Students “Take Back the Night” in Sexual Assault March

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

Students in matching purple T-shirts reading “Take Back The Night,” marched Wednesday from the U to Westminster College.

The two-mile march, including about 50 participants, was planned by Students for Choice, a campus group that both educates and advocates for reproductive health. The students partnered with the Center for Student Wellness and Planned Parenthood as well.

Heather Stringfellow, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood, said Take Back the Night marches are a symbolic gesture across the nation.

“We want to be able to walk freely at night without worrying about being attacked or any kind of sexual violence,” she said.

Natalie Green, president of Students for Choice, said while not all sexual assaults occur at night, the walk helps to empower the community.

“While you walk, you get to talk to your neighbors, share stories,” she said. “More than anything we’re just trying to engage our peers, to be part of the solution.”

For Green, the symbolic gesture is an important element of increasing education. She hopes to destigmatize sexual assaults and violence, which affects about one in three women in Utah.

The walk fell on Utah’s newly designated Start by Believing Day, which is set for the first Wednesday of April each year after legislation this year in the Utah House. The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City), walked alongside students.

Romero hopes the holiday encourages “people who are victims of sexual assault to speak out and get the help they need.”

Victims of sexual violence can contact the Women’s Resource Center at (801) 581-8030 or the Student Wellness Center (801) 581-6431 for resources and counseling at the U. Students for Choice also provides peer-to-peer discussions.


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Student Entrepreneurs Seek Funding

(Courtesy of Veritas Medical)

(Courtesy of Veritas Medical)

To get a business off the ground, you are going to need some funding — that is why top university student startups competed Saturday in the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.

More than $100,000 was awarded to the students launching their own businesses. A BYU student took the grand prize of $40,000 with his business SimpleCitizen, an online service to help people get green cards.

Four U companies made it to the final eight and were awarded $1,000 each. One of those teams, Blyncsy, also won the “Biggest Impact” award, for their product Blyncsy, a device that analyzes foot and car traffic. Mark Pittman, an MBA and law school student at the U who worked on the team, said the event helped the members network.

Funding in Utah for developing projects is hard to come by, Pittman said, which is why competitions are important to startup companies.

“Business plan competitions are really the critical bridge between an idea and conceptualization and actually being able to raise money,” he said.

One of the purposes of business plan competitions is to provide learning opportunities for entrepreneur students, said Nick Beynon, a senior in marketing and co-chair of the Utah Entrepreneur Series. He has seen the competition help students “hone down their pitches and learn what needs to be changed.”

The Utah Entrepreneur Series is a student-run group that hosts business plan competitions both exclusively for the U and for all Utah universities.

The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge has taken place since 2001, but this year the group tried to make the event more public and showcase the top 20 teams, Beynon said. Funding for the competition came primarily from a $100,000 donation from Zions Bank, a continual partner since 2006.

Mike Winder, director of entrepreneurship programs at Zions Bank and a judge at the event, loves seeing the energy and excitement in university students. He said the U, with its Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, is a leader across the nation.

“Students are always on the cutting edge of innovation,” he said. “Student entrepreneurs specifically are well-placed for success in the 21st century.”


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Students Present Research at U Symposium

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

What do novels, air quality and biking apparel for paraplegics have in common? They were all part of the presentations at this year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.

More than 300 students stood in front of posters and sat on panels in the Union on Tuesday to present their research to hundreds of community members. Rachel Hayes-Harb, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, said the purpose of the event was to celebrate the students, allowing them to see their peers’ work and getting others interested in starting their own projects.

“We actually turn our students into our colleagues so they’re not just here to learn; they’re also here to contribute to the scholarship that goes on here,” Hayes-Harb said.

Chanapa Tantibanchachai, associate science writer for the U’s Marketing and Communications, said these kinds of symposiums are one of the best ways students can polish their presentation skills.

“It’s not enough just to conduct great research, but you have to be able to communicate it effectively to those in your field and the lay audience,” Tantibanchachai said.

Remington Plewe, a senior in multidisciplinary design, created a product that makes it easier for quadriplegics — people who have partial or total loss of movement in their limbs and torso — to pedal hand bikes.

To use these bikes, quadriplegics need grasping devices, which are typically connected to a strap on the wrist that causes sores and chafing. Plewe’s product disperses pressure along the arm and connects in a way that allows people to pedal with their biceps.

Plewe received $200 through UROP, the undergraduate research opportunities program, allowing him to fund his project.

“It’s an easy way to get disposable money to put towards research,” Plewe said.

