Masks, vaccines required in some Utah universities

While the FDA has approved the Pzifer COVID-19 vaccine, Utah’s government is still blocked from requiring vaccines or masks on campuses.

In April 2021 the Utah Legislature created a new law blocking Utah’s government from requiring vaccines with only emergency approval in public K-12 schools and on higher education campuses; however, on Aug. 23 the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pzifer-BioNTech vaccine. This now opens the door for universities to mandate the Pzifer-BioNTech vaccine if the administrators choose to do so.

The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines cannot be mandated since they are not FDA approved as of right now. Currently, the University of Utah, Utah State, Utah Valley University and Weber State University have decided to require students get the vaccine. This vaccine mandate for these universities only applies to students. Faculty and staff are not required to get the vaccine as of right now.

The universities have made it known there will be medical, religious and personal exemptions. While universities can still require vaccines in the state of Utah, masks are still prohibited from being mandated.

In an email from Dixie State University President Richard “Biff” Williams said the university is not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for attendance. This is because of the COVID-19 procedures the university has recently updated. The DSU administration still strongly encourages students wear masks and get vaccinated as they will continue COVID-19 tracing to keep the students, staff and faculty safe.

“DSU is doing what it can within the limits of new state legislation to encourage students to get vaccinated and to mask up in communal settings,” Susan Ertel, associate professor of English and Faculty Senate President said. “Ultimately, it’s down to personal responsibility and a desire to help your community by taking the steps to protect those who cannot take the vaccine.”

Southern Utah University is holding Zoom meetings to help the university decide whether to require vaccines or not for spring 2022.

“The COVID taskforce at DSU is considering what our next steps will be in light of the full approval of the Pfizer vaccine and the upcoming full approval of the Moderna vaccine,” Ertel said. “Students will know well in advance of the spring semester what their options are and what DSU’s plan is to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

DSU’s Booth Wellness Center has a chart on their website keeping track of how many current COVID-19 cases there are between students and faculty.

DSU will be holding one final vaccination clinic this semester on Oct. 20. DSU will still continue to offer free testing through SoftCell Laboratories all semester long.

You must get a test order from a healthcare provider, and walk-in patients are not welcome. To order a test through DSU’s Booth Wellness Center, submit a COVID-19 self-reporting form or call the Booth Wellness Center at 435-652-7755 to make an appointment. DSU also offers options for off-campus testing at Intermountain Hospital, TestUtah and Family Health Care.

“I think the university has done a good job keeping our campus safe, but I do not think they are doing everything they possibly can to protect students, faculty and staff,” Bryant Espinal, a freshman general studies major from New York said.

Vince Brown, director of the institute of politics and public affairs said, “Science has given us a way to tackle COVID-19 if enough people get vaccinated.”

DSU’s COVID task force is meeting to discuss and make any further changes to the COVID-19 guidelines for the upcoming semesters. If you are sick stay home and fill out a COVID-19 self-reporting form.

DSU hosts job fair and business expo

Dixie State University is giving students the opportunity for work experience outside the classroom by hosting a job fair and business expo.

The DSU Job Fair and Business Expo is taking place Aug. 31 from 1 – 4 p.m. in the Gardner Center Ballroom. The job fair gives students an opportunity to discover job prospects that are both on and off-campus. DSU Career Services suggests that students come ready to network, make good impressions, and be prepared to secure a job.

With a multitude of companies currently hiring, some students choose to look into the opportunities DSU provides because of the convenience of having an on-campus job. Emmaline Rawlinson, a senior elementary education major from Delta, said having an on-campus job has encouraged her to get more involved in the DSU student community.

Rawlinson, who is also a peer coach, said managing her studies and work is easier because of the flexibility and time management that an on-campus job provides. Rawlinson favors the fact she can be in a location where she is doing both school and work. Rawlinson said the student job fair and expo will be beneficial for students and encourages them to attend the event.

“I think it’s a wonderful experience because you have people who are coming to scout you,” Rawlinson said. “They’re ready to hire and willing to help you out in your career, you just have to go.” 

