Category: Student

June 12, 2017 Alec Burris


Summer has arrived. For most, this signals a release from grueling classes and a momentary pause in the endeavor to complete a degree. For others, it is simply a change in scenery as they take on their five and ten week courses during the summer semester. For me, it is a chance to meet with administration as I transition in to my new role as your student body president. The past month has been a blur of meetings and events as I have established contacts, prepared USUAA for the upcoming academic year and begun to deliver on the goals which I promised you during my campaign. While the work is not complete, I am glad to report that meaningful progress has been made in four strategic areas: security cameras, student fees, advocacy, and Title IX.

1. Security cameras – Following a meeting with Vice Chancellor Pat Shier and UPD Chief Brad Munn, costs to add security cameras in certain areas such as the West Parking Lot and the MAC Parking Lot are being assessed. This project should be completed in the near future and I am confident that we can cut down on the amount of car thefts that occur on our campus.

2. Student fees – On Friday, June 16, I will be meeting with the all the directors of the mandatory student fee areas. It is my hope that we not only reduce the number of unnecessary fees, but increase transparency in how those fees are spent.

3. Advocacy – On May 6, I sent out a press release on behalf of USUAA and the UAA student body to the Alaska State Legislature advocating for a University of Alaska budget of $325 million. Actions such as these ensure that we are an active stakeholder in our future.

4. Title IX – Working closely with Bridget Dooley, the UAA Title IX Coordinator, USUAA is dedicated to guaranteeing that students on our campus feel safe always. UAA has implemented new resources such as Standing Together Against Rape in Rasmuson Hall and USUAA will help to ensure that our students know where they can get help and information.

Though the academic year has not yet begun, USUAA is working to represent students on our campus, at the Board of Regents, and at the Alaska State Legislature. While the University of Alaska’s budget situation may be unresolved, our ability to advocate and promote student leadership has not been affected. I believe that students play a key role in shaping their environment and there is no better time than now to prove that.

Alec Burris, Student Body President

Phone: (907) 715-2177

Email: [email protected]

May 30, 2017 Sarah Tangog

Spring semester of 2017 brought new faces to stand as senators within the UAA community. As a senator, these students play an integral role within the USUAA government.

“I am the summer speaker, so I run the meetings during the summer assembly. And then I’m just a senator, so I represent the student body at large when we make decisions,” Alex Jorgensen, political science major, said.

Jorgensen joins two other political science majors, Morgan Hartley and Caleb Berry, in trying to make a difference in the student experience at UAA. Jorgensen, Hartley and Berry all have different roles aside the common goal of representing the student body.

“Each senator is required to serve on two committees. The two committees I serve on are the Legislative Affairs Committee and the Activities Committee,” Berry said. “We plan homecoming, we participate in the campus kick-off.”

Most senators also plan to do a senator project.

“This is sort of an unofficial way to categorize a particular senator’s pet project which can range from the revamping of parking services to a new campus activity,” Hartley said.

Each senator also has a different goal in regard to bettering the campus. As a peer health educator in the Student Health Counseling Center, Jorgensen believes that bystander awareness programs should be more widespread throughout the community.

“One of my main goals is to use my senator position to make the campus safer as it relates to sexual assault and violence,” Jorgensen said.

Berry hopes to use his position as a senator and Greek life member to pursue his project.

“I want to do my best to make sure we expand Greek Life on campus,” Berry said. “I’ve got several ideas to improve life on campus, increase the revenue of fraternities and sororities… I have a lot of great ideas that will help.”

Hartley simply hopes to represent all students at UAA in his actions.

“My goal… [is to] adequately represent all students of UAA in every legislative action I take, and do my best to ensure that administrative decisions are made using the same criteria,” Hartley said.

On top of their duties, the senators stress the importance of hearing from the voices of fellow students.

“We love hearing from people, and we typically don’t. They don’t know we’re a thing. Or, that we’re just people that sit in a semi-cool office behind some glass. We want to connect,” Jorgensen said.

USUAA members reside in an upstairs office at the Student Union, allowing anyone to walk in and talk to their senators.

“The student government room is a public place and that any time the door is open everyone is welcome to come in and say ‘hi’ or voice a concern,” Hartley said.

Each senator is different and has different goals, but in the end, they are one voice that represents thousands.

May 30, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews

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Student enrollment at UAA has decreased 13 percent since its peak in 2011, according to Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services, Lora Volden. Student tuition accounts for 33 percent of unrestricted revenue to the University and 25 percent of the overall budget according to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Bruce Schultz.

“A dip in enrollment is impactful,” Schultz said. “From my perspective, the mission of this institution is to educate the citizens of Alaska, and when we see a decline in enrollment that means that we are missing on the opportunity to fully fulfill our mission… From a fiscal perspective it does absolutely impact the cost of education.”

The University of Alaska Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request states, under a section on increasing University revenues, that the University is implementing ‘aggressive enrollment, retention and graduation strategies,’ as well as using a 10 year framework that raises UA tuition and fees an average of 4 percent annually.

As Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Schultz is overseeing efforts to increase enrollment and retention, and he said multiple new initiatives are being launched to increase enrollment from different markets.

“We have two new initiatives that are launching next year. One is the Student Success Collaborative. This is a national student success program,” Schultz said.

Along with the Collaborative, Schultz said another new initiative is working to bolster academic advising.

“The number one factor for whether a student persists at an institution is the relationship the student has with their academic adviser. So we’ve been putting a significant amount of resources into our academic advising.”

At Enrollment Services, Volden said one of her goals is to streamline and simplify the admissions process.

“The biggest focus for our office in the next 18 months is really focusing on recruitment and admissions,” Volden said. “We have a lot of things we need to be doing with recruitment and a lot of things we need to be doing with admissions.”

For the fall of fiscal year 2012, after the add-drop period had closed, 16,205 students were enrolled in classes. For the fall of fiscal year of 2017, after the add-drop, 14,308 students were enrolled in classes. Schultz says falling enrollment is caused by high school graduation rates, how the economy is doing, the Alaskan population and the median Alaska family income.

“As the recession happened nationally, enrollment boomed, because as people lost jobs they went back to school, so it will be interesting to see what happens now in Alaska with the recession here if people will actually then enroll in Alaska or what that will mean,” Volden said.

Student Affairs’ budget overall has decreased from fiscal year 2016 to 2017, but funds have been reallocated specifically to increase enrollment efforts.

“We were fortunate that this past year we received additional reallocation funds specifically for enrollment management,” Schultz said. “University Advancement, who takes care of our new student recruitment marketing, received some additional funding, but then we also received some additional funds to do the enrollment and admission recruitment analytics. We received funding from the President of the University system to hire a community outreach coordinator. That was a new initiative this year.”

Marnie Kaler is interim director at New Student Recruitment, and she said new technology and a focus on advertising to metropolitan areas in the Lower 48 are ways Recruitment is trying to increase enrollment.

“There is a lot of pressure from the University right now to make sure we have a sustainable student body, and we are starting to shape that, but typically recruitment is a two year process,” Kaler said. “We have partnered with Ruffalo Noel Levitz, and it’s a well known well established leader in enrollment management. They are doing a couple of things for us; they are looking at our publications to make sure that we are hitting the marks on national standards.”

New Student Recruitment is hosting its first ever summer preview day for juniors outside of Alaska in June. The fall preview day had record attendance with 900 students at the event, and Kaler said new technology is helping recruitment track potential students. On top of these initiatives, Kaler said Recruitment is purchasing names of students who took the SAT and ACT.

With all of these initiatives together, Schultz said the University is projecting higher enrollment for the future.

“We have projected the enrollment for UAA out to 2020, and it includes enrollment growth based on some strategies we are employing to increase the retention rate, the persistence rate, recruitment and we believe there are some untapped markets in Alaska,” Schultz said. “One of those markets is looking at the 115,000 Alaskan citizens that have some college and no degree. That is an audience were we can invite them into the institution.”

The retention rate for first year fall students who re-enroll their second fall was 66.15 percent for fiscal year 2016, according to Student Affairs Key Performance Indicators. This is a small drop from fiscal year 2015, which had a retention rate of 68.64 percent for full-time, first year students.

April 23, 2017 Sarah Tangog
Photo credit: Jian Bautista

For many biology majors, a microbiology focus is not only beneficial, but recommended. Due to the high demand for microbiology in various biological fields, being educated in the subject will allow more opportunities for jobs around the globe.

“Most states already have some sort of a microbiology program. Microbes are intricately involved in our own lives: how we digest food, there’s research coming out about our own moods, antibiotics, antibiotic resistance in the medical field, to some of the stuff I do out in the environment,” Brandon Briggs, assistant professor for the biology department at UAA, said.

The need for microbiology in various fields is growing, the desire for a course in microbiology is becoming more and more of a necessity.

“[Microbes] really affect every aspect of our lives,” Khrys Duddleston, professor in the biology department, said. “A lot of what we learned, especially early on about genetics, we learned by studying bacteria. Because microorganisms are so easy to grow in the lab — many of them are, I should say — so you can grow them overnight, generate a lot of cells, you can carry out a variety of studies in which you can mutate their genomes.”

Despite the importance, Alaska is the last state to receive a microbiology course.

“We have a lower population in the state compared to others, we don’t have nearly as many universities as other states do,” Duddleston said. “As a consequence of that, I don’t think it’s too surprising then that we were the last state.”

Though the end goal is for UAA’s microbiology course to be a degree, it is still only a focus and will be available starting in the fall semester of 2017. Additional information has not yet been posted on the University Catalog.

April 3, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
Closed due to pedestrian safety and traffic concerns, students must use the skybridge to cross over what would be a short distance outside. Photo credit: Young Kim

In the atrium before the Engineering and Computation Building is a door that was once used as a main entrance into the ECB, and is now an emergency door. UAA engineering student, Roman Romanovski, has started a campaign to open that door to pedestrian traffic again. On March 23, Romanovski sent emails on his Facebook and Twitter page @UAAopenthedoor to every email he could find listed on Blackboard.

