Dunn Discusses Campus Climate Survey, Title IX Changes

Michael Dunn, the College’s Title IX Coordinator, had good news to report to the Student Government Association on April 16. Overall responses to the Campus Climate Survey, which was distributed in Fall of 2019, show that students perception of the Title IX office have improved since last year’s numbers saw a significant drop.

Analysis of the data was performed by the Office of Institutional Research, according to Dunn, who added “it was nice deferring to their expertise to make sense of all the data.” White and female students were overrepresented among respondents, compared to campus demographics.

The 2018 survey saw a decline in the way students perceive campus culture, a negative trend which continued in this years survey, according to Dunn, though he added that “It’s really an increase in neutral responses rather than negative responses, so [the decline] is not necessarily reflecting a strong rise in negative feelings.”

According to Dunn, the data does not suggest significant differences in perception across race, though there was a major difference by gender on the safety questions, with female students responding that they feel less safe on campus than their male counterparts, which is generally the expected finding. “The other big difference” according to Dunn, though, “was that upper-class students reported generally more negative perceptions than other students. Seniors were less happy than first years and sophomores, seniors or juniors felt less close to people than first years, and seniors feel less safe than first years. So that was pretty interesting.” Dunn says that he’s concerned with the negative trend the survey responses have taken in the past years, and is working with Student Affairs to delve deeper into the data.

The Institutional Research Office reported that the top reason students feel unsafe on campus, as reported in the open responses to the survey, is areas of darkness, followed by perceived insufficient consequences for perpetrators of sexual violence. Dunn hopes to address the lighting issue soon, and says that “in terms of the concern about consequences for perpetrators of sexual violence, that’s a concern that’s been expressed a lot, and that’s something that we have changed our trainings to try to address, and we’ve tried to have that knowledge inform the way we do resource posters and all these things to share information about what’s happening.”  

Continuing to speak to the perception that consequences for perpetrators were not severe enough, Dunn stated “It’s a challenge, though. That’s one of the abiding challenges, I think in conducting Title IX work on a campus, especially a small campus like ours, where we’re not at liberty to share with the general audience like ‘here’s what happened and why’, or ‘here’s what didn’t happen and why’. We can’t tell you when someone wants to remain confidential, or we can’t tell you when someone wants to not pursue action, and we choose to honor that choice. So it’s a challenge.” The office does release information on the cases it heard, how they were handled, what sanctions were taken against responsible parties, and why, though this information is not available until the semester after it is collected.

“What was really positive is that the questions on perceptions of Title IX issues rebounded and moved up”, Dunn says, after a dip in the numbers last year. It’s especially impressive considering the declining perceptions of campus safety overall. “There’s definitely work to be done,” he stated, “but I was really thankful and relieved to see that the numbers were moving in a positive direction compared to last year.”

One major piece of data from the survey is the raw number of students reporting whether or not they have experienced sexual misconduct during their time at the College, regardless of whether or not they chose to report. “For this year’s data, 23 percent of female participants and 10 percent of male participants said they’ve experienced some kind of sexual violence,” Dunn reported, and while that might sound bad, St. Mary’s numbers “reflect the research and overall prevalence of this epidemic on campuses everywhere”. Dunn noted that Duke made headlines this year when they reported that 48% of their female undergraduate students reported experiencing sexual violence. Interestingly, this year’s data does not support the “red zone” model, where the first six weeks of the fall semester see the highest rates of sexual misconduct of the academic year.

The College also got a 5 year grant to prevent sexual assault through social norms change, from the Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention Program, a part of the Center for Injury and Sexual Assault Prevention, under the Maryland Department of Health. The College has received funding from this program before, which it used to bring “A Call to Men” to campus in previous years. Now, the program will return to campus every semester for the next five years. “We have commitments from the athletics department and student affairs where we’re going to be doing ongoing targeted programming with a bunch of the men’s sports teams and Dorchester Residence Hall… When we look at the research on what prevention is effective, reaching folks within their communities and having communities reinforce preventative notions like consent, rejecting rape culture, all those things- it helps to have it reinforced by your cohort.”

Some of the funding from the grant will be used to support St. Mary’s Projects on related topics in the coming years. The Office of Title IX is also in the process of selecting a new Title IX investigator/ prevention specialist, who Dunn hopes will start over the summer.

Laws around the way Title IX coordinators operate are changing as well. One of the biggest changes includes that MHEC will pay for lawyers for all students involved in sexual assault cases. Though it doesn’t necessarily change the procedure here on campus, Dunn expressed concerns that the new policy may make the process more stressful, or potentially delay progress on cases while waiting for outside attorneys to be assigned to students or travel to campus.

Another big change includes reports on the credibility of everyone involved, which may in some cases make clear before the resolution of a case what the end will look like. One new policy works to end victim-blaming responses by clarifying when and how students sexual histories can be used as evidence in a case. These changes will go into effect on July 1.

