Friday, April 22, 2016

Utah State University goes green on Earth Day

By Braden Clark
The Utah State University Student Association, or USUSA, is celebrating Earth Day with the students of Utah State starting at 9 a.m. Friday morning. All throughout the day, events were planned by the USUSA.
Starting at 9 a.m. booths were set up on the campus’ Quad, and students were informed about the ways their campus helps sustain the environment they live in.
“I think Earth Day is unique and super special, because it’s like the celebration of all the work we’ve done all year,” said Emily Blake, an environmental studies student at Utah State who works in the universities sustainability office. “The office does a lot of things throughout the year, and Earth Day is a way people can celebrate the it.”
Along with all the events planned for Earth Day students took the initiative on their social media sites to celebrate Earth Day.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world,” said Braxton Moon over Twitter.
“Go shawty, it’s your Earth Day. We gonna party like it’s your Earth Day,” said Tiffany Roedel over Twitter.
Some students managed to wake up to catch the sunrise in the wind caves up Logan Canyon.
“As you can see winter is shadowing away in the background only to tell us one thing. Spring has arrived,” said Sunny Patel on his Instagram.
Along with tweeting their own original tweets a few students retweeted Neil deGrasse Tyson as he reflected over Twitter.
“We’re short, so Mountains seem tall. We’re mortal, so Earth seems eternal. Our spacecraft are slow, so the Universe seems vast,” Tyson tweeted. “’Save the Earth’ really means ‘Save the humans’ or ‘Save the Life on Earth’. Earth the planet will outlast all extinctions.”
Students were also encouraged by USU Dining Services to use #PartOfTheSolution on their social media sites as they take part in reducing plastic waste, and use refillable water bottles.
“Today we are showing students all the things we do to showcase how we reduce waste on campus,” said Tiffany Moss, a marketer for USU Dining Services.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. students were asked to take a pledge to reduce plastic waste, and received a green cup that they can use to refill anywhere on campus.
“I think it’s really cool how Utah State is showing all of our support over social media,” Moss said. “I’ve enjoyed seeing all the ways students are keeping the Earth clean, or just enjoying the Earth on this day.”
More events follow later in the day, and starting at 1:30 students can participate with “Yoga on the Quad.” Following Yoga on the Quad, students can join in a service project at 2:30 at Aggie Blue Bikes and that will last until 5 p.m. tonight. After the service project Utah State will conclude its Earth Day with a barbeque and games at First Dam.
“I think Utah State is moving in a really cool direction,” Blake said. “President Stan Albrecht has done a really good job, and has done a lot of great stuff for us. It’s all uphill from here, and it’s important for students to recognize today and be thankful for what we have on this campus.”

Thursday, April 21, 2016

“True Aggies” share their favorite True Aggie Night memories on social media

By Braden Clark                                                                            
Friday marks the 100 year anniversary of Utah State University’s “True Aggie Night,” and students, alumni and lucky bystanders have been sharing their favorite True Aggie Night moments on social media in honor of the celebration.
“My favorite memory of True Aggie Night has to be when I kissed Mr. USU, Kurt Kowal, on the A,” said Lynette Erickson, a student at Utah State University, on her Instagram.
True Aggie Night started in 1916 when several students at Utah State built the “Block A” for their campus. The Block A changed locations a few times before finding a final resting spot at the top of Old Main Hill. Despite varying locations, students would gather in long lines to kiss on the Block A and become “True Aggies.”
“When we were in college it was a really exciting tradition to be a part of,” said Tresha Haymond, who graduated from Utah State in 1990. “I see the pictures students have now, and we didn’t have that luxury of keeping those memories.”
However the night can be exciting for some, there are those out there feel like True Aggie Night is not a positive experience.
Current Utah State student JC Thomas, along with other students, took to social media to share their side of the story.
“All my friends want to go to True Aggie Night, but all I would rather stay in my bed and eat ice cream,” Thomas tweeted.
“I would like to say not going to True Aggie Night tomorrow,” said Michael Kay, a student at Utah State, over Twitter, “why go if I’m just going to stand there and be cold?”
Not all the tweets have been negative, but some of the seniors have nostalgia on their last True Aggie Night as an undergraduate.
“Last True Aggie Night forever for me. Not sure if I can handle it,” said Jason Charles, a graduating senior at Utah State University, over Twitter. “Many great memories on that A.”
As students began to share their memories over social media some things stood out to many such as proposals to one another, members of the LBGTQIA becoming True Aggies in front of their fellow students, and the entertaining and fun atmosphere.
“Utah State really does it better than most of the universities here in Utah,” said Brittnee Peace, a student at the University of Utah. “I know a lot of the universities have tried to recreate the atmosphere that is created in Logan, but it just doesn’t feel the same. Almost like the other schools are trying too hard to be like the Aggies.”
Although Utah State was the first in the state to start the tradition, other schools across the state have started their own version of True Aggie Night. For example, in Orem, Utah Valley University has its “True Wolverine Night” in the middle of their campus’ patio in front of a “UVU” fountain.
“It’s alright down here,” said Brandon Montague, a student at Utah Valley and a True Aggie, “but it’s better in Logan. It’s different down here, because it’s so new and nobody really goes to it. If you’re not there in the first 10 minutes then you’d best leave, because all the candidates would be gone.”
Other schools like Dixie State, Weber State, University of Utah and Snow College have similar traditions, but Utah State’s True Aggie Night started the trend.
Anyone can become a True Aggie by receiving a kiss on the Block A under a full moon at midnight by somebody who already is a True Aggie, or on Homecoming or A-Day by somebody who is not.

