bagheeraface

Archive for the ‘Guest Columns’ Category

Guest Column: From the non-Christian’s point of view

In Alaskana, Culture, Curious Notions, Guest Columns, The Cool on December 24, 2010 at 1:01 am

From the non-Christian’s point of view

By Elika Roohi

You know how there are those people at Christmas time that insist on saying “Happy Holidays,” and they make you put up unspecific decorations?  I am one of those people.

I’m not going to tear down the holly wreaths on campus, I’m not going to bemoan the fact that there are poinsettias everywhere, and I won’t complain when Christmas Carols are played nonstop.  In fact, I’m not even going to make a fuss.*

Even though we live in a country that is predominantly Christian, it’s exactly that: predominantly.  Which means that there are a whole lot of people around that are Hindu or Buddhist or Jewish or Zoroastrian or Baha’i or Muslim.  And those people don’t celebrate Christmas.**  A lot of those people don’t even celebrate a holiday in the month of December, so when you try to be politically correct and wish them a “happy holidays,” you’re still not getting it.

The thing is, before I got to college, it seemed like everyone was making a genuine effort to say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.”  But then I showed up at UAF, and there are holly wreaths and poinsettias and Christmas trees all over the place.  I played in a concert this afternoon that had a completely Christmas carol repertoire; there wasn’t even a token Jewish tune.  Not to mention, I haven’t seen a single menorah on campus.

I’m a Baha’i.  I celebrate Naw-Ruz, which is in March.  And I don’t have a problem with Christmas in the least.  But I do have a problem with the fact that people seem to forget there are others out there that don’t celebrate Christmas.  We just had World Week at UAF.  Wasn’t that all about diversity?  Well, where is the diversity now?

———-

*I’m just going to write this blog post.  And okay, I might ask you to turn off the Christmas music.

**Except sometimes they do because of societal norms.

A UA Christmas Reflection w/ Pres. Gamble

In Alaskana, Curious Notions, Guest Columns, Humor, UAF on December 21, 2010 at 9:56 pm

In case you missed it, on Dec. 20, UA President Patrick Gamble emailed the UAF Staff list-serve with an letter that can only be described as cute. In case you are not on the Staff list-serve, here is the email in it’s entirety. I have bolded the lines that I felt were particularly fun/interesting.

Patrick Gamble during a summer 2010 luncheon hosted by the Fairbanks Economic Development Coorporation. Photo by Jeremia Schrock/Bagheera Face

A UA Christmas Reflection

As we round out the semester and commence the holiday season I find myself thinking back to student days (the proverbial “days of yore?”) and the anticipation I felt then about the approaching time off. Family and travel quickly replaced any academic focus I might have had, and the burden of classes was mercifully lifted for a couple of weeks. I’m sure that over the many years since then nothing much about that has changed in the student department. Now, being on the other side of the fence for the first time, I’m fascinated to observe the same phenomenon occurring on the faculty and staff side. Amazingly, it never occurred to me way back then that the university was likewise quite happyto be rid of me so they could take a well deserved breather too!!

So enjoy yourselves in all the ways the season provides. Take comfort that despite how sometimes this crazy planet rocks, rolls, and rhumbas to the discordant events of our time, we in America still have many blessings to be thankful for…like our ability to tolerate and appreciate others, our freedom, the diversity we enjoy among our family and friends, and for the special opportunity we have here at UA to educate generations of Alaskans. As professionals we need our students, because making them successful makes us whole in our life’s work. In turn they need us…to support, instruct, and educate them so they can fulfill their awesome potential. They all know they cannot fly solo yet. Even so, at times, this relationship takes on the characteristics of a sumo struggle more than a learning partnership. Not a problem, it mostly works out just fine. It’s just that every now and then, like at Christmas, we need to go back to our respective corners, take a breather, unwind and then smile at the prospect of the exciting opportunities ahead for all of us in the next round. Every job description within our UA system is crafted as a link to all other job descriptions in a latticework that creates a powerful university team. Every individual team member is essential to the task of getting our students through. Thank you all for doing that so well. I look forward to the New Year, and working with you.

Have a great break.

Sincerely,

Patrick Gamble

It makes me think that underneath that four star general exterior lies a fun-loving Joe Hayes middle. Thoughts?

Guest Column: What to do in the aftermath of the Midterm Election

In Guest Columns, Political, UAF on November 8, 2010 at 6:58 pm

“So, what SHOULD we be doing now?”
James Shewmake
Guest Columnist

Midterm Election season is over and gone are the campaign ads and annoying robocalls, at least for now. What this election really meant and how it will shape the nation remains to be seen and there is plenty of speculation and attempts at precognition out there amongst the professional pundits, so I will spare you my analysis. The real question that comes to my mind in the wake of this topsy-turvy anything goes election cycle is “So, what SHOULD we be doing now?”

For many people, the answer is simple. They will slip back into the shadows, content that they have won the day for/against such and such ideology. Others are already looking to the next election, trying to figure out what went wrong and what was done right, and what moves are needed for the future. And yet others will continue to sit out of the whole process, convinced that neither party represents their interests. In my time of working behind the scenes in party politics, this is the most frustrating mindset to encounter. There’s no denying that both parties have their flaws, but in my experience the greatest flaw of the party system is one that is so easily fixed. It’s called “participation”. You see, any organization, be it political party, local church, Boy Scout troop, or book club, is only as good as the people who participate in it.

So if you want to make an impact on Alaskan or American politics, get involved! It’s a great way to be informed about what’s going on, who the candidates and elected officials are and what they really stand for, and to ensure that the two party system works effectively. If you are a student at UA-Fairbanks, there are groups for both college Republicans and Democrats, as well as regional party affiliates to the state party organizations. I won’t lie, it’s not always easy or rewarding, but in my opinion it beats sitting on the sidelines. To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings…” So I encourage young people to take up the fight, be the change you want to see in the world, and contribute to the political discussion in the state, because it’s your future too.

Disclosure: James Shewmake is the Vice President of the Alaska Young Democrats and student leader of the UAF Campus Democrats club. He has been active in party politics since 2002.