25 November 2015

Safety on Campus & Spiritual Art Show

Wow, this week truly has been intense and there was no real break between this week and the previous one. To be honest, I'm running on fumes and am very much looking forward to having a brief respite from school.

As many others have reported, this weekend came with the terrifying news that the safety of our sanctuary on Palatine Hill has been grossly violated, not once, but twice. A Rwandan international student was attacked by three white men in what appears to be a racist assault following the Yik Yak threats of last week. Within the next 24 hours, another student, this time an anonymous transgender student, was also attacked. With these attacks, what I and many students once considered a safe campus became marred by fear and anxiety.

But I don't want to focus on that, because what gives me much greater emotion - specifically pride and hope - is seeing how the student body has jumped to get involved and to help make this campus feel safer for targeted students. Many students off-campus have offered their cars and homes to students who needed somewhere to stay. Over 400 students have volunteered to be companions to walk with students of color, or any other student who may be feeling scared and vulnerable walking alone. Many students have gotten involved with pressuring YikYak and Facebook to release information or block harassing content regarding racist content. Other have actively joined with Cathy Busha (our interim Director of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement) and Harold McNaron (Director of Student Leadership and Service) in developing spaces and workshops for white allyship training. These students and their unwillingness to give in to fear or to settle for anything less than a truly safe and fair campus experience are the people who are truly inspiring me in this time of crisis.

As I've said, I'm quite tired, so I'll end my post here. But I'll leave you some pictures from around campus, as well as from the 2nd Annual Spiritual Art Show, which I hosted last week.

Posters around campus in solidarity with black students during this scary time.

I work Saturday nights at Maggie's Cafe on campus, so I couldn't join my friends at the Fall Ball dance, but we did enjoy ourselves at a delicious dinner at our favorite restaurant - Thai Peacock.

Programs from the 2nd Annual Spiritual Art Show: Divine Transmutation

Stamm Dining Room made an awesome gallery filled with our many art submissions.

Semper, a campus acapella group, performing during our opening reception.

One piece that I submitted: "Strangers in my skin; a history"

Another piece of mine: "Entropy (for all at last returns to the sea)"

Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have any questions about my post, from safety on campus, to the art show I hosted.

24 November 2015

Almost Break TIme

The past week here at Lewis & Clark has been very eventful leading up to Thanksgiving break. Last week on Wednesday, a majority of the school held a protest in response to several racist comments that were posted on Yik Yak, an app that lets you post anonymously that only people in your area can view. Then this past weekend, a student was assaulted around midnight  here in what appears to be a racially motivated attack. It saddens me that racism is still prevalent on so many campuses and in cities across the nation. Fortunately, the Portland Police are investigating the incident, and we hope that they find whoever did this. Thankfully we have campus safety 24/7 and there are several places where you can hit an emergency button and campus safety will respond very quickly.

Despite  these negative things, life goes on no matter what. I am definitely excited to get home tomorrow and relax for a few days. It’s crazy that this semester is almost over. Once I get back from this break, it will be time to start studying for finals. I am going to be spending a lot of time in the library preparing for all my finals so that I can finish the semester strong and get really good grades.

Now that football is completely over, I have so much more free time on my hands. It feels strange not having to constantly be planning my schedule for homework, workouts, and when to eat three days in advance. Since I don’t have any practice at night, I usually try to workout after my classes are done and then eat dinner. After that, I usually head to the library to relax and work on some homework. Other than that, I really haven’t done much. Once I get back, I am planning on going snowboarding at least once at Mt. Hood. I love how close we are to the mountain. Being from the desert, I rarely  got the opportunity to go snowboarding or be around snow, so I love that I am so close to it here.I might even sign up for a class next semester that goes on the weekends up to Mt. Hood just so I can snowboard every chance I get. The school offers a bus ride up to the mountain in order that people can go.

Well, that’s all I have for this week. It’s been rather slow here, other than the unfortunate situation, since it is almost Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Watching the Timbers. They are in the playoffs!

