Category: News

October 30, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

On Oct. 20, the Chancellor’s office emailed the UAA community about a new mandatory sexual discrimination training called Haven. The email stated that Haven training, and training’s in general, could make a difference on campus by raising awareness of sex discrimination. This goal of further awareness led to a new school-wide goal for all faculty,…

October 30, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

For most students, election season is a confusing time. Not only do students have to chose a candidate to vote for, but they also have to question whether their vote matters and how it gets carried out by the Electoral College. The Electoral College apportions votes to state based on that state’s representation in Congress. Alaska, as one of the smallest states, has three electoral votes — one for the representative seat and two for the Senate seats. Alaska is a winner-take-all state, meaning that all three electoral votes go to the Presidential candidate who wins the state popular vote.

The Alaska Republican Party has won the electoral votes of the state every Presidential election with the exception of the 1964 Presidential election. Alaska Republican Party Chairman, Tuckerman Babcock said electoral votes within the Republican party were decided by state delegates in April.

“Every two years, there is a grassroots gathering of Republican delegates at a state convention and the state convention in the presidential years nominate, chooses the three electors and the three replacement electors,” Babcock said. “And that was done end of April this year, and three Alaskans were approved at our state convention of Alaska if our Republican candidate gets the most votes in Alaska.”

Babcock has never been an elector for Alaska, but his wife was last year, and he said there are no requirements to become an elector.

“There are no qualifications legally, but in my experience what conventions do is hire people that they trust will support the Republican nominee if the Republicans carry Alaska and people who have been involved in the support of Republican politics,” Babcock said. “Now, in this case, the electors are former governor Sean Parnell, longtime active republicans, pretty young but Jacqueline Tupou of Juneau and Carolyn Leman of Anchorage.”

After Election day on Nov. 8, the popular vote will decide which party wins the three electoral votes for Alaska. In almost all past years, the Republican Party has taken those three votes to Juneau for the official ceremony.

“Then after the election if the Republican candidate wins in Alaska they will be flown to Juneau,” Babcock said. “In Centennial Hall, there will be a big ceremony where they actually cast the votes for President.”

In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson carried the Alaskan popular vote and was also the only time the Democratic Party took all three of the Alaskan electoral votes. Jake Hamburg is the Alaska Democratic Party communications director and he said the party votes to have three potential electors, but that those potential electors haven’t been utilized since 1964.

“We haven’t gone through this process since 1964 because it is a winner take all state, Alaska hasn’t gone for a Democratic president since 1964,” Hamburg said. “In the state convention in May, we elected our three electors. The three electors we selected at the state convention would serve in that capacity.”

The three Democratic electors were selected at the state convention but according to Hamburg, anyone can run for a Democratic electoral position if they follow the right steps.

“The electors are selected at the state convention, so the first thing you need to do is to run as a delegate at the district-level caucuses so then that allows you to be a state delegate at the state convention, and then you simply have to volunteer to run as an elector, and then the whole body of delegates at the state convention votes and selects the three electors,” Hamburg said.

The three electors the Democratic Party nominated are June Degnan from Juneau, D’Arcy Hutchings from Anchorage and Victor Fischer from Anchorage. The alternate electoral for the Democratic Party is Don Gray from Fairbanks.

Genevieve Mina, biology and political science major, is also the Alaska Young Democrats secretary and she acknowledges that the Democratic Party has only once received those electoral votes, but she believes this is a symbolic election.

“If [Clinton] were to receive the Alaskan vote that would probably be after the rest of the nation has figured out whether she has won the election or not, since our polls are four hours after the east coast polls and there is also the fact that Alaska only has three electoral votes so if you compare that to California…we’re pretty negligible,” Mina said. “But I believe symbolically, it would be a great testament to our changing nature of Alaska’s demographics and how we are slowly turning more purple, and we are not just a traditional Republican red state like everybody else believes.”

California has 55 electors compared to Alaska’s three due to population differences but Alaska has the benefit of single voters holding more weight because the state is ensured two more electoral votes than the state population demands.

Ryan McKee is the President of the Anchorage Young Republicans and he believes that the Electoral College is not as great as a national popular vote.

