St. Mary's Arboretum Association Beautifies Campus

This semester, the St. Mary’s Arboretum Association has reached a great number of their goals in terms of beautifying the campus through plant life and landscaping.  After helping the college earn an award for Best Maintained Landscape in the Country, the Association continues to improve the aesthetic quality of SMCM.

The St. Mary’s Arboretum Association, which was formed in August 2010, has been responsible for planting an abundance of plants and trees, improving the campus grounds, and spreading knowledge about the SMCM environment through programs and lectures. Founding member of the Association, Lesley Urgo, commented on the progress of the Association and their future plans.  “We’ve planted 53 of the planned 64 trees this semester alone. We’ve planted plenty of shrubs and daffodil bulbs. We’re doing anything we can do to create beauty and to help the environment.” Said Urgo.

The Association has begun looking towards the future by caring for what the campus already has. “It starts with taking care of what we have.  By doing this we’ve had very little damage during storms. “ Said Urgo. Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities, Chip Jackson also expressed his happiness towards the Arboretum’s progress and future goals. “The Arboretum enriches the campus by improving our landscape and our sense of PLACE.  Most of us love our beautiful campus and consider its setting to be a key characteristic of the College. It helps define us as an institution and speaks to our values.” Said Jackson.

In the two years that the Arboretum has been established, student involvement has been a great aid to their efforts. “We have a student body that’s here because they do think it’s beautiful and they contribute by volunteering said Urgo. Students have assisted by planting in locations such as Alumni House and across North Campus.  “The Arboretum could not be successful without the tremendous amount of student involvement. Much of the Arboretum’s work is beyond the staffing capacity of the College grounds department requiring the volunteerism of our students to make progress.” Said Jackson.

Other than students, members of the SMCM community such as professors and the grounds staff have also been the driving force behind the St. Mary’s Arboretum Association. Master Gardener and Grounds staff, Cheryl Krumke spoke excitedly about assisting with the Arboretum. Krumke explained “I love working outside. I take great pride in this college.” Urgo declared, “This is a really unique place where everyone has one goal in mind, to make this a better place.”

Dear Miss Meghan: Fretting Friends Feel Frazzled

Dear Miss Meghan,

I don’t feel it is my place to tell someone they need to get help, but once you’ve been the sounding board for a friend enough times, you can tell they obviously needs more than I can offer.  Is there anything I can say to suggest they talk with someone better equipped than myself without the other person getting hurt?  I can see why these things could be taken personally, but I’ve also seen it turn into a vicious cycle. Or sometimes they attempt help but then fall back into old habits. As concerned friends are we essentially…stuck?

-Fretted Friend

Dear Fretted Friend,

This is a common occurrence on our campus, when friends notice that another friend might benefit from help but don’t know what to do. I see numerous students each semester to come in to talk to a therapist about how to help a friend with an eating disorder, abusive relationship, or is being self-destructive. I would suggest being honest with them and expressing that you don’t feel like you are helping them and think they should talk to a counselor. I often suggest, if they are hesitant to come to therapy, offering to come in with them to walk-in hours or attending a group with them for support. The therapists at Counseling Services do not mind if a caring friend or support sits in with someone who is struggling. There are also more passive ways, including just printing out an email from Counseling Services, doing the online mental health screening with them (like the Cosmo quizzes you used to do with your friends in middle school), or picking up a brochure and placing it somewhere where they may see it.

Despite all the ways you can reach out and show your concern, some people are just not ready or in a place where they can ask for help and you have to respect that (unless they are a harm to themselves, in which case please tell someone). They have the right to say “I’m not going to ask for help.” But, as their friend, you also have the right to set a boundary with them and say I can’t help you anymore unless you start helping yourself. This is a really difficult thing to do, and it may ruin the friendship, but if they refuse to take care of themselves, you still have the right to take care of yourself.

Sincerely wishing for snow,

Miss Meghan

 

These Are Not The Numbers You're Looking For

What is wealth? According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, wealth is defined as “all property that has a money value or an exchangeable value.” Starting with this definition, or one very close to it, we have formulated a wide number of methods for assessing wealth. While helpful to economists, many of these assessments do little to help citizens and policy makers understand the state of our national prosperity. Essentially, our most oft expounded means for determining the health of our nation do little more than cloud our judgment.

Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is one such example of a fairly unhelpful measure of prosperity. GDP is the sum cost of everything that a nation produces over the course of a single year. This system of measurement works very well when dealing with physical production: pounds of coal, feet of steel, gallons of milk. Unfortunately, it is less effective when you start working with less tangible products such as human services and intellectual property.

The biggest problem posed by these products is that their costs are difficult to pin down. Determining the value of a ton of coal is easy: find the running cost of a pound of coal and multiply it by two thousand. Finding the value of something like an education from St. Mary’s is far more difficult. Sure, there are tangible costs such as tuition, housing, text books. But, there are other products that cannot be tabulated: the value of all the academic papers, research, and artwork that the students and faculty produce, for example.

Furthermore, GDP does not distinguish good costs from bad costs. Producing $2 million worth of medicine grows the GDP just as much as producing $2 million worth of land mines. Terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and medical emergencies all give significant boosts to GDP as the costs of repairing their damage flow right back into the GDP calculation. By one estimate from Business Insider, the response to Hurricane Sandy alone could boost the US GDP by up to $240 billion between 2012 and 2013. In The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars, Tinselina tells the story of a company which built appliances and then immediately destroyed them. While wasteful, that company was growing its nation’s GDP.

There are many other measurements that simply do not indicate the actual prosperity of the nation. Right now, the unemployment rate is supposedly hovering around 7.9 percent. But that value does not account for people who are underemployed. Discouraged workers, those who stop looking for work for more than four weeks are also excluded from the count. An adult man whose only employment is working eight hours a week as a crossing guard counts as employed even though there is no conceivable way for that job to provide him any standard of living beyond abject poverty without outside assistance. Estimates vary but there are many economists who argue that, if underemployed and discouraged workers were included, the unemployment rate would be closer to 15 percent.

Per capita income is another nearly meaningless wealth assessment. This term refers to the average annual income of a group of people. Maryland actually has the highest per capita income of any state in the union. This might be surprising considering the extraordinary poverty that thousands of people endure in parts of Baltimore and the Eastern Shore. It becomes less surprising when you realize that the per capita income of 99 people living at the poverty line and one person who earns one million dollars per year is around $20,000 a year; nearly double the poverty rate. In this way, a handful of wealthy people at the top can skew assessments so that a region seems far more prosperous than it is.

My point is that wealth and employment does not translate into prosperity. The figures I have discussed are of enormous value to economists and financial institutions but should not play such a large role in the development of policy. My problem with our obsession over these numbers, like the unemployment rate, is that they fail to illustrate anything tangible about the nation’s health. There was nearly no unemployment during the Second World War, that does not mean that the country was prosperous. I would argue, quite the contrary, most people were employed in factories, on farms, or as soldiers. Important goods and services were being rationed. Worker safety and employment rights were weak, thus allowing the poverty rate to stay high in spite of job growth. On top of all of that, hundreds of men were being killed in battle every day. And yet, we still see our leaders referring to that time period as something to aspire to because the unemployment rate was low and the GDP growth rate was high.

Many people, including politicians and media personalities, act as though economic and job growth is the key to producing American prosperity. This is a muddling of the truth. The real way to improve our nation is to physically do so. How many people have access to stable housing, food, medicine, education – and what quality of each? Equally as important, how much free time are they left with once they’ve obtained these things? Those are the numbers we should focus on improving. Let me stop to say that I am not specifically advocating welfare or social programs here. Most any solutions, whether they stem from capitalism, socialism, communism, or any other ideology are totally acceptable to me so long as they work.

There is also the issue of utility. Many politicians are resistant to cut defense projects because doing so would kill jobs. They are correct, but only if you cut spending stupidly. There are two types of defense spending. The first and smaller portion pays for the salaries of current personnel and the maintenance of existing equipment. For my part, I think that portion should be left alone or maybe even increased. The larger portion goes to the defense industry to pay for research programs and production contracts.

Here is the issue: designing and building military hardware, a tank for example, produces nothing. This is because a tank serves no economic purpose. Supporters of such programs are quick to argue two points. First, the money that goes into producing the tank is paid to workers , engineers and their companies who then pay the money back into the economy. Second, the research that goes into these programs often produces new technologies that can be applied to consumer products and spark new industries. Both statements are true. However, I would argue in response: why build a tank? Why not spend the same amount of money on the same people but have them design and build new industrial or construction vehicles. Even the people who design ammunition could be reallocated to working on mining and landscaping explosives. Economically, everything turns out the same or better. The contractors are still employed, the research still occurs and is even more likely to produce results for consumers, and the physical product is a useful tool instead of an implement of wasteful destruction.