Isabella Perrello, a junior media studies major from Tucson, Arizona, has a different perspective having worked off-campus for two years at Bed Bath & Beyond. Perrello said having an off-campus job has allotted her the chance to meet more people and learn from being more involved in the community. Perrello encourages students to let their employer know that school is a priority so the employer can work around the students’ schedules. 

“When you have an off-campus job you meet a lot of community members,” Perrello said. “I feel like when you work on campus you are just meeting other students.”

During her time at DSU, Alumna Kodi Mckinaly worked as a student assistant, a peer coach, Utah Heath Scholars Peer Mentor, and paid internships associated with DSU. Mckinaly said it was convenient to be on campus at all times and suggests students look on Handshake as there are department and college-specific jobs that anyone can apply for. 

“Working on campus allowed me to make and strengthen relationships with students, faculty and staff at DSU,” Mckinaly said. “I learned time management, professionalism, and grew a deeper love for the university. I would highly encourage students to seek employment from any campus facility or organization.” 

Students can register through Handshake. If students have questions, they can visit the Career Services on the fifth floor of the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons building, email [email protected] or call 435-652-7737. 

Rawlinson said, “Go see the opportunities you have and the experiences you’re going to gain.” 

Freshman guide: Tips for great first year

As a new school year begins at Dixie State University, it is expected that first-year freshmen will get lost, confused or feel overwhelmed at some point this semester. Here are five tips and tricks to help, not only the incoming freshmen class but also those who have already attended Dixie State University.

Slow Down

Rachel Stewart, associate academic adviser for College of Health Sciences, said it is good to take your time. Stewart said when she was in school she finished quickly and wished she was more involved in what her school had to offer.

“It’s good to take electives, it’s good to explore things, it’s good to take those extra classes, and it’s not a race,” Stewart said.

Stewart said going to sports events, joining clubs, and being part of student government are a few examples to be more involved at school.

DSU offers courses such as Paddleboard Yoga, Zumba, and Fitness Dancing. These classes are to help ease the load during busy semesters, so students should take one or two if it sounds fun to add to their day.

Manage Your Time

Alumna Madi Wawrzyniak said a planner is her best tip for all students.

“A planner or something equivalent is the best way to stay organized and on top of your classes,” Wawrzyniak said. “Create a habit to write in it each weekend with the assignments for the week and check it daily.”

Writing down tasks and checking them off can help keep you on track. For example, a planner will help to ensure that your assignments are turned in on time by keeping track of due dates.

Take Advantage of Free Resources

Reece Hartman, a junior nursing major from Las Vegas, said the university has free resources that can help with any problem a student will face.

When asked which resource is the best for freshman, Hartman said, “I would say all resources are the best.”

The Academic Performance Center, the Booth Wellness Center, the Writing Center, the Tutoring Center, and the eLAB are locations on campus that help students academically and with personal matters.

Get a Peer Coach

Peer coaches help incoming freshmen, but anyone can go to them. Each freshman starts out their first year in a Trailblazers Connections class, and they all have a peer coach assigned to them.

Hartman, who is a peer coach, said: “We are called your professional friends for a reason. We can help to walk you places and get you where you need to go. We would love to help you out.”

Peer coaches are meant to help with both academic matters and personal matters. They are trained to help lead students in the right direction.

Booth Wellness Center

Staffed with licensed professionals, the Booth Wellness Center has been highly recommended by many people on campus. By utilizing the Booth Wellness Center, you will be assisted in your efforts to work hard.

Stewart said: “The [resource] that pops out to me is probably the Booth Wellness Center because it’s underutilized and it’s probably the most needed. They can help you with home sickness, they can help you with time management, they can help you with pretty much anything. If [freshmen] can tap into that resource I feel like they will be well on their way.”

The Booth Wellness Center helps students with mental health as well as physical health. They also provide health education and prevention services such as suicide prevention, stress management and general wellness.

Instead of feeling lost, confused or scared this semester, take advantage of the resources and services offered on campus. DSU has provided these for your use so you can go through freshman year strong.

Study habits to start the semester off right

Faculty and students at Dixie State University share study habit tips for an easier transition into college.

