‘Titan’ and Community Members Celebrate King’s Work

Nearly 350 people crowded the Great Room for the sixth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast. (Photo Submitted by Office of Marketing and Public Relations)
Nearly 350 people crowded the Great Room for the sixth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast. (Photo Submitted by Office of Marketing and Public Relations)

On Monday, Jan. 18, members of the St. Mary’s community and beyond filled the Great Room for the sixth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast. Leaders from the College as well as from outside groups spoke about the importance of King’s work, including William Yoast, one of the football coaches featured in the 2000 movie Remember the Titans.

Nearly 350 guests attended the event to hear talks interspersed with live gospel music. The St. Peter Claver Catholic Church Gospel Choir and the First Missionary Baptist Youth Choir performed both separately and together to draw standing ovations and add further spirit to a room already brimming with enthusiasm.

“This is a great morning to feed our hearts, minds, and stomachs,” said the College’s Black Student Union President, senior Darren McCutchen, during his introduction. Pastor Christiliene Whalen, a chaplain for the Patuxent River Naval Base, echoed his sentiments in her invocation and benediction, in which she thanked God for King’s life and prayed for a continuation of his work.

The breakfast also marked the distribution of the 2010 “Realizing the Dream Awards,” which recognized exemplary character as defined by King’s “I Have A Dream” Speech as well as service to St. Mary’s County. The awards consisted of a plaque and $100 check, which State Representative John Bohanan presented to the four winners: Donald Shubrooks, Aamon Smith, Everlyn Holland, and Theodore Newkirk.

Shubrooks is a sophomore at Great Mills High School and a member of the Young Leaders of St. Mary’s County. His mother Jacqueline Shubrooks accepted the award because a track meet prevented Donald from attending. Smith is an eighth-grader at Leonardtown Middle School who is a member of the local NAACP, is on honor roll, and recently attended the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. Everlyn Holland, of Hollywood, Maryland, is a nurse, wife, mother, and activist who served as a steward for civil rights for over 50 years. Theodore Newkirk, of Lexington Park, Maryland, fought discrimination at the Patuxent Naval Air Station by suing the Navy and winning. His actions brought equal treatment on site to military bases across the country.

Smith knew Thursday that she was getting the award, and said she felt excited.

“It’s cool,” she said. “I just feel special because I’m the youngest one to get it.” She added that she had “big shoes to fill.”
Yoast, the white coach portrayed by Bill Patton in the 2000 blockbuster hit Remember the Titans, told the audience about the struggles he and head coach Herman Boone (who is black) faced when trying to coach football at a newly-integrated school in the early 1970s. He outlined how difficult it was to try to “help correct mistakes through the ages,” namely, the “state of segregation,” but that he and Boone managed to succeed in bringing the members of the team together.

“If you had been in that locker room,” he said, “there’s no way to express what we felt…If Dr. Martin Luther King could have been in that locker room, he would have said, ‘Great job.’”

In addition to Yoast, speakers from outside the College included Chloe Toner, a senior at Great Mills High School, and John W. Franklin, Director of Partnerships and International Programs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The speakers expressed what King meant to them in their lives and work.

Toner spoke about how although she is white, she has been personally touched by King’s work in many ways, including the ability to attend a diverse school in which her best friend as well as one of her mentors are both African American. Toner said that although the U.S. has not lived up to its full potential regarding race relations, “our nation has come so far since [King’s] time.”

Franklin spoke about the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History, saying that “This museum was the dream of black World War I veterans who wanted their people’s history told in a museum in Washington, D.C.” The museum is expected to open in 2015.

After the breakfast, Yoast sold and autographed copies of his book, Remember This Titan, which sold out before everyone in line could get a copy. In Cole Cinema, the documentary “With All Deliberate Speed: One High School’s Story” screened after the breakfast. The film allowed those who experienced the desegregation of Great Mills High School from 1958-1972 to speak. The film was produced by professor Merideth Taylor, who also led a discussion about the film after its showing. The documentary was made possible by a grant from the PNC Foundation Legacy Project and the Maryland Humanities Council. The breakfast itself was sponsored by the College, St. Mary’s County Board of Education, and the St. Mary’s County Human Relations Commission.

