September 2020

Tick Tock, TikTok

Tiktok does not get banned as planned

The popular video app TikTok was expected to be banned for download by U.S. users on September 20. In response, TikTok users made videos showing  their distress, and thanked fellow users for watching their videos. Both users and viewers were bemoaning the fact that they couldn’t buy a new phone anymore, because the app wouldn’t be available for their devices. However, when Sunday came and went,it seemed that TikTok was actually here to stay.

    Vanessa Pappas, the interim head of TikTok, released a video over the weekend in which she stated that the company was working with a U.S. tech partner in order to keep the app available. According to Pappas, this initiative will ensure that there will be “no change to our users here in the U.S. or around the world”.

    The ban on TikTok came from the U.S. government, all the way from the President, due to concern that personal information could be taken off of people’s smart devices. The app itself originates in China, and since there is a precedent of security breaches related to this country, the U.S. government decided to ban the app. According to the New York Times, active military personnel are not allowed to have the app on account of security and privacy concerns. 

    On August 6, 2020, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that called for further measures to be taken in response to the national security threat posed by TikTok. According to the order, the app’s ability to secure information on its users (such as Internet activity, like location data and search histories) could give the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) the ability to collect private information about Americans , posing the risk that  China might track federal employee locations, collect private information for blackmail, or otherwise carry out espionage. The Department of Commerce issued a press release on September 18 announcing that transactions involving TikTok would be halted in order to protect national security. These measures came with the insistence that “The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S.”

According to ABC News, the Trump administration threatened to shut down the app by September 20 unless  it was sold to a U.S. company; the president’s executive order on August 6 ensured that the app would be shut down unless such a deal could be made. According to NPR, Oracle and Walmart have teamed up, with plans to develop a new company called TikTok Global. President Trump has expressed his support for this deal. 

However, this is not, in fact, the outright sale of TikTok to Oracle and Walmart. Instead, Oracle will store American users’ data in their cloud servers, while Walmart will provide investment and give users the ability to shop through the app to boot. Together, Oracle and Walmart will only own 20 percent of TikTok, while the original owner of Tiktok, the Chinese company ByteDance, will retain 80 percent. 

Some users have found this concerning, and have deleted their app or account accordingly, whereas others are perfectly content to continue using  the app. According to Ethan Klein of the H3H3 Podcast, the amount of viewers and subscribers on the platform has been insurmountable: one popular user had had 7 billion views in the month of August alone. Despite the threat of being banned, then, TikTok is still largely in use and doesn’t seem to be dwindling whatsoever. 

Author: Dani Mercado|A & E Editor

Author: Kassy Klein|Copy Editor

Images of an empty, COVID-ready campus

It may be hard to remember three weeks into the semester that FPU had originally hoped to offer in-person learning for Fall 2020. This was the plan, that is, until Governor Newsom’s order mandated distance learning for schools and universities in COVID-affected areas like the Central Valley. This order only allows for schools to bring back in-person classes if the number of COVID cases in the city or county becomes few enough. 

Before this news, FPU had invested in plastic shields and other precautions, but sadly these are not being utilized very much with the current situation. 

This article features a collection of images taken at the Fresno Pacific main campus at various times in recent weeks. They aim to capture in some way the strange feeling that comes from being on an almost empty campus. While the facilities may look bleak and empty, they may also carry fond memories of the past semesters, and promises for the future.

