Rugby preps for Spring

If you have strength, speed, strategy and don’t mind a full-contact sport, you might want to consider rugby.

At Dixie State University, there is a variety of clubs that can help you fuel almost any desire you have, whether it be academic, cultural or for entertainment.

Matthew Cooley, a junior general education major from American Fork, has been part of the men’s rugby club for three years and is the club president and captain.

The Rugby club participates in tournaments, scrimmages and games against other university club teams, Cooley said.

Rugby is not an NCAA-recognized sport, but the club still tries to go by all of its rules in hopes to eventually become a recognized sport, Cooley said.

The men’s club has 15 members and is actively trying to find more; it needs 23 total men to fill its roster.

The women’s club has approximately 25 members.

The club members have goals to grow the club and eventually be able to have their own field with goal posts.  

Alexis Romero, a sophomore elementary education major from Catalina Island, California, said she has enjoyed playing rugby since she started college three years ago and is the women’s club vice president.

“Everything about rugby is really fun,” Romero said. “Everybody should at least try it.”  

The Dixie campus does not currently have a field to play on, so the club plays games at a park; the club still practices at the Encampment Mall on campus.

The club welcomes anyone who wants to play. The members will even teach  one-on-one the skills such as the proper way to pass, how to scrum, how to do a line out, the rugby kick and basic game rules and strategies, Cooley said.

The sport consists of two 40-minute halves, and the goal of the game is to get the rugby ball into the other team’s goal area. Players can move forward by running with the ball or by kicking it.

There are approximately eight season games for the men’s rugby club, not including practice games and scrimmages.

The women’s club does not have as many organized games as the men’s club but it hopes to be able to play as many games as it can this semester, Romero said.

Nehmiah Vicente, a junior nursing major from Las Vegas, said he is a member of the club and said that the club has personal goals as well as team goals; conditioning is a goal that he is working on now.

“The best part about the sport is smashing into people,” Vicente said. “The sport is intense and a good outlet.”

Being part of a team club is more like being a part of a family, you share a bond with a group of girls that share the same love of sports that you do, Romero said.

The club practices everyday on the Encampment Mall field, the women from 5 to 6 p.m. and the men from 6 to 8 p.m.

The men’s club has only had one scrimmage so far this year against Salt Lake Community College, which it lost. The next game will be in two weeks at the Las Vegas Invitational where it will play multiple schools.

The women’s team played a game in Las Vegas Saturday against a team called The Slots and lost 27-35; this was the first season game. The women are unsure of their next match. They have to call and schedule games with the other schools.

Board of trustees discusses faculty survey, new program proposals

Many waited outside the doors of the Zion Room on the fifth floor of the Holland Centennial Commons Friday morning as the board of trustees began the open session of its meetings.

After an introduction and welcoming of guests, members of the board began the session by honoring now-retired Don Hinton, dean of the school of humanities, with an excellence in education award.

“This isn’t an award we give lightly,” trustee Elisabeth Bingham said.

Following a short speech by Hinton, Debra Bryant, assistant professor of business, presented the results of a survey called “Great Colleges to Work For,” which measures responses given to questions distributed to the faculty at Dixie State University about the quality of their jobs.

“I think one of the signs of being a great college is that you ask your employees how you’re doing,” Bryant said.

Dixie’s scores on the survey met the national average but didn’t quite live up to the highest standard: the honor roll.

After reviewing the survey’s numbers, President Biff Williams gave the president’s report.

“We do a lot of amazing things at [DSU],” Williams said. “But we don’t brag about ourselves enough, and that’s one culture that I would like to change.”

Williams announced a new student housing building would soon be breaking ground.

The trustees listened to seven program proposals and approved the restructuring of the communication department including new multimedia and social media emphases.

The physical education/recreation program in the department of family and consumer sciences will also see a change as it moves to the school of health sciences with more programs to follow shortly.

The board also heard reports devoted to investments, finances, various committees and building prospects as well as a listing of events scheduled for the coming months.

Visit Dixie’s website to view the detailed agenda of the meeting. The next board of trustees meeting will be held March 20. 

Career counselors caution students when changing majors

Something every college student eventually has to do is choose a major.

