Women’s Lacrosse Wins Big on Senior Day

The St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) women’s lacrosse team has been playing some of their best lacrosse of the year as of late. In fact the month of April has been tremendous for the Seahawks. They have won three out of four games (as of April 15) and their sole loss was to the seventh best team in the nation, York College.

On April 15, the Seahawks defeated Frostburg State University 19-5 for their senior game. SMCM recognized seniors Maribeth Anderson (defense), Gabby Beese (attacker), Lacey Brown (attacker), and Megan Cannon (midfielder). During their time at SMCM, these seniors helped guide the program to the 2016 NCAA tournament, a 2016 conference title game, and an overall record of 45-25.

On their senior day, Anderson tallied one assist, Beese added two goals and four assists, Brown added one goal and one assist and Cannon scored twice with one assist and a team high four ground balls. As a result, all four seniors ended up getting points in the team’s big win over Frostburg, according to smcmathletics.com.

Sophomore midfielder Kate Bartholomew led the team in scoring in the game, finishing with four goals on the day. Sophomore midfielders Jodi Credit and Shannon Kirk also each contributed two goals in the victory.

In goal, junior Emma Brown collected her seventh win of the year while stopping eight out of the eleven shots she faced.

Earlier in April, the Seahawks played one of their most exciting games of the year, against Marymount University. SMCM opened up this game with a a 4-1 lead at just over the halfway point in the first half. The Seahawks held on to an 8-5 lead at half time. However, Marymount went on a 4-1 run of their own to tie the game at nine a piece with twenty minutes left in the game. After Marymount took a 12-10 lead with just over ten minutes remaining, both Bartholomew and Credit found the back of the net to tie the game. The score remained tied at the end of regulation, so the two teams went into overtime. Cannon then scored the game winner, the fourth of her career, just over fifty seconds into the extra period, according to smcmathletics.com.

The Seahawks followed up this stunning win just two days later with a 20-4 victory against Southern Virginia University (SVU). In the SVU match, Lacey Brown tallied her 100th career point as a Seahawk as she scored two goals and had two assists. After taking an early 6-0 lead, SMCM never stopped the momentum. Bartholomew finished with five goals, her career best, and first year attacker Sophia Mense added three goals and three assists in her first collegiate match, according to smcmathletics.com.

Following their match against Washington College on April 16, the Seahawks will take on Wesley College (April 18) and Salisbury University (April 25) to close out the season. Currently they sit at a 7-7 record, with a 3-3 record in conference (as of April 15). Victories in these final two Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) matches will put SMCM in a strong position heading into the conference tournament.

Tennis Season Wraps Up

After beginning their season this past fall, the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) men’s and women’s tennis teams are heading into their final match of the season on April 19. Both teams will travel to Pikesville, MD to take on Stevenson University. After this match, the SMCM tennis players will switch gears towards the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) championships.

On March 24, both SMCM squads held their senior day against Penn State Harrisburg. They also both came away with impressive 9-0 wins. For the women’s team, Melissa Barall, Savannah Bergen, Chelsea English, Cristal Garcia-Lara, and Raziela Manangan were all honored for their time playing at SMCM. Once the match began it was nothing but victories for the Seahawks. The teams of Barall and English, Bergen and first year Alden Grosh, and Garcia-Lara and Manangan all won their respective doubles matches. To finish up the day for the women’s team, all six singles matches were won by the Seahawks as well, according to smcmathletics.com.

The men’s tennis team also had quite a successful senior day. SMCM recognized seniors James Loftis, Connor McKissick, and Kyle Van Winter prior to the match. Sophomores Ethan Garren and Jon Gorel led the way as the number one doubles pairs, defeating their opponents eight to five. McKissick and Van Winter followed suit with a 8-3 victory of their own. Loftis and sophomore Ron Stith then wrapped up doubles play with an 8-1 win. All six single matches were once again swept by the Seahawks, according to smcmathletics.com.

On April 7 the Seahawks had another big day, this time against Frostburg State University. Once again, Garren and Gorel were victorious in their number one doubles match and McKissick and Van Winter were victorious in their number two doubles match. This time for the Seahawks, junior Jacob Bartholomew and Stith rounded out doubles play with another victory. Once again, SMCM swept singles competition to finish with another 9-0 win.

