High Note: Tuacahn, Visitors’ Center, HedgeHog Electric bring Christmas spirit to St. George

Though you won’t find much snow in St. George during the Christmas season, the city still offers a down-home Christmas feeling with events offered all around the city.

This Christmas season I have traveled around St. George looking for events that would bring the spirit of the season and help me remember the true meaning of Christmas. Three events that stuck out to me and helped me capture the joy of Christmas with my family and friends were “Christmas in the Canyon” held at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts, “Light the World” held at the St. George Visitors’ Center, and “The Christmas Light Spectacular” organized by HedgeHog Electric.

“Christmas in the Canyon” at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts

“Tuacahn has provided ‘Christmas in the Canyon’ for almost 20 years,” public relations director Joseph Smith said. “And for about 16 years, we have done the Nativity through community volunteers.” 

According to Tuacahn.org, “Christmas in the Canyon” is a way for Tuacahn to say “thank you” to the community. The event is held every Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening through Dec. 23 and features a live Nativity and Christmas lights.

My experience at “Christmas in the Canyon” brought the Christmas spirit as some friends and I listened to the seasonal music, rode the Ruby Inn Train around to see the lights on the trees around the parking lot, and told Santa Claus what we wanted for Christmas. 

“Christmas in the Canyon” also offers two showings of a live Nativity performed by community volunteers — one at 7 p.m. and the other at 8 p.m. — and is a steal for only a $2 admission. The Nativity includes live animals such as a donkey, horses and a camel. A reverence came over the audience as we listened to a narration of Jesus Christ’s birth along with “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.”

Zach Shephard, a sophomore nursing major from St. George, said the Nativity was more relaxing and less crowded then the other Tuacahn plays, and he enjoyed the spirit the Nativity provided for him for this Christmas season. He hoped everyone would attend this play to experience the birth of Christ.

“We love opening it up for the community to be part in this play, and the community loves doing it,” Smith said. “There are families that have made this a very important family tradition for them, and we love supporting it.”

“Light the World” at the St. George Visitors’ Center

Susan Iverson, a senior missionary at the St. George Visitors’ Center, is in charge of the events happening on the Visitors’ Center grounds. She said The Visitors’ Center will help community members to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

The Visitors’ Center activities and programs are performed by local choirs and singers every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 23.

Iverson said the purpose of the events is to “share the reality of Christ’s birth with the guests who come to the Visitors’ Center.”

Walking around the temple grounds with all of the beautiful lights and Christmas music playing in the background was a peaceful experience for me.

“Christmas Light Spectacular” by HedgeHog Electric

If you find yourself tired from walking around “Christmas in the Canyon” or too busy for the events at the Visitors’ Center, try the “Christmas Light Spectacular.” The HedgeHog Electric Company put together a map of the St. George providing 16 different Christmas light pit stops, available at HedgeHogElectric.com. The houses and parts of the city featured in the “Spectacular” are covered with lights from the bricks to the trees. Community members can enjoy the lights and music from the comfort and warmth of their cars each night through Dec. 25.

The “Spectacular” is a simple date activity for the holidays. Two of the houses I visited — No. 1 and No. 12 on the map, in Washington and Santa Clara — created dancing lights to the tune of Christmas songs played on certain radio stations. House No. 10 in Bloomington Hills made my mouth drop; it is plastered with Christmas lights, reindeer, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and many more Christmas decorations.

With 16 different locations, I did not get to see all of them. But I have until Christmas to visit the rest of them. 

Braden Tobler, a HedgeHog Electric marketing representative, said his company has been putting on this event for three years now, and the company loves the positive feedback and publicity the event has captured.

HedgeHog Electric is doing something new this year by giving participants a chance to win a $300 gift card by sharing a photo of themselves visiting their favorite Christmas lights on the HedgeHog Electric Facebook page. In addition, with every “like” to their Facebook page, HedgeHog Electric will donate $1 to The Dove Center, an organization that provides shelter, advocacy and counseling to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

With affordable events like these, the Christmas season can be both unforgettable and inexpensive for college students.