“I’ve been here long enough to know that [it] used to be a perfectly good entryway and walkway before the remodel of the ECB,” Romanovski said. “I enjoyed just walking across the street, I mean it’s a perfectly good door. It’s quite an inconvenience to go up and over and back down when you have a perfectly good crosswalk. It’s identified with signage, there’s paint on the road, it’s right there in front of the door. It’s always been there until the remodel. I think it’s the knowledge of, ‘Hey, you used to be able to go right across the street, no big deal.’ Now you have to go way out of your way.”

The door is now labeled as an emergency exit only, meaning that Romanovski, and other student pedestrians, cannot enter or exit through the door without triggering an alarm.

Kimberly Riggs is the facilities manager for the College of Engineering, and she said the door is no longer operable but other pathways were considered.

“The whole building was under renovation for a year… During the construction, there was talk of putting in an underpass, like a tunnel, underneath UAA Drive,” Riggs said. “We did the design, we completed the design, but there’s not funding for them currently to do construction on that part. However, the decision was made to close [the door] off because we have the skybridge, and to avoid having pedestrian traffic on the roadway.”

Riggs said the petitions asking for student support and signatures were new, but the pedestrian traffic through that door causes problematic traffic blocks.

“I personally don’t use that crosswalk ever, even when those doors are open, because I feel like it’s much safer and much better for traffic to use the skybridge, and I don’t mind taking the stairs,” Riggs said. “In my opinion, I don’t see a need for this door. I’ve seen traffic blocked all the way to Northern Lights and all the way back to the hospital because there’s no light when people cross the road every five seconds, [cars] have to stop constantly for pedestrian traffic.”

Director of Environmental Health and Safety Risk Management Support and Emergency Management, Doug Markussen, said student safety was best maintained when the ECB door was not used as an outlet for pedestrian traffic.

“That pedestrian crosswalk that goes across UAA Drive, there is not really an officially sanctioned crosswalk by the Municipality of Anchorage, so we’re trying to discourage people from doing it way before any of that took place,” Markussen said. “We much prefer them to use the skywalk… There have been efforts in the past to persuade people to not use that exit.”

Markussen said that the door was needed as an exit and entrance before the ECB underwent construction because of the bus stop right outside of the door.

“The only problem we had was that it was the direct access to the bus stop right out front,” Markussen said. “When they re-did the Engineering building…part of that project was to relocate the bus stop towards the parking garage, which kind of took away the need for the door to be the main entrance to the building anymore. In other words, most people are probably going to be coming in that building through the parking garage or from the bus stop around that end of the building.”

Markussen said there is no longer a need for the bus stop exit and that the road path was too dangerous.

“We’ve had incidents of people getting hit there, I know a bicycle got hit there once, a pedestrian got hit there once,” Markussen said. “There was one gentleman who called me up specifically because he was very irritated, trying to take is wife to the hospital, and it was right between class breaks and the students would not let him through.”

When the ECB was under construction, there was a conversation about building a tunnel underneath UAA Drive to offset the pedestrian traffic, but Markussen said there was no funding for the project. Julian McCarthy, natural sciences major, said he remembers when the door was an option for pedestrian traffic, and that he misses the option.

“Every morning I have to walk to the Allied Health Sciences Building for my morning class, and then right after that, I end up having to walk all the way to the ConocoPhillips Science Building, which is on the other side of campus,” McCarthy said. “I’ve always been kind of curious why that door’s blocked off because it’s a lot faster for me to walk straight through — which I was able to do one of my first few semesters here.”

Currently, there are a handful of signatures on the student petition, and 15 Facebook users are following @UAAopenthedoor.

February 27, 2017 Victoria Petersen
President Jim Johnsen held an open forum last September discussing Phase 1 of the university's Strategic Pathways plan with students and faculty. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

In a speech describing the state of the university, UA President Jim Johnsen announced Feb. 16 that the University system was going “strong” despite a decline in state funding and enrollment.

Johnsen expressed optimism in the university system, noting that strong leaders in the UA board of regents and his implementation of Strategic Pathways are increasing productivity and money management since a lack of state funding.

“President Johnsen’s address had the incredibly difficult job of honestly stating the needs of the university at a time when those needs, primarily more money, are at direct odds with the ability of the state to provide,” Sam Erickson, USUAA President, said. “However, I do believe that being honest about the real challenges faced by UA, such as the deferred maintenance backlog of close to $1 billion, was the best move, enabling a transparent plea to be made to the state based on the realities of funding needs when the university system has already absorbed cuts of almost 14 percent.”

For a university system that has seen nearly 10 percent of UA’s degree and certificate programs eliminated or suspended, a $52.7 million budget shortfall and the elimination of 923 university jobs in the last three years, UAA students are finding it hard to agree with Johnsen’s state of the university statements.

“I’d probably disagree. It seems like UAA struggles a lot financially. I’ve gone here the last two years and have seen a really high increase in tuition. It’s sad to think that Nordic skiing was almost taken away from UAA strictly from budget cuts. I think it’s pretty obvious UAA isn’t really doing that well considering there is constantly something else the are trying to get rid of,” Andrea Brainerd, a UAA health sciences student, said.

