SOU in the News Oct. 1 – 3

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SOU’s Hannon library is a good place to watch tonight’s presidential debate
Daily Tidings October 3, 2012
SOU teams fare well in business competition
Daily Tidings October 2, 2012
Yomtob and Scheller Named CCC Volleyball Players of the Week
SOU Raiders October 1, 2012
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Debate-watching parties
Leaving your home comfort zone
By Janet Eastman
Ashland Daily Tidings
Southern Oregon University political science professor Bill Hughes won’t be watching tonight’s presidential debate at home. Instead, the keen-eyed researcher will be hanging out at a bar or another public space, observing people as they watch the two candidates make a case for votes.
Hughes says he won’t be paying attention to what’s said on air. “The candidates will be scripted and rehearsed,” he discounts.
Instead, he’ll sit back and take note of how the Ashland audience reacts during the live debate, which starts at 6 p.m. He will be especially tuned into the crowd after each candidate has delivered his concluding remarks and the sound is turned down on the on-air pundits offering their analyses.
What happens next, he says, will be meaningful.
He’s hoping that people will cross the aisle and talk to others who don’t share the same opinions.
And he’s crossing his fingers that leaving their comfort zone will force people to have their assumptions tested and they will engage in deeper, more stimulating conversations.
And maybe, a Democrat might offer a Republican a beer. Or vice versa.
“Politics is not a private enterprise,” says Hughes, “so it should be conducted in a public space.”
Across the nation, schools, libraries and restaurants are hosting debate-watching parties. More viewers are expected to watch tonight’s presidential debate, the first of three, than the combined millions who caught some of both political conventions.
Along with the seriousness, there will also be opportunities for voters to enjoy the event. Bars are extending their happy-hour drink discounts and some customers will be able to order red- or blue-colored drinks or play debate bingo.
In Ashland, as in other cities, the presidential debate starts with a coin toss: To watch or not? For those who plan to tune in, the next decision is where?
Staying home isn’t always an option. Some Ashland residents don’t own TVs for financial, philosophical or other personal reasons. Those without TV or cable signals can rely on Jefferson Public Radio’s uninterrupted broadcast of the live debates on its far-reaching Classic & News stations (Ashland’s KSOR 90.1 FM or KSRG 88.3 FM) or they can listen to a webstream at
People who want to watch the debate, but not at home, can join friends or family members in their living rooms. Or they can take Hughes’ advice and wander into a public place where they are more likely to be surrounded by people who don’t completely agree with them.
To expose its expected audience to various points of view, the wide screens at SOU’s new Digital Media Gallery on the ground floor of the Hannon Library will be tuned to different channels.
Side-by-side, 8-foot-long screens may show FOX, MSNBC and CNN, says Paul Adalian, the library dean. Overhead speakers will funnel that channel’s sound down to people sitting in front of each screen.
Adalian says the public is invited to watch the debates for free. If more than 30 people show up, he has screens set up in the larger Meese Auditorium on the library’s third floor.
Two local pubs also welcome debate watchers.
The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant on the Plaza will be showing the presidential debate on its 42-inch HDTV screen. To ease down the information overload, proprietor Susan Chester is reminding everyone that although East Coast residents have to wait until 9 p.m. for the first words to be spoken, it’s still happy hour on the West Coast.
She says her crew will be offering local beers and oysters to suit every preference, from the half shell and au gratin to Rockefeller or barbecued.
“We are a neutral zone,” she says, laughing. “The tradition of a pub is that it’s a place for different generations and all walks of life to gather and discuss current events and be exposed to different opinions.”
Peter Bolton was born and raised in Ireland, so he also knows the importance of pub talk. The owner of the Playwright Pub on A Street will tune his two 52-inch screens and sound system into the presidential debates tonight.
“It may scare a few diners who don’t want to see the debates, but we want to provide a venue for people to have a friendly dialogue,” says Bolton. “It doesn’t matter which side you’re on. It’s just healthy for people to have a friendly discussion with an open mind.”
He hopes that after hearing the candidates’ ideas and the discussion afterward, a patron might be inspired to do more than cast a ballot.
At the very least, he says, his customers will make an event out of the evening.
His pub already has a tradition for fellowship between tables, except when it’s barred during the Wednesday night trivia contest. He hints that tonight’s quiz, which will be delayed until 8:30 p.m., may be heavily weighted toward questions about American presidents.
“If you’re not planning to watch the debates at home,” he says, “wouldn’t it be nice to watch the debates where you can have a pint in your hand and a companion by your side?”
Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or
If You Go
Three public places to watch the debates, which begin at 6 p.m. today:
• The Digital Media Gallery on the ground floor of the Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
• The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, 51 N. Main St.
• The Playwright Public House, 258 A St.
SOU teams fare well in business competition
Aquaponics group takes third out of 17 teams
By Sam Wheeler
Ashland Daily Tidings
October 02, 2012 2:00 AM
Two groups of Southern Oregon University students who presented social business models Monday at the Oregon Social Business Challenge were among the best.
One team’s solution to increasing the availability of local food, called closed-loop aquaponics, took third place out of 17 teams, according to a press release from the Oregon University System, which organized the event.
Another SOU group made the top seven by presenting a model for a student sustainable farm to provide affordable organic produce to low-income families in Jackson County while maintaining a learning environment for the community.
The aquaponics team made it through the first round, but was one of four teams eliminated in the final round by a panel of 18 judges, including SOU President Mary Cullinan and other decision makers from across the state.
“It was all very edifying,” said Andrew Mount, who was part of SOU’s team that presented aquaponics.
The aquaponics team, which includes senior business major Jeffrey Jensen and junior biology major Sean Lowry, will split $2,000 in scholarships for its finish.
Aquaponics is the marriage of fish farming and hydroponic farming, Mount said. Hundreds of fish or crustaceans live inside a 2,500- to 5,000-gallon pond, and as the pond begins to dirty, the water is siphoned out and used to bathe the roots of plants growing from nearby beds of gravel — all beneath a dome.
Everything the plants need for food is in the fish waste, he said, and both the fish and plants can be harvested.
The group is partnered with Ashland-based Pacific Domes, which is providing the first 90-foot-wide dome to house the project and plans to launch a business based around the idea, he said.
Southern Oregon Aquaponics will be the name of the organization, said Mount, an environmental science and business sophomore at SOU. “The sky is the limit as far as I’m concerned, at this point,” said Mount, 43, of Talent.
A team from Oregon State University won the competition, taking home $5,000 in scholarships. It proposed to establish a youth sports league for students with disabilities in Benton County.
Students from University of Oregon, who proposed a mobile medical van to serve rural communities in Klamath County and Lake County, took second place and $3,000 in scholarships.
Portland State University’s Social Innovation Incubator program and Springboard Innovation, a similar independent incubator program, are providing at least $2,500 in financial support to help the winning team’s model get off the ground.
Making his way out of the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, where the competition was held, Mount said Springboard expressed interest in helping strategize how to launch a business based around aquaponics.
“We have the credibility after this,” Mount said. “The intention will be to find financial backing within the coming months.”
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

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