Concert Review in Brief: Ganz and Babcock Perform Debussy

On Tuesday evening, April 24, resident accompanist and piano instructor Beverly Babcock and artist-in-residence and piano instructor Brian Ganz performed “Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra” by Claude Debussy in St. Mary’s Hall.

Ganz played the piano accompaniment while Babcock played a piano version of the orchestra part.

Though this concert was not meant to be in the style of one of Ganz’s piano talks, Ganz spent the first half of the concert time talking about the piece’s formal components and its interesting history.

Ganz explained that the “Fantaisie” was one of Debussy’s earlier works.

In his early years, Debussy was extremely concerned about the impression he was making on the public with his work and did not feel that this piece was good enough to be released to the public.

The piece was composed in about 1890 but was never performed in Debussy’s lifetime. It was first performed in 1918 but since it is so uncharacteristic of Debussy’s work, it never managed to catch the public eye (or ear, so to speak).

Ganz, however, feels differently about the quality of the piece. He described the piece as “hauntingly beautiful” and like “sonic massage oils.” The piece blurs the line between major and minor chords and is full of exotic sounds, something that Debussy was very fond of creating.

Before performing the piece, Ganz and Babcock played parts of it to direct the audience in what to listen for as the pianists performed the piece. They played the various hidden themes that can be heard during the piece, along with various chords and fascinatingly exotic sounds.

Babcock and Ganz performed on two separate pianos together on the stage. They played through the three movements of the piece, each movement with its own theme and individual sound. There is an overarching theme, however, that embraces the entire piece that can be heard throughout each movement.

The exotic piece was very well-received by the audience, who gave Babcock and Ganz a standing ovation at the conclusion of the concert.

Students, Staff Protest in Living Rage Rally

On Friday afternoon, April 13, a crowd of students, faculty, and staff members marched across campus to raise awareness about how staff members at the College are not receiving a living wage. The members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) called the rally “Living Rage.”

“This march is to show how serious we are,” said senior Caroline Selle, one of the campaign organizers for the rally. “We are here to show how students and staff are in solidarity with each other… We need to see concrete action from the administration and we need to see proof of it. And that’s something we haven’t seen yet…We haven’t seen it to the necessary extent.”

“[President Urgo] literally did not mention living wage once during the Board of Trustees meeting,” said senior Kevin Paul, another campaign organizer. “His stance has pretty much been dismissive of the entire issue. He’s been kicking the can down the road for too long. He has a lot of power, and we have a lobbyist in Annapolis. Why aren’t we using [the lobbyist] to fix the impasse [Urgo’s] been talking about?”

“As you may know from recent news reports, the State of Maryland is at a budgetary impasse which directly affects the budget of the College and, specifically, its authority to increase salaries,” said Urgo in a recent all-student email. “While the College has budgeted for salary increases in FY13 (the budget year that begins on July 1, 2012), no definitive action can be taken until the College receives appropriate authorization.”

“Once the State gives us the green light, our designated [American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)] union representatives will meet with us to discuss wage increases,” said Urgo. “We remain dedicated to increase employee wages that have not increased during the salary freeze and intend to do so once we receive clearance from the State.”

“I thought it was really telling that President Urgo desperately was trying to organize a meeting with students yesterday primarily because he didn’t understand what we said we’d be protesting,” said Selle in reference to the email. “Students have offered to lobby on the state level, which is incredible initiative, while the administration has not moved it forward much at all. Most of the information in the email is accurate, but the administration has not been doing enough to put pressure on our decision-makers at the state level to make it possible for us to pay our staff better.”

“We’re angry and frustrated that all of our good intentions and enthusiasm have just been sort of ignored,” said another campaign organizer, senior Emily Saari. “I think we’ve done all the necessary research and we’ve tried really hard to work with [the administration]… We wanted this to be a community dialogue for as long as possible but it’s just not working anymore.”

There have been talks amongst SDS members that one of the reasons why the administration is not taking any action is because most of the heads of SDS and the campaign are seniors.

