DSU to add COVID-19 testing stations on campus

To follow Gov. Gary Herbert’s updated Nov. 23 order requiring higher education students to be tested every two weeks, Dixie State University will begin COVID-19 testing this week.

Josh Thayn, executive director of event services and risk management, said DSU students with at least one in-person class or students who live on campus should participate in the free, non-invasive testing.

Stacy Schmidt, public relations and publications coordinator, said DSU understands the governor’s order requiring that all students need to be tested, and the higher education age group is responding well to positive measures.

Schmidt said, “We are planning to approach [COVID-19 testing] from a positive perspective, helping students see the value in getting these free, non-invasive tests to protect their immediate circles as well as the broader community.”

There will be a testing station in the Kenneth N. Gardner Student Center ballroom, which will be available from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 2, 3, 7 and 8. Students will need to register in advance, and the Booth Wellness Center is finalizing the registration system and will add more information to its website as soon as possible.

Garyn Gulbranson, director of the Booth Wellness Center, said DSU staff members were provided training by the Utah Department of Health to work at the testing stations.

Gulbranson said DSU can conduct 3,920 COVID-19 tests starting this week, and in order to test all eligible students in accordance with the new order of every two weeks for the spring semester, the university needs approximately 17,600 tests per month.

Schmidt said students haven’t demonstrated any resistance to being tested, and the Booth Wellness Center wants to work with every student who has not been tested to address their concerns to best protect their health, as well as the health of their fellow students, faculty and families.

“Our students are very service-oriented, and we are optimistic that they will cooperate with the governor’s mandate given that this is a service to the community,” Schmidt said.

If students do show resistance and are unwilling to get tested, DSU will look to the state for clear-cut guidelines on next steps.

Thayn said DSU is working hard to prepare for next semester, and it will continue to prioritize students and their health while offering them a quality educational experience.

Editorial: DSN striving for new goals, renewing commitment to DSU community

The Dixie Sun News will continue being the voice of the university despite the loss of our printed edition.

After receiving results from a survey sent to students, faculty and staff, we analyzed the 150 responses to find where and how we can better represent the voices of Dixie State University students.

We, as a staff, have new goals we want to achieve and things we will continue to do.

Instead of using our time and effort focusing on the print newspaper, that time will now be refocused on web content, which means adding more multimedia engagement — audio and video — on our website and social media.

When COVID-19 came about in the spring, we had to stop printing the newspaper. During that time we sent everyone a weekly newsletter, and this is something we want to start doing again. The newsletter provides highlights of the week’s latest content through a few simple clicks on your phone.

As the voice of the university, we are committed to increasing awareness about what is going on around us. We want to continue publishing breaking news and big announcements while also localizing worldwide issues so readers know what’s going on around the world and how it applies to them.

When DSU Athletics was suspended for the fall, we covered the important work student-athletes continued to put into their sports and the community. As the next semester approaches, we will continue to cover sporting events and any other relevant sports topics for the foreseeable future.

We want to accomplish our new goals and continue to succeed, but we need your help. Your feedback is important to us, so we know what content you need and want to see.

If you have topics you would like us to cover or have a story you would like to see published, contact us on our website, social media or email us at [email protected]. You are welcome to send letters to the editor with any feedback, whether it’s something you liked or disliked.

We may not be printing anymore, but we are looking forward to a new year and a new semester of serving as the #VoiceOfDixie.

DSN recaps major university news from fall 2020 semester

As the fall 2020 semester wraps up, now is the time for students at Dixie State University to look back on the eventful semester.

Here is a highlight of the top stories the Dixie Sun News brought to DSU this semester:


It’s hard to find a news article anywhere in 2020 without COVID-19 being the main topic. The worldwide pandemic torched other news stories and became the primary focus of this semester.

DSU’s plans to combat COVID-19 included integrating Zoom classes, creating smaller class sizes, and encouraging students to social distance and wear a mask. Since then, the total cases in Utah continue to climb drastically, and plans have been updated to now offering students bi-weekly testing.

These changes are historical for DSU as the university continues navigating through unprecedented times. As all are attempting to slow the spread, students won’t be forgetting this time in their life anytime soon.


