GFU Students, Staff Stand Against Executive Order

More than 100 George Fox University (GFU) students and staff walked out of their classes on Jan. 30 to protest  President Trump’s barring of refugees from seven Muslim countries.

At noon, students surrounded the Centennial Clock Tower in the center of campus, raising signs with slogans such as “We won’t accept Bigotry and Xenophobia thinly disguised as ‘making America safe again,’” and “Refugees are not terrorists.”

Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 that prevented refugees from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia from entering the United States for 120 days.

Trump posted a statement on his Facebook page on Jan. 29 to justify his executive order.

“My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months,” said Trump. “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting.”

Students during the walkout expressed concerns about the order encouraging discrimination against Muslims, and chanted during the protest: “No hate. No fear. Everyone is welcome here.”

An anonymous student started a chat group on Facebook Sunday to help inform students about the collaboratively organized event.

“There is this culture of hate in this country and more specifically in this school,” said the student. “There are many people who just feel that they don’t belong here. That is because of the result of the election year.”

The student stood with the protestors during the Jan. 30 walk-out, holding a sign that read, “Get to know a Muslim refugee.”

“Until you get to know that person,” said the student, “you’re not going to realize that he’s just another human being that is bleeding red like you.”

An email was sent to various students describing the nature of the walk-out.

“In light of the executive order ban on Muslim immigrants and general racism,” said the message, “There will be a walk-out/stand…to show solidarity; that we care.”

Protestors also called for a recognition the rights of minority groups and the LGBTQ+ community.

“We really wanted to come and show solidarity with the minority,” said Jessica Nordhagen, a junior. “[And] Show support for Black Lives Matter, the LGTBQ, and the refugees.”

The walk-out was the product of the effort of many students, and was not organized by the University, but staff members also joined the event.

“It’s really imposing on college students that are here that have come from foreign countries that are on a student visa,” said Theresa Schierman, financial aid counselor for GFU.

Schierman expressed her concerns for the transfer students at GFU who could be affected by the executive order, and said that she was proud of the students holding the walkout in response.

“There is already a wall,” said Schierman. “And it’s called bureaucracy.”

Brad Lau, vice president for Student Life, sent an email to students on Jan. 30, sharing a letter written by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) to President Trump to “reconsider” the executive order.

“While we are always open to improvements to our government’s screening process,” said the CCCU. “We believe that our nation can continue to be both compassionate and secure.”

Christianity Required?

Most students attending GFU profess some kind of Christian faith, be it Quaker, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, or any number of other denominations. However, a small but significant population of students either align themselves with other religions or identify as agnostic or atheist.

Atheist students, along with other non-Christian students, are not known at George Fox University (GFU) — at least, not in the same way Christian students are.

While GFU promises each student will be known at an individual level, non-Christian students find it difficult to see this pledge lived out, as many professors teach with the assumption that all students in the classroom are Christians.

Some professors may struggle to connect with non-Christian students because of their differences in faith. Professors use “we” and “us” when describing the ideologies and values of Christians, often without recognizing that not everyone in the room may feel like
they belong.

A simple statement like, “I’m going to use ‘we’ when talking about Christians because I’m operating under the assumption that the majority of the class is Christian. If you do not agree with any beliefs addressed or have any questions regarding this, please ask me,” from a professor might do a lot to make students of other faiths more comfortable in class.

By acknowledging that non-Christian students attend this university, GFU can create stronger relationships with these students and work to build an atmosphere of understanding and community.

Another challenging place for non-Christian students is Bible class. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, informed me that in his Bible Survey class, the professor assumed all the students were Christians by asking them to write papers regarding the history of their church, with no alternative offered to students of differing beliefs. The same student shared his experience at GFU, saying, “I find great moments of just dire resentment against what’s being told to me . . . I find moments of real connection . . . to find the good in people, the love.”

These presumptions on the part of GFU, it seems to this writer, do not facilitate an environment where students from differing walks of life can come together and learn from each other’s journeys.

Often, when peers learn of a student’s religious difference, they ask, “Why are you here then?” Scholarship money, convenience, and family influence only skim the surface of that question.

One senior at GFU has been asked this question frequently. “In the end, it shouldn’t matter why people who aren’t Christian come here,” she said, “We are here and have every right to ‘be known’ . . . as
much as anyone else. So the ‘why’ shouldn’t matter. We
are here.”

Creating a space where these students feel comfortable sharing their beliefs should be important to GFU. If GFU created a way to facilitate conversations between these students and other students who are Christian (maybe via a club on campus), understanding could be reached.

