Racial Inequality Talk Article

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Here is an article I wrote for the Mast:

RHIANNON BERG

News Writer

bergau@plu.edu

 

Colleges across the country have been featured in the news with images of upset students and apologetic administrators because of the privilege and oppression that is intertwined with race. Pacific Lutheran University students held conversations Dec. 7 about racial inequality at after presenting research on the perceptions and experiences of more than a hundred PLU students.

 

While PLU prides itself on being ethnically diverse and welcoming to all people, it is not immune from racial inequality. Students from Sociology 332: Sociology of Race and Ethnicity surveyed PLU students about topics such as affirmative action, the success of minority students, drug use and awareness of racial diversity on campus.

 

“I’d like to see more dialogue around race and its importance to student’s experiences,” said the instructor of the course, Dr. Teresa Ciabattari. “We have a lot of education to do at PLU so a broader group of the student body, as well as the faculty and staff, are aware of how salient race and racial identity is for students of color and how much it does affect their experiences.”

 

At the event, students presented research that showed minority students experience isolation within their major at rates higher than non-minority students. Dr. Ciabattari said she analyzed data reported from last year’s first-year students and found students of color also report a lower sense of belonging than their non-minority peers.

 

“Having more conversations like these is important,” said Dr. Ciabattari. “We need to do more to change the culture of PLU so that all students feel like they belong.”

 

The PLU Factbook reported PLU’s student body is made up of 27 percent students of color and 14 percent of faculty are non-white.

 

The Dean of Students, Dr. Eva Frey, said PLU strives to have the greatest pool of applicants to ensure that they’re diverse on a variety of levels, including gender and race. She was the first ASPLU director of diversity in 1993 while pursuing her undergraduate degree at PLU.

 

“PLU is more conscientious about racial diversity today than they have ever been,” said Dr. Frey. “We’re doing all that we can and I appreciate that.”

 

Multiple faculty members declined to comment on the topic of racial diversity amongst PLU’s faculty for this article.

 

The current ASPLU director of diversity, senior Maya Perez, presented her findings on how confronting whiteness effects and perpetuates racial inequality at PLU during the Dec. 7 event.   

 

“I really have faith that PLU will continue to complexify it’s hiring practices in seeking out a more racially diverse staff and faculty,” said Perez. “I think that it’s something that as students we’re holding them accountable for and that they’re learning to hold themselves accountable for as well.”

 

Dr. Ciabattari said she hopes events like this one will promote more conversations about race and ethnicity at PLU.

 

“Be open to the conversation and hearing stories and experiences that might challenge what you have know or experienced about the world and PLU,” she said. “See it as an opportunity for intellectual growth as well as personal growth.”

Read more here: http://mastmedia.plu.edu/2015/12/14/student-research-highlights-racial-inequality/

Gig Harbor author aims to help readers find peace

Articles, Portfolio, Profiles

Here is an article I wrote  for the Peninsula Gateway in Gig Harbor, Washington.

RHIANNON BERG

From a cozy meditation hut nestled in the woods of Gig Harbor, a local author offers her readers a window into themselves.

Jody Doty — yes, it rhymes — is not a psychic or a mind reader. She doesn’t have a crystal ball or tarot cards.

But Doty is a cancer survivor, an ordained minister, a writer, dreamer and self-proclaimed “soul reader.”

“I see beyond the physical and right to the beautiful part that a lot of us miss that’s there within you,” Doty said. “I like ‘soul reader’ because that’s what I do. I see what’s beyond this, the pictures and the symbols in lives.”

Doty, who has been in remission from breast cancer for six years, said her experiences have given her significant insights.

“I’m a survivor in a lot of ways. I have had a lot of physical issues, and I think in some ways I had to redefine what beauty is because of that,” said Doty, who has also had skin cancer and undergone 14 facial surgeries.

“We’re not just this,” Doty said, gesturing to her body. “We’re the beauty within us, too.”

Doty said the challenges she has faced proved to her that there is a definite connection between the body and the soul.