Dunn also spoke about the potential for sweeping change in the near future, once the Trump administration publishes its new guidelines for handling title IX cases. He said that “the Trump administration is moving in the direction of much stronger protections for accused students rights, and the revisions seem to be coming from the perspective that accused students rights are not being respected, and a lot of people would disagree with that.” Dunn went on to say that “The biggest change with the Trump piece is that they are proposing to require that schools use a hearing model (as opposed to a civil rights model) and that they allow direct cross examination of the parties… If that happened, then our biggest challenge would be how to implement those policies in the most fair and compassionate and appropriate way for our community.”

Dunn also expressed concern about the possible effect this shift would have on report statistics, saying “I worry that having a hearing, knowing that cross examination would be part of the process, might be a really strong deterrent from people coming forward with cases. Or, think about a situation where the college might have information about a case, and we feel compelled to go forward with it because we’re worried about a pattern of behavior, because there have been multiple incidents, perhaps we have a really detailed public safety report- and so we’re doing investigation, but people choose not to participate. How does that affect our ability to move forward? I’m really concerned about that.”

Cases will still follow a civil rights model until Trump’s guidelines are officially released, which there is no set date for at this time. Dunn hopes to create policies that will “withstand changes in the political winds”, so that policy won’t need drastic revision under every new presidential administration.

“I’m really concerned about the partisan nature of this”, Dunn added, stating that “sexual violence education and prevention is not a democratic or a republican issue, and it really concerns me when this issue becomes a partisan football, because I think it makes it harder for us to come together to affect the cultural change we need to to actually address this.”


Signs of Spring: Ospreys Return to Campus

Rising temperatures, rainy days, and blooming flowers are some of the most telling signs of spring, but are generally less fun to observe than nesting osprey, which have long been touted as a symbol of the changing seasons. Osprey, more commonly referred to as Seahawks, became a hot topic of conversation on campus last semester after a family of the seabirds nested on top of Anne Arundel Hall’s Blackistone Room. The birds could be seen carrying their nesting supplies all over campus and in Historic St. Mary’s City, but their choice of location last season also raised some serious concerns.

In an interview from October 2018, Bradley Newkirk, Assistant Director of the Physical Plant, told The Point News “There are, from a facilities standpoint, concerns about the building being able to properly exhaust air or bring in fresh air, because a lot of those chimneys aren’t just aesthetic, they’re functional… If the exhaust is plugged up, it affects other building systems… We would prefer that they nest in other places.” He also noted that  “Once those nests have eggs in them, we can’t touch them until they migrate… If there’s just a few sticks up there and they’re in the process of building a nest, we can move them.”

Newkirk was citing the protection of osprey under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. According to the Chesapeake Bay Field Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service  “Ospreys, like other migratory birds, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Osprey nests can be removed without a permit if the nest is inactive. A nest is considered inactive if there are no eggs or young present in the nest. To remove an active nest requires a permit.”

At the time of the interview, Newkirk suggested the community garden as an alternate nesting site. “There’s a pole that we’re hoping to get them to nest on, and not on fresh air intakes.” He added, of the nest over the Blackistone room, “There were birds in it. There were babies. We took a drone up there and took pictures.” Once this step had been done, the Physical Plant contacted the Fish and Wildlife Service for recommendations on relocating the nest, who advised that the school relocate the nest after the hatchlings had fledged and “put up some sort of device so they don’t come back,” he stated, before quickly adding “we purposefully invite them to other places that don’t necessarily affect things.”

Sure enough, as fall approached the nest over the Blackistone room had been replaced with a wire cage designed to make the site less appealing to nesting birds, which seems to be working: there is no sign of a new nest on the air intake. But fans of the Seahawk, knowing they return to the same breeding ground each year, may not know where to look to see the beloved College mascot this year. Luckily, aspiring birders don’t have to look much farther than the old nesting site to catch a glimpse of the new nest, which sits atop one of the poles next to the boathouse. It is speculated that the new nesting site may be even better than the last, given its proximity to both the river and St. John’s Pond. Despite their being called “seahawks”, osprey are not true birds of prey: instead, these “hawks” hunt for fish.

Visitors to the boathouse should take a moment to look up and appreciate the return of the College’s mascot for the season. With any luck, the new nest will have eggs later this month or in May, which will be incubated by the mother osprey for about a month before they hatch. According to US Fish and Wildlife Services, young osprey attempt their first flight 60 days after hatching.

Club Submits Funding Appeal Late, Surprised they got Denied

One of the primary tasks of the Student Government Association- creating the budget for the vast majority of student activities on campus- is under fire yet again as students from the Ant Farming Club insist they have been wronged by King Messick for personal reasons. Messick, of course, is a man of integrity and would never do such a thing.