A closed Hiebert Library, viewed from the outside. The reflected statues of the readers almost look as if they have taken our place studying inside the walls. 
Water stations covered in plastic to remind staff, residents or visiting students not to use them.
Photo Credit: Edwardo Cazares
While the tables are no longer here, just the sight of various places like this can bring back memories of chatting with friends and classmates, or of commiserating after class over a particularly difficult exam. 
The benches in the Forest (Alumni Plaza) and all over campus have dropped in capacity due to social distancing precautions.
Photo Credit: Edwardo Cazares
Sunset over North Hall.
A lone cat keeps watch over campus in the fluorescence-filled night. Something about that stare seems to say “This bench is taken”. Does the limit apply both above and beneath the bench? Perhaps bunk benches will be part of this new normal. 
In any normal semester, students would undoubtedly be populating these desks and aisles, making use of some nightly study time. Now the dark windows reflect light from the small businesses across the street, more visible as of late due to the tearing down of empty campus housing to make way for the incoming Culture and Arts Center. 
All is quiet in the Forest. The bright lights encourage smokey air to masquerade as fog from a Fresno winter. 
Upper photo credit: Edwardo Cazares
Kiana Espinoza closes up shop for the day at the Academic Support Center. Although tutoring is done via Zoom this semester, the ASC is still ready and able to help with all manner of assignments and subjects. As can be seen in this photo, plastic shields and cleaning supplies are now a common sight on campus.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”  
   “…A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…”
        “…God seeks what has been driven away”
            [selected content taken from the context of Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 ESV]
A look at the area behind the Seminary House prepared for the Culture and Arts Center. The groundbreaking celebration is set for 10:30 a.m, Friday, October 16, 2020.
A closer look, in the dark, at the area cleared out behind the Seminary house. What will the building-in-progress look like when students return to in-person classes?
AIMS Hall and the Rebecca Fountain as viewed from Marpeck Hall.
2020 has been full of difficulty testing our sympathy and our unity
May we all do more than cope
and help another find true hope

Author: Timothy Miracle | Features Editor

Photos by: Timothy Miracle


Traditional Fair Activities given a make-over this year

There is something special in the air during a particular week in Tulare County. School has already started, and September quietly follows. You begin to see bracelet booths crop up, and that’s when you know. Fair Week is coming.The people of this outspread county come together to share their best creations, cultivations and fruits of their efforts from over the course of the year. Anything, from the most beautiful quilts a guild has been working on to the largest vegetable grown, can be seen. Our county’s many amazing artists can showcase their art, photography, paintings, drawings, woodwork, baking and mechanical wonders in the gallery.  Students who have raised and tended livestock have an opportunity to showcase their animals and sell them to farms or interested buyers. People get to see how they measure up against others and share their work with everyone else. It usually starts on a Wednesday in September. People line up on Tulare Ave or K St,  getting there early in the morning to claim a spot that has been theirs for three generations. There is a time-honored tradition among Tulare County schools to have a holiday for students to not only experience the many aspects of the parade, but also because, somewhere within the many school marching bands, sports team/cheerleading floats, family work affiliated floats and other various floats exhibiting the various activities within Tulare County, our kids may be found. 

         The cacophony of sound once you enter the fair can usually be overwhelming.  Depending on which entrance you use, it will open up to a variety of scents and sounds. If you enter on the Ag/Animal side, you will smell the fresh hay for the animals and the distinct smell of manure. Your ears will be filled with the awe of the spectators, kids and adults alike, loud over the sounds of  animals grunting, mooing, braying and squawking away. You can hear the judges in the showroom. For many of us in this county, the smell and sounds of the ag side evoke  extremely nostalgia for our respective hometowns. For the fairgoer entering from one of the various other entrances, you will most likely hear the music from the speakers or the variety of shows going on all at once. As you enter, your senses are overwhelmed with sights, scents and, of course, even more sounds. For those who have never been interested in the rides, or agriculture or who have even come from beyond the neighboring towns, there is always one thing that becomes a staple, not just of the Tulare County Fair, but of all fairs:: the deliciously deep-fried fair foods. Whether it’s the trusty corndog, or the deliciously delicate funnel cake or that flat and fluffy elephant ear, there is always something special about the food, something about it you can’t easily whip up at home. Fair food is no joke;  it is by far the best and worst food in the world.  But not one of us can turn our heads away from the over-fried deliciousness available. You then approach the infamous midway. I can’t explain the love-hate relationship I have with the midway. When I was a teenager, the fair was where your significant other took you on the best date of your life. The midway is where you spent all your time. They can spend all their money trying to win you that cheap, sawdust-filled, jumbo-sized unidentifiable animal, yet together you still proceed to ride the questionable rides through the night. You spend hours cuddled up with each other in different sweaty, overly crowded lines for various attractions.The fair is a week-long affair for teenagers, them spending multiple evenings after school at the fairgrounds with each other.Then there are the parents and families who come with their younger children. Parents swarming the kids’ ride area and mothers looking, like ostriches, for a place to sit when it’s time to eat. The exhibit halls are full of venders, all asking you to vote for this candidate, or buy this product or specialty item.  