I’m not trying to be naïve or overly simplistic. I realize that the modern global economy is bafflingly complicated and that tiny changes in seemingly small numbers can have huge ramifications. All I ask is that we, as individual citizens, resist being misled by statistics. The next time a politician says that they plan to reduce the unemployment rate or promote economic growth, don’t just ask how, ask why. What will that do for you, personally? Be a little selfish about this. Where will these jobs be available? More importantly, what kind of jobs will they be? Creating 100,000 jobs by building a pipeline in the Midwest may lower the unemployment rate but it certainly won’t help people in other states. In addition, most of those jobs are neither high-paying nor permanent and will provide slim and short-lived benefits to the people who work them. We have to start paying more attention to the realities of life and let go of this obsession with aggregate statistics.

Do you have a political, economic or public policy question that you’d like answered? Email your question to japosoap@gmail.com and it might be featured with a response in a future issue of The Point News.

Botzman to Leave SMCM

Tom Botzman, Vice President for Business and Finance for nine years at St. Mary’s, is leaving his position in July to become the 13th President of Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania.

“I am very excited and honored to be selected as the next president of Misericordia University, which has an impressive reputation for linking the liberal arts and sciences to a career-oriented education,” Botzman said in a press release on the College’s website.

Botzman graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio with a B.S. in engineering. He earned his M.A. in economics and his Ph.D. in business administration from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

At St. Mary’s, Botzman has helped with the college’s institutional expansion, aiding in the construction of such complexes as the River Center, Glendenning, Goodpaster Hall, and the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center.

Botzman was also integral in keeping the College afloat during the financial collapse in 2008. “I’m really proud that when the world fell apart and everybody else had difficulty getting through it…we found ways to keep everybody working.”

President Urgo  expressed his congratulations to Botzman, though he said he is unsurprised that another college would want to hire him. “We’re all very excited for Tom, very proud of him. It doesn’t surprise me that someone would see the talent in him and know that he’s really ready to take the reins of an institution and be the leader of all things.”

Botzman has enjoyed his time at St. Mary’s, expressing particular pleasure at working with the students, staff, and faculty at the College. “I think I’m proudest most just of being able to work with really good people,” Botzman said. “And for the students and for all the things you get to do here, and being a part of that through good times and no good times for the world – and being able to keep that going.” The study abroad program has also thrived under Botzman, jumping from single digit percentages to around 50 percent, and over half of the students attend graduate school. “That’s the best part of it. That’s why I like being in higher ed.”

Admissions Seeks Applicant Increase

St. Mary’s admissions staff has faced some serious challenges over the past few years, and is looking for ways to increase student enrollment and college income. Applicants have been dropping off, with a 17 percent drop from 2011-2012. According to Dean of Admissions and Financial aid Pat Goldsmith, “Colleges are often judged by how selective they are. If a place is really popular, and gets lots of applications, people assume it must be a great place. This may be an erroneous conclusion, but lots of folks still reason this way.” For comparison, Harvard is at 5 percent, and a school like ours should hover at 50 percent or less. As a tuition driven institution, around 70 percent of funds come from student tuition, and less applicants hurts that fund.
During a presentation surrounding Admissions, Dean Goldsmith offered a few reasons for this drop. They began to use the Common App, an easier college application, in the hopes of attracting students, but it may have added to confusion, since last year they were using that as well as their own unique St. Mary’s application. Staff was also short, and could not visit as many schools as usual.
New goals for the 2012-13 year include increasing the number of applicants and out of state enrollment (out of state pays more, more funds for college), and creating new initiatives to attract students. One of those is the Common App, which simplifies the application process, as many current students may remember. They are also buying names of students from the College Board who took the PSAT’s and want colleges to contact them. Another goal is to widen the funnel, so to speak, of places to recruit students. More National Merit students are also desired as well as more students in the tops of their classes.
Financial aid is a serious issue for the college. Many students may not otherwise be able to attend the college without merit or need based aid. President Urgo would like to focus on need based aid more, and currently the college has gone from 25 percent need and 75 percent merit to an even 50/50 split. St. Mary’s evaluates financial admissions only after looking at all other factors for a student, and in this way they can plan their incoming class better. Jean Fetter, Dean of Admissions at Stanford, concluded the presentation about the process, calling it “an imperfect art and a constant balancing act.”
A few students were in attendance, but the majority were either professors or other adults. According to one Professor, Bob Paul, “I’ve been concerned about admissions ever since I came, it touches every facet of the college, and I want polices to give us the best students possible.”