Johnsen mentioned a possible five percent, or $16 million, cut to UA funding when the legislature passes their budget for the next fiscal year. Cuts to UA funding are not included in the current budget at this time.

“I don’t think we’re doing that well, but I think we’re doing well considering that we haven’t been doing so well in recent years you know? Like, we’re in a bit of a weird spot and we could be doing a lot better. But we could also be doing so so so much worse,” Hannah Dorough, UAA English student, said.

With possible cuts in the future, university leaders are devising ways to save the UA system money, while maintaining a “strong” quality and efficient education.

USUAA’s Juneau advocacy trip was successful in gaining support from legislators and spreading the word of UA’s need for state funding.

“If Alaska is ever to transition to anything beyond a mere extraction-based economy, UA will play a vital role. We sink or swim together, and the job now falls to us as students and student advocates to press that point home,” Erickson said. “USUAA’s Juneau advocacy trip was already met with significant success and support from many of the new class of freshman legislators, but we won’t stop there.”

Erickson is urging students to call legislators and notes that the best way to get legislators to fund what’s important is to make calls and tell them.

February 20, 2017 Alexis Abbott

The transcript study recently conducted by the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP), researched college readiness at the University of Alaska. The study examined the number of students in need of developmental coursework arriving at all UA campuses in the past ten years.

Since the results were released, the University of Alaska and State Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) issued an official statement stating that they are stepping up to strengthen alignment between their two education systems. Their goal is to dramatically improve educational attainment in Alaska in hopes of improving economic ambition.

In September, the UA Board of Regents and the State Board of Education committed to work together on building a better education culture in the state. The transcript study found that 60 percent of students from Alaska’s largest high schools arrive at the University of Alaska needing remedial classes.

As many as 70 percent of students from Alaska with honor roll GPAs need remedial coursework when beginning college. That means those high percentage of students are paying for high-school-level classes.

Herb Schroeder, professor of engineering at UAA, vice provost for ANSEP, says that curriculum needs to be realigned between the university and K-12.

“We knew that this was a problem, particularly from students coming in from rural schools, but we were shocked to find out that it was a statewide problem for students of all ethnicities,” Schroeder said. “What is happening is that high schools are giving students diplomas and telling them that they are ready for college and they are not.”

The data taken from students for the survey totals 15,016, where just over 60 percent require developmental coursework.

The UA transcript study stated the importance of the results – students are passing college-level courses in high school only to retake them when they come to the university, the state is paying for students to take these courses more than once and students and their families continue to pay for the college courses after the students previously passed the classes in high school.

A link is needed between the university and the transition students make after high school.

“Mentally and physically, I think I was on the fence. I was excited and intrigued about being a college student but at the same time, I was nervous and unsure. That was probably due to the fact that I wasn’t academically prepared and felt rushed to become an adult…I ended up switching majors twice and figuring out what I wanted to do after three years of wasted money and effort,” Mariah DeJesus-Remaklus, a UAA journalism student, said.

Many students feel pressured to go to college immediately after high school, even when they are not scholastically ready.

“College hit me like a truck, breaking me mentally and crushing me emotionally. I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of not being good enough academically. Previous schooling came easily and good grades were handed out freely with minimal effort in work, whereas college is plain hard,” McKenna Smith, an undeclared freshman at UAA, said.

Better college preparation will soon be instilled in Alaska’s 54 school districts around the state. The goal of the UA and DEED is to implement a quality control system that provides improved qualification for furthering Alaskan student’s future education.

“You have to have some kind of quality control, so students are actually learning what you think they’re learning. You can’t just give them a grade because they show up for class,” Schroeder said.

Learn more about the UA transcript study at

February 13, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews

The Creekside Eatery in the Commons is no longer offering morning breakfast hours, and dinner hours have been shortened. Scott Evers, the area manager for NANA Management Services said that spring semester will offer the weekend services instead of weekday options of breakfast, lunch, dinner and late nights.

“Fridays for this semester, we are offering three different meal services: brunch, dinner, and late night. It was several things,” Evers said regarding Friday breakfast no longer being offered. “We have now revamped the whole commons. We did that in a very short amount of time. There are a lot of classes that are not offered on Fridays and we felt that we were going to try it out as a pilot program to see how it was perceived. We are still waiting for feedback with the students to see if we still want to go this way.”

When asked about how students were informed about this switch from morning hours of 7 – 10 a.m. to brunch which will be 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Evers said Seawolf Dining explained everything on their social media.

Seawolf Dining’s Facebook page did post on Jan. 27, the day the Eatery first closed breakfast, at 8:58 a.m., almost two hours after their normal hours.

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The day of the transition, the Seawolf Dining web page had not been updated to reflect the new hours, and in a fifteen minute period around 9 a.m., six or more students walked into the Eatery to be turned away. When asked about this, Evers was surprised. When staff at the Eatery were asked about the transition on Jan. 27, they were surprised about the transition and the web page not being updated as well.

