Featured Stories

First-year coach leads Sunbirds volleyball rebound

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FPU women’s volleyball coach Mike MacNeill is a study in intensity as he talks with his players. Photo by João Perez / The Syrinx

Mike MacNeill was hired as Fresno Pacific’s women’s volleyball team just weeks before the first game of the season. Here’s how that worked out.

By Enzo Peraggine
Syrinx Staff Writer

In just his first season as head coach of the Fresno Pacific University women’s basketball team, Mike MacNeill orchestrated a turnaround for the Sunbirds following a disappointing 2021 season.

Under MacNeill, the Sunbirds women played their way to an overall record of 16-9, doubling the number of wins compared to last season, and a 15-5 record in the PacWest Conference – good enough to place second in the season-ending conference standings.

It was a remarkable season that surprised many, and represented a marked improvement from the 2021 season when FPU finished with a record of 8-22 under former coach Shasta Millhollin.

MacNeill brought to the team a change in mentality which led to a unified team that provided Sunbirds fans with outstanding performances on the court, compiling a home record of 8-2.

Three Sunbirds seniors were recognized with all-conference honors for their efforts in the PacWest Conference: Corinne Acosta as a first-team selection, and Chloe Melis and Makena Ogis as second-team honorees.

As a player, MacNeill knew how to achieve success. As a libero and outside hitter at California Baptist University in Riverside, he played in four NAIA national championship matches for the Lancers. The team won national titles in 2010 and 2011, and MacNeill led the country in aces per game in 2011.

MacNeill has continued to experience success as a coach, building a resume of winning records. He coached for three years at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, finishing his time there with a record of 52-25. MacNeill went on to coach for two seasons at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas, racking up a record of 43-21.

MacNeill said his experience as a player has informed his coaching. “It is helpful to have seen from a player perspective what an athlete is looking for in a coach and in a program,” he said.

Fresno Pacific hired MacNeill as its new head coach on Aug. 8, 2022, with the first exhibition game of the season less than four weeks later, on Aug. 31. With so little time, MacNeill quickly got to work with the team to prepare for the season.

“The team battled from the first practice to the end of the season,” MacNeill said. “Special groups like these don’t come around often. They believed the plan and believed in themselves, and that was a difference maker.”

The Fresno Pacific Sunbirds women’s volleyball team rolled up a 16-9 record for the 2022 season under first-year head coach Mike MacNeill, back row at left. Photo by Matlyn Peden, Fresno Pacific University.

Gathering in gratitude

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Clip art illustration / douglasschneider.com
By Maddy Ward
Syrinx Guest Writer
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck in 2020, Fresno Pacific University hosted its traditional Thanksgiving luncheon for the campus community. About 400 students, staff and faculty attended the Nov. 22 event celebrating the start of the holiday season at the university’s Special Events Center. “The tradition of the Thanksgiving Luncheon has continued for many decades here at Fresno Pacific,” the university’s Student Life department declared in a statement. “We gather as a campus community to welcome all our international students to the American tradition of sharing in the Thanksgiving meal and fellowship.” The luncheon featured an international Parade of Flags to honor and recognize students attending Fresno Pacific from around the world. The event, sponsored through a donation from the FPU board of trustees to cover the cost of the food, also included a performance by Christian illusionist Brady Lee. “The lunch provides a time for the community to engage with one another and to reflect on the diversity of culture we all represent here in this community,” according to the Student Life statement. “In addition, it is a time to celebrate and express gratitude for one another.”

What’s coming up at Fresno Pacific? Here are notable events through December

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Hands with magnifier examining a calendar page.
Image by pch.vector on Freepik

Thanksgiving, giving, music, commencement and sports are on the FPU calendar for what’s left of the Fall 2022 semester.

As 2022 and the fall semester near an end at Fresno Pacific University, here are some of the notable events that remain on the calendar for FPU students, staff, faculty and the general public.

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022 

Thanksgiving Luncheon, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave. Being held for the first time in three years, the Thanksgiving Luncheon hosted by FPU’s Campus Life department is an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to come together, give thanks, and connect with one another over a traditional Thanksgiving meal. A “parade of nations” will recognize the university’s international students. Tickets are free, but are required in advance. Details: events@fresno.edu.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022

FPU Giving Day, online event. National Giving Day is a national day of giving for support of nonprofits. FPU Giving Day is an opportunity for university students, faculty, and staff to contribute to a range of projects including global missions, student health services, academic success, career development, the university’s food pantry, the Casa Pacific retreat center, or improvements to the Steinert Athletic Complex. To donate, visit FPU Giving Day.

Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022

Festival of Lessons and Carols, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., First Congregational Church of Fresno. The annual Festival of Lessons and Carols presented by Fresno Pacific’s Music Department  celebrates the holiday season with a service of Scripture passages and carols performed by the several student ensembles. The off-campus event is at the First Congregational Church of Fresno, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd. at Yale Avenue. Tickets: $5 for members of the FPU community, $5 for seniors age 65 and older, and $10 for general admission. Details, tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/annual-festival-of-lessons-carols-tickets-399630845617.

Friday, Dec. 16, 2022

Graduate Hooding Ceremony, 7 p.m., FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave,. Graduate students who are completing their Master of Arts degrees in the fall 2022 semester will receive their hoods signifying their accomplishment. Each graduating student can receive free tickets for up to six guests. Tickets are not needed for children ages 5 and younger. Tickets are available from the university registrar’s office through Dec. 15.

Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022

Fall Commencement, 10 a.m., Selland Arena, 700 M St., downtown Fresno. Fresno Pacific will hold its fall commencement for undergraduate, graduate and degree-completion students who are completing their bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the fall 2022 semester. Parking in the Fresno Convention Center main parking lot is $20 per car; parking is also available in the convention center parking structure or at parking meters on the streets surrounding the center.

Upcoming Athletic Events

Thursday, Dec. 1

FPU Sunbirds Basketball vs. Biola University, FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave. The Sunbirds women’s team hosts Biola University in a PacWest Conference matchup at 5 p.m., while the men’s teams will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $8 general admission, $6 for students ages 13 to 17 with student ID, $6 for seniors ages 60 and older, $6 for students from the visiting school with student ID. Tickets available online at https://www.fpuathletics.com/sports/2010/9/15/GEN_0915102117.aspx.

Saturday, Dec. 3

FPU Sunbirds Basketball vs. Azusa Pacific University, FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave. The Sunbirds women’s team hosts Azusa Pacific University in a PacWest Conference matchup at 2 p.m., while the men’s teams will tip off at 4:30 p.m. Tickets $8 general admission, $6 for students ages 13 to 17 with student ID, $6 for seniors ages 60 and older, $6 for students from the visiting school with student ID. Tickets available online at https://www.fpuathletics.com/sports/2010/9/15/GEN_0915102117.aspx.

Friday, Dec. 30

FPU Sunbirds Basketball vs. Dominican University of California, FPU Special Events Center, 1718 S. Winery Ave. The Sunbirds women’s team hosts Dominican University of California in a PacWest Conference matchup at 5 p.m., while the men’s teams will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $8 general admission, $6 for students ages 13 to 17 with student ID, $6 for seniors ages 60 and older, $6 for students from the visiting school with student ID. Tickets available online at https://www.fpuathletics.com/sports/2010/9/15/GEN_0915102117.aspx.

“Harvey” hops into Fresno Pacific’s new theater venue

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The cast members for Fresno Pacific University’s production of “Harvey” rehearse their roles at the university’s Warkentine Culture and Arts Center. Photo by Enzo Paraggine / The Syrinx

A mix of student thespians and community actors bring to life the story of a man and his invisible best friend.

By Enzo Paraggine
Syrinx staff writer

A group of student actors and local community actors under the direction of adjunct instructor Elizabeth Fiester are bringing Mary Chase’s award-winning play “Harvey” to Fresno Pacific University’s new Warkentine Culture & Arts Center Theater and Atrium.

 

After various adaptations by many different theaters and actors, “Harvey” is returning to the stage in 2022. This time, it is played by the FPU Theater Department. Under the direction of the experienced Fiester, and with a talented and varied cast, the play opened Nov. 10 and continues through Nov. 19

 

“Harvey“ is a very popular play in American culture, written by Mary Chase in 1944. In that same year, it debuted on Broadway and closed in January 1949 after 1,775 performances. It became the fifth longest-running Broadway play at that time. Chase was an influential American journalist and playwright.Throughout her career, she wrote more than 14 plays, three of them eventually becoming Hollywood movies, including “Harvey.” Chase’s influential play went on to receive a Pulitzer Prize for drama.