But I stray from my point in reminiscing. This Wednesday slipped by with a whisper. The only noticeable difference was the silence of laptops with no Zoom sessions thrumming on throughout the day. The fair looks drastically different. Many parts of the fairgrounds are virtual ghost towns. Exhibit halls are closed and the midway a long stretch of empty grass. People have still entered their different wares for various awards. Others still create their exhibits to be shown differently. While the FFA/4H portion of the fair is also still being held, it is in a different manner: the number of people allowed within is considerably lower and the show area is controlled with no audiences and all is done virtually. 

         The most unique venue the board has created to accommodate the needs of our COVID era is a drive-thru exhibit. The Fair has partnered with several different organizations to create a semblance of the experience all fairgoers have come to cherish. There will be a Fair food option offering our favorite corn dogs, cotton candy, lemonade and funnel cakes, along with ability to see several entries from county members and other special exhibits and shows along the way. While it may not be the Fair we know and love, we can still enjoy it and show support for what the talented people of Tulare County can create. The Drive-thru option not only showcased Tulare County talent, there is great music from local bands playing live during the evenings, side-show circus acts and some fun animatronics for the kids. Cars lined up for hours to eat and view all there was to offer.

         Many Fresno Pacific students hail from Tulare County towns and know what the Tulare County Fair has been in their lives. For those who aren’t and don’t, maybe your home has something similar, something that awakens the nostalgia for a time honored tradition like our little exhibition. For me, the County Fair has been a generational tradition of parade participation, baked goods, photography, the best in show and first place ribbons and passing on the enjoyment of the midway. This year may be different, but I hope that us Tulare County citizens can still feel the heartbeat of the Fair, the community putting forward its best efforts to be recognized.

Author: Janelle Fontaine and Shawn McCurry | Opinions Editor and Staff Writer

Selena Gomez Launches New Makeup Line

Rare Beauty is true to the name

Selena Gomez—well-known for her role as Alex Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place, outspoken advocacy of health issues, and rising music career—is constantly bringing new creative outlets and works to the table. Gomez’s most recent project was her very own makeup company, called Rare Beauty. 

Rare Beauty was launched on September 3, 2020. It was met by many eager fans and beauty critics alike. The company launched various products, ranging from foundations and blushes to blotting sheets and compacts. The products are intended to leave a natural dewy, rather than matte, finish. 

Rare Beauty also has an inclusive range of shades for their foundation and concealers; there are 48 shades available. This has been praised by fans and critics alike, since there are plenty for people to choose from. On the Rare Beauty site there are videos of Gomez using the products herself to help people with the application process. The products are also reasonably priced, with foundation being $29 and liquid lip being $20. 

People were quick to comment on the sleek, easy-open packaging of Rare Beauty products. It is important here to note that Gomez suffers from lupus disease. She received a kidney transplant in 2017 and continues to receive treatments on a daily basis. Some have inferred that, since Gomez’s condition has a shaking hands side effect, she made the packaging easy to open for anyone. In a video with Vogue, Gomez used her own products in her makeup routine. Viewers could see her hands visibly shake as she attempted to use her eyeliner, further perpetuating the idea that the packaging was made with easy opening in mind. 

Gomez is also an advocate for mental health, and encourages her audience to know about self-worth. Gomez mentioned in her Vogue video that she wants people to know that they don’t need makeup to be beautiful; she wanted to create something that people would feel the most authentic in. Rare Beauty and Gomez have also announced that they will contribute to the Rare Impact Fund, which set a goal of giving 100 million dollars toward mental health causes. Rare Beauty products are also vegan and animal cruelty free. 

Critics have their fair share of opinions. YouTube beauty guru Patrick Starrr reviewed the products, but people were less than pleased with the review. It seemed that Starrr would not allow the products to stand on their own, as he would constantly compare his own beauty products to them. When a product did not satisfy him, he would then state that viewers could buy his instead. This has left a poor taste in plenty of people’s mouths, so much so that Starrr removed the like to dislike ratio on his video and spoke about it on Instagram. 

Another critic was Fenty Beauty, which, on the day of Rare Beauty’s release, tweeted about the benefits of a matte finish foundation when compared to a dewy finish. Rihanna’s beauty company has since deleted the tweet after facing backlash; fans of Gomez felt that it was unprofessional. Both Rare Beauty and Fenty Beauty, it is worth noting, are sold exclusively through Sephora. This could be a reason for Fenty Beauty to tweet about their competing company: They have a new, rare competitor. 

