Take Back the Night/ Walk a Mile

 

Take Back the Night/ Walk a Mile

 

In a quiet room on one side of campus, a girl gets up to the stand and clears her throat.  She speaks, hesitantly at first, but with more and more confidence with each passing syllable.  Confident not only in the legitimacy of her suffering, but in the need for it to be shared.

 

On the other side of campus, a guy shoves his foot into some pink pumps.  He tries putting his weight on them, wondering if his toe’s really supposed to fold over the other ones like that.

 

Back in DPC, the girl keeps on speaking, telling a story.  Not the story of those who abused her, who violated her, who dehumanized her.  She tells the story of her.  Her pain, her struggles, her defiance, her story.  One by one, other girls follow, telling their own stories, lighting candles, feeling truly safe, secure, and free to open up and share themselves and their pain all at once for what could be the first time in a long while.

 

The guy joins a bunch of similar people in the “Walk a Mile” event on St. Mary’s Campus.  He, along with many others, will walk around campus in women’s shoes, perhaps taking the sagely advice of Atticus Finch a tad too literally.  He walks not just to raise awareness for the struggles of college women, but to become more aware himself.

 

Back in the quiet room, “Take Back the Night” grows in its chorus of girls who’ve been beaten, perhaps even broken, but refuse to surrender.  As the stories grow more and more intense, more raw, more real, the tears of even the most stoic ones in the room begin to fall.  Later, they’ll take their candles and walk around the campus under a pitch-black sky.  Many will look on, and ask what’s going on.  What they’ll see is a group of women united in solidarity, striving to challenge and reclaim the night that has so hurt them in the past.

 

Throughout so many of their stories, the only thing I could think of was how I would’ve given up.  How I would’ve let the night crush me, swallow me into its long great dark.  But when I see these women walking with their candles, sharing their stories, I see nothing but strength.  Awesome, inspiring strength.  If there’s one thing I hope Take Back the Night has achieved, it’s that people have seen this strength, and will be inspired to take some for themselves.  I know I’ve been inspired to.  Perhaps next year we’ll hear more stories, see more candles.  And the night will get that much brighter.

Lax Girls

 

What drives a team?  Is it the thrill of victory, of competition?  Is it the accolades, the fun of the game, the finesse of their craft?

 

St. Mary’s women’s lacrosse team has all of these things.  Its 25-strong dream team is currently 3rd in the CAC, coming off strong from a celebrated victory over Washington College and vengeance for the several one-point losses last year.

 

But is that what drives our women laxers?  Is that what keeps them coming to practice almost every day, what keeps them improving?

 

According to a few members of the team, yes and no.  Of course everybody likes to win.  Everybody likes to be good at what they’re doing.  But according to team member Shelby Newman, perhaps what keeps the team together isn’t the thrill of victory, but the bonds between the women themselves.

 

“I’m on the team because I love the sport,” Newman says, “but I’ve stayed on the team because I love all my teammates.”

 

Every day except for most Sundays, the twenty-five women meet in the locker room at 2:40 for a few hours of hard, relentless work in order to achieve the fantastic results that they do.  It’s only fitting that such high-intensity activity results in equally intense friendships.

 

“Coach told us something before our Mary Washington game,” Newman says.  “That our team is unique because we care more about our teammate standing next to us than we do about ourselves. I think that’s what really defines us.  What embodies us as a team, because we aren’t just a team.”

 

These students represent SMCM at every game, with every pass, every point scored.  Friends, family, and colleagues cheer them on to the victories they deserve and work so hard for.  But it isn’t just a team representing St. Mary’s on the lacrosse field.

 

The Imitation Game Review

“In 1939, newly created British intelligence agency MI6 recruits Cambridge mathematics alumnus Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to crack Nazi codes, including Enigma — which cryptanalysts had thought unbreakable. Turing’s team, including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), analyze Enigma messages while he builds a machine to decipher them. Turing and team finally succeed and become heroes, but in 1952, the quiet genius encounters disgrace when authorities reveal he is gay and send him to prison.”

