Category Archives: Commentary

Western community begins to move mountains

Students and faculty showed up to SGA’s Inclusion Walk

Roberta Marquette-Strain / Senior Staff Writer

For the past two months, the Student Government Association (SGA) has been preparing for the Inclusion Walk to kick-off their new student-led program, Moving Mountains. The Moving Mountains Initiative aims to create a stronger community on campus by focusing on inclusivity and acceptance, while also challenging students to partake in tough conversations dealing with race, sexual orientation, and other topics.

The Inclusion Walk did just that.

Inclusion 4 – The crowd poses for a photo after the walk. Photo by Roberta-Marquette

Held in the Mountaineer Field House on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 22, around 100 students and faculty members showed up to stand for inclusion on campus. Following an introduction and explanation of Moving Mountains by SGA President Flynn Guerrieri, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Melanie Hulbert gave a speech focused on the importance of understanding one’s identity as well as accepting others’ identity. “Western, it is wise to see people for who they are, to acknowledge that people’s experience may be different than yours. It is wise to feel uncomfortable and push yourself into place, with people that look different than you, that speak different, that think different.”

Hulbert touched on her own experience with learning to push herself to be more understanding of others’ backgrounds and open to difficult conversations. She referred to herself as a “recovering racist.”

Inclusion 5 – Bobbie Hamblin signs her name to the One Western poster. Photo by Roberta Marquette-Strain

“I’m still trying to unlearn those messages that whether consciously or not, got deep into my brain as a little child,” Hulbert said honestly. “I’m still trying to learn what it means to think in a diverse and inclusive way.”

Hulbert ended her speech by asking the crowd what kind of ancestor they want be, and what legacy they want to leave behind for future Western students. For Hulbert, she hoped that the Inclusion Walk would set the foundation for the future of a more inclusive, diverse, and accepting campus.

When the time for the inclusion walk came, where the attendees walked twice around the track, Hulbert asked them to talk and walk beside someone they didn’t know and most importantly, didn’t look like them.

When discussing the purpose of the Inclusion Walk, Hulbert said, “(We will walk) to give expression to our desire that at Western, we will work everyday to fight hate and encourage open conversation about race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, political identity. We will walk because we are a community committed to inclusion and respect and that we will do anything we can to break down the walls or barriers that stand between us. That’s an inclusion walk.”

After the walk, the attendees got to have some fun on the inflatables SGA provided. Some students went head to head on an obstacle course while other, more daring students went for a ride on a mechanical bull.

Clubs like Spectrum, which is the LGBT+ group, and Program Council had booths at the event to talk to attendees about what their clubs do to support an inclusive campus.

Students Ethan Menzies and Ariana Sorensen were interested in the event because of its focus on inclusivity, but also to come together to help build a stronger community. “It’s an event that has meaning, and the goal is to get people together to create a better environment we want to live in,” Menzies said.

Sorensen agreed, adding, “I feel like this is a good step towards making progress.”

SGA member Ashley Nguyen was required to come, but said she would have come anyway if she wasn’t a part of SGA to meet new people and help set the foundation for a more inclusive campus. Nguyen is also a member of the Asian Pacific Islanders club, which is associated with the Multicultural Center (MCC). For her, inclusion is incredibly important, and she has had personal experiences of being excluded, “I went to an all-white high school, so growing up I always felt not included, and honestly not important. But coming here and starting fresh and being a part of the MCC, I feel like I belong and have a place on campus. I’m very excited to see what (Moving Mountains) will do.”

Inclusion 7 – Members of the Pathfinder magazine painted a mural during the event. Photo by Roberta-Marquette

Following the impressive turnout for the event, Guerrieri is looking forward to what comes of the program in the future, and hopes to see it continue for many years to come.  

The Inclusion Walk was considered successful by the SGA members, but they recognize that this is just the first step. In her own speech, Hulbert acknowledged this as well, and pushed the students to continue to lend their voices to fight discrimination, color blindness, and so on. Because before the Western community can move mountains, they have to move stones first.

Transportation Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Students in Southwest Colorado ride buses across the state to get to their sporting events.  Business owners travel miles and miles on our highways to haul goods and visit other regions. Tourists depend on safe roads to drive to our scenic towns. Moms and dads are spending more and more time on the road just to get to and from work.