This diversity should not be scary. Rather, it should signal our coming together to address unique standpoints. Perhaps opening ourselves to the possibility of learning from one another would create a better Christ-like community. And isn’t that what GFU strives to provide?

Smoothie Community

By Kathryn McClintock

Photos by Shelby Bauer

Starting the first week of February, students living on campus will be able to check out kitchen equipment during RA duty hours.

Student Life and Nutrition Matters are promoting this opportunity with “Smoothie Sample Nights,” and by providing kitchen supplies and nutritional information to students. Available supplies include mixing bowls, pots and pans, cutting boards, baking pans, measuring cups, mixers, and popcorn poppers.

The goal of this initiative is to promote health on campus. According to a study on college students and their eating habits, most college students get only one of five recommended servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and skipping meals is a frequent occurrence.

By providing the means for students to create their own colorful and healthymeals, Student Life and Nutrition Matters are hoping to promote greater
nutritional awareness.

While George Fox University (GFU) has made more advances than other colleges by buying local ingredients and providing healthier food options, the kitchen sharing initiative aims to fill in where GFU might not be able to—whether that’s tight class schedules that call for pre-packed meals, or healthy, allergy-free alternatives for students with food sensitivities. If students are interested in checking out kitchen equipment, they can sign out items from their RAs during duty hours once the supplies are available.

Best Tacos on Hwy 99W

Photo by Shelby Bauer 

In the Oregonian’s recent article cataloging the best tacos on 99W, Dos Mundos Food Cart was featured as serving “one of the state’s best fish tacos,” and earned the No. 1 spot on the newspaper’s list.

Eddie Rodriguez works with his father, chef Jesús Rodriguez, and his mother, Miriam Rodriguez, at the recently opened Dos Mundos Food Cart. The cart stands in the parking lot outside
the Starbucks.

Dos Mundos Food Cart’s Facebook page says their restaurant serves “authentic Oaxacan style dishes with an American twist.” They prepare a variety of dishes from enchiladas and fish tacos to other delicacies such as alligator and cricket tacos.

Jesús, his wife, and his son opened the restaurant on May 22, 2016. Jesús had experience working in Californian restaurants and Miriam brought her knowledge of traditional Oaxacan recipes as they prepared their menu.

At first, the Rodriguez family had doubts about Dos Mundos’s survival.

“We weren’t sure how things were going to turn out,” said Rodriguez. “We were a little bit nervous. We’ve had some thoughts of
closing down.”

The food cart gained statewide attention after a few months, however. In Sept. 2016, Dos Mundos was featured in the Wall Street Journal, along with several other Newberg businesses.

“That was a huge deal for us. My mom and my dad were both happy, but we didn’t necessarily expect what was going to happen next,” Eddie
Rodriguez said.

Within a few weeks, the Rodriguez family saw a significant increase in customers. They had about 125 people a day come in wanting to try their tacos, said Eddie.

When the Oregonian rated Dos Mundos’s fish tacos as the best taco on Highway 99W, the small business saw another increase in
customer numbers.

Rodriguez said his family enjoys Newberg for its farmland and wineries, and they hope to continue serving the community in the future.

“We want to stay here,” said Rodriguez. “We want continue making people
happy here.”

Tips for Handling Stress During Finals


Coming back from the four days of Thanksgiving break, we all have to face the crucial

reality which is: there are only a few days left before finals. No matter how many finals we

have been through in our school life, when it comes, the intensity comes along

with it. So having this in mind, what can cure our stress during finals? Here are some practical tips:


1. First and most important: Treat your body right.

Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods and exercise before and during finals week.

Most research says that the typical person needs at least five hours of sleep in order to

retain the information they learned during the day and to be alert and functional the

following day. We all need time to study, but staying up all night cramming can

actually decrease your memory and ability to retain information. Also, treat yourself

with your favorite food–don’t worry about your weight; you deserve something that

makes you happy. Food will give you the energy and mental strength you need to

focus. Exercise has also been shown to decrease stress. Spending maybe ten minutes

a day walking around campus can give your brain time to refresh.


2. Study Strategically

Create a study schedule and make estimates for the amount of time required

study for each test. From there, you can prioritize what needs to be

accomplished each day. Avoid studying or working on the same project more than two hours.

Get up and walk around every hour for at least 15 minutes, or connect with a

friend to refresh yourself. If you are not easily distracted by others, then try to have

a study group from your class. Getting together with a group

and discussing the course material may help you retain the information. Interaction with friends

can relieve stress, but studying is important, too.