What I liked:

The performances. Cumberbatch and Knightley kill it in The Imitation Game, which is really no surprise.  They were the most convincing of the entire cast and Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Alan Turning is spot on. Which is what I would say if I knew what Alan Turning was really like in real life when he was alive, but I don’t so I am just going to assume it was spot on.

The Sharp Screenplay. With outstanding performances from Cumberbatch and Knightly, your film already has a lot going for it, but adding fairly sharp dialogue that is pretty consistently funny and entertaining helps a lot.

The Aesthetic.  The Imitation Game looks beautiful. Every shot looks pretty and they did a very good job with costumes and lighting. It is just very pleasant to watch.

What it wants to convey. This is not only the amazing story of Alan Turning and how he changed world and saved millions of lives during World War II. This is also a tragic story of the end of Turnings life. It is when Turning is going through personal struggles that the film is at its best.

What I didn’t like.

It’s standard.  If Alan Turning was such a unique fellow, he deserves something more than a standard biopic. The movie was very well done, but it wasn’t anything different. It can be very sensational and cheesy at times. There is even one of those dumb scenes where Alan Turning is about to get fired and all of his friends say “If you want to fire him you have to fire me too!” and I almost threw up right then and there.  It’s too cliché for someone who is supposed to be as interesting and revolutionary as Alan Turning.  The movie can also get pretty boring at times. Yes, Cumberbatch and Knightley were both very good and convincing, but the rest of the cast and characters were downright forgettable.

Overall, the film was enjoyable and pretty. The main stars rocked it while the background characters were forgettable.  If you can catch this movie at Cole Cinema you will probably have a good time, but you aren’t missing anything spectacular.

Life Is Beautiful Review

“A gentle Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), meets Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a pretty schoolteacher, and wins her over with his charm and humor. Eventually they marry and have a son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini). Their happiness is abruptly halted, however, when Guido and Giosue are separated from Dora and taken to a concentration camp. Determined to shelter his son from the horrors of his surroundings, Guido convinces Giosue that their time in the camp is merely a game.”

What I liked:

It takes two very different genres and does both perfectly. It’s blend of heartwarming comedy and intense drama doesn’t fail. The script is clever and sharp and the comedic timing is brilliant. The pacing and story development is very original and can seem strange at first, but that’s only because Life is Beautiful is like no other movie.  Many scenes start off intense and then become comedic or vice versa. This is a big risk that really works out as everything seems to blend seamlessly.

The performances. Roberto Benigni is perfect in his role as Guido. With an obviously Charlie Chaplin inspired performance, Roberto brings something very different to the table, especially for a film that came out in 1997.  It is no surprise that he took home the Best Actor Oscar that year. The performances of the other characters are never as strong or eye catching as Roberto’s, but they definitely do a good job in supporting him.  I truly cared for all the characters.

The sharp change in tone; The film quickly changes from a light hearted comedy to a powerful and tear jerking tragedy.  I really don’t want to give too much more away about the ending of the film, but the fact that everything is treated in such a light and happy way only makes the horrible things that happen so much more devastating.

What I didn’t like:

There were a few plot holes that I couldn’t help but notice. It took me away from the film a little bit but I don’t feel like they are necessary to fully explain.

Overall, Life is Beautiful is so emotionally powerful because it offers hope and laughter in the face of unflinching horror. The film is so different and unique that it is just a joy to watch. If you have a chance to check this film out in Cole Cinema, you should definitely take it.

