OPINION | International student policy should be passed

The potential international student policy change announced by President Donald Trump’s administration Sept. 25 should be put into place for the safety of U.S. citizens.

This policy is proposed to prevent students from being overlooked and bringing information from the U.S. to their home country. Students will be limited to four-year or two-year degrees depending on where they’re from unless they apply for an extension.

According to the proposed policy, this would help prevent illegal immigration and combat terrorism in the U.S. going forward.

One reason President Trump announced this policy was because two students and a professor were involved in a plan to steal information from U.S. citizens.

Two researchers from China attended Harvard and worked with a professor who was the head investigator at the Lieber Research Group. The professor and two students were secretly working with the Chinese government. Investigators learned he had received over $1 million from China. One of the students, Zaosong Zheng, was caught carrying lab samples while heading back to China.

Both students were involved with China’s Thousand Talents Plan, which operates with the goal to send people overseas, make bargains, and steal information such as technology and talent.

In another article, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said, “China’s Thousand Talents Plan is one of the most prominent Chinese Talent recruitment plans that are designed to attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development.”

If any of those plans came to fruition, the safety of citizens and the country would be at risk. While not all international students are doing this, it could happen again. Placing this policy would prevent any similar situation from happening because the longer it takes to enter the country, the more time the U.S. has to make sure students are coming for the right reasons.

Since 2016, visas have become more expensive. If this bill is approved, the cost of renewing visas could rise again. This is only to protect the country by making sure international students who come here really want an education and attempting to deter those who don’t.

I know a lot of people from other countries move to the U.S. for a better education or to experience freedom. Unfortunately, there are things students have to give up to enter the U.S., one of which is money.

People from other countries who want to get an education in the U.S. will have to ask themselves: “Is it worth it the money and time? If Trump goes through with this law, is he doing it because he looks at me as unequal or because he is protecting his country?”

This policy could be passed or turned down depending on who wins the next presidential debate. If this bill goes through, entering the U.S. will be more difficult for students; however, it is not because Trump is racist, it is to make sure international students are here for the right reasons.

The policy is open for public comment until Oct. 25. People can leave comments by going to Regulations.gov and reading the instructions under public participation or write a handwritten letter and email it to one of the addresses listed.

OPINION | 911: Lady Gaga drops another banger

The music video for Lady Gaga’s “911” is yet another out of the box pop experience.

The 4 ½ minute video opens in a white desert with Gaga lying next to a busted bicycle and scattered pomegranates. She follows a horseman to a small square crowded with people and decorations inspired by the 1969 Armenian film “The Color of Pomegranates,” a favorite of video director Tarsem Singh. Emphasis is placed on a man hitting his head against a pillow, a woman holding a mummy, and a man and woman following Gaga around.

The video ends with her screaming as paramedics try to treat her injuries after resuscitating her at the scene of a car crash. The paramedics are the same man and woman who were following her around, a man with his head against the steering wheel of one of the cars is the same man who was hitting his head against the pillow, and a woman clutching an unconscious man is the same woman who held the mummy.

The music video’s twist ending shows that the Armenian-inspired fantasy in her head was based on the scene of a car crash outside an Armenian film festival, something that was hinted at by a painting roughly halfway through the music video. This theme is reminiscent of the musical episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” when Callie processes her trauma after being injured in a car accident by imagining everyone singing, but the fantasy setting takes things to the next level.

If you love these sorts of easter eggs like I do, go back and compare frames from the fantasy and the crash scene for more.

The twist ending is also hinted at by the lyrics of the song, particularly the verse, “Front I’ve built around me, oasis / Paradise is in my hand / Holding on so tight to this status / It’s not real, but I’ll try to grab it / Keep myself in beautiful places / Paradise is in my hands.” This can be interpreted as her brain creating a fantasy to keep her calm while helping her process what’s really happening. It’s a clever way of connecting the intended theme of the interconnectivity between dreams and reality with the video’s twist ending.

