Music Was Made for Houston by Noelli De La Cruz

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Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) Musical Performance Program and Sr. Dorothy Stang Center came together to hold a benefit concert to fundraise money for Hurricane Harvey relief on September 16, 2017.

On August 25, 2017 a catastrophic hurricane hit Texas killing 70 people. Not only was Texas affected by this hurricane, but the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky were affected as well. According to the National Weather Service, Harvey’s tropical storm poured “51.88 inches of rain, passing the 50 inch measured single-storm rainfall record for the continental US”. Consequently, this flooded one-third of Houston, Texas and parts of other states affected by the hurricane.

As reported by Kimberly Amadeo in a news article written in The Balance, a personal finance website, hurricane Harvey damaged 203,000 homes, destroyed 12,700, and left 250,000 people without power. 75 schools were temporarily closed due to flooding. 1,000,000 vehicles were completely destroyed, and 800 wastewater treatment facilities and 13 Superfund sites were flooded. This caused sewage and toxic chemicals to spread to the flooded areas.

“It’s awful that Texas has to go through another damaging hurricane and to think about all the families that lost everything is heartbreaking” said senior Erika Mendoza.

Thus citizens, organizations, and business have stepped up and donated money for Harvey relief. Many have partnered up with Crowdrise, an online fundraising platform for nonprofits. Organizations have sent food and other supplies for kids, seniors, and pets who were affected by the hurricane.

Notre Dame de Namur University did not stay behind. NDNU joined the relief wagon and hosted a benefit concert at the Taube Center on September 16.

“The idea for a benefit concert was proposed by Debra Lambert the Musical Arts Department Chair, and now with a collaboration of the Sr. Dorothy Stang Center, Musical Arts Department, Office of Spirituality, and Art Therapy Departments we have joined forces to put on this benefits concert Saturday night” says an NDNU graduate intern Alec Heiner.

20 people from the Musical Performance faculty, alumni, students, and guest sang around 25 songs. Heiner said they didn’t have a goal in mind of how much they wanted to raise. They just encouraged everyone to donate because every little bit counts.

However, Sr. Dorothy Stang Center was grateful to announce that they raised over $1000. Vanessa Jimenez, senator of the Education and Psychology Department, said that they choose to give the money to the Red Cross and United Way as well because she has worked with them in the past and they were supportive to local communities.

“I’m glad that as a community, NDNU [did] something to help out. We would want the same support if we were in their shoes” said senior Fabiola Malfabon.

The Music performance Program and everyone who helped plan this event are grateful to all who donated. They encourage those who can and couldn’t make it to the concert to donate to the United Way Worldwide and the American Red Cross via https://www.redcross.org/donate/cm/stangcenter-pub.

Fire in the Gorge by Alex Ellifritz

One of Oregon’s most frequently-visited places, the Columbia River Gorge caught fire over the Labor Day weekend, due to a 15 year old boy’s extreme negligence. The wildfire covered 35,600 acres and just 11 percent is contained as of September 20. The night of September 10, the fire jumped the Columbia River Gorge. Sparking the smaller Archer Mountain fire in Washington state.

This is not Oregon’s largest wildfire – the 177,000 acre Chetco Bar fire is – the Eagle Creek fire stands out due to the fact that it’s so close to a major urban area. The Gorge is a treasured place. “It’s where I had my first hike, it’s also a place where many people have gotten engaged, also a place where many people have enjoyed their final moments,” said Jacob McFarland, a sophomore from Portland, Oregon. Nationally, people are the cause of over 84 percent of wildfires according to oregonlive.com. In the Pacific Northwest, human caused wildfires happen near the major metropolitan regions of Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.

The Eagle Creek fire now covers almost 35,600 acres and is 11 percent contained a jump in both acreage and containment from last week. The acreage growth is due to natural progression of the blaze. Firefighters can’t access parts of the fire that are burning in hazardous terrain, so they’re praying for some rain. The seven-day forecast shows rain is anticipated early next week in the western Columbia River Gorge. A half to 1 inch is expected to fall in the western gorge late Sunday night through Tuesday. A lot of areas that have burned, will recover from the fire within a couple years. In other areas, the signs of the blaze will remain for a bit longer. Tivoli Sisco, a senior said she has vacationed in Hood River with her family and hiked the gorge and visited a bunch of waterfalls, which were all very beautiful, but she is sad to know, “it’s never going to quite match those memories again.”

