Esports event to preview new game

SOU Esports hosts community night and game preview

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Esports Hub at Southern Oregon University’s Student Recreation Center is hosting a community game night from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday to preview the unreleased alpha version of a local video game development company’s new product.

The event, a partnership with SunSpear Games of Medford, will feature the fantasy game “IMMORTAL: Gates of Pyre.” Developers from SunSpear will be on hand, along with representatives of the Cyber Center Esports Gaming Lounge in Phoenix and Funagain Games, a game store with locations in Ashland and Eugene.

There will be complimentary snacks, along with gaming equipment giveaways and a t-shirt raffle.

The Esports Hub, which features 12 top-end gaming stations, is located in the Student Recreation Center, at Wightman and Webster streets in Ashland. The facility is used for intercollegiate competitions, intramural gaming and open play for all SOU students and SRC members.

SOU is among the first institutions on the West Coast to offer both an academic program and a competitive team in Esports – a billion-dollar global enterprise. The university’s academic minor in esports management is one of just a handful that are offered nationally and its combination of programs positions students for future employment in the growing industry.

The “IMMORTAL: Gates of Pyre” video game features action among three planets surrounding the mythical “God-Star” Pyre. The SunSpear website describes it as “an action-packed battle strategy game” that puts players in the roles of god-like commanders who create alliances, command armies and conquer enemies. It has intuitive controls and enables team play.

SunSpear was formed as a collaboration of community design teams and gaming industry veterans, with the goal of building better Esports, according to the company’s LinkedIn profile. It has “co-crafted” games with other developers around the world has created its IMMORTAL game to combine “social, accessible, free-to-play design with the competitive excellence and visual clarity of Real Time Strategy genre.”


Raider Up: President’s podcast, episode 2

SOU's Earth Day Extravaganza will highlight Earth Month

SOU Earth Month features Earth Day Extravaganza and more

Southern Oregon University and community partners are offering an “Earth Day Extravaganza” and a packed schedule of events during the last two weeks of April in observation of Earth Month 2022. Opportunities to learn, take action and celebrate will take place both on campus and in the community April 19 through 29.

Environmental and social sustainability are among SOU’s core institutional values, and the events offered by the Social Justice and Equity Center’s Student Sustainability Team will highlight SOU’s contributions in these areas and offer opportunities to get involved in making a difference. Campus events will include a free screening of the film “Necessity 2: Climate Justice and the Thin Green Line,” the Light Up Your Bike Night Ride and Workshop, the Earth Day Extravaganza and the Arbor Day of Service. All of SOU’s events are free and open to the public.

Events hosted by community organizations include the Bear Creek Stewardship Day, Earth Day celebrations at the Ashland Food Co-op and Temple Emek Shalom, the Run Wild Ashland Color Dash and the Rogue Valley Bike Swap.

Details on the full Earth Month line-up are available online.

SOU’s Earth Day Extravaganza will be held this year from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on April 22, in observation of the 52nd Earth Day. The Student Sustainability Team (formerly ECOS) has been hosting a similar version of the event for more than 20 years – historically, in the Stevenson Union courtyard. The Student Sustainability Team is moving the event to The Farm at SOU to help fill a void that was left when the Rogue Valley Earth Day event, traditionally held at the neighboring ScienceWorks, was discontinued.

The SOU Earth Day Extravaganza has adopted some of the more popular features of Rogue Valley Earth Day, in partnership with the event’s past organizers – including educational exhibits by more than 30 sustainability and social justice-minded organizations and businesses; the Earth Day Ecoquest, in which participants of all ages can complete activities to earning prizes; and musical performances by campus and community groups including the SOU Salsa Band, the Creek Side Strings and Elbow Room Taiko. Other additions include mini-workshops hosted by students from SOU’s Environmental Education master’s degree program, farm and art tours, lawn games, crafts and food trucks.

ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum will be extending its hours on the day of the event to 6:30 p.m., and will also offer free admission that afternoon.

Guests are asked to walk, bike, carpool or take a bus to the Earth Day Extravaganza, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit parking congestion. Limited on-site parking is available in the ScienceWorks parking lot and overflow parking at Willow Wind Community Learning Center is also available. Guests that walk, bike, take a bus or carpool to the event can stop by the Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) exhibit to receive bonus Ecoquest tokens to be used toward Ecoquest prizes.