Students stay on campus during holiday break; campus renovations, closures planned

Dixie State University will become a home away from home for some students who will be spending the holiday break on campus. 

Many students staying on campus are international students, like Irem Dilek, a freshman general studies major from Izmir, Turkey.

“I’m broke, and I can’t go home,” Dilek said. “I’m sad I can’t leave because all of my friends are leaving me for the Christmas break.”

Despite some students staying on campus during the holiday break, the campus will be nearly completely closed between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2. This will mean there will be limited access to services like campus dining services during this week.

Carole Hulet, assistant director of International Student Services, said there are many international students who stay on campus during the holiday break. In the past, she said there have been small activities held on campus that International Student Services put together for those students staying, but no events will be held this year due to the campus closing.

This is the first time in DSU history that the campus will be closed for a week during the holiday break, said Dean of Students Del Beatty. Beatty said activity on campus between Christmas and New Years’ has been tracked and it is always incredibly low. 

“It’s a waste of resources to keep over 1,000 employees sitting in offices with the lights and heat on for nothing to happen,” Beatty said.

For students living on campus with meal plans, they will be given vouchers for meals local restaurants like Wendy’s while the Trailblazer Cafe is closed, said Martin Peterson, director of campus dining services. Everton Araujo, assistant director of international student services, said he doesn’t foresee campus dining being a problem for international students and said it will be a nice break from the same rotation of meals.

While campus will be closed, several renovations will be happening at DSU, said Paul Morris, vice president of administrative affairs. Subway will be moved down the hall from the Trailblazer Cafe to the Market in the Gardner Student Center. A Mexican grill with tacos and burritos will take it’s place in the Trailblazer Cafe. The campus store on 100 S. will also be closed at the end of December to be remodeled as the new Health and Wellness Center.

“These renovations aren’t the reason campus will be closed,” Morris said. “It’s just a holiday thing because of when Christmas and New Years’ are this year.”

Additional reporting was done by Jonny Weakley, Diana Fossett and Markee Heckenliable.

Nationwide suicide prevention program to be implemented at DSU

Dixie State University will implement Hope Squad, the nationwide suicide prevention program, as hope for students.

The Hope Squad is a proactive program that will aim to prevent suicide and depression problems among students. Its goal is to reduce self-destructive behavior and youth suicide by training, building and creating change in schools and communities. The program consists of students trained to notice suicidal signs in other students by having trustworthy peers serve as Hope Squad members. http://hopesquad.com.

The program was created for high schools in 1998 by a Provo City School District high school principal, Greg Hudnall. He was asked to identify the body of a 14-year-old who had taken his life in a public park next to his high school.

After that experience, Hudnall made a commitment to do everything he could to help prevent suicide in his school district of 14,000 students in Provo. He established the Circles4Hope community suicide prevention model. While the community model helped to reduce the number of suicides, it wasn’t until Hope Squad, the school-based peer leadership program, was implemented that suicides were reduced from one to two a year to over nine years without a suicide, as the History of the Hope Squad says on its website.

After the positive outcomes in many high schools in the nation, Sarah Ramaker, Student body president and a senior dance major from Midland, Michigan, has taken the initiative of starting the program at DSU and build it as soon as possible.

“The program does not have a specific date of initiation, but the process is being made fast,” Ramaker said.

Dean of Students Del Beatty said that the reason why we have decided to start the program, and we like it so much, is because of the QPR training which stands for Question, Persuade and Refer, that teaches members step by step how to answer the proper questions and give the right advice,” 

“Since Ramaker has reached out to the founder of the program, we are glad DSU has been the first school selected by Greg Hudnall, founder of the Hope Squad, to be the pioneers of what a Hope Squad looks like at a university level,” Beatty said.