The women’s team came away with an 8-1 victory of their own against Frostburg. Barall and English claimed victory in number one doubles. They were followed by Bergen and Manangan and then sophomore Claire Bodine and Alden Grosh who won number two and number three doubles respectively. SMCM went on to win five out of six singles matches to conclude a very successful day, according to smcmathletics.com.

Heading into their final match on the year, the SMCM men’s team sits at a 5-9 record overall and a 2-5 record in conference. The women’s team is at 7-6 overall, while they are 2-4 in conference (April 15 match not included).

 

News-in-brief: Seniors Receive Funding for SMP

Two students in the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) biology department recently got individual funding for their research on the fast-acting antidepressant L-655,708.

Seniors Marilyn Stewart, a biology major, and Max Madden, a double major in biochemistry and psychology, received funding through the scientific research honor society Sigma Xi and the international psychology honor society Psi Chi, respectively, according to the SMCM Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

The two students are conducting the antidepressant research, which will be used for their St. Mary’s Projects, with Psychology Professor Aileen Bailey.

According to SMCM Newsroom, “Stewart’s grant will be used to support immunohistochemistry and Madden’s grant will be used to support drug delivery.”

The students are using rats as their test subjects, researching the effects of the anti-depressant on synapse strength within neurons in the brain. The study was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Steyert is hopeful that L-655,708 may be suitable for human use in the future, given the rapid neurological changes seen in rat test subjects.

Following their graduation, both students intend to pursue graduate programs to further their education.

News-in-brief: Crime Report Update

On March 19, 2018, President Jordan sent an all-student email updating campus community members on the case facts from the armed robbery incident which occurred in February. The incident in question was an armed robbery carried out by four students on a fifth student. All students involved in the incident are banned from returning to campus.

At the time of the incident, the College sent a safety update stating that there had been a report of a handgun on campus. The March 19 update indicated that the weapon used in the robbery was actually a BB gun bearing the likeness to a real gun, which is still in violation of the College’s Code of Conduct.

The Sheriff’s Office uncovered and removed the BB gun in the reported location on campus.

The email also stated that “one of the four suspects was charged with two misdemeanors and released on personal recognizance awaiting trial.

Two suspects remain in police custody, facing charges in the St. Mary’s County Circuit Court. The fourth suspect had a preliminary hearing on March 14, was charged with two misdemeanors, and released on personal recognizance awaiting trial.”

Is Solomon Really a Seahawk?

St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) students have been represented by the Seahawk mascot since 1984. The seahawk costume currently in use was unveiled and named Solomon in 2008. But, according to multiple people with expertise in bird anatomy, Solomon is not, in fact, a seahawk.

The Empath, a previous iteration of The Point News (TPN), reported in 1984 that the mascot was chosen by “students, faculty and staff [who] selected ‘Seahawks’ with 46 [percent] of the total vote over ‘Saints’ which was a distant second with 18 [percent] of the vote.”

In 1994, according to an SMCM archival photo and a TPN article, the mascot was named “CJ.” The costume used at that time was a blue bird with a white head and orange feet. In 2008, CJ was replaced with Solomon. The costume, according to SMCM Athletics, was purchased in part through a gift from the class of 2008 who donated money as their senior class gift.

The SMCM Seahawks are in a similar situation to the Seattle Seahawks. “What is a seahawk? Actually, there is no such thing,” the National Audubon Society said. “No ornithologist would refer to them as such … Some people, though, consider ‘sea hawks’ to be a nickname for ospreys.”

“Ospreys are sometimes called sea hawks,” Professor of Biology and ornithology expert Jordan Price told TPN. “They are more often called ‘fish hawks.’” Price seemingly agreed that Solomon was supposed to represent an osprey. But, he conceded, if the more commonly accepted name was used it “wouldn’t have been as popular as a school nickname: The St. Mary’s Fish Hawks.”

“An osprey is characterized as having a brown back and wings with a white underbelly. They have a brown stripe that goes across the eye which is yellow,” according to Lizzie Wenker, ‘17, a biology graduate from SMCM who currently works at the National Zoological Park’s nutritional lab. “Their beak is black and hooked and legs are covered in white feathers which Solomon doesn’t have.”