SOU’s Earth Day Extravaganza is made possible by contributions from campus and community sponsors, including Café Mam Organic Coffee, the SOU Social Justice and Equity Center, Sustainability at SOU, the SOU Environmental Science and Policy Program, True South Solar, the Ashland Food Co-op, Southern Oregon Climate Action Now and many other partner organizations.

Please visit the Earth Day Extravaganza website for more information.

2022 OTA Fellow Whillamina Wise

SOU student selected as TRIO-SSS 2022 OTA Fellow

The Oregon TRIO Association (OTA) recently selected TRIO-SSS student Whillamina Wise of Southern Oregon University as its 2022 OTA Fellow. She participated in the Council for Opportunity in Education Policy Seminar as Oregon’s representative last week in Washington, D.C.

The OTA Fellow’s main responsibility is to encourage funding for TRIO and hear stories of how the federal Student Support Services (SSS) program has helped first-generation, low-income and other underrepresented students around the country. Whillamina and the student representatives of other states help the organization to support students in the program nationwide.

“They’ve supported me so much throughout my education, and I’m just happy to be representing them,” Whillamina said in an interview with SOU News.

TRIO is a federally funded organization that helps disadvantaged students progress through the academic pipeline from middle school through graduate school. Student Support Services is one of eight sections of the TRIO program.

The TRIO-SSS program at SOU is limited to 190 students per academic year and has served more than 1,500 since 1994. The free program offers services including academic advising, tutoring, personal education plans, career guidance, preparation for graduate programs and financial aid information.

There are 23 colleges and universities in Oregon that offer TRIO-SSS.

Whillamina is majoring in International Studies and Spanish at SOU, and participates in the university’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program – another of the federal TRIO program’s eight sections. She plans to enter a master’s degree or doctoral program in her field next year.

Whillamina is passionate about uplifting underrepresented communities, and one of her goals with TRIO-SSS is to help first-generation students in developing their academic careers and increasing diversity across the board. The International Studies major at SOU has helped her work as the OTA Fellow, in finding new ways to improve integration and to diversify academia.

Those who may be eligible for support from TRIO-SSS are encouraged to learn more about the program.

SOU News sat down with 2022 OTA Fellow Whillamina Wise in this podcast interview below. Listen here and subscribe to SOU News podcast with Nash Bennett on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

Story by Nash Bennett, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

RVTD bus passes for SOU students

RVTD: It may be time to rethink your commute and drive less

With the increase in gas prices, many in the SOU community may be looking for ways to save some money at the pump. SOU’s partnership with RVTD, which provides a 90 percent discount with the SOU Student Term Bus Pass, compared to the regular cost of monthly bus passes, is a great option. Many students and staff have regularly used the bus as their way of getting around; since fall 2019, students and staff have recorded more than 33,000 transit trips.

In recent years, RVTD has worked to provide an improved and more convenient passenger experience. RVTD launched a free WiFi service on all RVTD buses in January, allowing passengers a chance to be better connected and more productive with their commute time. There are great new technology amenities like the Transit App, One Bus Away or the Google Trip Planner which provide passengers real-time bus information on when their bus will arrive at their bus stop and destination, making planning your bus trip easier than ever. The Umo Mobility App also makes it easy for students and staff to use their mobile phone to ride the bus.

Riding the bus offers many benefits like saving money in gas and parking costs and can also help reduce your carbon footprint. If you are interested in getting a discounted SOU Term Bus Pass, visit for details on SOU faculty/staff passes, and students can visit

Interested in carpooling?
RVTD and SOU also provide easy ways to find or post a carpool so you can share the cost of the ride. Get There Oregon is the statewide online ride-matching tool built to help you connect with others going your way for school, work, or shopping. If you use your email address to create your Get There account you can search for carpools with others in the SOU community using the SOU Raider Rideshare Network. To sign-up visit:

Need a bike? Check out the 2022 Rogue Valley Bike Swap
The Bike Swap is back this year and will be held on Saturday, April 30, offering a great opportunity to find a “new” set of wheels.