 

“Harvey” follows the story of Elwood P. Dowd, a very friendly man who claims his best friend is a giant rabbit named Harvey. Even though Dowd is the only one who sees the rabbit, he insists on introducing Harvey to everyone he meets. This “issue” is not well received by Elwood’s sister and niece who are trying to become members of high society. The sister, Veta Simmons (Stephanie Gonzales) and niece Myrtle Mae (Alex Hodson) decide to get Elwood committed to a psychiatric clinic. This action goes terribly wrong, which then results in the original play’s plot twists.

 

The FPU version of “Harvey” is a scene-by-scene interpretation. Fiester, an adjunct instructor at Fresno Pacific, has directed over 100 plays and has worked in places such as Good Company Players, where she had her directorial debut in 1983. Fiester has directed other famous plays like “Annie Jr.” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” This is her second semester at FPU, and she has decided to go with “Harvey” for the first play of this year. 

 

“We looked for a title that was recognizable for the FPU audience and the American comedy, and Harvey hit those two factors,” Fiester said. “Personally, I also deeply love this script and know it very well.

 

The non-student community actors, she added, “are people that I have worked with before and they are really easygoing and reliable, the whole cast is very committed to the work and have connected smoothly.”

 

Joseph Ayrton Ham is the actor playing Elwood. He is a well-experienced community actor who has many popular plays under his belt, acting at Reedley’s River City Theatre Company. He has worked in plays such as “West Side Story” and “Les Miserables.”

 

“FPU’s new culture and arts facilities are awesome, it has been great to work here,” Ham added. “It is very similar to other big theaters I have worked on. I’ve worked with Elizabeth before and I´m familiar with her way of directing. She is a great and very clear director.”

 

“I must figure out my own way of interpreting Elwood,” Ham said. “Jimmy Stewart (who played Dowd in the movie version of “Harvey”) is one of the greatest actors ever, so I try to get things from him while at the same time giving it my touch.”

 

Ham addressed the challenges of “interacting” with Harvey as a character that is only visible to Elwood. “Acting with an imaginary character is very similar to what is being done nowadays with CGI on the big screen,” Ham said. “What I tried to do is to always make it clear to the audience that Harvey is being a part of the scene.”

 

One of the most interesting storylines, and an undeniable highlight of the play, is the character Wilson. Wilson works at the psychiatric clinic and uses his “brute force” to keep the patients from leaving. He is played by Sabelo Mlaba, an international freshman from South Africa, who is also making his theatrical debut.

 

“This is my first play here at FPU, and my first play as me being an actor,” Mlaba said. “Doing such a big play as my first is like walking into gold. I feel honored and blessed being a part of this.”

 

“FPU is great and very welcoming,” Mlaba added. “The artist’s environment here is good and you can grow as an actor. Elizabeth is an incredible director; it is an honor to work with her and I am thankful to get so many lines in my debut role.”

 

The rehearsals for the play flowed through the final stages. From production to actors and director, the staff worked as a unit to make this an amazing experience for the FPU students and audience.

 

Remaining performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, and Saturday, Nov. 12, 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, and at 7 p.m. each night Nov. 16-19. Tickets are $15 for general admission or $5 for members of the Fresno Pacific community. Tickets are available at the door or online at www.eventbrite.com/e/fpu-theater-presents-harvey-by-mary-chase-tickets-399615078457.

‘Mystery Masquerade’ theme attracts students to annual FPU fall formal

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Fresno Pacific students show off their dance moves at the Mystery Masquerade fall formal on Oct. 28. | PHOTO COURTESY OF FPU STUDENT LIFE
By Brandi Aguilera
Production Manager

When planning for the 2022 Fall Formal on Oct. 28, Fresno Pacific’s student activities team chose a venue close to home: the new Warkentine Culture and Arts Center Theater and Atrium. That way, students who wanted to attend the dance did not need to stress about transportation.

Students felt relaxed in a familiar environment and danced all Friday night long. The new building, spacious and beautiful, is also a location that “added to the mysterious ambiance of the dance,” said student activities representative Brooke Barham.