In several tweets leading up to the Sept. 18 release of “911,” Gaga referred to the video as a short film, so I was expecting a 10 minute experience similar to her “Telephone” music video. As always, she subverted my expectations by having a 4 ½ minute video with a personal message intertwined.

Gaga said on Instagram, “The short film is very personal to me, my experience with mental health and the way reality and dreams can interconnect to form heroes within us and all around us.”

Lady Gaga describes what the video for “911” means to her on Instagram.

I love this idea because mental health is always important to address, and Lady Gaga did it in such a creative way that others can appreciate.

Even without the creative music video, the song isn’t something to sleep on. The autotuned quality of the electropop vocals in “911” feels more in-tune with Gaga’s earlier work, so if you’re a fan who prefers pre-“Joanne” Lady Gaga, “911” is definitely for you.

While I’ve enjoyed “Joanne” and most of her work since, I’ve been a fan of Lady Gaga since 2008’s “The Fame,” so it was nice to see something that called back to her earlier work; even the way her hair is shaped as a green bow in “911” seems like a callback to her original style.

If you’re looking for a catchy song with a visually and emotionally engaging music video, look no further.

DSU women’s swim team excited for DI jump despite uncertainties

Dixie State University’s women’s swim team is likely to be the first team ever to compete for DSU as a Division I institution.

With the season scheduled to begin Nov. 19 at home in the Dixie State Invitational, women’s swim will be the first team to compete since the suspension of fall sports, and will be the first team to see the heightened competition DI status will bring.

“We are looking forward to the WAC and the fast teams we will be racing,” said Miriam Gonzalez, a secondary art education major from Murrieta, California. “We also look forward to having teams come to our school and be represented as a DI team. It will be exciting to see the team grow more and more every year.”

The women’s swim team is only in its fifth year of existence, yet already has many accolades behind it. The jump to DI is the next challenge for the team, though the team already competed against DI team Northern Arizona University on Jan. 18, along with a few other teams it plans to compete against this season.

Gonzalez said she is looking forward to competing against NAU again, but the team is “also looking forward to having a few teams for an invite; it will be great to have other teams come enjoy our facility.”

Another school the women’s swim team is looking forward to competing against is Seattle U because “both the teams are evenly matched,” head coach Tamber McAllister said. Her team, likewise, is excited about the prospect of competing against Seattle.

“One of the meets that we have on our schedule is Seattle; that will be at the beginning of the year and I’m really excited to do that,” said Kyrie Sutherland, a sophomore nursing major from Ogden. “Usually we stay in the closer states, so Seattle will be a little bit further and a new place to go.”

“It’s still up in the air how much we’re going to be able to compete. I’m just glad to be in the pool.”

Kyrie Sutherland, sophomore nursing major

The women’s swim team, just like all other teams, has to remain flexible and be grateful for what it has because of continually changing COVID-19 rules and regulations.

“It’s still up in the air how much we’re going to be able to compete,” Sutherland said. “I’m just glad to be in the pool.”

Being back in the pool with her teammates is something Sutherland has found joy in.

“I like the team aspect because it’s individualized, so my success or failure is based primarily on me,” Sutherland said.

Despite competing individually, Sutherland said she loves having the support of a team to back her up and push her to her limits.

“I love that balance between individualization and a team sport that swimming has,” she said.

The team has been able to get back in the pool and train together again, which is one thing that has helped maintain some sense of normalcy. The team is now training regularly, preparing for a season as usual despite the delay in its start. While being sure to follow the rules and ensuring anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is not practicing, the team is just trying to ensure it is ready when the time comes.

McAllister said: “We can train socially distant, which is nice. We don’t have to have contact with each other to train well, but they can still be within visual distance of each other to encourage each other and cheer each other on. A lot of them had their seasons taken away from them last year, so they’re really taking advantage of getting to be here and doing this.”