“The administration sees that it’s April and they can wait until graduation and this issue will die out,” said Saari. “But we’ve been talking to underclassmen and future [Student Government Association] executive board members and we’re not thinking this is going to end at the end of this semester.”

“What we’ve learned is when we have meetings with the administration, we’re not taken seriously,” said senior John Mumby. “Last time there was a substantial raise, it was when students occupied [the president’s] office. We’ve only just now been taken seriously. Something like this is a last resort. But if this is what it takes to make sure people are getting paid what they deserve… then we’ll be at Urgo’s open hour every [Wednesday] at one.”

A staff member present at the rally said he was there for the sake of “fairness.” He continued by saying, “[The administrators] all have found ways every year to gives raises… except not to the people who are the poorest on this campus… I’ve said from the beginning that this is for all staff. If it’s a pay freeze for everyone, then it should be for everyone, not just for certain [people].”

Students congregated outside the Bike Shop in Waring Commons at 2:45 p.m. and then began their march across campus to Urgo’s office in Calvert Hall. Members of the crowd were holding large cardboard signs advocating for the living wage and support for the staff. Senior Johanna Galat, another campaign manager, led the march with a megaphone. She led various chants like, “One, two, three, four, no one should be working poor. Five, six, seven, eight, show who we appreciate.” One chant that particularly stood out was, “Hey Urgo, hey Tom, your budget makes us wanna vom.”

As the students marched by the Waring Commons parking lot, a staff member called out to the crowd, wishing she could join the march, “I wish I didn’t have to work. I’m so impressed right now.”

As the crowd moved across campus, various students joined in. Some could not join for various reasons but applauded the crowd as it went by. On the way past Montgomery Hall, junior Gino Hannah joined the crowd with his tuba, adding some music to the chants.

Friday, April 13 was Accepted Students Day, so many future St. Mary’s students were present to see the political activism that occurs on campus.

Galat stopped the crowd at Kent Hall to speak to them and explain again why they were marching. Public Safety officers and Director of Public Safety Dave Zylak stood by. Paul stood before the crowd and read some anonymous staff member testimonies, showing how staff often do not have enough money to afford basic living expenses.

Some of the testimonies said that staff members are forced to use vacation days on snow days when the college is closed because they cannot safely travel to work. One staff member said in a testimonial, “The way they have doled out raises is reprehensible.”

After the testimonials, Galat led the crowd to the front steps of Calvert to continue to rally and get Urgo’s attention.

Various students and staff members present took turns speaking out to the crowd. “The state has given us roadblocks, but we are looking for detours,” said senior Glenn Razafindrainibe to the crowd. “We want to find a way around the freeze.”

Kathy Lewin, Office Associate II, stepped in frond of the crowd to say, “You guys rock!”

“We’re not going to stop,” said first-year Abiola Akanni, “I’m a first-year and I will keep fighting until I’m a senior.”

After the crowd had been chanting outside of Calvert for a while, President Urgo came outside and addressed the crowd. Amidst frequent interruptions and chants from the crowd, he urged students to write to state legislative members to work on the budget because he personally is not allowed to bargain by state law.

“I do respect what you’re doing here,” said Urgo, “You can do things as students that I cannot do as the President.”

After the speech, a union representative said in conversation about Urgo, “I don’t think he’s being fast and loose with the facts.”

The union representative also explained how there are three different types of raises: cost of living increases, merit increases, and an increase caused by a reclassification. He stated that the raise that Laura Bayless, former Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, received was the result of a reclassification.

“If [the administration] wanted, they could reclassify every employee and give them a new title,” said the representative. When asked how he would reclassify the Caretakers, he said “well, make one up… like Recycling Technicians.”

According to administrators, Bayless’ title was changed from Dean of Students to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students to reflect her increase in job responsibilities, which included increased involvement in Student Affairs.

Galat led the students to the boathouse and ended the rally there with more chants and cheers. “We hope to see you all at Urgo’s open hour,” said Galat as the rally came to an end.

Urban Trees, Human Impact on Nature

On Wednesday, April 4, Richard Olsen, a Research Geneticist from the National Arboretum, visited St. Mary’s to present his lecture called “The Urban Forest.” Olsen discussed the evolution of trees over the years in urban, rural, and suburban areas. This Natural Science and Mathematics (NS&M) Colloquium was co-sponsored by the St. Mary’s Arboretum Association.

