Townhouse Flooding Forces Student Evacuation

Maggie Dodge 7 and 8 incurred significant damage when a pipe to the sprinkler system was stepped on. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)
Maggie Dodge 7 and 8 incurred significant damage when a pipe to the sprinkler system was stepped on. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)

At approximately 12:30a.m. Saturday morning, the Office of Residence Life was notified of flooding occurring on the Townhouse Greens. According to Director of Residence Life, Joanne Goldwater, a student in the attic of Maggie Dodge 7 stepped on a pipe to the sprinkler system, causing major flood damage to units 7 and 8.

Public Safety was first to respond. They arrived at the Greens, roped off the scene from a crowd of students and waited for the appropriate personnel to arrive, according to Sergeant Tony Brooks. “We had to do a bit of crowd control,” he said. They were also responding to parties taking place on the Greens.
Ridge and Lexington Park Fire Departments responded within 30 minutes to assist with the flooding and turn off the sprinkler system so that Maggie Dodge 1-6 residents would not have to be evacuated as well.

The units will have to be thoroughly dried before anything can be replaced. Goldwater expects the ceilings and flooring will be replaced, furniture may have to be replaced and the walls will be checked for moisture. An estimate for the damage has not yet been determined, according to the Physical Plant.

The residents of Maggie Dodge 7 and 8 will be temporarily relocated and provided meal tickets for the two to three weeks it could take to complete repairs. Students also lost valuables such as textbooks and electronics. While the College property is insured, personal property is not covered under the College’s insurance policy.
“The student who stepped on the pipe accepted responsibility, was very cooperating with providing information and immensely remorseful,” said Goldwater. The student will not be facing judicial charges.

“Iron Man” Brian Boyle Recounts his Struggle

Iron Heart

It’s hard to appreciate what we have until we lose it. None can relate to this sentiment more fully than senior Brian Boyle, who has gone through the experience of losing the most precious thing possible: his life.

On Oct. 1, 2009, the world will have an opportunity to read about Boyle’s experience of surviving a deadly accident first-hand in his book Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead. Published by Skyhorse Publishing, the book will soon be available in national bookstores like Barnes and Noble, online sites like Amazon.com, and at the campus bookstore. Running at about 250 pages, Iron Heart covers this survivor’s tale of going from being bed-ridden and expected to never be able to walk again to becoming an accomplished triathlon iron man.

“Brian’s story of courage and recovery was so compelling it didn’t take much convincing at all to agree to publish his memoir. When you know his story, and how lucky he is to be alive, you can’t help but be amazed and be thankful that good things do happen to good people,” said Thomas Semosh of Skyhorse Publishing.

His surreal story began on July 6, 2004, when, on his way home from swim practice, Boyle’s car was plowed into by a dump truck on the driver’s side. The impact resulted in major bones breaking, major organs sliding out of place, including his heart, and a loss of six percent of his blood.
At Prince George’s Hospital, Boyle underwent fourteen operations, including 36 blood transfusions and three open-chest procedures. The pain of the injuries and the extent of the operations was such that doctors had no choice but to induce a coma. When Boyle woke up a month and a half later, he was paralyzed, weighed one hundred pounds less, and was unable to communicate for weeks.

“The doctors said I died several times while in the hospital, but I don’t remember any of it,” said Boyle. What he does remember is having continuous hallucinations and nightmares during the coma. As an art major, Boyle has been able to use his art as an outlet for expressing his thoughts about the ordeal.
“For awhile the only colors I used for my artwork were white, black and red, which kind of represented life, death, and blood, or the in-between stage, for me. It was my outlet for all the grief and anguish I felt that I couldn’t express in words, and it allowed me to confront the situation, gain understanding, and move on,” said Brian.

Another outlet for expressing his confusion and frustration during the ordeal was through writing in a journal. After returning to the hospital in November 2004 after a couple months of re-learning how to walk and do other necessary skills like eat, his doctors suggested starting a log-book of his thoughts to make sure his mental therapy was keeping up with the physical therapy. The journal consequently morphed into Iron Heart during the course of about half a year with the help of editor and mentor Bill Katovsky.