“I think a lot of us would like to see the popular vote take precedent over the Electoral College,” McKee said. “I think both parties could, for the Bush/Gore we would have lost that one but you notice in the Lower 48, there are basically seven battleground states, and those states decide the election. So if it was a popular vote, I think the candidates would be forced to spread out a little more over the country.”

Despite the problems he sees within the Electoral College, McKee still encourages everyone to vote. McKee said Alaska is unique in the fact that there are elections decided by a handful of votes.

“I would always encourage people to go vote,” McKee said. “Yeah, there are particular races they don’t think either one would be in their best interest they can always write somebody in, but I wouldn’t throw everybody out. We saw in rural Alaska, Dean Westlake beat Benjamin Nageak by one or two votes. Every vote, really in Alaska, every vote does count. My uncle won his second re-election by one vote, so in Alaska, I would say every vote really does count. So if they don’t like one person I would still encourage them to show up and vote for the other tickets.”

Alaska may only contribute three votes to the electoral college, but Republicans and Democrats have a way of selecting those electors in a way that enables anyone who wants to participate starting at the local level to apply for the position.

October 30, 2016 Brenda Craig

Elections come with great responsibility for residents in the community. While national voting is going on, it is also important to remember to vote locally. Elections in the community are a large part of what happens in our daily lives, especially in Alaska. It is essential to understand the ballot measures before voting and how it can impact the community. With the recent budget cuts to the University, ballot measure two is focusing on the future students of Alaska.

According to the Official Election Pamphlet 2016, this measure will fundamentally change section eight of the Alaska Constitution to, “expand the state’s authority to incur debt by letting the state issue general obligation bonds backed by the state for secondary student loans.”

Currently, the revenue source the state uses is for infrastructure, housing loans and military. The goal is to add state-sponsored student loans, which will give students reduced interest rates on loans while costing nothing for state and taxpayers. Though this is a complicated process, Rep. Les Gara explains the procedure of this measure.

“It’s complex, but it depends very much on the bond market, and if the bond market isn’t favorable enough for the state to use a bond to reduce loan rates, the state won’t issue the bond,” Gara said. “If it is favorable and will reduce loan rates, the bond would be issued.”

As of now, these bonds are not allowed by statute because they require a Constitutional amendment.

“Under the Alaska Constitution General Obligation Bonds are allowed for construction projects, certain veterans services, but not for loan rate reduction,” Gara said. “The measure would change that to allow these bonds to be used for student loan rate reductions too.”

Ballot measure two is especially important for future students attending universities in Alaska. It will encourage potential college students to stay in state and attend a university in the community. Patrick FitzGerald, campaign manager at Harriet Drummond for State House, depicts the impact this measure could have on students.

“This has the ability to impact students and universities in the state. If Measure two passes, high school graduates will be eligible to take a student loan from the state for in-state education,” FitzGerald said.

Alaskans would be able to invest in themselves for training in skilled and high wage jobs if there were affordable financing for college and career trainings. This measure would increase access to education and training and minimize student debt.

“People deserve [an] opportunity, if you want to go to college, money should not be a barrier. In a small way, this helps students incur less debt, which is good, student loan debt is the second highest debt Americans carry behind a mortgage,” Gara said.

By decreasing student loans with minimum interest rates in the state, it is predicted that students will choose to stay in state for further education. This proposition would be beneficial for upcoming students. If student loans and debt are not reduced, it could result in negative results for the state’s economy.

“We need a university where students want to go, not one students won’t choose,” Gara said. “Losing good students to outside schools means we will damage our future workforce and economy because students who leave [the] state for school may never come back.”

It is important for residents of Alaska to participate in local elections. The future depends on decisions the community makes, and students are encouraged to vote to create better opportunities.

“Students should vote to create avenues for themselves in the future,” FitzGerald said, “As a recent graduate, job and career availability is very important and having a voice in deciding where time and effort to create job and career opportunities is a paramount concern of mine as it should be for everyone wanting a job or career in Alaska.”

Knowing what the propositions are in detail before voting is crucial in making a decision that will affect the community. Ballot measure two has positive objectives to provide a better solution and opportunity for Alaskans. Increasing access to education and training, while minimizing student debt would create efficient citizens in the community. Ballot measure two could be a beneficial solution to student debt, without costing the State or taxpayers, or increasing state budget.