Nandini Deo, a sophomore in chemical engineering, said she got involved in undergraduate research through the Merrill Engineering Scholars Fellowship. Her research focused on air purification by breaking down particles in smog.

“I’ve gotten a lot more excited about science and about my major and about other majors,” Deo said. “Research has kept me really interested in school, and I hope that more people take advantage of it.”

The Office of Undergraduate Research coordinated with the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Program to host the event. Hayes-Harb said the symposium was funded by her office and donations from the U’s Parent Fund, the Francis Family Foundation, the Lawrence T. and Janet T. Dee Foundation, and Sharon and Karl Schatten.

Students can get involved in next year’s symposium or general research by getting to know their professors, who are usually researchers in the fields they teach.

Hayes-Harb said her office has an undergraduate research advisor, Stephanie Shiver, with whom students can make an appointment. For more information on how to get involved, she recommended students visit the Office of Undergraduate Research’s website:


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Law School Advances in Rankings

(Daily Utah Chronicle File Photo)

(Daily Utah Chronicle File Photo)

Two U students took first place at a Bankruptcy Law competition, and the win may help the law school rise in national acclaim.

According to US News and World Reports List of Best Law Schools, the U is ranked 42 out of the 205 American Bar Association approved schools. This was a seven-spot improvement from last year. In addition, the U tied with UCLA for seventh place in environmental law in the nation. This marks the first time in the college’s history that it placed in the top ten in this category.

Keith Mayer, a second year law student, is excited for the direction the school is going.

“Between the completion of the new law building, the environmental program ranking top ten nationally for the first time, the students’ success in a myriad of competitions and the school’s publishing of several cutting-edge journal articles, this year feels like the beginning of a big upswing in rank for the law school,” Mayer said.

According to a statement released by College of Law dean Bob Adler, the school is proud of the improvements they have made in their program such as bar exam pass rates and employment after graduation.

“Although we are pleased by this recognition, our main focus is the education and success of our students, not a particular number in any given set of rankings,” Adler said.

Mayer said he is excited to see the new opportunities that will result from the improved rankings of the law school.

“Better rankings will open a lot of doors for students coming out of law school, both professionally and personally,” Mayer said. “The result of this is to continue to attract top caliber students and staff. I am really excited for the future of the school.”

The U’s law school said there have been improvements in student employment as well as test passage but could not provide concrete numbers from previous years. In addition the new law building is set to open this fall.


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U Ranked Number One in Video Game Design

(Photo Courtesy of Entertainment Arts Engineering

(Photo Courtesy of Entertainment Arts and Engineering)

The U’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) program was ranked as the number one graduate and number two undergraduate video game school by The Princeton Review.


Robert Kessler, a professor in the U’s School of Computing and the executive director of EAE, said the ranking fairly rewards the hard work of students and educators in the program.

“I think that this ranking is another piece of the puzzle,” he said. “It is an important thing that will make students stand out.”

Hai Nguyen, a freshman going into EAE, is proud of the U’s accomplishment.

“I joined this expecting just a video game program,” he said. “[But] I think that this ranking will make me work harder.”

Since he was a kid, Nguyen has dreamt of making his own video games and now feels he can do that through the EAE program.

“I will want to show future employers what I have done and represent the program well,” Nguyen said.

During the first semester of the EAE program, students take project-based classes. After that, students work in teams of 10 to 15 to create a game and learn how to work as a professional group for three semesters. These teams then publish their game through an outside publisher, such as Microsoft.

Companies that hire students from the U often see them as ready-to-go employees due to their experience in the program, Kessler said, with 93 percent of last year’s graduates obtaining a job within three months. Two of these hiring companies include EA Games and Disney.

“The game industry is all about art and working together to create everything in the games,” he said.

EAE started in 2007 as a class meant for second-year students in computer science. It has since morphed into a full program in which students can earn a bachelor’s of science or art.


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U’s Beta Theta Pi Fraternity Wins Award for Excellence

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity at the U isn’t just the best in the West — it’s the best on the continent.


The North American Interfraternity Conference awarded the group the Chapter Award for Distinction, given to the best undergraduate chapter of any fraternity in North America. The award signifies a turnaround for the house, which closed in 2010 after failing to live up to fraternity standards, according to organization’s national website.

Kevin Shields, chapter president of Beta Theta Pi, said he appreciates the recognition for his fraternity’s efforts on campus and in the Salt Lake City community.

“It’s pretty amazing that we won it,” he said. “The entire chapter is very excited about it.”

Shields said their success stems from creating a positive fraternity experience focused on leadership and academics. They’ve also become a dry house, meaning alcohol is not allowed on their premises.

