Bike blender at previous SOU Earth Week

Earth Week at SOU packs in wide variety of events

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s fifth annual, student-driven Earth Week celebration from April 15 to 20 will be all about awareness of important issues facing the planet – and celebration of efforts that are making a difference.

Events will range from a “tea talk” about environmental justice and a “pollinator party” with local beekeepers, to a transportation options fair and an Earth Day bike ride. The three-day Environmental Justice Film Festival will have screenings on Tuesday through Thursday, and a Gender Neutral Clothing Swap will also be held each of those days.

The film festival – sponsored by SOU’s Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS), Black Student Union, Queer Resource Center and Food Justice League, and the local climate action group Rogue Climate – will offer films that focus on environmental and social justice from 6 to 8 p.m. each evening. Tuesday’s film will be in the Stevenson Union Arena and the other two films will be in the facility’s Rogue River Room.

One of the featured events at this year’s Earth Week observance will be an “Earth Day Extravaganza” on Tuesday in the Stevenson Union Courtyard. It will feature displays that highlight some of the notable sustainability efforts underway in the Rogue Valley, and opportunities to interact with local organizations and groups that are engaged in those efforts.

Earth Week at SOU will feature public events both on and off the university campus.

Earth Week highlights
MONDAY: Meatless Monday brings an entirely vegetarian menu, all day, to the Hawk dining commons; Tea Talk discussion about environmental justice, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Third Eye Theater between the Stevenson Union and Britt Hall.

TUESDAY: Graduate student Emily Lind of the Environmental Education club will lead a short “bird hike” around the Ashland Pond, transportation provided (email for information); Earth Day Extravaganza, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Stevenson Union Courtyard; a gender-neutral clothing swap, sponsored by the Queer Student Union, will offer free clothes from 1 to 6 p.m. in the Stevenson Union Gallery (SU 323); Environmental Justice Film Festival, “Viceland’s Rise, Standing Rock Part II,” about the Standing Rock efforts to protect tribal burial sites from the Dakota Access Pipeline.

WEDNESDAY: “Nature Reading” of short creative works about nature and ecology, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Third Eye Theater; OSPIRG pollinator party with beekeepers, live music, free food, face-painting, raffles and speakers, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Stevenson Union Courtyard; gender-neutral clothing swap, 1 to 6 p.m., Stevenson Union Gallery (SU 323); Environmental Justice Film Festival, “An American Ascent,” about the first African-American expedition on Denali, North America’s highest peak.

THURSDAY: Transportation Options Fair with information about getting around without a car, with goodie bags and smoothies made with a “bike blender,” 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Stevenson Union Courtyard; gender-neutral clothing swap, 1 to 6 p.m., Stevenson Union Gallery (SU 323); Environmental Justice Film Festival, “Urban Roots,” about depressed industrial towns and the need for a sustainable future.

FRIDAY: Arbor Day of service, a day of stewardship with ECOS, SOU Landscaping and The Farm at SOU, with an optional free lunch, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. (details and sign-up online); silver maple birthday party, music and games at the silver maple in Raider Village, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

SATURDAY: Earth Day Bike Ride with ECOS, biking along the Bear Creek Greenway with treats in Talent, noon to 3 p.m. (details and sign-up online); Rogue Valley Earth Day 2019, a free, all-ages celebration about stewardship and community-building, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum.

A full list of SOU Earth Week events can be found on the SOU sustainability website.


SOU Hypertext Hotel VR

SOU students renovate “Hypertext Hotel”

There was always a vacancy for students and some special guests in a particular place of lodging. Enter the Hypertext Hotel….”

The year was 1990. A room of students typing on Macintosh desktops at Brown University participated in the first ever hypertext writing workshop. Under the wing of postmodern fiction’s legendary trickster, Professor Robert Coover, students accessed, constructed and soiled the binary walls of a collaborative writing space consisting of hyperlinked windows of language and the occasional MacPaint rendered illustration.

The writers relied on traditional storytelling and the grace of the reader’s imagination to raise what became the Hypertext Hotel, located in what was – and to some extent remains – an unexplored city block in literature’s scholarly district.

