Dora Totoian


Students who were studying abroad had to return to the United States immediately, many having to cancel their plans to travel to other cities during their time abroad. Photo illustration by Annika Gordon.

Frantic flights and canceled plans: Students abroad face chaos and disappointment as they return home

Nearly one hundred UP students found themselves in similar situations, scrambling to book flights to the U.S, after UP Studies Abroad strongly recommended they return amid the COVID-19 pandemic. All students except three who are sheltering in place with family abroad have returned to the U.S., according to Director of Studies Abroad Kallan Picha. Studies Abroad has also canceled summer study abroad programs and will offer students the opportunity to take virtual courses during the summer. 

When asked to describe online classes in one word, these were students' responses. The bigger the word, the more frequently it was mentioned. This image was created using

SUBMISSION: Students share their (anonymous) thoughts on online classes

Almost every response acknowledged and sometimes praised professors’ efforts, but they also tended to describe increases in workloads, heightened states of anxiety and overall stress, decreases in motivation, and challenges arising from inadequate environments different from the ones they have while on campus with peers and academic resources.  In the interest of fairness, The Beacon wants to offer professors and administrators an opportunity to share their thoughts. What do you want students to know about online classes? 

The university is adjusting the pass/no pass policy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Adobe Spark graphic created by Jennifer Ng.

University expands pass/no pass option amid COVID-19 pandemic

University of Portland Provost Tom Greene announced in an email to students Friday afternoon that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the university would expand the pass/no pass option to classes that are not major requirements or pre-requisites for other classes. The change means that electives, all university core classes, and certain classes required by different schools may be taken pass/no pass. Typically, only electives may be taken pass/no pass. 

The University of Portland Residence Life has asked all students currently living in the dorms to move out. Unless students receive special approval from Residence Life, students must move out by 12:00 p.m. on March 17. The image above is from 2019-20 move-in day.

Office of Residence Life closes down residence halls

Students living on campus have to leave their residence halls by Tuesday, March 17 unless they have a specific reason that receives approval, according to an email sent to all resident students from Director of Residence Life Andrew Weingarten. The email comes after University President Fr. Mark Poorman’s announcement that the school was suspending in-person classes. 

UP students reflect on their favorite books, shows, and music in honor of Black History Month.

Students share favorite books, artists and more for Black History Month

For Black History Month this year, The Beacon set out to cover and celebrate it in a way mindful of recent conversations about how to completely and truthfully teach, write about and celebrate the month. Teaching Tolerance, a site that provides resources for educators to talk about identity, diversity and social justice, proposes teaching the history of liberation movements, honoring black civic engagement, recognizing black intersectional identities, and celebrating black literature as some ways to honor this month. With the last point in mind, The Beacon talked to students about their favorite literature, movies, music, art and more to celebrate the month. 

Lisa Ko, author of the 2020 ReadUP book "The Leavers," speaks to the gathered UP community about the rejection and failure she has faced in her career, the history of family separation in the U.S. and how stories can inspire people to take action.

ReadUP author Lisa Ko shares inspiration behind "The Leavers"

“The Leavers” was selected as the sixth annual ReadUP book, and on Monday, Feb. 10, Ko described, in a well attended Buckley Center Auditorium lecture, how the 2016 PEN/Bellwether prize-winning book came to be, what inspires her writing, and political issues highlighted in and surrounding her debut novel. 

On Monday, Feb. 10, Lisa Ko, author of this year’s ReadUP selection “The Leavers,” will speak in BC Auditorium. Photo courtesy of Lisa Ko.

A Q&A with ReadUP author Lisa Ko

On Monday, Feb. 10, Lisa Ko, author of this year’s ReadUP selection “The Leavers,” will speak in Buckley Center Auditorium. The novel centers on Polly, an undocumented immigrant from China who works in a Bronx nail salon and one day disappears, leaving her 11-year-old son, Deming, behind. The story, also the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, touches on themes of family, immigration and identity. 

Dora Totoian, reporter and Opinion editor for The Beacon.

Letter from the editor: Let's talk about Diversity Dialogues

As Opinion editor of The Beacon, I urge you to participate in this year’s programming and then, talk about it with the UP community, via our Opinion pages. The name “Diversity Dialogues” implores us to discuss and analyze what we hear and learn at these events. On a campus where diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have faced obstacles (as well as made progress), participating in Diversity Dialogues and sharing your thoughts with your community offers you a chance to contribute your input on the kind of campus you want UP to be. 

Locals gather around a Christmas tree in St. Johns.

Dolmas, hallacas and posole: Christmas on The Bluff

Not everyone in the U.S. celebrates the holidays with the stereotypical turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. For example, one year, my Romanian family had to bring the mashed potatoes to an American Thanksgiving, but we didn’t know what gravy was and that it accompanied mashed potatoes in the U.S. Imagine our confusion and embarrassment when the guests started asking us where the gravy was. The Beacon sat down to talk to other students who don’t necessarily celebrate the holiday season and Christmas specifically with turkey and gravy (or who do, but also have other customs alongside it) to learn about more ways the holiday is celebrated.