Solomon the Seahawk usually wears a yellow jersey. In photographs of him without his uniform, it is evident that his back, wings and underbelly are all a dark shade of navy blue, close to black. Solomon does not match the description Wenker gave of an osprey.   

Photo courtesy of SMCM Athletics.

Todd Forsgren, the author of “Ornithological Photographs,” said that “the only local species Solomon resembles is a Bald Eagle.” Price agreed, stating that “Solomon resembles a sea eagle more than an osprey,” but Forsgren added the only sea eagle in North America is the bald eagle. Price continued to suggest that Solomon resembles the African fish eagle and the Steller’s sea eagle.

African fish eagles have white heads and yellow beaks like Solomon. These attributes are more often seen in mascot costumes for eagles than they are for ospreys.

Price explained, however, that SMCM is not alone with having a mascot which “looks nothing like the animal it is supposed to represent.” The National Audubon Society points out that the Seattle Seahawks are in a similar situation and Price added that the Baltimore Orioles changed their logo in 2011 to one that is now non-ornithologically accurate.

“The Solomon costume is definitely not an osprey but I doubt anyone has biologically accurate osprey mascots,” Wenker added. She did, however, say that the Stockton University Osprey costume is “pretty close.”

Photo Courtesy of Stockton University’s Facebook page.

(Editors note: A version of this article appears in print without comment from the SMCM Athletics Department. The following update was added after their comments were received.)

Director of Athletic Communications Nairem Moran told TPN in an email that, “We in the athletic department realize that Solomon is not your typical ‘sea hawk.’” Moran says that due to budgetary and other restrictions, the costume they found was their best option.

Similarly to Price, Moran added that other mascots are not necessarily ornithologically accurate, “Susquehanna University is the Riverhawk (another name for the osprey) and their mascot, Bernie, is also eagle-like.”

Scott Devine, director of athletics and recreation, added, “We realize that the time has come to look into another mascot as the current one is old and out-of-date.”

News-in-brief: Plans for Communal Space at Crescents

The Crescent Townhouses on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) campus may be getting a communal space.

Maurice Schlesinger, facility planning and operations executive, presented a summary of proposals from the Office of Planning and Facilities to build a new area adjacent to the Crescents at a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting April 10.

The construction project is a part of the multi-million dollar plan to create new infrastructure on campus, which was initially headlined by the construction of the Jamie L. Roberts Stadium and Athletic Fields. Because the athletic stadium is set to move from its current place, in between the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center and the Waring Commons (WC) residence hall, that space is free for new building plans, according to the Office of Planning and Facilities website.

Where the athletic stadium currently resides will become the site for a new academic building. The building will hold music department classrooms, practice facilities and faculty offices classrooms, labs, as well as faculty offices for the education department. Additionally, the proposal summary states that there will be a 700 seat auditorium, and a “contemporary study and collaborative learning space for students.”

According to Schlesinger’s presentation, at the curve of what is currently the track, near where the steeplechase pit resides, the proposal calls for the creation of a communal space. Ideas varied for how to occupy the space, from making a large mound of dirt creating a hill to lounge on, to a more sophisticated area with benches for students to do school work. Schlesinger pointed out that all of the plans mentioned included a direct walkway across from WC to the academic buildings across the field.

Student Alina Martin, ‘19, spoke before Schlesinger at SGA to discuss some ideas for how to use the space. Martin had created eco-friendly proposals as a part of art class. After the meeting, Veronique Nedeau, ‘20, sent out an all-student email to create a committee for student input on the project.

Interested students in joining said committee should contact Nedeau via email.

Admissions Crisis Update

Since the Fall of 2013, admissions rates at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) have been steadily dropping. On the College’s Office of Institutional Research (OIR) website, the reality is stark, with incoming classes dropping from 383 students in the Fall of 2013 to 342 in the Fall of 2017.

According to David Hautanen, Jr., Vice President of Enrollment Management, “It really does reflect the reduction in the number of students graduating from Maryland High Schools.” However, according to the Maryland State Government website, high school graduation rates have been steadily rising, from 81.97% in 2010, to 87.67% in 2017 (MSDE 2018).