While Colorado’s population has grown by 53 percent since 1990, highway lane miles have grown by just two percent. At the state legislature, everyone seems to agree that we need to do something about Colorado transportation, but the solutions differ. Some legislators are pushing the conversation toward bonds, while others have focused on new revenue.

Bonds can be an important tool, but we have to make sure we can pay back that debt. The problem with bonds is that without a clearly identified funding stream to pay off the bonds, we could end up robbing our schools to pay for our roads. Club 20, a collection of businesses and communities on the Western Slope, has made it clear that they will not support bonding legislation unless there is a dedicated source of revenue to pay for it.

A gas tax has been recommended as a revenue stream to pay for projects and maintenance. The gas tax, which has been set at 22 cents since 1991, makes up the largest portion of revenue from within the state.  

Unfortunately, changes in vehicles have made this tax less fair and less uniform in effect. The popularity of alternative fuel vehicles in the city means that drivers who depend on more traditional vehicles for agricultural and industrial work end up paying more. A Prius and an old Dodge pickup both tear up the roads they use, but only one of the drivers is really picking up the bill.

Some transportation gurus offer up a more precise road usage tax. This would involve collecting data and information about every driver’s habits in the state. Without a 24/7 GPS transmitter in every vehicle you can’t discount out-of-state miles, and that’s obviously an issue for Durango. But such a system raises serious privacy concerns.

An increase in the state sales tax may provide a reliable revenue source that doesn’t leave rural Coloradans paying more for less. But sales taxes are regressive, meaning they hit low-income families the hardest. And we must consider the impact this could have on our businesses and tourism industry.

If and when we have to vote on a new source of transportation funding, we will have to weigh all the costs and benefits of our different options. Bonds, the gas tax, and sales tax have to be understood not just in terms of what they do, but how they work in relation to each other.

We need dependable transportation funding so that we can address our broad array of needs. It’s not just about highways and safe shoulders for mountain roads, but about bike paths and public transit. We need the kinds of transportation that give people access to jobs and make our choices more sustainable for the environment.

I’m interested in what you think!

Barbara.mclachlan.house@state.co.us

Coming together for the environment

MEM program hosts panel discussion

Jeremy Wallace / Staff Writer

Coldharbour Institute executive director Suzanne Ewy discusses the important role of non profits in environmental action at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colo. during a panel discussion Wednesday, January 18.

The Master in Environmental Management Program at Western hosted a panel discussion Wednesday, Jan. 18 in the University Center ballroom. The panel was comprised of local experts in the fields of energy, public lands, agriculture, and more, with over 16 speakers in total. Titled “United with Our Environment: where we are now, the new administration, and the future,” topics discussed by speakers tied in to the current change in political climate and what it means for the future of environmental policy and activism.

“We wanted to create a space where we could have constructive conversations around what the environment meant for us and our community,” said MJ Pickett, MEM student and event organizer.

A small group engages in discussion at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colo. during a Master in Environmental Management panel discussion Wednesday, January 18.

The ballroom was nearly full with Western students, members of the local community, and those interested in environmental happenings. The night opened with refreshments and a panel introduction by Gillian Rossi before the audience split into different tables by topic.

“These discussions are great to bring us together; I like seeing my community all in one place,” said MEM student Phil Keim.

Attendees had the opportunity to converse with experts in specific fields, and engage with one another in a constructive, educational setting. In addition to bringing everyone up to speed, solutions to current problems were pondered and ideas shared, along with a few light hearted political jokes.

“I was curious about the conversations that would be happening, especially after the election,” said ENVS student Jared Cohn. “It was interesting to hear what people think might happen.”

The night concluded with a representative from each table presenting their key discussion points to the group as a whole, and a standing ovation from Coldharbour Institute executive director Suzanne Ewy, “You students are the future; we will be alright.”

The MEM program has plans to continue with similar discussions, along with a film series and other events. Check the calendar at www.western.edu for more information.

Film Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Sci-Fi prequel has some issues, but offers an optimistic start for spin off series.

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a prequel to the original 1977 Star Wars film and the first spin-off film in the long-running series. Directed by Gareth Edwards and starring an ensemble cast including Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, and Forest Whitaker, the film was released by Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm Ltd. on Dec. 16, 2016. The film also notably features the likeness of the late Peter Cushing digitally recreated onto actor Guy Henry as the character Grand Moff Tarkin.