Beatty said the program will be a resource for students. Senators will reach out to the academic departments and find the students that could be part of the Hope Squad.

The students who are nominated will be trained by academic advisers on how to recognize suicide warning signs and act upon those warnings to break the code of silence, which is when individuals do not speak up about their suicidal intentions.

The book called Hope Squad has steps that its members will go through as far as to empower the students who struggle with depression to seek help and save a life. Hope Squad members are not taught to act as counselors, but rather, are educated on how to recognize signs of suicide contemplation and how to properly and respectfully report this to advisers. As the book says, Hope Squads will build positive relationships among peers and faculty in schools to facilitate acceptance for students seeking help.

“Suicide is a current problem, not just in Utah, but everywhere in the nation, and we want to help prevent this at our school,” said Luke Kerouac, director of student involvement and leadership. “The purpose of it is to help students with situations right now. We all know someone that has attempted with their lives and deal with depression problems, and it is phenomenal for our school that we can start something as big and as helpful as the Hope Squad program.”

According to the final objective of the Hope Squad program, Hope Squads will work to change community perceptions of mental health by creating awareness about suicide and the tools available to prevent suicide.

“People from all over the nation will look up at our school to see what a Hope Squad looks like,” Ramaker said. “The coolest part about the program is the people that will help students will be other students and not just advisers.”

New advisor hopes to elevate DSU’s literary journals

A fresh mind and pair of eyes now oversees Dixie State University’s two literary journals, aiming to inspire students, faculty, staff and community members to create and be published.

Cindy King, assistant professor of English, is the faculty editor and advisor for The Southern QuillDSU’s yearly printed literary journal and online-only literary journal, The Route 7 Review

The journals accept submissions from students, young writers, faculty, staff and community members and publishes creative work ranging from nonfiction, to poetry, to visual art.  King is wrapping up her first semester teaching at DSU and said she is looking forward to improving the journals.

The journals

With a background in putting together literary journals at other universities, King said many hours of work go into curating them and described it as a labor of love. She is invested in growing the journals and has a vision for where they are headed. Excitement filled her voice as she described what it’s like to facilitate publishing writers for the first time.

“I love the idea that we’re discovering writers,” King said.

Bailee Christiansen, a senior English major from St. George, is the managing editor at The Southern Quill. Her involvement began four years ago and has held several different positions every year since. The journals provide an effective way to connect the community, she said.

“It gives an opportunity for people to express themselves creatively and bring the community together through writing and visual art,” Christiansen said. “It’s something you don’t get to see through everyday publications.”

Although the English department has been supportive, one challenge so far is finding more revenue to elevate and grow the journals, King said. A silent auction and reading will be held Feb. 16 to raise money for The Southern Quill. King hopes as time goes on, the Route7Review will be able to accept more international submissions, and The Southern Quill can transform from a yearly publication to bi-yearly.

Randy Jasmine, associate professor of English, said he has been following The Southern Quill for the 12 years he has worked at DSU. 

“I like the fact that it’s local people,” Jasmine said. “[Many pieces] have themes related to the geographical area.”

Another bonus of attending the readings is hearing the writers read their own work, Jasmine said. Writers will sometimes give a little context before the reading, meaning is added to the piece when they read it aloud.

“The way they read it sometimes emphasizes certain things you might not have noticed just reading it,” he said.

In addition to submitting work, King said students of all different majors are encouraged to get involved producing the journals as volunteers or signing up for the class. It’s an excellent opportunity for students to get real world, hands-on experience, she said.

Words on paper and screen

Although King does other forms of writing, she specializes in poetry. She said poetry is different than other writing styles because it’s the most condensed and concise way of communicating. For both the reader and writer, it offers instant gratification without investing too much time and energy, she said.

“You can hold a poem in the palm of your hand and control what’s there on the page,” King said. “You can see it all at once.”