David Weaver, director of Housing, Dining and Conference Services, said that the change was prompted by a lower rate of students living on campus.

“This academic year, we have the fewest students on meal plans in quite a few years,” Weaver said. “I believe this is related to the State’s economic crisis, higher than normal unemployment, people leaving Alaska and tuition price increases prompting students to live at home with parents, and take fewer classes, or time off from school to work. Because of fewer students on meal plans supporting dining operations across campus, we’ve had to make some tough choices. One was to switch Friday meal service at Creekside from breakfast and lunch to just brunch.”

Weaver also said that not many students utilized last semester’s Friday breakfast hours.

“To be honest, very few students swiped into breakfast on Fridays before 10 a.m., so I hoped it would not impact students much at all,” Weaver said.

Ian Mills, economics major, was one student in residential housing that did like to swipe in before 10 a.m., but Mills said that was before the breakfast option was cut. Mills said he was especially surprised by the cut because he never saw flyers advertising the close.

“Well, lots of weekends I like to get an early start, I don’t sleep in very long, and it was nice to be able to eat something before I went out and ran errands or studied or whatever it was that I was trying to do,” Mills said. “That’s kind of hard now that the Bear [Necessities] is closed all mornings before 10:30 [a.m.] and the Commons is closed before 10 [p.m.]. It’s really kind of late for breakfast at that point.”

Mills noted that even though the commons has been renovated, that some of the renovation promises, like the TVs advertised on design plans, never came to fruition.

“They told us that they were putting TVs on all these posts and we see how that turned out. The posters that are up by the door advertise TVs on the posts. Six flat screen TVs were advertised in the remodel,” Mills said. “It’s kind of frustrating, because we paid, we kind of entered into an informal contract with them under the expectations that we would receive the same services we’ve been receiving for the same price we’ve been paying for those services, and they decreased the amount of service we are receiving, and they didn’t decrease the price we are paying.”

Creekside Eatery’s reduced hours on Friday followed a Seawolf Dining decision last semester to take away the Union Station’s ability to accept dining dollars.

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 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.

August 10, 2015 Samantha Davenport

A decent amount of my freshman year was spent in room 207-B of West hall. I really liked West, it was overflow housing so not a lot of people occupied the halls. I lived in a quad, which consists of four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living room. Two of my roommates were hardly there…

April 21, 2015 Victoria Petersen

In the wake of budget cuts, university officials are brainstorming ways to save money in the state’s uncertain economy.  In late February, the Board of Regents approved a 5 percent tuition increase to take effect fall 2015 to counteract the financial shortfall. As students prepare for these increased expenses in the coming academic year, some may be surprised to learn about the smaller costs being added to the mandatory student fees. With each credit hour, mandatory fees increase — which can add up to, in some cases, more than $400 each semester.

One fee to note, the facilities fee, is increasing by $2. The facilities fee, one of the most expensive mandatory fees, is used to support facility renovation and infrastructure renewal. The fee is being raised from $4 a credit hour — applicable for students enrolled in up to 15 credits regardless of class delivery mode — to $6 a credit hour in the upcoming academic year. For a student taking 15 or more credits each semester, the facilities fee will increase $30, from $60 this year to $90 in the upcoming year.

Combined with the other mandatory fees the cost begins to add up.

University of Alaska President Pat Gamble issued the facilities fee Aug. 7, 2014. The fee would be raised by $2 every semester until being capped at $6 in the fall semester of 2015.

“The origin of (the fee) started on the Fairbanks campus and was collection for the power plant to keep funding. The way we use it on the Anchorage campus is for projects that enhance the campus for students by a safety aspect or any aspect,” said Ryan Buchholdt, Facilities and Campus Services business manager. “We are going to be installing LED parking lot lights in all the parking lots. They cost less, improve visibility and reduce issues with maintenance … that’s just one way we are using the funds. There is more money going towards the academic side rather than the back of house.”

Parking lot lights will be changed this summer in addition to lighting upgrades in Rasmuson Hall Room 101.

Many students notice the fees but fail to take advantage of the projects and facilities they go toward. Logistics student Matthew Newkirk pays little attention to the fees but is apathetic to increases.

“I have looked at the fees and the amounts somewhat. I take advantage of some more than others. Since people don’t/can’t usually abstain raising them a little, they probably wouldn’t be rejected. It would be great if there was more information on why the increase was happening though,” Newkirk said.

Mandatory student fees apply to all students enrolled in three or more credits, with the exception of the Facilities and Technology fees, which are applied at the first credit a student takes. There are nine mandatory fees.

One of the mandatory fees is the ePortfolio Fee, which is used to UAA’s software license of the ePortfolio service.  The fee is a flat $8. The service allows for students to create their own online portfolios.

The Green Fee is another mandatory student fee. The fee is set up for students who have a sustainable initiative or idea to use to make UAA a more sustainable and green campus. Some of the programs that have been funded by the Green Fee include the bike share program that allows students to check out bikes on campus.