DSU sports had limited competition against other universities this fall, poising this semester to be unlike any others in history. Since fall sports were pushed back because of COVID-19, the Trailblazers had to adjust their game plans to prepare for spring seasons. While there was limited action going for the fall, DSN offered readers player profiles, community service spotlights, and tips and tricks on how to avoid injuries during training. With the return of the spring semester just around the corner, sports fans can be hopeful for DSU athletes to compete once again. The postponed seasons affected factors like DSU Athletics’ finances, scheduling and more.


The fall 2020 semester presented a variety of opinions from the staff members. The 2020 presidential campaigns, Black Lives Matter protests, and the potential name change of the university were all major topics addressed in the opinion section featured throughout the semester.

The presidential campaign and the protests raging all across the nation have the potential to influence the nation even more. The protests following the death of George Floyd are insurmountable as cities all around the nation fight for civil justice.

DSU potentially changing its name also has a major impact on the university moving forward. Rebranding is no small task for a Division I university, but DSU is doing research to ensure it proceeds correctly going forward.

The DSN staff does its best to make sure all voices are heard. Letters to the editor and ideas from voices outside the DSN staff are encouraged to ensure students’ voices are heard.


Part of the plan for DSU to combat the COVID-19 virus was to create a hybrid schedule for select classes. Zoom was used for students feeling under the weather, unable to attend class, or to limit the number of students in a classroom at a time; however, it was found that it actually spiked students’ anxiety levels.

Since Zoom may have potentially increased anxiety levels, DSN also offered ways to cope with the stresses college students may endure throughout their college experience, along with the best ways for students to stay organized.

‘We can’t do this unless these kids are protected and safe’: Basketball COVID-19 protocols announced, mental health concerns loom

With men’s and women’s basketball seasons just days from starting, new procedures were added to protect the student-athletes. Although the athletes’ physical health seems to be taken care of with the new COVID-19 protocols, there are concerns still lingering about the athletes’ mental health.

To keep fans and players safe, DSU and the NCAA put a number of rules in place to ensure social distancing among fans and student-athletes.

The most significant rule for players and coaches is COVID-19 testing three times a week.

DSU’s Athletic Director Jason Boothe said, “All teams are tested three times a week, and we have to get results back before we leave [on road trips] so we can attest to the home team that we’ve tested and that we’re good.”

Barb Russell, the DSU women’s basketball athletic trainer, thinks the new testing regulations will make things easier, with less uncertainty the status athletes.

“The 3 times per week testing will not be a problem,” Russell said. “It actually makes our lives a little easier.  We’re able to arrange it so it works with the schedules of our various teams & the testing itself is a fairly quick process for them.”

For game day at the M. Anthony Burns Arena, attendance for all DSU men’s and women’s basketball home games will be capped at 1,000 fans. The only fans allowed will be season ticket holders, Trailblazer Club members, approved player guests and family, and DSU students.

In addition to the limited attendance, there will be social distancing protocols and a mandatory mask mandate. There will also be a 12-foot buffer zone between fans and the stadium floor to ensure safety for the players, officials and other stadium and media personnel.

There’s also been a shift in bench placement to opposite the media desks and will be assigned seats for athletes on the sidelines, all little changes that may make a big difference in the end.

Russell said: “Some might say that details like bench placement don’t make a big difference, but there is still so much that we don’t know, including how individuals may react to the virus, that every little thing we can do to help minimize the spread is crucial.”

Women’s head coach J.D. Gustin said he feels confident that the rules put in place will protect his athletes when it comes to the home games. In addition, Gustin also said both head athletic trainer Kelby Hofheins and women’s basketball trainer Barb Russel have helped the athletes extensively amid this ever-changing time.

Gustin said: “They didn’t sign up for this. They didn’t get into athletic training to have to deal with a global pandemic, so the amount of pressure they’ve been on is incredible. The decisions they have to make are significant. I really feel for them; I’m grateful for them.”

Even with all the protocols, the potential for positive tests is still there. The current NCAA rules state a single positive test from a player or coaching staff member results in a mandatory two-week quarantine period for everyone on the team.

Gustin and Boothe shared one grievance: how those quarantines will affect the season. One quarantine period could mean up to six games missed for a team, which is quite a lot in a 26-game season.

“I don’t see how the NCAA is effectively going to be able to have a season and get to their men’s and women’s basketball tournament if that is going to be the rule,” Boothe said. “I don’t know if they’re going to be looking at changing that, but that’s what it is right now. Just practically speaking, I don’t know how that is going to lead to a full season or even a season of any kind, even if you just have one [quarantine].”