Regarding her work, King said people have mentioned she has a way of addressing serious things in playful ways. Mothers, family and women’s issues are recurring themes in King’s writing, which she said is interesting because she isn’t a mother.

Christiansen said she hasn’t had much time for creative projects due to working on her senior capstone, but she is aware of the importance of creative writing. Expressing thoughts through verbal communication can be hard and it’s easier to get everything out, clearly and concisely, in writing, she said.

“The ability to express yourself through writing is important because it allows you to bridge those gaps,” Christiansen said.


King said although she’s been writing most of her life, she didn’t have many opportunities in college to have her work published, partially because online literary journals weren’t a thing yet. She remembers the first time her work was published by a journal, and herself being incredibly excited. King said she hopes the journals can provide a venue for others to experience the same.

“When you get something published, it gives you acknowledgment that what you’re doing is something people want to read,” she said.

Christiansen said first time submitters shouldn’t be worried about their work being perfect because The Southern Quill staff works with the writers on editing. A lot of opportunities come through being published, she said.

“There’s nothing more incredible than having your work be recognized,” Christiansen said. “It’s a great way to validate yourself.”

Those interested in submitting work to The Southern Quill can find more information on southernquill.submittable.com.

Visit route7review.com for more information on submitting to the Route7Review.

DSU beats Concordia in conference opener

Redemption at the free-throw line enabled the Dixie State University men’s basketball team to win its Pacific West Conference home opener in overtime Saturday against Concordia University Irvine.

After building an 11-point second-half lead, abysmal free throw shooting allowed CUI to creep back into the game. Ironically enough, it was clutch free throw shooting that put the Trailblazers over the top in the extra five minutes 82-76.

“It just came down to us making big free throws at the end,” said sophomore center Austin Montgomery, an integrated studies major from Atlanta. “We need to stop turning the ball over and letting teams back into the game.”

From the opening tip, the Eagles pressured the Trailblazers full court. Despite the pressure, DSU gained and held the lead for much of the first half. Senior forward Josh Fuller’s scoring and rebounding inside combined with strong backcourt play by junior guards Brandon Simister and Trevor Hill helped DSU build an 11-point edge with just over three minutes left.

CUI fought back, but a layup from Simister at the horn gave DSU a 37-26 first-half lead.

The Eagles came out of the gates like race horses in the first five minutes, using defense and fast-break opportunities to claw back into the game. With 13 minutes to go in the game, the lead shrunk to one.

CUI built a four-point lead with under 10 minutes to play, but DSU fired back with an 8-0 run that forced the Eagles to call a timeout.

With under two minutes to play, DSU had the ball and a five-point lead, but thanks to missed free throws by Simister and Hill, a couple of late baskets by CUI, DSU led 67-66 with under 10 seconds to play. Simister stepped to the line and missed the first free throw before calmly connecting on the second. The Eagles then drove down and banked in a layup with 1.5 seconds left. The Trailblazers half court heave came up empty and suddenly the conference opener was headed to overtime.

The Eagles shooting stayed strong through the midway point of the overtime period, helping CUI lead 75-71. Then DSU got redemption at the free-throw line. Junior forward Kyler Nielson went 4-4 and both Hill and Simister found their strokes as well. With time running out, the Eagles kept missing their shots and hopelessly watched as the Trailblazers iced the game at the line.

“We know [CUI] is a good team, so we are happy to come away with a win tonight,” said redshirt sophomore forward Dub Price, a business administration major from Draper. “We made some shots down the stretch, secured some rebounds and got the stops we needed. We have to limit turnovers moving forward and play with confidence.”

 DSU finished 29-44 at the line, which is 65.9 percent. The coaches were pleased with the effort on the floor, but were frustrated with DSU’s performance at the charity stripe. According to several players, free throws will continue to be worked on in practice

“When we get the lead, we have got to make free throws and step on the throat of the other team,” Montgomery said. He joked, “My stomach can’t take these close games anymore. I’m going to get ulcers.”

