Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Online student can bust campus students

chris engle

By Kelli Hadley/Moscow-Pullman Daily News

When Washington State University students get into trouble with the Pullman Police Department, they probably don't realize one of their peers may be the one busting them.
     Chris Engle, a part-time student and full-time police officer with PPD, grew up in Pullman and graduated from Pullman High School in 2002. He attended Western Washington University for a little more than three years but returned to Pullman before getting his degree. Engle said he enjoyed the university and the people he met but got burnt out and wanted to begin working, so he moved back, got married and was hired by the police department in 2007.
     Now, at the "prodding" of his wife, he is taking online classes through WSU to finish up his degree, since he was close to obtaining it at Western anyway.
     "I didn't want to be in classes with the same people I was going to have to see at night," Engle said. "Also, we were living in Colfax until July, and with my wife and my weird schedules, trying to go back and forth to Pullman all the time wasn't going to work." More...     Engle takes online classes in a social sciences program that allows the student to select three concentrations in the field. He already had a concentration in business from Western and is developing two more in psychology and sociology. However, he said he always has known he wanted to go into law enforcement and plans to continue working as an officer for a while.
     "I was excited to get into it," Engle said. "I was so burnt out on school, I was ready to start working. It's intimidating at first though, with all the stuff you have to learn, and it's a totally new environment."
     Engle said it's a good thing he doesn't take in-person classes with his peers. As one of the College Hill officers who works 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday, he interacts with the students "very intensively."
     But since College Hill is home to many people other than students, he said, "It can be very challenging, because everybody up there has a different idea of what the police should do.
     That especially true, he said, "if the students think they should be able to get as drunk as they want and drink in public and ... other people up there think there should be no partying and no noise ever."
     At 27, Engle said he is one of the younger officers in the police department. He said students will often try to connect with him the basis of his youth, hoping he'll be a little more lenient on them.
     "They'll say, 'Oh, you were a kid not long ago, you did this too,' and I'll have to say, 'Well, I'm not any more and everyone has to learn,' " Engle said. "We have to let students enjoy their time here, but at the same time it can't cause too much disturbance to other people's property and lives."
     Because Pullman is a small town, Engle said his favorite part of being in law enforcement is building relationships between the police department and the community.
     "Busting people and driving fast, it's fun, but if that's the only reason you're doing this job, you're not going to enjoy it for very long," Engle said. "Especially in a place like Pullman, it's maybe three miles from end to end, so the adrenaline-pumping stuff lasts for maybe 45 seconds."
     Especially, he said, because one arrest can mean hours of paperwork.
     "We don't love arresting people, it's not exactly fun for us either," Engle said. "DUIs are the worst, as far as being the least level of crime with the most paperwork ... especially when you're brand new, it takes a long time to write reports because they're extremely technical."
     Engle plans to be done with his degree after this next summer semester. In addition to online classes and a full work schedule, Engle and his wife have a 4-year-old, a 1-year old and another on the way. He said balancing work, school and family is the most challenging part of his busy life.
     "My wife gets very sick when she's pregnant, so I can't ask her to take on all of the household load, too," Engle said. "She's a pretty amazing woman, but that's a lot to ask, when you're feeling sick all the time."
     Engle said he and his wife enjoy the western part of the state and may end up there someday, but for now they're happy to stay in his hometown.
     "You couldn't ask for a better community to raise kids," he said. "The education system is great, people are generally very reasonably and task-oriented, and ... we just love it here."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why study online? Fewer zombies

th_Zombie_hottieA news item from today’s WSU Announcements:

“As we approach the end of the semester, you may encounter students participating in a game of Humans vs. Zombies around campus.
“Through December 9, the group will simulate a 'Zombie Outbreak' on campus. Participating students may only play outside of any WSU facility while marked by a pre-approved (fluorescent green) bandanna handed out from the group leaders to the participants.
“This group has been instructed that Nerf guns must NOT be brought into any WSU facility and can only be used while walking outside in the open and shall only be used against a marked participant.
“If you experience any challenges due to this game, please contact the Police Department and/or Student Involvement.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Students get inside info at transfer fair

DSC_9067WSU Online Academic Consultant Joy Thompson, center, with WSU enrollment counselor Kim Mickey.

     Most of the young people in the Spokane Falls Community College student lounge on Monday morning aren’t talking. They’re typing on laptops and tapping on phones. But, in a large room off to the side, representatives from 15 colleges and universities are holding a transfer fair.
     Live people? Isn’t that antiquated in the Internet generation? Why don’t students simply go online?
     Part of the answer is personal contact, says Loren Pemberton, chair of the counseling department at SFCC. Appearances notwithstanding, people still want to talk with other people, especially about such crucial matters as a university degree.
     The other part, he says, is strictly pragmatic. Students can’t always get the right answers online, because they may not have the right questions. Sometimes they don’t know where to start, he said. Or it may be a problem of terminology, such as distinguishing between associate of arts (A.A.) and associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degrees.
     “Often when they ask me a question, I’ll say ‘Did you mean’? And they say, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s what I meant,’ ” Pemberton says. More...     Helen Naho’opi’i, transfer advisor at Gonzaga University, also says live people are better at providing direction and precise advice.
     “Students go to the website expecting to have all their questions answered, but not really knowing what to ask,” she says. “It’s our job to guide them through the process, even give them information that might not be on the website, like inside advice about who to talk to about certain programs.”
     Monday’s transfer fair was sponsored by Washington Council for High School-College Relations, which holds fairs at more than 30 community colleges each year. A schedule can be found on the group’s website.
     Joy Thompson represented WSU’s online degree program at Monday’s fair. She helped a couple of business students figure out how to transfer to WSU Online, then met a woman who really didn’t want to sit in a classroom.
     “She has a bad back,” Thompson says. “When she learned about WSU Online, she said, ‘So, I can actually get through my classes without being in pain?’ And then her eyes lit up.”
     Here’s a schedule of future WSU Online events.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Student newspaper covers Winter Session

2011-12 WinterSession2011webbannerToday’s Daily Evergreen has a nice piece about Winter Session, which lets students earn three credits in three weeks, all online.

This year’s session is open to all students, and registration opens Nov. 7. (Tip: You'll have access to the course space the day after you register. That can really ease the workload.)

Go to the Winter Session website for more info.