Buy, sell, or DONATE a bike, parts, or accessories at the festive revival of this long-running annual event. Test ride an e-bike, register your bike with the Ashland PD, and learn about bike events and advocacy efforts in your community. A portion of each sale will go to fund youth bike education programs in local public schools. For more information, visit

From the Student Sustainability Team of SOU’s Social Justice and Equity Center

SOU Rotaract Club raises $10k

SOU Rotaract Club raises $10,000 for ShelterBox

The SOU Rotaract Club has now raised $10,000 in a three-year fund-raising commitment to ShelterBox, a charity that works in international disaster relief by providing families with shelter and other supplies.

Students from the club did multiple fundraisers, including selling Christmas decorations, hosting an Easter egg hunt and volunteering at local events. It is part of a three-year commitment made by the club to raise money for ShelterBox.

ShelterBox was established in 2000, and has since provided disaster relief in 97 different countries. The organization, an official partner organization of Rotary International, offers relief to displaced families who have lost their homes due to natural disasters. Families are given shelter boxes that each contain a large tent “house,” water purification kit, blankets and other equipment.

SOU’s current chapter of Rotaract – an entry-level version of Rotary International, geared toward young adults – was formed less than five years ago, and now has a steady core of active members and several others who have been interested in specific club projects. Rotaract chapters must take on both local projects and “world service” projects each year.

SOU’s Rotaract Club went all in on ShelterBox, resulting in a huge fundraising landmark. They’re not done yet though, with plans to continue fundraising for ShelterBox and increase student engagement during the 2022-23 academic year.

Students looking for a great way to get involved with their community and gain leadership skills in a fun environment can contact SOU’s Rotaract Club to learn about membership opportunities. More information is available on the club’s Twitter page or its website.

SOU News sat down with the club’s president, Teal Hamner, to discuss the club and the ShelterBox fundraising in this podcast interview below.

Story and photos by Nash Bennett, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Bella McCord Winchester and other SOU students resumed international experiences this year

SOU students get back to international experiences after COVID pause

International experiences have resumed this year for many Southern Oregon University students, following a pandemic-related pause that limited travel for most SOU programs.

Outdoor Adventure Leadership programs led the way in summer 2021, with eight students traveling to Ecuador, and nine to Mexico and Belize, as part of OAL’s signature international expedition experiences. Another 12 students traveled to a total of nine countries during fall term 2021, by way of study abroad and exchange programs offered through SOU’s Office of International Programs.

International programs offer students experiential education, in which every moment inside and outside the classroom can be a chance to dig deeper into language, culture and society. International travel is also a crash course in planning and preparation – even more so during COVID. For those students who navigated visa delays, vaccination and testing requirements for flights, and arrival quarantines, the payoff was worth it.

International Studies major Alia Sager wanted to improve her French language skills abroad, but getting there tookAlia Sager's international experiences were in France flexibility when her initial program location closed, and when French visas took extra long to be processed.

“My advice for other students studying abroad in the COVID era is not to get discouraged,” Sager said. “There were many days where I didn’t know if the trip would be possible or not.  Plan for the best!  Even if things seem unlikely, in my case it all pulled together right before and I was able to go.”

She spent the semester in Lyon, France through study abroad partner provider USAC, in the company of students from around the world.

“The one language we had in common was French,” Sager said. “I realized just how challenging the term would be … because I had to push myself out of my comfort zone so far on a daily basis I came back a completely different person who feels more confident and secure in who I am and what I have to offer.”

SOU Education Abroad advisor Ariel Bloomer, who helps students explore program options and provides guidance during the application and pre-departure process, said that students who step outside their comfort zone tend to “step into the growth zone.”

“Everyone’s comfort zone is different, though, which is why our study away program portfolio includes such a broad range of options,” Bloomer said.

The National Student Exchange program offers opportunities within the U.S. and Canada, while SOU direct exchanges and study abroad partner providers offer options around the world.

“These experiences can also help demonstrate to employers a range of desired skills, including cultural agility, adaptability, creative problem-solving, language and ability to navigate through new processes around visas and travel,” Bloomer said.