Hautanen adds that “Ultimately, it’s a combination of things. As you think about the entire universe of students who are going to graduate from high school… then you have to think about what we call the recruitment funnel… So then you think about all of those students who are college bound, you think about all of those students who are interested in a college like St. Mary’s, and then you think about all those who do apply to St. Mary’s, those who are admitted to St. Mary’s, and those that will enroll at St. Mary’s.”

With that in mind, the scope of analyzing the admissions crisis must be focused on SMCM’s recruitment efforts. What efforts has our Admissions Office been making in order to make recruitment more successful? Michael Bruckler, Assistant Vice President of Integrated Marketing and Strategic Communications, says that “the Advancement Integrated Marketing team also attracts in-state, out-of-state and transfer students by using a variety of digital advertising,” in addition to traditional non-web forms of advertising.

This is echoed by Hautanen, who specifically mentions the recent use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram Live to connect with prospective students and give them a taste of what SMCM is really like.

As for the school website, Bruckler says “our Marketing team also redesigned the www.smcm.edu homepage with more vibrant content and more conversational tone, specifically aimed at prospective students and their parents. The page now focuses on a mixture of student activities, academic programs and admissions.” The redesign of the SMCM website took place over summer 2017, just in time for a revamped recruitment starting in fall 2017.

In addition to digital advertising, Hautanen also places great stock in campus events. “We put together a signature events recruitment committee… to help strengthen and improve our open houses, our admitted student days, all of those events… and a specific example… is the invitation of student groups to participate in the admitted student days,” he says. “My understanding is that’s a first. We wanna make sure that, not only is the college going to offer the academic program they’re looking for, but it’s also going to give them the personal social experience that they’re looking for as well.”

Hautanen says “We have a very special and compelling story about being the public honors college of Maryland… from which students who graduate from here do amazing things.” He expands that SMCM “is for students who really want that deep and rich, all-in college experience where they are maximizing their academics” and “their student life experiences,” “while taking advantage of the unique environment that we have here. There’s just a beauty here that doesn’t exist at other places… We just need to be telling the story in a more rich and robust way.”

Student retention has also been dropping alongside admissions rates, from 81% for the class of 2016 to 73% for the class of 2018 (SMCM OIR 2018). Future graduating classes also seem to be following the same trajectory. While the College has established the Office of Retention & Student Success in 2016 to combat this, there is still work to be done at the root in Admissions.

Hautanen says “We need to do a much stronger job of recruiting students who might be interested in St. Mary’s, and I think that’s a great area of improvement.” In addition, “The idea is to build the applicant pool. The more students that we have interested in St. Mary’s to begin with, will ultimately lead to lead to more students who are actually enrolling at the College.”

“Is St. Mary’s for everyone? No. No campus is for everyone. Each student comes at this process with different interests, different expectations for what their experience [will be], different goals and dreams,” Hautanen says.

While the admissions crisis will not be solved overnight, Hautanen is determined to look towards the future and harnessing the community of SMCM. But, if his past is any indication, Hautanen says “Places I’ve worked, we’ve always built and we’ve grown. So that’s what I like to do.” Hopefully, he will build and grow SMCM as well.

 

 

 

 

How SMCM is Responding to Gun Violence in Our Community

Photo courtesy of Ruby Bassford.

On the most recent Admitted Students Day, a day when prospective students and their families visit the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) campus, the issue of gun ownership was a surprising topic of conversation. While many clubs came to Montgomery Hall to advertise their club activities to possible new students, the SMCM Chapter of the College Republicans did the same — only the materials they had on display caused minor controversy.  

The Point News (TPN) highlights this event as it is demonstrative of the complicated discussions about the Second Amendment and firearms that have been taking place on and around campus. Though the issue of mass shootings has dominated national conversation since the Feb. 14 high school shooting in Parkland, Fl., it struck closer to home for the SMCM community after the March 20 shooting at Great Mills High School, which led to two deaths, including that of the shooter.