Rare Beauty is new, fresh and socially impactful. I don’t know about you, but I know where my next paycheck is going. I guess you could say that Gomez has killed me with kindness.

Author: Danielle Mercardo | A&E Editor

The Legacy of Casa Pacifica

Hear stories from members of the FPU community 

Last week, I covered a story on the loss of our cabin, Casa Pacifica, to the Creek Fire. In the course of my research I encountered many who had stories to share about their experiences there. I had the honor of interviewing a few from the FPU community: senior Kinesiology major and ALAS Peer Mentor DJ Maxwell, Assistant Dean for Student Development Lynn Reinhold and professor emeritus (as well as one of the former owners of Casa Pacifica) Dalton Reimer. 

What retreats or events have you visited Casa for? 

DJ: “I’ve been to retreats since my freshman year. I’ve gone every winter with the track team, intramurals my sophomore year, and with the track team and Res Life my junior year.”

Lynn: “Over the last 14 years, I have taken numerous groups to Casa: student leadership groups, commuter students, peer mentors and cheer team retreats.”

What was significant about Casa to you? 

DJ: “What was significant about Casa to me is that, before going to the retreats, I never ever wanted to go, but when I was leaving after the retreats, I was more than glad that I went.

Lynn: “Casa was a special place, where students could come together without all of the distractions of the world and build deep relationships and friendships that have lasted beyond their time as a student at FPU. Casa provided the perfect environment for team bonding.  Every August the cabin was booked solid by FPU leadership groups and athletic teams who will never forget their time at Casa.”

Dalton: “Places of retreat from the ordinary routines of life are special. To escape the Valley for the cool mountain air, congregations of trees pointing to the heavens above, and the sky populated with an amazing canopy of stars, on a dark night not seen in the Valley below – all lift one’s spirit as one is renewed for continuing life back in the Valley. Universities deserve such a place for their students and staff. There we learn the rhythm of engagement and retreat that makes for a life more fully lived.  Jesus provides a good model, escaping from the press of the villages he served to the mountain, sometimes alone, and sometimes with his small group of disciples. So it is that one is renewed for continuing study, service and life, preserved as a hedge against burnout.”

What’s one special memory or story that you have about Casa?

DJ: “One special memory I have about Casa is seeing snow for the first time, both on the ground and falling from the sky.” 

Lynn: “I have so many favorite memories of Casa. Listening to students share their life stories and how they found their way to FPU. Late night dance parties, preparing and sharing meals together. I could go on and on.” 

Dalton: “Memories shared, even now, of what students and others experienced at Casa Pacifica are special. And memories of beginnings sometimes stand out at endings. What started it all was a vision of several of us on the faculty during the 1970s—a vision of a retreat center that would be Fresno Pacific’s very own and serve the institution in the years ahead. This beginning was unique, in that it began as an exercise in recycling. We won a sealed bid purchasing a mountain cabin that had to be removed. That was the seed that began a rebuilding process on the present site with the salvaged lumber as its core. What emerged was a combination of old and new.” 

Not a single one of these words makes up for the loss of the cabin or the new jeopardy of memories—much less for any of the other tragedies that people are facing as of late. But while the building once known as Casa Pacifica no longer stands, the memories and friendships forged around its walls remain. It is critical, perhaps now more than ever, to grip memories and friendships close, and refuse to let the weight of loss or anguish pull them asunder.   

Author: Kassandra Klein | Copy Editor

Photo by: Lynn Reinhold

How Senior Athletes are Coping with COVID-19

How are Seniors handling the uncertainty of their seasons?

Although we are entering September, it feels as though we are still living in March. While we continue to social distance, wear masks, and stay indoors, athletes all around the world face challenges. 

In late August, the NCAA came to the executive decision to push back fall sports until the spring of 2021. However, the NCAA has yet to release a plan for what will happen to both winter and spring sports, and will not be doing so until October 1. Hearing these announcements sent sadness and shock through FPU’s Athletic Department. As for senior athletes, hearing this news was devastating, crushing any dreams they had of winning championships, accomplishing goals and most importantly, creating memories with their teammates. 