Club President Ann T. Formicidae told The Point News in an exclusive interview that she’s certain the vote from the Student Government Association not to fund the clubs trip to the beaches of Hawaii had nothing to do with their failure to show up at the yearly budget meeting with the SGA Treasurer. “Our budget request was bare bones”, Formicidae said, adding that “We opted for only a 4 Star Resort, and didn’t even ask for the all-inclusive package.”

“There are ants in Hawaii,” said Sol Geminata, in response to one of the senator’s questions about how the club was justifying their expenditure, “and we want to see them.”

After the bill to fund the trip failed, King Messick politely informed the petitioners that if they had followed the standard procedure in requesting funding, they would be more likely to get it. But this answer simply wasn’t enough to satiate the die-hard “ant enthusiasts.

“It’s like they’re telling us insects don’t matter. All we wanted to do was learn, and the so-called “College” won’t let us do that? I thought College was about learning, but clearly I was wrong. The SGA doesn’t care about learning, they just care about saving money.”

The Point News was able to reach King Messick for comment on the matter. He denied the claims that the vote against funding the trip was personal, and stated that the SGA does, in fact, care about learning. “To be fair though, we do also care about saving money. That’s kind of how budgets work.”

King Messick also informed The Point News that the SGA simply doesn’t have the money to fund every club’s travel expenses. With a budget of $4.50, a paperclip, and some pocket lint, a trip to Hawaii was simply not in the cards for any club on campus. Luckily, Messick has been able to allocate funds to a few clubs already. The bouncy ball club was able to purchase a $1 ball for club use, and the Creative Writing Club got a new pack of pencils for $2. The Peer Health Educators were able to secure funding for a single condom, which will be used and reused at demonstrations. They do not, however, recommend reusing condoms under any other circumstances. The Outdoor Adventure Club claimed the pocket lint, a good fire starter for their club bonfires.

“That’s just ridiculous”, Formicidae said of the other clubs secured funding. “How come they get money and we don’t? Is it because there’s actually enough money for the things they were requesting? Or because their purchases would benefit more students than ours? It’s so unfair.”

RE:site Selected as Commemoration Artist in Unanimous Decision

On Wednesday, March 6, the selection committee for the Commemorative to the Enslaved People of Southern Maryland met to discuss the design proposals from the three final candidates. In February, the candidates visited St. Mary’s College of Maryland to propose their designs for the site in Cole Cinema. The presentations were open to the college community, who were then encouraged to give feedback on the designs online.

 

Candidates were selected by the company Codex, which connects artists and sculptors to potential commissions. The administration worked with Codex to create a set of standards for all candidates, who were narrowed down based on whether or not they had suitable credentials to take on a project of this size, according to Professor of Art and member of the Selection Committee Lisa Scheer.

 

The committee reviewed 27 entries which were found to be sufficient based on their past commissions and a letter of interest. Candidates were interviewed by the committee until finalists were selected to travel to the College and learn more about the project before creating their design proposals.

 

118 people gave feedback on the presentations in the online poll, according to Scheer, and their comments were surprisingly consistent. The community comments were “on the table” while the committee discussed the presentations, and they lead to the unanimous decision to select RE:site. The community feedback has been released to the public, and can be found on the College’s website.

 

The design by RE:site, as presented by Norman Lee, can be viewed online on the College’s website. A video of the presentation is also posted on Youtube. The design echoes the “ghost houses” of Historic St. Mary’s City, with its simple structure. Unlike the ghost frames in HSMC, this structure is unable to be entered, to remind viewers that we cannot know and are not meant to know what happened in the slave quarters. The walls of the house will be mirror-polished stainless steel with words engraved from documents written by Slaveholders of Southern Maryland, with clapboards redacting words to create an erasure poem, written by Quenton Baker. At night, the design will light up from the inside, casting the words onto the field around the house.  

 

The selection committee was especially impressed with RE:site’s design and the deep thought and care their design showed, according to Scheer, who added that “they thought that this issue was not just a historic thing, it’s an ongoing thing, and it has as much to do with the way contemporary communities understand and consider it, and the RE:site design was utterly most effective in that way.”

 

Following the decision, RE:site was notified that they had won the commission. Artists Shane Allbritton and Norman Lee of RE:site, along with project partner Quenton Baker, stated that “As artists, we are humbled by St. Mary’s charge to create a memorial honoring the enslaved people who once lived, loved, worked, and resisted on the college grounds.”

 

Consistent with the statements made by Scheer about why RE:site was selected, the group also stated in their acceptance that “The past is never dead, and history never leaves us. It is a privilege to be working on a project that attends to those the world has tried to forget, to erase, to bury beneath silence. We owe them our care and our attention and are honored to give all that we have. It is our hope that this work will make the invisible visible and invite deep reflection on our future as a community.”

