Monthly Archives: November 2009

Future of the Observatory remains unclear

Braden Smith – Culture editor. When the Observatory closed and merged with the Catty Shack at the beginning of the year, a number of Linfield students were angry, or at least upset. It was obvious that students wanted something to be done, although they may not have known exactly what.
Now, the issue has been directly addressed during the last Associated Students of Linfield College Senate meeting on Nov. 9. Senior Duncan Reid, campus improvement committee chair, brought the state of the Observatory to the Senate’s attention and opened up the discussion for possible ideas of what to do with the vacant building.
Ideas included changing the Observatory back into a convenience store, retrofitting it into an actual observatory or using it as a book exchange center where students could buy and sell used textbooks from each other. It was also noted that turning the building into an actual observatory would not be possible because its location receives too much light.
No formal conclusion was reached, as the idea was simply introduced, but some of the latest Senate reports sent out included notes encouraging students to e-mail their ideas about the Observatory to Reid.
“Basically, we are putting together a survey to see what people want,” Reid said.
While progress is being made regarding efforts to resurrect the closed Observatory, there have also been talks within the physics department of building a new, functional observatory on campus.
The only mention one might find of this is on the research page of the physics department’s Web site, www.linfield.edu/physics/research.php.
According to the site, “due to the proximity of new dorms, the historic Linfield observatory was converted into a convenience store in 2002. Planning is currently under way for the construction of a new observatory.”
The Observatory, originally built in 1894, cost $2,500 and boasted a six-inch refracting telescope, provided by the A.W. Kinney Estate. (Kinney was a member of Linfield’s Board of Trustees from 1874-79.) It was moved to its present location in 1964.
However, because of the expanding campus, the Observatory came under threat of demolition in 2001. In general, an observatory cannot be located close to densely populated areas because of light pollution.
In response, rather than tearing it down, the Observatory was converted into a convenience store the next year. The aim was to provide students in the Hewlett Packard apartments, along with other students in the area, a place to purchase snacks and other assorted items.
Since this conversion, planning has taken place to build a new observatory. The initial problem has been simply finding the right location: The building needs to be close enough for students to use it, but not too close so as to be at risk for light pollution from the city.
“We have spent a lot of time and study to identify a new site,” Bill Mackie, professor of physics, said.
After finding the right place, planning was underway.
“Formal plans were drawn, and we had the start of donations: some cash, as well as commitments for materials,” Mackie said. “I have a copy of the plans in my office. Unfortunately, nothing has happened.”
Members of the physics department were not available for further discussion on the subject, namely explaining why nothing has since happened.
Although seemingly at a standstill, progress has nonetheless been made, so students can expect a possible observatory in the future, as well as a revival of the closed Observatory.
However, if the Observatory is turned into something new, and an actual observatory is built, the question remains: Which one will be “The Observatory”?

Smashed window, sexual abuse: campus crimes abound

Chelsea Langevin – Senior reporter. After three windows were broken on campus the night of Halloween and the college learned of a grand jury indictment for a McMinnville citizen at the local nail salon Nov. 6, Robert Cepeda, director of Linfield College Community Public Safety & Security, reminded us that we are more capable of helping each other by studying our surroundings.
A peak in crime on and near the Linfield campus has once again motivated students to be cautious and alert.
“If you hear or see something, let someone know,” Cepeda said.
At approximately 1 a.m. Nov. 1, junior Garrett Garceau said he remembers seeing the flashing lights of LCCPS near the Vivian A. Bull Music Center and rushing to make sure nothing was seriously damaged.
“There was a hole roughly two feet tall and one foot wide that went through three of the four panes,” he said.
However, because the last pane was still intact, the interior room was protected.
“I can’t say why anybody would want to vandalize the window, but I attribute it to either some drunken person on a rampage or an intended theft of some of the items in the band room,” Garceau said.
The Vivian A. Bull building’s window was not the only one vandalized that night, Cepeda said.
A window in Walker Hall, as well as one in the Linfield Bike Co-op near LCCPS’ building, were also smashed open, he said.
Not only are these crimes frightening, they are also costly, Cepeda said, with the music building’s window costing nearly $5,000 to replace.
To offset climbing insurance rates and high replacement costs, Cepeda said it is imperative that witnesses contact LCCPS or McMinnville police immediately.
“We can check it out, and, if it turns out to be a timely thing, we can see a potential suspect,” he said.
In these cases, however, no suspects have been identified.
On the outskirts of campus, an alleged crime of a greater magnitude also poses a threat to Linfield students and faculty, as a McMinnville resident has been indicted on two counts of sexual abuse and one count of kidnapping.
The resident, Dam Ngoc Pham, is the owner of the Solar Nails salon in the Albertson’s place near campus.
While the crime was alleged to have occured July 28, 2009, it is still a relevant threat because of the number of Linfield students, faculty and staff who could have potentially attended that salon in the period between the crime and the indictment, Cepeda said.
The victim reported that the crime occurred when she was the last customer of the evening, according to the e-mail sent to the Linfield campus by Cepeda.
In situations such as these, Cepeda said it is important to follow your instincts.
“If your gut is telling you something is not right, follow it — what do you have to lose?” He said.
Cepeda also stressed that Ngoc Pham has not yet been found guilty. Rather than labeling the salon as a dangerous place, he said we should consider the case a reminder to be more cautious.
“Americans tend to be so trusting and so kind, and they don’t think past what could happen when they are receiving a service,” he said.
Overall, Cepeda said we should always remember that we have the choice to avoid potentially dangerous places or situations.
“Anyone can use his or her best judgment and just stay away,” Cepeda said.