Gun violence was also brought to light after four SMCM students were arrested in connection to an on-campus “armed robbery” earlier this year, although despite initial reports it was later revealed that no actual firearm was involved.

Editor’s Note: For more information regarding that story, please read our Feb. 21 “Crime Report” article and the update in this edition.

The Great Mills High School tragedy was one of the first major school shootings that took place after the Parkland shooting, an event which itself sparked the “#NeverAgain” movement and led to national school walkouts — walkouts that Great Mills students took part in only six days before their own school would face a similar tragedy.

On April 6, Admitted Students Day, members of the College Republicans who were tabling for their club displayed materials related to guns; at least one student was wearing a shirt reading “Gun Rights Matter.”

President of the College Republicans, Grayson McNew, ’19, says that the materials displayed included “swag” like pins, bumper stickers and posters from the Maryland State Chapter of the College Republicans, as well as various “conservative think tank groups.” Pictures from the event show that the club was handing out small, brightly-colored water pistols, alongside a hand-drawn diagram of the water guns that pointed out where to load the “high capacity magazine” and said “NO HQL REQUIRED” at the top. “HQL” stands for “Handgun Qualification License,” which, starting in 2013, became mandatory for Maryland residents when purchasing guns. Although the club holds no formal stances on gun issues or any other political issues, says McNew, the College Republicans in general believe the HQL requirement to be an undue burden on gun owners and in violation of the Second Amendment.

At the Admitted Students Day event, club members were approached by multiple current students and faculty members who found the gun-related materials offensive or otherwise inappropriate for the venue. Professors Amy Steiger, of the Theater, Film, and Media Studies department, and Sandy Ganzell of the Math and Computer Science department, are said to have approached the students about their materials and apparel. Other students, some from the Black Student Union (BSU), also approached members of the College Republicans to say that their display made them uncomfortable.

Steiger responded to TPN’s questions about the incident, saying that she approached the students at the College Republicans table “mostly to support the BSU students who had already confronted them.” She, too, questioned the appropriateness of their materials, “especially given that many Great Mills students would be present.” College Republicans replied that some of their own members, including some of those present at Admitted Students Day, were GMHS alumni, and that their table display and apparel were protected by the First Amendment.

Steiger asked for the name of the club’s faculty advisor with intent to contact them, but later realized that the name she had been given was out of date; Steiger instead notified the Director of Admissions about her concerns.

In an email to TPN, Steiger said, “I didn’t say this at the time, but I think that, while the First Amendment offers legal protection, it doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t consider the consequences their words may have for other people … It doesn’t suggest that you shouldn’t expect to be confronted about what you say, or for people not to point out that your words are harmful.”

Professor Ganzell, who approached the student wearing the “Gun Rights Matter” sweatshirt, later responded to the incident, saying, “I am a gun owner. I tried to explain to the student … that having the right to express one’s opinion does not mean that you always should express that opinion. To be clear, at no time did I question the student’s rights. But I do seriously question his judgement. And I question his choice.”

The student in question posted a photo of Ganzell on his public Instagram, writing in the caption: “To the professor who thought it was appropriate to berate a student for wearing a shirt supporting gun rights: It is my right to wear what I want and while it is my choice to wear something possibly offensive it is also your choice to be offended and harass a student. You should be ashamed of yourself. #freespeech #2a #ptpgun.”

Ganzell continued, saying of the student, “He made a choice to be inflammatory at a time when many in our community are hurting, following the murder of a young woman by her ex-boyfriend using a handgun at a local high school. Instead, he could have chosen to be kind to others. He could have chosen to be thoughtful and caring, and to respect the feelings of other people. Those are also his rights. But he chose not to exercise those rights.”

While many were questioning the appropriateness of the presence of gun materials at an Admitted Students Day event, especially when the shooting at Great Mills High School took place less than a month ago, McNew said, “I think that’s exactly the time or place to discuss these sorts of things. Having these issues up front is something that St. Mary’s College never shies away from.”

He drew contrast to the caravans of students who went to the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C., something that was supported by the Student Government Association (SGA). “This was a national news story, and we’re trying to talk about it here.”