The 100 year anniversary of True Aggie Night begins Friday night and goes through Saturday morning. Students are encouraged to attend the event, by their student association, as the school concludes its semester and “A Week.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Miss Diversity is crowned Miss USU

By Braden Clark
Miss Diversity, Francia Solis Gil, was crowned Miss USU Wednesday night on Twitter and live in the Taggart Student Center’s ballroom. Solis Gil took home the overall competition, but also collected the most votes over the contests Instagram page.
“It’s time for us all to realize that we have so much diversity on this campus,” Solis Gil said. “I think that the diverse students here at USU really worked hard to see that they were represented well in the contest.”
Solis Gil, originally from de los Caballeros, Santiago, of the Dominican Republic, is studying French and Spanish at Utah State University. Solis Gil is fluent in French, Spanish, English and Portuguese, and before her time at Utah State she studied at the Technology University of Santiago.
Solis Gil had a commanding lead on the social media side of the competition with a total of 1,134 likes on her picture. Miss Education, Jessie Howard, finished second place in likes on Instagram with 882 on her picture. Since Solis Gil took home the overall crown, Howard was given the “People’s Choice” award for having the most likes on her picture.
“It’s really great to have Francia as Miss USU,” said Luis Armenta, Utah State University Student Association’s diversity vice president. “I think a lot of the diverse students on this campus really appreciated seeing her recognized tonight, and the student body as a whole seemed to be really excited when she was crowned Miss USU.”
Solis Gil had a large fan base in the audience, but any doubters were quickly swayed during her talent section of the competition.
Solis Gil performed a series of different dance routines from different cultures across the world, and also had people hold up their countries flag while they sat in the audience.
“I was honored to be a part of it all,” said Michael Scott Peters, who performed in Solis Gil’s dance routine. “When she asked me to join in I was somewhat confused, because I’m just a white guy from West Jordan, Utah, but she made it clear that everyone is diverse in their own way. I had a lot fun, but the night was really all about Francia.”
Solis Gil ended her dance routine to a standing ovation from the crowd as she dropped to a complete right-leg split, and Twitter instantly blew up.
“Francia just rocked USU when she dropped into the splits at the end of her talent,” said Tanner Field, a student at Utah State, over Twitter.
“I see you Miss Diversity. I see you,” said Chris Glaittli, the Utah State University Student Associations assistant marketing director, over Twitter.
Along with Solis Gil’s talent, she dedicated her night to honor all the diverse cultures on the Utah State campus, and with her formal attire and question she started to get emotional with her answer.
“We have so many amazing cultures on this campus, and most times we don’t take time actually sit back and realize this opportunity,” Solis Gil said. “I love USU, and I’m so thankful for all of the students that came out to support all of us in this pageant. It truly was remarkable.”
As the night ended and votes were tallied, and Miss CHaSS, Felicia Gallegos, was named second runner-up and first runner-up was given to Miss CAAS, Heather Lieber. Finally, Solis Gil was announced as Miss USU, and the ballroom erupted into cheers.
“I want to thank all of the students at Utah State, my friends and my family for helping this week, and supporting me through all these years. Go Aggies,” Solis Gil said. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Students at Utah State University react to voyeurism case over Twitter

By Braden Clark
Sunday night students at Utah State University reacted to a tweet on Twitter about a recent voyeurism arrest on their campus.
“We have to build a wall around the Pike house if we want to end sexual assault. Make USU safe again,” said Ben Fordham, a student at Utah State University, over Twitter.
Fordham's tweet was quickly favorited and retweeted by many students at Utah State, and was responded to quickly.
"But in all seriousness USU should look into this for the general well-being of our women," said Andrew Redfern, a student at Utah State University, over Twitter.
"I'll grab a shovel," said Yusuf Mumin, a student at Utah State University, over Twitter.
A lot of people saw the negative side of his tweet as well, and eventually Fordham deleted the tweet all together.
"Not cool, you can't blame mistakes from individuals on a whole house," said Breanna Bennett, a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.
This last weekend a member of Pi Kappa Alpha was arrested with voyeurism charges, and Fordham’s tweet sparked controversy around the Logan campus, and caused many students to share their opinion on the matter.
“The actions of one person does not reflect an organization as a whole,” said Kenzy Nageli, a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. “It’s about getting the wrong people out of the organizations, because Greek life can do some amazing things on this campus.”
During the fall semester the men of Pi Kappa Alpha reported the highest number of service hours on campus with 797 hours. Pi Kappa Alpha had significantly more hours than the runner-up HackUSU who reported 555 hours in the fall semester.
“We’ve been extremely proud the way the men of Pike have donated their time to service, because they’ve done some incredible work in the last few months,” said Ricky Benitez, the Interfraternity Council public relations. “Their food drive last semester and toy drive this semester shows how much of a positive impact they’ve made on this campus and community.”
Just this last week Jonny Whipple, a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, was recognized as Greek of the Week. Whipple this spring semester has managed to donate more than 50 hours of service, and set up and orchestrate a toy drive for Primary Children’s Hospital. The drive accumulated nearly $15,000 in money and toy donations for the hospital.
Pi Kappa Alpha was also awarded the “Most Improved Chapter of the Year” award at the Utah State Greek’s Order of Omega banquet on April 13.
“I have always felt that there are good and bad people in the Greek community at this university,” Fordham said. “I want Pike to succeed, and I understand they do some nice charitable things now and then, but they can’t go six months without something like this happen to them.”
Just over a year ago Ryan Wray, ex-USU student and ex-president of Pi Kappa Alpha, was arrested in late March for forcible sexual abuse, a first-degree felony. In October his charges were reduced to attempted forcible sexual abuse, a third-degree felony.
Two months after Wray's original arrest Brian Relopez, a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, was arrested and charged in a separate case with aggravated sexual assault and rape, first-degree felonies.
“The Greek community can do great things, but every now and then you get some stupid people in there,” said Max Wilde, a student at Utah State University who was Greek but later left the community. “All of the good they do can be quickly taken away by the actions of few stupid individuals. From the outside the Greeks can seem like a bunch of drunken idiots, but if you take time to actually understand what they’re about they actually do a lot of good for this school and community.”
The men of Pi Kappa Alpha were unable to comment at this time.
Every Monday the leaders of the Greek community meet, and discuss the status of the Greeks at the university. No official statement has been released by them, but a formal judicial hearing will take place in the coming weeks.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Red Bull has given wings to these three Utah State students