Well-intentioned efforts to help replant and rebuild the Columbia River Gorge are popping up on social media. But the U.S. Forest Service is warning that those efforts could end up doing more harm than good. It may not be safe to go into some of these areas for quite some time. The Forest Service is asking the public to stay out of the Gorge, not only for now but for weeks after the fire stops burning. Hillsides will remain unstable and dangerous. Justin Eggimann, a junior from Oregon said, “as soon as they give the okay to start replanting the Gorge I will be there to help because its very sad to watch things go.”

Graduation is Upon Us by Tamara Qutmiera

Graduation is finally upon us, and as someone who is finally walking that stage this coming May, I can honestly say that the stress, anxiety, and excitement is hitting at full force. I feel that I can speak for the graduating class when I say that this moment, the moment we walk across that never-ending platform and get handed our diploma, will be one of the most fulfilling moments in our lives. We all began school at the young age of four or five, continued onto elementary school, then middle school, and eventually high school. And, finally after years of being told that you had to study hard so you can go to good college and make something of yourself, you finally did. We have spent twenty plus years working towards receiving this diploma that our parents, society, and even ourselves, felt that we needed to succeed. Now, in less than three weeks, we will finally have accomplished this lengthy quest, but…then what?

 

Everyone asks you, “What are your plans for after graduation? Do you plan on traveling? Do you have any jobs lined up? Are you excited?” And after the hundredth time of being asked the same thing, you almost want to scream “I DON’T KNOW! LET ME BE!” but you quietly refrain and answer nicely. Now some people may actually know the answer to all those questions, and others, like myself, may have absolutely no idea. Regardless, we are all about to be thrown into the “real” world and live adult lives. No more school (unless you are choosing to go to grad school right away), no more designed schedules, no more syllabus, no more role call, no more finals, no more of anything in the realm of what we have been so accustomed to doing every year. We are done. It is now time for us to shape our own futures. We have to get jobs, move out, be independent, start investing in our 401k, and all that grown up stuff. I think we are all ready to do these things, the hardest part is just figuring out where to start.

 

I believe, and I’m sure most will agree with me, that the most stressful part about graduating is trying to find a job in the field in which you studied. To find a job that pays well, offers benefits, and security. You hear horror stories of people not finding jobs for a long time after graduation, and if they do they’re not in their field. You also hear stories of people who already have jobs lines up before graduation in their preferred line of work. It truly is all about luck, and who you know. Which I believe NDNU did a great job of setting up students with professors who have helped them find internships, as well as job opportunities, in their fields. But, there are instances where this isn’t the case for some students, some departments aren’t as strong as others when it comes to helping set up students with life after graduation.

 

“I am ready and happy for the next chapter in my life. I feel confident about what’s to come next. I just have to find what I’m really good at and stay focused on becoming even better. And, regarding NDNU helping set up students with internships and work in their designated fields, I personally had great experiences with this. I had professors help me find great internships and jobs, as well as set me up with people that will connect me with more job opportunities after graduation. That being said, I feel that other students that aren’t communications or business majors don’t get offered the resources we do. Which is a bummer because then they don’t get the same opportunities and help they need in order to succeed,” said senior Brandon Davis.

 

For those going onto grad school, the hardest part will be dealing with learning incredibly advanced information, working on your dissertation, all while balancing a job and bills. The road after graduation will not be “easy” for anyone regardless of if you already have a job lined up for you after May, or if you are financially unbothered and just ready to go onto post-grad. This is going to be another adventure full of life lessons, ups and down, memories and hopefully, success.
“I have a bunch of emotions going through my mind thinking about graduations, but I am excited. Closing one door and opening another. This time next year nothing will be the same, so I am living in the moment and being thankful for all that I have, where I am and how far I’ve come,” stated senior Angelica Perales.

Trump Response to Syrian Chemical Attack by Tamara Qutmiera

On April 4, 2017, Syrian President Bashar Assad, launched a chemical attack on Syrians, killing 86 people. In response, President Trump ordered a missile strike against Syria on Thursday, April 6, saying, “no child of God should ever suffer.”

The 59 missiles, fired from the destroyers USS Porter and Ross in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, struck the airfield where Syria based the warplanes used in the chemical attack, according to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. Although many missiles were fired, the impact on the base was minimal and only a couple planes destroyed. But, it is still unclear on whether or not there were civilian or military causalities.