“While I occasionally guided his pen, his heart and soul are at the core of his memoir, making it remarkable and one-of-a-kind. I did push Brian to dig deeper at times since I felt that the trauma of the accident and hospitalization still affected him, but he came through like a real Ironman,” said Katovsky.
Unlike his dreams of the future after the accident, which were essentially nonexistent, Boyle is now expecting to graduate in May with a degree in Art and go on to work in graphic design and marketing. Competing and training in triathlons has also taken a spot in his everyday life now. Having competed in 14 tournaments, Boyle has successfully come out of the experience with a positive outlook on life.

“I remember thinking while sitting in a wheelchair in the hospital that a lot of the people there were never going to be able to leave, but I was, so I should use my recovery as a way to give them a boost, or hope. This book has been a way for me to spread my positivity to others, give thanks, and give credit where credit’s due.”

Presidential Candidate Conway-Turner Visits Campus

Presidential Canidate Con-Turner Visits Campus (Photo by Brendan O'Hara)
Presidential Canidate Dr. Kathryn Conway-Turner Visits Campus (Photo by Brendan O'Hara)

The first of four visits from Presidential candidates selected by the College’s Presidential Search Committee began last week. Dr. Kathryn Conway-Turner visited the College for three days Sept. 16-18, meeting with the various constituencies including the Board of Trustees, the President’s Cabinet Members, administrators, faculty, staff, students and community members.

Conway-Turner, founder of the firm “Leaders Across Boundaries,” has spent the past 27 years “devoted to focusing on components of liberal arts education,” she said during a public forum on Thursday, Sept. 17. Prior to founding  “Leaders Across Boundaries,” a consulting firm dedicated to focusing on solving complex problems within higher education, Conway-Turner was Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at State University of New York (SUNY) in Geneseo, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and Professor of Psychology at Georgia Southern, and a Professor of Psychology and Director of Women’s Studies at University of Delaware. “St. Mary’s is a wonderful match because it’s a good fit to my experience and intrinsic dedication to liberal arts,” she said.

Among her experiences, she pointed to her time as Provost at SUNY Geneseo as being similar to the mission and students of the College. “While speaking to students here, I could’ve closed my eyes and been at Geneseo—there are many similarities,” she said.

Conway-Turner pointed to her rich background in academics as a strength when considering her as a Presidential candidate. Some of her accomplishments include excellence in programs and facilities as she discussed a state of the art integrated science program she developed at SUNY Geneseo, success in highlighting students, appreciation and focus on civil engagement, and the an understanding of the complexities of liberal arts education in developing the whole person—both in and out of classroom, through international programs, internships, and undergraduate research.

She also discussed the current economic situation as an opportunity to think more creatively about revenues for the campus. She explained that University of Delaware was a high-profile funding raiser and her experience at Georgia Southern and SUNY Geneseo have taught her how to working with staff to look for fund raising opportunities, seek grant opportunities and work with State legislators. More specifically, she discussed the importance of matching the will of donors to the needs of the College and also bringing donors and legislators to campus to showcase our efforts. The challenge being the “new landscape and new players… it takes time to foster those relationships,” she said.

Conway-Turner also addressed relationships with faculty and students. She focused on both formal and informal ways of cultivating effective communication.  She described advisory task forces she developed at other institutions to gain feedback from students and also occasional appearances at Faculty Senates to have discussion with faculty. “I’ve been a faculty member for a long time so interaction would sow multiple ways. I like to attend lectures, labs and participate in events that matter to faculty and students because that’s also what matters to me,” she said.

Additionally, Conway-Turner expressed raising the visibility of the College as a top priority if selected to be the next President. “People often refer to St. Mary’s as a hidden gem—and they’re right. I’m really excited of the potential to be the voice to carry the story of St. Mary’s and elevate visibility because St. Mary’s can contribute significantly to the liberal arts education conversation,” she said.

The student and professor reaction to Conway-Turner’s visit was positive. “I think the first presidential visit went really well and I was excited to meet Dr. Conway-Turner,” said Student Trustee Debbie Travers.  “It was a pleasure to give her a campus tour and she was extremely receptive to student questions and feedback, as I’m sure all the candidates will be.”

Philosophy Professor Sybol Anderson said she thought the overall presentation was great. “My sense was that her emphasis on collaborative decision making was close to what the college wants,” she said. “She seems really sensitive to, in sync with, and responsive to our concerns on this campus.”