By Braden Clark
Dane Cooper, Vico Noma’aea and CJ O’Neal, who are students at Utah State University, are currently in second place in the “Red Bull Can You Make It” competition in Europe, with hours remaining. The contest has a total of 165 teams from different universities across the world, and Team USU is in second place in the entire competition.
They require help from social media as they travel through Europe with only cans of Red Bull to get them where they need to go. They accumulate points by people sharing, hashtagging and liking their videos they post on the Red Bull website.
Team USU currently sits in first place in the social media category of the competition with a commanding 146,633 point lead. Right in front of them, in the overall standings, is a team from Belgium, Germany, but are trailing Team USU by 55,302 points in social points.
Fans of the team can help Team USU earn points by hashtagging the phrases TeamUSU, VikoCJDane, CanYouMakeIt16 and USUFans.
“They’re a little bit more muscular than I am,” said George Service, one of the contests directors. “I’ve done some digging into their statistics, and I have seen that 71% of their audience are actually female, and they are making sure that they post their videos when everyone back home is awake to see them so they get more points.”
Students at Utah State University have been following Team USU very closely as Cooper, Noma’aea, and O’Neal travel throughout Europe, and are helping any way they possible can.
“It’s been really exciting for us to keep tabs with our friends as they travel through Europe,” said Sonina Mikkelson, a friend to the members of Team USU. “They’re really close to winning this, and I want to help any way that I can. I enjoy the fact that they are getting the publicity they are receiving, because they are working really hard day and night."
Team USU is required to use cans of Red Bull as its only way of currency, and so far they have traveled through five different countries and traveled a total 2,514 miles.
They have managed to trade Red Bull cans for different forms of transportation, and on Sunday they traded 24 cans of Red Bull for a train ride from Avignon, France, to Clermont-Ferrand, France, approximately 236 miles between the two cities.
The competition ends April 19 at 2 a.m., which is 6 p.m. Monday evening in Utah, and the team just reached Mont Saint-Michel an island in Normandy, France. The Belgium team has a significant lead in all the other categories of the competition, but family members of Team USU are hoping social media will be the team's way to victory.
“We are so proud of our boys, and the fact that they have made it this far is incredible,” said Kathy Cooper, Dane Cooper’s mother. “The adventure that they are on is the true prize, but we are so thankful for Red Bull for this opportunity. Team USU has done a great job, and they are so motivated, and we couldn’t be happier with the support their friends at Utah State are giving them. Just please keep voting until the contest is over.”
The winners will be crowned soon after the competition is over, and will be ambassadors for Contiki Travels, the contests sponsor, as they travel throughout Europe this summer.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dixie State University students have a week to remember