The events of the story, set immediately before A New Hope, follows the efforts of the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans to the Empire’s Death Star battlestation. When the weapon’s designer leaks information out to a guerilla cell, the Rebellion recruits his fugitive daughter, Jyn Erso, to aid a team intent on discovering the plans before it is too late.

What the film accomplishes above all else is to inspire a message of hope in its theme. This is particularly prominent in how the Death Star’s architect, Galen Erso, demonstrates in a rather well acted scene how being forced to build a terrible weapon took him to some dark places, and yet he never gave up trying to impede the Empire’s progress. Even some of the smaller moments, such as Chirrut’s belief in the Force despite not having it, and the protagonists defying orders to do the right thing, can bring out a small bit of appreciation in the viewer.

Additionally, the film has some pretty fun characters sprinkled throughout, accompanied by some great performances by the actors involved. While the main protagonists of Jyn and Cassian are relatable, if underdeveloped, it is the characters of K-2SO, Chirrut, and Director Krennic that truly stand out. Played by great actors who give the characters a lot of wit and personality, these characters steal every scene they are in and are bound to command the viewer’s attention to the screen whenever they are present.

Finally, the film has probably some of the most spectacular action and set pieces displayed in a Star Wars film. Aside from the dazzling effects, the action scenes carry with them a crisp image with clear movement without throwing too many details into the viewers face at once. This is best expressed in the climatic showdown at the end of the film, where a land and space battle are both depicted, but both sides are shown to be interconnected in a race against time to grab the Death Star plans. As a result, the battle is intense and fast paced while throwing some creative moments in during the ride, which will leave those craving the action parts of the film very satisfied.

While a fun time to be had overall, the film does have some issues regarding character development, alongside a few questionable special effects amidst the otherwise all-star action. With the characters, while they are all fun and interesting, not all of them get development and some of them feel heavily underused. Jyn for example, has an interesting backstory and is appealing as a fighter, but sort of easily becomes a Rebel aside from a few small moments of resistance, which makes it feel rather rushed.

On the other hand, there are some characters who feel outright neglected. Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed’s Saw Gerrera and Bodhi Rook in particular suffer heavily from this, as both characters have really interesting backstories as a rebel extremist and a defected Imperial pilot with the jitters. Nonetheless, Saw has very little screen time and a comically over the top performance that feels out of place in the otherwise serious tone of the film, while Bodhi is mostly in the background, which feels like a tremendous waste of interesting story opportunities.

Aside from characterization problems, the film suffers from a fairly slow and confusing first act. Without the opening crawl traditional to the series, the film has a large amount of exposition given while jumping around from planet to planet. As a result, this can feel rather disorienting and will feel unfairly punishing to those that do not pay attention.

The biggest element of the movie that could throw off a viewer, however, is the computer animation used to revive the character of Grand Moff Tarkin, whose actor Peter Cushing had died over twenty years ago. While the effects are rather impressive, the fact it is still a different person having animation pasted over his face is still somewhat disconcerting and raises an ethical dilemma on whether or not dead actors should be revived. Consequently, the viewer may feel uneasy whenever Tarkin is on screen in an uncanny way the filmmakers probably did not intend to have happen.

Overall, the film does have some serious flaws that prevent it from being perfect or excellent, but is still highly serviceable as an above average time at the movies. The action is quite compelling and the characters are fun, if underdeveloped, while the events of the film will compel the viewer to consider watching Star Wars again. It’s not film of the year material, but it is a fun time to be had nonetheless and will hopefully leave the audience satisfied with their ticket purchases.

Film Review: The Secret Life of Pets

Animated adventure looks fun, but doesn’t break new ground for animation

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

The Secret Life of Pets offers up the entertaining premise of what pets do when their human owners aren’t around. Unfortunately, while there is some fun to be had, the film never fully delivers on the potential it offers to the audience. Starring a voice cast that includes Louis C.K, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, and Jenny Slate, the animated film by Illumination Entertainment was released on July 8, 2016 and is due to hit home media platforms on December 6.