“One thing I miss already is just not having the guys around. What hits me the hardest right now, because I know I can never get this time back, is not getting to spend time with my teammates,” said senior Raine McKeython, a business major and guard on the men’s basketball team.

After months of unanswered questions, there still seems to be much uncertainty as to what winter sports will look like when—and if—they will return. With gyms being shut down for months and schools not being allowed to reopen, McKeython realized his highly anticipated season would continue unresolved. “I feel like, as a senior, it [not having a season] hit me a little harder than if I were a freshman. Your senior year is one of the most important years and with everything being unclear, it has left things very uncertain as I move forward,” said McKeython.

Although athletes would rather be playing with their teammates rather than sitting indoors, this will not happen until the NCAA can ensure players and coaches will be safe. 

“The competitive basketball player in me just wants to play, but then there’s the other side that understands this is a major issue. I feel by playing sports we wouldn’t be addressing the issue, but hurting it and making the problem worse,” said McKeython.

When asked what advice he had to share with fellow student-athletes in  the same situation, his answer was quick in coming: “Try not to focus on everything that’s wrong and instead see everything that is still continuing on in life. Nothing is over with.” 

    Katie Kisling, a psychology major and senior on the water polo team, has had a much different experience with COVID-19. In March of 2019, as the COVID-19 outbreak first began, all spring sports were canceled for the remainder of the year. Therefore, Kisling has had prior experience the heartbreak of losing your season to the virus. 

“I tend to be a person who thinks of all the possibilities of things that are going to happen, so even in the spring I was preparing myself for the possibility of us not playing next spring,” Kisling said.

    Following the cancellation of spring sports, the NCAA made a statement in which they announced that all student-athletes will receive an extra year of eligibility. By getting their eligibility back, this means that student-athletes can play for another year on their respective teams. Leaving the option of playing with their teams another year open allows teams to stay together for another season. 

While this is an amazing opportunity for many student-athletes to get their Master’s degree amongst other options, many may be leaving it open only as a possibility. 

    “I’m not sure if I would, but it’s definitely a possibility. Once I get to experience my season and all of the senior stuff, I’ll be ready to move on and graduate,” Kisling said.

Kisling has already experienced the loss of one season to COVID, and offered this advice to those experiencing that same loss now: “Maintain the relationships with your teammates, because they know what you’re going through. They know better than anyone how to encourage you and lift you up when you’re having a hard time.”

While we all continue to check our social media or newspaper for updates on the return of athletics, athletes have another source from which to receive new information. Men’s Head Basketball Coach C.J. Haydock opened up about providing his athletes with information during this vital time. 

“Everybody wants answers, and answers change week to week. It’s really hard for everybody. There’s a lot of conversation, there’s a lot of relentlessness, and there’s a lot of restlessness. But there’s also, I think, an opportunity to guide our student athletes who are future leaders towards a place of growth and hope and optimism and leadership as well,” Haydock said.

With seniors all around the world watching their seasons evaporate, there is much reflection to be had. 

“All of us in athletics have an opportunity to pause and reflect on how good our life is. There was a professional baseball player who said, ‘Sports are the reward for a properly functioning society,’ and sometimes sports can be a misdirect from the pressing issues of our world,” Haydock said.

Uncertainty looms on whether athletics will even begin this year, and what they will look like if they are able to make their return. However, our athletes will adjust correspondingly, as they have fantastic coaches on their side to help. 

While COVID-19 may be an affliction to athletes’ mental health, as well as that of coaches, students and teachers, there is also an opportunity for personal reflection during these difficult times. 

Author: Shyanne Mortimer | Co-Social Media Editor

Casa Pacifica lost to Creek Fire

Discover the rise and fall of the FPU-owned retreat cabin

A crumbling fireplace amidst soot and rubble: this is all that remains of Casa Pacifica, as revealed in a live Facebook video posted by freelance photojournalist Alex Londos. The university-owned retreat cabin colloquially referred to as “Casa” was lost to the Creek Fire over the weekend.

According to the Casa Pacifica Executive History, Casa Pacifica had served FPU faculty, staff, and students for over thirty years. Prior to 1976, the university held summer retreats at various camps around the Central Valley, such as Hartland Camp and Barlow Ranch, but many had hopes for a university-owned retreat facility in the mountains that would be more readily available to the FPU community. 

