BackgroundInterview Date:January 2020
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Gay
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public high school in Western Washington with a graduating class of about 250 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Political Science
Minors: Economics and International Studies double minor
Extracurricular Activities: I’m part of Young Democrats, Model United Nations, and the Queer Students Union.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Model United Nations has helped me explore more about my International Studies minor and has given me the chance to put what I’ve learned in class in practice. We go to conferences in Portland and New York. It’s a great way to meet people from other universities and to really test out everything we’ve learned.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
We usually have readings, but it’s generally a mix between exams and essays for our graded assignments.
Is there anything you feel that your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
They do a good job representing information in a variety of different areas and working diligently to not promote bias or show they’re against any particular views. One of the overarching issues with the Political Science department is it’s overwhelmingly old and is mostly male and White. There isn’t huge diversity in that sense, which undermines its ability to fully represent different perspectives. [As of Fall 2018, 87% of faculty members were White and 53% were Male.]
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It varies from professor to professor. Some prefer to just lecture at you, and others want a collaborative environment and encourage classroom discussion. I’ve found those to be useful, depending on the professor individually. Most professors I’ve had are comfortable with using a curve if the class does particularly bad on an assignment.
How accessible are your professors?
They’re very accessible. Having a class with less than 30 people at all times has been a huge adjustment for me. It was a really nice change of pace, and the professors will know your name if you engage with them. [The average class size is 24.]
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
For the most part, I’d say so. It’s a matter of if people feel comfortable expressing their opinions. People with more conservative views generally aren’t as comfortable sharing how they feel in class.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’ve always found politics interesting, and I think it’s interesting to study why people make a decision and the impacts of those decisions in a political way. I haven’t regretted my decision at all.
What has been your favorite part of Gonzaga academically?
The one-on-one discussions with professors and being able to engage with them to find out what they’re passionate about. You can learn a lot both in class and in their office hours.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Freshman: Coughlin Hall with one roommate
Sophomore: Kennedy Apartments with five other people
How was transitioning academically from the Running Start program?
It was pretty good for the most part. There was a little uncertainty around where the Running Start students stand on campus. It varies depending on if you came in with your associate’s degree or not. If you did, they accept all of my transfer credits. There can be some institutional uncertainty around Running Start because people don’t know if I should be able to attend certain events for certain grade levels or not, but overall, it’s been very accommodating.
How was transitioning from your hometown to Spokane, WA in terms of location?
I grew up in a pretty small town so it’s been a little bit of an adjustment. Gonzaga is an insular campus, so if I wasn’t comfortable going out and exploring then it’s easy to [stay on campus], which can be a downside for people.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel perfectly safe on campus. Being in an urban area, there are some issues around homelessness. Sometimes members of the community can be a little more aggressive with students.
Pros and cons of being in Spokane, WA?
1) It’s an isolated spot where I can figure things out for myself.
2) The natural environment. It’s a super active campus with a lot of options to go out and explore the countryside.
1) If you’re looking for internships outside of business or management, it’s harder to do that. For Political Science specifically, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities if you were tempted to stay over the summer.
2) The winter can be brutal.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Gonzaga has SpikeNites on Fridays and Saturdays where students can go to them. We had a silent disco last week, or there’s stuff off-campus like laser tag. There’s some partying and it’s pretty easy to get invited to them. The parties are off-campus in the Logan neighborhood, which is the neighborhood Gonzaga is part of. It’s [hosted by] members of the Gonzaga community who have apartments.
How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m perfectly content with it. If anything, I wish people would clean up their trash in Logan. It doesn’t happen a lot but sometimes you’ll just find beer cans left for people in the neighborhood who aren’t students.
How has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience? Are there any LGBT nightlife options that you like to go to?
I don’t think the community itself is necessarily strong enough to have parties dominated by it. I know some people have put on parties like that, but it’s more so for their social group [which is largely comprised of LGBT people]. I’ve never felt threatened by anyone because of my sexuality. There are a couple of gay bars, but they are more downtown.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met most of them living in my first-year dorm, or I met them through clubs I’ve been part of. I haven’t necessarily met them in classes, but that may be unique to a Running Start student because I’m not going into classes with freshmen. I’m going into junior-level classes who’ve never met me but know each other.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Gonzaga?