October 30, 2016 Victoria Petersen

November’s election offers Alaskans the opportunity to combine voter registration with PFD registration. The ballot measure makes it so when residents register for their Permanent Fund Dividend, they also register themselves to vote. The ballot measure will affect all those of voting age. It is estimated by state officials that the total costs of measure…

October 24, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

Cost of attendance, or an estimate of a student’s budget, for a full-time (24+ credits) student living on campus at UAA is calculated at $25,098 by the University’s Office of Student Financial Assistance. $1,176 of that estimate is dedicated to student fees. UAA students pay a variety of different fees for athletics and recreation, the…

October 24, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

As October ends, domestic violence awareness month also comes to a close. This month is all about targeting domestic violence, and there are several obvious warning signs that signal an abusive relationship. According to Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, AWAIC, there are several key questions to ask that address warning signs. Questions like, does your…

October 17, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

Mailboxes for student residents in the Gorsuch Commons have a locking mechanism that can be reopened without the combination. The locks operate like typical locks with the exception of the way the lock dial also functions as the doorknob of the mailbox. Students spin the three numbers of their combination and then turn right to open the mailbox, but if a student just closes their locker and does not re-spin the lock, then anyone can reopen the mailboxes without a combination.

Candice Kelley, marketing major, lives in the residence halls at UAA. She believes the mailboxes can be secure ways to hold mail, but she also makes sure to spin the lock so that a combination is required every time before opening.

“I’ve learned that the hard way, by my friends just walking by and going ‘oh look,’” Kelley said as she motioned how her friends would open random boxes. “I usually just twist [my lock] back when it’s done, and do it to those surrounding mine. It’s just common courtesy. A lot of people don’t know that, that if you just close it, someone could just open it. When I check mine, I just [twist it back], but most people don’t so it would be very scary to think that someone could be like, ‘Ah, here, let me take your bills.’”

Few new residents realize that the boxes will only be locked if the dial is spun another complete interval. Joel Roberts is the administrative assistant with the University Housing Department, but he is also in charge of mail in the residence halls. Before Roberts was employed by the university, there were investigations into stolen mail from housing mailboxes. Roberts has worked to ensure box security by informing students on how the locking mechanism works.

“It is a concern because the residents need to be responsible for re-securing their boxes,” Roberts said. “I am aware that a number of them kind of like to just spin it into position where it is easily opened. The problem is, if it is easily opened for them, it is also easily opened for anyone else that would be coming by. So, whenever I am dialoguing with someone, and I notice at the end that they may not spin it closed, I ask them can you make sure to spin it closed each time for those purposes.”

Roberts believes this is particularly important for students who have valuable items delivered to campus.

“Part of the reason that I make sure to log every package, even the ones that are non-tracking these days, is because even a small package could have jewelry or something of great value in it. We make sure to log everything and ask that the residents bring their identification and slip in order to release it to them, just on the off chance that it could be delivered to the wrong box,” Roberts said.

Samantha Skirko is the Assistant Assignments Manager at the Gorsuch Commons, and she also is the person who typically helps new students open their boxes.

“Most of the time, they try to get them opened and they can’t and they just ask for help,” Skirko said. “Sometimes they have a question about which direction to turn them, or once they get to the last number they won’t know to turn them back to the right to get the spring to open.”

When Skirko instructs students how to open the boxes she also tells them to redial the locks to secure the box. Skirko tends to work with a large number of incoming students at the beginning of the year.

“In the very beginning of the semester, I would say anyone who hasn’t been here before usually needs some sort of assistance, which is a couple hundred people usually,” Skirko said. “And then sometimes a few returners if they have a new box because each box sometimes is just a little finicky.”

Mailboxes can easily be re-secured if students properly redial the lock, but if not, their mail is easily accessible by others.

October 17, 2016 Lee Piltz

This October, local growers of marijuana will be harvesting this year’s first legal crops. This marks a historic moment for those involved in the marijuana legalization movement. However, due to the stigma associated with cannabis, little is actually known about this plant. Like all plants, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to grow it. All…

October 17, 2016 Victoria Petersen

Governor Bill Walker declared last week that Columbus Day is now known in the State of Alaska as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Over 16 percent of Alaska’s population is indigenous, more than any other state.