“I’m trying to make this more of a philosophical, fun talk today,” began Olsen. His presentation consisted entirely of photographs as he spoke freely about them. He started off his lecture by talking about root systems of trees and how they work.

“After a storm, we see trees fall over, and we see a pancake of a root system,” he said about the structure of roots. Ninety percent of the root system of a tree is in the top 18 inches of the soil. He showed pictures of effective and ineffective ways of planting trees, and how ineffective ways can lead to girdling roots, which can ultimately kill a tree.

“We’re setting up our urban forest for disaster,” said Olsen as he showed pictures of trees planted directly below power lines. Their top branches will eventually have to be trimmed or cut off, which is not good for the tree.

Olsen explained that the 400 year old dogma of planting urban trees in symmetrical lines along the side of a road needs to be abandoned. Trees need more space to grow.

“We weren’t planting trees in cities until the 1600s,” said Olsen. This is because at that point in time, cities were smaller and usually surrounded by trees, so there was no reason to plant more of them in the city. Poplar trees were the first type of popular street trees in the United States. They symmetrically lined the original Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

Just like expecting them to be symmetrical in layout, building planners also expect trees to look the same. “If you grow things from seeds, you have all sort of different growth rates,” said Olsen. However, if clones are used, every tree grown from a clone will look exactly the same.

Olsen emphasized that planters need to be careful about where they plant trees and with what they surround the trees. Some trees grow best in a dry, arid area, while others are best in wet, swampy areas. For example, the weeping willow is healthiest when grown in a swampy area. Some trees grow steadily over time, while others spend years building up a root system and then suddenly shoot up out of the ground.

Human action widely determines the encouragement or elimination of a species, and humans have the power to lead to the extinction of a particular species of tree. “If you don’t think we’re not affecting pretty much the entire planet, just look at us at night,” said Olsen, showing the audience a nighttime satellite photograph of the Earth.

“Just the presence of all this concrete and asphalt… is affecting the climate,” said Olsen as he discussed how urban land cover can impact seasonal change.

“If you give trees the right space, they’ll grow for maybe 150 years,” concluded Olsen.

“I thought he was funny and was a great speaker, and he started off great with a focused topic on the impact we have on nature,” said senior Don Rees. “He progressed in a sensible way to trees in cities but then at the end just rattled off pictures and examples of trees in cities. He seemed excited but there was no deep analysis or discussion at this point, just a picture show. Overall, not bad but the ending needed work.”

“I agree with Don, it wasn’t the most organized colloquium I’ve seen,” said senior Julie Frank. “Though I really appreciated how excited and passionate he was about his work. Every picture he showed seemed to have a story behind it and a personal connection.”

Pam Cardwell Discusses Artwork Inspired By Travel

On Monday, April 9, Artist House Artist-in-Residence Pam Cardwell visited the library at the College to present her lecture, “On Art and Travel Throughout Turkey and the Caucasus Countries.” Cardwell discussed how her childhood and international travels have played a part in influencing the style of her abstract art.

Carrie Patterson, Associate Professor of Art, introduced Cardwell as “a gatherer of visual information and knowledge” who has “had a very hectic experience of St. Mary’s.” Over the two weeks before the lecture, Cardwell had been working with students in art classes and on her own art at the Artist House.

“I want to start by talking about where I grew up,” began Cardwell. She grew up in a very isolated area in West Virginia, without access to art museums. But she was exposed to a lot of the interesting and abstract patterns in quilts, as they were made by her grandmother. Cardwell is fascinated by the art of quilters because they are “so involved in the process.” They are not satisfied with the finished product and just keep creating new quilts.

Cardwell is further inspired by the light and natural shapes created by water and is an avid swimmer. She created a lot of paintings in the Dominican Republic from shapes she saw in the water, and is doing the same thing here based on the St. Mary’s River. “I’m literally building rhythm as I’m working, like a swimmer,” she said. “I’ve always been amazing by things I don’t understand.”

