St. George fire chief talks fire hazards in student apartments after recent blazes

Smokey Bear has a relevant motto we all know and practice. 

The quote “Only you can prevent wildfires” translates from wilderness to your own home and other indoor areas. 

The new year brought two fires in apartments surrounding Dixie State University, forcing fire safety off the back burner for students residing in dorms. 

The first apartment fire of the semester occurred in January. Flames caused by a short in a breaker box at Avalon Apartments resulted in the building to lose power and students to be evacuated for over an hour.

The second fire took place at Canyonlands Apartments in February. A storage room filled with appliances and cardboard was the confirmed source. A plugged-in stove stored in the room sparked the flames.

St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said both Avalon and Canyonlands apartments met the safety codes they were built under. 

“The new student housing codes require hardwired smoke detectors, so if one goes off, they all go off,” Stoker said. “There will also be a fire detector in every room, whereas the older dorms only required detectors in the commons areas.”

DSU Fire Marshal Josh Thayn said the most common campus fires at DSU are caused by electric malfunctions and unsafe cooking. Actions such as overloading outlets, wiring multiple cords together in daisy chains, and using temporary wiring as permanent wiring are likely to cause fires.

“Hopefully everybody takes the opportunity to look at their emergency operation plan and emergency procedures so they can know what they can do to keep themselves and others safe,” Thayn said.

The St. George City Fire Department inspects public buildings for fire code violations. Stoker said student housing falls under a somewhat private residence, but managers are usually more than happy to grant access to the duty crew for a safety inspection.

“Our on-duty crews are always doing inspections,” Stoker said. “We try to require as much safety as possible.”

Stoker said placing barbecue grills too close to the building and using walkway stairways for storage are some of the fire hazard violations at the apartments.  

“It’s always important to keep a clean house,” said Ken Guard, St. George Fire Department battalion chief. “Most of the structure fires we find throughout the year are usually in an unclean environment. Stuff laying around in [an] unorganized [living space] potentially causes problems.”

Guard said keeping fresh batteries in smoke detectors and setting timers on baked goods in the oven can go a long way, but there are other imperative measures that often need attention in order to properly exercise fire safety.

“We went through Canyonlands and checked the smoke detectors,” Stoker said. “Sometimes people take out the batteries because the ones in their remote controls are dead. We always see stuff like that.”

Resident assistants are expected to keep a watchful eye over the rooms when inspection crews are saving the day elsewhere.

“As a resident assistant, we make sure nobody has any prohibited items that would cause a fire,” said Jared Spencer, a senior communication major from Derby, Texas. “It is pretty simple.”

Spencer said prohibited items that could potentially pose a fire hazard in apartments include candles and coffee makers. 

“There’s trainings that you can ask for and we can help provide,” Thayn said. “We just want to make sure your experience here is one of safety and enjoyment.”

The do’s and don’ts of sexual consent

Sex is the less-acknowledged side of many college students’ education.

   While sex is often enjoyed more so than hitting the books, there is something fundamental to a good sexual experience students won’t learn from a textbook.

   College students are at just the right age to really experiment with sex, but without consent, something so hot, loud, passionate and sexy is actually just rape.  

   Consent is important for many reasons, and the most talked about part is the legal side of consent. It is important to understand what consent is so you are aware of your rights. 

   Many victims of sexual assault don’t realize what happened wasn’t OK until after the fact. 

   Consent is the trickiest thing about sex but also the most important. It can be hard to tell when you have obtained consent, but if you follow a few steps it can be very simple.  

   “Consent is not the absence of a no, but the presence of a yes,” said Lindsey Doe, a doctor of human sexuality and the host of the YouTube channel Sexplanations.

   It is often the practice to give consent non-verbally in our society, Doe said. This can include not resisting advances, letting someone take your clothes off, or not saying “no” when he or she touches you. 

   Non-verbal consent is ineffective and can be an unsafe way to have sex because the expectations aren’t clear. There are reasons someone might not stop advances when they don’t actually want to have sex. 

   People usually assume the lack of an answer in this way means yes; however, there are many reasons why someone wouldn’t answer while being advanced upon. A few of these reasons include fear, disability, confusion, intoxication and embarrassment. You need to know they will say “stop” or “no” if they want to.  