“I think she absolutely has the potential to be a good president–she seems to have enough experience–and of all the candidates her resume was the most impressive to me and most correlated with my areas of interest. In practice, though, I can’t completely tell,” said sophomore Johanna Galat.

Other candidates include Jim Bacchus, J.D., Dr. MaryAnn Baenninger, and Dr. Joesph Bruno.

Bacchus, visiting Sept. 21-23, currently leads a global practice for one of the largest law firms in the world. He is a former judge of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, was a two-term member of Congress from Florida and an aide and speechwriter for the Office of the Governor of Florida. He has taught both undergraduate and law school classes in political philosophy, governance, and international law.

Baenninger, scheduled to visit Sept. 23-25, has been president of College of Saint Benedict since 2004.  She has served on the CIC Board of Directors, the Executive Board of the Annapolis Group, the American Council on Education Commission on International Education, and the Council on Undergraduate Research.  Currently, she serves on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Sharjah.

Bruno, visiting the College Sept. 28 – 30, is a Professor of Chemistry and the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Wesleyan University. He served as a postdoctoral fellow in inorganic/organometallic chemistry at Indiana University before receiving a position in the Chemistry Department at Wesleyan.

College Operating Budget Turns to ‘Razor-thin’ Surplus

In light of the recent economic downturn, the College has initiated a defensive budget strategy for fiscal year 2010 (FY10) and the future. Although it has not drastically changed from previous years, the new plan seeks to proactively increase the College’s revenue, and then spend that money as wisely as possible.

According to Chris True, the Assistant Vice President of Finance, in 2009 the College’s “operating fund turned in a razor thin surplus of approximately $79,000 on a cash basis. This was possible through the combined efforts of faculty and staff to minimize expenditures, strong enrollments which resulted in some excess revenue attainment in certain areas, and through the efforts of the Vice Presidents to reduce expenditure budgets in the latter half of the year.” While this is a success for the College, True explains that in FY10, the goal must be to “make up for reduced revenues due to instability in the financial markets.” One way the College intends to accomplish this is by incorporating $100,000 for contingency in addition to the usual $300,000 fund. Also, True notes that keeping “revenue assumptions conservative” is a good way to follow through on a defensive budget.

For students, it is important that the College maintain its financial aid and scholarship options. The major change we see this year is that “Foundation funded scholarships, which typically total approximately $700,000 per year were funded by the College.” Chris True also noted “this funding substitution is likely to be necessary for the next couple of years.” Because of this the Office of Financial Aid and the Business Offices have “implemented many online payment options” for students and parents, ultimately allowing for fewer staff in these areas. In terms of emergency funding, the Foundation has raised a total of $97,000, $35,500 of which were made available this fall. Students facing “unexpected financial difficulties” received anywhere from $100- $4000 in emergency finance aid grants.

The more defensive budget affects faculty as well. The College decided to implement “reduced service days rather than furloughs.” According to the Office of Finance, the impact for employees was “just over $204,000.” This means that, on a sliding scale, employees will take anywhere from 1-10 reduced service days between Christmas and New Year’s to avoid conflicts with classes. For example, salaries ranging from $50,000 to $99,000 salaries must take three days, and anything above $200,000 involves a 10-day salary reduction.

Hiring of staff for new and old positions is also a concern of the college in times of financial strain. Dr. Thomas Botzman, Vice President for Business and Finance reports, “Some positions, such as openings in public safety, will be filled immediately.  There may be few others that we fill based on review. However, given the tight budget moving forward these will be rare exceptions.”

Looking to the future, the Finance, Investment, and Audit Committee and the Board of Trustees established a Working Group on Revenue Planning and Forecasts. Charles Jackson, the Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities explains that the goal of the working group is to establish a “holistic look at college finances.” College revenue sources range from state block grants and tuition to auxiliary services (housing, food, bookstore) and the endowment. In two phases, the working group will seek to take a closer look at the College’s short term and long term finances and inform the Trustee’s decisions. In what Jackson calls a “harder economic climate to raise money,” the Working Group has the potential to help the College’s financial system in a very positive way.

Bradford Persistent Agent Raises Concerns on Campus

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Photo by Tom Keen

Over the summer, the College installed the Bradford Persistent Agent (PA) on campus, an update of the previous program that allows the College to scan students’ computers to ensure that their operating systems and anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are up-to-date.