My favorite place to go to in the library, 

Stand-up Comedy in Downtown, and Campus Safety

A photo posted by jay (@jayhidekichu) on
Click above to check out an Insta from last week's stand-up comedy show!

Hey all!

For Fun!
Portland is CHOCK FULL of underground and popular entertainment. In the endless nooks and crannies of this amazing city, you will find stand-up comedy, live music in huge and tiny venues, poetry, theatre... you name it, and we probably have it, only paired with local brew and killer food. It's a wonderful place to be a student in. This past weekend, I went with a few friends to a free comedy show hosted by an artisan tea shop in downtown: Tea Zone and Camellia Lounge. This tea shop boasts too many tea varieties to count, nice grub, and an all-ages all-purpose venue in the back. They host free shows all the time, and with the classy small bar and soft lights, it's the perfect place! It was just as the headliner comedian said while he took the stage...
"Ya'll are drinking tea on on Saturday night. Buncha weirdos. Hey, somebody get me a tea. Don't give me the list, it hurts my head, just one that tastes and smells exactly like coffee. You got coffee? I'll take that. What there's a list for coffee? Hell, just give me a green tea."
Campus Safety
This past week has been eventful to say the least. As some of you might find out in campus tours or if you read about our school online, Lewis & Clark College students have a history of being active on issues regarding social injustice. This past week's student body response to recent campus events upholds this tradition of intolerance to injustice. Regarding these recent events, I will say no more, only that I am proud of this student body for standing up for what we believe in and against discrimination!
This week I'd like to talk a bit about safety on campus. Campus safety varies hugely across different campuses, and to put it straight, never in my life except in my own home have I ever felt as safe as I do living and studying here at LC. As a transfer student from two previous schools, I can compare and contrast quite well in terms of campus safety of LC vs. other schools.
My freshman year was at a large public research university with a campus semi-integrated into the city; while I enjoyed the being in the city, it inevitably came with the good and the bad parts of living in a large metropolitan area. To write tersely, I would avoid walking with headphones in at night and would constantly be conscious of the environment I was in if I was alone. In the dining halls, I would always keep my belongings close. I only knew the students living in my dorm "pod," which consisted of 7 people, because pods were physically separated from other pods. There was no "campus security" in the American college sense. On any given night you may have to deal with individuals and groups intoxicated to the point of doing non-wise things or giving unwanted interaction. Compared to LC, my previous university kept you on your toes all the time regarding personal safety and belongings. This is how you were expected to live.
At LC, many students in the dining hall go up for seconds and leave their smartphones unattended on the table. You walk around and notice that there are "emergency posts" that you can push to get campus security (which is maybe a few hundred feet away from you anyway) on the line and to you in the case of emergencies. You know everyone in your hall and most likely your entire floor, if not the entire dorm in some of the smaller dorms. Lamp-posts illuminate the paths during the nights, and it's a normal sight to see students still listening to music while walking around in the dark. Only up until recently have I ever heard so much as a peep about concerns of safety on campus. While I admit these are just my points of view, I find the LC campus to be one of the safest places I have ever lived in.

22 November 2015

November 22nd, 2015

At the Bon (pronounced “bone”), which is what we call the dining hall on campus, the food is pretty good overall, and there are always vegan and vegetarian options available. Here is a link to their website, where they have a list of meals served throughout the week. Friday lunches are the best lunches. Here you can see two different types of smoothies, two different types of curry with rice and lentils and cranberry chutney, and a chicken quesadilla with salsa. Delicious! I usually finish off my meal with coffee and a cookie.

In other news, my final scene for acting class is going along swimmingly. Trevor and I performed our first draft last week and got some good feedback. Here’s a photo of our set in the Black Box theater. Yes, it's literally just a bed. We sit on it together and talk.