3. Visualize it All Going Right

Imagine yourself taking the test and feeling confident that you know all the

information. Picture getting all of the answers right, and focus on how relaxed

you feel. Then picture the “A” on your test paper. When you imagine a happy

ending, that’s often what happens, because you make the decisions that lead to it

without even realizing.

You’ve prepared as much as you can, and now it’s time to ace the test. Good Luck!

The Good Samaritan to International Students

If you mention the name Loren Van Tassel to any of the international students at George Fox University (GFU), you will probably get the same reactions from them: a big smiling face and plenty of compliments.

Loren, almost 79-years-old, is one of the oldest professors on campus, and teaches biblical knowledge to the students with no Christian background.

Loren was born in his grandparents’ farm house, in a rural part of Oregon; he lived in a forested area where wild animals roamed. Coming from an agricultural background and being fully interested in the subject drove him to want to study agriculture and work for Future Farmers of America.

Loren earned his master’s degree in Zoology at Oregan State University. One day, he prayed before he went to the lab section of his Bio-Chemistry class. “God who do you want me to be partners with?” He stood there and waited. “A short girl from Thailand came to me and stood here and so we became friends.”

It seems like God already had a plan for Loren. When he was in college his roommates were from Hong Kong, and he went to the Chinese-Christian fellowship. Then he started working with international students, which opened up his vision to the world. He never expected to live in a big city working with people from around the world.

When Loren was planning to attend Washington State University for his Ph.D. in Bio-Physics he did not pass, instead he was invited to assist in a course for nursing students. He discovered in that situation that he had a gift for teaching. He thought he was going to teach for the rest of his life, but at the time he gradually realized that God was calling him to Christian ministry, and he found out that he wanted to focus on something more significant than biology, and that is people’s spiritual life and the Bible’s message.

“I am a shy, introvert and coming from the rural area, but God was bringing these influences into my life and that gave me confidence. I was always so unsure of myself before. God gave me affirmation through people around me,” said Loren. “It’s ok, I can change.”

About that time Loren met his wife Sylvia, a woman who he found common ground with, and a woman who was willing to go abroad to preach God’s message with him. They left home and went to Hong Kong. For 23 years, the couple dedicated not only their time but also their stamina to churches and schools in Hong Kong. When the churches started getting more and more independent, and they didn’t need foreign missionaries very much, Loren and Sylvia decided it would be better for local people to take over the leadership entirely.

Their journey to the other countries did not just end there. A few years later they went to Guangzhou, China to teach English for three years.

“It was a highlight in our lives because it was so easy to make relationships,” he said. They started a Bible study at their apartment, and several of the students who joined their Bible study became Christians.

When Sylvia started the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and losing her memories, this was the hardest period of time for Loren. Her health was getting worse and worse and Loren had to take her to the health care center.

“She was mad at me, but I had no choice. I could not take care of her by myself,” he said while looking at the floor. Even during that time, Loren was keeping his classes and helping his students.

About seven years ago, George Fox University started a Bible course for mostly international students who have no Christian background. Because some international students were not doing very well in other Bible classes,  they talked to their advisers to see if the school would offer pre-Bible class for them. After having so many years interacting with people from different countries, Loren was the first person that school considered probably would be the best to teach this class.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Loren comes to class early and prepares for his class, writing down the notes with his frail hands on the board and organizing the chairs carefully for students to get better views. He waits for them while whistling his favorite songs. It was hard for him to teach this class at first, but throughout these years he is just only improving his teaching skills and building intimate relationships with his students.

Besides teaching international students, Loren has been holding Bible studies for students and visiting scholars for many years in Newberg. He also devotes most of his time to international students when any of them need help. He not only remembers all his students’ names, but also their difficulties. Their joys are his joys, their burdens are his burdens.

Building an environment and inviting students to come is something that he loves and enjoys to do. “I am very blessed to have the privilege for this many years with these opportunities to build relationships with international students, the very kind of people I love the most,” Loren said. “This is a gift that God gave me.”

He loves this gift so much, but he knew he had to be realistic because he is not the only one who could do this. And he needed to be ready to turn it over to somebody else who is younger and has more energy. When that time comes , he will do this, even though he knows it will be hard.

“I came to America for a couple years and I have met a lot of nice people, but he is beyond nice,” one of his student said. “I consider him as part of my family here in America; I know he is getting old and his health is not as good as before. I just want to pray for him to be with us international students forever.”

