The Northern Light The student newspaper for University of Alaska-Anchorage. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:56:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 It’s about our future Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:56:36 +0000 By Nick Black,

Being a college student is exciting and challenging — it also can be a bit nerve-wracking as graduation gets closer. Considering how depressed our economy has been, is it any wonder? Even as reports have started to highlight slightly rosier circumstances, college graduates are still struggling to find their footing in these new conditions. This is why college is now a time for trepidation, as well as intrepidness.

Being a student in Alaska — a proud Seawolf — makes these feelings even more intense. Our futures are intricately linked with the future of our state overall, and so also with the future of energy. This is because our state is one of the greatest resources for domestic energy in the country, and encouraging its responsible exploration and development is key to the future of energy, and also of our state. Energy means jobs, opportunities, and revenue, especially in Alaska.

Consider that between the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and U.S. Arctic waters, there is an estimated nearly 40 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which could heat America’s homes for decades to come. For Alaskans, these resources could increase revenues for the state and help fund our state universities and colleges – programs that have been cut in recent years due to lower oil production and lower state revenues.

Exploring these supplies would increase our stability and security, lower costs for consumers, provide billions in new revenues, and create tens of thousands of jobs. And jobs are critical to students like me. In fact, my friends who are pursuing petroleum engineering degrees are truly dependent upon whether the energy industry is encouraged or discouraged. We all are. If the energy industry is not encouraged, the entire Alaskan economy would be doomed — and my friends and I could be forced to leave our home state in search of opportunities elsewhere.

Frustratingly, the administration’s recent decisions are not encouraging. Proposing a leasing plan that bans development in large swaths of U.S. Arctic waters, as well as a drilling ban in resource-rich areas of ANWR, strangles our domestic energy production, and chokes our futures. The President should have spent time consulting with those directly impacted, those of us who live and work — and hope to work! — in Alaska.

In fact, he should have consulted with his Departments of Labor and Commerce too. Both have highlighted the amount of Americans still out of work, despite the rising number of new job openings, pointing out that much of this can be explained by a gap in skills. This is especially true in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) that my friends and I love. It’s difficult to encourage students to choose these fields though, when the future of an important industry related to these fields is in doubt thanks to Administration policies.

The truth is, it is about all of our futures. The energy industry is critical to not just students like me who hope to pursue careers at home, not just to the great state of Alaska, but also to all Americans. Our futures are linked via this vital resource. It is time for energy exploration and development to be encouraged — for all of us.

Nick Black is a student at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

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The Simple Pleasure of Biking Wed, 25 Mar 2015 04:33:08 +0000 I can probably count on one hand what I consider “traumatic experiences” from my childhood. I come from a comfortable upbringing in Juneau, Alaska. The only place in town I could ever picture myself getting jumped was the skate park, and I didn’t even turn up there much.


But I still had a couple traumatic events as a teenager. One of which involved nearly having my brand-new mountain bike stolen out from under me during my of the summer breaks in high school.


I was a couple blocks north of the airport, near the outskirts of the Mendenhall Valley, as I unsuspectingly rode my two shiny wheels down an empty residential area. Then I noticed a kid started following me on his own bike. He was with a gang of two or three others, all of which looked like they were up to no good.


A knot began to tighten in my stomach.


“Wanna switch bikes for a quick ride?” he asked.


He was on a BMX bike that had seen better days, and I was riding a mountain bike that had not. What the heck was he thinking? Who the heck did he think I was?


Fortunately, I had enough street sense to turn down the offer and burn rubber back home, my adrenaline racing faster than Jeff Gordon in Daytona in February. I was safe, and so was my $600 aluminum birthday present.


As I reflect back on this incident, already eight years past, I think of how this single event could have led to a divorce between biking and myself — which would be really sad because biking rocks. For three summers I worked as a bicycle guide for cruise line visitors. For six or more summers I have used biking as my preferred method of transportation in my hometown.


But as I blissfully discovered last weekend, one doesn’t have to keep the old two-wheeler chained up until summer to move around, even in Alaska. The last few weeks of steady sunshine in Anchorage has gradually warmed the temperatures, melting the ice away from sidewalks and bike paths.