According to User Support Administrator Lisa Youngborg, a Bradford system has been on campus for five or six years to protect the campus from viruses. According to Network Services Manager Jeff Ranta, the previous Bradford system was a dissolvable agent, that is, it would scan for anti-virus and anti-spyware programs once at the beginning of the year. The PA, however, runs in the back of a network computer and scans for anti-virus and anti-spyware updates once daily. It has the ability to remove a computer from the production network and onto a remediation network if the computer fails the security policy, and will return the computer to the network once the security problem is resolved.

Because it runs in the background of students’ computers, the PA also has the ability to send out a mass message to students in the case of an emergency, such as a tornado, which would allow students to receive notifications even if they were not online.

“If you’re on your machine in your room, a little screen would pop up,” said Ranta.

Despite the fact that an email was sent out before students returned to the College, alerting them to the change, the initial campus reaction was largely one of confusion.

“The first day with the freshmen moving in, [we got] constant calls and a lobby full,” said junior Mica Artis, one of the students on duty at the Help Desk during move-in days.

“We had both bosses helping us and a tech or two,” senior Jarrod Lathrop, who was also on duty, added. “It was still a madhouse that day because we not only had the freshmen but the freshmen and their parents.”

Regarding many of the initial problems, Artis said, “Everything’s pretty much there; you just have to pay attention to details.”

Ranta said that some students may also have had problems if their anti-virus program was more obscure. “We just don’t have instructions for all of the anti-virus programs recognized by Bradford,” he said, adding that “for the most part, we’ve been able to get people fixed and online without too much of a problem.”

Artis and Lathrop said they still get calls every so often about Bradford, especially from Macintosh users who aren’t used to needing anti-virus software. Artis said that because the anti-virus program on the Web site to which the school directs students does not update automatically,  many Mac users have been sent back to the remediation network. Artis said, however, that the Mac anti-virus program can be set to update automatically, which would eliminate these problems.

Artis and Lathrop also said that if a computer does get a virus, that computer will automatically be kicked off of the internet. The Help Desk has to approve between its hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. that the user did get rid of the virus before the computer will be allowed back onto the internet.

While many students have since become accustomed to the new Bradford PA, many have concerns, even to the point that a Facebook group was created to address these concerns. The group, SMCM Students Against Bradford Persistent Agent, boasts 395 members as of Sat., Sept. 19, or roughly 20 percent of the student population.

The major concern was privacy. Bradford does have the ability to search computers for the existence of certain files. However, according to Ranta, it can only look for files that it has specifically been told to look for–it cannot audit all of the files on a computer. Also, it can only detect the presence of a file, not whether the file is running.

“I’m not going to have it start searching for any files,” Ranta said, who pointed out that someone in the administration had asked him to shut off all peer-to-peer file sharing in response to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) strictures. He declined to do so. “I don’t think turning off all access to file sharing is the answer.”

Students were also concerned about the slowing down of the internet and the control of internet bandwidth. First of all, Ranta said that Bradford PA only connects to local servers, so it doesn’t use the full internet.

Ranta also said that the College is involved in “package shaping” to control streaming media, and that some students might be having problems if they are downloading a type of video format not recognized by the network which would then be downgraded to a lower priority. He said that the College originally had a problem with Hulu, and that students having problems with streaming media should let the Help Desk know with which Web sites they are having problems.

Students are also concerned that the Student Government Association was never contacted about the installation of Bradford PA, even though the system was tested for about two years before the College put it to universal use.

“That wasn’t ever brought up among us in our discussions. We probably should have,” said Ranta.

Some students still are not convinced that Bradford PA is a good thing for the campus.

“We appreciate what they’re doing,” said junior Kyle McGrath, one of the administrators of SMCM Students Against Bradford Persistent Agent. “If that system [from last year] can’t be sustained, something else is fine.” However, he still has concerns about students’ files privacy.

“It’s like the government putting cameras in your bedroom but saying they’ll keep them switched off,” said McGrath.