The film centers on a Jack Russel Terrier named Max, whose comfortable life is flipped on its head when his owner buys a mongrel named Duke. When the rivalry between the two causes them to get lost in New York City, they must work together alongside other pets from their neighborhood to return home while avoiding the deranged Snowball, a rabbit who leads an army of stray animals.

If there is one thing that stands above all else in this film, the animation is extremely well done. The fur on the animals pops out and the skyline of New York is very detailed and looks accurate. Additionally, there is a certain energy to the animation that is highlighted during the animals’ interactions with their environment and each other.

The voice cast of the film manages to do fine with the material they are given. Louis C.K. and Stonestreet manage to play off each other very well and are likeable in their performances as Max and Duke, which helps benefit the developing friendship between the dogs. Kevin Hart and Jenny Slate shine as the hyper actively psychotic Snowball and the fiercely determined Gidget, who stops at nothing to find Max and express her feelings for him.

The humor is hit or miss, ranging from being clever to other times juvenile and crude. This is best demonstrated in the animal personalities playing off stereotyped behaviors such as the dogs finding sausage hallucinogenic, or even defying them in the case of Snowball and his violent antics. The mix and match of different behaviors manages to make the animals enjoyable in their shenanigans as they exhibit more common animal behaviors while having the added of humor of talking as they do so.

On the other side of the coin, the biggest pitfall of the film lies with its over reliance on crude humor and slapstick. Several instances of the film revolve around the animals attacking each other or being hyperactive, which causes an excess of energy and eventually gets irritating. Additionally, there are more jokes revolving around animals and their bodily functions than adult would be comfortable with, which ends up making the humor fall flat and seem rather childish.

The Secret Life of Pets also suffers from the pitfall of not doing much to expand on the theme of talking animals that other films have not done in a meaningful manner.  While the animals do act like animals, this largely serves the purpose of just being the set up for jokes and the ability to speak is just an added gimmick. Additionally, not much is done to expand on the possibility of humans and animals interacting, as the animals are largely on their own for most of the film.

Finally, the plot of the film is rather basic and is nothing that will surprise the viewer, as the idea of two rivals becoming friends through a journey has been done by many animated and live-action films alike. Therefore, it just comes across as a repeat of what other films have done and feels rather stale with nothing new to offer besides some animal jokes. Not helping matters is that the film brings up a subplot revolving around abandoned pets seeking revenge on humans for neglecting them, but instead treats it as a side joke rather than turning it into a conflict that could flesh out the characters.

Most glaring of all, the film lacks character development for its animal stars with the exception of Max and Duke. The animals don’t get any real challenges to their character and remain pretty similar in personality throughout, lacking any sort of growth or change. Even Duke and Max’s developing friendship is fairly superficial, as it isn’t any more complicated than a typical enemies become friends type of development.

Overall, The Secret Life of Pets has some occasionally good jokes along with good voice actors and animation, but not much substance. Considering animated films have shown they are capable of much more than just being distractions for kids, it feels all the more disappointing. The film will kill some time for an hour and a half, but ultimately there are much better films to spend time watching instead.

Environmental Education at Coldharbour Institute

Western students get involved in local environmental projects

By Jeremy Wallace

Volunteers erect the first three poles of a teepee at Coldharbour Ranch October 8th. Photo by Jeremy Wallace
Volunteers erect the first three poles of a teepee at Coldharbour Ranch October 8th. Photo by Jeremy Wallace

A cool breeze from the West picks up the dry smell of sawdust from dozens of teepee poles being sanded and prepared for raising. College students and other volunteers work tirelessly on their small projects, conversing about upcoming assignments and wondering, just how does one raise a teepee, anyway? It’s a busy day at the Coldharbour Ranch, 332 acres of property East of Gunnison owned by the Coldharbour Institute. The ranch is a center for educating people about sustainable practices and the future site of Coldharbour Institute headquarters.  The teepee that is about to be raised will serve as a unique gathering spot for outdoor environmental classes.

“I wanted to raise more awareness about the institute,” said Michela Shultz, an environmental studies major in-part responsible for organizing a group of Western State Colorado University students to volunteer for the project. Shultz and many other students in Western’s Environment and Sustainability program are learning how to organize service projects, and collaborate with institutions such as Coldharbour helping to bring sustainable living practices to the public eye. “I’ve been passionate about the environment and lessening human impact since I was in fourth grade,” said Shultz. “I’ve learned a lot of skills [at Western], from big research projects to environmental policy.”