Fast-forward to 2019. The writing that made up the hotel – believed this time last year to be mostly lost to time – has been recovered. The HTML files that once ran on an application called Storyspace were found on Coover’s old faculty PowerBook G4 and are now entering virtual reality.

The Hotel redux, titled “Hypertext Hotel – VR,” has been guided by Southern Oregon University Professor Robert Arellano, founder of the Emerging Media and Digital Art (EMDA) major at SOU, hypertext literature pioneer and former student of Coover’s. Arellano was one of the students who sat in the Brown computer lab writing hotel rooms and subplots of his own.

Early in this year’s Winter term, Arellano enlisted two all-star EMDA students, Andrew Masek and Quinn Jacobus, to model 3D rooms based on the original writing in the recovered HTML files. Masek and Jacobus have since created, in just 12 weeks, the first iteration of Hypertext Hotel – VR.

Hypertext Hotel Oculus Rift VR Headset

“In 2018, at the same time as our practicum class planned to re-open the Hypertext Hotel, the Game Dev club had gotten real traction and purchased an Oculus along with a high-end PC to run VR in Unity,” Arellano said. “Meanwhile, Miles Inada had a 3D class that was a real turning point in the EMDA program. That’s how I met Quinn Jacobus, one of the main student designers of the Hypertext Hotel – VR.”

The project, which was on display at SOU’s Schneider Museum of Art from Jan. 24 to March 16, stood as the first VR installation in a museum that has proven hospitable to digital art. The (re)opening night produced much energy – to be expected when art, wine and novel interactive realities are made free to the public.

Hypertext Hotel – VR appeared next to four other faculty artists and two returning guest artists – Adam Bateman and Maria De Los Angeles – in a series called “From Ignorance to Wisdom” (consistent with the current campus theme of the same name).

“From Ignorance to Wisdom” may seem a vague title for the historic hypertext project. But as Arellano points out in his artist statement, the project was made possible by the atypical process of working with students rather than lecturing – as Coover had done in the previous writing lab on early-model Mac computers. The process requires all parties to admit ignorance, listen to the wisdom of others and learn together. It produces an effective learning environment in which students produce “school projects” worthy of display in nationally recognized art museums and creative professors are positively challenged.

Hypertext Hotel VR Project in SOUs Schneider Museum of Art

The installation did encounter roadblocks, as may be expected of an experiential digital art project.

“On the opening day, we learned that the PC we planned to run ‘Hypertext Hotel – VR’ on during the Schneider show did not have a powerful enough CPU,” Arellano said. “We scrambled to find an alternative, but there was not a powerful enough rig at the university that could be dedicated to the museum for the required length of time.

“For the opening reception, Andrew Masek, the other main student designer, loaned us his personal machine. And the following day, the owner of Medford’s Cyber Center, Anthony Kaiserman, stepped in and kindly donated a computer for the show’s entire six-week run.”

When you ride the elevator for a unique perspective from the hotel’s 1300-level room, you might see that the project has been a catalyst for electronic literature, convincing the most reluctant of writers to jump into the quickly growing digital pool.

The hotel also follows up on its promise of being a generative, collaborative and largely anarchic experience – one that a lone author would find hard to come by. An author could write a letter to another writer, who then writes on that letter and sends it to yet another writer. The software – whether the original Storyspace or the open-source Twine – allow a writing experience conducive to collaboration, and one that will become more streamlined and collaborative with time.

SOU Hypertext Hotel VR Installation EMDA Red Room

After putting on the Oculus headset and walking through the 3D hotel rooms, an observer might be left to ask what’s next in the Hotel project? The “Hypertext Hotel – VR” showcases what is possible for artists, in largely accessible ways. Writers collaborate with each other in a computer lab and merge their work with that of 3D artists, VR experts, programmers and others. The redux is a catalyst for more students and artists, such as Masek and Jacobus, to collaborate by bringing the original stories to life again – maybe alongside some new ones.

In line with the tradition of storytelling, the hotel has become a place to write stories inspired by what is possible now, in celebration of what came before.

SOU Hypertext Hotel VR Installation

Story by James Cutrona, EMDA class of 2018

holmes-sou-academic all-america

SOU’s Holmes gets prestigious Academic All-America recognition

Southern Oregon University senior Tristen Holmes has been named to the NAIA’s Google Cloud Academic All-America second team for men’s basketball – one of just 13 student-athletes in SOU history to receive Academic All-America honors.