The Career Center has many great tools to helP students decide on a major, including an aptitude test and career counselors, Career Services Director Ali Threet said.

Threet said sometimes it takes option after option before somebody decides what is right for them; it is better to start early. 

“If you quickly choose something during your freshman year then you can get started somewhere,” Threet said. “If you choose early you can explore more options, and you have a better idea of what you might want to do.”

August Barlow, a junior biology major from Hildale, has changed his major three times. He recently changed from a pre-med to a biology major because pre-med is not offered at Dixie State University. Barlow said he did have to take extra classes after adding a medical emphasis.

The Career Center can give students an idea of what might be right for them. At the Career Center, there are advisers who students can meet with who will help get the ball rolling. It also offers aptitude tests that can give students a better idea of what direction to head in.

Having an understanding of what a student might want to do really helps in choosing a major, and Threet said choosing a major is the hard part.

David Roos, executive director of enrollment services, said it doesn’t only cost money but time when students change their majors.

“When looking into changing your major there are many great tools on the Dixie website that can help you with your decision,” Roos said. “There is Degree Works inside your MyDixie that will let you do a ‘what if’ analysis. You can look and see what would happen if you were to change your degree.”

The ‘what if’ analysis tool is a great way to see how changing your major will affect you before you actually decide to do it, Roos said.

Students who are interested in taking the aptitude test can do so at Dixie.edu/career. Threet encouraged students to talk with a career counselor, before and after, in order to better understand the aptitude test and results.

Spring Writing Center workshops more accessible to students

The tutors at the Dixie State University Writing Center are changing the format of their instructional writing workshops this spring to reach out to more students.

The new, hour-long workshops scheduled for the spring are going to be half tutor-led presentations and half audience engagement. Lauren Jo Sypniewski, the Writing Center coordinator and English instructor, said she hopes the new interactive format of the workshops will help bring more people to the Writing Center to get help.

“These workshops are going to be pretty fun and informational,” Sypniewski said. “[Students] will get to learn directly from their peers. They can communicate with [the tutors] at a different level than if they were trying to get help from their professors.”

The workshops focus on various topics including how to prewrite effectively, creating a strong thesis, writing with an active voice, résumé and professional writing for careers, writing cohesive introductions and conclusions, and using punctuation correctly.

The workshops will be held at different times each week to try to cater to the most students possible, unlike past semesters where the workshops were at the same time each week, Sypniewski said. The workshops are located in the Holland Centennial Commons. The schedule for the spring workshops can be found at dixiewritingcenter.com.

The first workshop will be at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 4. Each workshop is presented by a different tutor to ensure variety.

Dexter Humphreys, a senior communication major from Hatch, will be facilitating the workshop on structuring introductions and conclusions in April.

“It’s a really small setting so it can be really hands-on and involved,” Humphreys said. 

At the workshops following the presentation, attendees will be putting their new skills to the test by practicing their writing. That way, the tutors can help all the students individually and give them specific feedback.

Humphreys said he feels like the workshops are going to be helpful for all the students who attend.

“[The workshops] are important because a lot of students … do not know some of these specific skills we will be working on and don’t know where to get help,” Humphreys said. “This is a really easy way for everyone to improve their writing.”

Turnitin software legitimate teaching tool for students

Like sketchy Tinder dates and Ramen Noodles, there’s another aspect of college life students will inevitably experience: using the Turnitin system in their courses.

Turnitin is third-party product that compares writing assignments to those of other students, Internet databases and journals and periodicals. The program allows instructors to spot similarities between papers students submit and information online that could assist them in determining if academic dishonesty has occurred.

With Turnitin now a prominent influence at Dixie State University, common criticisms, like its inability to differentiate accidental and intentional plagiarism, and rumors that students can “game” the Turnitin system don’t hold enough merit to invalidate its effectiveness, said Chris Harrick, Turnitin vice president of marketing.

Jared Johnson, director of IT instructional support services, said 2014-15 marks the second academic year Turnitin has been integrated into Dixie State University’s Canvas system for faculty use. In fall semester alone, 379 instructors used the service for their courses, 4,630 students submitted assignments into Turnitin, and 23,122 total submissions from DSU entered the system.