Speaking from a cultural club perspective, that’s the way a lot of people from a minority background get to know each other. The school has a lot of social spirit to it, and there’s an openness to meeting other people. I think a lot of that comes from the school spirit. The social life revolves around sports culture on campus and [most] students take part in intramural sports of some kind.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
From my perception, people seem to mix pretty comfortably. There has been some contention around that in the past, especially with a very homogenous population. About [70%] of the population is White. There has been some tension with people not understanding cultural cues or saying things that are insensitive. I think there’s an awareness on campus about that, and there’s been work within the administration and student life organizations to work against that and make it a more welcoming environment for everyone. [The undergraduate population is 70% White, 11% Hispanic, 1% Black, and 6% Asian.]
How would you describe the LGBTQ community on campus? How strong is it?
It’s pretty weak and is pretty easily subsumed into the culture of the rest of the campus. You find your niches like everyone else. There’s one standout example, and that would be the drag show in March. It’s a great way to showcase that part of queer culture. We also have the Lincoln LGBTQ+ Resource Center which provides lots of resources for students. It works to build awareness around those issues on campus.
How strong is the Catholic presence on campus?
There are crucifixes in every classroom, which is something people notice pretty quickly. There are more references to prayer around campus, and we have a church in the middle of it. Overall, the Catholic identity among students is more so understated. I don’t think as many students are Catholic as the university reports. While there’s a lot of talk to it, people won’t look at you weirdly for not going to church. [Gonzaga reports that about 50% of the student population is Catholic.]
How do you like the size of Gonzaga in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has it impacted your experience? [There are about 5,300 undergraduate students at Gonzaga.]
I really like it. It’s been nice and my class sizes are reasonable. Going from a high school of 2,000 to a university of about 5,000 was a comfortable movement. [The average class size is 24.]
How did being part of the Running Start program impacted your social transition?
It only impacted me a little, specifically with making friends with people through classes. But, even that’s something that can be overcome pretty easily. Upperclassmen are curious as to why there’s a first-year in their class. It’s minor, but you should just refer to yourself as a first-year and not say you’re a junior because when people ask they aren’t asking about your [academic standing], they’re asking how long you’ve been at the school.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
It’s pointed me in the right direction, but it hasn’t gotten me an internship specifically. It’s something I plan to access it more later on.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They helped me set up my LinkedIn and make my cover letters and resume better. They have a lot of workshops, I went to one for graduate school, one for finance, and there are some for engineering students.
What has your school done to prepare you for the real world?
It’s helped give me a strong base for engaging with the political process. For me, I have a real interest in foreign policy and I’ve found that there are a lot of courses that have overlap within the Political Science department. While I’ve been able to learn a lot about government structure, I’ve also been able to learn a lot about American foreign policy and national security.
Have you used any mental health or counseling resources through the school?
Yes. Setting up an appointment is usually easy.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Gonzaga before entering as a freshman?
I found these resources on my own, but it would’ve been helpful if I knew about them before. It would’ve been nice to have a fuller idea of what you can do on campus such as with the Queer Students Union or political stuff. I know a lot of students feel isolated in their first year because they never hear about specific clubs that will allow them to branch out.
What is something a prospective LGBTQ student should know that we haven’t touched on?
Institutionally, Gonzaga is very interested in supporting LGBTQ+ students and has done a lot of work to do that. Because it’s a Catholic organization, they’re going to miss a few steps every once in a while, and it may come across as the university not caring when in reality it’s a result of them not being well acquainted with it.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I like the Pita Pit restaurant nearby.
Reasons to attend Gonzaga:
1) It has a strong academic culture.
2) There is strong school spirit.
3) The class sizes have been helpful in my learning. [The average class size is 24.]
4) The ability to connect with professors and alumni.
5) It’s a really active campus where you can easily get involved in sports or intramurals.
Reasons to not attend Gonzaga:
1) The price. It’s very pricey. [For 2020-2021, the total costs were about $65,000.]