As an artist, Cardwell finds herself easily inspired by the works of other artists throughout the world. “My problem as an artist is not to copy another artist but to kind of find my own way with it,” she said. She draws a lot of inspiration from the artist Arshile Gorky, who was born in Turkey but moved to the United States. Gorky’s paintings are a combination of surrealist and abstract expressionist styles.

Cardwell also draws inspiration from ancient Armenian manuscripts, saying, “I liked the more primitive looking images instead of the more refined ones.”

Cardwell did a lot of traveling throughout Eastern Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries, creating what she called “impressions of a landscape.” She would go on long walks with her sketchbook and paint small fragments of an interesting landscape and then later refine them for months in her studio using paint supplies she found from local merchants. She is “very interested in pattern and rhythm.”

The style of the frescos that Cardwell found in the Republic of Georgia and Turkey also show through in her current work. These frescos were paintings on a hue scale, with vibrant colors, painted as a part of the landscape. “Georgians are really good with color and line,” she said. “They use a really reduced pallet.”

“I liked a lot of [the frescos] because they were faded,” said Cardwell. “There’s been work to fix them, maybe too much work to fix them. I like kind of faded things.”

In an interview with Studio Critical, Cardwell described a recent exhibition of her art at the Salena Gallery at Long Island University. She said, “The installation at LIU consists of 6, 5’ x 30’ and 5’ x 20’ pieces. The gallery wall is curved and these pieces were done specifically for this wall. They are made with parachute cloth, a traditional muralist’s media, and enamel paint from the hardware store.  This was my attempt to integrate drawing and painting.”

She continued, “Four of them literally wrap around the curved wall. You can’t look at the whole thing at once. The other two are flat on the wall. They hark back to the sense of space and color that I found in the early Christian frescos that I was lucky enough to see in Turkey and the Republic of Georgia. In these the sense of color is very intense, simple blocks integrated with drawing in most cases. Every time you move your head or body you see something new.”

During the question session after the lecture, Professor of Art Lisa Sheer asked Cardwell, “How do you retain a certain quality of an object without replicating it?” She explained how some students in her sculpture classes have difficulty with this. During the lecture, Cardwell explained how though she uses natural objects as inspiration, she does not simply replicate them in her paintings, which instead have an abstract feel to them.

“It takes a lot of years in the studio to let go,” Cardwell explained. “You just have to keep working.”

Fencers Fight for Fleche and Blood

On the morning of Sunday, April 15, the St. Mary’s Fencing Club hosted the annual spring Fleche and Blood Tournament at the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center. Along with students from the St. Mary’s Club, fencers from Goucher College, St. John’s College, and Temple University visited to compete in the tournament.

The students competed in the three different fencing styles of Foil, Sabre, and Epee. Students were initially separated into pools of fencers using their weapon. The pools competed in a round robin style until each fencer was seeded for their weapon. Then, a tournament bracket was created for the fencers to compete for first, second, and third place.

“I’m fencing foil today,” said senior and member of the Fencing Club Kathy Michels before the tournament started. “Typically you’ll be put in a pool with five or six other people and then you’ll fence everyone in your pool.”

The bouts during the round robin were five touch bouts, or a match to five points. Without a time limit, the fencers competed until one of them reached five touches. During the tournament bouts, which were direct elimination, fencers competed to be the first one to reach 15 touches. In these bouts, fencers competed for three minutes, then stopped for a one minute break. After three engagements, if the fencers were tied, a coin was flipped to see which fencer would be given priority for a one minute bout to the first touch.

Senior Don Rees, current president of the Fencing Club, and Josh Kaminsky, junior and member of the Club, were the two referees from St. Mary’s. They were assisted by two other paid referees from out of the county. All four of the referees were United States Fencing Association (USFA) certified directors. The referees made the calls during the bouts and kept track of the scores.

“I think I’ve done a total of six tournaments now, and I started last year. So, I’m pretty happy about that,” said sophomore Alexia Tanski, secretary of the Fencing Club. “Every single year we’ve had to wake up super early and drive to wherever the tournament was being held. So, it was really nice to hold it here and not have to drive hours to wherever it’s being held.”