Fellow members of SMCM Students Against Bradford Persistent Agent, juniors Dietrich Epp Schmidt and Ernest Rotili, raised concerns about the security of students’ files if someone were to hack into the center of the College computer system. They believe that because Bradford PA runs in the background of a computer’s system, that puts the program “beneath our computers’ encryption roof,” according to Rotili.

Rotili called the possibility of seeing past computer encryption a “jackpot for hackers.”

Members of SMCM Students Against Bradford Persistent Agent sent letters to several administrators on Friday, Sept. 18 calling attention to their concerns.

“I’m 99.9 percent confident that this is going to be solved by negotiation,” McGrath said. Ranta himself has said that if students were adamant against the PA, he would consider returning to the dissolvable agent.

Other students are not so sure that protesting Bradford PA is a good idea.

“It doesn’t slow our internet,” said Townhouse Senator junior Matt Smith. “They are not looking at our files. They have no intention of looking at our files…What’s their motivation [to look]? They don’t have any.

“If we fight the wrong battle, we’ll worsen our relationship [with the administration],” Smith added. “Our credibility will deteriorate, kind of like the boy who cried wolf.”

To see what Bradford allows the administration to see on your computer, visit the Web site set up by the Student Help Desk, http://www.smcm.edu/helpdesk/network/cm_views.html.

New policies added to student handbook

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To The Point, St. Mary's Student Handbook (Photo by Dave Chase)

New policies have been added to the student handbook, To the Point, detailing new medical amnesty and Good Samaritan, sanction reduction, and missing person policies, as well as changes to older policies regarding the use of evidence in judicial affairs, appeals, and sexual assault.

One highly discussed policy was the medical amnesty policy, which says that students who require medical assistance while violating college drug and alcohol policy can have judicial charges deferred. Tied with this is the Good Samaritan Policy, where a student who is in violation of the campus alcohol or drug policies who seeks medical assistance for another student may be granted amnesty from disciplinary action.

Amnesty is considered based on the student’s previous judicial record and severity of and student disposition towards the incident. According to Clint Neill, Coordinator of Student Activities and Judicial Affairs, if a student has a previous judicial record of violating college policy, it could prevent the student from receiving medical amnesty.

There were many forums and discussions with students, faculty, staff, Public Safety, and local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers regarding this policy in the past several years.

“It was time consuming, but I think it was the best way…in terms of policies like medical amnesty that could potentially affect the whole, entire college community,” Neill said. “It was probably the best process for that policy because we got so much input.”

Dean of Students Laura Bayless said that she was “certain students are excited that the medical amnesty and Good Samaritan policy is in place.”

Junior Aaron French said this policy is “a really good thing that will encourage students to be safer and more responsible.”

Another policy that was added to the student handbook was a sanction reduction policy, which explains that Bayless will accept requests for reduction of long term sanctions at least one year after the policy. In order for the sanctions to be reduced the student must prove that they have learned from their mistakes and must submit a letter explaining this to the sanction reduction panel and a letter of recommendation from someone in the college community.

The third new policy is a missing persons policy that which was mandated by the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act. Students can report a missing person to Residence Life or Public Safety.

Each year To the Point is reviewed and updated by the Judicial Code Review Committee which, this previous year consisted of junior Sarah Shipley as the Student Government Association (SGA) president’s designate, the Faculty Senate president designate Danielle Cass, Clint Neill, and Laura Bayless.

Some of the changes that were made included alterations to the wording of policies regarding evidence in judicial hearings, appeals, and sexual assault. The evidence policy was changed to make it clearer that evidence can be gathered from a variety of sources, including testimony of witnesses, electronic and physical pictures, and reports from a sheriff’s office, public safety, doctors or residence life.

“We just wanted to provide more information for students as to what could be considered,” Neill said. In regard to pictures or other electronic material he said,

“Our practice is that the evidence for those sorts of policies should be supplemental evidence for an incident that is already documented. That doesn’t mean that that’s going to happen all the time.”

According to the Judicial Affairs Web site, changes in the appeals policy made it more clear that the appeals process is to “consider whether or not procedures were properly followed.” Changes in the sexual assault policy were also made to make it clear that sexual assault can occur when a student “take[s] advantage of another student’s physical or mental incapacitation.”

If students are interested in voicing their opinions on policies in the student handbook, they have several options. They can contact the Policy Review Committee in the SGA or Clint Neill or Dean Bayless to propose policy modification or change.