Service projects such as Shultz’s are a step in the right direction for Coldharbour Institute, a small sustainability-minded organization in the early startup phase.

“There is always more work to do,” says Briant Wiles, Director of Land Management for Coldharbour. “During service days we get a chance to expose more people to the property, and the potential for future engagement while talking about what it means to promote sustainable living practices.” While Coldharbour is still currently in a developmental stage- gaining financial stability and creating a strategic plan for the future- it hopes to soon expand educational programming and form partnerships with organizations in the valley that will foster sustainable living movements and ideas.

As the three initial teepee poles are hoisted up and set in place, the crowd of volunteers look on with the satisfaction of seeing a project completed. Without numerous people helping with small tasks, this process could’ve taken the small staff at Coldharbour multiple days- but many hands made light work, whether raising a teepee or creating sustainable living practices for people in the Gunnison Valley.  

Western Students Stand with Standing Rock

Thirteen students join the Sioux tribe and water protectors against the DAPL

Roberta Marquette-Strain/Senior Staff Writer

The group at Standing Rock. Photo courtesy of Dustin Crowner
The group at Standing Rock. Photo courtesy of Dustin Crowner

One cannot ask any of the students who traveled to Standing Rock Indian Reservation what the experience was like and expect a simple answer. There isn’t one. “It was a full range of emotions,” said group member Dustin Crowner. “We experienced truly beautiful things as well as terrible things sometimes within an hour. It’s hard to convey a sentence or a simple conversation.”

The 13 students, Crowner, Cody Bontecou, Delaney Adrian, Landan Schaller, Bailey Stewart, Chris Doucet, Uma Costanza, Jodie Howard, Jessica Howard, Madison Manning, Lozen Miller, Jared Allen, and Louissa Rozendaal traveled to the North Dakota reservation November 19-22 to join forces with the Sioux Native American tribe and protesters, who call themselves water protectors, who are standing against the planned construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The DAPL would be built half a mile from Standing Rock, and would require digging up sacred Sioux land and could contaminate the reservation’s water.

The front line following Backwater Sunday. The barrier was built to protect them from the water and rubber bullets. Photo courtesy of Dustin Crowner
The front line following Backwater Sunday. The barrier was built to protect them from the water and rubber bullets. Photo courtesy of Dustin Crowner

The pipeline and the implications it could have for the land are not solely what influenced the group to go. “It’s about all of the people who have been oppressed,” Costanza explained. “All of these people are fighting for others to recognize their worth that we have ignored for years and years. The oppression of these people and oppression of the Earth go hand in hand.” During their time at the reservation, the group saw the oppression first hand, but also encountered beautiful moments of community, love, and trust.

The group did not know exactly what they were going to encounter, but any negative thought passed as soon as they arrived in North Dakota as they were setting up their camp the first night in frigid temperatures. A car drove by and the driver offered for them to stay in their kitchen tent they had set up. “It was the first thing we were really hit with, the generosity,” said Schaller.

Their first night set the tone for the rest of the trip. They were no longer just a group of college students from Colorado. They were members of this community, all gathered together for a larger cause – to stand with their brothers and sisters. The unity was felt across the camp, as Schaller explained. “The love and unity in the camp is kind of like a wave, a giant current that you can resist, but it takes everybody with it.”

The Standing Rock community operates like a “well-functioning commune” as Howard explained it.  Everyone took the time to help each other, whether it was watching someone’s children, washing dishes, or doing chores. The students also contributed to the camp by helping them prepare for the winter by chopping wood and building structures. They were also able to donate clothing, firewood, propane, and other supplies some, of which were donated by the Gunnison community.

A camp elder Joe holds a rubber bullet that hit him the night before. Photo courtesy of Delaney Adrian
A camp elder Joe holds a rubber bullet that hit him the night before. Photo courtesy of Delaney Adrian

Their entire trip was not spent completing these responsibilities however. It was only the second night when half the group found themselves in the middle of an extreme protest between the protectors and law enforcement. The two group’s tensions have run high throughout the months of the DAPL protest. This specific event, referred to as Backwater Sunday, is just one of the many clashes the groups have had.