Choose Your Own Adventuravaganza

Take One! Improv dazzled students in Cole Cinema on Friday, Nov. 30 at 10 p.m. with their final event of the year, the “Choose Your Own Adventuravaganza Improv Show.”

The show started like any other, each member of the troop getting up on stage and introducing themselves with a quick quip; this time, however, jokes were made surrounding the quickly approaching winter break.

A special theme to the night arose with the explanation of the “Choose Your Own Adventuravaganza” aspect of the show. Junior and President of improv Ben Israel explained, “I’m going to be the story-teller, and I’m going to tell the magnificent tale of our cast of characters. Except [the audience is] going to get to take part in it.”

After prompted, the audience shouted out various locations for the story to take place, from Narnia, to an insane asylum, to the final option of the Titanic after it had been sunk.

The cast of characters handled this bizarre location with grace, starring as characters of their own imaginations – sophomore Jacob Taylor as Titanic’s captain, junior Kevin Koeser as the Captain’s young son, sophomore Michael Gill as a man who had survived the sinking by floating on a door, sophomore Delia Titzell as an inebriated stowaway. First-year Windy Vorwick portrayed an Anglerfish by the name of Jill, sophomore Dylan Hadfield took on the role of a blood thirsty and terrifying shark, and sophomore Eden Anbinder as the biggest and best shark hunter in the world.

With the power of applause, the audience got to choose between two scenarios possible in the story, sending the characters in one direction or another.

There were highs and lows to the journeys of these shipwreck survivors. The cast brought the audience on a journey between two fish plotting to kill, and four men on a lifeboat attempting to survive, only to be injured both by the fire they attempted to create, marooned on the iceburg – which was actually a ship is disguise – that sunk the Titanic, and the shark that ate the leg of the captain and ultimately took his life. A bittersweet ending came when the partnership between the shark and the anglerfish ended when the captain’s death was avenged. All of this was interspersed with comedy that sent the audience into fits of laughter, leaving them hanging for more.

With the audience screaming in favor of befriending poor Jill the Anglerfish instead of letting her succumb to the hungry shipwreck survivors, the story ended on a high note, despite the casualties of two beloved characters.

As could be presumed by the bountiful laughter and cheering from the audience during the show, nothing but positive reviews streamed from the crowded cinema after the show ended.

First-year Taylor Foley was highly impressed. “I loved the whole story. They do such a good job of thinking on their feet. It was my first show, and I really want to see them next semester.”

First Phase of Campus Master Plan Complete

On Monday, Nov. 26, Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray released Phase I of the Campus Master Plan to the St. Mary’s community, outlining areas of campus that are currently targets for improvement or change over the next ten to 15 years.

The document, sent via email to the entire campus, includes the process for how the Master Plan was started in March 2012, where the plan now stands after completion of the first phase, and plans to begin the second phase next semester.

The plan was started by gathering community input and consulting architectural companies like Ayers Saint Gross and Michael Vergason Landscape Architects to hold forums among community members, assess the current campus resources through a walking tour, and meet with College departments. During the first months of this semester, the Planning and Facilities staff then met with 15 academic departments to discuss spatial issues within instructional buildings, according to the document.

According to Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities Chip Jackson, the biggest academic area of concern on campus is Montgomery Hall, which houses the Fine Arts, Art History, English, Music, and the Theater, Film and Media Studies departments.

“We knew going in that from a space standpoint, our programs in the fine and performing arts have the biggest challenges in terms of adequate space to provide their academic programs,” said Jackson. He also mentioned that student enrollment patterns within the departments increased the need for more space and can no longer provide adequately for the desired program quality.