Although the Trailblazers anticipate being able to compete at their home meets this season, it is likely to be without fans. McAllister said at least the first meet on Nov. 19 will be held without fans, but students voicing their support to the student-athletes is still just as important.

“Any way you can reach out to our swimmers and support them, that would be great,” McAllister said.

DSU SAAC: Creates safe space to express voice, give back

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Dixie State University provides an opportunity for all athletes to not only share their individual voice, but also provides a platform for DSU athletes to come together and share their collective voice.

As athletes must be able to communicate to each other during competition in order to be successful; off the field their communication and voice is just as important. SAAC also unites the different sports teams effectively, so they can find ways to give back to the campus.

“We push the envelope on community service,” football player Deven Osborne, a senior business administration major from Los Angeles, said. Osborne got involved with community service his freshman year of high school, and now serves as the SAAC president.

“We love St. George and we love Washington County,” Osborne said.

Osborne isn’t the only member of the committee who feels it is important to give back. Each athletic team at DSU has two representatives that meet monthly with the other SAAC members to discuss what needs to be done next.

“When [the SAAC members] put their minds together and they bring that competitive edge to things that are outside of sports, some powerful things can happen,” DSU SAAC adviser Mike Olson said. “Our biggest message is that we have some amazing student-athletes here who are ready and willing to generate change.”

With these unprecedented times Covid-19 has caused, the SAAC members are determined to continue serving and giving back.

“Right now we have a lot of good time on our hands where we can use that to focus on the community with service,” Osborne said.

DSU has had several instances where they have been serving the community and finding ways to help, so much so that they have been awarded for it.

Along with the coronavirus, SAAC members have chosen to focus on other major topics the country is currently facing. DSU held a Unity Fest on Sept. 25 where the SAAC contributed a great amount of time to assemble tents for topics like with organ donation, census checks, and other pressing topics for the community, students and athletes to learn more about.

“I feel like in our country today there is a lot of divide, a lot of hate, while today [Unity Fest] is a day where we are able to come together on things that we all agree on,” SAAC Vice President James Baird, a senior recreation and sports management major from Trenton, New Jersey, said.

“I have always wanted to be the person that helps make a difference,” Baird said.

DSU students turn fall memories into reality

As the temperature begins to cool down and the leaves switch colors, St. George heads into fall.

Despite the global pandemic, your autumn memories can still become reality because most places are opening up, continuing their annual activities, and allowing DSU students to make this season just as memorable as the others.

Fiesta Fright

Arcade games, bowling games and go-karts at Fiesta Fun Center tend to be the reason why people of all ages visit throughout the year, but this fall it’s bringing back Fiesta Fright.

Fiesta Fright opened on Sept. 25, giving students the chance to start their spooky season off with a haunting experience they won’t forget. Visitors will walk through a two-story haunted house to get a frightful Halloween experience.

Elsie Wilkens, a freshman English major from Grand Junction, Colorado, said: “Fiesta Fun was a great way to get to know the area and it was so much fun. We have something similar in my hometown, but Fiesta Fun was even bigger and better.”

To attend this event, there are specific rules and guidelines that must be followed, all of which are located at the bottom of the Fiesta Fright webpage.

“We sanitize each attraction after every use, and each lane after each use,” Facility Director Britlyn Crockett said. “We also sanitize high touch areas. We want our employees and our guests to feel safe.”

If you’re not into haunted houses, the center includes activities such as a mini golf course and laser tag.

Fiesta Fun Center is located at 171 E. 1160 Street. For more information call (435) 628-1818 or visit the website.

Staheli Family Farm

Staheli Family Farm, open to children, teens and adults, is starting its fall activities soon.

Field of Screams opens on Oct. 1, and other activities such as its Zombie Rampage open Oct. 2 with over 202 dates by Halloween, meaning 202 different times people can enter.

These events are designed to bring in people who live in St. George since it is just up the road in Washington.