   There is a good analogy Doe used once to explain consent. Imagine for a moment sex is a cup of tea. 

   If I were to offer someone a cup of tea, he or she can respond in any way. If he or she says yes, I’ll go ahead and make   tea. If he or she says no, I wouldn’t force tea on him or her. 

   Unconscious people can’t drink tea by themselves, so I wouldn’t offer any to them in the first place. 

   If he or she says nothing or are unsure whether they want tea or not, I can make them tea, but I shouldn’t hold it against them if they decide not to drink it. The other person can decide at any time  he or she doesn’t want tea, regardless of his or her previous answer, and I have to be OK with that even though that may be frustrating since I went to all the trouble of making the tea.

   So what about having sex when you, or a prospective partner, are drunk or otherwise impaired?

   Picture this: You’re at a party, and you’re drinking alongside your peers. The music is bumping in your chest, and everyone is laughing and having a good time. Across the room, you spot someone you are attracted to and would like to engage in sexual activity with. 

   Unless you’ve met this person before or talked about getting drunk and having sex before the drinking started, it is not OK to have sex with him or her until he or she sober up. 

   Drunk people are not able to give consent according to the law, so this can be considered sexual assault or rape depending on how far the sexual activity goes.

   A simple rule to tell if you or your partner are too intoxicated to give consent is this: If you or your partner can’t operate a motor vehicle, because you are impaired by drugs or alcohol, you shouldn’t be agreeing to intercourse.

   Consent is considered complicated, but it really doesn’t need to be. If you ask someone to have sex with you, it doesn’t automatically set you up for failure. Consent doesn’t take the excitement out of sex. It shows you respect your partner, and he or she will appreciate you cared enough to ask.

   “Consent is unbelievably, unarguably, bubbling-sex-cauldron hot,” Doe said.

   Asking can save you and your potential partner a lot of grief. If you ask, you won’t risk facing legal charges, and they won’t have lasting psychological and physiological issues. 

   If everyone understands consent and what it means, we can lower instances of rape and sexual assault, not only on college campuses, but also everywhere.

   Consent isn’t the act of just not opting out. Consent is a yes, said verbally, from your partner directly to you.

Baseball splits series against third-ranked CMU

   After two heartbreaking losses, Dixie State University baseball secured two wins of the four game series against the third ranked Colorado Mesa University over the weekend. 

   Each game of the series was decided by just one run. Both losses came in the form of walk-offs as the Mavericks scored game-winning runs in each of the first two games of the series. 

   Sophomore pitcher Dylan File took the mound for the Storm, striking out eight batters and allowing just one run on four hits in his 7 2/3 innings pitched. Despite the effort, File earned a no decision in the game.

   “I was really happy with the way I pitched,” said File, a criminal justice major from St. George. “Knowing that I can shut down a team like that brings a lot of confidence.”

   Junior outfielder Miles Bice drove home the lone run for the Storm on a single that scored redshirt    senior infielder Sam Hall.   

   With the game knotted up at one apiece, the game went to extra innings, in which the Mavericks loaded the bases and, with two outs, drove home the winning run, giving them the victory 2-1.

   “Our goal is to win each series we play,” head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said. “After losing a game like that, I always remind my players that you can’t get the game back. You have to move forward.” 

   DSU struggled offensively in its second game as it was held scoreless until the seventh inning, in which it scored three runs to tie the game. After CMU took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth, redshirt junior outfielder Ryan Rodriguez doubled home the tying run. 

   The final inning was equally disappointing as the previous game as the Mavericks scored the winning run on a double, landing them on top, 5-4.

   The first five batters in the Storm’s lineup recorded nine of the 11 DSU hits in the affair. They also were responsible for driving in each of the four runs in the game.

   “It was tough to get over those two loses,” Pfatenhauer said. “After the losses, we set our goals at getting two wins, and we were able to do that.” 

   DSU got off to a quick start in game three of the series by scoring five runs in the first two innings of play. The Storm scored their final run in the fifth inning before locking down the 6-5 victory.

