Criminal justice students band together

By: Jamie Leigh Broten


The Criminal Justice Leadership Program (CJLP), a club at Whatcom Community College, is thriving with opportunity for students interested in a career in the criminal justice field.

The club advisor and program coordinator, John Taylor, said that the CJLP takes field trips each quarter that allow students hands-on experience in the field and invites guest speakers to the college which give students an opportunity to network and build connections within the criminal justice system. The CJLP is run by elected student officers as well as Taylor.

Taylor said that the club aims to build a network for students interested in criminal justice careers and connect them with local professionals in the field.

“[The club] has great hands on experience,” said club member Russell Holden, 19, who will be next year’s club chief. “The opportunities attracted me to the club, there are a lot of things you can put on a resume.”

Holden said that he wants to invite a wide variety of guest speakers to talk to club members next year, including a speaker from the Department of Homeland Security.

Taylor said that the CJLP hosts about two guest speakers every month and previous speakers have included a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, a former Secret Service agent, an interrogator from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, a drug counselor, and even rehabilitated ex-convicts. Taylor said that students are able to hear inside perspectives on the criminal justice system and ask questions to gain insight.

“It’s been very positive for everybody,” said Taylor.

The CJLP also participates in many field trips, such as active shooter training with local law enforcement officers. Taylor said club members pretend to be civilians or criminals and officers practice handling facilitated situations with high-stress circumstances.

“We’ve really created a name for ourselves with most all local law enforcement agencies in their attempt to find role players to assist them,” said Taylor. He also said that students have the opportunity to make connections with local law enforcement during their training, and on June 18, the CJLP will be helping the Washington State Patrol as role players in a shooter scenario.

“Not only is it a great experience for our club, but it’s important and relevant training,” said club member Bryon Powell, 29, who will be next year’s deputy chief of operations. “We try to be a great resource for local agencies in Whatcom County.”

Powell said his plans for the club next year include creating a database of job openings for students in the CJLP looking to enter a career in the criminal justice field.

“I want to form a database of open hire positions and upcoming retirements for various positions in Whatcom County” in the criminal justice field, Powell said. He added that another form of the database he hopes to develop would help students prepare for testing to get a job in one of the three aspects of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts, or corrections.

Powell said that next year he would like to bring more resources to the club create a “one –stop shop” for local law enforcement agencies in need of volunteers for training purposes.

Powell said he thinks the CJLP is not only a great opportunity for networking and gaining experience, but also for students to gain insight into the criminal justice system.

“I think people would have a better understanding of the criminal justice system if they just came to the club, it’s an institution that most people aren’t too familiar with,” Powell said. The club is open to anyone interested, and he said he would like more people to take advantage of the opportunities it provides and hopes they can create an awareness of common misconceptions about the criminal justice field.

“[The club is about] public awareness. We want people to be aware of what we do, we want people to be willing to share what they think of what we do, and we just want that door to be open,” said Powell. “There doesn’t need to be an ‘us and them’ mentality when it comes to criminal justice.”

The CJLP meets at 4 p.m. in Kulshan 223 on Wednesdays.



Never be a beast of burden

By: Jeremy Rick

Photo by Zach Barlow.
Photo by Zach Barlow.

The recent shootings at Santa Barbara Community College and Seattle Pacific University have sparked emotionally charged conversations concerning mental health care in the United States of America. The two gunmen, Elliot Rodger and Aaron Ybarra, displayed patterns of deep-seated anger and both received medical treatment that failed to deter them from violent actions.

So what caused these young men’s anger?

To quote Yoda, the fictional but legendary “Star Wars” Jedi, “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” The motivating factor shared by Rodger and Ybarra was not anger, but fear. The medical treatment they received for their anger failed to prevent their violent actions because it addressed a symptom of their fear rather than the cause.

So what caused these young men’s fear?

I believe they feared the only true human freedom – conscious choice. They feared their choices didn’t matter. They feared that, regardless of their actions, they could never achieve their dreams. So they feared to dream. And when people fear to dream, dreams become nightmares. The lives we choose to create for ourselves are the realizations of our dreams. And if our dreams become warped into nightmares by fear, our lives will manifest their horrors.

So why did these young men fear the freedom of conscious choice? Well, it’s a convoluted issue, but here’s my take on the matter.

Humans are born into this world in a certain family, in a certain time, and in a certain place, none of which we have the freedom to choose. As children we are less conscious of our choices, acting intuitively and instinctively within the boundaries of freedom our parents or guardians establish.

When we mature and become more conscious of our choices, we can begin to identify the motivations behind our choices. But some people mature much more slowly in this regard than others. And some people fear the responsibility this consciousness brings, so they reject their freedom and surrender their will, which I believe is the commonality shared by Rodger and Ybarra.