Colby Roberts, a senior accounting major from Spanish Fork, said: “Each fall, Staheli [Family] Farm hosts a corn maze and various activities. I love to spend time with my friends and grab some hot chocolate at TwentyFive Main after.”

Staheli Family Farm is a place for people to go with friends and family to experience activities such as the corn maze, pumpkin patch, farmland and a spooky trick-or-treat trail created for every age group.

Cami Beckstrand, a sophomore medical radiography major from Fillmore, said, “I love the vibe there, and it’s so fun to go with friends.”

If you’re interested in activities at Staheli Family Farm, it is located at 3400 S. Washington Fields Road and its phone number is (435) 673-4096.


With an interactive and humorous cast, Thriller excites the people and lights up the Tuacahn Amphitheatre.

“It was really nice having a warm cup of cocoa while having the stars above you and watching the show,” Dixie Tech student Micaiah Joy said.

Tuachan presents the show Thriller in an outdoor amphitheater that will be presented between Oct. 27-31. Tickets are selling at $21 and guidelines pertaining to COVID-19 will be in place as well.

Every employee and attendee must wear a mask at all times and social distancing markers will be placed on the ground as reminders to distance. Stations with hand sanitizer and procedures will be located around the amphitheater, and there will be multiple exits and entrances to avoid gathering.

For more information or to buy a ticket, call 800-746-9882 or visit its website.

Dixie Rock

“I think my favorite thing to do around town during fall is going to Dixie Rock,” Beckstrand said.

As fall starts and the weather cools down, students love to visit Dixie Rock to unwind and look at the view of St. George.

Dixie Rock is located on Red Hills Parkway overlooking the city and university. It brings back the peaceful and fun memories of autumn.

The top of the rock is perfect to set up a picnic and enjoy watching the sun set below the mountain while friends gather around to watch beautiful downtown St. George. People can also bring their treats like the pumpkin cookies and hot drinks while snuggling under warm blankets.

Surrounding the rock are trails people can explore as well.

Extra activities

Students have several other options to celebrate fall on their own time.

Kate Christensen, a psychology major from Richfield, said she enjoys going on walks with her dog and exploring trails during the fall.

Watching scary Halloween movies and social activities such as hosting a themed Halloween dinner or carving and decorating pumpkins are other options that allow people to stay indoors or at home.

Emilee Lunt, a junior radiology major from Thatcher, Arizona, said, “My favorite fall memory is going to the football games.”

Sadly, football remains on pause but will be continuing in the spring.

DSU students discuss value of voting

With the 2020 presidential election less than two months away, students and faculty at DSU are using this opportunity to share their opinions and exercise their right to freedom of speech.

The last presidential election occurred in 2016, and plenty of current DSU students were not eligible to vote because they were underaged. Now that four years have passed, and the voting polls will be open before we know it, are these students now interested in voting? Do they know who they are voting for and why? Do students even care about the election?

“I don’t follow politics too much, but when I do, I like to do my own studying to determine who I think the best candidate would be,” said Gavin Young, a sophomore computer and information technology major from St. George. “I do feel like it’s important to vote because who we are voting for determines our future [and] how our communities are run. Whether that is [on] a big scale like the president or a smaller one like the city of St. George, I want people who are going to be most effective in that area.”

Kaylee Buckley, a freshman exercise science major from Temecula, California, said, “I am not really interested in the election, but I am planning on voting because I think you need to participate somehow.”

The process of voting might be intimidating for those who have never done it before. The three headed monster of registering to vote, knowing where to vote and deciding who to vote for all seem like daunting tasks.

“Learn what the issues are and what the candidates stand for,” said Joe Green, an associate professor of political science. “Then compare them to your own belief system and your own sense of what proper role the government [takes].”

As Green has the opportunity to hear the voices of students each year, he said he also gets to experience a lot of different students and their perspectives about voting by having classroom discussions and hearing what his students have to say.