My friend Stephen and I made it all the way out to Earthquake Park from campus on Saturday on bikes. The going was certainly dirty — most of the sidewalks were cased in grime — but the weather and scenery made it a fun aerobic outing.


Biking is not only a flexible way of getting around — it is a great way to keep from getting spring fever. Just don’t forget a helmet!

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Students educate UAA community about upcoming implementation of a smoke-free campus during Kick Butts Day. Wed, 25 Mar 2015 04:30:52 +0000 On March 18, volunteers scatted across campus to educate students and faculty. Volunteers gave out free brochures, swag and ice cream sundaes to capture the attention of students and staff.  They introduced resources available for students and staff who want to quit smoking, and they educated passersby about Kick Butts Day and UAA’s smoke-free policy coming into effect later this year.

“It’s about preventing secondhand smoke and investing in your future” said Neelou Tabatabai, who was one of the volunteers who set up booths in Rasmuson Hall, the Student Union and the Social Sciences Building.

Kick Butts Day is a nationally recognized event that empowers youth to stand against tobacco.

Event volunteer Yesenia Camarena sees Kick Butts Day as a great day to spread the word about how to quit smoking and on-campus resources for those hoping to do so.

Camarena said the policy will help incoming students abstain from smoking.

“It will help all the students transitioning from high school to college to not pick up smoking, since it isn’t allowed on campus,” Camarena said.

In addition to celebrating Kick Butts Day the volunteers also used the event to inform students and faculty of the upcoming implementation of the smoke-free campus policy. This policy was voted for by students in April 2014. The policy went to the Board of Regents, which passed the motion Dec. 11, 2014. The policy will be implemented Nov. 19. The University of Alaska Southeast and Fairbanks campuses will implement the policy no later than December 2015.

Almost 80 percent of UAA students do not smoke and nearly 75 percent of students support a smoke-free campus. In contrast, international studies student Madeline Neel feels implementing this policy is unnecessary.

“The population of smokers on campus is so minute it seems, I don’t see this policy making a dramatic difference, if any,” Neel said. “I think if people want to smoke their cigarettes in their cars on campus between classes, they should be allowed to. It seems insignificant to me.”

The UA system will join nearly 1,200 other universities across the nation implementing this smoke-free policy.

To learn more about the campus smoke-free policy visit

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New Provost Samuel Gingerich steps up to UAA’s financial issues Wed, 25 Mar 2015 03:56:49 +0000 For the past several months, UAA has been searching for a new provost. A national search process identified four candidates for the position: Murray Nabors, Neil Ringler, John Murray and Elizabeth Hendrey. In the end, pros and cons from the search committee were recognized and Chancellor Tom Case ultimately made the decision to hire Samuel Gingerich.

Diane Hirshberg, professor of Education Policy and Faculty Senate president, sat on the search committee to hire the new provost.

“We didn’t hire a provost out of the search. I was consulted by the chancellor as he was trying to decide what to do. It’s hard, because normally you do want a search to be successful and this ends up being a non-standard procedure. What I will say is I really liked some of the finalists, but I had some concerns on whether they had the depth of experience given the current situation,” Hirshberg said. “I believe that if we weren’t facing such a fiscal crisis and a lot of turning in leadership, then some of the candidates could have been mentored into being excellent provosts. I just think that at the time there was a lot of concern. I think that Samuel brings the strengths needed. I call him a ringer. He has been vice president of a system before, he’s been a provost, he’s been a dean, so I think he will bring a lot of insight and prospective.”

Samuel Gingerich talked to The Northern Light about his background experience.

“I grew up on a dairy farm in Northern New York. I attended college in Northern Indiana and got my undergraduate degree in chemistry. Shortly after I got a master’s in chemistry from Cornell University. After I took a couple year hiatus from education and did some other fun things. I re-enrolled in graduate school at Montana State University, got a Ph.D. in chemistry. I worked at the University of Nevada for a couple years, then got my first faculty position in chemistry at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. I served as a faculty member there and was promoted through the ranks, earned tenure. I served as a department chair and then was given an opportunity to become the associate vice president of Academic Affairs. I left there in the late ‘90s and went to Colorado Mesa University and served as provost for a number of years. I was also given the opportunity to serve as the interim president for about 15-18 months. From there, I went to Mississippi University for Women, where I spent a couple years as provost vice president of Academic Affairs. At that point in time I got a call from some people I knew in South Dakota and they invited me to apply for the job as assistant vice president of Academic Affairs. I have spent the last eight years in South Dakota working. In June I retired from that position. My wife had begun working up here as the Associate Vice Provost from Institutional Research about a year ago. I sort of became the trailing spouse and came up here,” he said.”