The next fee is the Concert Board Fee, a $10 flat rate fee that allows UAA Concert Board to sponsor a variety of concerts including the Campus Kick-Off Comedy Show, A Cappella Festivella, Homecoming and Winterfest concerts and more.

In addition to the previous fees, students are also charged a $1 per credit Student Government Fee. The fee supports USUAA and the organizations that operate under them.

Students are also responsible for paying an $11 flat Media Fee that supports KRUA 88.1 FM and The Northern Light. The fee is split evenly between the two organizations.

UAA students must also pay a Student Transportation fee that allows students to use the Seawolf Shuttle or take the People Mover buses for free. The fee also helps pay for pedestrian transportation services like bicycle racks, escorts and trail maintenance.

The technology fee is just another one of the many fees students pay each semester. This fee starts when students take just one credit and is $5 per credit. The technology fee helps pay for Internet, IT services, and up-to-date software and equipment.

One group of fees can rack up to $270 — the Student Life fees. Student Life Fees encompass the Athletics/Recreational Sports fee, Student Activities Fee and the Student Health and Counseling Services Fee.

The Athletics/Recreational Sports fee allows students to use the recreation facilities around campus including the Alaska Airlines Campus Fitness and Recreation Center and the auxiliary gym and the multitude of offerings at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. The fee also allows students to get into UAA sporting events for a free or reduced price. The fee is $9 per credit and is split $5.40 for athletic events and $3.60 for recreational use.

Student Life fees also go towards Student Activities. Student Activities organize and support Campus Kick-Off, Homecoming, Winterfest and a variety of other events throughout the year. In addition, Student Activities funds the Publicity Center, which UAA clubs can use to get the word out for free and the Student Union Gallery.

Lastly, the Student Life fee includes the Student Health and Counseling Services fee which is $10 per credit. The fee helps support the Student Health and Counseling Center in Rasmuson Hall. Student may use the center for a variety of services including testing, check-ups, counseling and more for a free or reduced price.

In addition to these mandatory fees, course fees are commonly added to student’s bills depending on what courses they take. These fees include the e-learning fee, which is $25 a credit for every distance class taken by the student, and the lab fees which pays for the supplies in many science and art classes and varies in price from course to course.

Christina Johnson, adjunct professor for the department of social sciences for UAA’s Mat-Su College, has been teaching distance courses for Mat-Su College over the last two years and is continuing through the summer in solely distance education.

“I wasn’t even aware of this fee. I’m not sure where that money goes. It would be helpful to have more information about what this money is used for available for students,” Johnson said.

Along with tuition these mandatory student fees provide students with resources that can be taken advantage of when enrolled in three or more credits.

To find more information on student fees visit

March 5, 2015 Victoria Petersen

In early March, the University of Alaska will participate in a Title IX survey released to generate an overall understanding of how the university system is doing when it comes to making sure students feel safe. The campus climate survey will give the University of Alaska understanding of campus safety, education and services, and outreach…

February 26, 2015 John Sallee

Mikel Jay Foeh-Lang Hometown: Yokohama, Japan Born: July 23, 1992 Fun fact: English is his second language. His first language was Bahaasa Indonesian. He also speaks Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Java. “I genuinely feel like we are all on this campus for change,” says business major Mikel Jay Foeh-Lang. What makes Foeh-Lang so interesting is…

February 18, 2015 Victoria Petersen

Tucked within students’ UAA billing statements lies the “Green Fee,” a $3 fee that goes into a larger pool of money set aside specifically for projects that promote sustainability on campus. The Green Fee grant was founded by the students for the students to implement sustainability how they please. “It all comes down to us…

December 8, 2014 George Hyde

For Caitlin Cheely, a UAA alumna who earned her major in Russian last year, the weeks following graduation were a difficult and uncertain time.

“Life after college can be equally exciting and frightening,” Cheely said.

After graduation, students can be unsure of where to go or what to do. Thankfully, though, there are people at UAA who can help with the ordeal, including Danica Bryant, who is the workforce and career development coordinator at the UAA Career Services Center, or CSC.
“Graduates should be utilizing our free resources before they even graduate by doing internships and attending job fairs during their senior year,” Bryant said. “Since no one can turn back time, we still offer the same resources to recent graduates and alumni that we offer current students.”

The CSC allows students to meet one-on-one with staff to have their resumes examined and critiqued. The CSC can also test interview skills to help students get used to the process of getting a job after graduation.
In addition, the CSC offers free professional attire and access to several job databases both within and outside of UAA’s networks. This makes finding a job after college a much easier prospect.

These resources are extremely important, and they can make the difference between being a desirable job candidate and being off-putting towards a prospective employer. UAA’s CSC exists for a reason, and it’s useful to use them while you can.

Getting a job immediately after graduation, though, isn’t the only option. In fact, Cheely also advocates traveling.
“Employment may not be your first concern after graduation, and that is okay,” Cheely said. “As long as you have the resources necessary to plan an extended trip, it makes sense to travel after you graduate when you have very few obligations keeping you tied to a specific place.”

Graduate school is yet another option for graduates as well. For some, it’s a straight continuation of their collegiate careers. For others, it’s a long-term goal put off by a lack of finances.