At 4-3 overall and 1-0 in conference, DSU plays Thursday at California Baptist University.

DSU women drop conference opener

The bumpy ride continues for Dixie State University’s women’s basketball team.

The Trailblazers suffered their seventh loss of the season Saturday against Concordia University Irvine, 89-78.  Despite shooting 44 percent from 3-point range, DSU commited 24 turnovers throughout the game which hindered it from picking up its first win of the season.

DSU started off strong in the first quarter led by the hot shooting of redshirt sophomore Tramina Jordan. Jordan buried four 3-pointers to help the Trailblazers to an early 14-8 lead. The bulk of DSU’s offense came from behind the arc as they shot 5-11 from deep.

“We had a great practice all week,” said Jordan, a general studies major from Las Vegas. “I think that’s what made me and my teammates more confident when putting up shots.”

The Eagles capitalized on DSU’s turnovers to aid them as they went on a 13-0 run to steal the lead back. CUI finished the period with the lead, 21-17.

It was the Eagles that had the hot hand in the second quarter making four buckets from beyond the arc. DSU hung tight throughout the quarter despite trailing by 12 points midway through the period. The Trailblazers entered halftime trailing 47-42.

DSU connected on eight if its 15 3-point attempts in the first half, good for a 53.33 shooting percentage. The defensive pressure from CUI forced the Trailblazers into nine turnovers. DSU has been plagued by turnovers all season as it is averaging 20.5 turnovers per game through the first six contests prior to Saturday.

“We shot [the ball] a lot better than we have been” said junior forward Lisa VanCampen, a biology major from Morgan. “We are shooting with more confidence, which is something positive we can take from tonight.”

DSU came as close as three points in the third quarter. CUI went on an 11-2 run to finish the quarter with the lead 73-61.

The Eagles continued to extend their lead early in the fourth quarter. The defensive pressure flustered DSU’s offense, which managed only four points through the first four minutes of action.

After CUI took its largest lead of the game of 18, DSU stormed back with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 10 with four and a half minutes to play. The Eagles, however, wrapped their talons around the win, 89-78, handing the Trailblazers their seventh loss of the season.

Head coach J.D. Gustin declined to comment following the game and referred all questions to his assistant coaches.

“There were a lot of positive moments we can build on, “assistant coach Brennon Schweikart said. “I thought we handled their defense rather well. We got the shots that we wanted.”

DSU’s offense was led by junior guard Matti Ventling who recorded 18 points, three assists and two steals. Jordan chipped in 16 points and seven assists, followed by junior center Ashlee Burge who had 14. Junior forward Lisa VanCampen and junior forward Shelby Kassuba each added ten in the loss. Kassuba also recorded 13 rebounds.

“I know our team showed that we can compete,” Schweikart  said. “We are going to come out during conference play, and I think we are going to surprise a lot of teams. It’s all about confidence.”

DSU falls to 0-7 on the year and 0-1 in the PacWest. It will aim to get its first win of the season Thursday against California Baptist University in Riverside California.

DSU honors internet privacy

Dixie State University has chosen to not monitor its students and facultys’ internet use.

Ever since Edward Snowden released information on metadata collection by the U.S. Government in 2013, American citizens have protested for their rights in being secure and safe from unwarranted searches as stated in the Fourth Amendment.

At DSU, policies have been put into place to ensure safety and the right to do as one pleases in regards to using the internet. DSU Policy 462 Section 4.5 states that the college strives to provide “academic freedom and privacy” for those who use the internet on campus. The policy also states that because no computer system is completely private, there is “no guarantee” for internet user data to be completely protected.

When speaking of DSU’s IT department, Chief Information Officer Gary Koeven said, “Our focus is on working to protect DSU’s IT infrastructure and to safeguard private student, employee and institutional data, not on monitoring or censoring employee’s or student’s internet searches and activities.” 