“Mystery Masquerade” was the theme for the dance. “Since Halloween is just a few days away,” Barham told The Syrinx prior to the event, “we have envisioned the theme … to be a spooky, mysterious event that is formal enough to where anyone can come and enjoy it.”

About 100 students attended.

“Masquerade” comes from the term “masquerade ball.” Attendants usually dress in ball gowns or suits and ties, with a mask as an accessory to the outfit. The “mystery” part alluded to the spooky nature of Halloween.

The organizing team said they were most excited to see everyone’s masks, considering the masquerade theme. Although masks were not required, students fit the theme as they wanted. Residence director and head cheer coach Rayna Harris, who has supervised student activities since 2019, said she encouraged attendance over attire.

“We always think it is fun when students dress formally and find a way for their attire to fit the theme,” Harris said, “but even your Sunday best is welcome.”

The Fall Formal is a longstanding tradition at Fresno Pacific. The most rewarding experience of  planning the dance was the aftermath of setting up, said Aryanna Guzman, the planning lead for the 2022 event. “Seeing everyone having a great time and seeing how much everyone is enjoying the work that student activities put in,” she said.

Barham encouraged students who might compare FPU’s dances to experiences from high school dances. “I promise that college dances are different,” she said of students who may recall unpleasant experiences at high school dances.

Art professor urges honors students to value GE classes

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FPU art professor Chris Janzen / Photo from FPU biography

Fresno Pacific professor Chris Janzen says general ed classes broaden students’ horizons, strengthen critical thinking.

By Belena Pranger
Copy Editor

Fresno Pacific University art professor Chris Janzen urged scholarship and honors students at the university’s recent honors banquet to consider their general education classes as more than just a set of requirements for graduation.

In his keynote address at the Oct. 13 event in the university’s Rose Garden, Janzen encouraged students to think of their GE classes as a way to enjoy broadening their knowledge in multiple areas of study and as tools to develop critical thinking skills.

“My call to everyone at this banquet is: ‘Stop thinking about GEs as a boring list of boxes to check,’” Janzen said. A general education class provides an opportunity to learn about a subject outside of their major from an expert in the field. “This might be the only time as an English major that you’re going to be taking natural sciences, or perhaps the only time a nursing major would take a painting class.”

Janzen said his speech was inspired by a July 2022 conference he attended in Chicago that focused on classical Greek thinkers like Plato and Socrates, humanist writers of the Renaissance and postmodern philosophers. The conference allowed him to contemplate issues outside of art and understand that an area of study isn’t confined to only one subject.

In the liberal arts, he explained, there is more than just drawing and painting. Art, Janzen said, is a discipline that derives from more than just what most people imagine when they think of a visual artist.

Art can come from subjects like geometry or geography, he added. “Each of these is actually an art,” Janzen said. “There’s an art to thinking about the physical world.” 

The professor said every person brings an artistic skill to whatever is being studied, especially when actively seeking to learn more about the world. And, he added, people who are able to be creative within their profession are also going to be successful in society.

An English major’s awareness of natural science equips them with more ways to write and interpret literature, Janzen said. The nurse who has experienced paint color-mixing will develop a visual awareness that could come in handy when assessing a patient.

General education classes also offer an opportunity to experience other students’ viewpoints within an area of study, he added: “The rest of society is better if we understand a variety of different points of view, if we can embrace diversity.”

Meet Fresno Pacific’s new president

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Dr. André Stephens, the 13th president of Fresno Pacific University, began the job on July 1, 2022.
IMAGE FROM VIDEO BY FRESNO PACIFIC UNIVERSITY

Four months into the job, Dr. André Stephens is ‘listening, learning as he settles into his role as FPU’s 13th president.

By Saraleim Mozqueda Saldana

Editor in Chief

Dr. André Stephens, who worked for three decades at Biola University in southern California, is the newest president of Fresno Pacific University. Stephens was named to the position by the university’s board of trustees in May and started his new job in July.

Stephens, the son of immigrants from Panama, becomes the 13th person to hold the university’s top leadership post in its 78-year history, and only the third person of color to fill the role.

“Beth and I were drawn to Fresno Pacific because of its clarity of mission, partnership with the church and commitment to students,” Stephens said in a statement issued when his hiring was announced. “We are thrilled to join the FPU family and look forward to contributing to the ongoing success of the institution.” Stephens and his wife Beth, both alumni of Biola University, have three children.

