U Students Participate in Lent

(Photo by Chris Ayers)

(Photo by Chris Ayers)

Many U students walked around campus last week with black smudges on their foreheads.

What might appear to some as dirt was actually the result of Ash Wednesday mass with the Catholic Church. The U has a Catholic student population of close to 4,500. Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent, which lasts for 40 days and requires faithful members to give up something for the duration of the season. This practice is undertaken in commemoration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrated on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, respectively.

Some students chose to give up fast food, others alcohol. But Father Chrysostomos Gilbert, a Greek Orthodox priest who grew up in Utah, said watching words and actions are equally as important during Lent. Greek Orthodox Christians, like other Catholic sects, are called to fast during the period. But where Catholics generally fast from meat on Fridays, Orthodox faithful are called to fast from meat and dairy all 40 days.

“For Orthodox Christians, Great Lent is a time to re-focus our lives in Christ,” Gilbert said. “It’s not a time to focus only on what we are giving up, but we must become cognizant of the way we are conducting ourselves. It’s about adding something to our spiritual lives through fasting, prayer and almsgiving as we prepare for the ultimate feast day, Easter.”

Although Lent is historically and theologically a Christian practice, other religions have begun to take part in the practice as a sign of religious solidarity. Recently many Muslims have posted pictures to twitter with #Muslims4Lent.

Marina Neofitos, an undeclared freshman, said she thinks it’s amazing that Muslim students are joining with Christian students during the period of Lent.

“Our world has become so polarized,” Neofitos said. “When we can find beauty in our differences, big or small, it really shows the power of understanding and respect. Lent may be a Christian idea, [but] many of the things it teaches can be shared by people of all religions.”

Easter Sunday is April 5 this year. However, Orthodox Christians will be celebrating Easter one week later on April 12.


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    Mexican Ambassador to Speak at the U

    (Photo Courtesy of the Hinckley Institute of Politics)

    (Photo Courtesy of the Hinckley Institute of Politics)

    The Hinckley Institute will welcome the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Alejandro Estivill Castro, to speak about the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico next Monday as a part of the 17th annual Siciliano series, “The Future of U.S.-Latin American Relations.”

    Kendahl Melvin, an Institute staff member, said it took a partnership with the entire state of Utah to pull off the event.

    “[It] was not only a collaboration of the members of the Hinckley Institute, but from members all over the state and the members of the Mexican consulate. We are so happy that the acting ambassador will be joining us on Monday,” Melvin said.

    Estivill Castro will speak about diplomatic efforts and a brief overview of the history between the U.S. and Mexico. In addition to his experience as an official, Estivill Castro is also a novelist.

    Melvin said the importance of students attending a lecture of this nature lies in the ability to engage in learning outside of the classroom environment.

    “Experiences outside of the classroom can be just as useful as instruction in the classroom,” Melvin said. “The ability to meet someone from another country, especially a dignified representative, might give us more than learning strictly out of a textbook.”

    Shen Jing, a graduate student in finance, said she wants to take part in meeting a world leader.

    “It is an amazing opportunity to have people from around the world come to the U and talk with students in such an intimate setting,” Shen said. “How often do you get the chance to listen to an ambassador speak live?”

    Estivill Castro will speak from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the Hinckley Caucus Room, OSH 255.


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    Students Block Social Media Accounts from Graduate Schools

    (Photo by Dane Goodwin)

    (Photo by Dane Goodwin)

    From red solo cup pictures to posts on religious and political beliefs, some graduating students have taken measures to hide their life on social media from future employers.

    Jenna Matsumura, a senior in environmental studies and sustainability, is just one student who decided to change her name on Facebook while she’s currently on the job hunt.

    “We can all admit that when we go to interviews we are the best version of ourselves, and who we are on Facebook tells more about the overall compilation of a person, and that’s what employers are curious about,” Matsumura said.

    Matsumura said making the switch “depends on who you are as a person and what field you are going into,” but the change gave Matsumura a sense of liberty and independence.

    “I felt more freedom to continue to post the kind of things that I like to post on my Facebook page,” she said. “Students know that the employers are looking for them, and it gives them a sense of privacy.”

    Matsmura said she chose a name that wasn’t a variation of what appeared on her official documents and interviewers never questioned her about her absence on social media.

    “One of the employers knew I changed my name and one still does not have any idea that I decided to switch,” Matsumura said.

