the program.

He estimates the proposal should be perfected by next semester.


While there were no speakers signed up in advance of the meeting, Larissa Villar, community relationship manager for the American Cancer Society, informed the union that the society would be hosting a Relay for Life event sometime in the spring, possibly the second week of April.

She said, “The idea is cancer never sleeps,” so she hopes to host the relay for a span of 24 hours, possibly in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

For more information, Villar can be contacted at 907-273-2070.


Election Results and Provost 

Fish said the number of students who voted in the election are up to 519 from 322 last fall.

Vice President Andrew McConnell said official results will be verified by 5 p.m. Tuesday, and can be seen on the USUAA website posted on the door of their office in Room 201 of the Student Union.

Buitrago also encouraged students to stay up to date about Provost and Vice Chancellor for Affair candidates who will on campus throughout the month of November. Charles Bullock, Deborah Hedeen and Elisha Baker are final applicants for the post.

For more information about each candidate and to find out more about their visits to UAA, go to chancellor/provost-search.cfm.

November 12, 2012 J. Almendarez

As of last week, UAA students and employees got the option of enrolling in an emergency messaging system designed to notify students about crises on campus.

The new system will affect about 24,000 people at the main UAA campus, satellite campuses, Kenai Peninsula College, Prince William Sound Community College and Matanuska-Susitna College.

Manch Garhart, emergency management associate with the University Police Department, said, “This is a full UAA system implementation that will only inform people of emergencies happening on campus, not campus closures or other university news.

He said students and employees should have received an email last week via their UAA email account asking for them to register for the service.  Options for points of contact include email, text messaging and phone calls to personal and office phone numbers.

According to the System Office of Risk Services website, there are also mass notification elements such as loudspeakers, desktop monitor alerts and hallway beacon lights in some areas. It also organizes a way to contact local media, posts on UAA related Facebook pages and updates the university home page.

He said the contacts entered into the system should be “contact me now” information.

While Garhart said he does not know how much the system costs, it was implemented to keep students informed in the case of an emergency.

USUAA President Alejandra Buitrago said she was briefed about the new system along with others at the University Assembly meeting Thursday.

“I think it’s a great tool—that we’re finally doing this,” she said.

There was a concern at the meeting that because the same company that owns Blackboard runs the system, there might be a chance for it to crash if Blackboard crashes. However, she was told that the system runs on a different server.

Also, she said there was discussion about what kind of information would be given in the message in the event of an active shooter scenario.

The system is set to inform students about the event on campus, while providing them a link to the UAA home page, which gives information about what to do if a shooter is on campus.

“It’s a great step in the right direction,” she said.

Civil engineering senior Jesse Jack said he felt neutral about the investment because he already has his UAA emails forwarded to his phone.

Many students interviewed said they were unaware of the new system as of Friday and said they do not frequently check their UAA email account.

To sign up for the alerts, visit and log in using the same username and password required by Blackboard. 

November 12, 2012 J. Almendarez

In late October, someone in the lady’s locker room sauna was confronted with an unexpected site — at eye level, the bent-over backside of another woman.

“You aren’t very modest are you?” she asked the woman.

“I grew up in California in the 60s,” the other woman said.

Then, she commenced to rub lotion and oils over her body while remaining bent over.

The woman who experienced the eyeful emailed the information to The Northern Light, Alan Piccard, assistant director of recreation sports programs, and Kevin Silver, director of recreational sports, Oct. 26.

Her email stated, “Other Athletic Clubs in Anchorage have signs posted outside the saunas to curb inappropriateness.  Why can’t (the) UAA Recreational Sports Complex do the same?”

The sauna rules currently posted on the door ask visitors to not pour liquid on the rocks in the sauna, request a Wolfcard or ticket for use, restrict use to people ages 12 and older, prohibit leaving newspapers or books in the sauna, require users to sit on a towel or wear a bathing suit when on benches, suggest no more than 20 minutes in the sauna and urge people to press the emergency yellow button for immediate assistance if needed.

There are no other behavioral rules posted.

Piccard said he responded to the woman via email with advice about what to do if harassed in the sauna.

He said there is a yellow emergency button that can be used to alert the person working at the issue cage, an equipment and ticket sales booth, or inform the person working at the issue cage about the problem in person.

He said the employee respondent could then mediate the situation.

In this particular instance, he said there was little his team could do to address the problem because the informant waited until days after the incident to notify others of her concern.

Piccard’s email also states that it is not part of UAA policy to discourage the use of products such as oils or lotions in the sauna.

Silver also recommended that people communicate their needs with the staff available while using facilities in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex Center.

“You have to let us know if you have an issue,” Silver said.

In this case, Silver said a mediator could have checked that both people were authorized to use the fitness center or interviewed both people to find the appropriate solution. But that can’t be done if the staff is not informed about the incident immediately.

The woman who sent the email said she wants to remain anonymous and did not provide her name.

For more information about the sauna visit

November 5, 2012 J. Almendarez

Charles Hoge, a 20-year retired colonel in the U.S. Army, will be on campus at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium to discuss the consequences of war on soldiers and civilians, specifically focusing on stigmas about the mental health of soldiers returning home from war zones in the Middle East.

October 30, 2012 J. Almendarez

It’s 12:55 a.m. You’re still on campus working on an assignment for a class. The library is about to close for the evening, and you have luckily just finished your assignment. It’s time to email that puppy to your professor. There’s one problem — you can’t connect to the Wi-Fi on campus.

October 22, 2012 J. Almendarez

Mabil Duir was like any four- year-old boy. He liked to pick flowers from a field and take them to his mother.

The difference between Mabil and other students on this campus is that he had to crawl under fences in refugee camps throughout South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia, his birthplace, and wander into an unprotected war zone to pick those flowers.