The FPU presidency is the latest step in a long career progression for Stephens, whose ambition was fueled by seeing his parents’ hard work after they came to the United States. He’s not exactly a first-generation student, but he said he can relate to many of the experiences and challenges faced by Fresno Pacific’s first-gen students.

Stephens has already gotten involved in Fresno and the FPU community. In just a few short months he has attended many Fresno Pacific events and is looking forward to more. One of his favorite experiences so far was attending a women’s volleyball game against Biola. He said he loves supporting students at events like the upcoming Pie and Praise as well as the new theater production. 

While it might be expected for a new president to have plans or goals to carry out, Stephens said he is first focused on observing what’s already in place.

Stephens said he believes the role is one that offers the opportunity to make some changes. But, he added, he doesn’t want to “come in with a prescribed, like, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ without really spending time with the community, listening, learning.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Biola University, earned his master’s degree in speech communications from California State University, Fullerton, and received his Ph.D. in education from Claremont Graduate University.

Stephens began his career in higher education as an enrollment counselor at Biola University in 1991. Stephens was gradually promoted through various positions of responsibility at his alma mater, culminating with his appointment as the vice president of student development for the past six years.

His career journey took a turn northward when he learned that Fresno Pacific was searching for a new president to succeed Dr. Joseph Jones, who held the position for five years. Stephens started by browsing the FPU website, where he noticed a photograph of student leaders in front of a fountain. He said he was struck by seeing the university’s focus in the students’ faces and realized that he would be a fit candidate for the job.

Stephens said that once he met FPU students in person, he realized he made the right choice. His first student interactions were with the track team. Their school colors caught his attention, but he said their height made him question if they were students. When he spotted the coach, however, he realized they were indeed students. Stephens said his conversation with the team confirmed his faith in his decision.

One thing Stephens said he realizes is that overseeing student life at Biola and serving as president at FPU are two very different things. His role as Biola’s vice president was focused on a very specific aspect of the university. At Fresno Pacific, however, the job is more wide-ranging. As a result, he is focusing on multiple tasks at a time and said he is still growing into the position.

FPU’s LGBTQ+ Pride Club Denied

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Following the discernment of Fresno Pacific University’s Board of Trustees, President Jones decided to deny the request for an LGBTQ+ Pride Club on campus.

On October 26th, 2021, President Joseph Jones, Ph.D. announced that he has chosen to deny the request for establishing an LGBTQ+ Pride Club on Fresno Pacific University’s campus. 

President Jones, regarding his decision to the LGBTQ+ Pride Club, conveyed the decision’s reasoning in a school-wide email.

“In doing so, the board affirms its policy on Marriage, Singleness and Family in the USMB Confession of Faith,” Jones said. 

Fresno Pacific University is governed by the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (USMB). More specifically, Fresno Pacific is governed by the Pacific District Conference, through FPU’s Board of Trustees. Fresno Pacific has adapted its Confession of Faith from the USMB.

On October 23rd, 2021, Fresno Pacific’s Board of Trustees communicated to President Jones that the approval of an LGBTQ+ Pride Club would not align with the USMB Confession of Faith. Because the university’s policies are structured from FPU’s Confession of Faith, Fresno Pacific University was granted a Title IX exemption in 2015. The Title IX exemption allows the university to act and make decisions in accordance with its religious beliefs. 

Following President Jones’s decision to not allow an LGBTQ+ Pride Club, Justin St. George expressed his feelings about the decision. 

“I personally feel upset about the board’s decision, and I don’t think their decision represents what the community wants. I don’t think student safety should be questioned like this. It’s obvious that given that FPU, as a Title IX exempt school, they can openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ students. And so there is a need for a safe space like this on campus,” St. George said.

Regarding his decision, President Jones made the following statement in his announcement. 

“…the university name a ‘safe space person’ to whom students can speak confidentially, to seek support and understanding regarding various matters pertaining to sexuality. The Campus Life team has served in this capacity and efforts will be made to more intentionally communicate the designated person(s),” Jones said.  

Justin St. George was asked about the above statement.

“If this school was open, to creating any type of support for LGBTQ+ individuals, they would have not allowed this to happen in the first place. And second, if they do want a representative like that on campus, they need to have experience and background on LGBTQ+ issues,” St. George said.