Isaac Wilson enjoyed international experiences in FinlandBusiness major Isaac Wilson’s highlights in Finland came from a trip into the Arctic Circle, where he met reindeer, rode snowmobiles and saw the magnificent lights of the Aurora Borealis.

“Studying abroad is an opportunity to mature as a person and a way to become more independent as a person coming into adulthood,” said Wilson, who is pursuing one of the unique year-long exchange options for business majors that results in a dual degree from his European host university after graduation.

“I was incredibly fortunate to be able to study in Korea during COVID,” said Communication major Sophie Haney, who spent the fall in Gwangju, South Korea.

“I would encourage anyone who wants to study abroad right now to find a way to do it safely because it was truly a life-changing experience,” Haney said. “I think the most important thing is to understand the safety procedures of whatever country you want to visit and make sure you are following them, because then you’ll be able to fully enjoy whatever opportunities are there.”

Exchange partner university Chonnam National University in South Korea was unable to hold in-person classes during the semester due to COVID, which was initially a disappointment for Emerging Media and Digital Arts major Ezra Farner, who also studied in Gwangju this fall.

Sophie Haney and Ezra Farner had many international experiences in South Korea“My advice to students traveling in COVID is to make the most of the opportunities you have and to not dwell too much on the things you can’t control,” Farner said. “I was hoping to be able to have in-person classes when I traveled abroad and that ended up not being the case – but the advantage of that was being able to travel to other cities and take classes from various places around the country!”

Senior Communication major Bella McCord recalled the re-opening of British theatre as one of the highlights of her semester on exchange with the University of Winchester.

“I saw four shows throughout my four months away and it was so fulfilling to be able to enjoy theatre again when COVID had taken it away for so long,” McCord said. “Plus, they were all favorites I had never seen live, or shows I had never seen before but I had been waiting for the opportunity to see for years (Wicked!).”

This year’s intrepid crop of student travelers emphasized safety and risk-mitigation as key to a successful time abroad.

“If you get sick while abroad it does feel like you’re wasting what precious little time you have. Wear your mask in public places even if others aren’t, and book the correct kind of COVID tests before entering and exiting,” she said, because countries specify which of the many types of tests are acceptable.

Business major Kyle Hart, studying for the year at University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, said to “make sure thatKyle Hart's international experiences took him to Nottingham you are fully vaccinated and take care of yourself … but there is a lot more joy and things to learn than fear when you go abroad.”

Sophie Haney added that South Korea “had really strict quarantine procedures when we first got there and more limited public gathering options than the U.S., but it meant that we felt safe traveling within the country and taking advantage of the fun events and opportunities.”

Students wanting to explore options for travel for summer or during academic year 2022-23 should contact the Office of International Programs to set up an appointment to speak with an Education Abroad advisor, explore the OIP page on Inside SOU to browse available programs and talk with their academic advisor(s) about studying away for their major or minor.

Story by Ariel Bloomer, SOU Education Abroad advisor

SOU Esports teams practice daily at the Student Recreation Center

SOU Esports progresses to the next level

The Esports Management minor had its first graduate last fall, and the Raider Esports team has officially been accepted into the NACE StarLeague, the national league of college Esports. The association hosts tournaments in the spring and fall, in which schools from all over the country compete in various video game competitions.

SOU Esports currently has Rocket League and League of Legends teams registered, and is looking to add a Valorant team soon. Each competes with other teams, playing those specific video games. The SOU teams will compete regularly against other college and university teams, including UCLA and University of California, Bakersfield. They are currently looking for new players, and information about upcoming tryouts is on the team’s Instagram (@sou_esports). The team is holding practices throughout the week at the Esports Hub in the SOU Student Recreation Center, in preparation for upcoming competitions, which will be streamed live on Twitch.

SOU Esports lead Ashley RadThe Esports lead, SOU student Ashley Rad, has been hard at work guiding the team into this next phase.

“We heard back in about a week that we got accepted and I was super excited that our team was able to get this opportunity,” she said, regarding the application process for getting into NACE

Ashley became the team lead at the beginning of fall term 2021, and has quickly taken the team to new heights. She hosts tryouts, runs practices and registers for tournaments. She has lots of ambition and big plans for the team.