After rejecting their freedom because they feared its existential responsibility, I believe Rodger and Ybarra became angry and resentful toward others who embrace and utilize their freedom. Their anger led to the hatred of other people, and then they expressed their hatred with violence.

So what is frightening about the responsibility of conscious choice?

Becoming conscious that each and every one of us possesses pure freedom, pure agency, pure subjectivity of choice within ourselves is like entering the door to a dark abyss. There is no light in the abyss, no guidance, no right and wrong, it is completely void of answers.

Once you have entered the abyss, you must provide your own light, guide yourself, choose what you believe to be right and wrong, and make your own answers. You must dream your own dream and create it within the void of the abyss that is your life.

But some people are too afraid, too weak to enter the abyss. Some people want others to give them answers. The sad thing is, many of the people answering the scared and the weak are actually manipulating them for selfish desires.

It’s like watching cattle being led to the slaughterhouse. And they go willingly because they cling to those answers as if they were objective truths, when in reality they have simply adopted somebody else’s subjectively created answers. They submit themselves to the wills of others. They make themselves pawns to be used and abused in other’s dreams. The result of this is that the individual never learns who he or she truly is. They never get to know their soul – their intuitive and instinctive compass within the abyss of pure freedom.

And the truth is, there are no answers in life. We can never know anything for certain. We can only perceive what we experience, express how it makes us feel and think, and be guided by the so-called ‘answers’ we establish for ourselves. In the words of the late beautiful soul, Maya Angelou, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

Leaders should speak more often of this tragic human manipulation. Rather than simply herding the scared and the weak like human-cattle, leaders should guide them to the door of the abyss, to the place where they can begin guiding themselves, to the open range, so to speak.

Sadly, some leaders don’t want to free their human-cattle because that would leave them powerless to achieve their selfish agendas of vainglorious grandeur. Instead, they keep their beasts-of-burden locked in pens of fear, ensuring they don’t wander into the scary abyss, the open range full of dangerous predators, so that they may be worked to the bone until they are useless sacks of meat ready to be killed and devoured, momentarily quelling the insatiable hunger of their captors.

Nature is survival of the fittest, and cattle in pens are only fit to be used and eaten by humans on the outside. Real leaders are the people who break down the gates of these pens and free the human-cattle, releasing them into the open range where they might finally drop the “cattle” and learn what it means to be truly human.

The violent behavior of Rodger and Ybarra exemplified that of human-cattle locked up for too long. Rather than breaking free from their pens, the two young men went mad with fear, lashing out at those around them.

By treating the symptom that is anger rather than the cause that is fear, mental health care services are attempting to keep the human-cattle calm within their crowded pens. Mental health care should address the underlying issue that many people in America are afraid to dream because they feel as if their dreams don’t matter.

But our personal dreams are all that matter. If we abandon our dreams we are consenting to live in a world that we have no influence over, a world created by others and imposed upon us, a world in which we feel victimized, a world in which we feel oppressed, a world in which we are simply slaves to a system, a world we are aimlessly rebelling against, a world we do not feel a part of, a world we feel ostracized from, a world that is not our own.

Dream dreams of love and beauty, and create them in reality through your human freedom that is conscious choice.



Something’s a brewin’

By: Tyler Kirk

Brewing at Aslan Brewery. Photo taken by Tyler Kirk.
Brewing at Aslan Brewery. Photo taken by Tyler Kirk.

Aslan Brewing Company, Bellingham’s first 100 percent organic brewery, opened its doors to the public on May 19.

Pat Haynes, 28, is the general manager and a co-owner of Aslan. He explained that the brewery’s origin came from the simple love of beer that he and the rest of Aslan’s founders and co-owners, CEO Jack Lamb, 25, and Head Brewer Frank Trosset, 30, shared.

“It started obviously with an idea,” Haynes said. “Me, Jack, and Frank were hanging out at the Green Frog having a beer, talking about how much we like beer.”

That night back in 2012, Haynes said, was the beginning of their brewery. He left town a few days later for a month of traveling, while business plans were already beginning to emerge, he said, adding that a week after they came up with the idea, “those two got down, hashed out a plan and made an LLC.”

When Haynes got back from his trip, Lamb and Trosset added him to the business plan and began making plans to develop recipes for their beer.

“Basically the plan was to build a little pilot brewery; somewhere where we could develop recipes,” Haynes said. “The first step, in our mind, was to see if we could actually make beer we thought we could sell.”

He said that although they were writing recipes since the first day, it was roughly three months before they developed a product that was drinkable. They built their pilot brewery on Bay Street behind The Upfront Theatre.

Haynes said that at this point, they were working with a five-gallon brewing system, their goal being to brew five different five-gallon batches every other week for the next year, “or until we thought we were ready to make the next step.” Haynes said that was in September 2012.

“That’s when we brought in the beer experts from around town,” he said.