The attack, the first conventional assault on another country ordered by Trump, comes a day after he declared that the chemical weapons assault had “crossed many, many lines,” including causing the deaths of 27 children.

“Ever time America gets involved in anything regarding the Middle East, we just make the situation for the people involved, much worse. Even though what Syria’s government is doing to its people is unlawful, inhumane, and downright disgusting, we shouldn’t involve ourselves unless we are there to make a positive difference. Which isn’t usually the case when we do go overseas, so we need to just learn to stay put,” said senior Justine Roland.

From his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump said that Syrian President Bashar Assad, “Launched a horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent. Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered at this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.

“Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said.

But the strikes represented not only an escalation of the US role in Syria, but could have a ripple effect on the US’ relations with the Syrian regime’s powerful backer, Russia.

“I find it incredibly terrifying that we are involving ourselves once again with a war that isn’t ours to fight, especially considering the simple fact that we aren’t helping the Syrian people, rather we are making things more difficult. But now with this missile launch that Trump launched, who knows how strained our relationship with Russia and Syria now is, and what is going to happen next. Many believe that there may be a war coming soon, and that’s not a too farfetched assumption,” said junior Sam Rupel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the US airstrikes on Syria as an act of aggression against a sovereign state that “dealt a serious blow to Russia-US relations,” according to a Kremlin statement. Russia said it believed Syria had destroyed all of its chemical weapons and the US strikes were based on a “far-fetched pretext.”

Regarding Trumps’ decision to interfere with the Syria conflict, Senator Rand Paul called on Trump to consult on Congress when a major decision like this is made, which didn’t happen this time around. “While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked,” Paul said. “The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate.”

Virtual Reality by Tamara Qutmiera

The stuff you would dream about as a child is now tangible. Yes, you can put on a virtual reality headset and enter another world (you can even do so at the NDNU student success center). Yes, there are a multitude of VR video games in which you can get lost. But when will we see more of VR TV?

In December 2016, TV channel Showcase announced a new innovative show, Halcyon, which will combine VR elements with a typical TV show. Made up of 10 short-form webisodes and five interactive VR episodes, Halcyon will be an interactive police procedural, with a little twist, so the viewer can be apart of the show through virtual reality. 

The game is set in the year 2040 and the series focuses on Blake Creighton. Users can discard the VR headset and access virtual space using neurological implants that manipulate the senses to create a virtual world. So when the main character, Blake Creighton, is found dead and presumed murdered, Detective Jules Dover and her partner, Asha, investigate if this could be the world’s first virtual murder.

And that’s where the adventure begins. In Halcyon‘s VR episodes, you’re able to transport to the actual crime scene in VR and partake in the criminal investigation into Creighton’s death. You can move around the room, collect evidence, interact with objects and dust for fingerprints, looking for clues to help solve the crime. If you ever wanted to transport into a TV show, now’s your chance.

“I think this is incredibly interesting and pretty cool, but people need to remember that they still need to go outside and enjoy life. It’s kind of scary how quickly technology is evolving, and thinking about what the world is going to be like in 10-2o years, is terrifying. When it’s all said and done, I just hope people are still going to be able to interact with one another face to face and not have to hide behind a screen,” said Junior Victoria Mantler.

The catch is that this experience is only available for Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus. In other words, you need to have a Samsung phone and an Oculus VR set to participate.

If you are interested in the virtual reality world, and want to give it a try before considering purchasing, you can do so here at NDNU, and free of charge! At the student success center, students that work there are more than willing to show you how it’s done. There is a wide variety of virtual reality sets including the oculus rift, htc vive, hololense, and zSpace. Basically, any type of VR set you’d dream of giving a go, is available.

At the student success center you have the option of trying out the many different things that virtual reality has to offer. Video games (yes they have shooting ones), obstacles that test your biggest fears (such as heights, the dark, claustrophobic settings, etc.), you can travel the world and really feel like you’re there, play basketball with Lebron James, and more.

“VR is the new wave because quite a few jobs are requiring you to be familiar with the technology. And, the coolest thing about it is that this is just the beginning. Lord knows what this technology will be like five years from now! So my job as the VR/AR coordinator, is to get people into the student success center and show them all the opportunities that can come from such advanced technology, and to help them get familiar with it,” said Senior Brandon Davis.