Jackson also mentioned that recently heightened enrollment in the science departments have raised concerns about space in buildings like Schaefer Hall and Goodpaster Hall. Three new faculty lines have already been created within the biology, chemistry, and mathematics departments for fall 2013, so “if enrollments go up and we are adding faculty lines, that automatically increases the need for space,” said Jackson.

Aside from the main academic concerns, other projects brought up in the Master Plan document were the need for a new auditorium, more adequate study space within Kent Hall (which will be addressed in the new Anne Arundel Hall project), the need for better faculty office space throughout campus, the implementation of a day care, renovations to the Prince George, Caroline, Dorchester, and Queen Anne residence halls, more recreational green space, the construction of an athletic turf field, renovations or relocation of the Admissions Office, improvements to Ethel Chance Hall (Health and Counseling Center), and improvements to the Public Safety facilities.

Also according to President Joe Urgo, one of the biggest concerns is the lack of study space on North Campus. “A lot of student feedback we got expressed the need for a 24/7 student hub to be opened on North Campus. The logistics, like whether the center would serve food, is something to be addressed in phase two of the plan,” he said.

According to Jackson, not only were the current needs of the campus taken into consideration during the first phase’s construction, but also the College’s academic Strategic Plan. The five-year strategic plan, headed by Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beth Rushing, will focus on the College’s academic goals and seek to enhance programs based on the College’s mission and community input.

“The strategic plan has to drive everything,” said Jackson. “And as that plan gets more solidly defined, we then will be in a good position to use the work we’ve done [on the Master Plan] as a foundation to be able then to respond to the strategic plan initiatives properly.”

Phase II of the Master Plan will begin in January, according to Jackson. “Phase one is defining what your problems are, and phase two is deciding how to approach solving those problems,” he said.

Jackson also noted that several groups on campus such as the SGA, Faculty Senate, a Master Planning Task Force, and the Board of Trustees Buildings and Grounds Committee have already been and will continue to be heavily involved in the plan.

Mowbray also presented the plan to the Student Government Association (SGA) on Nov. 27, familiarizing the student body with the plan’s first phase and urging student input next semester, when a series of workshops will be hosted to review and progress the plan further.

“All constituencies on campus need to be involved [in phase two],” said Urgo. “The more feedback we get, the better priorities we can set for what needs to be done.”

Meatless Mondays Passes Unanimously

On Tuesday Nov. 27, the Student Government passed a resolution supporting the implementation of Meatless Mondays in the Great Room. The resolution passed unanimously, with one abstention. President Joe Urgo praised the SGA’s democratic process and said that the real victory was “having students work for progressive change in their community.”

The meeting drew an enormous crowd to the Goodpaster lecture hall. This crowd consisted of students in favor of and against the resolution as well as those who fell in the middle of the debate. Over the course of the hour long speak out, students brought up a huge number of arguments and rationales pertaining to Meatless Mondays. Speak out sessions are not, strictly speaking, supposed to turn into open debates. Students are only allowed to speak once and are dissuaded from directly responding to previous statements. None the less, a clear debate structure began to emerge. The large number of students enabled supporters and the opposition to run a kind of back and forth as an untapped speaker was almost always available whenever a point of contention came up. To be clear, there was no overarching leadership on either side which coordinated this system; it simply emerged naturally.

There were several major points that came up in over the course of the evening. First and foremost was the environmental and economic argument. As a matter of fact, meat production consumes enormous resources and is widely recognized as a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. Supporters argued that these costs were enough to warrant a concerted effort to reduce meat consumption.

Opposing students responded by questioning the effect that a small college, such as Saint Mary’s, could possibly have on reducing meat production. Junior Rachel Beebe, carried the response to these assertions by citing the numerous environmental impact statistics that she had gathered about the college for her presentation at the meat sustainability forum three weeks ago. Most notable of these statistics was the estimated 90-some tons of greenhouse gas produced from college meat consumption. This sparked an argument over whether the cost to meat eaters outweighed the potential environmental benefits.

The cost being referred to had two big components. First was the nutritional cost to omnivorous students who depend on meat for their diet. As soon as this point emerged, supporters fired back with references to studies indicating the nutritional viability of vegetarian diets. To reinforce this point, a number of vegetarian and vegan students reminded the assembly that they had each foregone meat for many years and suffered no adverse health effects as a result.