“I think students that I get in my classes are generally not very well informed, and I am sort of uncomfortable thinking [of] someone like that who knows they either like Mr. Trump or they don’t like Mr. Trump, and they either like Mr. Biden or don’t like Mr. Biden, but they haven’t a clue why,” Green said. “For them to be selecting the next leader of the country seems to me to be very questionable, but that’s our system.”

“The importance of voting can’t be overstated at every level,”

Vince Brown, director of the Institute of Politics

One resource DSU students have available to them is the Institute of Politics, which is where individuals have the chance to learn the debates and differences that are occurring in our government today.

“I encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote, but do their best to educate themselves about the issues,” said Vince Brown, director of the Institute of Politics. “The United States is unique in the fact that our local governments have a lot more power than you might find in other western style democracies.”

As individuals continue to research who they feel the best candidate would be for their respective platforms, making their votes count is most important, and if they don’t know who to vote for or why, there are places like the Institute of Politics to help.

“The importance of voting can’t be overstated at every level,” Brown said.

In order to cast your vote in the election, you must first register to vote. Facebook and Instagram, along with other social media platforms, have been promoting the act of registering to vote and a link to vote can often be found on the homepage of these social media platforms. You can also register to vote by visiting https://vote.utah.gov/.

OPINION | Entitlement leads to complications in society

The entitlement to having freedom in our country has caused a rift in society.

We are privileged to have so much freedom as opposed to other countries, but when we don’t agree with laws and we put other lives at risk, the line needs to be drawn.

Masks and preventive procedures are not the issue, the issue lies within our government and its citizens. People that are not willing to wear masks and those who feel entitled to go places without one contribute to the issue of potentially spreading a disease, furthering us into the pandemic.

There are professions such as doctors, dentists and even nail techs that have used masks in their practices for years and had no complications because these professionals know the risk they bring to others. Countries such as China have been wearing masks long before COVID-19 and no complications.

In Utah there has been anti-mask rallies, people boycotting the 6-foot rule, and events that surpass the state and CDC recommendations. People are so willing to go out and protest against masks, by not wearing one. One sees a problem except when you’re enforced to wear a mask.

At the beginning of the pandemic our president down played how deadly the virus could potentially be. President Donald Trump continuously abuses his power, at the beginning of the pandemic he was not wearing a mask. It was very apparent that he did not agree or want to comply with the CDC’s suggestions and guidelines. Instantly you see the shift in the people’s attitudes towards wearing masks. They feel entitled to not wear a mask.

Trump recently asked a question at his rally in Pennsylvania “’But did you ever see a man that likes a mask as much as him,’” referring to his opponent, Joe Biden, wearing masks hanging off his ear at his events.

Here’s a thought… maybe people who are wearing a mask actually care about the health of others and themselves. If professors and students have to wear a mask, why is the president of the United States exempt from that same rule? It sets a bad example for the people and creates rebellion in our society.

In my recent trip to Las Vegas everyone was wearing a mask outside except a man and his family. The man happened to be the only person who was yelling at security because he was not allowed in a casino. It took me by surprise that we are six months into a pandemic and people are still upset that cities have mandated masks. Everywhere you go in Las Vegas there’s signs stating you must wear a mask. So for someone to go on vacation in the middle of a pandemic and feel entitled not to wear a mask even though it’s been stated on most if not all establishments, is complete rubbish and ignorant. 

Video after video has surfaced of people being escorted off planes, removed from facilities and have received fines for not wearing masks. Specifically in this video of the young woman being escorted, everyone is minding their business until she is being tased. Suddenly the bad guy is the police officer, not the woman who feels entitled to break a rule and resist arrest.

You see these kinds of things on social media and think “Wow this can’t be real” and it is. The tantrums, the ignorance and disregard for others is what baffles me. Businesses opening and putting themselves and employees at risk is a privilege not a right. 