Justin St. George has also expressed that despite President Jones’s decision to deny the request for an LGBTQ+ Pride Club on campus, St. George will continue the club’s mission with the support of faculty allies and a Central Valley faith coalition.

The President’s decision regarding the LGBTQ+ Pride Club comes from a multi-month pursuit of several Fresno Pacific students to start the university’s first recognized LGBTQ+ Pride Club. Justin St. George, a senior business student and the LGBTQ+ Pride Club’s prospective president, filed the necessary club paperwork to establish the LGBTQ+ Pride club on campus. The club paperwork was completed before the August deadline with more than the required 30+ signatures in support of starting the club. Student Body President and Student Representative to FPU’s Board of Trustees, Veronica Mendez-Garcia, was the first to be made aware of St. George’s efforts at this time.

In an interview with the Syrinx, Student Body President Mendez described the LGBTQ+ Pride Club’s approval process as ordinary until after FPU’s Student Government Association (SGA) approved the club and passed the approval to the university’s Student Life administration. The LGBTQ+ Pride Club’s approval was halted at this point until the Fresno Pacific Board of Trustees’s meeting held on October 23rd, 2021.

When members of SGA asked the school’s administration about the LGBTQ+ Pride Club’s approval process, Student Body President Mendez explained her understanding of the administration’s response. 

“I think we were getting responses of, you know, ‘we have to take a little longer for this because we have to make sure that it’s not conflicting or in tension with FPU values…’”, and, “But actually, this intervention of the administration actually going into club matters hasn’t happened in at least ten years,” Mendez said. 

During the LGBTQ+ Pride Club’s extended approval process, to gauge support of the club from the larger Fresno Pacific University community, Justin St. George started a petition on October 9th, 2021. The petition has gathered 1,204 signatures to date. Additionally, Faithful America, a multi-denominational Christian 501(c)4 not-for-profit organization, also started a petition favoring the club. Faithful America’s petition has reached 7,527 signatures to date.

Community support for the club has not been limited to petitions. Members of Fresno Pacific’s faculty, SGA, and student body have posted on the Wittenburg Door. One faculty member who posted on the Wittenburg Door includes Professor Pamela Johnston, Ph.D. In addition to posting,  Professor Johnston had also agreed to be the faculty advisor for the LGBTQ+ Pride Club. 

Professor Johnston expressed her affirmation of the LGBTQ+ Pride Club with the Syrinx. 

“As a Christian, I feel strongly that our mandate is to see the face of Christ in everyone that we interact with. As a Christian, I believe that we are tasked to show God’s love to everyone. I also believe that God does not care whether or not we are straight or gay. And as Episcopalians, we reaffirm our baptismal covenant to see the face of Christ in everyone on a regular basis. And so it would be against my faith, not to support our LGBTQ+ students,” Johnston said.

Professor Johnston’s affirmation of the LGBTQ+ Pride Club’s mission through faith is not alone. Before FPU’s Board of Trustees meeting on October 23rd, 2021, a group of seventeen Central Valley Christian leaders penned a letter to Joshua Wilson, Fresno Pacific University’s Board Chair, urging FPU’s Board of Trustees to approve the LGBTQ+ Pride Club.

In the letter, the seventeen Central Valley Christian leaders voiced their support for the LGBTQ+ Pride Club.

“This letter is written by your brothers and sisters in the faith who admit to a history of failing to show Christian love to the LGBTQ+ community. Our statement is not written as those who have arrived at the destination of Christ-like hospitality, but as those who are still on the journey towards it. We invite you to join us on this journey,” Central Valley Christian leaders said.

Justin St. George commented on the Central Valley faith coalition.

“They’re more than willing to not only host us, but some of them have even voiced support to be financial sponsors for our organization. So, although the school will not affirm or recognize our club, we feel that this safe space and resources still need to be available to LGBTQ+ students and allies in the FPU community one way or another,” St. George said.

As of the publication of this article, Justin St. George has started an Instagram page for an LGBTQ+ Pride Club serving the Fresno Pacific University community.

This is the second in a series of articles covering Fresno Pacific’s Title IX policy and the LGBTQ+ Pride Club’s attempt to be recognized by Fresno Pacific University. The next article in the series will be focusing on the progression of the LGBTQ+ Pride Club serving the Fresno Pacific University community.