Haynes explained that while they were fine-tuning the recipes, they had people from almost every brewery in town, including the owner and head brewers from Kulshan Brewing Company, tasting their beer and giving them advice. He said that was an example of the type of relationship they have had with Kulshan since the beginning.

“We’re big fans of Kulshan. We’re big fans of a lot of the breweries in town,” Haynes said. “We were really grateful that those guys were so open to us.”

Haynes said the idea for total organic brewing was there since the beginning.

“[Jack] wanted to do organic, and me and Frank were like ‘well yeah, that makes perfect sense.’ Why the he** not? Nobody else is really doing it,” he said. “I just think its good marketing.”

Haynes added that while their organic brewing model is important, they are sensitive to the idea of “green-washing.” He said they refrain from overly-promoting the organic nature of their beer, though the information is available if people were to look for it.

He said that in regard to his favorite beers that Aslan makes, it is difficult to choose.

“I think they’re all great, depending on the season or time of year,” he said. “Lately, because it gets so hot out, my go-to would be the Pilsner or the Ginger Rye.”

Haynes explained that while a few of their beers, such as the Ginger Rye IPA, the Brown Ale, and the Cascadian Dark Lager were excellent in their first batch, others, such as the Red Ale, took over a year for them to perfect the recipe.

“[The Red Ale] is one we’re really proud of because it was one we probably worked on the hardest. That one and the IPA,” he said.

Haynes said that the next step is canning their beer. They hope to start canning by July, but plan to have sellable six-packs by the end of the summer. He said the first three beers to be canned will be the Ginger Rye, the Pilsner, and the IPA and they plan to sell them at the Community Food Co-op, Elizabeth Station, and McKay’s Taphouse. He mentioned that they want to sell their beer anywhere they can.

Haynes said their distributor is Sound Distributing, who also works with Kulshan.

Regarding the future of Aslan and the more generalized beer culture in Bellingham, Haynes said he likes to see things expanding.

“I think we can be the next Bend, [Ore.],” he said. “I would love to see 20 breweries in this town.” He added that Aslan’s eventual goal is to create a production facility where they are able to can full-time and distribute around the country.

“One thing I think that separates us from a lot is we have ambitions to go nationwide, worldwide,” Haynes said. “We want a brand that will represent Bellingham in a positive way that will be seen around the world.”

Aslan Brewing Co. is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., 11 a.m. to midnight Friday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. The brewery now features a full restaurant as well including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, Haynes said. He also said their newest beer, the Megathrust Imperial IPA, with their highest alcohol content at 10.5 percent, will be released this week.



Whatcom students active in local music scene

By: Tyler Kirk

The cover art of Whatcom student Henry Dotson’s, 18, recently released solo album “Presenting Honey Dotson.” Photo courtesy of Henry Dotson.
The cover art of Whatcom student Henry Dotson’s, 18, recently released solo album “Presenting Honey Dotson.” Photo courtesy of Henry Dotson.

The local music scene in Bellingham features an arguably extensive and diverse collection of musicians in the area. Two Whatcom Community College students, Henry Dotson, 18, and Teo Crider, 24, have been writing, recording, and performing music in the Bellingham area for years.

“I’ve been playing music for over a decade,” said Dotson. “I’m only 18… I started when I was eight.”

Dotson said his music in the past has been stylistically different than his more recent work. He said that since he began playing music, he has performed with different bands across many genres from punk rock to his more recent acoustic singer-songwriter style.

“I started writing songs about the time I was a freshman in high school,” he said. “And then over time they developed and [I started] writing better things.”

Although he continues to collaborate with other bands, recently his attention has been on his solo project under the stage name Honey Dotson. Though he said he enjoyed his experiences with past bands, Dotson also expressed the benefits of having a solo project.

“My main focus right now is Honey Dotson,” he said. “When you’re playing with other people that aren’t necessarily on the same page as you, it’s tough.”

Dotson said he just released his newest solo album. The eight-track album, “Presenting Honey Dotson,” was recorded over a period of roughly seven months at Bellingham’s Puget Street Sound (what is this?) with the aid of local band Gypsters.

Dotson said that the members of Gypsters, with the help of online donations, are attempting to move their equipment into a space at the Alternative Library in downtown Bellingham to form a studio where musicians can record for a fraction of normal studio prices.

“Eventually it will be a community recording studio, open to anyone,” Dotson said. “It’s definitely very affordable.”

Dotson said that hard copies of his album can be found at Everyday Music in downtown Bellingham, while digital copies are available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon, among other distributors. “Whatever your music player of choice is, it’s there,” he said.

Dotson said that his main songwriting influences, ranging from artists of the 1960’s and 70’s to several more modern artists, are evident throughout his new album’s 26-minute runtime.

“I would say it’s definitely like folk rock,” Dotson said. “It’s very heavily influenced by Paul Simon. Randy Newman, too, is a big influence in my writing.”