“Spotlight” Movie Review

In 2001, Marty Baron (played by Liev Schreiber) began to oversee the Boston Globe, still a prosperous newspaper despite the upcoming of the World Wide Web. He proposed to dust off the cobwebs off of a story about a little-heard-of piece about sexual abuse charges in the Catholic Church. Baron sent the Spotlight team – seasoned vet “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) and a go-getter staff of Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) – deeper into an investigation nobody seemed to care about.

What Spotlight ended up getting out of it was a rabbit hole of scandals and cover-ups of the Catholic Church’s influence over younger children. To call the Church to the stand would be an uphill battle at best, and would threaten to hurt their readership, which showed that over 50% were Catholic. They pressed on, uncovering the truth and bringing these figures of spiritual trust to justice. That, in its simplest essence, is the story of scandal.

The film Spotlight is doggedly researched, completely journalistic in attempt. Directed by Tom McCarthy, the film is never about the operatic goings-on behind this nationwide investigation, but about the heart of journalistic integrity. Thorough and no-nonsense, Spotlight is a fine piece of film.

What McCarthy does best in his direction is the way he emphasizes the ensemble performances instead of hovering over one character. This works as a platform for which the true story can meander naturally and allow the characters to react otherwise. The Spotlight team, same as the title, refers to an almost underground sect at the Globe. They seem to be some of the hardest researchers on the team, as there are only a select few. This exemplifies McCarthy’s stress of the ensemble.

Michael Keaton, who had a stellar year revamping his career with Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), proves he’s equally effective in a supporting role as the weathered leader of Spotlight. His Robby Robinson is never too cynical or beaten down like his colleagues. He remains a sober center for the film, which he accomplishes with incredible gentility. Mark Ruffalo is also a standout, as the writer without a second life. In one scene, perhaps the film’s most personal, he confesses that he stopped going to church because he wanted a reason to go back. Ruffalo plays this with human vulnerability, never overacting.

What makes Spotlight exemplary is how it simply is not extraordinary. Never in the script does McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer cheat and make the story more personal than it needs to be. They know that they want to give information on the people who gave the information about this scandal.

A hard-nosed look at the film detects that some of the plot is critical of the Church, and even if it flies to close to that sun, it is a mild detractor from the film. Other than this possible implication, Spotlight is a crackerjack film in journalism and in telling the truth.

The Bodyguard

I was walking on the street in complete silence that night. I heard some voices ahead of me. There were a few young men hanging out on the street; they were smoking, laughing, and talking to each other. As I was walked closer to them, they said something that I didn’t understand, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t something decent. And they laughed again.

I felt scared. I look at them and walked faster and faster; all the horrible scenes that I had seen from movies and the news came through my mind.

“Please, God, send me home safely,” I prayed all the way home.

Living off campus is one of the biggest changes I made this year. I was so grateful I could find a place to live and it costs less money than living on campus. However, I gradually realized the fact that the distance from campus to my place is a bit far, especially when the dark approaches sooner every day.

I try to go home early, but some days are occupied with late classes or work, and so I have to walk in the dark. I need to change this situation, but what can I do? I don’t have a car; I can’t find another place for now; the only thing that I can do is pray.

God listened to me; he sent me a bodyguard.

I was doing homework at the den when I heard someone talking behind me. I noticed him because he sort of reminded me of myself. I was curious about him.

“I am from Myanmar,” he said, giving me a big smile. Then our following conversations took place. His name is Thang, he immigrated to America five years ago, and is a freshman here at George Fox.

We became friends that day.

“Is there anything that I can pray for you?” he said before I left. I told him my worries about the safety problems.

He looked at me seriously, “Would it be helpful if I walk with you?” All of a sudden, I didn’t know what to say. I just met him that day, and he even offered to help me.

“This is what Jesus would do, and I am doing exactly what he did for his friends,” he says. He always reminds me when I feel bad for letting him walk with me.

I believe that God sent him to protect me. And I am so grateful that I can be friends with someone like him, who has the strong personality to be so caring and kind to everyone.IMG_6486

Tabletop Classics: Cosmic Encounter

Sometimes, when a board game lasts a long time, it only does so through inertia. For example, I firmly believe that people only play Monopoly and Life because those games are all they know. Other games last because they are just so darn good.

Chess and Go have existed for centuries because they are delicately balanced puzzles that require little learning to play and yet deep skill to master. Still another game endures not because it rests upon the laurels of past success, or because it is elegantly designed, but because it is absolutely bonkers: Cosmic Encounter.