Water cannons were shot off, tear gas was used, and rubber bullets were targeted toward the protectors. Half of the students found themselves in the middle of the group of about 400 protectors. “As soon as we exited the camp and went over the hill, we immediately saw the lights, the water, the chaos,” Crowner said. “As a group, we kept inching up, growing more and more curious and before we knew it we were right within it all.” Bontecou said they inched so close, that they themselves were teargassed. The group documented the event through photos and videos and watched as people around them vomited and passed out from the gas.

Despite the pandemonium, the large community did not falter. The 400-some group worked together as team. They warned people not to run as the tear gas was shot as it would cause more chaos, and those injured were carried out. The community never stopped looking out for their family. “It’s like everyone viewed the people around them more important than themselves and it helps create this unity,” said Costanza.  

The unity of the community within the Standing Rock Reservation and its supporters world-wide is ultimately the biggest thing that Schaller has taken from the experience. He believes that the DAPL has stirred many to think more about the importance of the environment, people from all walks of life, and of course, community. “At the end of the day, this battle is going to be won in people’s hearts and minds. Not at the front line. (If the DAPL is approved) everything is stacked against us, but this movement has taken a life of its own. In that sense, we’ve already won.”

For those interested in joining the battle, the group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in the library’s mural room on the first floor at 5 p.m. They have also created Go Fund Me pages, one Donations to Standing Rock Protest goes directly to the reservation, and the other Send Western to Standing Rock raises money for possible future trips, which has already sent a second group out to North Dakota December 2.

However, the biggest thing one can do to help out the cause according to the group and  the Sioux elders, is to educate oneself on the topic, putting one’s heart in the right place, and understand that while anyone is welcome to join the cause, this is the Sioux’s fight and protectors need to do it in their way.

Even though we’ve had a victory recently, we must continue to be vigilant and to support the protectors and stand for Standing Rock.

Social Media Is Winning This Election

Robin Butler / Staff Writer

Social Medias are Heating up Politically in this Election

Every time I go on facebook and scroll through my news feed I am confronted by a plethora of political information. It is that time of year after all, and if I thought a year ago that Facebook and other social medias were heating up politically, I had no idea the firestorm that was to come. 

Facebook in particular has come incredibly far since its introduction to the public in 2005. What was once simply another tool for connecting has become one of the strongest and most influential news outlets on the internet. Its ease of access and abundance of information has created a direct outlet for politicians to reach potential voters whether they are young, old, liberal, conservative, educated, or uneducated. Hundreds of thousands – even millions of people that typically would stay as far away from politics as possible, are forced into the fray with frequent videos and opinion pieces supporting or speaking out against various candidates. 

The king of this platform is the tv celebrity and businessman Donald Trump. From the beginning of his campaign, Trump and his campaign team knew they didn’t have to beat out other republican nominees by much, so establishing a strong online presence was a must. Donald trump currently has 12.6 million followers on twitter and these aren’t necessarily just Trump supporters. In addition to these twitter followers, every news outlet that likes a good story has paid close attention to Donald Trump on Twitter because of just how intense some of his posts seem to be. Put simply, Donald Trump has gained support and followers because he has an entertaining social media presence.  

Hillary Clinton has never reached the level of buzzworthy appearance on social media, but her supporters have taken it upon them to help her out on this front. Ten minutes scrolling through a democrat’s Facebook page will find you countless videos and articles, not necessarily approved by Clinton, but none the less coming to her aid in this election.  

The most fascinating part about the influence of social media in politics is the absolute power of confirmation bias. The way Facebook, for example, works is that every time you click on something a friend or a page you follow shares, it remembers. The more you click, the more it remembers. Facebook’s nature as a business makes sure that every one of its users has the most pleasurable experience as possible while browsing content.

This means that once Facebook has collected enough information on your preferences (not just political) it can start tailoring your news feed to fit those preferences. My facebook feed is drastically different than my girlfriend’s facebook feed even though our political affiliations are moderate left and moderate right respectively. Facebook will inherently only show you information that it thinks you want to see. This means that if you are a Hillary supporter you will almost exclusively be shown pro Hillary and anti Trump posts. If you are a Trump supporter you will see the opposite. 