Holmes is among 10 student-athletes nationwide to be picked to the NAIA first and second teams by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

The Academic All-America selection was the second recognition this week of Holmes’ academic accomplishments – he is one of four student-athletes from SOU’s winter sports teams who were named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes on Tuesday. Holmes, an interdisciplinary studies/pre-dentistry major, and business administration major Tate Hoffman were recognized from the men’s basketball team. Men’s wrestler C.J. McKinnis, a business administration major, and women’s basketball player Delaney Sparling, a health and physical education major, also received the Daktronics honor.

Student-athletes must be juniors or seniors, have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 and be enrolled at their current institution of at least one full year to be eligible the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete distinction. SOU’s fall sports teams produced 23 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes.

The Google Cloud Academic All-America program recognizes student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom, and is considered the most prestigious of academic honors for college athletes.

A committee of the College Sports Information Directors of America selects honorees from various sports at the NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA levels. In 2017-18, the most recent full academic year, a total of 19,146 student-athletes were nominated across all sports and 1,497 were recognized as Google Cloud Academic All-America first- or second-team members.

Holmes, a point guard for the SOU men’s basketball team, is a two-time All-Cascade Conference performer and North Medford product. He is a McNair Scholar, has a cumulative GPA of 3.84 and has been accepted to attend Oregon Health & Science University in Portland next fall.

He averaged 16.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists this season. He was the only player during the Cascade Conference regular season to rank among the top 15 in all three of those statistical categories.

Holmes made 98 career starts and finished his SOU basketball career with 1,412 points, 577 rebounds and 453 assists – the first player in school history with more than 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. He finished at No. 3 in assists and No. 12 in scoring in the basketball program’s record book.

He and the Raiders had a 21-11 record this season, falling in the Cascade Conference tournament championship game at College of Idaho. In his four-year SOU career, his teams totaled 83 victories.

This story is expanded from an earlier version at

Michael Fields-3D imaging

SOU students enter international 3D imaging contest, recognized for innovation

SOU students Michael Fields and Matt Krause, both seniors in the university’s Emerging Media and Digital Arts (EMDA) program, showcased their 3D imaging abilities this winter by participating in the X-Taon Car Texturing Contest.

Fields, originally from Bandon, was awarded sixth place in the international contest that drew hundreds of entries from China, Indonesia, Malta, Canada, Germany, Sri Lanka, France, Slovakia and other countries. He was the only student winner from the United States.

The car texturing contest, which ran from last Nov. 27 to Dec. 18, had student and professional categories, and was judged by jurors from Pixar Animation Studios, Microsoft Studios, Animal Logic and Takumi Yamamoto. The competition was sponsored by Allegorithmic, developer of the Substance Painter 3D painting software, and Substance Designer, a 3D material authoring tool.

All contestants began with the blank exterior of a digital show car, and used 3D tools to “paint” the vehicle with designs and textures. Fields used a computer mouse to create an intricate, black-and-white design for his entry, which he called “Sharpie Car.”

“Not easy to create a full black-and-white, hand-painted version and here it is superbly executed – and with a mouse,” one juror wrote. “Are you crazy! Congrats!”

Fields and Krause have worked closely with SOU professor Miles Inada to develop portfolios and innovative 3D works as part of the SOU EMDA program. Both are major contributors to campus culture as co-presidents of the Student Game Development Club at SOU.

The two plan to pursue careers in the game development industry when they graduate from SOU following Spring Term.


SOU’s SWAVE team seeks new members

The new SWAVE (Sexual Wellness Anti-Violence Educators) team at the SOU Women’s Resource Center is seeking new members, whose training will include a sexual wellness education class (UGS 299) that will be offered Spring Term.

The SWAVE team, currently made up of five student workers, is focused on educating all students on the prevention of rape culture and abuse. Its goal is to engage the SOU campus to help eliminate sexual violence.

While the Women’s Resource Center often responds to and helps those who have been abused, the SWAVE team’s purpose is more preventive. Members of the team will be taught how to lead and educate their peers on topics such as consent, bystander empowerment, rape culture and other related topics.