If you have any inquiries regarding an LGBTQ+ Pride Club on Fresno Pacific University’s campus, you can leave feedback to Fresno Pacific’s Student Government Association (SGA) here.

To follow the LGBTQ+ Pride Club serving the Fresno Pacific University community, readers can follow @birdsforpride on Instagram.

If you wish to submit a letter to the editor to share your thoughts on the matters discussed in this article, please submit your writing to fpusyrinx@gmail.com.
For more information on the university’s Title IX exemption, refer to The Syrinx’s article, “Full Disclosure: FPU’s Title IX Exemption.”

Author: Alyssa Steubner | Executive News Editor

Graphic by: Alyssa Steubner

Closure

This semester has been an odd one, especially with most of us having returned to our homes and families to, quite literally, sit out the coronavirus pandemic. As we approach the end of the semester, this oddness has, if anything, been more emphasized than ever before. 

Rather than the usual last panic of finals, brief moments of relief and return to our homes, we are instead facing the end of what feels like a three-step transition: we have gone from a longer spring break, to classes in exile, to the usual summer. Add this to the fact that the quarantine will likely not end the moment schools let out, and it looks like social situations will likely not change much either, at least at first.

So how are we supposed to handle this transition? To look back on the school year with a sense of closure?

If we want that sense of closure and change, then it, first of all, needs to be there; we cannot keep on business as usual outside of the sudden loss of schoolwork. With the exception of certain things that can simply not be changed—staying indoors (at least for the first months or so), what jobs some of us have managed to hold onto, and any number of other obligations—there should be an effort to shake things up, and planning for that can start today.

Many students know the new sense of laziness that has come with the quarantine. The opportunities and urges to put off assignments, sleep in, and indulge in all sorts of luxuries that are ordinarily out of reach at college are all but irresistible. As we transition from one season to another, then, it is important to break out of these habits; not to give them up entirely, per se, but to slowly build up to better ones or those more suitable to college life.

What habits should those be? It would depend on the person; the important thing is to exchange the sense of apathy that has settled in from the quarantine for a sense of action, of forward momentum. That book you haven’t read, that chore or task that you’ve been putting off, the language you haven’t yet taken the time to learn—all are fair game. Summer as a season is life at its height, the new and sudden-seeming growths of spring replaced with stability and development. Perhaps we should make like the vegetation, and take this opportunity to improve upon our foundations, to make decisions that will help us grow as people.

Things that have been put off because of schoolwork, or in place of time-killing activities during the lockdown, could also now be brought to the forefront. Assuming the quarantine will end before the summer does, there are outdoor activities and interpersonal interactions that should be planned for. Family reunions, going out with friends—especially for events that have been put off, like birthday or anniversary celebrations—hiking trips or even simple trips to the beach; there’s a lot to make up for, and we should look forward to doing so.

That forward perspective is especially key for feeling that transition from schooltime to summertime. If we have such things to look forward to, quarantine or not, then the sense of transitioning from one time to another will be more concrete; it can help us resist the timeless, indefinite feeling that being stuck at home can fill us with.

Some might see this as a sort of sacrilege, and I can’t blame them. Summer is traditionally the time for a break, from school and many of the responsibilities that come with it, so the idea of taking that time to instead do more work is at first glance anathema. And, to be fair, there are still some who would do some good to take a break; many are still going to work even in the height of quarantine, and are in fact perhaps more busy than they would be ordinarily. A break for people in that situation would be welcome and most likely beneficial.

But many have also found their workload reduced, and it is towards those people that this advice, I think, is especially useful. Many of the opportunities for summer rest have been indulged in early, and while the idea of taking advantage of them in their usual time as well is appealing, it has the same sort of appeal that a double-fudge chocolate cake has: delicious in the moment, but a terrible decision in the long run. If the urge is just too strong (as it so often is), then perhaps we can extend the analogy a little bit: we should instead take pieces, one at a time, and be careful about when we do it. If you still want or need rest, I don’t blame you; but it should be dealt with more carefully than before.