Wildcats take byte out of IBM competition

Yin Xiao – News editor. Linfield students competed in one of the world’s most prestigious computer programming competitions in a decisive regional round Nov. 7.
Teams of three were challenged to use their programming skills to solve 11 complex, real-world problems within a grueling five-hour deadline in the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest sponsored by IBM.
“The goal is to be fast, exactly perfect and not to make any mistakes,” Daniel Ford, assistant professor of computer science and coach of the Linfield teams, said. “Compared to the huge schools in Oregon, we did a good job.”
This year, two Linfield teams participated: Robert Ferrese, Sam Shryrock and Erick Loden, all juniors; and junior Julianne Upton, senior Tamir Lkhamsuren and junior Katherine Grainey.
Lkhamsuren, computer science major, competed in the contest for the first time. His team solved three problems, an improvement on the past three years Linfield has participated.
The problems were difficult, he said, and he was under constant pressure. He said he was proud of the team, although it made small errors that prevented it from completing two other problems.
“Linfield [placed] second best of Oregon colleges, although we didn’t have a program that was able to spend several months [preparing] just for the contest,” Ford said. “The University of Oregon also should be respected. It was one of three teams that solved five problems, which is same amount as [one of three teams of] Stanford University.”
College students from 90 countries on six different continents attended the contest. The contest comprises several levels of competition: local contests, regional contests and the world finals.Large universities usually have local contests first to select the teams that will represent them.
Regional rounds began in the United States on Oct. 18 and will continue through December, continuing on from continent to continent. Only 100 three-person teams will compete in the finals Feb. 5, 2010, which will be hosted by Harbin Engineering University in Harbin, China.

Power Shift West jolts student interest

Lauren Ostrom – Feature editor. Florescent light bulbs, clean refrigerator coils, recycling and “tray-less Tuesdays:” These are just some of the small strides Linfield has made toward conserving energy and making a difference in the environment. We all know that the world is in dire need of fixing, and several students are taking steps to do something about it.
Linfield students gathered with other young adults from Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana and Alaska at the University of Oregon from Nov. 6-8 to learn more about helping the planet cope with climate change as part of the Power Shift West conference.
The goal of the conference was to help attendees learn more about what is being done to help the environment, as well as how to help with this effort. They also had the opportunity to converse with other people who are involved with conservation efforts.
More than 15 Linfield students listened to guest speakers, participated in workshops and panels and took action with their fellow peers against climate change.
Motivational speakers, such as Alli Chagi-Starr and Lela Brown, attended the event and offered wise words to the young listeners. They both engage in the environment efforts and encourage others to become more involved.
One of the students who attended, junior Avalon Fox, said the conference had a wide range of workshops.
“There was a workshop called ‘The Beehive Design Collective,’” she said. “It’s a group of artists from Maine. They do projects for causes. The last cause they did was due to coal, because they’re actually blowing up mountaintops to get the coal. They contribute in their own way, through art.”
Power Shift West also included workshops discussing policies and a legislative climate bill that is under consideration by Congress. Other workshops focused on little changes, such as cleaning the coils connected to the refrigerator, that people can make in their everyday lives to conserve energy.
Another participant, senior Duncan Reid, said the conference was one of the best experiences of his college career.
“My favorite part was getting together with other students that are passionate about what I am passionate about,” he said. “Everyone had so much energy.”
Reid is also working on a project to build a new “green” bike shop with other Linfield students. The bike shop will feature energy-efficient solar panels on its roof.
Anyone who is interested in getting involved can visit www.psw09.org for more information regarding Power Shift West.

Swine flu continues to spread

Dominic Baez – Editor-in-chief. While supposed cases of the H1N1 virus have bounced around Linfield for the last few months, most have been mild to moderate. Students, faculty and staff members are sometimes confined to their rooms or homes, feeling sore and tired. However, most spring back in a few days, ready to go. This is not the case everywhere, however.
Nearly 3,900 people in the United States, including about 540 children, are believed to have died from H1N1 during the first six months of the epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Nov. 12.
The figure was based on a detailed analysis of data from dozens of districts across the country using a similar method to calculate estimates of ordinary seasonal flu deaths.
An estimated 22 million people in the United States have contracted the virus, resulting in nearly 98,000 hospitalizations through Oct. 17.
At the moment, 41.6 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine are available, three million more than last week. The Department of Health and Human Services has ordered 75 million doses of the vaccine for delivery by year’s end.
However, production delays have stymied these plans, resulting in criticism of production methods. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Nov. 10 revealed that “Americans are starting to lose confidence in the government’s ability to prevent a nationwide epidemic, though a narrow majority continue to say that the government and private industry will eventually produce enough of the vaccine to inoculate everyone who wants it.”
As for Yamhill County, Yamhill County Public Health has ceased taking vaccination appointments for both the seasonal and H1N1 flu until it receives additional supplies of both. According to a Nov. 7 story in the News-Register, “Spokeswoman Sarah Bates said the H1N1 vaccine is currently being offered only to people in high-risk groups — pregnant women, children 6 months to 5 years of age and parents, siblings and caregivers of infants under 6 months.”
The department is also out of seasonal flu vaccines, but it is expecting new shipments soon. However, the Linfield Student Health Center still has seasonal flu vaccinations. They cost $30.
Private clinics, including the health center, and pharmacies have yet to receive the H1N1 vaccine.
According to the Oregon Health Division Web site, 21 people from Yamhill County have been hospitalized as a result of the H1N1 flu since Sept. 1, and there has been one fatality.
H1N1 vaccinations are free; the federal government is paying for them.
For more information regarding H1N1 and what Linfield is doing about the epidemic, visit www.linfield.edu/flu.