Did We Fail Our Students as a Title IX College? How We Are Working to Improve

At the end of March, Dean of Students Leonard Brown sent an email to campus containing the results of the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Student Conduct and Title IX Report. The section entitled ‘Title IX/Sexual Misconduct Report: Fall 2014’, reported the instances of potential sexual misconduct-which includes sex or gender based harassment, sexual assault and rape. The report claims that 37 inquiries were made directly or referred to the Title IX coordinator. Of those 37, 22 were informally resolved, meaning they did not go through the conduct hearing process, but rather, as the report refers to it, ‘through a remedies-based, non-discipline process’, and 13 were ‘unresponsive to the Title IX Coordinator’s requests to assist, involved unknown respondents or third parties, involved anonymous complainants, and/or proceeded as far as possible given the limited information.’ and could not be pursued further with the limited information. One of these complaints was for an instance of on-campus, non-consensual intercourse and 5 more were for on-campus, non-consensual sexual contact. Only one complaint was resolved formally.

When I read these findings, what I am struck by are those 13 unresolved cases, reports that came to no sort of conclusion. At least one them, from the wording of ‘on-campus, non-consensual intercourse’, a rape here at our college, had evaporated because the necessary information to resolve the complaint, formally or informally, couldn’t be attained. It’s a jarring thought that 13 people whose complaints came to Title IX for some kind of help or resolution were not given what they came forward for. I understand these things happen for a variety of reasons that are not all within the office of the Title Ix Coordinator’s control, but this number, coupled with the single formally resolved complaint, the outcry over the failure of the all student mandatory sexual misconduct training, the results of the November 25, 2014 Public Safety forum and a Spring 2014 Climate Assessment Survey of sexual misconduct on campus lead me to believe that we as a college failed to maintain a community where students can receive an education free of the fear of sexual harassment and violence.

Title IX appears so frequently in our vocabulary as students at this school, in emails and conversations about gender quality on campus. But for complete clarity, Title IX is a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, enacted into law by the US Congress. The Title IX portion of the amendments states the following, that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”. This means that people of any gender are entitled to the same educational rights. Sexual misconduct falls under Title IX because it is maintained and generally accepted that facing the threat of or experiencing non-consensual sexual contact or harassment violates that right to an equal education, because living with such a threat is a serious impediment to a person’s quality of life and physical and mental well being, and thus their ability to succeed in an academic environment. I want to mention to that Title IX is meant not just to protect students from sexual violence, but to ensure their rights to non-gender specific regulation in every aspect of their education.

At St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a Title IX coordinator is the appointed overseer of Title IX policy and violations. Their job, as described on the official college website www.smcm.edu, is to ‘oversee all reports of sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence.’ What this means, from my interpretation, is that all cases of sexual misconduct, and the coordination of SMCM’s peer health network and student help network for such cases, ‘SMART’, are supposed to be processed by the Title IX and Deputy Title IX coordinator. This position has been designated so that there is an official channel that is trained and dedicated to handling this kind of misconduct, the nature of which makes reporting intimidating, difficult and often traumatic. This school year, we had a Title IX coordinator for two months before Kristen McGeeney, the former Title IX coordinator left her position. For five months, reports of sexual misconduct have been going through the office of human resources. I have no doubt Human Resources has taken these complaints very seriously and done their utmost to ensure they have been handled properly, and a new title ix coordinator, Michael Dunn, has been appointed. But in having this position remain empty for so long, we deprived ourselves of that singularly dedicated resource, of an officer whose chief responsibility would have been ensuring resolution and making sure students received the proper assistance.

Linked to this is the failure of the attempt at campus-wide sexual misconduct training. In the Fall of 2014, it was decided that before students would be allowed to register for their classes, they must take a mandatory sexual misconduct awareness course online, through a program called CampusClarity, or otherwise attend an in-person session. This option was appealing, because it ensured that every enrolled student for the following semester would have contact with student title ix training. The problem with this training was that there were several questions in the course of this training that polled students for information about their personal conduct. without any option to decline to answer. Because the training was mandatory to enroll, some students answered these questions against their better judgment, opening up the training to an IRB investigation. This mistake was not only a serious violation of student rights, but also appears to have negatively impacted the push for all student sexual conduct training, which has not been discussed as a possibility moving forward since the incident. Incoming sutdents will continue to receive programming on sexual misconduct, but no regular, mandatory training will continue to emphasize the importance of clarity and respect in sexual situations.