“It’s all about the guys you recruit and the culture you create,” he said. “We have tried to be a positive influence since we came back. I hope we become an example for other fraternities and sororities at the U.”

Montana Martinez, a senior in philosophy, said the award surprised him because he doesn’t “normally associate fraternities with excellence.” And he’s not alone in this assumption. Fraternities across the country have been rocked by scandals, such as the racist chant performed by members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma or the suspension of Pi Kappa Alpha at Utah State after former chapter president, Ryan Wray, was recently accused of sexual abuse.

Beta Theta Pi, on the other hand, has volunteered and fundraised with the Rape Recovery Center for nearly two years. They also hosted forums on sexual assault each month this year.

Shields said their goal is to show “that fraternities can help sexual assault victims and hopefully can play a role to stop it.”

Vincent Fu, vice president of internal programming for Beta Theta Pi, said his fraternity also tries to be inclusive with other students and organizations on campus.

“Ultimately, all students need to do is just approach [a fraternity] and get to know the club with an open mind before jumping to the conclusion that they are unwelcome to non-members,” Fu said.

Shields said recruitment is open to any male on campus, and they require their members to be involved in at least one other club on campus.

Beta Theta Pi won the Sisson Award for chapter excellence in 2013 and 2014, as well as the Knox award — the highest chapter award in the national organization. They also received the 2014 #iAspire Grant, winning $3,200 to continue raising awareness about sexual assaults.


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Lassonde Looking for Student Housing Applications

(Photo by Dane Goodwin)

(Photo by Dane Goodwin)

The entrepreneur program at the U may be young, but a new housing studio might bring nationwide recognition.


Last week, applications opened for the first 400 spots in the $45 million Lassonde Studios, said Troy D’Ambrosio, executive director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. It will be a mixture of living and creative spaces for students to produce and launch their business ideas.

“There is nothing else like it … in any campus in the world,” D’Ambrosio said. “We have an unparalleled amount of resources available already — with the new building we are going to take it to the next level.”

Although currently still under construction, the building has gained national attention and several universities have come to get ideas for their own entrepreneur spaces.

Austin Lundskog, a junior in accounting, knows several people who want to live in the studios.

“It’s cutting edge,” he said. “You are right there with a lot of like-minded students looking to start a business or make a product. It’s fun to be in that community and have those resources.”

Lundskog is excited to see the building up and running with skill development workshops, 3D printers, art studios and metal shops. Students from any discipline are eligible to apply and approximately 50 students have already submitted applications.

“When people think of entrepreneurship they think of the school of business, but it’s a lot bigger than that,” D’Ambrosio said. “A business student can say, ‘I have this idea,’ and an art student can help them do draw-ups and help them design it.”

D’Ambrosio said he is most excited to see what students can create when pulled from all over campus and brought together.

“It elevates everybody … to put all that creative energy in one spot and see what happens,” he said.

Lassonde Institute is located on the east side of the Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building. The first floor will be a “creative garage space” for events like innovation and business plan competitions as well as guest speakers. There will be four floors of different housing options including traditional single and doubles but also modular pods that can house 20 students in suites with moveable bedrooms and living spaces.

The building was made possible due to a $12 million donation from Pierre Lassonde, a U alumnus, D’Ambrosio said. Residents will also help cover the cost, but concrete numbers are not yet available.

Barb Remsburg, director of Housing and Residential Education, said students who wish to live in the new complex must fill out an application on the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute website and send in a video, blog or essay saying why they should be accepted.


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Hinckley Institute Hopes to Break Record

(Photo by Chris Ayers)

(Photo by Chris Ayers)

Last year, the Hinckley Institute of Politics held a record 116 forums and it hopes to exceed that number this year.


Kendahl Melvin, an office assistant for the Hinckley, said the institute usually makes it their goal to have more forums in the current year than in the previous. This year being the 50th anniversary of the Hinckley Institute, Melvin said they will celebrate their accomplishments through the other forums they hold.

The Hinckley Institute will offer a variety of series including an Outstanding Professor series and the HIP talks. Melvin noted the organization has seen record numbers of forums and students attending the events.

Ally Wankier, a sophomore in strategic communication, said she attends events when she knows about them.

“I wish they were advertised better because I seem to hear about them after they’ve been held,” Wankier said.

Wankier said increasing the quantity of forums might impact their quality.

“Having forums that are more interesting and more applicable to students is very important,” Wankier said. “Sometimes, less is more.”

Melvin said the reason for holding more forums is to have quality for the individual student.