The second cost that was addressed was the fairness of forcing people who had paid for meal plans to give up their right to meat. Opposing students cited the cost of Great Room meal plans and made the case that they would, effectively, be deprived of three meals a week should the resolution pass. This argument prompted vehement responses from supporters who tried to dispel the idea that meat is guaranteed by the Great Room meal plan. Rather, the meal plan promises to provide a nutritionally balanced diet. They argued that, since the Food and Drug Administration has stated that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally balanced, meat was not a necessary part of the plan.

In addition to those who supported and opposed the Meatless Mondays proposal in its entirety, there were a number of students who occupied the varied middle ground. One such student argued that the proposal was a good idea but that the SGA lacked the authority to pass such a motion. Another student brought up the issue that the lack of meat might force students to drive off campus for meals, thereby retarding any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by putting more cars on the road.

Junior Alex Roca spoke out about how “excessive resource consumption steals from future generations.” He was also the first of many speakers to advocate that, if passed, Meatless Mondays be put on a trial basis in order to gauge its effectiveness. His suggestion was eventually included and passed with the resolution. A number of other students brought up the idea that the goals of Meatless Mondays could be accomplished by reducing meat in other ways. One student suggested a low meat week that would cut the equivalent of one day of meat out of an entire week. Others seized on the idea of reducing meat options in the Great Room instead of eliminating them completely.

Sophomore Caroline Senator Serra Erbas said that the resolution was “very controversial and caused a great deal of debate among the senators.” In the end, the student discussion resulted in a number of crucial changes to the resolution. Despite the lack of a name change, the actual resolution is more aptly referred to as Low-Meat Mondays. Normal, omnivorous, options will still be available at the Grab-n-Go and the Upper Deck. In addition, the Great Room will still serve luncheon meats in its deli line. The program has been approved on a trial basis and, if implemented, the SGA will review its effectiveness as well as student response before supporting it as permanent menu feature.

In an interview several weeks before the vote, Ashok Chandwaney predicted that “even if [Meatless Mondays] is passed by the SGA, implementation will depend upon Bon Appetit.” He was correct in that the, now passed, resolution does not ensure that Meatless Mondays will, in fact, become a reality. There are still a number of hurdles that the resolution needs to go through before being implemented. Most importantly, the administration needs to decide on course of action for the program.

Dean of Students Roberto Ifill has said that “there are a great many issues, including costs and logistics, which the administration will have to work through if the [SGA] resolution is to be implemented.” Also, Bon Appetit will have to agree to formulate new menus, if they are requested. However, a successful SGA resolution was a prerequisite to both of those events and so represents a large step forward for the program.

Students and Faculty Stage Reading of "8" in St. Mary's Hall

On Tuesday, Nov. 13 in St. Mary’s Hall, a cast of St. Mary’s College faculty and students staged a reading of the play “8.”

The play details the events surrounding the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, otherwise known as Proposition 8. The script is made up of the transcripts from the actual trial in an effort to demystify what happened in the courtroom and broadcast to the world what couldn’t be silenced: sexual discrimination could not be ruled constitutional in a court of law.

On election day in 2008, the state of California rewrote their state constitution and added Proposition 8, an amendment that banned marriage for gay and lesbian couples. In response, Sandy Stier & Kristin Perry, and Jeff Zarrillo & Paul Katami, two homosexual couples, filed a suit against the proposition in Federal Court. They were represented by the two lawyers Ted Olsen and David Boies, who are most famous for represnting opposing sides of Bush v. Gore . Olsen and Boies argued for the trial to be broadcast live, but the opponents of marriage equality filed an emergency appeal to block the broadcast. To ensure that the public got the right to see the historic proceedings, the famed Dustin Lance Black wrote the play to chronicle the trial.

The play begins on June 16, 2010 during the closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

The play at St. Mary’s was originally  set to be staged on Tuesday, Oct. 30, but it had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy. Despite the date change and a few cast changes due to scheduling conflicts, the reading was held for a completely packed auditorium. The stage was set simply, with chairs on either side of a judge’s podium to represent either side of a courtroom and a screen that was used to show pro-Prop. 8 ads used during the election throughout the performance.

The event was sponsored by Political Science Professor Michael Cain and Art History Associate Professor Joe Lucchesi from the Center for the Study of Democracy. Lucchesi, who played David Boies, produced the show and Jonathan Wagner, ‘12, directed the show. In a short introduction before the show, Cain said that “8” was “an extraordinary event to listen and learn about marriage equality…this is a unifying event for our college.”