Finally, my concern is that is spite of the fact that the Title IX is meant to be the primary designated source for the handling sexual misconduct on campus, a survey from SPring of 2014 suggests that the student body is not aware of how to utilize the Title IX coordinator as a resource. The survey indicated that only 5.18% of students who responded were ‘very likely’ to go to the Title IX Coordinator as a resource and that 45.82% of respondents were unaware of how to contact the Title IX coordinators. At least 6)% of respondents listed that a reason they would be ‘very likely’ not to report sexual misconduct on campus was the fear that reporting sexual misconduct will not solve anything. This report indicates that there may be a significant number of students who do not know how to use our chief officer for the handling of sexual misconduct.

All of these problems, I contend, contribute to an atmosphere of mistrust in how seriously the administrations takes sexual violence against the student body. The effectiveness of our sexual misconduct resources is seriously compromised by the problems within what should be our most dogged resource in the handling of sexual assault and harassment. I’m afraid my conclusion is that the 37 people whose complaints came to the Title IX coordinator may very well have been entitled to more, as well as many others who chose not to report.

In spite of this, I truly do believe our staff is taking these concerns seriously and working to improve. Recently, the administration sent out a sexual misconduct climate survey to be better informed about the student’s impressions of the handling of sexual misconduct on campus. I think this is a vital step in the right direction, and will hopefully give way to major changes that will make reporting more frequent and effective.

To make sure this happens, it is my hope that students will continue to give administrators their feedback, to be persistent in their demands for a better functioning Title IX, for the safety of ourselves and all on this campus we care about.

Famed Watergate Journalist Carl Bernstein to Deliver Bradlee Lecture, April 28

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and famed Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein will deliver the Benjamin Bradlee Distinguished Lecture in Journalism at St. Mary’s College of Maryland on April 28. The lecture will be held in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics & Recreation Center Arena, starting at 7 p.m.  It is free and open to the public.

Carl Bernstein shared a Pulitzer Prize with Bob Woodward for his coverage of the Watergate scandal from 1972 to 1976 for The Washington Post. In the four decades since, Bernstein has continued to build on the theme he and Woodward first explored in the Nixon years — the use and abuse of power: political power, media power, financial power, and spiritual power. His most recent book is the best-selling biography, “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.” He is the author, with Woodward, of “All the President’s Men” and “The Final Days,” and, with Marco Politi, of “His Holiness: John Paul II and the History of Our Time.” He also wrote “Loyalties:  A Son’s Memoir” about his family’s experience in the McCarthy Era.

Bernstein is an on-air contributor for CNN and a contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine. He is currently at work on a dramatic TV series about the United States Congress and on a feature film with director Steven Soderbergh.

The Bradlee Lecture features individuals who have made great contributions to journalism with a focus on democracy. The lecture is endowed by the late Benjamin Bradlee, executive editor of The Washington Post from 1968 to 1991, who oversaw the publication of stories documenting the Watergate scandal. Bradlee served on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2013.

The annual event has brought eminent journalists to the St. Mary’s College campus, including Tom Brokaw, Bob Woodward, Tony Kornheiser, and Ben Bradlee himself. The lecture is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Democracy, a joint initiative of St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Historic St. Mary’s City.

Restaurant Review: Salsas

When I first started going to St. Mary’s as a freshmen, I rarely ventured outside the shadow of the Great Room when it came to food. Stranded without a car and naive enough to think that the only restaurants in the area were chains, the only times I would eat off campus were occasional trips to Chipotle or Panera when I tagged along on a shopping trip. After the painful demise of the Upper Deck and Quiznos (a loss I don’t think the campus has fully recovered from yet) and the shiny alfredo-dripping sheen of the campus food service wore off, I began to venture slightly beyond the main drag in Lexington Park, rife with chain restaurants and traffic from the Naval base. Years of exploration and suggestions from the more adventurous upperclassmen have made me realize that despite being an isolated peninsula, St. Mary’s County has a surprisingly wide range of different ethnic food options and excellent restaurants in all price ranges to offer. One of my favorite finds is Salsas Mexican Cafe in Leonardtown.