This year was the first time that St. Mary’s hosted a fencing tournament with other schools coming to compete on campus. “Last year, no schools came,” said Tanski. “This is the first time we’ve had schools come here to fence.”

The winners for Foil were St. Mary’s senior Steve Rees in first place, Naisha Soto from Temple in second place, and Colette Maimone from St. John’s in third place. For Epee, the winners were Zach Hogan from Temple in first place, sophomore Greg Flanigan from St. Mary’s in second place, and senior Brian Szychowski from St. Mary’s in third place. Finally, for Sabre, Mat Johnstone from Temple was in first place, Channel Ross from Temple was in second place, and senior Tom Sagre from St. Mary’s was in third place.

The executive board of the St. Mary’s Fencing Club presented all the winners with medals at the end of the tournament.

Students Fight Climate Change With S'mores and Bonfires

For one hour on the evening of March 31, students gathered around the crackling fire pit in Waring Commons (WC) amidst smoky wind and marshmallows as part of the international event known as Earth Hour.

SEAC (Student Environmental Action Coalition) hosted the St. Mary’s Earth Hour event, which occurs when “people in over 130 countries turn off their lights and electricity for just one hour to raise awareness of climate change,” said sophomore attendee Danielle Manos. “By the way, fun fact: climate change is real,” added SEAC president, sophomore Ashok Chandwaney.

“Basically,” continued Manos, “it encourages people to leave their houses and save energy.” During Earth Hour, Chandwaney announced that SEAC members will be traveling to Annapolis to advocate wind energy and bring it to the attention of the state government.

All of the materials needed for the making of s’mores were provided at the fire pit, and gooey chocolatey goodness was had by all. Sophomore Evan Mahone attempted to cook a meal of chickpeas and spinach in a pan over the open flame, and he remarked later that his dish was quite good. To maintain the fire, old copies of The Point News were used as kindling. “Finally, The Point News is useful for something,” joked Chandwaney.

The camaraderie around the fire pit was obvious, as a constant stream of students chatted and ate for the entire hour from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Junior Peter Robertson noted that the event “brings us together, and keeps our friendship warm. Literally.” Earth Hour was successful in recognizing that the world’s habit of energy over-use must be broken in order to prevent climate change, all while providing students with a delightful Saturday evening.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Event Raises Awareness of Sexual Violence

On March, April 1 at 2:00 p.m., St. Mary’s First Responders teamed up with Walden Sierra, a not-for profit behavioral health organization in Southern Maryland, to host the 2nd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes at the College. The event, which was free and open to students and community members, was hosted at the track beside the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center (MPOARC) and featured music, games, and art. According to Walden Sierra’s website, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is “a community march to prevent and end gender violence and sexual assault.” Men of all ages are asked to do laps in women’s shoes, provided by the event, and women are invited to support the men and participate in specialized laps, like the “Honoring Survivors” and the “In Another’s Shoes” laps.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an international event started in 2001 and has raised millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and other sexualized violence education, prevention, and remediation programs. The mission of the event is “to create a unique and powerful public experience that educates individuals and communities about the causes of sexualized violence, provides them with prevention and remediation strategies and empowers them to further develop and implement these knowledges and skills interpersonally and politically,” according to the walk’s website. The event at St. Mary’s achieved this goal, according to Laura Webb, the Community Engagement Manager from Walden Sierra. “I think it went really well. There was a diverse group of walkers a mix of students and community members, which is what we want to see for future years”

The male participants who came out were given a pair of shoes to strut their stuff on the track. Sam Greenberg, a freshman and first-time walker, said, “It was really cool event with a great turnout. People from all walks of life and professions came out and we learned a lot.” The female participants who came to offer their support for the men and victims of rape and sexual assault, although they weren’t wearing bright red, 3-inch heels, were moved by the event as well. “I liked [the event] a lot,” said freshmen Emma Taylor. “It brings awareness to this issue that’s really quite prevalent on campus and makes it accessible by taking something humorous, like men walking in heels, to address a serious issue.”