Walker signed the proclamation which states, “The State opposes racism toward indigenous peoples of Alaska or any Alaskan of any origin and promotes policies and practices that reflect the experiences of indigenous peoples, ensure greater access and opportunity, and honor our nation’s indigenous roots, history, and contributions.”

Alaska Natives across the state are excited about the recognition.

“It makes me feel so happy. It’s one of the best things that happened this year. It’s great that they changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Day,” Mathias Suskuk, an Alaska Native living in New Stuyahok said. “Assirtuq,” which means “it’s good” in his native tongue of Yupik.

Recognizing the significance of the holiday name change, Dalee Dorough, UAA political science professor specializing in the study of indigenous people, believes more can be done to honor the endurance of the indigenous people of the Americas.

“Indeed, it is significant that the state has chosen to shine the spotlight on Indigenous peoples, including Alaska Natives, rather than glorifying the cumulative and horrific impacts of so-called “discovery” of the Americas by Columbus,” Dorough said. “However, more significant, there is a necessity to go beyond an Indigenous Peoples Day by substantively recognizing and respecting the distinct status, rights, and concerns of Alaska Native peoples… When we are able to fully exercise and enjoy our distinct rights, I’m certain that real, heartfelt celebrations throughout our communities will begin.”

Others credit Columbus with the good he did, but commend the change as a positive change.

“He came over and he brought all the things over that he did, but at the same time he took a lot away from the natives. I think it’s actually a good thing,” Lexi Trainer, an Alaska Native student, said.

The idea was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations as a counter-holiday to celebrate Native American culture and people.

This proclamation is trending in a growing number of cities and states across the nation. The second Monday in October known as Columbus Day has been changed to Indigenous People’s day in Phoenix, AZ, Boulder, Denver and Durango, CO, Evanston, IL, Cambridge, MA, Ann Arbor and East Lansing, MI,Cook County and Two Harbors, MN, Lincoln, NE, Sante Fe, NM, Eugene, OR and Spokane, WA in the last 12 months.

The proclamation, the second of its kind in the state of Alaska does not allow for the holiday to be a permanent change, but allows for the holiday to be recognized that year. An act of legislation is required to make a holiday permanent.

October 17, 2016 Lee Piltz

Early on in September, the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China both formally joined the Paris global climate agreement. This agreement is the first of its kind and will only take effect legally once 55 countries ratify it. In early October, it was announced that carbon dioxide crossed the 400 parts…

October 17, 2016 Taylor Curry

Bill Spindle, the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services for UAA, is leaving the school after 17 years. Bill has spent 35 years working in public organizations, as well as serving 25 years in the United States Air Force. He has an education doctorate in organizational leadership, as well as a master’s degree in business administration…

October 2, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

College students this fall could be facing an epidemic much worse than excessive homework since October in the United States signals the beginning of flu season. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May and can affect anywhere…

September 12, 2016 Victoria Petersen

In an effort to tighten the university budget Strategic Pathways is UA President Jim Johnsen’s solution for necessary cuts and changes to UA. Separated into phases, Strategic Pathways will focus on select programs in each phase, allowing for public testimony and careful thought regarding each and every program up for reductions and termination. Phase I…

August 23, 2016 Kathryn Dufresne

In a presentation on August 17, University of Alaska announced one of the first proposed phases of the Strategic Pathways program. This announcement focused on how much is spent on athletics each year, and proposed three options. Option one proposes the elimination of one or both athletic programs, option two proposed a “Consortium Model” between…

August 8, 2016 Victoria Petersen

Matt Palla is a local 28-year-old bartender who does not have a credit card, and no desire to get one. “I spent money I didn’t have. I learned my lesson the hard way. I learned that if I don’t have the money to pay for something right when I want it then I don’t need…

April 10, 2016 Victoria Petersen

After two budget drafts released Thursday, President Jim Johnsen proposed ways of saving money for University of Alaska’s next fiscal year, starting July 1. This draft included hundreds of staff cuts across all campuses and a tuition increase between 10 to 15 percent, on top of the already approved five percent tuition increase scheduled for this coming fall semester. Multiple budget scenarios are being considered to be introduced to the legislature. Other cuts that are up for consideration include cuts to some athletic programs at UAA and UAF. The board of regents anticipates a complete and revised budget by early June.