Ali Threet: Leader among students, faculty

The start of a school year always brings fresh starts, new beginnings, and blazing new trails.

Dixie State University announced its new Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President of student affairs: an advocate and mentor for not only the students but also the faculty and staff at DSU and a dedicated leader amongst everyone who is involved at the DSU campus.

Ali Threet, the new assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students, former executive director of Career Services, begins her new adventure at DSU.

“I have two different jobs: One I get to help oversee a lot of the different offices across campus, and [two] the part that I was the most excited about, is the Dean of Students piece, and what that is is I get to be an advocate for all students,” Threet said.

Threet has experience with DSU Athletics, student leadership groups, the Career Center and more. Through having a wide knowledge of the DSU campus and what it has to offer, Threet has visions for DSU that include each student having the knowledge of the resources on campus.

“There are so many people around campus that really want to help students, and they provide all of these amazing services, but the students don’t even know they’re here or they don’t know who they should contact,” Threet said. “So I can be that person that gets them connected with just the right opportunity or just the right office.”

Threet is connected with a great number of faculty, staff, and students on campus through all of the positions she has had at DSU. She is a leader to everyone she comes in contact with through her way of making everyone feel involved, loved and heard.

Rochelle Blatter, senior career counselor said: “I definitely look to her as a mentor because she sees what your potential and strengths are, and she helps you not only recognize those but also be able to use that. She has the ability to look at students and see where they can go with their potential.”

Threet has spent many years working with people including older adults, middle-aged adults, young adults, and children, but overall her main focus has always been to be an advocate for others. As she continues to create an environment for individuals to feel included and accepted, Threet’s role as the Dean of Students goes hand-in-hand with that.

“She always goes above and beyond for a student and will spend hours trying to get a solution and that they are heard,” said Shane Blocker, interim director of Career Services.

The Atwood Innovation Plaza showcases new patents

The Atwood Innovation Plaza helps Dixie State University students, faculty and community members have access to the resources needed to patent their products.

On bad days all you need is a reminder that everything will be OK. Amber Murray, a St George resident, came to this realization after personally struggling with mental health.

“After personally struggling with suicidal thoughts, I wanted to make a difference,” Murray said.

Murray went to the Atwood Innovation Plaza to receive help from a patent expert, Wayne Provost, founder and director of the Atwood Innovation Plaza Guidance and Solution Center. Murray was able to patent her idea of creating mirror decals that have an array of positive messages. This idea soon turned into the company, See Your Strength.

One See Your Strength mirror decal states: “What is your worry telling you?”

The Atwood Innovation Plaza has created patents from hair curlers and baby products to jewelry and medical products. Alumna Majere Wintch has a product called Oxyswitch — a disposable oxygen valve that allows a seamless switch between oxygen delivery devices by care providers.

“I’m three years into my project and I’ve felt nothing more than consistent partnership, progress and honest good care as we grow this company,” Wintch said. “It’s been a great experience.”

Alumna Deshka Olson was sitting in class one day when her professor mentioned taking products to the Atwood Innovation Plaza if you wanted them to be patented. Olson took multiple ideas to Provost for advice on the best idea. Olson designed and patented the product, No Gag Dip & Dab, which helps to reduce gag reflex.

“Deshka has applied for a world patent status,” Provost said.

With the help of Provost and the Atwood Innovation Plaza team, DSU is able to grow its patent program.

“Innovation is the way life is going right now,” Provost said.

In order to receive a patent, the individual must first sign a non-disclosure agreement.

“It’s not who invented it first, it’s who got their first,” Provost said.

Within two weeks, commercial research is completed and a patent search is done to guarantee the product does not already exist. Provost will then meet with the student again to discuss the idea in more detail and complete a market analysis to see how needed the product is. The prototype is then made in the Makerspace at the Atwood Innovation Plaza.

Provost said: “With the Makerspace, we can do anything we want. We can build almost anything.”

Once the product is approved, the mentors step in for funding, and then the product is taken to a patent attorney. The patent attorney will help to review the product and explain to Patent Office Examiners why it is unique.