   “It was heartbreaking that we lost two games we could have won, but it’s definitely a builder knowing that we can rally back and win two,” File said. 

   Junior pitcher Mason Hilty allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings of work and earned the victory. Hilty is 4-0 from the mound in the young season. 

   The final game of the series saw the Storm score three runs in the top of the first inning. CMU, however, would score six runs while keeping the Storm quiet and held a 6-3 lead going into the top of the seventh. DSU exploded for a six-run inning, followed by three runs in the top of the eighth.   

   The Mavericks would then push across six runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the score at 12 going into the final inning. Redshirt junior outfielder Jerome Hill II sent a double down the left-field line, scoring the go-ahead run in the ninth to help give the Storm the 13-12 victory.

   “To rebound from those losses was extremely rewarding,” Pfatenhauer said. “We gained a lot of confidence. It meant a lot, especially to do it in their hostile environment.”

   Redshirt senior infielder Tanner Morache led the DSU offense going 3-6 with three RBIs. Redshirt juniors Drew McLaughlin and Reece Lucero each went 2-5 with two RBIs to help the Storm. Rodriguez went a combined 8-14 throughout the series.

   “As a designated hitter, I always just try to stay focused and stay loose,” said Rodriguez, a business administration major from Folsom, California. “I’ve always got a bat in my hands and always stay ready to go.” 

   DSU sports a 12-2 record and will return home to begin its Pacific West Conference schedule against California Baptist University.

   “We are going to focus on not looking too far ahead,” Rodriguez said. “We need to take each series one at a time and try to win every series.”

   The four-game series against CBU will start Thursday at 6 p.m. All games will be played at Bruce Hurst Field.

Nursing students reach out to Hispanic community members

Hispanic community members came to Dixie State University for free health checkups, trainings and a tour of a firetruck Saturday. 

Teaming up with the St. George Police Department, the DSU Nursing Association provided free blood pressure tests, dental checkups, body mass index screenings and eye exams at the Feria de la Salud y la Seguridad, meaning Health and Safety Fair. The event took place in the parking lot of the Russell C. Taylor Health Science Building.

Nursing students also provided community members with information on how to stay healthy and safe. 

Jennie Garcia, a junior nursing major from St. George, organized the event with the help of her husband, Rudy Garcia, who is a patrol officer for the St. George Police Department.

Jennie Garcia said she hopes to make the Feria de la Salud y la Seguridad an annual event and future partnership opportunity with the police department. She said the reason DSUNA reached out to the Hispanic community was to help them feel included and that they have the same resources as others.

“A lot of times in St. George, we assume everyone speaks English, so we don’t really consider that we need to have a translator or have someone there that can kind of cater to people who don’t speak English,” Jennie Garcia said. 

Carly Coons, a junior nursing major from Alpine, said she enjoyed teaching community members about different health and safety topics. 

“A lot of nursing is teaching, and so [this event] gives us an opportunity to teach,” Coons said. “If we keep [Hispanic community members] safe and healthy, then they have less people in the hospital and less people sick. As we reach out as nurses, it’s kind of prevention first.” 

Ron Allen, a St. George Fire Department firefighter attended the event to give children tours of a fire engine. He said the event was also helpful for students to learn more about emergency services in the community. 

“The DSU students have an opportunity here to learn also what we do as far as emergency services and how in depth that goes,” Allen said. 

Rudy Garcia said it was nice to see different organizations like the DSUNA and police department “come together as one unit” to help community members for a day. 

“This is why I became an officer — so I can help people,” Rudy Garcia said. 

Additional reporting by Ally Hunter. 

Baseball splits series against third ranked CMU

After two heartbreaking losses, Dixie State University baseball secured two wins and split the series against third ranked Colorado Mesa University over the weekend.

Both DSU losses came by just one run, each in walk-off style as the Mavericks scored game winning runs in each of the first two games of the series.  This first of which was an unearned run that CMU pushed across in the bottom of the tenth inning giving them a 2-1.  The second came in similar fashion in the bottom of the ninth of the second game when a double scored the go-ahead and winning run.