Our Constitution outlines our rights, wearing a mask does not strip us of any of those; yet, there seems to be a consistent argument that it does. Wearing a mask doesn’t restrict us from any of our liberties, it doesn’t promote discrimination, nor make us slaves to the government.

Wearing a mask might be annoying or an inconvenience, but at this point we will be in the pandemic much longer if people continue to fight against wearing a mask. Put the entitlement to the side for a bit and look at the bigger picture, masks are to help not hurt. The more we fight against it the more we can potentially hurt others.

Know your foe: Why DSU soccer should watch out for Seattle U

While people know Dixie State University Athletics is transitioning to Division I and joining the Western Athletic Conference, do they know who the competition is?

Let’s get to know what teams the Trailblazers’ soccer programs will have the opportunity to face head to head in the WAC.

Women’s soccer and the competitive nature of the WAC

DSU’s women’s soccer team will see seven new programs and those teams are: California Baptist University, Chicago State University, Grand Canyon University, New Mexico State University, Seattle University, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and Utah Valley University.

Molly Rouse, women’s soccer head coach, said what makes the WAC stand out compared to other DI athletic conferences is the competitive nature and how the other teams go at it on a national scale.

Rouse said: “I think from top to bottom [the WAC is] a pretty competitive conference. They have a really good track record of not just being competitive at a regional level, but also they have teams that go on to compete in the NCAA tournament.”

Teams to watch out for in women’s soccer

UTRGV is a solid defensive team with only allowing 24 goals, the second least allowed in the conference, and nine shutouts tied with the second most. The Trailblazers need to strategize a good offensive attack if they’re going to be successful against the Vaqueros.

UVU creates plenty of scoring opportunities to be successful offensively in the 2019 season. The Wolverines had the most goals scored with 40, most goals scored per game, and had the most assists with 34. Now, DSU will need to play lights out defense if it’s going to slow down UVU.

CBU is well-rounded offensively and defensively. The Lancers allowed the least amount of goals, shutout nine teams, had the second most goals scored per game, and third in goals with 36. Definitely a tough task to take down CBU.

Seattle U is another team that is great on both sides of the field. The Redhawks scored the second most goals with 38, kicking the most shots with 353, second in assists, coming up with 86 saves, and shutting out seven teams. To put the cherry on top, Seattle is the defending conference champion and made an NCAA DI tournament appearance.

Men’s soccer and the WAC are up for grabs

The men’s soccer team will play against 11 new teams with five of the teams being affiliated with the WAC. Those teams are: Air Force, CBU, CSU, GCU, Houston Baptist University, University of the Incarnate Word, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, San Jose State University, Seattle U, UTRGV, and UVU.

Jonny Broadhead, men’s soccer head coach, said since the conference champion is constantly switching, the conference is for anyone to take.

“No one is invincible, everybody is beatable and we’re preparing ourselves to get up there in the mix for sure,” Broadhead said.

Teams to watch out for in men’s soccer

Defense is the way to go for both UTRGV soccer programs. The Vaqueros allowed the least amount of goals with 14 and shutout eight teams.

Air Force can be a threat offensively by the way it creates opportunities to score. The Falcons are second for most goals and goals per game, and are third with 25 assists.

Ahead of Air Force is another offensive team: UVU. The Wolverines are deadly and they know how to get the ball inside the net. UVU has the second most goals with 35, led the way with the most assists, and kicked the second most shots.

The next team who dominated the WAC last season on both sides of the field was Seattle U. The Redhawks placed first and second in the majority of the statistical categories in the WAC. Seattle U is the reigning conference champion and made a trip to the NCAA DI tournament.

The teams to beat

If the Trailblazers want to make a statement to the other teams in the WAC, the team to beat is the Redhawks.

Both Broadhead and Rouse acknowledged how Seattle U has notoriously done well and they’re consistently on top of the conference.

