New Gen Ed course explores the Portland void

Illustration by Miceal Munroe-Allsup

*The Backdoor is a “work” of “fiction” and “humor”

By Elise Glaser

Exploration and Discovery (E&D), the freshman seminar class, has been under major reconstruction by faculty to make the program more interesting, enlightening and reflective of the Lewis & Clark experience.

A SOAN professor, Dr. M. Bodiment, is spearheading a new E&D curriculum, due to the importance of “Space and place on the self and the body.”

“What better way to introduce freshmen to LC than a course specifically designed to look into the dark energy that haunts our campus and our city?” asked the professor. They are working with a team of students and faculty to create a curriculum that will fully expose new students to what is being called “The Portland Void.”

Students on the reconstructed E&D board are compiling their most dark and unsettling memories to expose first year students to their new college life. This “Portland Lab” will take new students on field trips to different locations around the city, led by professors.

Here are some examples, taken from the new interdisciplinary E&D syllabus, of the immersive classes that next year’s incoming class can expect to endure:

Week 1: The Shanghai Tunnels

At this historic location, see where the evil energy in Portland was born. Walk the tunnels weaving beneath Portland, see the trap door which led people to their life-long enslavements. Students may have a ghost yell at them in an underground prison cell and speak to a sailor man who invites them to his hot tub. This will give students context for the brooding underbelly of Portland that took many lives and continues to infect Portland with darkness from the lost souls trapped beneath the earth.

Week 2: The Historic SW 6th and Salmon Pio Stop

Although students no longer frequent this location, we encourage students to delve into the jarring reality of the previous SW 6th and Salmon Pio Stop at night. A man wearing clown makeup will laugh demonically in students’ faces as they sit in the cold at 2 a.m. We will study the public city art: a stone woman whose face has been painted with lipstick, eyeshadow and rouge. Additionally, we will discuss the “Party Room” — an apartment that has 24/ 7 multi-colored flashing lights across the street.

Week 3: Chinatown

Students will Drink Red Bull at The Golden Dragon, Portland’s 18+ strip club. Students are encouraged to get lost after attending the strip club so that they experience walking through the darkly lit Chinatown at night, confused and alone.

Week 4: Riverview Cemetery

Close to our hilltop campus is the spooky, ginormous Riverview Cemetery. Students will be led through a tour of this large cemetery. We will study the possessed and potentially rabid coyote who prowls the grounds during the day.

Week 5: SE 17th Avenue

In the heart of quaint Sellwood, 17th holds many mysteries of “The Void.” Students will inspect a grave in the sidewalk, aggressive shirtless men sitting outside of “Jake’s,” a mechanic’s shop that is only opened at night, and lastly, a food truck called “17th Street” that has never opened and is likely a drug front.

Faculty and students alike are thrilled about the upcoming changes to the highly criticized E&D course. Other pending names are “The Portland Spectre” and “Portland Lab: Ghost Town.” This restructuring aims to expose every skeleton in every closet so that first years are not surprised by the toxic dark energy that enters their souls as they start their lives at the mysterious Lewis & Clark.

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