New Racial Reconciliation Group Meets

Björn Krondorfer, the department chair of Religious Studies, is a facilitator of the newly-formed Racial Reconciliation Group. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)
Björn Krondorfer, the department chair of Religious Studies, is a facilitator of the newly-formed Racial Reconciliation Group. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)

St. Mary’s students showed that they were unafraid, even eager to confront the challenging subject of race’s impact on our everyday lives at the inaugural interest meeting for the newly formed Racial Reconciliation Group.

The group, according to Assistant Professor of Philosophy Sybol Anderson, aligns well with a desire for increased dialogue on race that she and Björn Krondorfer, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the department, have wanted for a while. Although race discussions are not particularly new on campus, Anderson said that the overall discourse has thus far remained stagnant and that people ended up “walking away” from them with little having been done. The specific structure for the group did not exist, however, until Seniors Zac Cooke and Autumn Capers came to them with the plans to actually form the group.

The group aims to create a “very personal, very small, very interactive” environment to talk about “the issue of race, and what power it has, or lack thereof,” according to Capers.  Cooke stressed that “[the group] is not a club or casual get together – people need to be able to commit.” As a result, the group is limited to 15 people, to be chosen in order to create a diverse discussion group consisting of representatives from multiple races and class years.

The group will host a total of six meetings, which will be held weekly starting Friday, Jan. 29 and  will be facilitated by Krondorfer and Anderson. Meetings will be in the form of a round-table discussion in which students can explore how they view themselves and others through the lens of race. Cooke said that the group would intentionally not be in the form of a lecture or “just listening to a bunch of stats [on race].”

“It’s time we bring a different kind of learning experience to campus,” he added.

These meetings will ultimately culminate in a weekend retreat starting Friday, Feb. 19, during which students will be able to get away from campus and get to “the core” of the discussion, according to Cooke. An optional one-credit learning contract will also be available for students who participate.

The professors thought that a group that operates with such frankness and rigor may have sounded intimidating to some, but the crowded room showed otherwise. “I was worried there would be like five people here,” Krondorfer said. Instead, so many students turned out that the small meeting room (Campus Center 228) quickly turned into a standing-room-only affair. Students attended for a variety of reasons, from personal to academic. Sophomore Emily Saari, for example, said, “I was exposed to anti-oppression teachings over the summer and I wanted to continue trying out new experiences and discussions such as this.”

Both facilitators and students have great expectations for the future of this meeting, and plan to use it as a stepping-stone to future dialogue. Anderson said, “My hope is that once we’ve taken it to the deeper level…that that will let us keep going year to year.” The attendance, though, was itself a sign of a bright future for the group.
Cooke said, “It’s moving to see how many people came out today.” He added, “This has been amazing.”

Senator Scott Brown (R-MA)–A Warning Shot

On Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, the impossible happened. A little-known Republican State Senator, Scott Brown, won the special election for the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts.

Why so impossible? Registered Democrats have a 3-1 majority over Republicans in the Commonwealth. No Republican has won a Senate seat in 40 years. Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate, had considerably more money, name recognition and popularity at the start of the campaign. She also had a 30-point lead in the polls. And well, it Massachusetts, a state that has same sex marriages, decriminalized marijuana by public referendum and produced some of the most famous and well known Democrats in history.

Impossible indeed.

Most pundits blame the Coakley campaign, and the Coakley campaign blames the White House and Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the White House and DNC blame “lockstep republicans.”

Now don’t get me wrong, Coakley ran an awful campaign. We saw a similar 30-point lead blown in the 2008 Democratic primaries by Hillary Clinton in much the same way, but even Clinton won Massachusetts. Having spent my first 18 years in Massachusetts, I can tell you that Coakley’s poor campaign simply was not enough to lose her that election.

Two factors lost this campaign for Coakley. First, the economy. People are out of work and they are taking their frustrations out on the party in charge. The economy may well have decided this campaign.

Along with the economy, the Massachusetts Democratic party is not exactly in good stead with voters. Two recent Speakers of the House have been brought up on corruption charges. The legislature has done some truly outrageous things like raise the sales tax and give local municipalities the ability to add a 2 percent local option to the sales tax. Perhaps most importantly, Governor Deval Patrick’s approval ratings are in the 20s, making him roughly as popular as President Bush was for much of his second term.

The point is that while Coakley ran a horrible campaign, there were other factors that played a larger role. For states like Maryland, making the mistake of blowing off the Massachusetts election as nothing more then a poor campaign may well cost Democrats more seats than expected in November.

Maryland Democrats might not have the recent track record as their counterparts in Massachusetts but the looming $2 billion budget deficit might have a similar effect if they do not handle it well. Although perhaps more important than that will be the unemployment rate in the next 10 months.

The potential run of Former Republican Governor Ehrlich against Governor O’Malley would be a serious challenge in any year, but pile on a poor economy and a struggling state budget, and Ehrlich would appear to have an early advantage. The down ticket assembly and state senate races is where the real upsets will be, but it is too early to know who is running.

For Congressional Races, Rep. Kravolti in the 1st district narrowly gained his seat in 2008 and looks like he will be targeted by the Republican National Congressional Committee in 2010. Still, for the most part, Maryland looks like its Congressional seats will stay solidly blue.

Then again, everyone said the same thing about Massachusetts.

Men and Women’s Swimming Splash into Championships

After finishing the regular season 4-5 (men’s) and 7-3 (women’s), the Seahawks prepare for the CAC Championships, Feb. 12-14. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)
After finishing the regular season 4-5 (men’s) and 7-3 (women’s), the Seahawks prepare for the CAC Championships, Feb. 12-14. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)

After a strong regular season of conference and non-conference action, the swimming Seahawks stand 4-5 for men’s and 7-3 women’s as both teams prepare for the CAC Championships.

The Seahawks entered the 2009 Winter season with a strong freshman presence, as six first-years and no seniors characterized the men’s twelve-athlete team and eight freshman joined the women’s 20-athlete roster.

“Both teams are really young,” said Coach Andre Barbins, entering his 12th season with the Seahawks.  “It’s exciting for the future, but it makes it difficult now.”

Despite the disadvantage, St. Mary’s began the season with a record-breaking start, as both the men’s and women’s teams won four consecutive meets against Catholic University, Marymount University, Goucher College, and Gallaudet University during the weekends of Oct. 30 and Nov. 6.  An additional home meet win by the women’s Seahawks against Randolph-Macon College maintained the dominant beginning for the St. Mary’s swimmers.

The wins included stellar performances by first-year athletes Billy DeBoissiere and Kelly Heyde, and broke the team’s seven-meet losing streak against Marymount.  “I came from a Howard County club team, which was more individual than team-based,” said DeBoissiere.  “[At the college level], there’s a lot more cheering.”

The streak was halted the following weekend, however, as both teams took a first-season loss against Washington College during a non-conference meet.  While the women’s team rebounded with a 129-76 home-meet conference win over York College on Nov. 21, the men’s team suffered its first conference loss of the season, 70-135 against York.

Both teams ended 2009 with a strong performance during the two-day Franklin & Marshall College Invitational, as the men’s team placed 7th out of 10 both meets while the women’s team placed 4th of 13 on Dec. 5 and 6th of 13 on Dec. 6.

“We’re a small team, but a tight-knit group,” said Jackson Webb, junior captain of the men’s team.  “We’re a really young team, but the freshmen are really picking it up.”

Both teams continued to train during the Winter break, as the Seahawks participated in an eight-day training camp in Florida.  “It was historically cold, but the team bonded and worked hard,” said DeBoissiere.

Returning to the deck in January, the Seahawks took a setback in the Spring semester, as they took a loss against the University of Mary Washington on Jan. 16 and again against Johns Hopkins University on Jan. 22, bringing the tally to 4-4 men’s (with a 2-2 conference record) and 6-3 women’s (with a 3-1 conference record).

The men’s team took a third hit against Salisbury on Saturday, Jan. 23 in an intense meet that came down to a 4.79-second loss in the 200-meter relay against the Sea Gulls.  The women’s team triumphed over Salisbury 133-72 for the home conference win.

“The team has a good work ethic, and the classes are blending well together,” said Barbins.  “There’s strong leadership from the captains, and it brings the teams together.”

Despite the setbacks, the men’s team is still aptly preparing for the upcoming CAC Championships.  “[The upperclassmen] are working to show [the first-years] what they can do in practice to be better,” said Webb.  “Showing others the things you’ve learned makes you think about it yourself.”

With CAC records of 2-3 men’s and 4-1 women’s, the Seahawks will host the CAC Championships during the weekend of Feb. 12-14.

Welcome Back from the Chief’s Desk

As semesters change, so do our surroundings, even on this tiny isolated campus. Seasons come and go. Buildings rise on old foundations. Grassy hills become leveled. Docks stretch out over the river. Even on a personal level, things change: as students, we find new housing arrangements, we sign up for new classes in different buildings, and our friends depart for a tour abroad or in the trenches as RAs.

Perhaps the one thing that has stayed constant for me as a student has been the Point News room (to be fair, half is Avatar’s/The Dove’s). Small, with off-white walls, Macs lining the perimeter, and tiny windows that look out into bushes, our part of the room is only made inviting by the newspapers that sit casually on its tables. Since I started with the paper my first year at school, the newsroom itself has been a concrete representation of the paper itself. Issues came and went, but the office has always been there. Before I became an editor, I wondered what went on behind that mysterious closed door.

The reality is much less mystical: basically, all of us editors sit in a circle and try to come up with news stories. On production weekends, we come in and spend between six and 14 straight hours each Saturday and Sunday in this tiny room. I have worked under three wonderful editors-in-chief, all of whom have graduated or have had to step down because they are so busy on campus. Editors have come and gone, and some have just returned from study abroad. Still, the office itself has the same off-white walls, the same Macs, the same windows.

The paper itself has changed, however. Different editors have different styles, both in writing and layout as well as in humor. We still have the placeholder headline from last year’s presidential inauguration issue pinned to a corkboard: Manbearpig Wins Presidency, it reads, with the accompanying image below. This followed the LOLCats gag page (also never published) the semester before.

The topics have changed, too. Looking back on last semester’s papers, a presidential search update occurred in nearly every issue, which will continue as needed until a new president is found. In a larger context, The Point News covered national events like the presidential election and inauguration, health care, and the economy as they pertained to our campus.
Over the next semester, you can expect continuity. We will still attempt to cover every lecture, arts event, and trend on campus. But you can also expect new topics, hopefully especially in the editorial section, about the things that affect the school, and wider community around us, whether through this “From the Chief’s Desk” or Dave Chase’s analysis of what the Massachusetts senate race has to do with Maryland.

There is something else that I hope will change. Right now, our editors also write most of the articles in the paper. We have very few staff writers, and while we manage as we are, we would love to see more students participate in bringing the news or their opinions to the rest of campus. Working on the paper gives us a good idea of what’s going on around us, as well as giving us a solid resume for work or grad schools and several hundred dollars a semester in pay for editors (have I mentioned how upwardly mobile The Point News is?). While I think The Point News is doing well as it is, it could always be stronger, and if you want to be a more informed member of the College community and have some fun along the way, you should join us right outside the newsroom Mondays at 8:30 p.m.The other editors and I will be waiting for you.

On-Campus Housing is Too Expensive

In the last issue of the Point News, there were articles on a tuition increase of $330 a year and students struggling abroad having trouble finding housing on campus.  While both of these articles were well written and covered issues pertinent to students and their budgets, I think that one crucial issue was overlooked: the cost of housing on campus.

Tuition and fees for an academic year for a Maryland resident total $12,313.50 ($12,643.50 after the tuition increase), while housing ranges from $5,800 to $6,700 a year, about 50 percent of the cost of tuition and fees. Broken down by month, it comes out to $774  a month for the cheapest housing on campus and $894 a month for the most expensive (assuming that we’re allowed in our residences for 7.5 months out of the year).  That’s a very substantial amount for any student to pay, particularly considering that most housing options on campus have students sharing a bedroom and no kitchen.  Now, I understand that housing in certain markets is very expensive. In most major cities in the United States, $700-$800 a month would be considered very reasonable rent for a student.  However, St. Mary’s College is located in a rural area with slightly more reasonable housing prices.

I am currently studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany and my rent for a student apartment with a full kitchen and my own room costs 266.5 Euros per month (including utilities and internet), which comes out to $384 (U.S.) a month.  Multiply that by 7.5 and I am paying $2,880 (U.S.) for an academic year.  The counterpart to this housing on campus would be an apartment with a single bedroom, for which I would pay St. Mary’s $6,700 (U.S.) for the exact same period of time.  This is a price differential of $3,820 (U.S.), quite a substantial amount of money, particularly for a student.  It sort of makes the $330-tuition increase pale in comparison.

So maybe before we start fighting moderate tuition increases, students should be focused on demanding more reasonable housing prices from the College. With limited off-campus housing options (particularly for those such as myself who do not own a motor vehicle), the College has a near monopoly on housing.  However, that does not give them a license to force unreasonable housing prices on students who are already going into debt in order to pay for college tuition.

Submitted by Chelsea HowardFoley ‘11