In 1976, this hope turned into reality: amidst an effort spearheaded by the National Park Service to restore the Grant Grove area to its natural state, cabins in the Wilsonia village were removed. Three FPU faculty members—Don Isaac, Dennis Langhofer, and Dalton Reimer—placed a bid on the O’Bosky cabin and secured its purchase. They tore it down with plans of using the salvaged materials to build a new cabin in the Sierras. The salvaged lumber was stored away until 1978, when an approximately five-acre parcel of land along Woodland Road, near Shaver Lake, was bought by an unspecified number of purchasers that included Dalton Reimer. 

 Construction of Casa Pacifica began in 1980. The cabin’s original designs were largely influenced by the original cabin, in an effort to effectively reuse the salvaged materials. Construction was completed in the summer of 1984, complete with three floors, a front two-floor porch and an exterior deck that wrapped around three sides of the building. 

With the help of non-university rental fees and endowment income, Casa Pacifica was financed so that FPU faculty, staff and students could use the cabin on official university business, free of charge. In 1998, ownership of the cabin transferred from Dalton Reimer to the university. In 2003, FPU also assumed full management and maintenance responsibilities. 

Casa Pacifica was used for a variety of retreats, from the International Programs and Services Office (IPSO) and transfer student weekend retreats during the academic year, to freshman, athletic and other student, staff or faculty retreats during the summer. Only a month ago, FPU had outfitted the cabin with new mattresses and couches in the hopes of eventually welcoming students, faculty and staff into a revitalized Casa Pacifica after months of being online and socially distanced. Unfortunately, FPU’s beloved Casa Pacifica was met with an unexpected and untimely catastrophe—a bitter reality that seems to pervade the entire year.

Author: Kassandra Klein | Copy Editor

Photo By: Jiru Balista

FPU Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Listening Sessions

Patty Salinas M.A. ALAS Title V Project Director:

We are fully committed to providing an intellectually diverse, nondiscriminatory, and multicultural environment. 

As such, part of the Diversity Initiatives for the 2020-2021 academic year include listening sessions so that we can assess the needs of our community and set areas for improvement. We would like to invite our FPU community to participate in listening sessions throughout the year. We will be organizing these sessions in various formats. The various formats will allow for small-group sessions, various group combination session types and also an opportunity for individual sessions. We want everyone to be heard. We ask that participants practice openness, honesty and respect for all who participate. All sessions are confidential and your personal information will not be shared without written consent.  

The first two open student listening sessions have been scheduled in September and October. We have organized these sessions into smaller groups to allow ample time for participants to be heard.

Each of these listening sessions will be moderated by Patty Salinas (Interim CDO), Breanne Wyse (director of diversity, inclusion and spiritual formation), Martha Fregoso and Melanie Howard, Ph.D., (co-chairs of the University Diversity Committee). If you cannot make a time or if you would like to, but are looking for a more anonymous way to share your perspective, you can fill out a written form that will only be visible to these four individuals (contact information below to access a written form).  Members of the University Diversity Committee Executive Committee (list of committee members available upon request) are also available to moderate for individual appointments by request.

Please sign up here:

Listening session dates and times:

You will receive a confirmation email to confirm your participation. If a listening session is filled quickly, do not worry we will be hosting various sessions monthly throughout the year. Please be sure to sign up for a session that works for you; sign-on instructions for each session will be sent out to you prior to the event.

These sessions are just the first step in gathering information from our community. The results and information gathered will help with further planning. Together, we all play a role in helping promote a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture at FPU. Thank you.

“Resist Racism: See me, Hear me, Respect me, Join me”

Contact Information:

Martha Fregoso, martha.fregoso@fresno.edu559-453-2212

Melanie Howard, melanie.howard@fresno.edu559-453-2306

Patty Salinas, patricia.salinas@fresno.edu559-453-3434

Bre Wyse, breanne.wyse@fresno.edu559-453-3608

Engagements and Weddings Covid Style

How couples have joined together during a time of isolation

Since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, most soon-to-be brides and grooms have had to put a pause on their wedding or engagement plans. Others, however, are adjusting to the new normal. I interviewed two of our fellow Sunbirds—Jessica, currently planning her wedding, and Brian, who recently married his wife Kristin—and asked them a few questions that will, hopefully, be helpful or encouraging to those who are going through the same process. 