Rashmi Prasad, College of Business and Public Policy dean, was the chair of the provost search committee.

“I think the chancellor was weighing the challenges of socializing and incorporating a new person into such a critical role in comparison to the fact that Sam Gingerich is extremely seasoned, very experienced, and also demonstrated that he was a very quick study and had a very good grasp of the situation,” Prasad said.

Amidst fiscal difficulties, searching for a new president, and dean searches, UAA has chosen Gingerich to spearhead issues within his specialty.

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UAA’s Got Talent showcases old and new faces Wed, 25 Mar 2015 03:44:13 +0000 Last Thursday night’s UAA’s Got Talent event was a gathering for talented faces in the Student Union Cafeteria. The two-hour show was full of beautiful voices, dancers and a unique balancing act. UAA students had the opportunity to showcase a talent to an audience, whether it be singing, dancing or playing an instrument.

Argel Isaguirre, a pre-nursing major and 2014 UAA’s Got Talent champion, opened the show with his amazing ability to shred the guitar.

“Tonight was amazing! There was a good crowd turnout, and the contestants gave it their all and really showed what it means to share their craft and talent. My favorite part of the show would have to be either Cherise or the BWM group,” Isaguirre said. “Being the guest of honor in this year’s talent show was a blast. I got to play a Steve Vai piece and the piece that I played for last year’s talent show, ‘Canon Rock’ by Johann Pachelbel, arranged by Jerry C. I would like to say thank you to Balogun (Bishop) and everyone involved in setting up the talent show and letting me take part in the event. I really enjoyed it!”

Student Devin Johnson performed after Isaguirre’s impressive opening. Johnson performed an original piece for the crowd with guitar accompaniment. He turned heads while as he performed, and he stood on a balancing board throughout the song. Johnson got enthusiastic responses from crowd members, who were shouting hoots and hollers out.

“My favorite part was having the chance to perform on stage for everyone,” Johnson said. “I really love being up there and in the moment.”

Edward Washington II, also known by the crowd as Chocolate Jesus, is a music major with who studies vocal performance. He took first place in the talent show with his group BWM. BWM stands for Black White Men (or Mexican — there was an inconsistency in group member opinion).

“I was really nervous at first. This is my first-ever talent competition, I don’t know if you could tell, but my hands were shaking, I was just so nervous!” Washington said. “I watched Argel win last year and then I was just thinking that I could do this. I’ve only been singing for like three years, so it was definitely a big step.”

Other singers debuted their voices and original pieces, while some stuck to the piano and played beautiful covers of popular songs that the crowd clapped along to. Overall, UAA’s Got Talent was a perfect opportunity to show the talented students that the University of Alaska Anchorage has.


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Boring family vacation, part 3: What have we learned? Wed, 25 Mar 2015 03:40:05 +0000 By Klax Zlubzecon

Translated by George Hyde

George is finally back in Anchorage and has returned to sanity’s warm embrace. This is what happens when you drop a nerd in rural, religious conservative America: It drives him to the brink of insanity. It got a little better after the sports bar incident, mostly because we spent the majority of his time either sleeping or desperately trying not to stick out like a sore thumb to the townsfolk — which proved difficult, because unlike in Anchorage, hats are uncommon in Montoursville, and without hats, I become rather hard for George to hide.

But I digress. We’re back, and everything is familiar again. And that means I can finally put my mind on something other than George’s boring family life. Hooray!

So today I’d like to discuss the concept of hype, because it’s something George and I have had an odd relationship with over the past year or two.

Let’s take the vacation in Montoursville as an example. George was raring to go because it had been almost six years since he last saw his mother’s side of the family. When we arrived, his family welcomed us with open arms, but everyone else looked upon us with contempt. Within days, George had become mentally unhinged, trying to binge-watch “Avatar: The Last Airbender” on Amazon Prime in a desperate attempt to regain what little sanity he had left. Just as he was hyped to get to Montoursville, he was just as ready to board the plane home within just a couple days.