By Braden Clark
Students at Dixie State University are loving the publicity their school has been getting in the last week, and in result, sharing their school pride over social media.
“I love the new mascot! Great representation of the Dixie spirit. Job well done,” said Jeremy Buck, a Dixie State University alum, over Twitter.
“We are setting records, and doing great things here at Dixie State,” said Ammon Haymond, a student at Dixie State, over Instagram.
Along with changing its school mascot, Dixie State found itself in a Twitter banter with an NBA playoff team. Dixie State’s announcement tweet, “We are the DIXIE STATE TRAILBLAZERS” on Tuesday got the attention of the pro basketball team who responded shortly after.
“We were eating dinner when it all started, and one of my friends yelled across the table, ‘Guys! We are in a Twitter battle with the Portland Trail Blazers!’ you can imagine the confusion,” said Andrew Ashton, a student at Dixie State University. “I was wondering how we got their attention in the first place, because we are a small school in St. George, Utah, and they are preparing for the playoffs.”
Dixie State University announced the name change from the “Red Storm” to the “Trailblazers” Tuesday morning, and Portland responded to the tweet with simply, “One word, or two?” which caught a lot of the students by surprise.
“I thought we spelled our name wrong,” Haymond said, “I assumed that they had the correct spelling of the name, because they’ve always been called the Trail Blazers ever since they’ve been in the NBA. I honestly thought we were gonna back down from them, but instead we responded.”
After going back and forth the university seemingly finished the battle on Wednesday with a tweet bashing the Portland team for losing in the NBA finals in 1992.
“I think it was a refreshing surprise to some to see that a university could have some fun,” said Joel Griffin, Dixie State University’s coordinator of public relations. “When they first tweeted us with ‘One word or two?’ it was about trademark, but we’d done our homework. When they sent us the Damian Lillard gif with him shaking his head we thought, ‘Okay, they want to have some fun, so let’s go.’”
On Thursday, the university tried to reconnect with the Portland twitter by sending a picture of Lionel Hollins, a point guard on the 1977 championship Trail Blazer basketball team and Dixie State point guard from 1971 to 1973.
“Even though we teased them about the ’92 NBA finals we knew they had won a championship in ’77 and it turns out we have a strong tie to them outside of just our name; their point guard when they won the championship was Dixie State Alumnus Lionel Hollins,” Griffin said. “We made up a basketball card in our last reply to highlight that connection.”
After the announcement and throughout the week students and locals gathered around campus to take pictures with the new logo and mascot.
“It’s been a fun week here in St. George, and with the name and mascot change it looks like the students are even more excited than us common folk,” said Doug Miller, a St. George native for 15 years. “We’ve been through a lot of the name changes, and it seems like this one will stick for a while. It’s exciting to see what’s happened to this university in the last few years.”
“The university feels like it changed overnight. Brooks the Bison’s face is all over the campus and the students have been wearing their swag proudly and lining up hours before the events this week to get their hands on more. Dixie State’s Trailblazer identity is here to stay,” Griffin said.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Students at Utah State University dislike its Campus Story on Snapchat

By Braden Clark
Students at Utah State University have grown impatient with the lack of content on their school’s Snapchat campus story. The campus story is designed to highlight some of the qualities of the university, but some students feel like it’s not highlighting the right parts.
“It’s really strange and I often feel embarrassed for my school, because of the things that are posted on it,” said Monica Farfan, a student at Utah State. “There are a lot of strange things people post that get put on it, and whenever I watch it I’m confused why those pictures were chosen.”
The lack of content was really what bothered the students of the university, because the story doesn’t highlight the best parts of their campus. Certain events like a domestic violence awareness philanthropy event, the Utah State Greek’s Order of Omega awards banquet, or Big Brothers, Big Sisters youth carnival were all left off the feed completely that the students felt deserved to be on it appose to students singing in their dorm rooms.
Along with those problems students feel like the story should be a positive thing that incoming students can see what students are actually doing on campus, and not a negative.
“Hey Snapchat please take our campus snap away. We obviously don’t deserve it,” said Nadir Tekarli, the newly elected Utah State University Student Association’s business senator, over Twitter.
Snapchat introduced the campus story to the students of Utah State four weeks ago, and every week students have been displeased with either the content on the stories or the lack of content.
“We have so many amazing things happen here at Utah State that other universities don’t have, and that’s what should be highlighted,” said Logan Shomo, an independent outdoor photographer and student at Utah State Univeristy.
Snapchat announced the campus story back in October, 2014, but originally started out on four college campuses. As the popularity grew it spread to many colleges across the nation, and eventually landed in Logan, Utah, in early March.
When the creators of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, announced the campus story option they also said Snapchat will regulate each of the stories and what would go on each of the schools’ feeds.
Amanda DeRito, Utah State University’s social media coordinator, said the university’s campus story is curated by Snapchat, and nobody at Utah State chooses what goes up on the live feed.
“We aren’t able to influence what is shared through live stories,” DeRito said. They choose what they see as worthy or reflective of our campus, and I’ve heard from a few students that they are discouraged by what isn’t chosen for inclusion.”
“I just don’t understand how someone over at Snapchat could make the case, ‘Yeah, that is what Utah State is about’ so that’s confusing to me,” said Ricky Benitez, a student at Utah State. “How could they possibly know what we are all about here if they don’t live here or are from here?”
The feed goes live every Wednesday, and students submit their photos to the Snapchat database throughout the remainder of the day. Nothing has been done to change the school’s feed, but students are waiting for an improvement in selection.

“I think it would be great if we saw a little more variety in the stories after every week, but right now I would like to see Snapchat highlight our great outdoors we have here in Logan,” Shomo said.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Pi Kappa Alpha is crowned Utah State University step show champions for the second time