Just past the campus of the College of Southern Maryland, Salsas, like so many great hidden gems in the area, sits in an unassuming shopping center. It has a lively and bright atmosphere that stands in stark contrast to the drab concrete of the other shops. The service is always fast and friendly, and they manage to ensure that no one has to wait long for a table.

When I first went to Salsas with a few friends I wasn’t expecting much beyond any run-of-the-mill Mexican restaurant that’s clearly far away from Mexico. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food was delicious and fresh with prices that are simply unbeatable on a college student’s budget. We went for lunch and were greeted by a huge selection of lunch combinations, all under $7.00, that give the perfect amount of food and taste for the price. We didn’t order drinks because of the time of day, but other tables were enjoying large margaritas from their full bar. The rest of the expansive menu offered all of the Mexican favorites for equally great prices.

For students whose only disposable income is often set aside for textbooks and beer, Salsas is a guilt-free choice to mix things up at lunch or dinner.

Playing HVZ: A Way of Life

HVZ has ended, and while those who played slowly decay due to the zombie victory, I decided to reflect on my experience this semester playing and last semester just observing. Last semester I didn’t quite get it. A lot of my friends played, but as a first year I hadn’t really been exposed to anything like it. I didn’t understand the appeal, the paranoia, the risk, even the hunting all that running and strategizing didn’t make much sense to me. But now that I have played HVZ I don’t understand why I ever doubted.

HVZ was fun, way fun, more fun than I had expected. I preferred being a human to being a zombie by miles, though I suppose that incentivizes you to stay alive longer. But as many, including HVZ exec board member Orion Hartmann say, “When the zombies win, everyone wins.” That being said, everyone wins most years, “Zombies always win” Orion says, which makes sense. Numbers are important and zombies always have the numbers. I spoke to Orion who has been on the exec board for about 2.5 years now about why he got involved in HVZ. “It’s fun” he said, in possibly the most simple and extensive answers one could hope for on the topic. “It’s adults playing tag” he added, which I think is the perfect explanation. As a kid I always thought that when I grew up I’d have all the free time I need to play tag, or climb trees as much as I wanted, and although that’s not true, HVZ was a good way for me to get back into that creative and imaginative mindset. For me pretending it’s real is the most fun part, and maybe that’s revealing of my taste in games in general, but it is really fun to escape the day to day routine to stave off a zombie invasion. And that’s not all “It’s a good way to see the campus better” Orion said, and it’s true, I never noticed the pillars when you are coming to campus center from north campus I hardly noticed they were away from the wall before a zombie jumped from behind to attack me. I didn’t even know the hill beside Guam was part of our campus before HVZ.

Overall though the most important, and best part of HVZ is the bond you form with your fellow humans/undead invaders. It is fun and it is communal, and maybe that makes me a nerd or a geek at the very least, but I’d choose a nerd having fun with other nerds than most alternatives. And I highly suggest you do to.

Ask a Therapist (by CAPS)

Ask a Therapist

By: The Counseling and Psychological Services Team

Dear Therapist: I am concerned about a friend who I think may have an eating disorder. She has lost a lot of weight over the past semester and sometimes I think I can hear her throwing up in the bathroom. I have tried to go to meals with her in hopes that she will eat more, but she usually only eats a salad. She also goes to the gym at least twice a day for at least an hour each time. I am worried about my friend but I am afraid that if I confront her she will get mad at me and then she won’t have any support at all. What can I do to help?

Dear Student,

This is an extremely difficult situation. It can be very hard to watch a friend do harm to themselves and feel as though there is nothing that can be done to help. It sounds like your friend may be suffering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders are very serious, so you are right to be concerned.