    Tate Carey, a freshman in communications, disagrees with the idea of the name change.

    “I feel like if I had to change my name on social media because of an employer then I wouldn’t want to be employed by them,” Carey said. “Or I should rethink my own social media uses.”


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    Salt Lake Commemorates Transgender Teens

    (Photo by Chris Samuels)

    (Photo by Chris Samuels)

    They shared their thoughts and their stories. They talked about their siblings and their struggles. Each person who came to the microphone had a different perspective, but all of the attendees shared a similar theme: aggression against the transgender community.


    On Wednesday night, 36 people met at the City Library plaza in downtown Salt Lake for a candlelight vigil. The attendees commemorated Leelah Alcorn, 17, from Ohio and Zander Mahaffey, 15, of Georgia — two transgender teens who committed suicide because of discrimination. Both posted their suicide notes on Tumblr, a blog website, gaining international attention as a result.

    A January 2014 study conducted by UCLA and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that 41 percent of transgender persons attempt suicide at least once, passing the rate of both the general United States population, at 4.6 percent, and gay, lesbian and bisexual adults, at 10-20 percent. Furthermore, people who are openly transgender report even higher rates of suicide attempts, at 50 percent.

    Following remarks, candles were passed around, and a procession moved around the park. The vigil was organized by Stand for Queer Lives, an advocacy group for transgender youth in Salt Lake City.

    A. Romero, founder of Stand For Queer Lives, said education is one way to curb prejudice against the transgender community.

    “[Google] what it means to be a non-binary person, what we’re going through, how it feels,” Romero said. “I’d like to see less people use words like tranny and fag because gender is not set in stone. It is not the law, and it shouldn’t be.”

    But in some states, it seems to be so. Utah only lists two options — male and female — for gender on official forms.

    Fubuki Abe, a speaker at the event, said it’s easy to understand Alcorn’s and Mahaffey’s pain.

    “Tell your friends you love them,” Abe said. “I see many friends here, and they helped me through the darkest times. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

    The U offers services to transgender individuals through the LGBT Resource Center, located in the Union.


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    Q&A with the Candidates

    ASUU elections have begun, and students can vote on their CIS pages from March 2 to 5. Before the winners are announced on March 6, The Daily Utah Chronicle spoke to the presidential candidates from both parties about their platforms.



    (Photo Courtesy of the Empower Party)

    (Photo Courtesy of the Empower Party)

    Satin Tashnizi is the presidential candidate for the Empower Party and a junior in political science and economics.


    Taylor Almond: What are your party’s main objectives?

    Satin Tashnizi: We want to spread mental health awareness like a wildfire. I think it’s one of the most amazing and important issues in the nation now, [so we’re] initiating a task force to discuss and improve mental wellness.

    TA: Aren’t there already resources for student mental health?

    ST: We don’t want to just focus on extreme depression, extreme anxiety. We want to focus on the whole bell curve. The issue isn’t necessarily that we don’t have a counseling center, because when you have a medium for extreme illness, of depression or anxiety, [it] doesn’t mean you’ll access that resource. That’s the nature of the illness. We want to connect students to help.

    TA: What’s the next part of your platform?

    ST: We would like to have classroom lectures videotaped and available online for playback, so if you miss a day of class, you can watch the lecture again. They currently do this at Utah State; we just want to bring it to the U.

    TA: What else are you planning?

    ST: [We’re] continuing the It’s on Us campaign. We’re bringing polling locations to campus. It would be amazing to register college students and have them vote in a few minutes … That’s already been worked out with the county clerk … the mayor is very supportive, and the legislature is supportive. We’re [also] working with Chartwells [the U’s dining service] to take unused food and give it to the community.


    (Photo Courtesy of the Snow Party)

    (Photo Courtesy of the Snow Party)

    Ambra Jackson, presidential candidate for the Snow Party, junior in strategic communications:

    Taylor Almond: What are your party’s main objectives?

    Ambra Jackson: Our goal is an administration that actively pursues realistic and student-driven policies, ideas and initiatives. We recognize the experience needed for a successful student government that addresses student concerns. Our three platforms are centered on concrete initiatives that can be accomplished in one year. Our party is running off three ideas:

    Integrate — We want to create a Student Leader Council (a council that would consist of the main student organizations that range from LDSSA, Greek Council, UPC, RHA, Student Alumni [and] the MUSS Board, to name a few) to meet throughout the year to discuss issues and provide each other with updates. We also want to bring back Mayfest for a music festival once a year instead of doing two concerts in the school year.