As part of the IT department’s attempt to keep DSU students and employees safe and free, the school requires its internet users to login using a username and password, said Information Security Officer Andrew Goble.

“This is consistent with standard practices for other universities and Internet Service Providers across the U.S.,” Goble said.

So, does DSU monitor its employees and students while they search the internet?

The answer to that question is mostly no. 

“DSU doesn’t actively engage in [the] monitoring of what students or faculty are searching for or viewing on the internet,” Goble said. “[It] only uses what information it does to monitor or collect internally as permitted by university policy, and only releases that information to third-parties in response to a lawful court order or subpoena.” 

Sub-section 4.5.1 states, “The college reserves the right to access any college-owned information stored on college-owned computers and IT resources at any time.”

Along with sub-section 4.5.1, the remaining five sub-sections indicate that the school will cooperate with any state and federal laws requiring internet information from the school. For example, if a court order is in need of any e-mail messages or documents from students or employees, the school will turn over that information, “regardless of any expectation of privacy.”

Because some people make illegal choices like identity theft or extortion on the internet, consequences do come with different levels of severity. One could simply lose their right to internet access or if the situation escalates to a certain level of seriousness, the police or administration can step in. 

Don Reid, director of campus police and security, said, “If it were the case of child pornography, as was recently the case at one our on-campus student housing facilities, it would be the result of an FBI sting.”

Anthony Reininger, a sophomore CIT major from West Jordan, said the internet is an open range with a great ability to inform people. Due to the internet being so vast, he said in some situations certain information could be “possibly used against you” in some shape or form. For example, Reininger said any illegal or suspicious information posted on one’s social media in their past could be used against them if an individual were to ever get in trouble with the law at a future time.

Morgan Wood, a senior communication major from St. George, said he would prefer to have the ability to monitor himself instead of having someone look over his shoulder. To him, the Constitution is something that needs to be upheld, and the way to do that is to allow people the right to individual privacy on the internet. 

Because of the parameters set by DSU, Wood said he believes the school is showing trust in its students and faculty with their choices to roam the internet. 

There should be a line drawn when it comes to monitoring individuals and Wood said that “decision will be made for us.”

Women’s basketball coach faces uphill climb

For J.D. Gustin, head coach of the Dixie State University women’s basketball team, being a coach is just one of many facets in his life. 

Going back to the third grade, Gustin can recall his first memories of playing basketball as he attended basketball camp in his hometown of Shepherd, Montana. To him, basketball was more than just a sport. It provided him the opportunity to be a part of something that was bigger than himself. He enjoyed the idea of playing on a team and the need for teamwork. 

As the newly hired women’s basketball coach, Gustin knows and recognizes the need to win. At the same time, Gustin acknowledges that it is his job to help prepare his players to find success in the real world once college is done. 

“[We want] to lay down the foundation for the type of culture that we want to have here [and] to help our student athletes understand that academics come first,” Gustin said. 

By choosing to come and coach at DSU, Gustin had entered a situation and program that has been heavily involved in a discrimination lawsuit against a previous head coach. The lawsuit was settled last season as former players were given $50,000 each after filing a complaint for being targeted for their supposed sexual orientation, race and religious views.  

Gustin comes into this position with over 20 years of coaching experience and time spent playing basketball himself for the University of Montana Western. He held the position of head coach at Westminster College and numerous positions as an assistant coach at other schools like the University of Utah and Weber State University. While in these positions, Gustin said he has “gained tons of experience.” 

After an awful three-win season to begin his time at WC, Gustin said he was able to rebuild the program through a lot of hard work. He took the Griffins to nationals in five consecutive seasons. During his tenure at WSU, he helped lead the Wildcats to a school record in wins by going 23-12 for the season.

DSU and St. George was a place he had previously considered coming to. His wife, Trish Gustin, was a former basketball player at DSU as well as having other family members attend school here. 