Webb was pleased with the event’s ability to “find ways to meaningfully include women” in a male-centric march. She also commented on the St. Mary’s students in attendance. “I’m always amazed at the number of First-Responders and Peer-Educators I see at these events.” Walden Sierra, according to their website, aims to “contribute to the well being of the Southern Maryland community by providing a comprehensive array of crisis, behavioral health, trauma, and recovery service” and they provide a 24-hour Crisis Hotline for students and community members.

Board of Trustees Decide Tuition for 2012-2013 School Year

On Saturday, March 10, the Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition by four percent for both in-state and out-of-state students for the 2012-2013 school year.

The ruling, decided by unanimous vote, means that in-state tuition costs will jump from $12,005 to $12,485, a $480 increase, and out-of-state will go up $963 from $24,082 to $25,045.  Other cost hikes include a four percent rise in room costs for all housing options, and a three percent rise in board costs for all meal plan options.

“Looking at rising costs, we came to the conclusion that we didn’t have much of a choice to raise tuition,” said President Joe Urgo.

“The board saw it as a good way to balance the budget,” said Vice President for Business and Finance Tom Botzman. “The aim was to keep it affordable while also keeping a strong academic program.”

According to Botzman, the four percent raise will give the College the ability to increase the budget for financial aid and the ability to strengthen the faculty while still paying all the state-mandated costs.

Another thing the College will be able to do for the first time is give raises to faculty and staff.  “The State will mandate a two percent raise, which means the pay freeze is off, so we’re hoping we can also do more,” said Urgo.

The College will also enhance Information Technology (IT) services as a result of the cost increase.  Such planned updates include improving Internet speed across campus, bettering security, and updating software.

According to Urgo, the tuition hikes for the College are consistent with nationwide college tuitions.  “Overall, we’ve seen a three to five percent raise across the country, and even higher in some cases,” he said.

Though the future is uncertain, Urgo claimed that he “doesn’t foresee a time when education costs aren’t going to go up.  You expect a college to have the best equipment with the latest technology.”

First-year Katherine Mahoney claims she is not a fan of the cost increase, especially because she knows students who have to pay for their college education on their own.  “I mean you get the good name, but it’s still a lot of money. [St. Mary’s] is already expensive compared to other Maryland universities.”

Nonmarital Childbirth: Positive or Negative for the Child?

On Friday, March 23, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University Rebecca Ryan visited St. Mary’s to present her lecture entitled, “Nonmarital Childbirth and Child Development: The Relevance of Marriage Propensity and Family Change.” She discussed how children born with or without parents differ in how they are affected by changes in family structure.

“There has been a steady rise in nonmarital childbirths,” said Ryan as she began her lecture. In 1960, only five percent of children were born to unmarried parents. In 2008, that number had increased to 40 percent. “This represents the greatest shift since the industrial revolution moved families from farms to cities.”

In families with unmarried parents, it is expected that a child will experience more changes in family structure than in families with married parents. Because of this, since 2005, over $150 million has been spent on Healthy Marriage Initiatives to encourage marriage and prevent nonmarital childbirth. These programs are meant to encourage stable relationships between parents. These programs assume that two parents are always better than one and that family instability is bad for children in all situations.

One of Ryan’s major research questions is whether or not it is marriage between parents that leads to negative outcomes, or the parents themselves. “Marriage benefits children far less among families most likely to be unwed at the time of childbirth,” said Ryan.

Ryan theorized that the “quality” of a father could predict whether or not his marriage to the mother would benefit the child. Quality was defined by marriage likelihood (the likelihood that man would be married at the time of childbirth) and fathering capacity (a combination of education level, age, cognitive ability, criminal history, and own father’s role modeling).

“I’m predicting whether or not you were married when your child was born based on these characteristics,” said Ryan about the fathering capacity factors. A low level of fathering capacity and a low level of marriage propensity means that a child would benefit very little in his or her development from the marriage of the mother and father. On the other hand, a high fathering capacity and high marriage propensity means the child would benefit far more from married parents than unmarried parents.