Gustin also mentioned his concerns about his team going on the road, mainly out of state, once non-conference games start. In scheduling his non-conference games, Gustin made the call to keep all those games against in-state schools.

“We’re not taking my team out of state,” Gustin said. “And fortunately, I get to make those kinds of decisions. I don’t feel comfortable [traveling out of state].”

“We can’t do this unless these kids are protected and safe. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. It’s easy to say, ‘Well, everyone wants to get out, watch the game.’ There’s way more to it than that. Our kids’ well-being is way more important than any of us wanting to watch a game.”

Women’s head coach J.D. Gustin

Gustin said he hopes by the time conference games start in January that things look better around the country, but if not, he’s not sure how comfortable he would be having his team play games out of state.

Boothe outlined protocols for away trips, whether flying or bus trips.

“If anyone has symptoms on the road, we have to isolate and get them back separately from the team,” Boothe said. “We won’t really know how that’s going to work until we have to do it. Really, it’s just using our best judgment.”

Boothe also said DSU will try to put roommates together in hotel rooms to keep things as close to the team’s home environments as possible. The teams plan to do little things to expose the athletes as little as possible, like delivering meals instead of team outings to restaurants and trying to stay on lower levels of hotels to avoid elevator usage.

“Right now is a significant challenge,” Gustin said. “Right now, I’m concerned for their well-being, I really am.”

Gustin has had to make a much greater effort to support his athletes’ mental well-being this season than in past seasons. He has sent out questionnaires asking them how they’re doing, has individual meetings, and has helped his team access DSU’s sports psychologist, all in hopes of helping them mentally.

“Fortunately, the institution has great help,” Gustin said. “We have a great sports psychologist, great trainers, our teachers have been really good to work with, but I feel like at least half my team is in a challenging space.”

The rules and regulations to protect them from the virus, in Gustin’s eyes, don’t matter if mentally the athletes are not OK.

Gustin said: “We can’t do this unless these kids are protected and safe. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. It’s easy to say, ‘Well, everyone wants to get out, watch the game.’ There’s way more to it than that. Our kids’ well-being is way more important than any of us wanting to watch a game.”

Students express gratitude during difficult times

It’s that season again where we’re reminded to have an attitude of gratitude. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and the year is coming to an end, students remain grateful for the valuable things they have this year.

Here are things that students around campus said they’re thankful for this year:

Having professors work with your schedule is something we all need.

Ethan Moline, a freshman business major from Alberta, Canada, said he is thankful for all the professors that are willing to work with him.

When it comes to missing classes and assignments, Moline said teachers have been lenient and understanding.

Have you ever thought about what DSU would look like if they didn’t have in-person classes?

Kade Colarusso, a sophomore marine biology major from Salt Lake City, said he is thankful for all the in-person classes offered at DSU.

Colarussos’s classes recently moved online but he is grateful that he got the in-person class experience during his first semester as a sophomore. He said he has always preferred in-person classes over online.

“There aren’t many [in-person classes] left, but I’m thankful… because those are the best,” Colarussos said.

Making friends can be a challenge when it comes to being in a mix of in-person classes and Zoom classes, but it is possible.

Elsie Wilkens, a freshman English education major from Grand Junction, Colorado, said, “I’m super grateful for all my friends I’ve made.”

Wilkens said after this semester she feels that she has a community and a new family.

“Just moving out to St. George I was like ‘wow, I’m gonna have no one’… I’m grateful I have them so that I don’t feel lonely,” Wilkens said.

You know people truly support you when they comfort you during a rough time and the best kinds of supporters and comforters come from family. A family is built upon kind people who are always supportive and trying to help you out as much as possible.

Harley Bright, a freshman nursing major from Salt Lake said this year she is thankful for her family because they have helped her through tough situations.

She is also thankful for all the teachers she has. She wanted to recognize them by saying, “Teachers have had to make this COVID-19 thing the best that they can.”

She is grateful for all their willingness to work and help students.

No one was ever applying to schools and thinking whether they want to go to a school where half is on Zoom and the other half is in-person.

Cammeron Ford, a freshman business management major from West Jordan, said he is thankful for the in-person classes, his family and friends.

This semester Ford was worried that all his classes would go fully online. He didn’t think that he would do well if school was structured in another way than in-person classes.