The Storm rebounded quickly as it took the next two games by scores of 6-5 an 13-12.  In DSU’s first win of the series, they held a 5-0 lead after the second inning of play. The Mavericks rallied to score five runs of their own over the next three innings, but the Storm added a run in the sixth and never looked back as they secured the victory.

The final game of the series saw the Storm score three runs in the top of the first inning.  CMU, however, would score six runs while keeping the Storm quiet and held a 6-3 lead going into the top of the seventh.  DSU exploded for a 6-run inning followed by three runs in the top of the eighth.  

The Mavericks would push across six runs in the bottom of the eight to tie the score at 12 going into the final inning.  Redshirt junior outfielder Jerome Hill II sent a double down the left-field line scoring the go-ahead run to help give the Storm the 13-12 victory.

DSU now sports a 12-2 record and will return home to begin its Pacific West Conference schedule against California Baptist University beginning March third at six p.m. All games will be played at Bruce Hurst Field.

Storm wow capacity crowd on senior night

   It was a storybook ending to the Dixie State University basketball season Saturday night as the Storm closed out the regular season with a huge 82-67 win against Pacific West Conference frontrunner Concordia University. 

   A season-high crowd of nearly 4,000 showed up for the final regular season game, and it was not disappointed as the Storm won their ninth consecutive game, clinching the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the PacWest tournament. 

   In addition to it being the last home game, Storm faithful bid farewell to the three seniors who stepped on to the Burns Arena floor for the final time. 

   “It’s always tough to say goodbye to those seniors,” a teary-eyed head coach Jon Judkins said. “We finished on a high note, though, and now have an opportunity to do something special. I can’t put in words how proud I am of this group.” 

   Forward Mark Ogden Jr., guard Mason Sawyer and guard Robbie Nielson were the seniors who were honored in a ceremony before tipoff of the pivotal PacWest matchup with the Eagles. 

   Nielson had his best outing of the season, scoring a team-high 17 points on 6-10 shooting, missing his career-high by just one bucket. 

   Ogden Jr. only attempted two field goals in the game, but he pulled down 11 rebounds, which tied him with Zach Robbins for the most rebounds in a single season in the DSU Division II era (266). One of his two shots was a monster two-handed alley-oop jam that had the home crowd buzzing in the waning moments. 

   “It’s obviously emotional knowing that it’s our last game here,” said Ogden Jr., a business administration major from Spring Valley, California. “The nerves kind of showed in the first half, but once we got into the locker room and got settled down, we really got it going. It’s awesome to go out like that.” 

   The Storm got it going indeed, as their two-point lead with eight minutes left ballooned to as many as 18 in the final minutes. Sawyer, a psychology major from West Jordan, played a big role in that run as he reeled off eight straight points to match Nielson’s 17 points and passed McKay Massey for third all-time on DSU’s single-season 3-pointers made list in the process. 

   “Couldn’t have asked for a better way to go out,” Sawyer said. “The crowd was great, and we made some pretty memorable plays down the stretch. We’re not done yet, though.” 

   The sophomore guards continued to impress as Brandon Simister’s shooting hand stayed hot, and Trevor Hill stuffed the stat sheet once again. Simister went 3-4 from distance en route to his 14-point night, and Hill finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists as he added the exclamation point with a ferocious baseline dunk over an Eagle defender. 

   With the win, DSU moves to 18-8 on the season and awaits the winner of the Dominican University vs. California Baptist University first-round matchup. The No. 2 seed Storm are set to tip-off the PacWest tournament semi-final Friday at 12:30 p.m. in Irvine, California.

Try Something New: Leaving car at home led to instant regret

In a world dependent on cars, I bucked the system for a day. 

I tried something new last week and ditched my car to travel solely by foot and public transportation for one day. Taking advantage of SunTran’s deal with Dixie State University to provide free rides for studentsI rode the bus most of the way between the university, home and work. I found out how much I really depend on my shabby 2000 Dodge Intrepid and how much I’d miss it when it’s gone. 

My home is in Washington, three miles from the nearest bus stop in St. George. Having to be at DSU by 7 a.m., I woke up at 5 a.m., put on my big-boy shoes, packed my essentials in a small backpack, and questioned my life decisions. I strapped on my headlight and started running the first three miles in the dark with the Bees Gees’ song “Stayin’ Alive” playing in my earphones. 