Provost said: “You’re gonna fail all the time; anyone who told you they never failed is lying. The students who succeeded with their ideas are the students who are dedicated, they believe in themselves, they believe in their product, and they’re willing to work really hard. If it wasn’t hard everybody would be doing it.”

OPINION | Proposed name is right fit

The proposed new name for Dixie State University is the best thing the school could have done and the community needs to understand that.

In the last five years, DSU has added 111 academic programs, 85% of which are STEM programs. DSU has every right to use “Tech” in the new name because it fits the reputation and image the university is going for. Students and community members should understand that DSU is still growing; it needs this new name to help that process.

For the non-STEM students, it can be a struggle to come to terms with a name that doesn’t seem to represent them. As a non-STEM major myself, it took some time for me to realize what the new name means for me and the university. After thinking about the graduated students who tried to enter the work field and were denied because of the “Dixie” name brought things to light. 

DSU’s graduation rate for the 2020-2021 school year was 36%, which is around the average rate. Employment rates for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher are 87%. Employment rates for DSU could shoot up with the new name because there isn’t a negative connotation connected to it.

It’s hard to think about students being denied a job because of the college they went to, but it’s different in Utah where everyone knows Dixie. Other places won’t be so accepting, but with a name like Utah Tech University, students will have a better chance at finding a job after graduation. 

“If you look at the breadth of degree programs offered at other polytechnic or technology named universities, you would find they are nearly all comprehensive like us but have a name that signals a focused mission as a polytechnic or technology-intensive university,” said Michael Lacourse, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “I believe students in all degree programs will benefit from the new university name and the additional resources that will become available to us.”

Utah Tech University is the kind of name that brings thoughts of professionalism, a chance for students to show that they come from a university that works hard.

In a study conducted by Cicero, results showed that students were struggling to find work outside of Utah because of the “Dixie” name shown on their diplomas. With the new name, students won’t have to worry about that problem in or out of the state. It’s a professional name, which will produce professional students. The workforce will welcome Utah Tech University students instead of turning them away.

“I believe the new university name will set us on a better path to serve the talent needs of the region and therefore make even greater contributions to the economic and social vitality of southern Utah,” Lacourse said.

The new name is supposed to raise the status of the university and it seems like it’s going to do just that. Lacourse said the new name will better position the university to obtain resources which aren’t available with our current name. Those resources will help enhance the degree programs and elevate the academic image and reputation of the university. 

As much as students may think the university went in blindly looking for a name, there was a lot of thought about the reputation and image students would have even after graduating with the DSU name. 

The DSU administration worked hard to bring their reputation up to par and now it’s time to update the name. 

While DSU is undergoing the new name change, the Board of Trustees left a note on the university website explaining the process and hopes for the university. The school still supports the “Dixie” name and will protect the “D” on the hill. DSU has plans to create a special committee to preserve our heritage and maintain traditions. 

The university is still in the early stages of being a polytechnic school, so it’s the perfect time to find a name that better fits the school’s mission. Lacourse said he believes that it will take up to 30 years to fully develop as a polytechnic university, but it’s better to get a head-start on our image before it’s too late to change it.

The Board of Trustees said that of the top 100 rated universities in the U.S., more than 60 include the name of their state and many are technological and polytechnic institutions. Utah Tech University is the name that will push us to greater things. 

As students, we need to think about how we want our future to be after graduation. Do we want to struggle in the work field because of the name on our diploma? Or do we want to thrive with the knowledge that our university did everything it could to make sure we’d have a good future?

Campus View Suites II dedicated

After one year of construction, the Dixie State University administration dedicated the newest, largest on-campus student housing, Campus View Suites ll on Aug. 26.

The 144,897 square foot building houses 534 beds and contains 182 toilets. The facility offers ample opportunities for students to make friends and socialize with their peers at the barbeque, hammock garden, shaded area, and additions to the basketball and pickleball courts previously built with Campus View Suites I.

The building contains a common kitchen and large laundry room on each floor, a fitness room, a bicycle storage room, and study areas.