Johnson said one misconception people might have about Turnitin is that it alerts instructors about cases of academic dishonesty. However, it only provides instructors with information — like the percentage of an assignment similar to online content — that could help them find questionable student practices.

“It is decided by the faculty member what and how they judge plagiarism,” Johnson said. “ … [Turnitin] doesn’t say plagiarism has occurred … Instructors would probably wait until a certain threshold to decide to check for plagiarism.”

Psychology assistant professor Kristine Olson said she uses Turnitin for her courses, but rather than relying on the system to spot every case of possible academic dishonesty, she utilizes it as a learning tool to teach students about ways to avoid plagiarism. 

And that’s the best use for Turnitin, Harrick said.

“Using Turnitin as a ‘gotcha’ tool is not a best practice as the hope is students can learn and grow from small mistakes rather than be punished for one big mistake,” Harrick said. “Instructors should be talking to their students about the importance of originality and citations; creating assignments that are difficult to plagiarize; and exposing students to tools like Turnitin in a risk-free manner so they understand that if they plagiarize, they will most likely face consequences.”

Harrick said classifying Turnitin as a learning tool rather than a manic, accusatory cheating detector helps both instructors and students learn from it.

However, Turnitin’s success across the 10,000 learning institutions it serves indicates it also reduces plagiarism, he said.

“We’ve measured the levels of unoriginal content submitted to our service over time and have found that, on average, institutions reduce levels of unoriginal content by 40 percent over five years of use,” Harrick said.

Johnson said the fact that at DSU only eight Canvas support tickets (alerts about issues with online services) in regards to Turnitin have been submitted since its implementation — mostly technical — highlights its benefits.

Canvas also helps instructors combat cheating, he said. 

“Canvas is powerful for suspected cheating because instructors can go into Canvas and can pull up students’ usage … ,” Johnson said. “They can look at analytics on students, their access reports for Canvas, and can see when students logged in last, and how much time they’ve spent in one tool.”

Both Johnson and Harrick said Turnitin is unique in its ability to keep up with both technology and the rumored methods of students beating it.

Turnitin’s ever-growing database continually improves its effectiveness, Harrick said.

“In terms of newer methods of academic dishonesty, one of the most powerful aspects of our service is our content database, which consists of 50 billion web pages, over 500 million student papers and millions of text books, newspapers and magazines,” he said. “This growing corpus of information is continually broadening our ability to detect unoriginal content.”

New technologies’ impact on DSU’s campus make the service crucial, Johnson said; students enroll in online classes, research online and, now, Turnitin’s system both teaches them how to avoid academic dishonesty and underscores the consequences of plagiarism.

“We’re in the digital age, and so to keep up with that we have to be able to combat that, and that’s where Turnitin’s role comes into play,” he said. 

TED talks spark discussion on campus

Robots, albeit controlled by their watchful surgeon masters, will soon take over the world of surgery.

Not quite, but they will play a bigger part of surgeries in the future. I took the opportunity to visit the English department’s Collaborative Lounge where each Thursday the English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta, holds a regular viewing and discussion of a TED talk.

Though I wasn’t totally excited about this week’s topic, I think viewing and discussing TED talks is an effective way to broaden knowledge and expose yourself to new ideas.

If you haven’t heard about TED talks, look one up. It’s kind of hard to define a TED talk; I got caught in a frustrating loop of pages on TED’s website, which led me to write “TED is TED” in my notebook. TED talks are short (the website says 18 minutes long) presentations by a speaker with an “idea worth spreading” at conventions sponsored by TED. Speakers range from CEOs and former presidents to new researchers. The main criteria seems to be speaking about new ideas that spark questions.  

Here at Dixie State University, this week’s TED discussion topic, “Surgery’s Past, Present, and Robotic Future” by Catherine Mohr, was not something I would’ve chosen to watch. That was fine because I’ve taken enough classes by now to be able to listen to 18 minutes of something I’m not really interested in. This is one of TED’s merits. I can listen to it and think about it, and after 18 minutes I have some new information that might change my viewpoint, or I might never think about it again.