McNew emphasized that he wanted students to be talking about legislative efforts in Maryland that are addressing gun violence, including the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, which passed at the tail end of the Maryland legislative session and includes requirements for more school resource officers (SROs), like the one who returned fire at the school shooter during the GMHS shooting.

Looking beyond what took place at Admitted Students Day, it’s clear that students and other members of the SMCM community are searching for ways to respond to the issue of gun violence in our community — whether politically, emotionally, academically or socially.

For many, the Great Mills shooting, in conjunction with other gun-related mass tragedies, has sparked activism — a great number of SMCM students attended the March for Our Lives event in Washington D.C. on March 24, with at least 45 travelling there in state vehicles or through carpools organized by the SGA. SGA also organized peaceful protesting and poster making workshops in relation to the event. SGA President Whittni Pickens said in an email to TPN that “the SGA also donated all snacks left over from the events to Great Mills students and also $1,300 for the students” to do with what they wished.

Others have wanted to support the victims of the Great Mills High School shooting, either financially or through compassionate outreach. Assistant Director of Foundation Finance and Administration, Kelley Hernandez, sent around an all-student email on March 23 with links to fundraising pages for the victims of the shooting, as well as information about local fundraisers that were happening in the community.

The SMCM Chapter of InterVarsity, a Christian Fellowship group, organized a card-writing campaign, looking to deliver a hand-written notes of support to every Great Mills High School student in the week they returned to school following the tragedy. On April 10 students from InterVarsity delivered 1,673 cards for GMHS students, as well as notes for GMHS faculty and staff written by SMCM faculty and staff.

Ruby Bassford, SMCM Class of 2019 and an alum of Great Mills High School, felt compelled to respond to the GMHS tragedy through their art—their photo exhibit is now on display in Montgomery Hall. On Facebook, Bassford posted photos of the exhibition and wrote, “Two weeks ago a shooting happened at Great Mills High School. In response to the shooting, something that really hit home, I created an art piece that is displayed in my college’s Fine Arts building: it is a series of portraits of SMCM students that says ‘how many of us have to die in order for things to change?’”

The portraits hang in a long line down one of Montgomery Hall’s main hallways, and in the photos, SMCM students stare solemnly at the viewer, seemingly asking that question.

The SMCM community is at a strange crossroads in this moment that has reached the national stage. The issue of gun violence is, understandably, wrapped up in the emotional fallout that many members of our community are still dealing with, following the shooting at Great Mills High School, especially for local students who were either personally impacted by the tragedy or know someone who was. Students, staff, administrators and faculty at SMCM will all have to continue having these conversations as national attention continues to shine on the issue of gun violence.  

If you are feeling like your emotional or mental health has been impacted following these local and national events, please remember that the Wellness Center provides free counseling services by appointment and walk-in hours Monday through Friday, 1-3 p.m.

Editor’s Note 4/19/18: This article has been edited from its original version to clarify Professor Amy Steiger’s account of the events at Admitted Students’ Day, and with updated information from SGA President Whittni Pickens. 

GMHS Shooting Makes National Headlines, InterVarsity & SMCM Students Show Support

Less than a month ago, a 17-year-old with a handgun opened fire at Great Mills High School (GMHS), wounding 14-year-old Desmond Barnes and killing 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey. GMHS is a scant 10 miles from St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), and its community is tightly interwoven with that of the college — many of our local students can call themselves alumni of the school, while many employees of SMCM have children who attend local public secondary schools. When news of the shooting broke out on the morning of March 20, it quickly made national headlines as another in a string of deadly school shootings and led to an on-campus Public Safety announcement advising students of the situation.

In the weeks following the GMHS shooting, students, faculty and staff have responded to the shooting in a number of ways. The SMCM chapter of InterVarsity, a Christian Fellowship group on campus (IVCF), embarked on an ambitious card-writing campaign, with the goal of putting a personal note of support in the hands of every Great Mills High School student as they began to return to school.

Editor’s Note: for other ways in which SMCM has responded to the tragedy at GMHS, please read the News article in this edition.

In various all-student emails, IVCF members wrote: “In the wake of the terrible incident that occurred at Great Mills High School on the 20th, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is presenting the campus with an opportunity to show the students of GMHS that the campus of SMCM supports them.”