French said, “A lot of [the student handbook policies] seem very positive and seem to be taking into account a lot of student input.”

Recreated Chapel Unlocked in St. Mary’s City

College students and St. Mary’s residents gather to watch the unlocking of the recreated historic Roman Catholic chapel in St. Mary’s City. (Photos By Brendan O’Hara)
College students and St. Mary’s residents gather to watch the unlocking of the recreated historic Roman Catholic chapel in St. Mary’s City. (Photos By Brendan O’Hara)

On Sunday, Sept. 20, the recreated Roman Catholic brick chapel at Historic St. Mary’s City was ceremonially opened to the public. Governor Seymour locked the chapel in 1704, intending that it never again be used as a place of worship.

St. Mary’s City, founded by the Calvert family, was valued as an experiment in religious toleration. “Religion determined who you were, who you married, who your friends were, your chances of political freedom and economic success, your very existence,” said Silas D. Hurry, Historic St. Mary’s City’s Curator of Collections and Archeology Laboratory Director.

According to Douglas Horhorta, a site manager for Historic St. Mary’s City, the doors of the Catholic Church were closed in 1704 to ensure that the colonists’ offerings did not go to the Catholic Church. “A lot of it’s about money,” he said. Calvert’s experiment in religious toleration had ended.

Excavations beginning in 1988 revealed the foundation of the brick chapel. “The foundation was massive by 17th century Chesapeake standards,” said Hurry.
The width and depth of the foundation suggested the building was about 23 feet tall at the eaves. Further excavation uncovered shards of glass, flat roof tiles, traces of plaster, and special stucco-like bricks. Archeologists then turned to other examples of chapels in order to determine a pattern for their design and construction, but this proved to be difficult.

“Given the ever tenuous position of Roman Catholics in England, it seems likely that there was an attempt to leave as little paper trail as possible,” said Hurry.
There is but one modern description of the chapel, and there are no surviving Catholic churches built in 17th century England. According to Hurry, much of the actual archeology to understand the building is the fruit of SMCM students in the archeological field school program.

After the ceremony, artifacts from the chapel excavations were on display and light refreshments were served.

The chapel will be open to the public during museum hours, and an interpretive pavilion is expected to be open to the public in summer 2010.

From the Patio: New Door, Same Feel

While its natural for seniors to look back on their first three years here with nostalgia, it pained us a little to come back to campus knowing that the very establishment where so many memories began no longer existed as we had endearingly known it. No, not campus… just the Green Door.

For those of you who unfortunately never had the chance to experience the Door, it was a hole in the wall—barely had a floor, toilets rarely flushed, every inch of space was covered with initials of students and cheap beer signs. But, it was our hole in the wall. There was nothing like Karaoke Wednesdays, also known as Club Door, trying to get into the bathroom while dodging darts as they flew past our heads, making friends with “townies” and hoarding the peanut buckets.

After the Door was closed all summer for renovation, they announced it would reopen our first Friday back on campus. We were anxious all week, anticipating the reopening like little kids on Christmas Eve. We were so excited, in fact, that we promptly arrived at 4p.m. when the doors of the new Door opened. But there was nothing we could have done to prepare ourselves. We took our places at the bar and sat in silence as we let ourselves become accustomed to the smell of new varnish on the fresh flooring and walls.

Bigger, cleaner, and well ventilated were just a few of the improvements made to the bar. The picnic tables were gone, and the small room in the back to play darts had been replaced by an entire “wing.” There’s more than enough room for a game of darts, and the getting to the girls bathroom is no longer life threatening.

Even though the entire bar had been completely transformed, it still felt the same in a lot of ways. As it started to get darker, more and more people filtered in, and it felt as though we had never left this place. The Door will always be the same Door. It might look a little different, but it still means the same thing to all of us, and all those to come.

As we sat writing this article on the patio the next day, we came to realize—you can change the bar, but you can’t change the kids in it. And so, despite our fears of losing the only bar around here (sans the Sunshine Oa…excuse us, Monks), the Door still had the same camaraderie, the same charm as before. There was still plenty of beer to drink, great music to dance to and tons of people to make “door” friends with—it’s what St. Mary’s students bring to it that makes it the Door we all love and laugh about from the patio.