Dixie State University President Richard “Biff” Williams said the design team created the hammock garden after the plethora of hammocks hung by students on their balconies after Campus View Suites I was built.

The suites have a combination of private bedrooms, double bedrooms and semi-private bedrooms.

Williams said the university was in high demand for more student housing because as the student body grows, the housing needs to grow with it. The university resources and social life is also more accessible to students who live on campus. 

“We want to make sure we have a place for freshmen, so they can connect better with the university,” Williams said. “As we have evolved as a university, we try to make sure we provide opportunities for students to live on campus.”

Williams added that the graduation rate is higher among students who live on campus compared to those who live off-campus.

Dixie State University Board of Trustees member Tiffany Wilson said one of her concerns is students’ mental health, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I believe this type of housing is exactly what our students need to find the support and friendships they have been missing and longing for during this difficult time we have all been experiencing,” Wilson said. “I foresee many vicious card games and burnt dinners and lots of laughing to be had in these beautiful apartments.”

Carlos Plummer, a junior film major from Cambria, California, who is also a resident of Campus View Suites II, said living on campus from the start of his college career has provided him with a sense of belonging and a sense of connection to campus that he would not have felt otherwise.

The challenges the construction team ran into along the way did not stop the production time. Construction Manager Brian McBeth said the construction team ran into struggles like pricing increases, catastrophic weather, delays at shipping ports, trucking shortages, and covid-related illnesses keeping workers off the site.

“Any one of these challenges could have been detrimental on its own to the success of any project,” McBeth said. “As a team, we were able to be successful and work through solutions to design and build this beautiful housing facility and make sure it was completed on time and within budget.”

Seth Gubler, director of housing and resident life said during the construction of Campus View Suites I, he thought the challenge would be to build in one year, but the pandemic brought on a new level of challenges that the university administration and the construction and design team had to overcome.

“New housing has much more significance than just accomodating more students,” Williams said. “Students will build meaningful relationships, study for tests, they’ll laugh, they’ll cry, they’ll possibly meet their future significant partner, and so much more.”

A time capsule will be available in the lobby of Campus View Suites II throughout the day for students to place items in that will be opened 30 years from now. 

OPINION | Students should still have option to attend class through Zoom

Dixie State University students should still be able to attend classes through Zoom, even though the university is holding in-person classes.

DSU is bringing students back into the classroom after over a year of hy-flex learning, leaving students unsure if Zoom will remain an option or a thing of the past.

As the university returns to an in-person teaching format, the question remains: should students still have the option to attend school through Zoom? 

During the height of COVID-19, students had become accustomed to attending class through Zoom. Some students enjoyed the flexibility of attending their classes from the comfort of their beds, while others felt they were missing out on personal connections with their professors.

Zoom provides students with the ability to attend class anywhere, whether it’s from their bed or at a coffee shop. Life happens and sometimes students aren’t able to attend class in person, but with Zoom, students don’t have to worry that they’re missing out on class discussions or assignments. 

When I couldn’t attend a class in person last semester because I was flying home for spring break, Zoom allowed me to attend my class at the airport. I was still able to engage in discussions with my professor and classmates even though I wasn’t in the classroom. 

Allowing students to still use Zoom, even with in-person classes, also makes education more accessible to students with disabilities. As a student with a disability, it can be difficult for me to attend class in person when I’m experiencing fatigue from medications or treatments. Zoom has allowed me and other students with disabilities to stay engaged in class work when we can’t attend class due to poor physical health

Nicholas Gelbar, an associate research professor at the Neag School of Education, recently co-authored a study examining how students with disabilities have adjusted to an online learning format.

“What we found is that the students said there were things that were kind of advantageous and there were things that were harder in the online environment,” Gelbar stated. “[Students with disabilities] found the learning management systems accessible.”

DSU professors and administrators have expressed previous concerns that hybrid learning isn’t as effective as in-person instruction. As classes return to an in-person format, professors and administrators may be worried students will choose to attend their classes remotely rather than showing up to class in person. While I understand the concern, my friends and classmates have expressed a desire to attend their classes in person as opposed to an online format.