Meanwhile, I, not really wanting a sleepy vacation, grudgingly went along. But I was pleasantly surprised! I mean, the town was full of pricks, but I love George’s folks to bits! And while George was lying in bed in fetal position trying to breathe deeply, I felt like a kid sneaking into a horror movie. I was scared too, but I wanted to be scared. I wanted thrills, and that’s what I got.

The only difference between me and George was our mindsets. George was excited and I wasn’t. And when it was all over, George was left in shambles, and I was left wanting to stay and creep out the locals.

There’s a great T-shirt out there that demonstrates this effect perfectly. If you’re not hyped for something, and it turns out to be really cool, then that’s an awesome surprise. If you’re not hyped for something, and it turns out to be really terrible, then hey, you get a nice sense of smug superiority. If you are hyped for something, and it turns out to be really cool, then all is well. But if you’re hyped for something, and it turns out to be really terrible, then it’s the worst feeling in the world.

I think the shirt was called “The Gamer Matrix” or something like that, but really, it applies to anything — even life in general. Cynical people turn out to be happier people, in that respect.

The most infamous example of this, of course, is “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” Man, George and his father were so excited for that movie. Everyone was. It was the first “Star Wars” movie in something like 15 years, and the trailers and toy props were just feeding the “Star Wars” fever that the nation — nay, world — had caught. I mean, it’s a new “Star Wars”! How could it not suck?

And yet, it did suck. It sucked hard. I don’t think George’s father has fully recovered from that blow to this day, although his excitement for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is disconcertingly palpable. I’m not saying history’s going to repeat itself for “Age of Ultron,” but it’s best to keep an open mind.

That sounds crushing if you’re someone who’s excited for something. There’s no way “Age of Ultron” could be terrible, right? Especially now that Marvel is on a roll with its previous movies. There’s no way this camping trip could go wrong! This date’s going to go perfectly! This family vacation is going to be just what I needed!

Minds like that are set up perfectly to be massively disappointed. There’s a virtue to cynicism. Going in with a dark, hopeless mind will make those hope spots shine much, much brighter. It sounds depressing, but what a virtue it is!

Plus, it makes minds so much easier to control. We brain slugs have to be on the lookout for that. Nope, no ulterior motive behind this article!


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Backcountry medicine and other ramblings Wed, 25 Mar 2015 03:36:54 +0000 So over spring break I eschewed the normal range of college break activities, such as drinking (too poor), studying (too lazy) and vacationing at the beach (did I mention too poor?). Instead I made the questionable decision to take 11-hour classes every day in order to become a Wilderness First Responder.

Thankfully we did get a rest day or two in the middle of the week, which I used to go hike and explore Whittier, Hope, Girdwood and Kenai, taking advantage of the rare sunshine — though any of my professors reading this should instead assume that I’m lying and worked incredibly hard on whatever project they had assigned me.

WFRs (or “woofers” as they’re casually known) are trained medical professionals that specialize in backcountry medicine. The idea being that while an EMT is no good to you without an ambulance, and a surgeon is no good to you without a sterile operating room, WFRs are trained to treat certain types of wilderness injuries and stabilize the patient until they can be evacuated to a higher degree of medical care.

Simple dislocations, head trauma, severe asthma, anaphylaxis, spinal injuries and wound management are a few of the main concepts we touched upon, but the main idea of the course was improvisation. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t trained to summon an eagle to swoop down and deliver a defibrillator in the middle of the forest, so much of the course involves using what you have on hand to splint limbs and construct rescue sleds.

Having grown up watching medically accurate documentaries like “Scrubs” and “House,” I actually recognized the odd term here and there. But given that I don’t come from a science background, the course was almost entirely new to me. I came away with a new appreciation for the human body and the sneaking suspicion that I should probably stop feeding mine trash and forcing it not to sleep.