As my fellow bloggers have mentioned, there have been some protests going on in response to some racist incidents on campus and on social media. While it’s terrible to be reminded so viscerally that racism is alive and kicking on college campuses in 2015, I’m proud to see my fellow students rallying around this serious issue with love and support. As an artist, I feel that most of what I can do in these dark times is simply add some beauty to the world, or at least make the world’s inherent beauty more visible. So, I was really glad to look out of the window from where I was doing homework in Maggie’s (one of two on-campus coffee shops) and see some of my friends from the theatre department making art on the sidewalk. I asked some people to watch my laptop and backpack and went out to join them despite the icy cold weather and freezing wind. We used chalk to draw flowers and hearts, and write messages. Spread the love!

Anyway, that’s all for now, folks. Much love from Portland. If you have any questions, email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.



My Haunted Computer

Note: There was a demonstration on campus this week in response to racist comments, but since this has already been well covered by my fellow bloggers I’m going to leave it to them and continue blogging about everyday life here.

As October wore on, I noticed that my computer was slowly beginning to act stranger and stranger.  Ghost task engines would mysteriously appear with their contents cloaked in black and vanish almost as suddenly; hardware checks started to fail and return an error the likes of which could not be found in the Dell support database; on one occasion I watched my computer cut its own power while I was 3 feet away.  Then, on the 31st of October, I decided to call tech support. After a mere 40 minutes listening to exactly 1 minute of hold music running on a constant loop, I reached a live human being and, after explaining my situation, I was asked to turn my computer off and on again.  Yes, that is standard advice, but in this case necessary in order to reach the system diagnostics.

Within a few seconds of starting the scan, my computer set off a startlingly loud, repetitive beeping noise to inform me that something was quite wrong.  My hard drive had 8 bad sectors and was slowly failing.  I have only had this computer since May so it was still under warranty and a new hard drive was shipped directly to … my home address in Tennessee.  After getting that cleared up and another 5 business days for the shipping, my hard drive arrived just before the College Outdoors trip I had paid for (Mushroom hunting, blogged about here).  
Required Items: computer, new hard drive, screwdriver,
and reading for class because this is going to take a bit.

Last Wednesday evening I finally had a chance to take my computer apart.  That took hours.  The actual hardware replacement with screwdrivers and trying not to mess up anything critical took only a handful of minutes, but before you ship your hard drive off somewhere you want to make sure your data is off it.  Since the old hard drive had to be shipped back to Dell so that they could decide whether or not it’s my fault it broke, I couldn’t go with the standard method of playing Thor with a mighty hammer.  Instead, I had to wipe the drive using tamer means such as filling every inch of my hard drive with zeros.  Luckily there are programs that do so for you (DBAN, AKA Darik’s Boot and Nuke), but there is so much room on modern hard drives that even the short wipe takes 3 hours.  Once that is finished the hardware swap seemed super simple.  All it took was a new hard drive, a screwdriver, and just couple minutes.

Out with the old (left) and in with the new (right)
I am quite thrilled to no longer be haunted by the ghost of impending hard drive failure.

L&C Everyday Life: The IT Service Desk

After today’s main post, did you really expect a different topic?

Having technology troubles?  The IT Service Desk is located in the bottom of Watzek (L&C’s Library).  Email them, call them, visit them, odds are they’ll either be able to help you with your problem or they will be able to send you to someone that can.  I spent hours down there this last week and watched them deal with things ranging from broken monitors, to equipment checkout, to getting rid of a pesky French keyboard on someone’s phone.

Everyone’s problem will vary, so I can’t cover it all here; but basically, go see them if you have a problem.

Questions?  Feel free to email me at ameliaberle@lclark.edu

19 November 2015

A Trip Home & Protests On Campus

Last weekend was very special for me - I ended up flying home for the weekend to surprise my family. It wasn't a long weekend away, but I was able to save on airfare and spend time with my parents, sister, and cat that I've missed so much.

Portland from above.

Coming back to campus, it was all hands on deck for an event that I and a couple of other students had organized - the 2nd Annual Spiritual Art Show. Hosted by Mystical Groves (a non-denominational spiritual group) and Spiritual Que(e)ry (a queer spiritual group that I lead), the show will be running on campus from tonight to Friday.