    Inform — This includes creating a transparent insight into student fees and also increasing the awareness of legislative activities. We also like to actively work with the administration to ensure students are represented in all university committees.

    Improve Campus Climate — We want to tailor diversity needs based on equity. We also want to work on sexual assault, specifically through bystander intervention. We also want to create another position for another victim advocate since there is only one currently. This would allow us to take action against sexual assault since the It’s on Us campaign has created awareness for our campus.


    TA: How are you going to achieve that?

    AJ: Our platforms are achievable because we have done the necessary research with our current campus resources. We are also an experienced group of student leaders who know how ASUU works from the executive branch to the legislative process. This will allow us to spend more of our term implementing change, instead of figuring out how ASUU works, as most candidates have to once they are elected.


    Disclaimer: Chris Samuels, assistant photo editor of The Daily Utah Chronicle, took photos for the Snow Party.

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    Students Invited to Join Campus Dialogue Sessions

    (Photo by Dane Goodwin)

    (Photo by Dane Goodwin)

    Students and faculty at the U are invited to participate in a campus-wide conversation on accreditation through the university-hosted dialogue sessions.


    Ruth Watkins, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and the chief academic officer for the U, said these discussions will take place from March 2 to 10.

    “We are in year seven of accreditation … which requires us to do a self-assessment on the direction that our campus is going,” she said. “These dialogues are important to the institution as a whole and are meant to help our institution grow.”

    The sessions will be hosted by the Office of Academic Affairs, and Watkins said each one has a particular theme meant to celebrate areas of interest at the U and promote discussion of improvement. She said anyone is encouraged to attend and give input. Conversations at each of these dialogues will be facilitated by Amy Wildermuth, associate vice president for Faculty, and Kathryn Stockton, interim associate vice president for Equity and Diversity.

    “Both these professionals are respected leaders on campus,” Watkins said. “These speakers were chosen because of their duality as faculty members as well as administrative experience. Both have experience in several different areas of campus and know the ins-and-outs of what goes on.”

    The first discussion, “Promote Student Success to Transform Lives,” is on March 2. The session is aimed at achievements made by U students.

    “This is perhaps the best session for students to attend since its focus will be on things done by students,” Watkins said. “This session also cements the idea that faculty, staff and the institution as a whole have student growth as a strong priority.”

    Cathy Davis, a sophomore in anthropology, was not aware of these dialogues but is interested in attending one.

    “The U is a school that has so much going for it,” Davis said. “The more I learn about it, the more proud I am and excited to be a part of such an important place.”

    Scott Larsen, a senior in sociology, said he’s seen growth of the U since beginning college five years ago.

    “I started at the U just after we joined the Pac-12. Since then, when I’ve applied to internships, name-dropping the U is a huge advantage,” Larson said. “The U is a really big school and carries a lot of prestige, and while it’s easy to feel unnoticed, this dialogue sounds like students are cared about and that their achievements don’t go unnoticed.”




    -Monday, March 2, 12-1 p.m.

    “Promote Student Success to Transform Lives”

    Gould Auditorium, Marriott Library

    -Friday, March 6, 8-9 a.m.

    “Develop and Transfer New Knowledge”

    Gould Auditorium, Marriott Library

    -Monday, March 9, 3-4 p.m.

    “Improve Health and Quality of Life”

    Union, Panorama East

    -Tuesday, March 10, 8-9 a.m.

    “Ensure Long-Term Viability of the University”

    Health Sciences, HSEB Alumni Hall 2110

    To take part in these conversations RSVP to Scott McMurtrey at at least two days prior to the event.

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    ASUU Candidates Spar in First Debate

    (Photo by Brent Uberty)

    (Photo by Brent Uberty)

    The ASUU candidates for senior class president, vice president and president debated Wednesday night in front of an audience of three people.


     The event took place at the Heritage Center. Florence Fernandez, the current senior class president, began the debate by discussing future changes in ASUU leadership. The proposed revisions, which include eliminating the senior class president position, would go into effect during the 2016-2017 school year. As a result, the position of vice president would be modified to take on the duties previously fulfilled by the class president. The changes would take place after first going through the student senate and assembly and then a student vote on the referendum.