He mentioned that there are several more unconventional instruments on the album, including the trumpet, saxophone, rain stick, cello and glockenspiel, played by Dotson and several friends.

“I’m really pleased with how the album turned out,” he said.

He added that his album is also streaming in its entirety on YouTube and Soundcloud, which are accessible from his website, because it is more important for his music to reach new people than it is to exclusively sell the album.

“I feel like if you’re just solely selling the album on places like iTunes and Spotify, you won’t make enough money through them to make it worth it, and you’re keeping people from actually hearing your music,” said Dotson.

Dotson said that his live shows normally consist of a fairly minimalist setup.

“When I’m playing Honey Dotson shows, it’s me [singing] and an acoustic guitar. Occasionally a backing band as well,” he said.

His backing band is currently composed of his friend, Nate Malick, on drums and Gypsters guitarist Ian Reed on bass.

Honey Dotson will be performing at Bellingham’s Underbelly Festival, which is scheduled for June 13-15, which Dotson describes as “an all-ages festival.” He will be playing the morning of June 14.

Teo Crider, 24, is the singer and guitarist for the band Candysound, a group that he says draws influence from many indie and punk rock bands.

“Candysound is kind of like reverbed indie punk music,” Crider said. “We get compared to bands like Built To Spill and Modest Mouse.”

Crider said they recently finished “Now + Then,” the newest in a series of Candysound releases.

“We recorded it over a year of writing, demoing and touring. Then we tracked it this fall, mastered it in the winter, and then released it in the spring,” he said.

After playing in punk bands throughout high school, Crider said he also started a solo project under the moniker Porch Party. He described it as “kind of a lo-fi feel” and compared its sound to Elliott Smith and Nick Drake.

He said that Elliott Smith’s songwriting had a major stylistic influence on his music and that Porch Party led to Can

“I started recording solo music in my bedroom for a couple years. That kind of turned into the basis for Candysound,” Crider said.

Since their formation, he said Candysound has performed at popular local artist competitions such as Experience Music Project’s Sound Off! in Seattle, and has released several EPs and singles, eventually leading up to “Now + Then.”

Crider said Candysound has played a variety of shows in the area, spanning many different types of performances from house shows to venues like The Shakedown.

“Once you step in, you realize that everyone in this town is musical,” said Crider, describing Bellingham’s music scene. “The best way [to find new music] is to just to go shows.”

He said that the album recording process is long, but he wants to keep recording and “just keep playing fun shows.”

Candysound will also be playing the Underbelly Festival in June.

“We’re playing Friday night, a solo set with [Danbert Nobacon] from Chumbawamba, which is going to be fantastic and weird,” Crider said.

For Candysound’s future, Crider said he wants to continue recording music. He mentioned that after finishing “Now + Then,” he would love to follow it up with a “fun summer EP.”

Henry Dotson’s “Presenting Honey Dotson” can be found on his website,, and Candysound’s “Now + Then” is available on, along with many of their past releases.



Global perspectives in the classroom

By: Lynette Martinez

Whatcom’s international students of fall 2013 at the international student orientation. Photo courtesy of Kelly Kester.
Whatcom’s international students of fall 2013 at the international student orientation. Photo courtesy of Kelly Kester.

Efforts are being put forth at Whatcom Community College encouraging faculty and staff to incorporate international aspects to their current class curriculums and propose ideas to create new international courses.

“The future is internationalization. The more faculty, staff, and students know about different cultures the more successful they will be in the work place,” said Whatcom’s Associate Director of International Programs Ulli Schraml.

Schraml said that the internationalization efforts aim to expose faculty, staff, and students to new cultures, experiences, and connections.

This is achieved in part by inviting international students to Whatcom through recruitment efforts and sending Whatcom teachers and students abroad, Schraml said.

He added that Whatcom’s associate director of international programs, marketing and recruiting, Sandra Kimura, recently went on a recruiting trip in the Philippines and Thailand.

Whatcom is a member of the Northwest International Education Association (NIEA), made up of a group of 15 colleges from the Pacific Northwest, said Schraml.

The goals of NIEA are to “promote the exchange of international faculty, staff, and students, to support members in developing an international curriculum, to provide a network for the sharing of ideas and resources, and to provide faculty development and student learning opportunities in the field of international studies,” as stated on their website.

Schraml said the NIEA sponsors a conference every summer called the “Community College Master Teacher Institute” (CCMTI). Last summer Whatcom instructor Wendy Borgesen, who teaches English and environmental science, attended the conference. After submitting an application to the conference Borgesen was one of three Whatcom teachers selected to attend, he added.

The intention of the CCMTI conference, which is hosted by the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, is to help faculty examine issues of global importance so they can expose students to these issues, as stated on the NIEA website.

Borgesen said she became interested in the conference last summer because the topics discussed were related to climate change and other environmental issues which she says are “big passions” of hers.