The class itself was fairly diverse, ranging from two outdoorsy college students, a handful of hunting guides and lodge owners, and quite a few remote government employees from Fish and Game and the Department of Natural Resources. What this looked like in practice was a Patagonia convention mixed with an unkempt beard competition. After years of wallowing in the midst of professionally dressed economics majors it was like walking into a classroom and suddenly finding myself transported to the middle of REI in July.

While the first bit of the course was fairly lecture heavy, we quickly progressed into drills intended to make us diagnose and treat patients with no prior information to go on. By day three we started running scenarios intended to simulate large-scale incidents in which seven or eight patients were hurt with varying mechanisms of injury. Everything from car crashes, bike crashes and remote camp mishaps (which fittingly included a sled crash) became fair game and the patients ranged from slightly stressed to unresponsive and bleeding internally.

If you saw mayhem, madness and spurting blood in the UAA quad or APU ski trails and wondered what catastrophe could have possibly happened, it was probably just us practicing our medical skills under pressure. The mantra of “kill them in here, not out there” was drilled into our skulls for a solid week until everyone in the classes had well surpassed the minimum requirements and passed the exit exam. On our way out we were treated to the sobering fact that, statistically, as least one of us would use the skills we had learned within the next six months.

What had only been a week had instead felt like a solid month of intensive drills that even the most incompetent person couldn’t have helped but learned from. The main takeaway — other than the fact that stressed patients often make stupid decisions — is that a good many of my friends probably could have died or seriously injured themselves on numerous occasions.

So now I’m a Wilderness First Responder. Maybe it will lead to a job someday — and you can bet your ass I’m heavily hyping that certification as I apply for summer internships —  or maybe it will save my own life or someone around me. More likely it means I’m going to have to yell at my friends every time we go out on trips for doing something I’ve now learned is incredibly stupid.

Either way, it’s easily the most productive spring break I’ve ever had, even if I did forget how a normal sleep schedule worked. If you’re ever interested in the course, they are offered through the university on campus, so there’s no excuse about not having time. I’ve run into a lot of idiots in the woods, and while I now realize exactly how much can go wrong, I’m vaguely comforted that there are now 16 more people who have some inkling of what they’re doing.

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Back to school: Nicole Sola shares her new passions Wed, 25 Mar 2015 03:24:43 +0000 Student Nicole Sola might be seen around campus studying chemistry or at Bear Tooth Theatre Pub serving pizza and beer. A UAA graduate in international studies with minors in German and political science, 24-year-old Sola is back at school on a new path studying biology.

“(I) Decided I wanted to come back and study biology. I want to do something super nerdy, like be a scientist and save the human race. You know — simple stuff,” Sola said facetiously.

Jon Mobley, a classmate and friend of Sola, is confident that Sola will achieve her dreams, whatever they may be.

“Nicole is very ambitious. She puts 100 percent in. She chases what she loves and has an unmatched excitement and passion for her classes,” Mobley said.

Originally born in Anchorage, Sola has lived in many places, from Colorado to Vienna, Austria. Traveling around the world and seeing new places is one of Sola’s top priorities.

“I travel a lot. I’ve been to Europe a few times. I studied abroad last time I went to college. I lived in Austria, Vienna,” Sola said. “I’m going to Europe this summer for two weeks to Iceland, Norway and Denmark. I love traveling.”

A great friend of Sola, Jana Christen, confirms this desire for adventure.

“Nicole’s always ready for the adventure. Whether it’s traveling to another country, going out to remote Alaska, or finding hijinks around town, she’s a great partner in crime,” Christen said.

In between her classes and work, Sola finds time to practice roller derby.

“I recently got into roller derby last fall. It’s a new passion. I haven’t quite made the team yet, but I’m hoping to within the next few months,” Sola said. “If I can make the team I’ll be playing with the Rage City Roller Girls B team, which is called Orange Crush.”

Sola described a feat she had to overcome to get one step closer to her goal of making the roller derby team.

“The hardest part about it was making your laps, which I just did. I had to (roller skate) 27 laps (about a mile) in 5 minutes. It was a super awesome feeling to accomplish that,” Sola proudly exclaimed.

Kari Daly, a longtime friend of Sola, is confident that Sola has the drive to achieve her dreams.

“She’s an ambitious, amazing person, and I love that I can call her my friend,” Daly said.

Until her first bout, one can catch Sola in the library studying for her classes.


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