Cain discussed this historically significant time for the current generation. He said that Maryland’s Question 6, which was a referendum on the 2012 ballot that allowed same-sex marriage in the state, was a “truly remarkable change for the community, Maryland, and the country.” The Center had originally planned to have Senator Richard Madaleno, a strong proponent for same-sex marriage, in attendance but he wasn’t able to attend because of date change. “This is still an historic evening,” Cain said, “and  an historic week. But there is still work to be done.”

Associate Professor of English Beth Charlebois was asked by Lucchesi to help with some of the planning and organization of the event, as well as read her part as Kris Perry.

“I was thrilled to be asked,” said Charlebois, “especially after reading the play which I found very compelling and powerful.” She said that the cast had never read through the play in its entirety as a full cast because of the size of the group and the difficulty of scheduling, but they were able to have a all-day workshop on the Saturday before the original date of the show. “It was incredibly powerful and moving for me to experience the whole play with everyone present in front of an audience of the College community,” she said.

The scheduling complications that arose after Hurricane Sandy significantly changed the feeling surrounding the play, considering its closeness to the election results.

“The play’s relevance to the Maryland election on Question 6 clearly made the play resonate with contemporary politics,” Charlebois said. “Even doing the show after the election…clarified some of the larger issues that need to be addressed on a national level about the status and rights of same-sex couples.”

After the show, a talkback with the Center addressed Question 6 and discussed what happened in Maryland statistically on election night.

“Playing the part of Kris Perry gave me a vivid sense of  how much is at stake in this debate not only for same-sex couples but for their children and families,” Charlebois said. “It brought together faculty, students, and staff, gay and straight, together in a way that I will always remember.”

Dance Club Dances Like It's the End of the World

The annual Dance Show hosted by the Theater Department had performances that ran Wednesday through Saturday that showcased the hard work of the Hip Hop Class and Dance Club in the Bruce Davis Theater. All of seats were filled before the show even started and an excited chatter permeated the air. Soon the crowd quieted down as the lights dimmed and the first act came out to break the ice.

The head of Dance Club senior Asia McNeil danced with her club mates to Ke$ha’s “Die Young” and “So Good” by B.o.B. Each performance was choreographed by a different member of the Dance Club and varied from Rihanna to Skrillex and the Sherlock Holmes theme song. Senior Rakeena Banks performed in two acts and thought “the show went really well. There was a lot of hard work put into it, everyone meeting for practice week after week so they could learn their dance and to create this great show! Everyone did a great job, and the choreographs had great ideas. My favorite part had to have been ALL the dances, just watching everyone in their element, it was beautiful!”

Before the break between Act One and Act Two, Professor Leonard Cruz performed his own solo piece to an English Carol named the Holly and the Ivy. Cruz showed how energetic and enthusiastic a dancer he was through the free form of his expression. Cruz commented on how he thought the event went and said, “I believe that the SMCM community was very responsive to the Dance Club’s performances. It was also nice to see many families supporting the dancers in the concert.I thought the two alumni pieces were quite amazing and the students performed these pieces with charisma.” There was an intermission halfway through performances and the crowd was abuzz with energy. When the show resumed, the lights again went out and we were treated to Hans Zimmer’s ‘Discombobulate’ from the movie Sherlock Holmes. As the night wore on, the performances continued in their excellence and precision.

While the dancers were on stage, behind the scenes students like senior Ruth-Ann Lani Tyson who manned the technical crew were making things run smoothly. Their job is “make sure all of the dancers that are usually dispersed throughout Monty are on stage in time to perform. It’s pretty hectic the first few rounds but after we get the hang of it things run smoothly. It feels great to be a part of one of the biggest events on campus,” said Tyson. The tech crew used walkie-talkies to communicate and make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. Since the dance show is so highly regarded on campus, Tyson emphasized that “it’s imperative to have everything run smoothly”.

The show was packed Friday and Saturday, with people trying to squeeze in wherever they could in the theater. All involved in the performances strived to bring the best possible show they could, as McNeil commented on their “hard work and flexibility” and how “the club and the people in it meant the world to her.”

This year’s Dance Show was especially well-received by the campus and was certainly a stellar showcase of SMCM talent.