Have you had a professor that has helped you reach your goals or inspired you to feel confident?

Kore Mccan, a junior integrated studies major from Dallas, Texas, is thankful for a professor that has helped her reach her goals and enter a career she has wanted. She said that not only has one of her professors helped her, but the professors she has this semester have inspired her.

 “No one has ever genuinely believed that I can do the things I wanted to do, and most of the instructors I have this semester are really inspiring me to feel confident,” Mccan said.

Having the college experience during the time when a virus has taken over the nation may be difficult, but we can also take advantage of the people we meet and build connections with.

Ellie Rasmussen, a freshman pre-nursing major from Pleasant Grove, said she is thankful she has been able to make friends this year and enjoy her college experience.

“I was super nervous when I moved here; everything is so different this year because of COVID,” Rasmussen said. “I was scared that I wasn’t going to meet anyone or make good connections, but I have made some really awesome friends, and it has made this weird time really good. I am so grateful for that!”

Do you have that one person that when their name pops up on your phone you instantly smile?

Mason Memmott, a freshman sports medicine major from Pleasant Grove, said this year he is most thankful for his grandma.

Memmott described his grandma by saying, “She is the most kind lady in the world,” she is funny, and she sends texts that make his day.

Memmott’s grandma lives a couple hours away but is always asking what she can bring him or if he needs anything, and she is always calling.

We should never underestimate how much friends and family matter to us, how much they do, or how much we are grateful for them.

Sam Nord, a freshman digital film major from Middletown, California, said she could not put into words how grateful she is for her family and friends or what she would do without them.

DSU men’s basketball captains for 2020-21 named

The Dixie State University men’s basketball season opener is just days away, and the 2021 captains have been announced.

Dason Youngblood, a senior communication studies major from South Jordan, and Hunter Schofield, a senior exercise science major from Spanish Fork, will be leaders for this seasons squad as they debut in DSU’s first Division I season.

“They’ve done a great job of teaching the new players the stuff we are implementing and trying to learn,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “I love coaching them because of that.”

Judkins said the captains aren’t selected by the coaches, but rather by a team vote. The process of the team vote allows for each player on the roster to submit two names, and the names with the most two votes are the captains for the team.

“I give the example of ‘who do you want on your team or boat when your boat is starting to sink,’” Judkins asked. “Do you want the guy that is taking care of himself or the guy that is willing to grab the rope and pull the boat in with everybody on board?”

Youngblood was an All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference honorable mention for the Trailblazers last season and tallied in 15 or more points on six different games last season.

“On the court I’m always looking to make our team better,” Youngblood said. “The primary objective is to win, so whatever is needed to make the team better I’ll do.” Youngblood also finished with 102 total assists last season.

“Dason has been with me for 3 years now and to see his growth from his sophomore year until now is unreal,” Judkins said. “He understands what we want, and he understands what he’s good at in our offense and defense, and overall does a great job of being successful.”

If the Youngblood name sounds familiar, Daylor Youngblood, Dason’s brother, was also a guard for the DSU in 2015-2018.  Youngblood’s father, Kendall, was also a collegiate basketball player at Utah State University and graduated in 1992.

“[The family name] means a lot,” Youngblood said.  “My dad played at Utah State, my brother played here, so it’s fun to have that tradition. I’m the last one to play in college, so my family is really having a fun time and coming to all the games they can; it’s surreal.”

As Youngblood strives to have another big season for the Trailblazers, he will be accompanied by co-captain, 6”8’ forward Schofield.

Schofield is another captain for DSU. Schofield transferred from Salt Lake Community College in 2018, so this is only his second season with the Trailblazers.

“When I came in, I had the goal of stepping in and [proving] that I was the hardest worker on the team,” Schofield said. “I encourage the guys to always be in the gym, to be working hard and putting the work in so we can be successful on the court.”

The work was noticed by Judkins, and the rest of coaching staff, as the improvement was visible.

“Hunter has worked on his outside game very well by shooting the threes, and I thought he did quite well,” Judkins said.  “He was first team all-conference last year in the RMAC.” Schofield averaged 16.4 and just over 6 rebounds per game last season.

Schofield not only looks to be a good leader in the gym, but also looks to help the team outside of basketball is well.

“I try to have a good relationship with all of our guys [by] making sure they’re doing good and feeling good about how practices are going,” Schofield said. “From doing that and always being a good teammate by gaining their respect, I feel like this has been what I’ve tried to do since transferring to Dixie.”