Midfielder Raul Ruiz, a junior pre-med major from West Wendover, Nevada, said the team knows it is capable of playing at a higher level to beat teams like the Redhawks because of the motivation to work harder in the gym, on the field, and doing extra workouts on the side.

“[If] we come in and we beat [Seattle U], everybody is [going to say], ‘Woah these guys are for real to beat the No. 1 team last year,’” Ruiz said.

UVU is the close second team to beat. An in-state rivalry is brewing with both soccer programs knowing someone on each team and needing to settle some beef.

Forward Whitley (Johns) Griffiths, a junior social science composite major from Gilbert, Arizona, said 20 of her teammates are from Utah and know old teammates or friends at UVU. Griffiths said she knows how huge the game will be and no one is looking to lose any game.

Don’t underestimate the opponent

Overall, any team in the WAC can give you a run for your money and no soccer program should be underestimated.

Midfielder Jandir Porta, a senior computer science major from West Valley City, said no team should be under-looked and including DSU because of the work the team is putting in with the extra time this fall “offseason.”

Forward Jill Bennett, a senior fine arts major from Salt Lake City, said the team is ready to compete and make a statement in the WAC and they’re not going to allow anyone to roll over them.

CircleIn app provides further connectivity among students

Students now have access to an app that has it all: flashcards, practice quizzes, note sharing with classmates, a planner, study groups through messaging or video chatting, all while improving connectivity with their classmates.

Dixie State University launched the app CircleIn Monday evening for the third and final trial semester.

Michael Lacourse, provost and vice president of academic affairs, purchased the CircleIn app in fall 2019 under a grant offered by a start-up company called the National Science Foundation. The remaining cost for the university was $10,000. Since the university is still in the testing phase, Lacourse said the amount for a potential final contract for spring 2021 is unknown.

The app is also game-based. The more you study and collaborate with your classmates, the more points you are able to earn, which then give you certificates from vendors like Amazon and Starbucks. The certificates come straight from the app owners, not the university.

Robert Gray, director of learning services, said, “I think [the app is] a way to connect with your classmates; in this time, especially where some classes are online or you are going back and forth, it’s hard to make those connections and easy to lose those connections.”

Kelly Peterson-Fairchild, dean of Library and Learning Services, said the app will be even more helpful during the current pandemic because students may not be getting the same interactions with their classmates like they’re used to, and not all students will feel comfortable still meeting for in-person study groups.

She said when the pandemic hit and students began remote learning, she wondered, “How do we try to build that connection in another way?” This app was the answer to that.

Gray said this educational app stands out from others because students have access to various resources on one platform instead of several different ones.

“I don’t think there is an app out there that does everything like CircleIn does,” Gray said.

This is the first semester the app is linked to all courses on campus, as opposed to select courses. The IT department spent four weeks ironing out the technological difficulties they have been experiencing since fall 2019 regarding student sign in. It also took more time to sync the app with every single course on campus.

“CircleIn made several modifications to the product based on our feedback and the feedback from other universities,” Lacourse said. “My understanding is that it is much improved, so I anticipate implementation will go much smoother and will have a greater positive impact on student success.”

Students can access the app through each of their courses on canvas, download from any app store, or get to it on a desktop or laptop at https://app.circleinapp.com/auth.

Professors can also monitor what is going on in the app. They can see which students are using the app, how often they are accessing the app, and what they are using the app for. They use this information to gauge how useful the app is to their students.

Professors can also see what kind of questions students are asking each other to know where the learning gaps are with their students, as well as what needs to be covered in more detail in class.

“If students are having the same question over and over, then the instructor might want to address that question in class,” Gray said. “It will be helpful for sure for the students, but professors as well.”

The app is innovative; it’s more institutionalized than informal, Peterson-Fairchild said.

“I don’t think there is an app out there that does everything like CircleIn does,”

Robert Gray, director of learning services

“I think the concept of students helping students and leveraging social media is definitely the future,” Peterson-Fairchild said.