The first edition of Cosmic Encounter came out 38 years ago in 1977. In board game years, that’s practically ancient history. Still, no need to break out the prune juice yet: Cosmic Encounter has not only aged gracefully, it’s still one of the best tabletop games out there.

Cosmic Encounter operates on a philosophy of variety. Each player takes control of a galactic civilization struggling against its space neighbors, and in doing so they play as one of 50 alien species, each with its own unique abilities (and a variety of expansions have added over a hundred more).

These abilities range from the mundanely useful (you fight a bit better than everyone else) to the hilarious (you act like a butler and draw other players’ cards and move their pieces for them, but they have to tip you in cards) to the bizarre (you win when all of your ships die). This immense number of unique aliens, which often interact with each other in strange and unexpected ways, keeps the game constantly fresh.

The goal in Cosmic Encounter is to be the first to establish five colonies on your opponents’ planets. This is done primarily through battles. The winner of a particular battle is determined by whoever has the highest score for that battle, composed of the number of ships each player sent from their fleet to fight and the score of a single “encounter card” played out of the hand.

It is in these battles that much of the alien variety comes in. Some alien abilities, such as one in which instead of adding together ship count and encounter card they are multiplied, are so powerful that they alter the entire game.

In the above case, three ships and an encounter card worth 12 (which would normally yield a score of 15) gives a value of 36 – a tremendously high number in this game. Other abilities allow players to manipulate the system – for example, one alien race has the ability to reverse the win conditions of a battle, so that the lowest score wins. Why is this so strong? This player doesn’t have to announce whether or not there will be a reversal until after an opponent has chosen which card to play.

These powerful alien abilities are not balanced, nor are they meant to be. Some aliens are simply stronger than others. However, this is where the second defining element of Cosmic Encounter comes in: diplomacy. While some alien abilities are very powerful, that very power paints a target on that player’s back, encouraging the other players to team up and prevent themselves from being steamrolled.

In Cosmic Encounter, there are several ways to work together, and they all involve horrible, horrible mind games. Before each battle is fought, both sides may invite other players to join them, and any player may then choose to join any one player who has invited them.

If victorious, that player gains a share of the spoils– but if defeated, that player, and all the players on the losing side, lose all of their ships involved. Knowing who and when to back in a fight is a tricky issue, especially when the mechanic is further convoluted by yet more alien powers.

Additionally, players can, instead of fighting, negotiate. In order to do this, both players must play, instead of a red combat encounter card, a green negotiate card. When negotiating, players can then trade anything from cards to information to colonies – leading to hilarious double-wins being fairly common, where two players standing at four colonies agree to trade the final one to each other.

Negotiations are fraught with risk, however, since if you play one but your opponent plays a regular combat card, you automatically lose the battle. How much do you really trust your friend?

Cosmic Encounter is a silly romp of a game in which you and your friends get to play as goofy looking aliens with a huge variety of interesting and often entertaining powers. Through its twin defining features of tremendous variety and palm-sweating intrigue, Cosmic Encounter has managed to be a tabletop classic for almost four decades.

Some Say Star, Others Say Samantha Biever

Imagine someone with enough energy to light every building. Did Samantha Biever come to your mind? Because she steals that title.

From Redmond, Ore., Biever is a first generation college student in her family. Naturally inclined to push herself, Biever majors in Organizational Communication and minors in Marketing, with extra responsibilities such as working for residence life, dancing for the Christmas concert team, and working as an employee for the Idea Center. She also plans on joining the Communication Honor Society, called Lambda Pi Eta.

“I want to become a public relations specialist,” said Biever. “Basically representing a company to the public and being the person that creates the relationship between a company and the people it associates with. That’s my career goal.”

Behind the goals and sheer ambition of Biever is someone who wants to ensure other women are encouraged and confident in their individuality.

“I love it when a girl knows how loved and valued she is,” said Biever. “I want to continue in that and really be everyone’s friend, especially people who don’t really have friends. I want to be there for them.”

This drive then led to the hard to forget stellar performance by The Matchmakers during this year’s Lip Sync Battle at George Fox University (GFU), choreographed by none other than Biever. As a dancer for eight years before coming to GFU, Biever also played seven years of volleyball and five years of basketball, making her the perfect fit for an ambitious task.

The idea of approaching life with such love and determination is hard for anyone without someone to inspire them.

“My mom is really good at loving all of my family members,” said Biever. “Even the ones who aren’t saved. I love the way she relates to people, even when she doesn’t necessarily agree with their life style.”

Energy, kindness, and commitment are some of the many words that make up Biever’s world, and turn it into a spotlight for others to be moved by.