This format is dangerous. When you have millions upon millions of relatively uneducated potential voters being hit with one opinion piece after another, the value of american politics diminishes. It becomes a war of who can reach technologically tethered voters better and who can send out the most propaganda regardless if the information provided is true or not.  

A popular type of video in the last few months are those that show clips of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton saying something and then a clip of them years earlier saying the opposite. These videos call the targeted candidate liars and cheats, which regardless of being true or false, is agreed upon by viewers. Both videos are reaching the exact same point, except on two completely different candidates. But people never see the other side, they never see that the creators of these videos are aware of their counterparts and are only looking for views. Potential voters take these videos as fact and that drastically affects how they think. Having this kind of false information so heavily advertised limits the effectiveness of truth and reason in the world of modern US politics. 

It is shocking to see how both parties are manipulating the minds of potential voters, and this caused me to adjust how I see things. As a liberal, my Facebook feed was exclusively pro Hillary, anti Trump… until recently. I was so sick of seeing one side of the picture that I actually went to a friends Facebook page (who is a Trump supporter), looked at the conservative facebook pages that he follows, and I followed them. I was tired of getting only one perspective and I did something about it. Now I am able to see a mixed bag of political information that will help me make a more educated choice on Nov. 8. 

Unfortunately not everyone is as open-minded, and many people, if not most, only want to see the information that they agree with. In 2008 Obama’s election was dubbed the “Facebook Election” because of Facebook’s influence on the outcome. Facebook and other social medias such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter have only grown in the last eight years and will likely continue to grow in the coming years. Their heavy influence in United States politics could bring the end of educated, unbiased voting. 

The Success of a Local Dirtbag

Luke Mehall, self-proclaimed dirtbag climber, talked about his newest book release.

Kennedy Sievers/Senior Staff Writer

Luke Mehall: Mehall’s new book cover. Photo Courtesy of Luke Mehall
Luke Mehall: Mehall’s new book cover. Photo Courtesy of Luke Mehall

The environment was buzzing with excitement, anticipating the promise of adventure. A wonderful display of books, shirts, chocolate treats, coffee, and tea covered display tables. Luke Mehall, former student at Western, wrote his fourth book entitled Graduating From College, Me A Dirtbag Climber Grows Up. He decided to come to Western and give his only book talk to the students, faculty, and community members of Gunnison.

Mehall got his start with writing for this newspaper as well as the Gunnison County Times in 2001. He also did various other writing enterprises during his time at Western, including working in the marketing department. Mehall was a recreation major while in school, and graduated in 2004. He has been writing for about fifteen years.

Graduating From College Me, A Dirtbag Climber Grows Up is Mehall’s fourth book. It was part of a goal he made to write five books before he turned forty. He draws his inspiration from many places including the Grateful Dead, and beatnik greats such as Alan Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Timothy Leary, and Kurt Vonnegut.

He started his climbing career in a gym in his hometown, which was an abandoned grain silo and the world’s largest climbing gym for a long time. Eventually, Mehall graduated to climbing outdoors. His favorite place to climb is in the Colorado desert, namely Indian Creek. Mehall loves the view, he said, “It’s like climbing in a painting.”

After graduating college, Mehall spent a lot of time in Indian Creek, living out of a tent and seeking to climb the best climbs and live the outdoor recreation major life’s dream. He read some stories from his new novel about Indian Creek, including one about a memorial toilet in honor of a fallen fellow climber and going there now as an experienced climber, relating and giving hard-earned wisdom to the new generation of climbers.

Mehall did not get where he is through no effort of his own. He says that climbing, while the love of his life, actively tries to kill you. He has had many close encounters of his own, and watched fellow climbers meet the fate that the rocks try to instill. Rather than these dangers discouraging him from his hobby, however, Mehall says it only adds fuel to the fire of his love for exploring the great outdoors.

After listening to the reading and hearing Mehall discuss his novel, he opened up the conversation for questions and people delivered. People asked about his zine; which is a small climbing magazine designed for people writing articles about climbing, taking photos whilst climbing, and doing art.

People also asked about the publishing process, to which he said he attempted to publish with traditional big house publishers in the beginning, but found it easier and in some ways more profitable to self-publish, or as he likes to call it, independently publish. He is able to print small books as well as self-promote on social media.