She added that climate change is a global problem and that she wished she could teach the class Survey of Environmental Science over the length of three quarters rather than one because the topic is so large.

“Survey of Environmental Science” is a class that covers a range of global issues, said Borgesen. She added that taking the time to explore one concern of environmental issues in-depth is also important. “I created an honors course that is now being offered fall quarter called Global Access to Water,” said Borgesen.

Other internationalization efforts are also being put forth. Faculty from institutions that are members of the NIEA can apply for grant money through the Mini-Grant Program, said Schraml, adding that the money is used to create new courses with an international focus or to add an international component to a current class curriculum.

Whatcom’s drama teacher Gerry Large applied for and won a mini-grant from the NIEA to incorporate an international component to his current drama class.

“The application process I went through consisted of proposing a two-week component of Chinese Theatre and Drama,” he said.

Large teaches Drama 101 which he said is a “global course, so an international perspective is important. We live on an interconnected planet, so any exposure to cultures other than our own is important.”

There is a “cross-culture advantage” that faculty, staff, and students, whether domestic or abroad, gain through internationalization, said Schraml.

“Getting international students on campus and using them as resources by allowing them to teach us of their culture is as important as sending Whatcom faculty, staff, and students abroad to gain new cultural experiences,” Schraml said.



Social Security forum at Whatcom

By: Kelly Rockey


Social Security information board. Photo by Kelly Rockey.
Social Security information board. Photo by Kelly Rockey.

Whatcom Community College hosted a community forum on Social Security June 5 in the Syre Auditorium, with a variety of guest speakers.

President of the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) Terry O’Neill and Rep. Rick Larsen (D) of Washington’s 2nd Congressional District were among the speakers who discussed Social Security and the different issues surrounding it.

Hosted by emcee Dr. Vernon Johnson, a political science professor at Western Washington University, the forum offered various presentations of personal stories, basic information about the program, and some of the legislative aspects.

The theme of the night was a simple message: “scrap the cap.” The meaning behind this phrase relates to removing the $117,000 cap currently in place on Social Security tax rates for high-income earners.

Marilyn Watkins, policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute gave a brief overview of Social Security and some of the issues facing the program.

“We hear a lot of rumors about Social Security going broke,” Watkins said. “Now there is a tiny bit of truth to these, but they are loaded with fallacies.”

She explained how the current cap system works, with Social Security taxes being collected at a rate of 6.2 percent on all paychecks, but only up to the first $117,000 in yearly earnings.

This means that no taxpayer will contribute more than 6.2 percent of $117,000 to Social Security in 2014, even if he or she has an annual income in the millions. High-income earners pay a lower tax rate on total earnings when compared to the vast majority of U.S. citizens.

As the president of N.O.W., O’Neill had much to say on how Social Security affects women differently than men, specifically in what she called “the benefit gap for women.”

The benefit gap refers to the average amount a woman receives from Social Security compared to a man. O’Neill said that the system uses the number of years a person has served in the workforce when calculating the amount that a person receives in his or her check.

She said men average 35 years in the work force while women only average 27 years. Because of this, O’Neill said many women are “penalized” for leaving work to care for children. She also noted that this is true for many men as well, who may have dropped out of the workforce to care for children or elderly parents.

O’Neill said she had a solution to this problem, by implementing a caregiver tax credit. This proposed tax credit would have the system plug in the national median wage for the years removed from the workforce due to caregiving.

“We need to find a way for Social Security to stop penalizing women for dropping out of the workforce,” O’Neill said.

She also spoke about the benefits of “scrapping the cap,” and how simple it would be. She said that by doing so, more money would be “flowing into the system.”

“Enemies of Social Security are spinning all kinds of verbiage to make it seem complicated when it’s really not,” O’Neill said.

Larsen advocated for increasing the federal minimum wage, as well as promoting HR3118: the Strengthening Social Security Act.

He said that one of the main aspects of the act is “scrapping the cap,” and it also aims to strengthen the program by changing inflation rates that apply to Social Security taxes.

“$117,000 is a lot of money [to have], but more importantly, over $117,000 is a lot of money,” Larsen said.

He acknowledged the fact that achieving this goal is not going to be an easy task.

“There is a lot of work ahead of us, and the wind isn’t blowing in our sails right now,” Larsen said.

After Rep. Larsen’s presentation he sat down with Watkins and O’Neill for some questions from the audience.

When someone asked what generates the fear of Social Security, O’Neill said “the growing disconnect between what the vast majority of people and voters want, and what they are receiving.”

After the questions, Robby Stern of the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action finished the event with a call to action. He asked the audience to call their local senators and ask them to co-sponsor HR3118, as well as spread awareness of the issues surrounding Social Security.

“People don’t understand that there is a cap,” Stern said. “We are making progress in congress, but the biggest problem is that people just don’t know.”