“It really made me value my body and appreciate that life is short,” she said. “Something happens when you don’t pay attention to your soul and do what you’re supposed to do.”

Her cancers taught her how to let others help her, which allowed her to become closer to her soul and emotions.

“I think the lesson in that was that I was giving to a lot of people and not myself,” she said. “I was so used to giving I didn’t let myself receive. If we don’t deal with it on the inside, it tends to happen on the outside. That’s why I think reading the soul is so important.”

Doty, who holds a full-time job at Kitsap Mental Health Services, balances her professional day job with many other passion projects.

For instance, Doty is a featured writer for a newly launched national website, www.faverie.com, and is a co-author of a new self-help book titled “Beyond the Loss: Breaking the Stigma of Depression and Suicide,” which was released in early November.

In addition, Doty’s meditations are featured in another new book, “365 Ways to Connect With Your Soul,” also recently released.

“I let go of creative limits and the words just came,” Doty said of her entries on Faverie.com. “It’s a pleasure to share a little piece of Gig Harbor with the world on Faverie.com. I feel like a small town girl sharing herself with the world.”

Doty says she has developed her gifts through nature and nurture. She attended classes at the Church of Divine Man (CDM), which helped clarify and strengthen her spirituality.

“It’s a gift I’ve always had. It’s in my family,” she said. “I took classes and that was key to me being open to my gifts and really being able to help people with them.”

Often, clients want Doty to tell them about the past or future, she said. But helping people find their own way is what brings her the most joy.

“I like to bring people to their center and assist them in that calm place,” Doty said. “I love ‘a ha’ moments when people actually experience who their spirit is.”

In the future, Doty hopes to travel, finish a children’s book on which she’s working, and perhaps begin to do some teaching.

“I want people to know that there is beauty within them,” Doty said. “There’s so much beauty that we miss. I like to help people to see that and to see where they are and to let them know that they’re not just their body. They’re their spirit and their body, and how beautiful that is.”

Rhiannon Berg, a freelance writer and member of MediaLab at Pacific Lutheran University, can be reached at bergau@plu.edu.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/community/gateway/g-living/article47823325.html#storylink=cpy

Students buy art, food for a cause

Articles

Here is an article I wrote that was published in The Mast:

RHIANNON BERG

More than 200 Pacific Lutheran University students and community members lined up Nov. 18 to support local food banks in Tacoma.

Donors received a handmade bowl and soup during the Empty Bowls event. Each ticket cost $10 and all of the proceeds will go to Trinity Lutheran Church food banks.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 7.55.35 PM

“I think it’s a really great way for Lutes to give back to the community,” said senior Gailon Wixon. “It’s really neat to see the creative expression of the students on campus in the bowls.”

This year students and faculty from the school of arts and communication made 50 more bowls than last year because of the popularity of the event. PLU Dining and Culinary Services made the soup with ingredients donated by PLU’s Community Garden.

“It’s fun for the students who made the bowls to meet the people who are using them,” said junior Liz Perkins, who helped organize and advertise for the event. “All the proceeds go to an amazing cause.”

Attendees of the event included various PLU staff and faculty from departments throughout campus, alumni and President Thomas Krise’s wife, Patty Krise.

“I’m here to support a good cause,” Krise said.

Perkins said the event raised more than $1,600.

“I thought it was really good cause to support,” said senior Emily Steelquist. “I wanted some soup and a really cute bowl.”

Trinity Lutheran’s Feeding Ministries newsletter said support from events like empty bowls help to meet the physical needs of the community.

“I’m concerned about food access for friends in our neighborhood here,” said the director of the Center for Community Service and Engagement at PLU, Zoel Zystra. “It’s a win win situation for us to enjoy a meal together, but also to hopefully have some food available for our friends across the street.”

The event was part of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

“I’m here to support the people across the street in Parkland,” said first- year Kelly Bower. “I think it’s really cool to get something out of it as well, but also mostly to help the people.”

Read the article here: http://mastmedia.plu.edu/2015/11/24/students-buy-art-food-for-a-cause/ 

Stressing work-life balance has helped Gig Harbor-based Allovus succeed

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