    Devin Price, the senior class presidential candidate with the Snow Party, is the only student running for the office and wins by default. Price said at the beginning of the debate that he chose to run for the position because he has a strong passion for programming events on campus.

    “I felt that I could really make a difference,” he said.

    Price hopes to create a student leadership council while in office that would connect the different student groups on campus and involve them in campus activities.

    “Anyone who wants to be involved should be involved,” he said.

    The president and vice president debate began at 6 p.m. The audience increased slightly, with the majority of the crowd composed of candidates running for office as representatives.

    Each candidate had two minutes to address a question and an additional two minutes for rebuttal after the opposing party answered.

    The Empower Party’s presidential candidate, Satin Tashnizi, seemed rattled during her introduction, questioning whether she should just go over their platform. Camille Conerly, the party’s vice president, stepped in.

    Snow Party presidential candidate Ambra Jackson emphasized in her introduction the importance of ASUU meeting with students and forming connections with groups across campus. Anthony Fratto, the party’s vice president, hopes to improve safety on campus and build upon the sexual assault campaign, It’s on Us, that has been implemented by the current administration.

    Tashnizi and Conerly want to increase mental health awareness at the U. Conerly said problems that arise should be handled on an individual basis and not be given blanket solutions.

    Tashnizi then made a statement toward the end of the debate that left many in the audience confused.

    “My dream school was actually Amherst,” she said. “I was set that I was going to move to Massachusetts, marry a Kennedy and have a great life. The U was not an aspiring goal of mine, but more of a last-minute decision.”

    She tried to recover by adding that she has since fallen in love with the U. But she was again thrown off by a question about budgeting.

    “Student fees remind me of the tax system in America,” she said. “Americans like to whine and complain about taxes.”

    Jackson, when asked about her party’s platform, gave a response that elicited nods of approval from both sides of the table.

    “We want to improve the campus climate to make sure everyone coming to the U feels the same sense of connection,” she said. “We would also like to make our diversity needs on campus more specific. Once we make those changes, we will move towards having a more cohesive campus.”

    The next debate will be held Monday, March 2, at 2 p.m. at the Hinckley Institute of Politics.


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    U’s Diabetes Prevention Program Shows Great Potential

    (Courtesy of University of Utah Department of Physical Therapy)

    (Courtesy of University of Utah Department of Physical Therapy)

    One in three people in this country are at risk of type 2 diabetes or have pre-diabetes, and the Center for Disease Control has launched a prevention program to fight this trend.


    Sheldon Smith, manager of the program, helps run the collaborative effort between the U’s Health Sciences and the College of Health. It includes a year-long course with 22 one-hour lectures led by U student lifestyle coaches. Prevention classes began in January and Smith hopes to maintain steady enrollment for faculty, staff and their family members.

    “Since we have about 30,000 employees at the U, that could represent about 10,000 people who are pre-diabetic. That’s a lot of people we can potentially help,” Smith said.

    Tim Graham, medical director of the Utah Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, sees this program as a pilot for future growth. He helped develop and oversee the program and hopes to see the classes offered across the state. If done, it will be the first state-wide network of its kind.

    “I think we will be the first in the country, and we’re really proud of that,” he said.

    Although the course is just under way, Smith said the program has already seen great success. The collective weight loss of the first group of 22 students was 95 pounds within two months.

    Allyson Tanner, communication services manager for the U Hospital, participates in the program and has seen major improvements in her life. In just six weeks, Tanner lost 13 pounds and had a positive influence on her husband, who also joined.

    “[I love] going to class, getting the information from the student instructors, having the group support and knowing that they are going through the same battle I am to get healthy,” she said.

    Tanner was drawn by the yearlong commitment of the program and convenience of the campus location at the ANNEX and Dumke Health Professions buildings. Although aware of her poor health before the pre-program exam, she was shocked when she discovered how close she was to a diabetes diagnosis.

    “I realized it was a lot worse than I thought it was,” she said. “If I didn’t make some drastic changes in my health quickly, it would definitely have led to diabetes.”

    The Diabetes Prevention Program is hoping to follow each participant for 10 years to see if this class makes a difference in their diabetes prevention and overall health.

    “I think if we can keep getting support from the university and being available for our employees, this will take off,” Smith said.