The students at the meeting had a lively discussion about people’s perceptions of surgeons and the human element of surgery. The future potential of having a robot perform an entire surgery, or even a doctor across the world remotely operating the surgical tools, was discussed. It was a little silly to hear people not involved with the medical science industry at all talking about how it might change in the future, but isn’t that how we learn?

Listening to a TED talk is as good as any instruction you can receive in 18 minutes. Fundamentally, it’s the same as listening to a lecture in class.

Though speakers share grand ideas, I rarely notice a call to action. The biggest difference will probably be viewing an aspect of my life in a different light. TED talks are unlikely to change the world or even DSU’s campus. I do think an individual who listens to a TED Talk could change for the better, but, like any class, teacher, book, movie or song, different content and presentation speaks to different people at different times. Personally the TED Talks that are motivational in nature motivate me the most. Surprise! 

Trending Now: Trivia Crack is trivia wack

When people tell me how good they are at Trivia Crack, I roll my eyes so hard I can see my brain. 

Trivia Crack is a smartphone trivia app that, according to USA Today, has more than 100 million users worldwide.  You compete against other users to answer questions that test your knowledge about entertainment, sports, geography, art, history and science. 

Honestly, Trivia Crack mostly just tests your luck, and that’s pretty lame to brag about. 

Normally the format for trivia games isn’t multiple choice, but in Trivia Crack it is, so you’ll always have a 25 percent chance of getting a question right. This feature means that even total clowns have a chance winning against people who actually know things.

I understand that the usual trivia format doesn’t work as well on a phone, so it’s understandable that creators of the game would make it this way, but that’s not the only problem.

The questions in the game are submitted, and approved, by users through the in-game Question Factory. Questions only have to be approved by 100 users to be featured on the game. This means you’ll never know the quality or the difficulty of the question you or your opponent receive. 

“What color is a gorilla?” somehow made the cut. I got that one right, if you were wondering. 

Just to prove to myself what a dumb system this is, I approved every question in the Question Factory regardless of its quality. I switched to questions from different countries and approved all of those too, even if I didn’t speak the language. Who’s going to stop me, huh?

Also, your opponent might take days to finish his turn answering questions, so games can last a very long time.

Basically, Trivia Crack is sort of the equivalent to playing “Guess how many fingers I’m holding up” with a friend, except through animated text messages, over the course of a week. 

None of this is important, though. Trivia Crack is wildly successful but not because anyone really likes trivia. If they did, I’d have a lot more friends who watched “Jeopardy” and threw Trivial Pursuit parties.

Trivia Crack is just another way to waste time, and people constantly need new, mildly entertaining ways to do that. It’s not wrong to let something silly have your attention now and then.

Just don’t tell me how good you are at Trivia Crack, please. My eyes are getting tired.

Mr. Dixie could mean more

Everyone knows the Mr. Dixie pageant isn’t just funny — it is hilarious, but despite all the schtick, I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Dixie will be anything more than funny.  

For those unfamiliar with Mr. Dixie, it is a faux-pageant for male Dixie State University students to flaunt their flairs, charisma and personality in hopes of winning a crown and bragging rights.

My concern arises due to Mr. Dixie’s controversial past, which has sprouted debates regarding whether it should continue. Although the event sometimes fills the Gardner Center with eager students, other undergraduates believe that Mr. Dixie promotes self-humiliation, glorifies lewd behavior and excuses students to perform offensive acts. 

For example, the Vimeo.com video titled “Mr. Dixie Pageant 2011,” highlights one contestant’s talent to avoid the border patrol. 

This contestant, who was Latin-American, won the pageant, and, according to a 2011 Dixie Sun article, he said he was going to sell his crown because “I need to feed my familias back on the other side of the borders.”

That response is funny, albeit cringe-worthy.   

Fortunately, the event organizers have worked hard for Mr. Dixie to be a tasteful event that showcases the debonair men of DSU.  

“We want [Mr. Dixie] to be light-hearted, funny and entertaining, but we want it to stay between the bounds of being funny, yet not being extraordinarily vulgar,” said Jill Wulfenstein, DSU vice president of student life, an integrated studies major from Pahrump, Nevada.