What were your feelings about getting engaged/or married during the pandemic? 

Jessica Dondlinger (Kinesiology): “After getting engaged, I was so excited and happy. I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone else, so despite the weird circumstances of COVID, I was so excited! I saw the engagement as a huge positive in the negative and hectic time we had just entered.”

Brian Whaley (Residence Director): “My wife and I weren’t panicked or nervous. We were very happy, aside from the pre-wedding jitters, that is. The wedding ended up being on short notice because all of her family was moving out of state, and it was getting to be hard for her to find a place to live. We had already talked about marriage and felt that we wanted to spend our lives together, so it was more like bumping up the timetable by a lot than any sudden move. The pandemic and restrictions on gatherings actually gave us the excuse to have a small intimate wedding with just us and our parents, which in hindsight we are grateful for. This made the ceremony a very intimate and special occasion that turned out to be what we really wanted, as we are both fairly private people.”

What is it like trying to plan a date to get married, without knowing when things will open up again? 

Jessica: “Planning a wedding during this time is proving to be slightly more challenging. Me and my fiancé got engaged in early April, right at the start of everything, so over the summer we began to plan our dream wedding. With this being said, we found it very difficult to get a hold of venues, get any solid information on availability and even struggled with getting the opportunity to tour venues. Many venues did not contact us back at all or told us that they had no idea when we would be able to get married at their venue. We are hoping to have our wedding in May of 2021, so we are not currently getting pushed out, but just trying to have solid communication with vendors and venues at this time has not been easy.”

Brian: “Planning our date was actually extremely arbitrary for us, since we had our wedding in our backyard here on campus and it was so small. We ended up going with 05/20/2020 since it was easy to remember.”

Do you think that the pandemic made it more difficult to plan a wedding?

Jessica: “I do think that the pandemic is adding challenges to planning a wedding, but it is not impossible. Despite the lack of communication from some venues and vendors, others have been wonderful. In a sense this has made it actually easier to pink a venue!”

Brian: “I think the pandemic made it easier for us, since we didn’t jump through nearly as many hoops. We decided to go with a very small wedding. Her father performed the ceremony and my mother is friends with a caterer who put up some decorations. For food we ate Maria’s Tacos, which we both love. My wife didn’t even get a ‘real wedding dress,’ it was a nice-looking emerald dress. So I think that the pandemic stripped away the possibilities of doing all the typical things that weddings usually have of inviting a lot of people, renting a venue, a reception, etc. and allowed us to focus on what mattered most to us which is our family, who raised us, and our love for each other.”

How are the wedding venues helping to ease the stress of planning? Are they helping ease some stress? What precautions are they taking? 

Jessica: “The venue that we hope to get married at has been the most helpful and communicative venue since the start. They allowed us to tour their venue and meet to have a consultation. This has made the whole process a lot less stressful; just knowing that they are doing their best to provide whatever they can to make our day special as well as the process leading to the day as easy and smooth as possible. The venue is large, so I know they are utilizing social distancing, as well as the necessary cleaning, to make everybody comfortable and safe.”

 Brian: “Doesn’t really apply to us but we didn’t feel comfortable getting married in any venue besides a home since my mother is in an at-risk category for COVID.”

Was your wedding still everything that you wanted or imagined?

Brian: “My wedding turned out to be everything I wanted and it’s something that I will always cherish forever. Without the pandemic, I don’t think it would’ve happened like that, which meant I would’ve missed out on that experience that I cherish.”

I hope that after reading these responses those who are also planning a wedding during COVID will be encouraged to keep pushing through. It might seem like the hurdles of planning a wedding in the midst of this pandemic are too hard to surmount, but it can be accomplished. Just keep that positive mindset and know that there are others who have or are going through the same process. 

Author: Marisa Kaleva | Staff Writer

EPs in quarantine

Artists release new music

2020 has been a year many wish would start over. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to adopt a new lifestyle, with millions quarantined in their homes to avoid its spread. 

Many naturally sought comfort during such strange times, and music became an outlet for people all over the world to unite and feel close to each other again. While families tried to remain calm, many artists took advantage of the situation and released music for their fans to enjoy.

