Western Washington University: The surprising new right-wing target

Northern California in the late 20th century wasn’t a nesting ground for diversity. In fact, most people in the all-white neighborhood Bruce Shepard grew up in reacted downright negatively toward it.

He remembers when the first Italian family moved in, and “For Sale” signs cropped up on the lawns of some nearby homes. Then the first Japanese family. More signs.

Each time new neighbors moved in, Shepard’s father marched him and his brother across the street or down the block to shake hands and extend a warm welcome.

The Western Washington University president said that he was raised to promote diversity in his community. It’s a mission he has carried with him throughout his jobs in higher education and a goal he believes Western’s students and faculty support. Since he started at Western in 2008, he has repeatedly asked what the Bellingham, Wash. liberal arts university can do to make sure that, in future years, Western is not as white as it is today.

Most recently, he asked the question again in a March 18 post on Western Today, the school’s online communications publication. The title: “Six questions on the future of Western.”

The question itself, however, isn’t what made national morning news last week or finally got the majority of Western students — and more than a few others not affiliated with the university — talking about Western’s diversity goals.

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Le reflects on time as ASVP before rare resignation

Students to vote in first ASVP special election since 1995

The office of Western Washington University’s Associated Students Vice President for Business and Operations is vacant. The next position holder will be determined by an upcoming special election.

Previous position-holder Hung Le’s last day in office was Monday, Jan. 6, the day before Western’s winter quarter began. He formally announced his resignation in an email sent to all AS staff Thursday afternoon, Dec. 12 — the day before the end of Western’s fall-quarter finals week. Students will vote on the new ASVP for business and operations during a special election Jan. 27-31. Students can pick up candidate packets from Viking Union Room 504. Completed candidate packets are due by 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16.

Le did not wish to speak about his resignation immediately, but later agreed to answer questions for The Western Front via email. He declined to disclose why he resigned beyond “personal reasons.”

“[The reason] is not related to my job at the Associated Students,” Le said.

Le is not the first AS employee to resign this academic year, but as a Board member, his resignation is especially unusual.

Four to five AS employees have resigned in each of the past four years due to personal reasons or other employment opportunities, AS Personnel Director Nidia Hernandez said.  During the same number of years, one AS employee was fired. In the first two quarters of 2013-14, three AS employees have resigned: two in summer and one — Le — in fall.

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Associated Students corrects pay miscalculations for 44 positions

Western Washington University’s Associated Students is increasing the salaries of 44 positions that had been paid based on under-calculated amounts for three years, amounting to an annual discrepancy of $11,178.71.

The 44 students who hold those positions this year signed agreements for under-calculated salaries in the spring, but will receive their first paycheck Sept. 25 based on the recalculated salaries, AS Personnel Director Nidia Hernandez said. The acceptance letters signed by the people who previously held the 44 positions were for terms that have since ended. These people will not be reimbursed to have made the recalculated salaries, said Kevin Makjut, director of student activities.

All three-quarter Associated Students employee positions were paid a miscalculated amount for the past three years because some salary placements and rates had been based upon flawed information regarding required work schedules, according to an information item from the Aug. 5 AS Board meeting. In the unrevised salary system, four-quarter employees were mostly getting paid correctly, but “essentially all three-quarter employees [were] being underpaid,” according to the item.

In addition to the 44 positions corrected for this year, 26 four-quarter employee salaries were under-calculated by less than $7 and will be adjusted for next year’s employees, and three positions were paid too much: one by $502.22 and two by $3.59.

No employees were paid less than they were legally entitled to: employees were paid exactly the amounts they signed for, and no one’s salary was ever less than minimum wage. The miscalculations varied from a few dollars to $638.55, according to revised calculations made by Assistant Director of Student Activities Lisa Rosenberg.

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Safeco Field crew works 8 days a week to prepare for Sir Paul

Tony Pereira doesn’t travel much as Safeco Field’s senior director of ballpark operations. Neither does Bob Christoferson as the field’s head groundskeeper.

But both men flew across the country last week — Pereira to Boston, Christoferson to Washington, D.C. — on the same mission.

Pereira arrived in Boston to observe Paul McCartney’s July 9 show at Fenway Park. Christoferson went to D.C. for the week of McCartney’s July 12 show at Washington Nationals ballpark.

Neither was there for the music. They were trying to figure out how to pull off the first big concert at Safeco Field.

Friday, ex-Beatle and solo legend Paul McCartney will play a virtually sold-out show from center field.

This will be the first major pop concert and one of the largest events ever held at Safeco. (The Beach Boys played Safeco in 2008 in conjunction with Microsoft’s annual company meeting, but that was a semiprivate event.) Five days after the park’s 14th birthday, about 45,000 people will fill it for McCartney’s “Out There” tour. A crowd of 47,000 attended the field’s at-capacity opening game in July 1999.

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Seattle improv troupe to stage real ‘Wedding Horror Stories’

The bridesmaids’ purple dresses had been custom-fitted, but when the mother of the bride found out, she ordered the dresses returned. She was planning to wear the same color.

Stories like this make actress Cheryl Platz grateful that the plans for her September wedding have gone relatively smoothly.

“It calls into attention all the moving pieces that can go wrong,” she said.

Platz is a cast member of “Wedding Horror Stories,” an original, improvised comedy show staged by Seattle Experimental Theater that will premiere Thursday. During each performance, the cast will re-create wedding mishaps solicited from the audience during the show.

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Washington state vacates house bill to waive marijuana misdemeanors

A bill that would have waived misdemeanor marijuana offenses for adults ages 21 and older died in the Washington State House of Representatives.

Washington State House Bill 1661, which passed to the rules committee for a second reading on March 1, never made it to the House floor. It would have allowed all adults convicted of a marijuana misdemeanor before recreational use was legalized in Washington to apply to the sentencing court for a vacation of their charges.

Although the bill won’t make it into law this year,  sponsor Representative Joe Fitzgibbons said it was well-received.

“It started a good conversation,” Fitzgibbons said. “We are going to have to take another shot at it next year.”

Representative Kevin Parker, the ranking minority member who opposed the bill, was unavailable for comment.

When marijuana became legal in Washington, many prosecutors waived misdemeanor charges people had incurred before legalization. Fitzgibbons said this was a courageous thing to do and the correct decision, knowing the voters of Washington did not believe possession of small amounts should be a crime.

Fitzgibbons estimated that a couple hundred people were affected by that decision…

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Spain charged with murder of 17-year-old stabbing victim

Bellingham, Wash. – A 21-year-old man has been charged with the murder of a teenager who was stabbed outside a dwindling house party on Samish Way earlier this month.

Geoff K. Spain was charged Feb. 12 with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Davonte Thompson, 17, and second-degree assault in connection with injuries sustained by Brandon Thompson, 18, Davonte’s brother.

Police arrested Spain on suspicion of stabbing the two teens on Feb. 9 outside of a house on the 500 block of Samish Way. He was booked into Whatcom County Jail and his bail is set at $1 million.

Bellingham Police still want to speak with the occupant(s) of a vehicle that may have witnessed activity related to Davonte’s death. Information provided to police indicates a vehicle stopped in the roadway at Samish Way and Fielding Avenue at about 2 a.m. Feb. 9 to remove a tree limb obstructing traffic. Police identified Samish Way and Fielding Avenue as the location of the stabbing.

The party started Friday night, Feb. 8 at a house Spain shares with other people. Police responded to a noise complaint from neighbors at 11:24 p.m., Bellingham Police spokesman Mark Young said. The renter police contacted was cooperative. People were leaving in an orderly and uneventful manner, he said.

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