All students, women and men, are welcome to become members of the SWAVE team, which focuses on current culture and the levels of abuse that may exist in relationships.

UGS 299, a two-credit class that will be held on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5:20 p.m., will offer insights into the education of peers, public speaking and how to handle resistance in the classroom. Current SWAVE team members will help teach the class.

Prospective SWAVE members will also be encouraged to volunteer with the Women’s Resource Center.

The Women’s Resource Center works closely with Planned Parenthood and the Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). The center will work with SART on a presentation at the May conference of the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The WRC participates in other events throughout the year to help raise awareness, empower people and to assist those seeking help.

Story by Bryn Mosier, SOU Marketing and Communications intern

SOU lock-in event

Annual Lock-In event to draw large police presence at SOU on Friday

SOU’s Criminology and Criminal Justice students will get plenty of hands-on training, and representatives from a variety of law enforcement agencies will be on campus to present workshops when the university’s Criminology Club hosts its yearly Lock-In event on Friday.

The 18th annual event will draw on the expertise of agencies including the Ashland and Medford police departments, Oregon State Police, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County District Attorney’s Office and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. The Lock-In will begin at 11 a.m. and wrap up at 7 p.m.

A large police presence will be visible primarily in and around Taylor Hall and the Stevenson Union. All officers, including SWAT members, will be in uniform or will visibly display their badges.

Simulation notices will be posted on the buildings, along the perimeter of the area and in each room where a simulation is held. Explorer Scouts from the Medford Police Department will be stationed near SWAT vehicles to ensure safety and answer questions from passers-by.

Officers will present workshops on topics such as felony traffic stops, active shooter scenarios, the use of drug detection dogs, defensive tactics, jail management and shoot/don’t shoot situations.

Students attending the Lock-In event will choose three stations in which to participate, and will rotate periodically from one station to another. The event provides opportunities for networking and camaraderie, along with practical training.

Those with additional questions may contact Associate Professor David Carter, chair of SOU’s Criminology and Criminal Justice Department.

Earth Week 2019

SOU’s ECOS accepting ideas for Earth Week events

Earth Week 2019 is just over 1 ½ months away, and SOU’s Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS) has invited groups on campus to submit ideas for events they could host as part of the university’s overall observance.

Those interested in organizing and hosting events during Earth Week, April 15 to 19, should complete and submit a form on the ECOS website. Clubs and organizations should apply by March 1 to reserve time slots.

ECOS – a collaborative office and community space for sustainability and service – organizes SOU’s Earth Week observances, which have occurred for at least the past five years. The mission of ECOS is to inspire environmental, social and economic responsibility among SOU’s students.

None of this year’s Earth Week events have yet been announced, but activities in past years have included film screenings, educational fairs, workshops, how-to demonstrations, discussions, tabling and rallies.

The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970, when more than 20 million Americans participated in peaceful demonstrations to inspire environmental reform.

April 22 continues to be celebrated annually as Earth Day across the U.S. and in nearly 200 other countries. However, many universities such as SOU set aside the entire week to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Those who have questions about the SOU observance may email for more information.

Story by Bryn Mosier, SOU Marketing and Communications intern

Tristen Holmes-academic all-district

SOU’s Holmes makes Academic All-District team – again

For the second straight year, SOU men’s basketball player Tristen Holmes has been named a Google Cloud Academic All-District 4 selection – nominated and voted upon by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

The honor recognizes the top student-athletes in the nation for a combination of their academic and athletic performances. Holmes, a point guard for the Raider men’s basketball team, was one of just 22 players in the NAIA to earn the distinction.

Each will be considered for the Academic All-America team, which will be announced next month.

Holmes, an All-Cascade Conference performer from North Medford High, is an interdisciplinary studies major focusing on pre-dentistry. With a cumulative GPA of 3.84, he’s a McNair Scholar and has already been accepted to attend Oregon Health & Science University upon his graduation at SOU.

Holmes has also been one of the most productive all-around players in team history while helping the Raiders win 82 games in his four years. Among CCC players, he ranks ninth in points per game (16.6) and eighth in assists (3.5), and in conference games he was one of just two players with top-15 marks in points, rebounds and assists.