 Artists like The Weeknd, Taylor Swift and even the late Juice Wrld all had huge albums that made a splash during quarantine. Those released when people were forced to stay home turned out to be some of the best albums of the year, shattering records along the way. 

The Weeknd – After Hours (No Features. Released on March 20th, 2020)

The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) released his 4th studio album at the very start of quarantine. His fourteen-song R&B album dropped while tons of people were trying to navigate a changing world, and it granted them a distraction during all the madness. The album garnered a lot of attention and reached the top spot on the Billboard 200, an album-ranking service in the US; it has been in the top 20 on the chart for 23 weeks straight. “Blinding Lights” was by far his most successful song, hitting over a billion listens on Spotify and leading Tesfaye to break a record and earn two awards. The song peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart on April 3rd (it is still in the top 5 even today) and also hit number 1 on their Hip-Hop and R&B chart, according to Billboard’s website. 

The music video won 2 MTV VMAs, for Album of the Year and R&B Video of the Year. This year’s show also saw The Weeknd open with a live version of “Blinding Lights.” Billboard states that “The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’ breaks the record for the most weeks spent atop Billboard‘s all-format Radio Songs airplay chart, logging a 19th frame at No. 1 on the survey dated Aug. 22. The song eclipses Goo Goo Dolls’ ‘Iris,’ which led for 18 weeks in 1998 and held the record all to itself for nearly 22 years” (Billboard). 

With an album that released at the start of a new way of life for millions of people, The Weeknd definitely owned the first half of 2020, and his work will likely go down in history. 

Taylor Swift – Folklore (1 Feature. Released on July 24th, 2020)

Perhaps the biggest surprise album of the year, Folklore was released seemingly overnight. Not many fans expected to wake up to Taylor Swift’s 8th studio album, but they took it and ran with it. The indie-folk album was much different than what fans had expected and heard in her previous 7 albums: this one was much more personal. 

Swift shattered a Guinness World Record, prompting the company to release the following statement: “Just a few days after its release, we’re pleased to confirm that her 8th album has achieved the most day-one streams of an album on Spotify (female) after being streamed an impressive 80.6 million times” (Guinness World Records). Swift’s album has also been number one on the Billboard 200 for 5 weeks straight and, when released, all 16 songs debuted on the Billboard Hot 100.  “Cardigan”, which is by far the most popular song, stats-wise, debuted number one on the chart and has been in the top 40 for five weeks straight as well. 

When it comes to sales, Taylor Swift has dominated headlines since the release. According to the New York Times, Swift’s album had a “whopping 846,000 sales in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. That’s the third-highest weekly total for any album in four years, beaten only by Swift’s last two albums: ‘Reputation’ (1.2 million in 2017) and ‘Lover’ (867,000 a year ago)” (NY Times). In the blink of an eye, this overnight album release has blossomed into one of Taylor Swift’s biggest success stories.  

Juice Wrld – Legends Never Die (6 Features. Released on July 10th, 2020)

In the first album released since the death of Jarad A. Higgins (professionally known as Juice Wrld), the hip-hop album Legends Never Die was a light amidst dark times for Juice Wrld fans. His early death had impacted millions of fans and affected many fellow artists. When the album was released, it was received with many mixed emotions. Like any artist who has passed, many devoted fans were upset that the record label would try to make money off of Juice Wrld’s death. However, the album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and has been in the top 5 for seven weeks in a row. 

The most popular song on the album has to be “Come and Go”, featuring Marhsmello. It peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 2 and has stayed on the top 20 for 7 weeks now—a testimony to the loyalty and supportiveness of Juice Wrld’s fan base. According to the New York Times, “‘Legends Never Die,’ compiled from unreleased recordings and featuring guest appearances by Trippie Redd, Marshmello, the pop singer Halsey and others, opened at No. 1 with the equivalent of 497,000 album sales in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. According to Juice WRLD’s record label, Interscope, that is the best opening for a posthumous album since 2Pac’s ‘R U Still Down? (Remember Me)’ in 1997, which the label said started with 549,000” (New York Times). Even after his tragic death, Juice Wrld’s music continues to touch many and change the game. 

Authors: Julian Alcaraz | Staff Writer