    The program is funded by the University Hospitals and Clinics, the Sorenson Foundation and the Department of Health. Smith is hoping to bring awareness to all people around the community by giving them necessary knowledge and resources which include a simple questionnaire to test your pre-diabetic risks. Common factors include body weight, age and family history of diabetes as well as tingling or numb hands and feet.

    “If we can make it available to [employees] with the help from the university,” Smith said, “then I think we are going to have a healthier university and healthier work staff.”


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    Professor Funk Rated Best at the U

    (Photo Courtesy of John Funk)

    (Photo Courtesy of John Funk)

    The U has plenty of accomplished and top-rate professors, but according to, John Funk is the best of them all.


    Funk is the dean of the College of Education and a professor in educational psychology through the Urban Institute for Teacher Education. From getting his master’s in early childhood education at the U to his 25 years of teaching public school, Funk has made a study and a passion out of teaching. He received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010 as recognition for this.

    “When I was getting my master’s, I was discouraged,” Funk said. “Some professors were some of the most boring human beings I had met. I thought, this person teaching me to be a teacher is a terrible model, and so I decided I had to teach teachers the right strategies myself.”

    Funk has focused on strategy in teaching and maintaining the interest of his audience throughout his career. He began teaching in Granite School District and supervised Head Start, a program that supports mental and emotional development in children, while teaching evening classes at the U. Funk’s focus was on children’s literature, so he spent time teaching kindergarten and first grade. He’s applied what he learned there to his classes at the university.

    “I make it different each week,” Funk said. “I don’t just do lectures, I do hands-on techniques. I have found that college students respond as positively as children.”

    Maintaining focus in the classroom is a big priority for Funk, but so is relationship building. Connections with his students is a priority, whether it’s helping them to understand a topic or working around any of their life issues that conflict with school.

    John Tolokan, a senior in elementary education, has experienced Funk’s teaching methods first-hand.

    “The qualities that I admire in John include his teaching abilities, his knack for problem-solving and his overwhelming patience with students and pre-teachers alike,” Tolokan said.

    Tolokan said that Funk’s teaching strategies are admirable in the classroom. Tolokan was unsure about his future in teaching, but he said Funk helped by showing him the importance of teaching.

    Demi Brog, a senior in elementary education, is in Funk’s cohort for her Elementary Education Licensure Program. She said many times she’s had questions about the best strategies in teaching, and Funk always answers them.

    “He is an inspiration to all of us,” Brog said. “He pushes us to be the best teacher we can be and to provide the best education for elementary education students.”


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    The Perks of Being a U Student

    To make up for the thousands of dollars spent on tuition, there are certain perks of being a U student that can save you money.

    One of those benefits is food. By showing your UCard at Red Robin, for example, you can get a 15 percent discount. Mariya Nikolaeva, an undeclared sophomore, loves this part of being a U student.


    “Food discounts are a huge incentive to go to a certain place,” she said. “I’m more inclined to use my UCard on a food discount then anywhere else.”

    Those at the U also receive discounted transportation through UTA with their student fees, offering options such as TRAX and Frontrunner. Because the U is a commuter school, many students use this to get to campus.

    With your UCard you can also receive a discount at different shops, including 10 percent off at Francesca’s in Gateway and 10 percent off at Alex and Ani, a bracelet store in City Creek.

    “I had no idea so many stores offered a discount,” Nikolaeva said.

    U students can also sign up for Amazon Student for discounts on textbooks and free two-day shipping. Nick Riccardi, a senior in video game design, uses the site for school purchases.

    “It’s a great way to get free shipping, and textbooks are usually marked down by a lot,” Riccardi said.

    The Wasatch Mountains in Utah are another perk of coming to the U. And local ski resorts, including Snowbird and Brighton, offer a variety of discounts on season passes and day tickets as a result.

    “Skiing and snowboarding is the reason a ton of my friends came to the U,” Riccardi said. “Of course they want to go [skiing], but it is expensive to pay for a day, and an entire season is a hefty investment. The discount is a great way to allow students to be a little closer to being able to afford stuff like that.”

    Riccardi said that’s just one of the best benefits of attending the U but appreciates the opportunity to save money.

    “As students we are already shelling out a huge amount of money and studying incredibly hard,” Riccardi said. “We’re completely dedicated to school — having the discount is a great way to feel rewarded for just being a student.”


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