For students like Cheely, a combination of the last two options is valid.
“Seeing as my graduate school of choice was not in Alaska, I made the decision to move out of state,” Cheely said. “I do not have connections to the community where my graduate school of choice is, so I want to be more self-sufficient before I move in that direction.”

In cases like her’s, it’s crucial to adjust to life in the community surrounding the graduate school, especially if it’s out of state. The feeling of being a stranger in a strange land is something that collegiate life should be training people for, but just in case, it’s sometimes ideal to take a slower pace.
In the end, though, it’s important to focus on what you want to achieve in life. No matter what happens after graduation, it’s important to stick to what you love and do what your degree has trained you for, at your own pace.
“The most important thing is that you make a consistent effort to pursue whatever goals you set for yourself,” Cheely said. “You will not always be able to travel in a straight line from point A to point B; you might need to make some stops along the way. Always try to make the most of those bumps in the road.”

October 28, 2014 Brett Baker

[youtube url=”” autoplay=”yes”] TNL Spotlight: Devin Johnson discusses his new role as a USUAA Senator James Evans meets with Devin Johnson to discuss his new role as a Senator in UAA’s student government, USUAA. USUAA: @USUAA

October 7, 2014 Stephen Cress

In the wake of two Main Apartment Complex break-ins within a week, concerns have been raised for the safety of students living in the residence halls. The first break-in took place Sept. 24, and the second took place seven days later on Oct. 1.
Around 2 a.m. Oct. 1, junior Derek Heck heard strange noises outside of his door.

Upon investigating the noise, Heck said he saw a man climbing into the window of his apartment’s living room while another man with a backpack stood outside. Heck startled the intruder by running toward him, causing the intruder to leave the window and run away.

Heck said he followed the intruder and chased both men on foot before they got away. After returning to his apartment, Heck woke up his roommates and immediately called the University Police Department, where they filed an incident report and were told to make sure their windows and doors were locked.

Heck’s roommate Devon Johnson, an environment and society junior, said he was asleep at the time of the incident and was only made aware of what happened the following day.

“If it had been a little longer, they would have been in our place,” Johnson said. “That’s the scariest thing to think about.”

Johnson said within two days of the incident, MAC resident coordinator Maria Bonifacio and UPD detective Teresa Denette called two emergency mandatory meetings for all MAC residents. The meetings, Oct. 2 and 3, discussed the incident and measures student residents should take to ensure their safety.

Denette told students that September through November are the most common months for break-ins to occur, because there are fewer daylight hours and little snow to reflect light.

So far this semester, a total of two break-ins have been reported in the Residence Halls.

During the meeting, Denette and Bonifacio proposed installing more streetlights and motion-sensing lights to increase visibility and eliminate blind spots along pathways for students in the residence halls. They also discussed possibly providing dowels to further secure the windows and having students with broken window locks place work orders.

UPD and Residence Life advise that all students living in the residence halls make sure that all of their windows and doors are properly locked and move their valuable items out of plain sight.

Denette said UPD is available to provide escorts for all students on campus that may feel unsafe walking alone or in dark areas.

To report an incident on campus, please contact UPD at 907-786-1120, or call 911 for emergencies.

February 23, 2014 Suhaila Brunelle

The cost of renting an apartment in Anchorage can be high, and working to pay for rent, utilities and groceries can be difficult while attending college. The residence halls also offer many programs to help students succeed in education. One of the programs offered is the First Year Experience program in North Hall. This program…

February 23, 2014 Audriana Pleas

The USUAA student government Advocacy Team returned from the state capital after a slew of productive meetings with state legislators between Feb. 1 and 4. Along with their other University of Alaska associates, the advocacy team met with senators and representatives in an effort to garner a bigger budget for UA projects.
The UA Coalition of Students advocated for larger budgets for the UAA and UAF engineering buildings, the UAF power plant and high-demand academic programs. The platform encompasses the needs of all schools in the UA system. An agreement was reached on Feb. 2 before meeting with legislators the following Monday and Tuesday.
Chancellor Tom Case asked USUAA to advocate for funds for the Alaska Airlines Center because it can only operate for 6 months on present funds.
UAA representatives thought it was more appropriate to focus on the UA system as a whole and directed their attentions elsewhere. USUAA is planning to head back to the capital to advocate for UAA-specific needs sometime next month.
USUAA President Drew Lemish, who is part of the Advocacy Team, says his decision to refrain from advocating for UAA-specific topics in this past advocacy meeting was welcomed by the UAA participants.
UA President Pat Gamble gave a budget presentation last Tuesday about the UA systems and the projects that need extra financial attention. UA students were granted the chance to provide testimonials and further explanation on topics that included advising.
Younger Oliver, a member of the Advocacy Team, says this is the first time a platform has not been organized beforehand. This was Oliver’s third and final trip as a UAA advocate. Her experience allowed her to lend advice to her team members.
“Everyone from around the state was on the same page,” Oliver said. “We all had the same goal, and when we actually went in to meet with legislators on Monday and Tuesday, we were all on point and we knew what we were talking about and we had done our research.”
Lemish agreed with Oliver.
“At the end of Tuesday evening, I would say that we accomplished everything we went down to accomplish. And I couldn’t have asked for a better team to go down with. And I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” Lemish said.
However, Lemish recognizes the need to return by to Juneau to ensure what UAA needs is conveyed in meetings.
“I think there is an opportunity, and I hope this opportunity is taken advantage of when we go down to advocate for UAA-specific needs, such as the sports complex operating budget,” he said.