Students are already using technology and social media to connect, but connecting through this app on an educational level decreases the issue of equality because it’s more official, she said.

Gray said as the overseer of the app, he has a dashboard that tracks the usage of the app. He can see how many downloads it gets, how many students are actively using it. He uses this to gauge how successful the app is, so at the end of the semester he and Lacourse will discuss the success and Lacourse will decide if he wants to sign a contract to keep the app.

In the first 24-hours of launching the app, there were 675 downloads, which is about 7% of the student population, which Lacourse said was an extraordinary success.

Gray said: “The downside [to the app] is it’s new. It’s going to take a while to get used to it because we got it running later [in the semester].”

DSU cross-country self-motivated amid NCAA training restrictions

Cross-country is a team sport, but the work done outside of competition is independent and extensive, something only amplified by restrictions COVID-19 has brought.

Due to the limit of just eight hours per week of practice time set by the NCAA, much of Dixie State University’s cross-country team’s work is done on its own time, and they have to be incredibly self-motivated.

“I kind of have to face [the challenges of cross-country] and be able to face those things because other people are relying on me,” said Tyson McKeon, a senior mechanical engineering major from Stansbury. “It’s not just about me in the sport. As individual as this sport is, we’re still a team and we do still compete in teams of seven.”

When the cross-country teams found out their seasons had gotten postponed, they didn’t stop running. Although they weren’t allowed to spend as much time training as a team, team members still worked just as hard independently.

“Running is a sport that you don’t ever really take any breaks,” said Cassidy Elmont, a sophomore population health major from American Fork. “[Running is] a year-round thing. Maybe you’ll have a week off, but for the most part you’re always running.”

Elmont said she was rehabbing an injury in spring 2020 when her freshman track and field season was canceled, which lead to more self-motivated training. She said she found herself not only trying to rehab an injury, but also dealing with frequent hospital visits for physical therapy during a pandemic.

“Every day I went, there was a new question they’d ask me,” Elmont said. “One day it was ‘okay we have to take your temperature.’ Then the next day it was ‘wear a mask and take your temperature,’ then ‘wear a mask, take your temperature, have you had any cough or sneezing or anything?’ It was like every time there was a new question, until it got to the point that I was like ‘no, I’m fine, just let me go to physical therapy.'”

Elmont said she did find a positive in her injury happening amid the coronavirus, though.

“It did help lessen the pressure coming back from an injury and immediately needing to be back to doing well again and supporting the team,” Elmont said.

Despite Elmont’s positive outlook, though, coronavirus could potentially cause the cross-country and track and field seasons conflict. With a handful of athletes competing for both track and field and cross-country, the postponement of the cross-country season results in the proximity of these two seasons to be heightened, ultimately affecting how the teams will prepare for the seasons.

Elmont said she worries moving the season will throw off the “loop” the two seasons create when alternating one with another.

“We practically will wait a whole year to compete cross-[country],” Elmont said.

Justin Decker, cross-country and track and field head coach, said he anticipates the cross-country season will occur in January and February, followed closely by track and field season in the spring like originally scheduled, though no dates are guaranteed yet.

“Safety is always the number one priority,” Decker said. “So if the medical professionals, doctors and everybody don’t think it’s the safest thing to be out competing, then you have to agree with that and do what you can to take care of the athletes, coaches and everybody involved.”

Despite all the unknowns of how its future seasons will work, DSU’s cross-country team is optimistic that it will be successful in its first season in the Western Athletic Conference.

After coming from a strong Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference that included lots of strong cross-country teams, Elmont said she is particularly interested in seeing how her team does in the WAC.

“The RMAC, as far as cross country goes, is a powerhouse,” Elmont said. “So, I was wondering how well we could do against the WAC. I don’t feel like we’d go to the WAC and be last. Of course we’re not going to be number one, we’re just moving to DI, but I feel like we could be in a decent spot.”