How the Internet is Affecting Students According to Them by Noah Sanchez

With laptops, iPads, and all other types of technology that has been created in this generation, education has changed according to the students themselves.

“All of my homework needs to be done on the computer whether it is typing an essay or doing homework via a website online. I genuinely do not think I could pass any of my classes without my computer or the internet. Although with all of my social media applications, I do sometimes get distracted, but for the most part, I am very thankful for the technology in our day and age just because of everything it does for us. It does have some down sides, but those are definitely outweighed by all of the positive things about it,” said sophomore biology major, Keyanna Henderson.

When asked, “Would you be able to complete any of courses without your computer,”  sophomore, Emma Keller said, “Definitely not.” “Almost all of my courses require it and even the ones that do not, I would still need to be able to access my email online to keep in touch with my professors. Even with some of my art courses where my projects are usually done on paper, I still use the internet sometimes if I need to search things to gain inspiration.”

According to a New York Times article,Technology and the college Generation (2013), a sophomore at Fordham University in New York, names Morgan Judge said she thought it was “cool” last semester when a professor announced that students could text him. “This is a benefit because although we have email, text message is a much faster way to get into contact with our professors if we have a very urgent question that can not wait. Personally speaking from experience from having a professor who gave out her cell phone number, I found this very effective and actually found myself using her number multiple times during the semester,” said freshman psychology major, Stephen Mau.

According to Eric Stoller, who consults with universities on social media and communication, said schools often have outsize expectations for students when it comes to all things tech. “We have this perception that because students are fluent with things like smartphones and downloading music that they are born with chips embedded in them that make them technology wizards,” he said. “They are no better at managing e-mail than anyone else.” (Rubin, “Technology and the College Generation”)

Freshman, Selina Cardoza stated, “Without technology, we would not be able to contact our professors within a timely manner if the occasion is truly urgent and frankly, we also would not be able to get a majority, if any of our work done. The influx of technology of our generation has greatly helped the education system and well as students, as long as they stay focused.”

Updated “Muslim Ban” by Tamara Qutmiera

President Trump issued a replacement executive order in response to the protests and utter displeasure the people have shown regarding the original Muslim ban, which was executed on January 27, 2017. The original order barred all immigration for ninety days from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The new ban, which will be implemented on March 16, bars immigration from six of the original seven.

Iraq was removed from the list because government officials were worried the U.S. had jeopardized our relationship with Iraq, an important US ally. The new order does not bar lawful permanent residents and others from those six countries that have been granted visas. It applies only to those seeking new visas. Where the initial order suspended refugee admissions from Syria indefinitely, and from all other countries for one hundred twenty days, the new order subjects Syrian refugees to the same suspension as everyone else.

Some of the commentary regarding the new order has suggested that these minimal changes have made it less vulnerable to legal challenge. It won’t go into effect until March 16, but it’s believed that it shouldn’t cause the same chaos we saw at airports the weekend the first order was signed. The decision to exempt current visa-holders also means that the order does not strip individuals in the US of rights previously granted to them, as the first order did.

“I don’t believe that this new order will just fly unnoticed. People are going to be just as outraged and disappointed with the Trump administration this time around, as they were with the first order. It is still a ban that is wrongfully targeting Muslims, no matter how they want to frame it,” said Senior Danielle Jones.

Furthermore, the new order eliminates a provision in the first order that made a case-by-case exemption from the refugee ban available for persons of “minority” faiths in their country of origin, a provision Trump admitted was designed to favor Christian refugees. The new executive order, however, retains a case-by-case exemption authority, so the government could still indeed favor Christian refugees in practice.

“The countries on this list aren’t even the countries in which terrorists, that have caused harm in America, have derived from. The list is completely unjustified and if Trump were really doing this to “keep America safe” then he would have included other countries not the ones on this executive order,” said Senior Jessica Long.

The new order still shares the central defect of its predecessor. Removing Iraq from the list still leaves six countries, all of whose populations are at least 90 percent Muslim. And all the evidence that pointed to the illegal intent underlying the first order applies with equal force to the second order. The administration maintains, as it did with the first, that the order is justified by national security concerns, but that justification is not universally accepted.  

“There are many other ways to keep this country safe, this ban isn’t going to be doing that, if anything it will cause rifts and problems with these people who have never wronged us,” Said Senior Jessica Long.