Wulfenstein explained that DSUSA is aware many families attend Mr. Dixie. This is why it uses sign-up sheets and dress rehearsals to weed out potentially damaging stunts.

I give props to the contestants and student organizers for their dedication to entertain our student-body. Don’t get me wrong: I encourage students to support Mr. Dixie.  

I simply would like Mr. Dixie’s title be more than just nominal.  He certainly needn’t to act on par with Miss Dixie or Miss D Week, but his title should be the result of something else besides laughter. He could help plan and appear at a service event or assist in presenting awards at a social. And others agree.  

“It would give Mr. Dixie the opportunity to be more than just ‘the winner,’” said Shayna Wood, a junior Spanish major from St. George, who participated in the Washington City Princess Scholarship Pageant. “He would be more of a representative. And others would see that his responsibilities are serious so it would help change the view that the pageant is more serious, too.”

Wood also said that pageantry principles can help when seeking employment: “When taken seriously [pageantry] definitely helps in presenting oneself — speech, appearance and knowledge — convincingly to judges [such as potential employers].”

My hope is that Mr. Dixie will progress beyond bros in black leotards gyrating to “Single Ladies” on stage (which happened in 2010) and that it will become an integral part of DSU life that reflects our university status.

Dixie State Athletics to add new program soon

Dixie State University has many activities to be a part of, including sports, academics and clubs.

As the school is growing opportunities, are growing as well. This may include new sport programs. The athletic department is currently working on adding new sports to our school, Athletic Director Jason Boothe said.

Dixie is a part of the Pacific West Conference. This conference includes many sports such as basketball, baseball, softball, cross-country, soccer, golf, tennis, track and field and volleyball.

Dixie does not offer some sports that are a part of this conference. If DSU wanted to add a sport, track and field for example, it could add it without a long process because it is already part of the PacWest conference, Boothe said.

If Dixie wanted to add a sport that was not a part of this conference, there is a little bit more of a process.

There must be a need for participation, and DSU must have the facilities in order for a sport to work; there also must be equal opportunities for male and female athletes, Boothe said.

The school must have as many opportunities for female sports as it does with male sports, which is one of the reasons our school might decide add a new sport.

Once a sport is announced there must be a hiring process for the coach and a recruitment process for the athletes. Boothe said a proper amount of time is required in order for the team to be ready and for the money given to the team to not be wasted.

Boothe said DSU would gain a lot by adding a new sport.

“A new sport will provide for more exposure for the university with the team’s efforts,” Boothe said.

“Not only do sports benefit athletes but also friends of athletes and sport enthusiasts” Boothe said. “Small sports such as swimming and lacrosse do not bring a big fan base, but they still benefit our school … It will also bring a good number of new students to campus, but not just student-athletes, but their friends may also come.”

Athletic programs bring in students and also tuition dollars.

“For every 300 hundred athletes, we’re probably going to have an additional 350 or 400 students because they bring their friends, cousins, sisters, boyfriends,” Boothe said.

Even if every athlete was to have full tuition coverage, their friends and family bring in just as much or more tuition dollars to our campus.

Some sports that other universities have that DSU doesn’t are lacrosse, gymnastics, wrestling, water polo, swimming and diving and track and field. DSU does have students who participate in some of these sports by being part of a club, but they are not considered part of the athletic department.

These club sports such as women’s lacrosse are part of the NCAA and may have opportunities to become a actual sport after the required process is completed. Other teams such as rugby do not have the same opportunities because they are not an NCAA sport, and it is not a part of the athletic department’s mission, Boothe said.

With as many students that DSU has on campus, there is a wide variety of sports that students would like to see become more than just a club.

Jessica Hunt, a junior psychology major from St. George, has a lot of friends who participate in the wrestling club.

“I would like to see wrestling become and actual team, and for it to be co-ed rather than just males,” Hunt said.

Because this sport is at a club level there is no recruitment required. These club sports are not as organized as it is at the NCAA levels and they have wide participation opportunities for students.

The Dixie State Athletic Department is actively working to announce a new sport by the end of the semester. Boothe said this new sport will help the university grow.