Along with Schofield and Youngblood, Judkins is still looking to add a third captain for the 2020-21 season.

“We are going to get one more, and we are going to pick someone that is going to be a little more vocal because we need to have hard workers and vocal leaders,” Judkins said

Evolution of Dixie Sun News ongoing

By: Emily Mildenhall

It’s the end of an era for Dixie Sun News as the last printed publication will come out on Dec. 2; however, it’s certainly not the first transition the newspaper has undergone.

When it was established in 1916, the newspaper’s original title was Dixie Owl and it was formatted like a magazine with a large emphasis on narratives and poetry.

In 1922, the newspaper made another transition to Dixie News, and for every other year between 1930-1935, the publication served as the yearbook with its “Dixie News Commencement Issue.”

The Dixie News later changed its name to Dixie Journalists Chatter in 1939, and its layout read more like a newspaper column with illustrations and cartoons, rather than photos taken with a camera. In 1943, it became “Dixie Junior College Newspaper” and maintained its layout of hand-drawn headers and three columns of text.

Finally, the newspaper was assigned the name the Dixie Sun in 1951.

For every moniker change, there was a change of design, format and layout for the newspaper. Section headers went from pencil designs to computer graphics; the black ink expanded into full-color photos; even the size of the newspaper varied greatly from year to year.

Dean of Students Del Beatty said he used to read the Dixie Sun when he was enrolled in Dixie College in 1988.

Beatty said: “I read the Dixie Sun as a student, and I still do today. I love it when they highlight the successes of our students — it’s newsworthy and noteworthy, and it lets us know there’s a lot of really great things going on.”

Beatty also said the design of the newspaper has changed since he was a student.

“I still have some old Dixie Sun articles in my scrapbooks, and it used to open more like a book rather than a newspaper,” Beatty said. “The newspaper print format definitely made it more legitimized, and there are more national news stories in it now. In 1988, the school was so much smaller — only a few thousand students — so the stories used to be more local.”

“Newspapers are dying, but news isn’t dying; it’s just taking a new shape.”

Katie McKellar, a government watchdog reporter for Deseret News

Katie McKellar, a government watchdog reporter for Deseret News, got her start in journalism by working for the Dixie Sun News as a staff writer, features editor and photo editor from 2012-2014. McKellar said she’s sad the newspaper is ending its print format, but it’s reflective of a constantly changing industry.

McKellar said: “Newspapers are dying, but news isn’t dying; it’s just taking a new shape. The future is going in a new digital, multimedia direction, and the Dixie Sun taught me how to use correct story structure, write leads, lower thirds for broadcast … It’s crucial for students to get that experience so they can get internships out of college.”

McKellar said working for the Dixie Sun News also helped her develop confidence and people skills.

“I just wanted to have a career where I could put my writing skills to use, but I was shy and you have to talk to people,” McKellar said. “You have to not be afraid to engage in conversations — it’s part of the job.”

Past staff members of the Dixie Sun News often stay in journalism or public relations, but the skills developed from multimedia journalism are transferable to a variety of career areas.

Rhiannon Bent, the current Dixie Sun News adviser, has advised the newspaper since August of 2004 and has seen it go through various changes over the years, particularly regarding multimedia, including a minor adjustment to the name.

“When I first got here, the newspaper was just called ‘Dixie Sun,’” Bent said. “As we were trying to evolve into a more multimedia organization, I had the idea to create this umbrella organization, Dixie Sun News, and within it would be the Dixie Sun newspaper, our website, our broadcast, but the editor-in-chief misunderstood me and just started calling the paper ‘Dixie Sun News,’ and it’s been that way ever since.”

While the newspaper name changes once every few decades, general rebranding efforts are launched every few years to tweak the visual design of the newspaper to give it a fresh, new look.

“Every new editor-in-chief has new ideas for the paper, but we try to maintain brand recognition while seeing what works and what doesn’t,” Bent said.

In terms of more holistic changes, new technology and social media have made Dixie Sun News distribution more complicated and challenging. Bent said she even remembers hearing about Twitter for the first time at a student journalism conference in 2009 and incorporating it into the curriculum.

“We started incorporating Instagram, Snapchat for a while, and even TikTok is in the mix now,” Bent said. “It’s all becoming a tangled web of content, and the audience for each application is different.”