For J.D. Gustin, the St. George area presented a wonderful place for him and his wife to raise their three children. Of all the facets that exist in his life, with a smile, J.D. Gustin said his family is the most important.

“He’s really family oriented,” said junior center Ashlee Burge, a business administration major from Riverton. “I think that’s really cool he wants us all be a part of his family, and he incorporates that a lot into practice.” 

After a 0-7 start, J.D. Gustin described his team to be fragile with very little confidence. When a team is not overly talented, it becomes difficult to play competitive basketball, J.D. Gustin said.   

Yet, J.D. Gustin said he still believes his team has a chance to win some games and play at a competitive level in a good conference. While still in the process of creating a positive culture for his team amidst the after effects of the lawsuit, he believes it starts with making sure the foundation is laid and that his players respect each other and seek team unity 

“Emotionally, he’s there for us and understands [the] adversity we have been going through,” said freshman point guard Jaden Gonzalez, a pre-physical therapy assistant major from Plainview, Texas.

Even though the start to the season has had a shaky beginning with seven losses, J.D. Gustin said the wins will come but may take some time. J.D Gustin wants much more than to win a few games. He wants to be able to compete for conference championships and recruit the top players in the state. 

“This is a team effort with our administration [and athletic department],” Gustin said. “I feel like right now we have a lot of support from all those people.”

DSU swims at Colorado Mesa Invitational

Dixie State University women’s swim team proved to be a competitive first-year program at its meet over the weekend.

The Trailblazers came in sixth place out of eight teams at the three-day Colorado Mesa Winter Invitational. They finalized their point total at 354, and nearly every DSU swimmer finished their races witseason-best times thus far.  

Jamie Beckstrand, DSU assistant swim coach, said the team has been phenomenal as a first-year program.

“They are really rising to the level they need to be at,” Beckstrand said.   

The Trailblazers stroked ahead of Division II competitors Colorado State University-Pueblo at 204 points and Adams State University at 81 points. The Trailblazers finished behind by about 100 points to Division I Brigham Young University at 466 points and University of Wyoming at 448 points.

Bejamin Rae, DSU head swim coach, said this meet gives him a good sign of where their training is and what adjustments to make as they swim on into the rest of their season.

“They are really starting to understand what the expectations are of our program and how to really compete to be successful,” Rae said.

Rae compared some of the stats from this invitational to other teams in the Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference. He predicted DSU will sit in between the seventh and ninth spot out of the 13 teams, which is about where he wants this first-year team to finish. 

Phebe James, a sophomore graphic design major from Heber City, said this meet has helped the team’s mindset shift from being nervous to having confidence. 

“We have seen what we can do now,  and we are just really pumped up and ready to kick some butt,” James said.

Beckstrand said Rae has been a fantastic coach, he knows these women, what they need, is a good communicator and approachable for them, and perhaps his greatest quality as a coach is his patience.

“[Rae] has trained teams that have gone to Olympics trials and so I think he has had to hold back a lot,” Beckstrand said. “He has been patient building from where [these women] are and not over doing [the training].”

As the season goes on for the new women’s swim team, they plan on continuing to increase their speed, improving their relays and 200-yards races, and their mental resistant by not shaving.

Gracie Kroll, a freshman early child education major from South Jordan, said the team stopped shaving Sept. 1 and won’t shave until the second week of February right before the final conference meet. It is just a strategy to make the team feeling mentally faster when they all shave before the conference meet, she said. 

“It is really just a mental thing,” Kroll said. “It will only shave off a spilt-second in the races, but it will shave more time than that in your head.”

Kroll said she didn’t except the team to be this successful in its first year and is excited to move forward with the rest of the season.

The Trailblazers next meet will their only home meet against Colorado Mesa University Jan 7 at 3 p.m. at the Washington City Community Center. 

“I’ve heard a lot of team say ‘I finally feel like a college swimmer now,’” Kroll said. 