By Braden Clark
Friday night Pi Kappa Alpha, at Utah State University, was crowned the Utah State step show champions for the second time in a row.
“We trained for nearly two months, it seems, on our routine,” said Dontre Manual, a member of Pi Kappa Alpha. “It’s one of my favorite events all year here at Utah State, and my brothers and I get really focused on this competition. We expect to win every year, but every year the competition gets more difficult. Regardless, this is for a good cause and I’m always willing to help out and donate my time to philanthropy.”
Many groups from the university, and some from the University of Utah, competed in the event Friday night. With a red carpet theme each of the competitors were asked to make each performance based off popular movies. The night was kicked off by the Polynesian Student Union, who performed a Polynesian focused step routine.
“One of my favorite parts of this event is seeing all the different cultures, and creative minds from all the students,” said TJ Pratt, a Utah State alumni who hosted the event. “When I did this when I was here it was pretty exciting, but it’s come so far from then and I’m excited what the future holds for this event.”
Many movies were referenced such as Rocky, Creed, Magic Mike XXL, Slumdog Millionaire and Sandlot. Pi Kappa Alpha won the night with a tribute to Leonardo DiCaprio, and his Best Actor victory, where they performed a serious of scenes from his popular movies.
“Leo is in right now, and we thought that this was a great idea for our step performance,” Manual said.
USU’s step show went through a change last year where they made it a competition between participating groups. Theta Nu Xi and Psi Sigma Phi, the hosting multicultural sorority and fraternity, have been setting up this event for the students at USU since 2000.

“It seems like it grows every year, and I hope one day that the ballroom isn’t big enough for this event, and we can move it to the performance hall on the west side of campus,” said Kaly Mayombe, the president of Theta Nu Xi.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Boise natives “Stampede” Twitter after news of team relocation

By Braden Clark
Natives of Boise, Idaho, took to Twitter Monday to give their opinion on the relocation of their Developmental-League, or D-League, basketball team to Salt Lake City, Utah. A collection of anger, confusion and shock were the initial reaction from the fans of the team, and majority of the anger was directed toward the Utah Jazz organization.
“Right, because Utah Jazz ownership basically lied to our faces. Good riddance,” said James A. Gentry, a Boise, Idaho, native, over Twitter.
“Tickets were expensive and the team was always last. Not a good combo. Kinda sucks though, still another team gone,” said Dean Craft, a long time Idaho Stampede fan, over Twitter.
The Idaho Stampede have been in Boise since 1997 playing in both the Continental Basketball Association and recently the D-League. 
“I was somewhat shocked that the Jazz bought the Stampede last year, because the Jazz have a very low fan base here in Idaho,” said Will Price, a native of Ontario, Oregon, and fan of the Stampede. “My family would spend a lot of time in Boise, and whenever we would go to these games we would see numerous teams’ jerseys in the stands. They were hardly ever Jazz jerseys, and if they were they were likely Mormons, but the majority of the fans we saw were Portland fans and Laker fans.”
On March 24, 2015 the Utah Jazz bought the rights to the Idaho Stampede, and just over a year after its’ purchase the Stampede will relocate to the Beehive State.
“It’s such a downer, because there isn’t much to do in Boise when it comes to professional sports,” said Dillon Guzzle, a Idaho Stampede fan and Boise native. “The Stampede were our only source of professional basketball in the entire state, and it’s just really unfortunate that they had to leave.”
The Stampede will go through a name change and uniform change for the following season, and will be known as the Salt Lake City Stars. The uniform colors will be changed from red and black to blue and yellow to match the Utah Jazz colors.
Many factors came into play when the Utah Jazz organization decided to move the team to Salt Lake City, but one of the major factors was to ensure the development of its’ players. Other reasons are due to the weather conditions the state of Utah offers when transferring players to and from teams.
Transportation became very difficult for the organizations because the vehicles were often slow, and had to deal with things like the snow.
To reconcile the team would be moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and now it will be easier for head coach Quin Snyder and Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey to keep an eye on the development of these players.

The Stampede finished its’ final season on Saturday with a victory over the Santa Cruz Warriors. The Salt Lake City Stars will play its first games next season in Salt Lake Community College’s Bruin Arena. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

LDS Prophet Thomas S. Monson announces over social media four more temples to be built across the world

By Braden Clark
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Prophet Thomas S. Monson announced Sunday morning at 10 a.m. that there will be four more LDS temples to be built across the world.
Quito, Ecuador; Harare, Zimbabwe; Belem, Brazil; and Lima, Peru are the set locations for the new LDS temples, and will be the second temple built in Lima, Peru. This announcement will make seven new announced LDS temples outside the United States in the past year by the church.
Many of the LDS faith across the globe tuned in Sunday morning over YouTube, live television or on the LDS.org website to hear their leaders of the church in Salt Lake City, Utah on the church’s 187 General Conference.
“I’m so excited to hear Zimbabwe is getting its’ own temple! When I was there we never really got to go to the temple unless we left the country,” said Brigg Terry, who served a mission in the Zimbabwe, Harare Mission. “It’s going to be a real blessing for the people in Harare, and Zimbabwe.”
The first LDS temple was constructed in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836, and with the announcement of the new four it brings the total to 177 temples across the world.
“The LDS temples are very special for the LDS faith,” said Sister Amy Lewis, a LDS missionary who is serving in the St. George, Utah Mission. “Those who are given a temple recommend from their presiding bishop may enter the temples, and in the temples we perform many different and sacred ceremonies like marriage sealings, for example.”
As the announcement was made many of the LDS faith took to social media to share their opinion on the new temples.
“We’re getting a temple in Zimbabwe!! Finally!!! #LDSGeneralConference #Zimbabwe #temple,” said Ayanda-Rae Godi, a Zimbabwe native and Mormon, over Twitter.
“I wanted a Herriman, Utah temple,” said Jody Genessy, a Utah Jazz reporter, over Twitter.
These four temple locations will go through a ground dedication in the coming months, and begin construction as soon as possible.