The quarantine and social distancing have been an interesting time, ripe for relaxation, worry and self-reflection all, and as we look forward to the end of these times we should start to think about how to take these experiences and use them for the future. They can be things we leave behind, that we use as footstools for our next steps forward, or important lessons that can help us as we proceed. The important thing is to be always moving forward, and there is no better chance to do so than this upcoming summer.

Author: Luke Fredette

Lent for the Layman

How both spiritual and non-spiritual people can benefit from Lenten observance

Lent is a common practice in our society due to us being founded and established on Judeo-Christian values. As a Christian campus, there are many students who partake in this practice, for religious reasons and health reasons. But what is Lent? 

No matter our spiritual beliefs, Lent can give us an opportunity to try to better our lives in some way and so has something for everyone.

According to 40acts.org, “Lent is the six week period leading up to Easter. It’s one of the most important times of year for many Christians around the world, particularly those within the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, held at a similar level of importance to Advent – the build up to Christmas.” The tradition of Lent is giving up something that is meaningful to someone, like sweets, video games or social media, and not having any access to it until Easter. The significance of that is when Jesus did not eat for forty days while wandering the desert. There are students of Catholic backgrounds on our campus that practice Lent, and usually wear ash on their forehead on Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent. 

In Catholic and similar traditions, the emphasis is often a spiritual one; it is a time for removing those loves and desires that might separate us from or otherwise get in the way of our relationship with God. It is easy to get caught up in worldly pleasures and seeming needs, but Lent offers us the opportunity, through voluntarily giving up something that holds that significance for us, to realize that it is faith and fidelity to God that is the ultimate source of happiness. Everyone has experienced the feeling of having something you are used to taken away; it often surprises us how much panic or anger this can prompt, and how dependent we have grown on the given thing. Regardless of whether it is, in and of itself, good or bad, sacrificing it for the forty days of Lent allows us to see clearly how fleeting that sort of thing really is.

What exactly is given up will therefore naturally vary by person, based on their personal desires and failings. Sometimes it is a sinful (or borderline-sinful) practice that is abandoned; at other times, it is something (like chocolate or a certain kind of drink) that we may like a bit too much—it doesn’t necessarily damage our relationship, but it is a significant enough presence in our lives that we would notice (and miss it) if it were gone. It is a highly personal choice and, in the Catholic faith, at least, a largely voluntary one—while avoiding meat on Fridays and fasting on certain holy days is required, the Lenten sacrifice is an exercise of purley personal devotion. That it is encouraged so strongly (and seen by so many) as a requirement is, perhaps, evidence of the spiritual importance it can have for us.

For those who for one reason or another cannot give something up, there is also the option of taking something up. This can amount to extra daily prayers, regular (or increased) donations to charity or any amount of volunteer work during the Lenten season. The focus is still the same—to bring ourselves closer to God—but rather than doing it by removing a potential distraction, it is done by adding something more spiritual or beneficial to others into our lives, to try and live actively more like Christ. 

In both of these cases, it is hoped that the lesson, either of something’s importance or its unimportance, is carried with and acted upon by us in the months between the end of this Lent and the start of the next. It is fundamentally a season of spiritual self-improvement.

While Lent is a common practice in the Christian faith, however, it has also started to gain popularity for those who aren’t especially religious. There are many health benefits to Lent, as giving up something that would normally be considered unhealthy obviously will help to produce a healthier lifestyle. One of the most popular things given up for Lent is sweets; we all know that too many sweets are not at all healthy for the body. According to an article from Talking Points Memo, “Like any religious fast, Lent forces you to think about what you’re eating, why you’re eating it, and whether it’s tied to your goodness as a person. It provides an opportunity to believe you can start fresh.”

A part of that starting fresh may also involve the addition of new behaviors. You could spend more time with your family, or finally start that exercise regimen you’ve been planning. In the same vein as the religiously-inclined, you could also use this opportunity to help others through charity and volunteering. All of these activities have been shown to improve and enrich both our lives and the lives of those around us, and Lent offers a convenient season for us to pursue this especially. Many other religious seasons have been used for great good even by those who do not happen to believe—there is no reason that the time leading up to Easter should be any different.  


No matter our spiritual beliefs, Lent can give us an opportunity to try to better our lives in some way and so has something for everyone. There is always room for improving our lives in any dimension, and trying to make some sort of sacrifice is a way to push our minds and bodies towards that end.

Authors: John Hipskind and Luke Fredette