Hannah Kenrick, a junior digital film major from Hartland, Michigan, said she prefers interacting with her professors and classmates in person rather than attending her classes through Zoom. Kenrick said she has a harder time paying attention when her classes are held over Zoom.

“I prefer, for my own learning, in-person [classes], but I think that there’s a lot of students who really need the Zoom alternative,” Kenrick said.

Zoom has proven to be an important tool in the classroom, even though students and professors at DSU have expressed a preference for an in-person teaching format. Despite this preference, DSU students should still have the choice to attend class through Zoom when necessary. Giving students the option to attend class over Zoom doesn’t mean they can skip out on in-person instruction, as professors could still limit how many days a student can attend class via Zoom.

Remote learning options including Zoom are not a replacement for in-person instruction; however, when urgent, personal circumstances or disabilities arise that make in-person attendance difficult, DSU professors should allow students the ability to attend class through Zoom to keep them engaged in their education.

Megan Treanor awarded WAC preseason player

A new fall semester is back on campus at Dixie State University, but for Megan Treanor, a senior communication/media studies major from Salem Hills, this semester comes unprecedented as she was recently awarded an all-WAC preseason player. This award is only earned by 14 other players throughout the conference.

“The first time I actually saw [I won the award] was on Instagram when one of our trainers reposted it,” Treanor said. “I was excited; I definitely wasn’t expecting it and was very humbled.”

In the 2020 season, Treanor co-led the WAC in aces (25), finished top 5 in the conference in kills (171), and top 15 in the conference in assists, digs, and blocks.

“[Treanor] is a dynamic player,” first-year head coach Camilla Hafoka said. “When opposing teams scout or watch film on Dixie State, they are all going to say ‘Oh, it’s Megan Treanor.’”

Treanor’s legacy at DSU is cemented and backed up by the record books. Treanor is entering the season third in DSU history for total kills (715), fourth in kills/set (2.98), seventh in blocks (718), block assists (168), and solo blocks (19).

“Last year wasn’t my best, but I had some games where I showed what I can do and the potential I had,” Treanor said. “I think the [award] was given to me because they saw the type of player I was capable of becoming.”

With 22 scheduled games left in Treanor’s career, it can be expected for her to continue climbing the leaderboards and winning more awards; however, Treanor credited everyone but herself when asked about why she felt she won the award.

“My coaches, trainers and teammates have pushed me to be my best every single day, and this award goes to them just as much as it does to me,” Treanor said. “I can’t thank anyone more than them and my family for this.”

As the Trailblazers take the court Aug. 27, they will face the Boise State Broncos at the helm of coach Camilla Hafoka. This is Hafoka’s first year as head coach for the Trailblazers but has been an assistant coach for the previous two seasons.

“As I went from an assistant coach to a head coach, there were some things I wanted to come in and change,” Hafoka said. “I wanted to keep some of the things that Robin Felder, [DSU volleyball coach 20’] had, but also change to make it my culture.”

Adjustments include a change in mindset from thinking of themselves as a DII player to now a DI player who can compete, matching the mindset that DI programs have, and changing the culture of what they could get away with at the DII level but can no longer get away with at DI level.

“One of the biggest things I wanted to accomplish during fall camp was to get [the players] to believe [they can compete] at the DI level,” Hafoka said. “I can believe in you all day long, but if you don’t believe in yourself, there is really nothing that can be done about that.”

Lizzy Clark, a senior exercise science major from Sandy, gave insight into what this pre-season has looked like and how the transition has gone.

“It’s been really nice to have [coach Hafoka] already here last year, so it wasn’t so much as getting used to a new face,” Clark said. “[Hafoka] has been extremely supportive, but she also is making sure she’s not making it easy for us.”

The Trailblazers must hit the ground running as they are competing against nationally recognized schools in the preseason. Teams like Boise State University, Michigan State University, and Brigham Young University are all foes who cross the Trailblazers’ path before WAC play begins.

“We’ve been progressing really well,” Clark said. “We are playing a lot of good teams which are nationally recognized, which we see as an awesome opportunity for us to get better in preparation for conference play.”