In the age of fake news, it’s harder for journalists more now than ever before, but as long as there are stories that need to be reported, the Dixie Sun News will continue to persevere and adapt with the times.

The show must go on: DSU dance concert continues

By Elise Bush

Through all of the trials 2020 has presented, the Dixie State University dance department has decided that the show must go on… virtually.

Elizabeth Stich, assistant professor of dance, said there is a wide range of styles from contemporary to modern, jazz to the spoken word. There is even a performance that incorporates aerial dance, tap and contemporary. These choreographers have developed dances as their capstone projects, adding to the ever-growing portfolio of an artist.

The virtual concert will premiere Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. and will be available the entire week of finals. More information can be found on the dance department’s Facebook page and website. There will be updates on where and how to watch the concert.

Working within the limitations of COVID-19 has challenged both the dancers and the choreographers, Stich said.

“We’ve gotten so used to it, like moving with masks, they don’t look strange to me as a part of the costume anymore,” Stich said. “And the way that they had to choreograph without the ability to touch our partner — we couldn’t do any partnering and those kinds of things. I think that the choreographers have done such a great job with it that I don’t really see it as limitations anymore.”

This has become the mindset of the entire department. Mackenzie Newbern, a freshman dance major from Lake Isabella, California, said working within these new guidelines has bettered her as a dancer.

“It personally helped me to push more of my performing skills,” Newbern said.

Ashly Barraclough, a junior dance major from St. George, said: “It really taught us … more about what dance is at its core, which is movement of the body and not just a performing thing. Like, yes, it’s great to be able to just perform for an audience and we always get that rush, you know, during a live performance, but [we’ve] been able to look at it as its purest form, which is just movement in whatever sense of feeling.”

This is a strong reminder to dancers that they don’t have to have an audience to validate their artistic depth and ability.

Choreographer McKelynn Barber, a senior dance major from West Valley City, said: “We all need more dance. We all need to watch more dance … we weren’t able to dance for months, for almost six months. It’s kind of inspiring to see people dance again and be able to be on stage and put anything together right now. This is a huge accomplishment for us.”

Stich said all dance auditions are open to all majors. There will be virtual auditions held for the spring concert on Jan. 11. There will be updates regarding auditions posted to the dance Facebook page.

Dixie Sun News to move online, cut print newspaper

The Dixie Sun News is transitioning to a solely-online news format due to not having enough funds granted by the Student Fee Allocation Committee and low advertisement revenue to produce a weekly print paper.

“The university cannot bring itself to fund, independently of student fees, the newspaper,” said Stephen Lee, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “The only way for the newspaper to proceed is to cut its costs — and again, the greatest price cost the paper faces is printing.”

According to SFAC’s website, the Dixie Sun News requested a $0.50 increase to add to their existing $0.75 student fee-funded budget. The SFAC reviews student fees every year and determines whether or not to recommend an increase or decrease to the Board of Trustees.

“I actually went to the student fee group and asked for a one-time increase to help get the DSN over a certain hump, and that was not granted,” Lee said.

Attempts to reach members of SFAC for comments were unsuccessful.

Another way the Dixie Sun News adds to its budget is through the advertisement revenue it acquires through printing a weekly newspaper.

DSN adviser Rhiannon Bent, assistant professor of media studies, said when the pandemic began and her staff stopped running the newspaper, ad revenue was shut down completely. She said this was a tremendous loss for DSN, and the future of the newspaper could have been different had the spring semester ended properly.

“Coming into this school year, I knew that it was kind of ‘do-or-die’ with ad revenue and frankly, it hasn’t picked up–really at all,” Bent said. “I mean, we’ve had a couple of ads here and there, but not nearly the kind of ad volume we were bringing in a year ago at this time.”

“Coming into this school year, I knew that it was kind of ‘do-or-die’ with ad revenue and frankly, it hasn’t picked up–really at all,”

DSN Adviser Rhiannon Bent

Bent said she is also concerned with how successful ad revenue will be once DSN transitions online. She said many companies who advertise in the newspaper prefer print ads instead of web ads.

“What people, I think, often forget is while we have the ability to sell ads on our website — and we offer that — clients don’t want it,” Bent said. “Clients want advertisement in the newspaper, so eliminating the newspaper also has potential repercussions for ad revenue moving forward.”