Health Center Prepares for H1N1

College students are being widely diagnosed with the H1N1 virus all across the country, and experts say its spread on college campuses will continue as the annual flu season begins this fall.

H1N1 – also widely known as the Swine Flu — is a new influenza virus that causes mild to severe illness in people, affecting mostly those under 50 years old.  Those who are most susceptible to the worst effects of the virus include pregnant women, young children, and those who have asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.

According to Alberta Hickman, Director of Health Services, college students are especially susceptible to H1N1 because of the close living situations. “Your living style could increase your risk of getting it…like dormitories…because you have large amounts of people in an enclosed space,” she explained.

Unfortunately, she said, H1N1 shares many symptoms with other illnesses, such as the common cold and influenza, and instead can be easily mistaken for them.

According to Karen Mumbert, Assistant Director of the Health Center, symptoms include “sudden onset of a fever, a sore throat, body aches, a cough…you can have vomiting and diarrhea; some do, some don’t, [but] the most tell-tale sign is that it’s a sudden onset.” Cases in which severe illness and death result do occur, but they are rare, she said.  Mumbert advises that if a student begins to feel ill, “they should check with their physicians and check in with their instructors by email. Mostly, people will self-isolate.”

H1N1 is spread through coughing, sneezing and direct human-to-human contact. Mumbert added that H1N1 is spread by droplets of virus-laden saliva. “That means sneezing, coughing, anything you spew into the air,” she said. “Six feet is the magic number. If closer, you’re under droplet attack.” Mumbert advised students to sneeze or cough into their arms to avoid spreading the virus.  She also said that people can spread H1N1 through close personal contact, like kissing.

The Health Center staff recommends washing hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer after using the bathroom or right before a meal. “It’s more important than ever for everyone to be practicing good hygiene,” explained Hickman.

First-year Andrew Reighart said that he is not concerned by all of the H1N1 hype. “No, I’m not worried,” he said. “I feel like it [H1N1] is pretty uncommon right now. If things get worse, then I might start taking more precautions.”

Students are advised to go to the Health Center if they begin to develop swine flu symptoms or suspect that they are ill. Students should not attend class while they have the virus, and are advised to stay self-isolated until 24 hours after their last sign of a fever.

More information about the H1N1 virus is available on the College Web site and at http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1FLU/.

Vaccinations for the seasonal flu—not H1N1—will be offered on October 1st by Maxim Health Systems for $27. Checks and cash will be accepted.

President Obama's Healthcare Mistake: Bipartisanship

After a summer of brutal town halls, lunatic TV/Radio hosts and angry protesters, it’s hard to say that President Obama’s health care reform effort is where he, or the millions of Americans supporting him, hoped it would be. With three bills, two from the Senate and one from the House, floating around, it looks like the final bill will bring little more than further tweaks to the system, not the broad and comprehensive reform that is desired.

With large majorities in the House and Senate, the question of the day seems to be, “Why are the Democrats not getting more of what they want?” The answer is a fundamental misunderstanding, by both the President and the Democratic leadership, of the world of professional partisan politics.

The President’s mistake was letting the far right drive the debate. For months, we heard of socialized medicine, death panels, and a government take over of health care. Perhaps the most emblematic example of the Democrats’ complete failure to drive the debate was when one retiree stood up at a Town Hall meeting and said, “Keep government hands off my medicare!” Educating the public to both the needs and goals of reform should have been the President’s number one priority.

His bigger mistake was pushing for bipartisanship while the Democrats were running the show. The President, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid all assumed that if they produced legislation that incorporated Republican ideas, they would subsequently get Republican votes. Why would a single Republican vote for a bill that they have never been publicly asked to support, contribute ideas to, or even read, before it was publicly announced as the Democratic Healthcare Plan? The Republicans get many of reforms they want (more than they should — given their minority status) and they still get to blast the Democrats.

The President should have pushed for radical and comprehensive reform and then compromised, not just skip ahead to the compromising, without making the other side compromise too. Alexander Hamilton argued for a King so that he could get a strong executive because he understood that in a Democracy, compromise is king.

It will be interesting to see what the final bill will look like, but it is clear that Liberals across the country will not get the kind of reform they want; not because of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh but because the Democratic Leadership forgot, at least for a moment, how to play the game.