“I absolutely love this job and the Esports industry,” she said. “I have plans to expand more next year and I aim to make Esports a much bigger organization at SOU.”

Esports is a burgeoning industry that has only skyrocketed since the introduction of the Esports Management minor at SOU last year. Jeremy Carlton, a business faculty member at SOU who oversees the program, said “enthusiasm is off the charts” in an interview with SOU News. There are currently 10 students who have declared the minor, but many more who have expressed interest in declaring – and almost every Esports class fills up quickly each term. The program also saw its first graduate with the minor last fall – someone interested in working in the industry as a mental health advisor for professional Esports teams.

Interest in Esports is expected to continue rising following the pandemic, with 577 million viewers by 2024. It’s still in its infancy, and SOU is ahead of the curve in offering educational opportunities in the field. Courses in the university’s minor offer structural principles for the world of Esports, addressing the ethics of the industry, focusing on diversity, stomping out toxicity and teaching efficient business management. The minor complements majors of all kinds, but has lots of double-dipping opportunities in the Business, Communication and Emerging Media and Digital Arts programs. Goals for the program in the future are to bring in professional Esports competitors as guest speakers, and increase connections between the team and the minor.

Learn more about the Esports Management minor here and don’t forget to watch the Raider Esports Team on Twitch Mondays and Tuesdays.

Story and photos by Nash Bennett, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

February food drive time at SOU

It’s February – food drive time at SOU

It’s February, and at Southern Oregon University that means it’s time to support students who may have issues with food insecurity. President Rick Bailey recently appealed to SOU employees to donate this month during the Governor’s State Employee Food Drive, in which all food and funds gathered at SOU support the Student Food Pantry’s operations throughout the year.

SOU employees, alumni, families of students and community members all contribute generously to the annual food and fundraiser, demonstrating that the SOU community cares deeply about eliminating student hunger on campus.

The Student Food Pantry is an important resource for many SOU students. In the 2020-21 academic year, while classes were entirely remote, 113 individual students were served by the SOU Food Pantry.

“I use the Food Pantry once a week,” one student said in a survey last year of Food Pantry users. “The pick-up process is so easy that it makes getting supplemental food not scary or embarrassing.

“I have been able to focus more on my school work since I have been using the food pantry, as I no longer have to worry about having enough to eat to sustain me during the week.”

There are three ways to participate in this year’s food drive:

Donate Money: Anyone can make a one-time donation by visiting SOU employees are able to sign up for a monthly payroll contribution to provide ongoing support for the SOU Student Food Pantry. Donations of any size are appreciated. Employees are encouraged to take the “Governor’s Challenge” to donate $12 per month, or $144 for the year.

Fill-the-Bin Building Competition: Each SOU building has a collection bin for donating non-perishable food items. Red “food drive” bags are available at the bins, and employees should be on the lookout for detailed instructions in their campus mailbox. The building with the largest donation, by weight, wins the competition. Barrels will be collected and weighed on Friday Feb. 25.

Attend the Food Pantry Benefit Concert: Join SOU Music students for their free, annual fundraising event at the SOU Music Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8. SOU students collaborate and produce this free community concert with the goal of raising awareness of college student hunger needs. Admission is FREE with either a monetary or non-perishable food donation – all to benefit the SOU Student Food Pantry. Click here for more information.

The Student Food Pantry is one of many resources available to students facing financial difficulties. Any student facing food insecurity or a financial emergency is encouraged to first file an SOU Cares Note and someone from the Office of the Dean of Students can help access various financial and other assistance. In addition, the Basic Needs Resources website has a comprehensive list of other available resources. These include information about virtual assistance for students with a representative from the Oregon Department of Human Services, setting up an appointment with SOU’s new Campus Benefits Navigation Manager, SNAP benefits eligibility, and listings of rental, utility, transit, internet, food and other assistance options.

In addition to the formal resources available at SOU, there are many other ways the SOU community helps support and resource students facing financial difficulties. From staff and faculty stocking informal “snack stations” in various campus buildings, to advisors and employees submitting Cares Notes and referring students to resources, the SOU community cares about eliminating student hunger.

For more information and details on the February Food Drive please visit