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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Shawn Vestal

Stories by Shawn Vestal

Current Position: columnist

Shawn Vestal joined The Spokesman-Review in 1999. He currently is a columnist for the City Desk.

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News >  Spokane

WSU, UI honor midyear graduates

Graduation on the Palouse typically brings images of springtime to mind. But the past several years, both Washington State University and the University of Idaho have held December commencement ceremonies. On Saturday, more than 600 students will graduate in Pullman, and about 860 will graduate in Moscow.

News >  Idaho

Complaints follow talk on Islam

A speaker at North Idaho College who declared that Islam is a religion of world domination committed to the death of Christians and Jews has riled up some students, who say the speech fed false stereotypes. Chuck Missler, who spoke on "The Threat of Radical Islam," said he's just trying to tell the truth about a grave threat to America.
News >  Spokane

Area universities falling short in quest for ethnic diversity

Reita Kitt was the kind of high school graduate that colleges say they're dying for. A good student. A scholarship recipient. A participant in summer programs at the University of Idaho for high school students. And, as a Coeur d'Alene tribal descendent, an "underrepresented minority."
News >  Spokane

SCC struggles to deal with sex offenders

Washington's community colleges operate on the principle that virtually anyone is welcome – even if you don't have a high school degree, they'll usually help you get one. But the idea of "open enrollment" is colliding with questions over sex offenders in the classroom at Spokane Community College, where 20 registered sex offenders are enrolled, and where faculty and staff are asking the administration to clarify their rights and responsibilities.
News >  Idaho

UI researchers develop language for robots

MOSCOW, Idaho – Dean Edwards' underwater robots speak a language, but it isn't English. The little submarines communicate through sound waves, and he's hoping to demonstrate that they can cooperate and make decisions on their own – a valuable quality for dangerous tasks like sniffing out underwater mines.
News >  Spokane

Harassment suit shakes up WSU

PULLMAN – The sexual harassment case of Bernardo Gallegos began with wine and candlelight, after hours, at his home – just a distinguished professor and a married student who says she resisted his advances. Now it's playing out loudly all over the Palouse, with a lawsuit against Gallegos and Washington State University, a series of articles in the campus newspaper, and a pledge last week from the provost that WSU would strengthen its policies on sexual harassment.
News >  Spokane

EWU names presidential finalists

Eastern Washington University has named three finalists to replace departed President Stephen Jordan, the school announced Tuesday. The finalists are provosts, or chief academic officers, at their respective schools – Western Washington University, the University of Texas-Pan American, and Bowling Green State University.
News >  Spokane

Whitworth changing name to cash in on university cachet

The board of directors at Whitworth College has voted to change the school's name, after 115 years, to Whitworth University – crossing one of the slipperiest boundaries in higher education. What's the difference between a college and a university?
News >  Spokane

New clash brews over next Gonzaga speaker

A Republican student group at Gonzaga is bringing another controversial speaker to campus next week, as the debate over their last one continues. David Horowitz, a conservative critic of higher education and racial politics in America, will speak Wednesday at GU on the topic of "Academic Freedom on America's College Campuses."
News >  Spokane

EWU turns to mediator for salary negotiations

The faculty and administration at Eastern Washington University are turning to mediation in their attempt to negotiate a new contract. The United Faculty of Eastern union announced Oct. 21 that talks had broken down with the administration and that it would be seeking mediation to resolve differences over proposed salaries.
News >  Spokane

Professor finds Liberia voters ‘inspiring’

The biggest symbol of democracy may not be your mark on a ballot. It might be your wait in line at the polling station. At least that's what Whitworth professor John Yoder suggests, after his firsthand observations of Liberia's first elections in eight years.
News >  Idaho

UI prof endorses ‘intelligent design’

A University of Idaho professor testified in favor of "intelligent design" this week, as a landmark trial over the use of the theory in a Pennsylvania school district drew to a close. Scott Minnich, a microbiologist at UI, testified Thursday and Friday on behalf of the Dover, Pa., Area School Board, which voted in 2004 to require students to hear a statement about intelligent design and "gaps" in the theory of evolution in biology classes. Eight families are suing, saying the policy violates the constitutional ban on state promotion of religion because it essentially promotes a biblical view of creationism.
News >  Idaho

