The quarter system will always elude me; semesters person, I'll always be. Nevertheless, after a disappointing winter term--dropped both classes--have been back at Portland State for a couple of weeks. Happier with choices this round. "World Population & Food Supply" taught by Hunter Shobe in the Geography Department. Last year his "A Sense of Place" class was my initial insight to how northwestern students experience their surroundings. The readings challenged my personal sense of whatever-place I am in/have been in. This time the readings are darker as you might imagine from the covers of these two texts.
The juxtaposition of more and more hungry people and corporate decisions that wrongly influence the growth and distribution of food: not a pretty picture. But it is what I'd hoped to know more about. Thinking about how to use my time to become more engaged in this struggle.
Besides enjoying my classes, I am stimulated by the energy of students and the ambiance of this university setting. Many many bikes, some skateboards, and way too many smokers. Tobacco is an industry the peace movement might emulate for its skill at habit-making and clever use of smart lawyers, enormous piles of money controlling the game.
Crowded classrooms curious matched with recent news that the school intends to double student enrollment plus faculty will not increase, actually be reduced. For Ron and me, not paying fees and there at the kindness of strangers (people over 65=free classes up to 8 credits), the question is how long will this generosity be continued. If there are not enough seats, we cannot stay in a class. Most professors work hard to find room for all but there are fewer leftover seats every term.
What about asking us for a few bucks per class--$10 seems reasonable. Someone told me the other day that there may be 700 Senior Auditors: if each of us paid for two classes, that could pay for a professor plus an adjunct.
Anxiety about student debt is palpable. The school's president has called for a 9.2 per cent increase in tuition. Many worry about cutback in Pell grants, thank you Congress. Last week there was an event titled "Carnival of Debt" held outdoors on campus. [Cartoon from student paper, "The Vanguard."]
A recent article, "Feeding the Hungry," surprised me. Last year a food pantry for students opened to help those struggling to make ends meet. Many worry about Pell grants being cut by Congress.
Lately I've lunched at the student-run cafeteria in the basement of the student union building. "Food for Thought," same name for my retirement place group I wrote about yesterday, Reading the menu board, feeling the sense of alternate life reminds me of visits to Eugene, Oregon. The 1970s lives! Free WiFi is a 21st century add-on. Everything's vegetarian or vegan. Overheard a woman at the entance as she reassured a friend worried about taking his homemade lunch inside, "I can't take my bologna in there!" The sign on the left disappeared this week and was replaced by the artful chalk drawing on the right.
What I'd like to see reappear soon are the tea filter papers for loose leaves (many choices). One instructed to close with stapler. Staple! I chose to fold mine instead and it worked well. This week there are coffee filters that can be torn into something resembling a tea bag, then stapled. Stapled!
The food? Pretty good though spicy. For $3.50, Eco-bowl of rice, beans, curry (favored spice). Asked to buy bread and received very respectable slices made on premises. Impressive. A rich coconut square dessert, $2. Here's their website with comments at the extremes; some speak of service improvement since last term. I have only compliments: they're gracious to old ladies.