Most of the beginning of my week was focused on finalizing everything for the art show, but things recently became very intense on campus and changed some of our event expectations.

On Tuesday, a series of racist and threatening posts were made on Yik Yak towards black students in this community, and like Mizzou, Claremont McKenna College, Yale, and other schools across the US, students immediately took to action. Within a few hours of the original Yik Yak posts, informations posters were put up around campus, and the BSU (Black Student Union), the ASU (the Asian Student Union), the NSU (the Native Student Union), the QSU (the Queer Student Union), the FSU (the Feminist Student Union), and other groups reached out through social media. Independent students then began organizing a sit-in today outside of Howard (one of our main academic buildings) and Watzek Library.

The sit-in started around 8am today and went until around 3pm. In that time, students came together to address issues of white privilege, marginalization of people of color, and a desire to diversify the pedagogy and administration here. Students, faculty, and administration discussed issues like updating/diversifying our common core curriculum in our required Exploration & Discovery courses, and the implications and benefits of a school name change (Lewis & Clark - while regarded by many white folks as brave explorers - to many people also represent the practice of slavery, and the genocidal and colonial history of the United States' expansion). Students also rallied together to reach out to the police to investigate the threats more closely.

Some pictures from the sit-in.

I know that this blog is geared to prospective students and that it might be intimidating to hear about such a large demonstration on campus, especially if you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with issues of social justice, or are feeling uneasy about being on a campus for which these anti-racist demonstrations must be a regular thing. While I cannot speak about having to experience those kinds of direct threats, as a student committed to social justice, nothing gave me more pride than to see so many people talking about how we as students can make Lewis & Clark a model for how to commit ourselves to service a socially-just mission as a community and an institution. To see so many people who truly care about this community and its members was one of the most amazing and inspiring things, not only of this week, but even my whole college career. I truly appreciate how much students care about each other here, and I look forward to seeing how this protest and activism develops.

If you have any questions about what's happening on campus, or anything else I've mentioned, please feel free to email me at ncalande@lclark.edu.

Be well,

17 November 2015

Last game and Registration

Sadly, this weekend was our final football game of this season. For our last game, we had to drive all the way up to Spokane, Washington. For those of you who have never been there before, it is six and half hours away from Portland by bus. Fortunately for our whole team, it wasn’t as cold as we thought it was going to be. It was only around 50 degrees and only overcast. Every one of us was expecting it to be snowing and freezing.

Unfortunately, we ended up losing that game, and I hurt my ankle in the game, so I had to be taken out at halftime. Although we lost all our games this year, I think our team made a lot of great strides this year. It was definitely a different atmosphere from last year. I’m extremely excited for next year, especially since our freshmen this year will have all spring to learn the system, and we should be bringing in another good group of freshmen.

This past week was also the time for me to register for classes next semester. At Lewis & Clark, registration is a pretty simple process which is convenient for a lot of people. Every single grade has a time slot at the beginning of the week which they can use to sign up for one class that they need the most. Since I am a sophomore, I had the last day of registration that was possible.The order is freshmen, seniors, juniors, and then sophomores last. After everyone registers for their first class, you have to wait another week until you can register for all the other classes. Thankfully, all the classes I needed to get  are all classes mainly for sophomores, so I am not worried about them filling up at all. Next semester will be pretty challenging for me. I have to take physics, calculus 2, Bio 200, and organic chemistry. It will definitely keep me busy!

Now that football is over with, I am going to have so much more free time. Without practice every night, I will be able to go to bed way earlier than I usually do during the week. My next challenge will be about finding the motivation to stay on top of my work. The crazy part is that we only have three real weeks of class left before finals. I am super excited for next week because I go home for Thanksgiving! It’s crazy how fast this year has gone.

That’s all I have for this week. I hope everyone is having a good November.
My friend Blake and I before the game.