“Our goal is to obtain celestial glory, and the choices we make will, in large part, determine whether or not we reach or goal,” said Monson in his conference talk. “The path we follow in this life leads to our destination in the next life, and may we choose to build up within ourselves great and powerful faith.”

Monday, March 28, 2016

Kevin Harlan draws attention for ‘back from the dead’ comment at the end of Syracuse win

By Braden Clark
Kevin Harlan, a TBS sports analyst, is receiving a lot of backlash for his comments at the end of the Syracuse and Virginia Elite Eight basketball game, and most of which he is reveing from people on Twitter.
Nearing the end of the basketball game between Syracuse and Virginia, Harlan announced over live television Sunday night, “Jim Boeheim and Syracuse have done it! Back from the dead on Easter Sunday!”
 “If I were Kevin Harlan, I’d be getting my apology ready. Quick,” said Mike Vaccaro, a sportswriter at the New York Post, over Twitter.
“Just to follow on Kevin Harlan. I find his comment totally inappropriate. To liken Syracuse win to Christ's resurrection is just wrong,” said Mark Champion, the radio voice of the Detroit Pistons, over Twitter.
Harlan’s comment isn’t the first time a sports announcer made a reference towards something biblical, but the timing of Easter and his comment started the outrage.
“You know, Kevin Harlan should’ve restrained himself from the moment, and by saying that Syracuse came back from the dead when the largest religion in the world is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ probably wasn’t smart,” said Del Scott, a former bishop of the LDS church and high school basketball referee. “Just bad timing, I believe.”
Others enjoyed what Harlan said, and defended his decision on the call.
“I don’t necessarily think I would have said what he said, but I don’t think he’s terrible for saying it,” said Mike Van Cott, a Syracuse, New York native. “Isn’t the whole resurrection of Christ a good thing? I don’t see why people are freaking out about this.”
It was very unlikely 10 seed Syracuse was actually going to make a comeback being down 15 points with 10 minutes remaining in the game to top seeded Virginia. However, after a 25 to 6 point run by the Orange they are moving on to the Final Four next Saturday, and some may say they came “back from the dead” in the game.
“Honestly, I laughed when he said it,” Van Cott said. “Syracuse had no hope in coming back in that game, and I bet most people around the country thought the same thing. However, they came back out of nowhere. Sometimes people are just too opinionated on certain things, and were looking for an argument.”
There hasn’t been any indication if Harlan, or anyone at TBS, will offer a comment on his call. The veteran announcer is done with his NCAA tournament duties, as the semifinal and championship games will be called by Jim Nantz, along with Bill Raftery and Grant Hill.

“I don’t think there should be any punishment on the matter, because religious phrases are used in sports constantly,” Scott said. “How many times have we heard an announcer call a streak pass in football a Hail Mary? It was just very bad timing on his part.”

Monday, March 21, 2016

Twitter’s impact in the classroom and social media life at Utah State University

By Braden Clark
On Monday, Twitter turned a decade old and over the past 10 years student life at Utah State University has been changed by the app. Not only did the social aspect of the college campus change, but Twitter, along with other forms of social media, has changed the life in the classroom as well.
“We use it as part of our class,” said Candi Carter Olson, a professor of journalism who specializes in social media at Utah State University. “In my media smarts class I make students tweet at me back channel. It’s a great tool to create conversations, and for students to continue conversations throughout the day.”
Something Twitter introduced to the world is the use of the “hashtag” a symbol originally meant the use of a number, but changed into a form to identify messages on a specific topic.
“Before Twitter we didn’t use hashtags, and in fact we still look at hashtags on Facebook and say ‘Why are you using hashtags?’ but they do serve an interesting purpose,” Olson said. “They draw people all across the globe together in conversations in ways they would have never connected before.”
Utah State University students use Twitter as a form of communication, and a way to connect to more students on campus.
“We see students on campus throughout the day, but we never really talk to them,” said Chris Glaittli, the Utah State University Student Associations assistant marketing director. “Whenever you like something that someone says on Twitter you already have an ‘in’ with that person, and people who are shyer in public don’t have that opportunity.”
“Twitter has built a community here on the Utah State campus,” said Yusuf Mumin, an avid Twitter user on the schools campus. “I got Twitter my freshman year, because I lived at home and I just wanted to stay connected to what was happening on campus.”
Twitter has brought students at Utah State University closer together, but with the 140 character limit Twitter has also help build the creativity of the students’ tweets.
“Whenever I tweet I usually go for a connection with someone, and whether that be serious, funny or something that’s just going on I feel like it helps knowing that you’re interacting with people,” Glaittli said.
“We all have the same opportunity to get noticed, because we all have 140 characters to get our opinion out there,” Mumin said. “It’s somewhat strange, because people will come up to me in class and ask ‘how do you get so many favorites?’ and I don’t really have anything to tell them, because I’m just doing what works for me.”
An event Glaittli mentioned was the first community experience for him at Utah State was the Ms. USU pageant two years ago.
“People still talk about what I said, and what Yusuf said, and what other people said on Twitter during that event,” Glaittli said. “It was really crazy because it originally started out as one or two of us, but then with the hashtag ‘#MsUSU2k14’ we were able to have a giant conversation with all the students that were there watching the event.”
Olson listed some positive things towards Twitter, but there are some draw backs as well.
“Some find it easy to communicate and connect over Twitter, but it’s hard to catch up if you sign up right now,” she said. “Your message can get easily get lost on Twitter, and it’s all about how you navigate. How do you get attention on Twitter? Appose to the people who are famous.”
Olson compared starting out on Twitter is like talking to a brick wall.
In the coming year Twitter plans to expand its 140 character limit to 10,000. Twitter expanded its direct messaging system from 140 to 10,000 in July, but Olson is worried it’ll make it too “busy on Twitter if the expansion is allowed.”