Lee said although it’s sad to see DSN moving on from printing weekly newspapers, journalism is evolving into a more web-based industry and this is a great opportunity for the DSN staff to produce more stories and gain more outreach.

“I think this [transition] is crucial for students who are interested in a career in journalism to understand,” Lee said. “More and more, I think that the eyes that are going to be drawn to the DSN are going to be electronic eyes, and they are going to find [it] on [its] webpage.”

Students are also embracing the transition to a solely-online newspaper.

“I read Dixie Sun News articles all online,” said Faitoto’a Faleao, a senior sports and recreation management major from Lehi. “I feel like most students I know read it that way since it would be easier and faster since we always have our phones nearby or literally in our hands.”

Chelsea Wistisen, a freshman elementary education major from Soda Springs, Idaho, said since she completes most of her classes remotely; having all of the Dixie Sun News content online will allow her to not have to go to campus to get a paper.

“I mean, it’s just so easy to go on the website and read articles instead of having to find a paper on campus,” Wistisen said. “Especially for us students who may be doing mostly online classes or other people who may not want to go to campus and risk getting COVID.”

The Dixie Sun News staff has discussed producing special print editions, but Lee said for this to happen, DSN will need to build up funds from online ad revenue in the future.

Commencement ceremony still planned

Rain or snow, Dixie State University’s 109th commencement ceremony will still happen on Dec. 11 at Greater Zion Stadium.

President Richard “Biff” Williams said when DSU received Gov. Gary Herbert’s mandate, the university reached out to the governor’s office and the Southwest Utah Public Health Department to make sure commencement was still meeting public health guidelines.

“The guidelines didn’t really change anything,” Williams said. “We’ll be able to socially distance, and then being able to use the entire football field to space the graduates really didn’t have an impact on whether or not we can follow the governor’s guidelines.”

Williams said the event will be livestreamed and have extra seating in the Cox Auditorium for those who are at high risk or who want to take extra precautions against COVID-19. He also said the ability to space people in the stands during the recent Utah High School Football State Championships proved that social distancing at commencement is doable, so DSU feels comfortable moving forward with commencement.

“We’re estimating roughly 20-30% of students responded that they’re no longer coming, or that they would prefer virtual, which we can’t do,” said Provost Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs. “We’re in the 350 range on the reconfirmation, but we’re still guessing it’s going to be in the 500 range.”

Megan Church, director of university events and promotions, said the initial number of people who RSVPed by August was 745 total, with 400-500 of those being from fall 2019, spring 2020 and summer 2020.

Stacy Schmidt, public relations and publications coordinator, said, “We have more graduates, and you know, biggest graduating class ever, but that’s the number that we heard from that wanted to be part of it.”

Williams said he expects around 3,000 people to be in the 10,000-seat stands around the stadium.

“We’re working hard on putting all the protocols together,” Williams said. “We’ll have to do things a little bit differently. You’ll see our platform; we usually have 40-50 people up there — we’ll have 18. And usually we have the graduates coming and I’m twisting back and forth handing it, [but] it will be a much slower pace, which [is] good; I usually do it fast so my love handles will work off, but it’s never worked.”

Williams said all faculty are typically required as part of their contract to attend commencement, but that requirement has been lifted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to make sure that we’re not forcing anybody to come,” Williams said. “We want to make sure that we can celebrate and everybody’s happy and wants to support the students.”

Lacourse said the DSU administration is hoping for sunny 50-degree weather, but if there are inclement conditions, students will likely be ushered into the M. Anthony Burns Arena and other attendees will be dispersed in other buildings on campus.

“The only thing that will delay this is rain, and we’ll do a couple two-hour delays; if it’s snowing, we’re having it,” Williams said.

Schmidt said the commencement website and its instructions for attending are currently up to date. According to the website, the Grad Fair is still scheduled for Dec. 9 and 10 at the Alumni House and Grad Night has yet to be determined.

“Grad Fair is going to be limited hours,” Williams said. “Grad Fair will be mostly you come in, you get your gown, you get the information you need, and then you leave, so it’s not going to be as festive as it has before.”

Lacourse said the decision to have commencement in person on Dec. 11 rather than postpone it further is based on what students indicated they wanted, and that’s what’s most important to the DSU administration.

“We want to make sure if it really means something to you that you have that opportunity to walk across the stage and hear your name, and have your parents come and your family come celebrate with you,” Williams said.