During the week of March 26, IVCF members tabled at Campus Center and Schaefer Hall, supplying students with notecards and markers to write messages of “encouragement, love” and “support.” Cards were also collected via boxes in residence halls and other academic buildings.

Esteban Caballero and Emily Spears, ’18, led the letter-writing effort, along with other fellowship members and IVCF Team Leader Esrael Seyum.  

Spears gave credit to Seyum in initiating the effort, though Seyum responded that “the entire InterVarsity community, especially the leadership team came together to make this happen.”

Spears added, “It was super important to us on the leadership team that we give as much encouragement and support to the GMHS students and everyone who works there, and this project seemed like the best way to do it that didn’t seem invasive, but was just a sweet gesture of community and support.”

Spears said the project took about two and half weeks to complete, including days of tabling and a few late nights of card-writing with IVCF members. The SMCM chapter collaborated with the InterVarsity chapter at the College of Southern Maryland, said Spears, as well as with SMCM faculty and staff. “There were no logistical problems, which was a complete blessing. It just took a lot of time, hard work and dedication to get all of the cards written.”

On Tuesday, April 10, Spears, Esteban and another IVCF member, Jonathan Hunt, ‘18 delivered 1,673 cards to Great Mills High School. The students also delivered cards meant for GMHS teachers and staff written by SMCM faculty and staff.

“It definitely would not have been possible without the help of St. Mary’s students taking the time to help write cards,” said IVCF member Caroline Robertson, ’18.

Seyum noted how proud he was of the SMCM community that came together to express support for GMHS students following the March 20 tragedy. “As InterVarsity, we are committed to showing God’s love to all people, especially to those who are hurting or are marginalized. We are proud in how quickly our SMCM community responded to make it happen.”

2018 Gubernatorial Races: An Overview

This election season, 36 Governor seats are up for grabs across the nation. The winning party of a few key states could determine the next decade of Congress’s political layout and change the political landscape of the United States.

Notable races include Florida’s toss-up election to replace term-limited Governor Rick Scott, as well as Michigan’s heated race to replace Rick Snyder and the race in Illinois between incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker. All of these races are in swing states—states that never lean towards a particular party. However, both Florida and Michigan had the most votes for Donald Trump in 2016, albeit by very slim margins, and all of these Governor’s seats are currently held by Republicans. The Cook Political Report considers these three states “toss-up” elections this year. It is also important to note that these specific swing states have very high populations, meaning they have a significant amount of power in the U.S. House of Representatives.

These high population swing states are especially important this year because a switch in the governor’s seat would allow the new party to have authority over district maps redrawn after the 2020 U.S. Census, turning the tides of congressional elections for the next ten years. Because 26 of the 36 Governor’s seats are currently held by Republicans, who won big in 2014, Democrats have many more opportunities to flip states blue this year. This means they could veto district lines that don’t favor them and eventually capture and hold onto the U.S. House of Representatives, which the Democrats have not held since the beginning of Barack Obama’s first term.

In Maryland, incumbent Governor Larry Hogan (R) is up for re-election this year. Hogan faces several high profile Democratic candidates but is nonetheless expected to win the election.

“Hogan is polling very well. He’s closely followed the Republican lines, but he’s been able to keep from being associated with Trump,” commented Professor Walter Hill. 61% of Marylanders approve of the job Hogan is doing in the Governor’s house, according to a to a recent Goucher poll. This election, Hogan will likely face high profile Democratic candidates such as Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, or NAACP Executive Officer Ben Jealous.

Hogan, who has pushed redistricting reform since taking office in 2015, is not likely to allow the very-Democratic-controlled state legislature to draw districts that favor Democrats. This a practice is known as gerrymandering, drawing legislative district maps to favor one political party more than another. Maryland is often considered one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. The Washington Post gave Maryland an 88/100 for gerrymandering, a score only as high as matching North Carolina.

The stakes are high this year, and along with the many gubernatorial races, all U.S. House of Representatives seats are on the ballot, as well as 33 of 100 U.S. Senate seats. Students should register to vote before June 5 to vote in the primary election, taking place on June 26, or register by October 16 for the general election, which will take place on November 6.