“I don’t love the increase in characters, because I think Twitter thrives on having to get the word out in a short statement,” said Glaittli. “I bet it’s going to be really awesome for some people. Especially because pictures, videos and gifs take up a lot of characters. So maybe the expansion will be a good thing.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Mormons respond to leader’s video on missionaries who return home early

By Braden Clark
A Mormon leader’s message of love and acceptance for missionaries who return home ahead of schedule is being widely shared by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and has prompted conversations about a topic that church leaders have rarely addressed in the past.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the church’s 12 apostles, posted the video on his Facebook page on March 7 in response to a question sent by a young man who was released four months early from his mission due to mental health issues. In the video, Holland said missionaries sent home under such circumstances should be proud to claim the title “return missionary.”
The video has been viewed on Facebook nearly a quarter-million times, was shared more than 4,000 times on that site, and has been spreading across other social media sites as well.
Dakota Lange, a missionary who served in the Orlando, Florida mission for three months, said his experience coming home was painful.
“It’s hard,” Lange said, “because if you didn’t reach that two year mark then you’re not considered a real ‘return missionary’ in our LDS society.”
Lange liked what he heard from Holland.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard a church leader talk about early returned missionaries,” he said.
“This was the best advice I have heard for missionaries who have returned home early,” said Brigg Terry, who served in the Harare, Zimbabwe, mission for four months.
There are many online support groups for missionaries who come home early, but over the years there has been little information on how to address such situations from the church’s hierarchy.
“It leaves all early returned missionaries lost,” Lange said. “The thing with mental health is that nobody really understands what it’s like to have it if they’ve never had it before. A lot of people don’t understand that depression and anxiety is a real thing that can affect people, and they think you’re weak for not staying out.”
In the video Holland expressed his opinion that each missionary who has served, no matter how long, should be “appropriately proud” of their missions, and “to take the dignity, strength and faith that came from those months and cherish them forever.”
Even missionaries who completed their service were moved by the message.
“I would definitely say that this video helped with families all over the world that are dealing with this,” said Brandon Montague, who served in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, mission for the full two years. “President Holland really expressed we should have compassion for these missionaries, because they did go out there and serve. If it was for 14 days or 24 months we should treat them all the same.”
“The point is, cherish the service you rendered,” Holland said in the video. “Be grateful for the opportunity to have testified. To have been out in the name of the Lord, and to have worn that missionary name plaque. Because you were honorable, and you were able to give your very best service, to the degree that you could, please do not relive this. Do not rehash it. Do not think that you’re inadequate or a failure, but please consider yourself a return missionary.”
Terry said he was touched by Holland’s promise that “the blessings of the lord will still be poured upon you for your service.”
“I can personally testify to the truth to that, and I have been blessed with so many things since I have returned home,” Terry said. “A testimony was gained through the refiner’s fire, and I only have that from the experience and trials on my mission.  I would never change my experience on the mission for anything in the world.”
Although he appreciated Holland’s words, Lange said there is still a lot to do to ensure missionaries are able to successfully adjust when they return home, no matter how long they served.
“I feel like there should be some area in the missionary department where they help the missionary afterwards, because as soon as you get off that plane the missionary department doesn’t have anything to do with you anymore,” Lange said. “Even if they would email you, or set you up with a support group, that would help so many of us when we come home.”
The LDS church has been practicing missionary work since the late 1830s and currently has about 74,000 missionaries in the field, mostly young men and women in their late teens and early 20s. Missions typically last two years for men and 18 months for women.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Utah State University elects its first female student president since 2001

By Braden Clark
Ashley Waddoups, the former student advocate vice-president, has become the first female president at Utah State University since 2001. The candidates were announced live on Thursday at 7 p.m. through Twitter, and live in the Taggart Student Center.
“I’m so grateful for everyone, and for everybody that has helped me,” Waddoups said. “I know my friends, and people close to me, were working day and night, missing classes and so many other sacrifices that allowed me to be here.”
Waddoups will replace Trevor Olsen as Utah State University Student Association student body president, and will become the first female president since Celestial Star Bybee was elected back in 2001.
“I think Ashley has proven herself as the student advocate vice president that she can work really well with students, and she will advocate for the students,” Olsen said.
As the student advocate vice president for Utah State University Waddoups’ responsibilities include representing student concerns to student-government and student services, maintaining relationships with faculty and administrators to bring change, and organizing the Government Relations Council.
“Student advocate is a specific position, but that’s something Ashley will continue to do throughout her presidency, and I’m sure we’ll see great things from her this year,” Olsen said.
“I’m way excited for Ashley, because whatever she does she’s super passionate about it,” said Luis Armenta, who was reelected as the diversity vice-president and worked with Waddoups this past year. “Ashley is a hard worker, and I’m stoked for her to be the next president. I’m a little surprised there hasn’t been a female president since then, but if anyone were to be the next one no one’s a better fit than Ashley. She has specific interests among the diverse students here on campus, and I’m super excited to work with her, again.”
Waddoups held her first meeting as student body president right after her election Thursday night.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Cyberbullying prevention at Utah State University

