News Briefs

USUAA vice president

Student government vice president Bahnaaz Irani announced her decision to resign from her position at a recent USUAA meeting. Irani will be graduating in December, and will no longer be able to carry out the duties of vice president in the upcoming spring semester.

“It’s been a great journey for me,” Irani said of her time working with the student government. “I loved working with the students, and I loved the friendships I made.”

Student government president John Roberson said that the Student Government is presently considering a number of candidates for the available vice president position from the UAA student body.

“I will miss being a part of this great organization,” Irani said to the members of student government, “I see such potential in this room. I see the leaders of tomorrow in this room.”

Seawolves win debate

The Seawolf Debate Team traveled to McMinnville, Ore., for the Mahaffey Invitational hosted by Linfield College. The tournament featured competition in which 48 debaters represented nine colleges and universities.

UAA took five new debaters on the road for the first time this season: Phil Bunker, a junior; Nick Byrne, a junior English major; Drew Cason, a freshman in biology; Michaela Hernandez, a freshman philosophy major; and Jennifer Lucas-Duffy, a senior in psychology.

The debaters engaged one another on a myriad of controversial topics.

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Of the eight teams advancing to the semifinal round of competition, three hailed from Alaska: Nikki Rose, a junior political science major, and Jacit Conright, a sophomore in business administration; David Childers, a junior in political science, and Jennifer Lucas-Duffy a Graduate Student Psychology major; and Ben Ferguson, a junior in philosophy, and Mike Rose, a senior political science major.

In the semifinal round, the competitors debated whether or not Kosovo should be recognized as an independent nation. Rose and Ferguson were selected to advance to the final round. In that round, they faced competition from two Seattle University teams and a team from Willamette University. The teams argued about the leadership of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, with Rose and Ferguson saying that Chavez is more likely to harm Venezuela than help it. Their position proved insurmountable to the competition, and Alaska banked its first tournament championship of the season.

In addition to team awards, the Seawolves garnered several individual speaker awards. Childers was ranked as the sixth overall speaker, and Ferguson took third speaker.

In two weeks, the Seawolves return to international competition at the University of British Columbia’s invitational tournament. This will be the team’s final tuneup for the World Championships, which will be held in Thailand over the holiday break.


BA in Yup’ik up for approval

The UA Board of Regents will review a proposed new Bachelor of Arts degree in Yup’ik language when it next meets on the UAA campus. The proposed degree will allow students to pursue advanced study of Yup’ik through the Kuskokwim campus in Bethel, which is under the umbrella of UAF. Up to 15 students are expected to enroll, according to university officials.

The program is designed to meet specific needs expressed by Bethel region schools, communities and students. However, university officials believe the program will serve as a model for additional indigenous language programs throughout the UA system.

The Kuskokwim campus worked closely with UAF’s Alaska Native Language Center to develop this program. The Bethel campus currently offers associate degrees that focus in Yup’ik. The new program will provide students the opportunity to go directly from those two-year programs to the four-year bachelor’s degree. The program, if approved, will use both traditional as well as online and distance learning.