I stumbled onto the bus 20 minutes later all sweaty and probably looking confused. The SunTran made it to the transfer station on 100 S near DSU in less than 10 minutes, dropping me off at the university 30 minutes early. One of the best parts of not having a car at DSU was not having to worry about parking, which has gotten pretty hard to find on campus sometimes.

I started to seriously regret being without a car when I went to work after my classes in the afternoon. I work in Bloomington, which is two miles from the nearest SunTran stop. I went for another run to work and back, adding four more miles my distance covered by running. 

I still had to take the bus through St. George, transfer to another bus near DSU, and run three more miles before I could finally relax with my homework at home. I wasn’t paying attention and transferred to the wrong bus on the way home, adding an additional 40 minutes to the ride that would have otherwise taken me 15 in a car.  

By the time I finally made it home that evening, I had logged 10 miles on foot and was sick and tired of riding the bus. I was sore, tired and annoyed. 

The busses didn’t feel like they had air conditioning in them, which was the only downside of my time on the SunTran. It felt good connecting with the community by taking the bus and knowing I could make it around if my car broke down, albeit somewhat uncomfortably. 

There was also a feeling of vulnerability attached to not having an immediate mode of transportation. I hated the lack of control I felt knowing if I needed to go somewhere fast for some reason, I wouldn’t be able to make it.

While it was an adventure running around town to catch the bus, it wouldn’t be something I would try again unless SunTran expands the area covered in its routes or until I find a good deal for a road bike on Craigslist.

Having lived in cities like Salt Lake City, Chicago and Seattle where public transportation is a staple, I know the value good public transportation can add to a city. And while St. George continues to grow and its roads become more crowded, increased public transportation could become a great way to get around.

It can be fun taking the bus, and you can feel good pretending to be productive while texting and checking Facebook along the way.

Play ball: Premed alliance offers sports events for special needs individuals

You wouldn’t guess it by looking at some of them as they made basket after basket that these individuals have special needs. 

Individuals with special needs from across the spectrum gathered in the Student Activities Center Saturday for a sporting event organized by Dixie State University’s Premedical Alliance.

The alliance organizes these events monthly, and the activities include baseball, golf, soccer, basketball and dodgeball. A luncheon is also provided to attendees.

Parents and caretakers of the individuals with special needs who participated in the game sat on the sidelines, and, for St. George resident Aimee Bonham, these events are just what her 13-year-old son Billy needs to release his energy.

“For children with special needs, [playing sports] seems to be a bit more taxing on you, even emotionally,” Bonham said. “I think [the sports weekends] are a great thing for the community.”

Bonham heard about the event through her son’s special needs mutual program through their church. Her son has a rare disease, and she said it’s interesting to see how he interacts with others with special needs because she didn’t know his diagnosis until about a year ago.

“As a parent, that was very difficult because we didn’t even know if he was special,” she said.

Mikayla Stokes, a junior biology major from Wrangell, Alaska, and president of the DPMA, said the special needs sports weekends provide value to the community and DSU students in multiple ways.

In addition to gaining community service hours for their medical school applications, members of the DPMA gain experience caring for individuals with special needs through these events.

“It gives us another insight,” Stokes said. “I know that, as someone wanting to be a physician, it will benefit me to know how to interact and care for those with special needs.” 

Doug Sainsbury, DPMA’s club adviser and program adviser for the biology department, said DMPA members serve as ambassadors for DSU when they participate in the special needs sports weekend.

“[The students] provide a unique, and usually unfulfilled, opportunity for the special needs community members to learn and play different sports,” Sainsbury said.

Stokes said she’s received lots of positive feedback from the community, and the club plans to organize a golf event next month. Bonham said her family is looking forward to that event in particular. 

“Billy is a great golfer,” she said.

Bonham said she wishes there were more events like this because oftentimes, if a family isn’t directly involved in a special needs organization, they may not hear about services or events available to them. 

Events like these help students build long-lasting relationships in the community, Stokes said. 

“I have met so many people in the special needs community who I see around at other events, so I think building that long-lasting connection with people is good,” Stokes said.