Letter from the Editor

Photo by Shaylee Vigil
Photo by Shaylee Vigil

With a year under my belt as the editor-in-chief and six months as assistant editor, the Horizon room has become my home. I spend more time at school than almost anywhere else, and while some aspects of my life were pushed aside, I was driven to see it through to what I felt was a successful point of completion. As the year ends, I have reached that point.

My experience on the paper taught me how to do a number of different things, like making snap decisions and prioritizing what I put my time and effort into. I spent much of this time sitting at the head of a table in a room mostly full of men older than I was, telling them what to do, when to do it, and why. I’ve corrected endless mistakes, a number of which were admittedly my own, and I can’t read anything without mentally editing it.

I find the most useful skill I learned was how to deal with people to get the most positive outcome. Journalism sometimes involves making people care about something that really is not that interesting, and you have to be able to essentially affect the way people feel.

Journalists talk face-to-face with hundreds of people over the course of their career, and anyone who works with the public knows that this is never an easy task. You have to learn how to make people feel comfortable enough with you to act like they’re an expert on whatever they are talking about.

Then you have to be able to write in a way that caters to the interest of as many people as possible, while still presenting the unbiased facts. Any good journalist should be able to sit down with the same exact information as another and come up with an article that caters to a wide audience but is stylistically different in some way. While journalism may be one of the most honest forms of manipulation in today’s busy world (one would hope, anyways), there are thousands of other entities and aspects of the world that aim to sway people and herd them in a specific direction.

Everyone has an agenda, everyone has a different perspective, and everyone’s perspective can be changed by the things around them. What I have really learned from journalism and from running the paper is to think critically about all the factors in a situation and all of the viewpoints before I agree with someone or believe what they tell me. In a world where everyone wants you on their side, it is impossible to know what is truly going on in any given situation. There may not be any real truth to anything.

I want to believe the truth is out there, but I think you have to determine it for yourself. Your ideas and beliefs make up a huge part of who you are as a person, and that should be closely guarded. Everyone else’s perceptions are just as personal and just as easily warped and manipulated as yours is. Think deeply about what you truly believe, otherwise you will be a product of others’ ideas and opinions, not your own.

That being said, I want to thank all the students who have been my news team and have become my friends over the year, as well as my advisor for providing much-needed support to a crew of budding journalists.


Stay gold.



Everyday Struggle

by Jamie Leigh Broten

Whatcom student Heather Agesen, 26, balances her studies amd raising her two sons, and said she believes she would be a better student and have a higher GPA if childcare was available and easily accessible on campus. Photo by Jamie Leigh Broten.
Whatcom student Heather Agesen, 26, balances her studies amd raising her two sons, and said she believes she would be a better student and have a higher GPA if childcare was available and easily accessible on campus. Photo by Jamie Leigh Broten.

Since the recession of 2008-09, budget cuts have been made across the board, and states all over the country lost significant portions of funding for, among other things, childcare. The Child Development Center (CDC) at Whatcom Community College was closed in spring quarter of 2010 due to financial issues when the program was not self-sustaining as it was intended to be.

Sally Holloway, a faculty member at Whatcom that specializes in Early Childhood Education said that the lack of funding for childcare facilities “is not unique to Whatcom, it’s a national issue.”

She added that at Whatcom, the CDC had been a subsidized program, and was no longer seen as primary to the college’s mission. “We know there are other demands, it has been an administrative decision,” said Holloway.

When Whatcom came to the decision to close the childcare facility on campus, the college had already sustained $1.2 million in state budget cuts, and was estimating another $650,000 for 2011 according to a statement Trish Onion, vice president for educational services at Whatcom, sent out about the CDC closing. These budget cuts affected the funding supporting the CDC according to the statement.

“Whatcom Community College has stayed committed to the CDC despite its unstable fiscal position for many years,” Onion wrote in the letter. “The closure will impact 26 students, 16 employees and 33 community members whose families currently utilize child care services at Whatcom on a full- or part-time basis, as well as the four regular employees and part-time hourly staff who care for the children. The decision to stop providing childcare services has been very tough. We sincerely regret the impact on the families and employees and are making this announcement now to allow families time to seek out other alternatives.”

Whatcom student Heather Agesen, 26, has been attending the college for seven quarters as a full-time student as well as working part-time and raising her two sons, ages 4 and 5.

“If a childcare facility was available at [Whatcom], I feel I would benefit immensely since this is my main struggle [to find] throughout every quarter,” Agesen said.

She said that if childcare was available on campus, she believes her GPA would “increase dramatically.”

“I have the drive and perseverance to dedicate time to homework and only want to do the best of my abilities, but the constant stress of finding a babysitter can be very overwhelming and take up a lot of valuable time,” Agesen said.