Holmes has scored at least 20 points on nine occasions this season and led the Raiders in scoring 14 times. In the process, he’s also become the only Raider ever to amass at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists in a career.

He recently recorded 19 points and nine rebounds to spark SOU’s 78-77 defeat of Northwest Christian in the CCC Tournament quarterfinals. He and the Raiders will play at Corban in Saturday’s semifinal round.

This story is reposted from

NEXTGENRADIO: SOU student journalist Erika Soderstrom

NEXTGENRADIO: SOU student journalist Erika Soderstrom earns NPR fellowship

As co-editor of The Siskiyou student newspaper and production assistant for Jefferson Public Radio, communication major Erika Soderstrom has emerged as one of the top student journalists at Southern Oregon University. But even Soderstrom can reinvent her journalism practice, which she did via a NextGenRadio fellowship during Fall Term of 2018.

Co-sponsored by National Public Radio and dedicated to “Finding, coaching and training public media’s next generation,” NextGenRadio completely changed the way Soderstrom views journalism.

She was selected through a competitive application process to participate in a “pop-up” digital journalism training program geared toward news reporting and audio. Organizers hope that cohorts of student journalists can walk away with the skills and knowledge necessary to produce and report their own multimedia stories.

NextGenRadio participants are paired with professional journalists/mentors. Soderstrom partnered with Ericka Cruz Guevarra, a breaking news reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“I absolutely loved working with her,” Soderstrom said.

Soderstrom and Guevarra were assigned to find a resident who was creating positive community change in the Meadowview neighborhood of Sacramento. This is the neighborhood where Stephon Clark was shot and killed by police on the evening of March 18, 2018.

“Many media outlets went in and reported on how bad the community was and then left,” Soderstrom said. “We were tasked with reconstructing that narrative.”

That’s when Soderstrom found Paul Blanco’s story. Initially, she reached out to  Blanco because he had helped Clark’s grandparents rebuild their home after the police shooting.

However, Soderstrom and Guevarra decided that his personal story was worth showcasing. Blanco had a compelling perspective to share about living and raising his biracial children in the Meadowview community for the past 20 years. In a heart-string-pulling interview, Blanco sheds light on a father’s fear for his biracial children’s lives in the current day and age.

Through this experience, Soderstrom learned that stories change all the time and that “sometimes that’s for the best.” Her experience with NextGenRadio has exposed her to extensive professional connections and resources.

“My favorite part of this experience was being able to present my story and watch the fellow mentees present their final projects as well,” Soderstrom said. “I really enjoyed the community of people I had the opportunity to work with. I also enjoyed the connections that I’ve made and continue to have.”

Story by SOU student writer Sophie Passerini, @SophiePasserini


SOU Outdoor Program offers Winter Term climbing opportunities

The SOU Outdoor Program is offering multiple climbing opportunities this winter for those who want to learn something new or experience something challenging.

The Outdoor Program is offering a chance for climbing beginners to start their learning experience on Feb. 17 at Emigrant Lake. Intermediate climbing at Rattlesnake will be offered on March 16.

The Emigrant Lake climbing trip is $24 and the Rattlesnake trip is $37, and both prices include transportation, instruction and lunch.

To sign up, log in to SOU Connect­ and fill out the form. Both trips are on weekends, to avoid school-week conflicts.

The Climbing Center in SOU’s new Student Recreation Center is also offering a series of clinics during Winter Term. Belay technique clinics are taught on Monday nights from 8 to 9:30 p.m., and are $5 each.

A three-part Lead Climbing Clinic is being offered over three evenings – Feb. 6, 13 and 20, from 8 to 10 p.m. – for those who want to take their climbing to the next level. The cost is $10.

SOU’s Outdoor Program supports students experiencing the spirit of adventure during their time at the university. It offers student-led trips throughout the school year for the entire campus community, and rents high-quality equipment for camping, rafting, kayaking and backpacking.

The Outdoor Program is associated with Student Life, and support all adventure-based clubs on campus.

SOU Connect is often updated with new information from the Outdoor Program.

Story by Bryn Mosier, SOU Marketing and Communications intern