One interesting result of Ryan’s research was the finding that for children with unmarried parents, changes in family structure did not seem to affect the child’s behavioral outcomes. “Family change may simply be more normative [in these families],” said Ryan. “A more predictable change is far less stressful.”

Children with married parents are less likely to experience changes in family structure, so these changes may be more stressful for the child and parents involved. A change in family structure could involve the death of a parent, a divorce, or the introduction of a step mother, father, and siblings.

Using a piecewise hierarchical lineal model, Ryan was able to estimate when a change in family structure is most harmful for a child. “The strongest negative effects come from early changes in family structure,” said Ryan. This means the periods of life from birth to three and from three to five.

In conclusion, Ryan found that family structure changes for children born to unmarried parents have no significant effect on behavioral problems, as measured on the Behavioral Problem Index. “Family changes are not associated with short or long term changes in PIAT scores for [children of] married or unmarried parents,” said Ryan. The PIAT tests children aged five to 12 on their math, reading, and reading comprehension skills.

Ryan concluded her lecture by recommending some policy changes that need to be made. “Policies need to acknowledge that stable relationships are only as beneficial as the parents in them,” she said. Encouraging two unstable parents to marry may not be beneficial for a child at all. So, programs should be developed that enhance the quality of parenting, as opposed to blindly promoting marriage.

“Dr. Ryan’s lecture was very thought provoking,” said senior Katie West. “Some of her findings about divorce timing contradicted a lot of past research.”

“Dr. Ryan did a very good job of making her research accessible, and her connection of her findings to current policies concerning marriage and single-parent families was particularly interesting,” said junior Katie Grein. “The idea that forcing marriage on fathers and families who might not actually function well together as a family may not actually benefit a child made sense, as soon as she brought it up.”

Rock Climbers Defy Gravity at Friction Fest

On Saturday, March 31, St. Mary’s annual spring rock climbing competition, Friction Fest, was held at the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center (ARC). Kids, students, and non-students alike competed on Saturday to earn top scores in the various climbing divisions.

“[Friction Fest] has been going on for six years, since the wall’s been up,” said junior and Climbing Club president Bridget Dahmer. “There are a few divisions: kids, open (everyone who’s not a student), men’s and women’s recreational, and men’s and women’s advanced.”

Climbers are scored on a scoring system that awards fewer points for easier climbs and more points for the more advanced ones. “We take the the top four scores of each person and we add those up, and whoever has the highest score wins for their division,” said Dahmer. “You get points for completing the climb, which just means getting to the top.”

Climbers must be accompanied by a spotter at all times while they are climbing. The spotter watches the climber’s head, making sure he or she is staying safe. Also, the spotter signs off on whether or not the climber has completed the climb.

Normally, there are about five students who work as route setters. These are the people who place the rocks on the walls and set up the climbs. Rocks are marked with various different colors of tape to indicate which climb they belong to.

Each year, a guest setter visits for Friction Fest. This year’s guest setter was Dan Montague, brother of first-year Pat Montague. “[Dan] won the 2011 Everyman’s Exposed photo contest in the Rock and Ice magazine. He’s also been a setter at Earth Treks for a year,” said Pat Montague.

Dahmer and Pat Montague are two of the students who are normally route setters at the ARC.

When asked about his participation in Friction Fest, senior Kenneth Doutt said, “This is the third semester I’ve done it… I’ve been climbing for two years.” Doutt has won the Endurance Award at Friction Fest previously, meaning he climbed the most climbs. “I did 19 climbs last time.”

“I’ve done it almost every year since freshman year,” said senior Tessa Endter. “I started climbing [at St. Mary’s]… This past semester, I’ve climbed almost every day… It’s really hard to do climbs [at Friction Fest] because there are so many people but it’s fun because you can work on things in really large groups and everyone gets really excited when you complete a climb.”

The winners in this year’s men’s advanced division were senior Chris Dipple in first place, Evan Heck in second place, and senior Dana Savage in third place. For women’s advanced, senior Katelyn Grue was in first place, Katie Savin-Murphy in second place, and senior Tessa Endter in third place.

“Everybody should participate in Friction Fest,” said Doutt. “It’s a unique opportunity that St. Mary’s has to offer.”