When left untreated, eating disorders can lead to permanent physical damage ranging from hair loss to heart damage, osteoporosis and the inability to conceive. They can even result in death. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, and a suicide rate that is 50 times higher than that of the general population.  Many people recover from eating disorders when they are treated at an early stage. Unfortunately, the longer eating disorders are left untreated, the more likely they are to cause serious medical and psychiatric damage.

College students – mostly women, but also a growing number of men – do not seek treatment for many reasons. They may be trying to hide their disorder due to shame. They may cope with the disorder by avoiding treatment. They may not even realize that they have an eating disorder or that it is a serious health problem.

Approaching a friend who you suspect has an eating disorder is not an easy task. If you are worried about a friend, but feel as though you can’t talk to them about it yourself, make sure that you alert someone else that you know can help, such as a friend, family member, or campus professional.

If you do feel comfortable approaching your friend, below is a list of some things to keep in mind when talking to them:

  • Avoid approaching them when food is present, they will more than likely already be stressed. Your first approach should be at a non-mealtime situation.
  • Assure them that they are not alone and that you love them and want to help in any way that you can.
  • Encourage them to seek help.
  • Do not comment on their weight or appearance.
  • Do not blame the individual and do not get angry with them.
  • Be patient, expect to be rebuffed, stay calm and focused.
  • Do not take on the role of a therapist – but do encourage them to seek one out, and keep checking in on the progress of this if they agree to do so.

It is important to remember that when you first approach your friend, they may react with anger or they may deny that anything is wrong. Stay calm, nonjudgmental and try and make it clear that you’re not passing judgment, but that you are concerned for their well-being. People suffering from an eating disorder are most likely to recover when they are surrounded by supportive, loving friends and family.

Watching someone you love develop and suffer from an eating disorder can be frightening. You might find that it affects you in a negative way causing you to experience feelings of guilt and confusion. Remember that the most you can do to help someone recover is guide them towards the treatment that they need.

Friends may also benefit from some professional help, too, since coping with a friend who has a serious illness like an eating disorder can be very difficult. Below is a list of local and national resources for you and your friend.

Resources

  • SMCM Counseling and Psychological Services – 240-895-4289
  • The Renfrew Center – 1-800-RENFREW
  • Sheppard Pratt, The Center for Eating Disorders – 410-938-5252
  • nationaleatingdisorders.org
  • anad.org
  • National Eating Disorders Association Helpline – 800-931-2237

 

 

 

 

 

SMCM Tennis Season Comes to an End

April 11 marked the end of the 2014-2015 regular season for both the men and women of the SMCM varsity tennis teams, as both teams suffered a harsh loss at home against Salisbury University.

For the men of SMCM tennis, this loss marked their fourth straight, and with a 2-5 conference record, also marked the end of the season as a whole, as they were unable to qualify for the Capital Athletic Conference Championships. In the fall 2015 semester, the Seahawks will look to current juniors Robert Bishop, Nick Ersoy, Mark Hardesty, and Wyatt Paulishak for leadership and on-court experience. Despite a rough season, SMCM men’s tennis will no doubt seek to recruit to bolster their 8-man roster and replace graduating senior Ricky Schruefer, and will set their sights on the upcoming season.

The larger, more experienced women’s team enjoyed success throughout the 2014-2015 season, boasting a 9-5 overall record and a 4-2 conference record. The season was highlighted by 9-0 shutout wins against Hood College, Frostburg State University, Albright College, Penn State Harrisburg, Southern Virginia University, and Trinity Washington University. In the off-season, coaches Gregg Shedd and Tyler Robinson will look to address the upcoming vacancies upon the departure of seniors Lauren Rost, Shannon Ramsey, and Emily Stumpfig. Their solid conference record has earned them a no. 4 seed in the CAC championships beginning on April 19, as the women of SMCM tennis aim to carry the regular season’s momentum into the post-season.

Despite a conference match loss marking the end of the regular season, both men’s and women’s tennis teams will look to the future, hungry for success and the addition of new talent.