White privilege tool for combating racism

As a white, heterosexual, English-speaking woman, I cannot deny my own privilege. And I shouldn’t.

Following the election of Donald Trump, who is blatantly racist, sexist and xenophobic, fear and hate crimes have been on the rise in the U.S.

According to Alexis Okeowo ‘s article “Hate Crimes on the Rise After Trump’s Election” in The New Yorker, a 12-year-old Colorado girl was told by a boy, “Now that Trump is president, I’m going to shoot you and all the blacks I can find.” 

According to the CNN article “‘Make America White Again’: Hate Speech and Crimes Post-Election” by Holly Yan, Kristina Sgueglia and Kylie Walker, five California mosques have received letters threatening that Trump will cleanse America and do to Muslims “what Hitler did to the Jews.”

I’ve seen friends saying how shocked they were following Trump’s election, how horrified they felt seeing reports of violence.

But really, it’s not surprising. This is simply more of the same in a long history of racism against minorities in our country.

It’s easy to tell other people to “let it go” when it comes to the election and what Trump’s victory signifies. Or at least, it’s easy when we’re not the ones directly affected by it.

Does “not being affected” sound familiar to some of you? It should. It’s something called privilege, and it’s a conversation us white people need to have. People of color should not have to tell us how not to be racist. We should be doing that on our own. And that means not shutting down or deflecting the conversation when the topic of race comes up.

According to Derrick Clifton’s article “11 Things White People Should Stop Saying to Black People Immediatelyon Mic.com, “White privilege isn’t inherently about being raised in an affluent, two-parent home with high educational attainment and markers of upward mobility in American society. White privilege is the many built-in perks afforded to white people by virtue of being born with white skin and white ethnicity in a social and legal system that enforces white supremacy as the rule of law.”

I know hearing some of us have privilege is not easy to hear. I know it’s especially not easy when our own lives haven’t afforded us what seems on the outside to be a lot of this so-called privilege.

I grew up in a financially-shaky household. When my father passed away several years ago, my family was left destitute. Some days, there was no food in our cupboards. Luxuries that seemed so common to my friends—cars, clothes, schooling—seemed so far out of reach.

But even so, I still benefited from privilege. I never had to worry about being underrepresented in media, having people of my skin color left out of history lessons, or being followed while shopping. I’ve never been expected to be a straight-A student based on the color of my skin, been accused of stealing white people’s jobs, or had my belongings vandalized because I moved into a predominantly white neighborhood.

Having privilege is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not something anyone chooses; we are simply born into it. But what we can and should choose to do is to recognize our privilege and use it in the fight against racism.

Part of doing so is to stop saying or to call out those who say things like the following:

Stop accusing me of having white privilege.”

No one is accusing anyone of being a bad person for having privilege. Accepting that white people will never face the realities of living as a black, Asian, Native American, Latinx or other non-white ethnicity or race in America. That is fact. Accept it. Recognize it. Use it to stop instances of racism around you.

 “I’m not racist. I have black friends.”

Having friends who are part of a minority group has no bearing on your own potential for racism. This is a weak excuse.

“How come you can say the n-word, but I can’t?”

Because as a white person, you have never faced the slavery, racism and segregation that has come with this word. When black people decide to reclaim the word, that is reclaiming the power behind it. White people don’t get to reclaim the n-word. If you are a white person who chooses to use the n-word, you deserve all the flack you get. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“When I look at you, I don’t see race.”

No one is colorblind to race. All of us see white, black, brown and any other color. Saying you are colorblind is to ignore the history and reality faced by other races. Saying this is to ignore and therefore exacerbate racism.

Most importantly, recognize that, as Debby Irving, a racial justice educator and writer, wrote in the article “Are Prejudice, Bigotry, and Racism the Same Thing?” on her website, “Racism is the system that allows the racial group that’s already in power to retain power.”

Racism is a power structure that benefits white people. Recognize your privilege, and do something about it.