By Braden Clark
Utah State University is in the midst of student officer elections, and USU faculty and officers are realizing how difficult it is to actually eliminate potential public shaming for the nominees.
“We can’t really control what’s being said, because there aren’t any repercussions for students choosing to say, or act a certain way online,” said Madison Maners, Utah State University’s student director of public relations and marketing. “We are always concerned with the wellbeing of the students who are involved in any kind of interaction.”
Last fall, Utah State University dealt with a cyber-attack of one of its students during the school’s Mr. USU pageant. The student was competing in the event, and during the talent section he made comments about another race. During the event students took to social media to let out their discomfort, and opinion on the matter.
“Any student that pays fees, or attends classes on our main campus, they’re members of the student association,” Maners said. “That being said, obviously our membership is very diverse, so we have zero tolerance policy for any one person online bullying, racism or degradation of any kind.”
This week Utah State is having its student association elections, and with the hashtag #AggiesVote some of the USU staff are asking students to be cautious of what they post online.
“There are times when free speech devolves into negativity, public shaming and bullying,” said Amanda DeRito, the Utah State University’s social media and marketing coordinator. “Social media is also very tricky because we have no ownership of any social media platform, nor do we have any rights to the hashtags we or our students use. I should also point out we don't have the resources to monitor every discussion between students on social media.”
On Monday, Utah State had its Greek Town Hall meeting where hopeful candidates talk with the Greek Community and other students about the upcoming election. During these meetings it is popular for students to comment on the event through social media, and usually with anonymous apps such as “Yik Yak” is usually when conversation turns offensive.
The university can’t really prohibit the use of these apps, but DeRito said, “if a student is ever wronged or personally attacked online they are asked to report comments to the respected sites.”

“That being said, harassment is covered in the USU Student Code. If students feel they are being harassed online, they should talk to the Office of Student Conduct,” DeRito said.

Monday, February 15, 2016

An LDS couple has swiped right to eternal marriage

By Braden Clark
Trent Wilson and Cierra Johnson, both students at Utah Valley University, matched on Tinder just over a year ago, as of yesterday, and now they are engaged.
“I remember last year I was somewhat down on myself, because I didn’t have anyone to share this weekend with,” Wilson said. “I matched with Cierra the day before Valentine’s Day last year, and I remember being so fixated on how beautiful she was in her profile picture.”
“I didn’t really want anything serious at the time,” Johnson said. “I had just broke up with my ex-boyfriend a week before, and my friends somewhat forced me into downloading the app that weekend.”
Johnson mentioned her initial reaction to the app was very negative, because of the men she encountered. She thought that way until she matched with Trent a few days later, and asked him to get ice cream on Valentine’s Day.
“I’ve never been good at first dates, and this was a whole new beast,” he said. “I was still really awkward, because I got home from my LDS mission three months before, and hadn’t really gone on any legit dates until then. The funny thing is, and probably why it worked out between us, but there are two Baskin Robbins in the Provo area and I went to one, and she went to the other. I sat there for 20 minutes or so before I called her to make sure she was still on her way.”
“I laughed it off at first, because this date wasn’t going over so well to start, but once he got there he was just like he acted online,” Johnson said. “It’s somewhat frightening when you meet someone online, because we are taught growing up there are people out there who want to hurt us, so I had my pepper spray ready just in case.”
Later that year in April, during an LDS general conference, young Mormons were instructed to avoid using apps like Tinder. However, this didn’t stop Wilson and Johnson from dating, but in fact they just decided to hide how they met even more.
Wilson and Johnson dated for the next year, and knew one day they wanted to get married, but one thing they wanted to do is tell their parents and friends exactly how they met.
“We lied about it at first,” Wilson said. “We had this whole made up story about how we met at a bowling alley, and how I asked her out to Baskin Robbins that day. It was really hard to actually tell our parents how we met, because Tinder has such a negative tie to it, and we were afraid of what our parents would think.”
“My dad was the one who was cool about it, oddly,” Johnson said. “It took my mom a few more dinners to actually warm up to Trent, but I think she’s on board now.”
Wilson and Johnson, both belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, plan to get married in the St. George temple in the coming months.
“I think Cierra and I are one of the few that Tinder-dating actually worked out,” Wilson said. “Would I suggest others to try it out? I’m not so sure, because it’s so different, but I don’t think I would have met Cierra if I hadn’t tried it out.”

“A lot of my friends tried to date people over Tinder after Trent and I worked out, but none of their Tinder-relationships worked out. It is what it is, and sometimes you just get lucky,” Johnson said. “We joke with our friends and say, ‘We swiped right to eternal marriage’ we may or may not actually use that on our wedding invitations.”