Holloway said that advisors at Whatcom are “childcare aware,” and can provide assistance to students who are in need of a referral to a childcare facility.

Whatcom currently rents out a space in Kelly Hall to the National Opportunity Council, a non-profit organization that helps with student and community member needs through programs such as the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), a preschool program that provides low-income families with childcare.

The program’s requirements are limited, however. It only provides education and childcare for children ages 3 to 4, and is open for around two and a half hours a day, four days a week, September through May, Holloway said. She added that the program may expand to six hours a day in the future.

Holloway said that while it is a state-funded program, it is difficult to get into. Families must meet specific income requirements, and there are waiting lists to be accepted.

According to the Department of Early Learning government website, ECEAP only accepts children from families at or below 10 percent above the poverty line.

Agensen said that she does not meet these income requirements, and because childcare is expensive, her sons do not attend any childcare facility. She said she often hires a babysitter or has family members watch her children while she is at work and school.

“Not every family can afford [childcare],” said Holloway, adding that parents are mostly concerned with two things when looking for childcare – the cost and quality of the program.

Having childcare available for parents and their young children can be crucial to student success, both for children and parents.





Campus smoking policies to change

By: Lynette Martinez


Whatcom students Ashley MacDonald, 25, and Joshua Osterhaus, 38, will be among the many students affected by new smoking policies on campus that may be implemented during the summer of 2014.  Photo by Lynette Martinez.
Whatcom students Ashley MacDonald, 25, and Joshua Osterhaus, 38, will be among the many students affected by new smoking policies on campus that may be implemented during the summer of 2014. Photo by Lynette Martinez.

The Associated Students of Whatcom Community College (ASWCC) recently approved a position statement that recommends creating a smoke-free zone on Whatcom’s campus.

Whatcom’s Vice President for Administrative Services Nate Langstraat said, “Because this was a student proposed recommendation all voices need to be heard.Faculty and staff members smoke as well so their voices need to be heard as well.”

“At the time, college leadership is requesting feedback before continuing our work with the ASWCC to finalize a plan that can be implemented during summer 2014,” said Whatcom’s President Kathi Hiyane-Brown in a memo released May 8 related to these recommendations.

Whatcom’s campus, however, does not currently have designated areas that are smoke-free zones, said ASWCC Student Senate President Lucas Nydam. The position statement recommends the courtyard area between Syre Student Center, Laidlaw, Heiner, and Baker Hall become a smoke-free zone.

Nydam said that he thinks the administration is “in-favor” and “supportive” of creating a smoke-free zone on campus. “Whatcom’s campus is one of the few community college campuses around Whatcom County that still allows smoking on campus,” he said.

This decision was arrived at after the ASWCC surveyed 300 students and discovered that 65 percent of those students were in favor of designating the Syre courtyard as a smoke-free zone, said Nydam. He also said that the survey discovered 70 percent of students surveyed were either “bothered” or “very bothered” by smoke on campus.

The survey asked students,”Do you believe that the Syre Courtyard and area surrounding the Heiner Fountain should be smoke-free?” The survey also asked, “Of the choices below which best describes how you feel about secondhand smoke on campus?” with the possible answer of, “not bothered,” “bothered,” or “very bothered.”

“Creating a sense of community on campus is hard to do at a community college, but by offering students a smoke-free area in the courtyard, they might be more inclined to use the courtyard,” Nydam said.

Whatcom student Sonja Haehnel, 22, said, “I am all for making the courtyard smoke-free, I personally don’t have an issue with the smell of smoke but my sister who has asthma said that when she is hanging out in the courtyard the smoke triggers her asthma.”

Determining where a new smoking shelter can and cannot be placed is an issue, Nydam added, because new buildings and the area around them have to be smoke-free zones in order to comply with the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification requirements.

The Bellingham Herald reported that these new buildings will be the Learning Commons, which construction is set to begin on in late summer 2015, and the 22,725 square-foot expansion to Pavilion which is set to begin summer 2014.

In order to accommodate students, the Student Senate has proposed the construction of a new smoking shelter on the south west side of Syre, Nydam said. He added that Syre is an older building so does not have to maintain LEED requirements.

Langstraat said that meeting LEED requirements is common practice for construction of new buildings on campus, adding that meeting these requirements is what has forced the conversation about creating a smoke-free area on campus to move forward. Whatcom’s Auxilary Services building was the first to gain LEED certification and since then the conversation about smoking on campus has progressed.

“There has been talk about relocating the smoking shelter outside Heiner, to co-exist with the newly proposed shelter outside Syre. This would double the smoking shelter size,” said Langstraat. “There will not be ticketing for smoking in the courtyard but if someone is caught smoking in the courtyard they will be asked by a faculty or staff member or even by another student to go over to the designated smoking area instead.”

