Ben Hahn is the current Dean of Students at Alaska Pacific University and has been working at APU for 10 years. To commemorate this milestone, Ben has shared 10 key insights about APU and life in Alaska that he has learned in his tenure:
1. Bears are pretty smart – Occasionally at APU we have problems with bears on campus getting a little too close for comfort. For example, bears know what day garbage pick up day is for University Village. If you put your trash out over night the day before, you are likely to find a black bear in your driveway in a food coma and a huge mess. Fortunately, APU has adapted to this issue and we use bear proof dumpsters year round.
2. The Carillon Bell is delightful to hear but also untrustworthy – The Carillon Bell, APU’s bell tower, can be counted on to provide beautiful melodies ranging from the Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles to the Harry Potter Theme. However, if you hear the bell and you on your way to a meeting or a class, you had better hurry up since the Carillon is usually about 5 minutes behind the actual clock in the classrooms.
3. Fountain Dye eventually comes off your skin – During APU’s convocation ceremony every fall, we have a tradition of dying the Atwood Fountain a bright blue. Despite repeated warnings, someone always manages to get the dye all over the hands and clothes. Fortunately, the incredibly long lasting dye washing off skin in a matter of a few weeks but when it comes to garments you might as well embrace the school colors.
4. Dog Mushers love free hot dogs – In March, the ceremonial start of the Iditarod in Anchorage happens to come straight through APU’s campus. Community members have the opportunity to cheer on the competitors as they mush by with their dog team and sled. If you want to get some quality time with some of the mushers, handing out free brats will occasionally get them to stop altogether and chat for a bit.
5. Best spot on campus to view the aurora borealis – One of the best things to do in the winter nights in Alaska is go view the northern lights. The crucial condition for viewing the aurora is adequate darkness. The best success I have had on campus at APU is gearing up in some thick layers and tromping out on the trails to the 4 corners junction just next to University Village. I have also had luck in the the lower field near University Lake.
6. What is the plural for octopuses – APU hosts some pretty serious octopus research. As such, one hears a lot of different terms for the species. The trickiest one for me has been the plural term. Turns out it is just octopuses.
7. Where is there a full set of the hard bound Oxford English Dictionary on campus? Well, there is one at the Consortium Library of course, but if you happen in to be in Grant Hall, there is a set easily consultable in the study lounge in the Liberal Studies suite on the second floor. Another super-secret tip – Professor Rawson’s Office, just mere steps away from the OED, has a hardbound set of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
8. Classic vs. Skate XC Skiing – For me, learning to classic cross country ski was easier and required far less technique and concentration. The down side is that it is far slower. Skate Skiing took a bit longer to control and takes a lot of energy, but with the right conditions on the right trails, it’s fast, exhilarating, and unforgettable.
9. Where is the best place to procure free Frisbee golf discs? – The roof of North Atwood Residence Hall. It’s right on the corner of our Frisbee golf course and always seems to snag a few each semester.
10. Best food on campus – Hands down, it’s got to be the french fries in the Atwood Dining Hall. The fresh baked bread at the farmers market is pretty good, but those fries are dangerously addictive. I eagerly await the start of the academic year so that I can get my hands on some again.
Bonus: Is there any place on campus that is haunted? – Maybe. The experiments have been inconclusive. Sadly, I am not at liberty to say where exactly these experiments have been performed.