Ill wind regarded as helpful to media

MOSCOW, Idaho – Covering Hurricane Katrina gave a timid American press corps the chance to "find its footing again" and challenge the government, National Public Radio's watchdog said Thursday. "After 9-11 it seems like there was a self-censorship that went on at many levels, including NPR," said Jeffrey Dvorkin, NPR's ombudsman since 2000.
News >  Spokane

Final landscaping complete on Slavin Ranch restoration

The Slavin Ranch was saved from subdivision six years ago, but that doesn't mean a lot of people don't have their little share of it. About 20 people hefted shovels and post-hole diggers Sunday, finishing the landscaping work on a preservation and restoration effort that's taken the cooperation of government agencies, private businesses, recreational organizations and individual volunteers.
News >  Spokane

GU hosts anti-homosexuality speaker

Gonzaga University, which has rejected attempts to bring Planned Parenthood and "The Vagina Monologues" to campus in recent years, this week hosted a presentation titled "The Medical Effects of Homo-Sex." The College Republicans brought in Dr. John Diggs for Tuesday's lecture at the Jundt Auditorium on campus. The talk argued that homosexuality has a damaging effect on individuals and on society and portrayed promiscuous gay sex as a reason for sexually transmitted diseases across society, according to various accounts.
News >  Spokane

Student plans new plays

A student playwright at Washington State University who wrote a controversial "intentionally offensive" play last year is preparing new productions. Chris Lee's "Passion of the Musical" inflamed its audience and sparked a debate about WSU's role in a protest of the play. University officials purchased tickets for protesters, and the school has taken the position that protesters were expressing their free-speech rights.
News >  Spokane

WSU takes hit on free speech

A national higher education watchdog group says Washington State University is failing to protect the speech rights of students who have controversial or unpopular opinions. In the latest case, an education student who describes himself as a conservative Christian was threatened with dismissal and ordered into diversity training over comments that he didn't believe that whites are privileged, opposed adoption by gays, and wrote "diversity is perversity" in the margins of a book.
News >  Spokane

EWU dedicates building

Eastern Washington University will dedicate its first new academic building in 34 years today, and the party sounds a lot like a science lab. That's on purpose, of course – the new Computing and Engineering Building on the Cheney campus is meant to expand lab and classroom access for science students. Those students will be demonstrating their work during the building's dedication today, ranging from a robot to a discussion of how to instill fear reactions in video game characters.
News >  Idaho

Advocate for Native students fighting UI

MOSCOW, Idaho – A longtime advocate for helping Native American students finish high school and college is fighting a decision by the University of Idaho to remove her as head of the program she ran for a quarter-century. As part of Isabel Bond's battle with the UI, petitions seeking her reinstatement are being circulated on tribal reservations around the Northwest. Signatures are being collected on the Nez Perce, Coeur d'Alene and Spokane reservations.
News >  Spokane

Nobel winner got start in stacks

PULLMAN – The seeds of Irwin Rose's Nobel Prize were planted in a Spokane library more than 60 years ago. So the 79-year-old Rose was dismayed to learn last week about cuts in the city's library system.
News >  Spokane

Student body mostly female

It's not exactly "Surf City" at colleges and universities in the Inland Northwest. But enrollments at many schools recall that old rock 'n' roll song in at least one respect – they're nearing two girls for every boy.
News >  Spokane

‘Dwarf gene’ discovery could be boon for food

PULLMAN – Researchers at Washington State University have discovered the genetic switch that controls the height of plants, raising the possibility of "size-engineered" crops that could produce more food on less water. The possible applications are many, but one in particular resonates with lead researcher B.W. "Joe" Poovaiah – the potential to make it cheaper and easier to grow food in countries fighting hunger, such as his native India.
News >  Idaho

UI statement on intelligent design not end of discussion

When University of Idaho President Timothy White announced last week that the UI would not allow alternate theories to evolution in science classes, he tapped into an issue with a long, long life. Evolution went on trial against creationism in 1925, and it's been on and off the front pages ever since.