Mehall wants liberal arts students to feel like they can accomplish anything. He claims that a lot of the stories as well as poems in his novel are somewhat embarrassing, but he felt like he needed to put them out there for the college and climbing community.

Film Review: Finding Dory

Pixar film delivers heart and fun while treading familiar waters.

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

finding-dory

After thirteen years since the forgetful fish Dory charmed audiences in Finding Nemo, the blue regal tang has made a welcome return in Pixar’s Finding Dory. Starring Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks, reprising the roles of Dory and Marlin, Finding Dory features the fish of Finding Nemo in a new computer animated adventure filled with laughs and touching moments. The film, directed by Pixar veterans Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, was released on June 17, 2016, and is due to be available on home media November 15 and digital platforms on October 25 this year.

Set one year after Finding Nemo, the story follows Dory as she enlists Marlin and Nemo to help her search for her parents in Morro Bay, California. The trio end up separated and land in a marine life institute, where they must use their wits to escape and find Dory’s parents along the way before the fish are moved to another institute.

What makes Finding Dory fun and unique is the heavy focus on Dory herself, given her disability of short-term memory loss. Thanks to this, Dory often has to improvise in order to survive and solve problems, which makes watching her efforts entertaining. This lends the film a fast pace and spontaneous feel, which helps stave off any feelings of boredom.

In addition, there is no romance to speak of between Dory or any other character in the film. When the general trend in films is to include a token romance of some sort, it nicely shows how people can be close friends with each other without needing to be romantic. Considering many films released by Disney and Pixar follow this trend, this makes it all the more impactful.

The setting of a marine aquarium is also handled in a fairly tasteful manner. In an era where there is much outcry over marine parks like SeaWorld, the film chooses to not have animals perform while giving them a degree of choice in their surroundings. On top of that, it avoids turning the park into a strawman for the negatives of such systems by showing the positive qualities of the park, which prevents the film from getting too preachy on the subject of captive animals.

In terms of the animals themselves, the voice performances are all well done. Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks are very charming and funny as Dory and Marlin, while Hayden Rolence compliments them as a snarky and surprisingly wise for his age Nemo. Ed O’Neill also shines as the grumpy but considerate octopus Hank, while Idris Elba and even Sigourney Weaver make amusing cameos throughout the film.

On the visual side, the film manages to live up to Pixar’s usual animation standards. The animators overhauled their lighting tools for the film and it shows with extensive transition shots from the water to the surface as the animals move about, along with well-designed luminescent sequences. Not to mention, the bright color palette of the film keeps it interesting and should appeal to adults and children alike.

Finding Dory’s biggest strength lies in the emotional focus that is Dory’s search for her parents, along with her memory. The search for Dory’s parents appeals to the fears of adults and kids with its subject matter making the film’s dilemma a very personal one. This dilemma makes the film very engaging and allows for the lack of an antagonist. Most of all, Dory being forgetful is treated as something everyone will get used to in living with her and not something to be ashamed of, which is a valuable message for parents of children with disabilities.

On top of this, the film manages an excellent blend of comedy and drama, often in the same scene. Between funny moments like Dory’s whale mimicry and touching interactions between Nemo and Dory, the film showcases a lot of heart while being able to make the audience laugh at the same time.

As for any major criticisms of the film, it is a sequel that leans on the past more than it should. The general premise is similar to Finding Nemo and the main characters get stuck in pipes, run into friendly aquarium life, and run away from sea monsters much like they did before. As a result, the film treads familiar waters a little too comfortably for its own good and doesn’t quite have a fresh feeling to it.

While the increased focus on Dory is welcome, Marlin and Nemo feel somewhat superfluous to the narrative. Since Dory has most of the character focus and the newcomer critters get their share of the spotlight, Marlin and Nemo spend a lot of time lurking in the background while Dory and the new animals get attention. As a result, they seem to largely exist just because it’s a sequel and they’re required to until the climax makes them important again.

Altogether, Finding Dory manages to be an entertaining adventure that should appeal to children and adults. Even if it is a little too derivative for its own good, the performances and humor are more than enough to justify giving it a watch. With an uplifting nature equivalent to the fish it follows, Finding Dory is jolly and a must see for animation fans.