May 22 the College Council, which is made up of administrators, faculty, staff, and students, metto discuss if the Syre courtyard will be smoke-free, said Langstraat. He said he believes that the administration is in general support of the recommendation and if the decision to move forward is made then signage will be placed in in the courtyard over summer 2014.The signs will state that the courtyard area is smoke-free and that smoking is only allowed in smoking shelters.

Whatcom student Jack Johnson, 19, said, “I smoke and I am not bothered by having to walk to a designated smoking shelter so I would not mind if the courtyard area in front of Syre became a smoke-free zone.”

However, Whatcom student Marlo F., 18, said, “I don’t think that making the courtyard smoke-free will work. My friends smoke all the time in the courtyard and choose not to use the smoking shelter outside Heiner because it is just too isolated.”

Whatcom student Maya Cunningham, 23, said, “I am for making the courtyard smoke-free. If the smoking shelter is just around the corner it would not be too much of an interruption to walk over to it.”

Currently Syre, Laidlaw, Heiner, and Baker Hall, the four buildings that surround the courtyard, abide by the Washington Clean Air Act which states, “Smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of all building entrances,” as reads the sign posted on every entrance in all four buildings.





Senator Patty Murray visits campus

By: Tyler Kirk

President Kathi Hiyane-Brown, Whatcom student and veteran David Aguilar, Veterans’ Services Coordinator Jarid Corbitt, Senator Patty Murray, and Whatcom student and veteran Robert Rayford. Photo by Dylan Nelson.
President Kathi Hiyane-Brown, Whatcom student and veteran David Aguilar, Veterans’ Services Coordinator Jarid Corbitt, Senator Patty Murray, and Whatcom student and veteran Robert Rayford. Photo by Dylan Nelson.

Whatcom Community College welcomed U.S. Senator Patty Murray Thursday, April 24, for a roundtable discussion on veteran care in Washington state.

Murray met with some of Whatcom’s student veterans and veteran services staff, along with representatives from Western Washington University, Bellingham Technical College, Everett Community College, and Skagit Valley College to discuss current veteran benefit programs that are in place in these schools.

Whatcom President Kathi Hiyane-Brown commented on the visit in a press release about the event.

“We were honored to welcome Sen. Murray to campus,” Hiyane-Brown said. “We valued this opportunity for the senator to have a first-hand look at the meaningful work that is being done on our campuses on behalf of student veterans.”

According to the press release, the discussion focused

largely on the transition veterans experience when they leave military service and return to civilian life. Murray also talked with the students about their experience attending college after their service.

David Aguilar is a Whatcom student and Marine Corps veteran who uses the education benefits available to him. These benefits, such as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, help veterans and their dependents with tuition and other costs associated with higher education.

“I never thought of going to college,” Aguilar said, “but because I had my G.I. Bill, I decided to.”

He said that while there is typically a transition period of one year allowing veterans time to convert from military service into common resident life, he only had a month or two. Aguilar said he served in the Marine Corps from 2002 to 2006.

Murray’s visit also focused on veterans’ access to education benefits, their experiences with these benefits, and the efficiency of veteran coordination services in Washington colleges and universities. Both veterans and their advisors talked about their experience with education benefits after service. Students discussed their positive experiences with the veteran-staffed Veterans Office, both for assisting them in receiving veteran benefits and for serving as academic advisors throughout their educational careers.

Whatcom’s Veterans Service Coordinator Jarid Corbitt discussed Murray’s visit and the positive impression left on those at the meeting.

“I was really impressed with her genuine concern for the issue,” Corbitt said. “She listened, had genuine questions. She wanted to make sure that [students] were heard. She offered some really great solutions [and] a snapshot of what she’s working on on a federal level.”

Aguilar explained that with roughly 250 veterans enrolled at Whatcom, veterans’ experiences in a community college setting are often much different than they would be at a university.

“What separates [Whatcom] from the university is we treat our future prospects like human beings,” he said. “We’re not a factory; we’re supposed to be here supporting individuals.”

Aguilar said his experiences with Whatcom’s veteran services have been positive, partially because of the emphasis Whatcom places on the success and wellbeing of each individual student.

“I’ve been doing great because of the support of fellow veterans,” he said. “I’m building my foundation.”

The visit also gave veterans a chance to thank Murray for her advocacy for veteran care.

Murray currently serves as Chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and has backed several initiatives in the Senate both to preserve existing benefits and to increase access to post-service educational benefits.

She has received several awards from various military service groups, including Legislature of the Year and Person of the Year, for her work with several generations of veterans spanning from the Vietnam War to the present, according to her website.

“It was an honor to sit down with student veterans and their academic advisors, who have been outstanding advocates in the community and will be leading the fight for our veterans in Bellingham in the years to come,” said Murray, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Veterans Affairs. “I will take the stories I heard back to Washington, D.C. with me as I continue to work to ensure our young veterans have a seamless transition into higher education.”




The official student newspaper of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington