The Polar Bear Splash

On Thursday, February 17th, St. Mary’s students gathered down at the Riverfront center to participate in an annual fundraising called “The Polar Bear Splash.”

Kelly Schroeder, Assistant Dean of Students felt that this event was a “very visible expression of their cause for the environment, they are willing to take the plunge.”

Students take a plunge into the St. Mary’s River, typically in freezing cold temperatures, to raise money for a charity of choice.

This year students were treated to rather warm temperatures for February. On Thursday, the recorded temperature high for the day was 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

The students seem to enjoy participating in this event. According to First-Year David Wood, the plunge was “lots of fun for a good cause.”

While dripping with water, Junior Matt Pindell was still able to make jokes when he said “it was fun, I like the numbing sensation.”

Annual events are also held in Seattle, Lake George, NY, New Jersey, and Boston.

The “Plungapalooza” is the largest polar bear plunge in Maryland and in the United States.

Held annually at Sandy Point State Park, the Maryland “Plungapalooza” raises funds for the Special Olympics.

Watch the video here.

College Participates in National Recyclemania Competition

Over the next couple of weeks, the College will be participating in the national Recyclemania competition.

Recyclemania is a competition among colleges and universities to promote higher levels of recycling while tracking which schools recycle the highest percentage of their waste.

Held every year, the competition seems fierce as 600 schools attempt to beat out the rest of their peers by becoming the number one recycler.

This is the first time in two years that St. Mary’s will be participating. There are two different categories in which a school can participate: the competitive division, or the benchmark division.

This year, St. Mary’s will be participating in the benchmark division. “[Participating in the benchmark division] means we have to report our data, but we are not competing against other schools,” said Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray.

“We can compare ourselves to others with less regulation.”

Recyclemania is just the first step to increasing the school’s recycling numbers. The College’s recycling rate from last year was around 40 percent of total waste produced.
The Sustainability Office is trying to increase this number to over 50 percent.

“This is a learning opportunity for us to see what works,” said Mowbray, “and this is a great opportunity for us to find ways to get students to recycle.”

The Sustainability Office has been working hard to organize this event and to find ways for students,
faculty, and staff to become involved with the program.

Lisa Neu ‘10, the Sustainability Fellow, has been working closely with many parts of the community to ensure success over the next few weeks.

“The most important part is to encourage students to recycle, and that is where we can get student clubs to help,” said Neu.

“We are trying to find ways for students to become more involved in the process.”

One of the ideas proposed was to have student volunteers go into the offices throughout campus, both faculty and staff, and recycle any old papers or office supplies.

Neu continued by saying that “this would help motivate student, staff, and faculty members to work together.”

Each week a report from St. Mary’s County sanitation workers will be sent to the College outlining how much recycling verses waste was collected.

“Weekly reports are a fantastic opportunity to show what steps can make a difference,” said Mowbray.

“We will be learning the things we ought to be doing and what works.” In the future, the Sustainability Office wants to move up into the competitive division; however problems relating to trash reporting are creating a short delay.

For the time being, the College will be learning how to better monitor the numbers while increasing both the total amount of recycling of the school and increasing community support.

However, the most important thing is “remembering to reuse over recycle,” said Mowbray.

Recyclemania will run for eight weeks starting Sunday Feb. 6 and ending Saturday, April 2.

News in Brief: Internet Speed Doubles

George Waggoner, Director of Campus Technology Support Services, confirmed that yesterday, Feb. 15, St. Mary’s Technology Services and the University of Maryland Academic Telecommunications System (UMATS) successfully connected using a 100 MB/s internet line installed by Verizon two weeks ago. The connection fulfills services first requested one year ago.

Waggoner said the delay in announcement allowed Technology Services to test campus internet usage under ‘normal’ conditions yesterday, before students were aware of the increased speed. He says the campus never used more the full capacity but expects that once students realize they can stream videos and other media content, the campus may use all 100 MB/s at peak hours.

The connection uses a more expensive Ethernet Private Line (EPL) instead of the originally requested Transport Land Service (TLS).

The 100 MB/s connection is more than double the previous 45 MB/s connection.

Nest Controversy Leads To Shutdown

Though the Nest has not always been a popular late-night weekend hotspot, last semester saw extraordinarily high attendance, leading to a volatile situation that recently resulted in its temporary closing.

Rumors abound on campus about the events of Saturday, Feb. 5, but certainty has been hard to find.

Since its inception in 2007, the Nest’s function has been to provide substance-free events in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC).

However, in the past attendance at the events has been fairly low. According to Clint Neill, Coordinator of Student Activities and Judicial Affairs, “Typically in past years the Nest hasn’t been so heavily attended. Usually people come and go… to other events on the Greens, but we’ve been noticing that students are staying.”

In December, there were slightly less than 300 people who would attend throughout the night, Neill said, but even that is large for a small venue like DPC.

In anticipation of large crowds, senior Mica Artis, Programs Board Nest Chair, had asked Neill and Coordinator of Orientation and Service Sola Ogundele, ‘10, to help staff the event due to a lack of student volunteers.

Senior Jessica Harvey, Director of Campus Programming, was also on the volunteer staff.

On the night of Saturday, Feb. 5 attendance almost immediately became an issue, Artis said. In the past, students did not usually arrive until 11:00 and would come and go frequently; in this case, there was a steady stream of attendants beginning at 10:30, with few of them choosing to leave.

By 11:30, at least 400 students had arrived or were waiting to get in, many of whom were “highly intoxicated,” according to Neill.

Artis explained that the dance floor had reached capacity, with many students standing in the lobby instead.

Student volunteers, in addition to Neill and Ogundele, were frantically trying to check IDs, manage the number of allowed guests, and restrict the backpacks and purses that students were attempting to bring.

Artis explained that, due to the difficulties in attracting members for the Nest Committee, there were only nine people staffing the event, including Ogundele, Neill, Harvey, and herself.

Eventually after a consultation with Public Safety, Neill and the rest of the staff attempted to further regulate entry to DPC, since there are multiple side entrances, by creating a line at the front door.

The situation continued to escalate, with many disruptive students pushing and hassling the volunteers and staff members, and with some becoming confrontational, according to Artis; Harvey said that a student had his t-shirt sleeve ripped off in the commotion outside.

“It was out of control,” said Artis, explaining that one of the volunteers was sexually harassed and many others were verbally assaulted. “None of [the volunteers] had to be there; they were helping me out.”

“People were up in our faces screaming, ‘Let us in! Let us in!’” Harvey said.

Inside the building, students were attempting to open the side doors to allow others to enter, and some students in line outside attempted to push through the front doors.

Harvey explained that though the side doors were an issue, they are unable to block them because that would pose a fire hazard.

Neill also saw beer cans inside and witnessed students try to bring in open containers into the intentionally alcohol-free event.

Though the event was advertised as alcohol-free, as all student-run events are, Neill encountered many students who were “highly intoxicated” attempting to gain entrance.

Neill was eventually approached by the student volunteers about concerns for their comfort and safety. “I, as a staff member, could not have a safe event … When my students tell me that they do not feel safe then I take that seriously. The students came to me and said, ‘We can’t handle this.’ I said, ‘Shut it down.’”

After making the call at midnight to close the Nest down, it took thirty minutes to evacuate the more than 470 attendees from the building.

According to Neill, when Public Safety came to assist, students booed. “That really disappointed me,” Neill said.

He also said that he and the volunteers were “flipped off” by drunk, angry students, “because we were asking them to leave.”

While cleaning up after everyone had left, staff saw many empty beer cans and heard students who had brought coats, clutches, or purses searching for presumably stolen items.

“We need to reassess how we do the Nest so these kinds of things don’t happen,” Neill said, while Harvey mentioned that there’s a possibility of instituting a coat check to eliminate the risk.

Additionally, Harvey said that many of the paintings that hang in DPC were taken down. Though they weren’t damaged, “that’s a huge issue,” Harvey said. “We can’t vandalize these buildings and get away with it.”

An important component of the safety of the Nest is the staffing of the security.

The staff is comprised entirely of student volunteers, and not many students feel compelled to assist with safety.

In the past, when attendance was relatively low, security and staffing was less of an issue. However, with increased crowds, security poses more of a concern.

Artis explained that for an event of that size in the future, she would need at least 20 volunteers.

Such a number is difficult to reach considering there are only three members on the Nest Committee, including Artis.

Harvey, who was the Nest Chair last year, explained that typically there are eight or so students who volunteer to staff the events.

According to Harvey, Artis had a meeting with Safe House, and the town house RAs to devise methods for attracting more student leaders to staff the events.

Harvey also said they’re considering instituting a way to identify staff from the people attending the event.

All Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored events are staffed by students, including the coffeehouses, comedians, lectures, and films.

Only larger events, such as World Carnival (which also has the added concern of being outside), are staffed by adults.

Following the event, Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder and members of the SGA Executive Board decided to suspend all SGA-sponsored dance events for the semester, according to Artis and Neill.

This led to the cancellation of two events hosted by the St. Mary’s Triangle and Rainbow Society and the Black Student Union, arousing negative feedback, according to Artis.

“I had angry people blaming the Nest for all of this, but I did not even know about the suspension until after it had been decided,” she said.

However, she added that the decision was for the best: “The SGA didn’t want to be hosting parties without knowing how to control them and knowing how to prevent what happened at the Nest,” she said, adding that many of the rumors concerning the role the Nest had in the cancellations of other events could have been easily dispelled had anyone bothered to ask.

“All they had to do was ask, but they just got angry instead,” citing many interactions on Facebook having a role in perpetuating misinformation.

Both Neill and Artis were quick to explain that, to their knowledge, the Nest and other SGA sponsored dance events have been temporarily, not permanently, suspended.

Artis is still planning next month’s Nest with hopes that the SGA and Student Activities will have implemented a policy on dance events by that time.

Neill explained that such a policy would likely address the required staffing for having fun events while maintaining security.

On Wednesday, Neill will meet with Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder, Director of Campus Programming senior Jessica Harvey, and Director of Public Safety Christopher Santiago.

At the meeting, Neill hopes to discuss ways to improve the security at the Nest. “We’re going to look at what other schools are doing,” Neill said, “we’re going to get the feedback from SGA, and then we’re going to say ‘What is best for our students and our culture here at St. Mary’s?’” They’re also looking for student input on the situation.

While looking at other schools’ policies, Neill has noticed that though they usually address alcohol, the general security issues, including staff numbers and training, are relevant.

Extra security, in the form of Public Safety, is an option; however, Neill wants the events to remain approachable to students.

Harvey also thinks having Public Safety staff the event might be intimidating, even to students who “have nothing to hide.”

Additionally, she’s not sure that Public Safety has the officers to spare for the Nest. “They don’t have the time or ability to stay here and babysit a program for students the entire time,” she said.

Another possibility is moving the location of the Nest to a larger, more accommodating space, preferably one that is further away from North Campus.

Suggested venues include the Upper Deck and the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center.

Artis said that the Nest for next month is being planned for the Upper Deck, though she is not sure how many students that would accommodate.

Even so, “there needs to be more large venues on campus,” said Artis.

Though she did not know DPC’s standing room capacity, she said that the building was not built to be used as a venue for large student events.

She also pointed out that events being over-capacity is not uncommon, citing the popularity of I <3 Female Orgasm, hosted by Feminists United for Sexual Equality last fall.

Harvey believes that the location of the Nest will be contingent upon the motivation of the attendees. If students legitimately want to go to the Nest, she explains, than a larger venue is a feasible option.

However, if students are attending because “there’s nothing else to do and they’re already intoxicated, then we may try moving it away from the residential areas and putting it in the Upper Deck,”

Harvey said. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way of efficiently determining which is the case, and for now Harvey believes they’ll have to rely on trial and error.

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, Harvey is going to present a resolution to the SGA which will remind students of the purpose of the Nest; she hopes to be able to send out an informative all-student email reiterating the Nest’s intentions.

Ultimately, Neill said the goal is to provide an “alcohol-free, alternative venue for students who don’t want to go to the club scene.”

The Nest will continue at some point, he assured. “We just need to figure out how to have it where the true purpose can continue.”

Vote Focuses on Music Dept. to Form Possible Master’s Program

Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) and Dean of Faculty Larry Vote is stepping down to return to his roots as a music professor, and to help President Joseph Urgo possibly develop a summer Master’s program.

Vote worked as Provost for eight years prior to last semester, when he was given the new title VPAA/Dean of Faculty.

In both positions, Vote oversaw academic programs and relations between faculty and the administration; as Provost under former President Jane Margaret O’Brien, Vote also acted as a mediator between the Vice Presidents and O’Brien.

According to Vote, stepping down from his position as VPAA/Dean of Faculty will not affect his other duties, and he will continue to work closely with the music department (himself returning to the position of Professor of Music) and run the River Concert Series; in fact, it is his talents as a musician and music professor that led Urgo to approach Vote with the idea of creating a master’s program in the arts, connected to the series.

Urgo said, “I can’t think of anyone who has [more] artistic and administrative credibility…I’m just glad that he decided to continue administrative duties.”

Vote, as special assistant to the President, will be in charge of developing the master’s program and gauging interest among faculty and potential students.

Vote said, “I will explore the possibilities for enhancing, in particularly academic ways, our arts programming in the summer.“

He added “This will allow our students and students from other parts of the country to come to [the College] at a very beautiful time of the year to have an intense experience in one of the arts disciplines.”

Urgo said that he hoped this could be the start of a larger master’s program, in which students could take part in highly specialized areas of study which would require residency during the summer, but could be coordinated through email and online courses throughout the rest of the year.

He added that the offerings would, “depend on faculty [interest], but we’d like to start talking about it.”

Urgo said that many other small, liberal arts colleges have similar programs.

He added that having one at St. Mary’s would not only better take advantage of the “gorgeous” surroundings during the summertime, but would also provide new revenue streams for the college. No specific programs, however, have been finalized.

While Vote goes on to focus on developing this new program, a search committee has already been formed to find his replacement.

According to Professor of Psychology Anne Marie Brady, the committee consists of six faculty, five staff, and one student; she is both a faculty representative and the chair.

According to sophomore Annalicia Contee, the board had their first meeting this past Friday to develop a position profile for the new VPAA/Dean of Faculty, and decided what they’re looking for.

She said that the committee was looking for someone with a great deal of experience with a Liberal Arts education, outstanding communication skills, and a Ph.D or equivalent terminal degree.

Brady said that she believes the new VPAA/Dean of Faculty should also work closely with faculty and support faculty development.

According to Vote,  “the new dean should be dedicated to the liberal arts mission, an active scholar, and excellent teacher, one with strong management skills…a good sense of humor, [and have] a good judge of character, patience and vast energy.”

This position profile will be handed over in the coming days to Issacson, Miller (the search firm the College also used to find Urgo and Vice President of Development Maureen Silva), who will begin reaching out to candidates. Brady said that Isaacson, Miller would likely present the committee with a pool of around a dozen candidates, of whom the committee would choose the top eight to interview themselves.

The top three candidates from that pool will then be brought to campus. Brady said that the committee would like to have a recommendation to Urgo and the Board of Trustees (who make the final decision) by commencement, and have a new VPAA/Dean of Faculty ready to take Vote’s place by the end of the semester.

Students Arm Against Undead Tag Apocalypse on Campus

The weekend of Feb. 5 and 6, over 50 zombies on the St. Mary’s campus starved to death as part of Mission Scorched Earth, when humans stayed indoors to deprive zombies of their food; the Friday before, also known as Z-day, 30 zombies surrounded Goodpaster Hall to attack and kill Professor Leah Eller.

The primary reason that the campus isn’t littered with the dead undead: because all those involved in these vicious attacks are College students and professors, playing a widespread game called Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ).

The rules of the games are as follows: Humans (commonly referred to as the Resistance) must have bandanas around an arm or leg, and can use Nerf guns or socks to fend off the Zombies.

By shooting a Zombie or hitting him or her with a sock, the Zombie will be stunned for 15 minutes, which means that the Zombie cannot “zombify” any Humans for that period.

Zombies (or the Horde) must have a bandana around their head at all times, and can only turn Humans into Zombies by tagging them.

Once a Zombie catches a Human, that Human will become a Zombie player within one hour, during which they are neither Zombie nor Human.

If Zombies don’t catch any Humans, or “feed,” within two days of being turned into a Zombie, or their most recent kill, they “starve” and are out of the game.

Thus the objective of the Zombies is to catch all of the Humans and turn everyone into Zombies, while the Humans’ goal is to outlive the Zombies by starving the Zombies to death.

“I really enjoyed being a human,” said junior and HvZ player Ariel Webster, “but once I turned into a zombie, I kind of gave up except to join the Horde for Z-day.”

The game, which began at midnight on Jan. 31, had 135 original players. Only one person is the Original Zombie (or O.Z.) and other players are not made aware of his or her identity.

This year, first year Mary Claire McCarthy was picked as the Original Zombie, and by Feb. 4, Zombies had taken the majority. However, after “Mission Scorched Earth,” the Zombies took a drastic hit with the deaths of 50 of their teammates.

The game is maintained using HVZSource, a database created by Chris Weed and others that keeps track of many schools’ HvZ games.

It keeps records of Humans alive, and Zombie statistics, including number of kills, time turned, time last fed, and time starved.

Also, a Facebook page keeps track of gossip related to the game, or questions about specific rules and conditions of “zombification” (if a Zombie kill was legal or not).

For HVZSource, each Human is given an ID number.  Once “zombified,” they give that number to the Zombie who killed them, who then reports the ID as a kill on the database that keeps track of the 48-hour time limit for the Zombies.

On campus, there are “safe zones,” where both Humans and Zombies are safe from their respective evils. These zones include academic buildings and residence halls, among other locations, so that the game does not interfere with students’ classes, sleeping time, and club participation.

The game represents one of the few activities on campus that can involve all College members, requires no advanced skills or training, is not intensely physical, and does not involve alcohol.

The game was started at Goucher College, and has been run at St. Mary’s by junior Corey Payne for the past few games.

Incredibly, the game has expanded worldwide, with games across the nation and in countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Namibia.

The two sides have elicited mixed reactions. Junior Lauren Smith said, “I suck at being a zombie. I could not get Carolyn Reiner,” whereas junior Reiner said, “Every year, I say I’m not going to play because the stress kills me. But I can’t stay away.”

College Assesses Accessibility, Encourages Awareness

During the semester Lenny Howard, Assistant Vice President for Academic Services, freqently takes a walk on campus to assess the accessibility of campus for individuals with disabilities, an issue that at first glance only seems to affect a limited number of students on campus but in reality is of major importance.

The ramps, handicap buttons, lips from roads to sidewalks, and lifts are all visible to anyone on campus, but despite these features there are still problems with entering buildings, using doors or going to class.

Howard said part of his job was, “trying to make sure everything is accessible.”

He travels around campus with students of all abilities to make sure that students can get around campus as well as to raise awareness of problems with accessibility at St. Mary’s.

For example, there are obvious issues, such as when there are no handicap buttons for doors, there are not elevators in buildings (such as Calvert Hall) or handicap buttons do not function.

There are other issues that many people do not even realize are problems because they are not glaring deficiencies.

One of these issues are the lips from roads to sidewalks for individuals in wheelchairs. These lips are located near handicap parking spots.

The issue here is that the lips usually lead directly into the handicap parking spots; if a car a parked in the handicap parking spot, then an individual in a wheelchair is unable to use the lip to get to or from the road or sidewalk.

Similarly, the gravel in parking lots around campus and especially in Public Safety’s parking lot make it very difficult for any person in a manual (not motorized) wheelchair to get through those areas.

In Montgomery Hall and other buildings around campus, doorways for classrooms and bathrooms are too narrow or the doors open in a way that make it difficult for people with disabilities to use them without help from someone else, or at all.

Emergency exits and wheelchair lifts are also issues on campus. Howard pointed out that emergency exits in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center exit onto grass which could be problematic if it is raining.

Wheelchair lifts, like the lift in Montgomery Hall, are operated by a key and there are directions for how to use the lift once the key is present.

However, neither the location of the key nor who has possession of the key is listed anywhere.

Howard said, “I think we could do a better job of being aware of physical handicaps.”

Dr. Laraine Glidden, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, also teaches the First-Year Seminar “Ability and Disability,” in which students explore the same topics of campus accessibility that Howard does.

Glidden said that accessibility on campus has improved in recent years.

She gave the example of the construction of LEED-certified Goodpaster Hall, which “was built way after the Americans with Disabilities Act was implemented…it should be totally in compliance with it.”

In a paper written by first-year Travers O’Leary for the first-year seminar he wrote, “the buildings are compilable with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but they really are not accessible nor are they accommodating….some problems around campus are simply due to negligence.”

O’Leary pointed out similar issues of narrow hallways, non-functioning elevators and handicap buttons, flowerpots and benches in front of buttons and sinks in the bathrooms with handles that are difficult to turn.

Glidden said, “Sometimes the changes one has to make are simple and cost nothing, it simply is being aware.”

“People need to get the sense that this is everybody’s responsibility as members of a community.”

Howard said that for the majority of the campus population, there are “so many things we take for granted” in regards to how people can get around on College grounds every day.

Much work has been done and is continually being done to improve the campus to make it more accessible.

Howard has a list of projects that are reported to him by students with disabilities who face difficulties, as well as other aware individuals.

Howard works closely with the Physical Plant to repair problems that he finds and that are reported to him.

Buttons have been fixed or moved and there have been many retro-fittings of ramps, lifts, elevators, and lips.

His office also helped improve the accessibility of the Health and Counseling Center.

Students who have any concerns or notice possible accessibility issues should contact Howard to see if they can be improved.

Glidden said that these issues are often overlooked by students who don’t worry as much about accessibiity, but “one group [affected by accessibility on campus] are the temporarily disabled, it could be any one of us…crutches make us much more aware.”

“We all need to take responsibility for making the community as welcoming and accessible as possible,” said Glidden.

Gender Neutral Housing Pilot Program Planned To Take Effect Next Spring

According to the President of the Student Government Associate (SGA), senior Marlena Weiss, the option of gender neutral housing will be a reality at the College.

However, not until the room selection process during the spring semester of 2012 will students be able to choose for the following fall semester.

The campaign for the housing option has been a large part of Weiss’s platform during her time in the SGA.

Specifically, the new plan will allow students to choose to room with another student of the opposite gender.

This is one step further than the current situation, in which students have the option of sharing a suite with mixed genders, but still must room with a person of the same gender.

As of yet, Weiss has heard only positive feedback about the proposal. “I have never talked to anyone who’s against it,” she said, including students who do not currently reside in on-campus housing.

Currently, the only concerns she has heard deal with circumstances for first year students.

Though the choice will be primarily restricted to North Campus, the option would be open for first years, according to Weiss, assuming they take the necessary steps in contacting Residence Life, though that seems unlikely given that most students enter knowing very few other students or have access to North Campus.

Additonally, Weiss said there will be no circumstance under which a student would be forced into a gender neutral housing situation, including study abroad cases.

For example, if a female and male live together in the fall and the female travels abroad in the spring, unless the male student otherwise informs Residence Life, another male student would be assigned as his roommate for the spring semester.

Weiss used winter break to finish putting together the proposal, schedule a meeting with the President’s Council, which she said will be the final step, and talk with all departments to “double-check [that] all our bases are covered.”

With the time until the program’s inception next spring, Residence Life should be able to work out most of the kinks, Weiss said.

However, when the option is actually available, Weiss believes that is when any functional issues with the system will arise and be worked out.

Part of the reason the program won’t start for over a year is because Weiss believes it is important to have time for Residence Life staff and the students to prepare for and make the gender neutral transition.

“I hope that students interested in participating in gender neutral housing will start communicating with [Residence Life] as soon as the school year starts,” she said.

Globalizing Our Education

President Joseph Urgo attended the annual American Association of Colleges and Universities Conference on Jan. 27, along with Dean of the Core Curriculum, Libby Nutt Williams, Assistant Dean of the Core Curriculum, Ruth Feingold, and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Larry Vote.

The conference was held in San Francisco and featured discussion on global education and study abroad programs.

“We…present[ed] on what it’s like to go global as a public honors college, since we are one of few,” Williams said.

“Specifically we presented on the challenges that we think can arise. President Urgo talked about what it means to be a public honors college and his vision of public education at a fine liberal arts institution.

Larry Vote, myself, and Ruth Feingold each took a piece of what we thought were the challenges to students.”

The conference included administration representatives from colleges all over the nation, many of whom also presented on what has been happening nationally and internationally in higher education.

“We talked about the challenge of access,” Williams said. “How do we ensure that global education is something that all of our students have access to financially – looking at airfare incentives and potentially developing more scholarships.”

Williams also stressed the importance of providing students with strong interdisciplinary programs, pointing out that the relationship with James Cook University in Australia has allowed more opportunities for biology majors to study abroad.

The panel also presented on the Core Curriculum’s Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World (ELAW) requirement, which can be satisfied through studying abroad, though students can also participate in an internship, take certain experimental courses, put together directive research or conduct an independent study.

“I spoke about the ways the ELAW requirement ideally will encourage students to study abroad and [how] such study can combine with the rest of their college coursework,” Feingold said, explaining that international study should not be seen merely as an “add-on” or a vacation.

“Students should think…about how such study can contribute to their overall educational and personal goals.”

According to Williams, a major point that the panel made was the idea of  “amalgamation,” meaning that studying abroad should not just be tacked on and should instead blend in with the rest of the student’s education.

This is achieved through advising, helping students think about study abroad opportunities early on, and through reflective essays that ELAW participants are required to submit.

“Americans are a peculiar people,” Feingold said, expressing that many people remain “willfully ignorant of the world around us than almost any other nation” despite the resources to travel.

Feingold also said that she wanted to combat this by having students study abroad, gaining “a specific knowledge of the world beyond our national borders” and “an increased sense of independence and confidence, bred of their realization that they must — and can — manage themselves in very unfamiliar surroundings.”

“It is important for students to understand the scholarly world as well as the world in practice,” Williams said. “Things like study-abroad can transform a person’s perspective on the world, and the world is very global now.”

Alums Advise Prospective Farmers

“Farmers should be respected just like doctors and lawyers,” said Meredith Epstein, ‘08, at a presentation she gave with fellow alum Guy Kilpatric, ‘09, on the successes both have found as part of a growing movement of young farmers in the United States.

As part of “Do It in the Dark” Month, the event was sponsored by the Student Environmental Action Coalition, the Campus Community Farm and EcoHouse on Feb. 3.

Though neither comes from an agricultural background, Kilpatric and Epstein became interested in farming at St. Mary’s as members of the Community Garden Club.

Since graduation, they have spent their time cultivating their careers in sustainable farming.

Most recently, they both served as apprentices at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In the apprenticeship, they learned more about a growing community of “greenhorns,” a name used to describe young adults who are getting progressively more interested in farming.

They explained that the program also gave them a more scientific background when it came to sustainable farming.

Along with the 700 hours of field work in the farm during the six-month long program, apprentices spent 300 hours in the classroom.

“The most important thing is that there are a lot of people who are willing to reach out to others new to farming,” explained Kilpatric.

Epstein and Kilpatric described other opportunities available, including programs that connect young farmers with others who have become too old to farm their land.

Instead of selling their land and risking development, older farmers can connect with younger farmers and keep the land as an agricultural zone.

“I don’t know if the Career Development Center gives advice on how to be a farmer,” said Kilpatric, but he felt it was important that students know of successful young farmers.

“I am getting a salary comparable to any recent college grad with a degree in biology, economics, political science,” he explained.

Epstein added that it is important for young people to know “it is possible to also be successful” as a farmer, no matter their academic background.

Kilpatric majored in English and writes about farming while Epstein had a student-designed major in environmental studies.

“Farming is a lot more than just digging around in the dirt,” said senior Tess Wier, President of the Campus Community Farm, “so it’s good to see how alum with a liberal arts background were able to apply their education to this very important field.”

“It’s exciting to bring home all the knowledge, the experience, exciting to bring back the excitement,” Epstein said, explaining why she and Kilpatric wanted to speak at St. Mary’s about their farming experiences.

“I just wish there had been some way for me to learn what I learned in Santa Cruz here in a liberal arts setting,” she concluded.