February 23, 2014 Evan Erickson

Running the risk of an unprofitable overlap of graduation and Christmas gifts, UAA students will have the chance to walk at the newly opened Alaska Airlines Center on Dec. 14, just after fall final exams week. The decision to host December and May commencements at the new arena was made at a meeting of the Chancellor’s Cabinet last Tuesday.
To address concerns that summer and fall graduates might not be interested in a fall ceremony, Student Affairs conducted a survey of students, which found 54 of 68 respondents supported the idea.
UAA Special Events Manager Bridgett Mackey, who chairs the Commencement Planning Committee, has been working with a special task force since October sharing information with the Chancellor’s Cabinet to get approval.
“It’s another thing that contributes to enforcing UAA as a community. To have it on campus really creates that front porch feeling,” Mackey said.
Mackey says one advantage of the Alaska Airlines Center is its greater opportunity for the staging of graduates in the arena prior to walking. Whereas past commencements at the Sullivan Arena have had students staged in the hallways or even outside, the Alaska Airlines Center has an auxiliary gym that can be used for that purpose.
Mackey herself remembers having to wait patiently outside the Sullivan the first time she walked.
The Alaska Airlines Center is a much smaller arena, and fall commencement may be necessitated by capacity restrictions. Previous ceremonies at the Sullivan Arena have seen 800–850 students on the floor at a time, not including faculty and orchestra. The new arena has a maximum floor capacity of 892, as well as significantly fewer seats available.
Fall commencement is common practice at schools all over the country, and there are pros and cons.
“I personally wouldn’t have a problem with it, but I think a lot of people might have an issue with vacations,” Fine Arts major Lisa Thayer said.
Fall and summer graduates may be less likely to participate in commencement if they need to wait until May to walk.
“You’ll be more likely to walk if you can walk when you graduate. Friends and family won’t have to wait as long either,” Geological Sciences major Stephen Warta said.
UAA has not held a fall commencement since the late 1980s when the university was known as UA,A before merging with Anchorage Community College.

February 23, 2014 Suhaila Brunelle

The University of Alaska Anchorage offers a major in chemistry with two concentrations: biochemistry and chemistry. At present, a total of 80 students have declared chemistry as their major. Of these 80 students, 70 have declared a concentration in biochemistry, and only five have declared a concentration in a general studies track of chemistry called…

February 4, 2014 Audriana Pleas

In the next few weeks, important decisions about issues affecting students will be made. Students will be able to vote on the issues such as the smoke-free initiative and the introduction of a $6 recreational fee. For other issues, such as the funding for building operations, students are dependent on USUAA student government for representation.

Student representatives were in Juneau after battling flight cancellations last Friday and brief delays Saturday morn- ing. The annual advocacy trip officially commenced Saturday afternoon.

January 28, 2014 Evan Erickson

Plagiarism has been the scourge of academia for centuries. But should every culprit be punished? When does plagiarism become an opportunity for teachers to teach?

A simple Google search would reveal that the paragraph above was lifted directly from an article in the Rhode Island College News. At UAA, plagiarism this blatant can earn stiff penalties, and according to a recently released report published by the Dean of Students Office, “Students of Concern and Their Behavior,” it has.

January 21, 2014 Jacob Holley-Kline

It starts with a block of clay. Pieces are lopped off, rolled between hands and fashioned into objects and bodies. The edges are delicately pressed and raised. These projects are ideas and viewpoints molded into being by the talented students of the ceramics department.

After months of toil, selected student artists will present their work at the Claybody Ceramics Invitational in the Student Union Gallery this month.

January 21, 2014 Evan Erickson

First, take the over 300 programs and 200 or so functions that constitute UAA and have staff and faculty describe their importance. Next, assemble two respective task forces culled from staff and faculty for the purpose of evaluating the responses.

December 10, 2013 Evan Erickson

As of Jan. 1 UAA will no longer grant credit for College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams for Western Civilization I and II, and United States History I and II. Western Civilization I and II and either United States History I or II are general education requirements for all Bachelor of Arts degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college in the university system.

November 26, 2013 Evan Erickson

USUAA and Alaska state legislators persevered through a handsome ice storm to sit down for lunch Friday afternoon in the Student Union Den. All but two guests were able to attend the event, which was cut short by campus closures.

November 12, 2013 Suhaila Brunelle

As part of Engage Week, UAA’s Smoke-Free Task Force, Seawolf Debate, the Journalism and Public Communications Department, and the Department of Health hosted a soapbox debate about whether or not UAA should initiate a comprehensive smoke-free policy.