“The Hinckley is consistently striving to reach all groups of students,” Melvin said. “The increase in forums and the diversity of topics is exciting for us. We hope it means more students are learning more about the [institute of politics] and social issues.”

The Hinckley Institute claims it strives to include students of all majors and ages in its forums so that it reaches each demographic at the U.

“Forums give students a chance to learn outside the classroom,” Melvin said. “[They can] further their knowledge and expand their thinking.”


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Utah Residents and U Students Air Transportation Concerns

(Photo by Cole Tan)

(Photo by Cole Tan)

Last Thursday’s Wasatch Front Regional Council heard a total of five public comments in one day, more than they’ve ever heard in the span of 24 hours.


The comments they received focused on the adoption of the Wasatch Front Urban Area Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), a policy report that will guide Utah’s transportation development through 2040. The document is currently a draft and will be adopted on May 28.

According to research by the Utah Foundation, the state’s three million inhabitants will double by 2050. This growth is expected mostly in urban areas, and RTP says this requires a continued investment in public transit.

However, commenters at the Regional Council’s meeting are worried that UTA will not increase service hours or frequency of transit. Deb Henry, representative of the Utah Transit Riders Union, said it’s not the first time they’ve heard these concerns.

“From everyone we hear, ‘If there were more hours, I would ride transit … I could spend more money in our local communities,’” Henry said. “We need a binding transit plan to ensure the people who are willing to take transit, and who rely on transit, can.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams agreed with the idea of supporting services to the public.

“We’re going to have a conversation [on transit], at least in Salt Lake County, with revenue from new legislative session money, and … focus on improving service,” McAdams said.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said improving hours of operation and frequency of services is the number one priority. However, Becker said funding for future public transit projects, per RTP, will come from House Bill 362, the new state gas tax. This puts one-tenth of every cent generated toward public transit.

“The problem is, one-tenth of a cent isn’t going to meet all of our needs,” Becker said. “On behalf of SLC, we will look to use some of our resources to try and increase what the transit service can be in our city … we’ll need to prioritize with limited funds.”

Henry said the funding model is why UTA has limited ride times.

“From 1996 to 2014, we spent $4.7 billion in infrastructure — but we don’t have [the] span of service that creates a culture of transit,” Henry said. “We need to give people span of service so they can change their habits willingly.”

George Chapman, one of the commenters, says this is particularly important for U students and employees.

“The U is a destination [and] a big employer. Lots of cars are at the university because there’s not enough service,” Chapman said. “Transfers take too long, leaving students with long waits.”

However, students like Drew Flathers, a sophomore in parks, recreation and tourism, can get to class 15 to 20 minutes early when taking public transit. The problems happen on the weekends.

“There have been a few times that I have wanted to go to events that are past the time that TRAX runs,” Flathers said.

However, Flathers has a car — getting around late is possible without public transit. For Anton Nielsen, a sophomore in entertainment and arts engineering, commuting to Sandy is difficult when TRAX has early night closing.

“I would prefer to drive or get a ride in the end, but it can be hard to call someone to pick you up at later hours in the night,” Nielsen said.

The U is UTA’s largest partner, and nearly 30 percent of U students use public transit. Chapman and Henry encouraged students to use their voice and to advocate for change that could affect the next 25 years of development.

The full Regional Transportation Plan draft can be viewed on the Wasatch Front Regional Council’s website.


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Rock the U Event Raises Money for Cancer

(Photo by Chris Samuels)

(Photo by Chris Samuels)

Students rocked out on March 27 at the annual Rock the U dance-a-thon, but not as much as they would have liked to.


Started in 2007, Rock the U is the U’s biggest philanthropy event to raise money for research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. The program was launched after a previous ASUU president’s father passed away due to cancer.

Current ASUU president Justin Spangler said, “We’re honored to further the research center’s mission.”

Held in the Huntsman Center, students paid an entry fee and then danced for 13.5 hours straight.

One dancer, Dennis Ph, has attended Rock the U in the past but said the location of this year’s event wasn’t ideal.

“The walk down to and from the arena was too much, and I feel like most students, myself included, were there to dance, not get a killer leg workout,” Ph said. “I understand why they held it there, but I don’t think they should do that again in the future.”

This year, Rock the U raised a total of $19,078, while their original goal was $30,000. The official Rock the U page announced Coleman Ence as the top individual fundraiser and The Muss as the top fundraising team.

Ph said he thinks with better marketing, more students would have attended and more money could have been raised.

“I feel like in previous years there has been more hype and excitement,” Ph said. “Students will always want to go meet new people and have fun, especially when it raises money for a cause that almost everyone can relate to at some point.”


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