Carolyn Finney Lecture: Signs of the Times: Black Faces, White Spaces, and All Things Green

On Feb. 7, cultural geographer Carolyn Finney gave a lecture in the Hilda C. Landers Library titled “Signs of the Times: Black Faces, White Spaces, and All Things Green”.

Finney, also a writer and performer, is “deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience… she explores how issues of difference impacts participation in decision-making processes designed to address environmental issues”, according to the lecture description posted to Inside SMCM before the event.

The storyteller was introduced by Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Ellen Kohl, who said that “the aim of [Dr. Finney’s] work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets in their representations of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action.”

“I’m interested in reconciliation, I’m interested in reparations and decolonization, I’m interested in the conversation between American Indians and African Americans about land in this country because we don’t see that conversation… All this land was stolen, and that doesn’t change.”

Finney also mentioned recent news stories dealing with race, including Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s blackface controversy, and problematic statements made by actor Liam Neeson. She said “the thing that I’m frustrated by is that our first reaction is to get rid of those people. And we think we’ve done something. And actually, I’m sorry- redlining hasn’t changed, inequity hasn’t changed, nothing- gentrification hasn’t changed, the inequalities between different ethnic groups haven’t changed, institutions haven’t changed, laws haven’t changed. Nothing has changed. We just got rid of the person. And we feel like something has changed.” Instead, Finney is “interested in how we move on from there… It’s not about agreement, it’s about how we actually have a conversation because something else might emerge.”

Finney’s interest in privilege and cultural competency comes from a personal place. She told the crowd “I have to bring myself in the room… I think that all knowledge is subjective, that we bring all of who we are to bear upon anything it is we’re trying to understand.” Finney showed images from her childhood growing up in New York, explaining that her father was the caretaker for a large property owned by a wealthy white family. She saw how quickly her father’s work was forgotten after the land was placed on a conservation easement, which sparked her interest in environmental issues.

Finney also spoke about the ways people of color have been barred from using outdoor spaces in the past, and how the history of segregation created a social code of who does and does not belong in nature.

As a recent example, she read a post made to Facebook by Vanessa Garrison, co-founder of the health nonprofit Girl Trek. Garrison detailed her experience of being pulled over by a park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park with a van full of black women returning from a hike, where the park ranger asked what she (a figurehead of natural recreation for people of color) was doing in the park.

One of Finney’s most powerful slides contained a photo of Ian Gibson, a sport hunter who was gored to death by an elephant he was hunting in Zimbabwe. She contrasted the photos with a photo of a young black boy from Flint, Michigan, which has been without clean water for almost 5 years. Finney told the audience that while she doesn’t have trouble feeling empathy for the little boy, she’s working on expanding her compassion to those she doesn’t agree with as well. “While I felt anger at the idea of him hunting this elephant, I was in tears because this man had a family. This man came from a community… If I can’t have empathy or compassion for him, what is it we are trying to sustain? It is all about relationships.”

Finney’s lecture also highlighted the work of people of color in the environmentalist movement, Jackie “Moms” Mabley, John Francis, Brenda Palms Barber, and MaVynee Betsch.

The lecture, which was the latest installment of the Environmental Studies Speaker Series, was co-sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program, the English Department, and the Provost’s Office.

Living Shoreline Construction by Queen Anne’s Hall

Over the past few weeks, students taking the path around Queen Anne’s Residence Hall may have noticed the orange fencing redirecting walkways adjacent to St. John’s Pond. Work is being done in that area to restore the creek shoreline which has been slowly eroding for years.

 

In an Inside SMCM announcement, Capital Projects Manager James McGuire stated that “the project involves the placement of stone out in the water and filling in back to the bank with soils suitable for plant growth. We will be planting 8750 [square feet] of alterniflora and 2250 [square feet] of spartina patens. These plants will provide shore stabilization as well as habitat for the ducks and geese that frequent the area.”

 

This project is linked to the spraying of invasive phragmites in the waterways adjacent to Route 5, which is helping to prepare for the construction of a new sidewalk which will extend from College Drive to the North Fields. At the Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 26, 2018, Vice President of Business and Finance Paul Pusecker stated that the goal of the project is “to provide a safe alternative to the current practice of walking in the northbound traffic lane on Route 5. The path would include a wooden bridge, ‘boardwalk’ as we’re calling it, across the pond, and a brick path.” Construction on the new path is slated to start in April. Pusecker told The Point News via email that “ Because the boardwalk will disturb some plant species closest to the edge of Route 5, the Maryland Department of Environment is requiring us build a ‘living shoreline’ along the north side of St John’s pond, closest to Queen Ann dorm.”

 

Director of the Physical Plant Annie Angueira also spoke about the phragmite control project, saying that “we’ve already started to manage [phragmite] growth… We are obligated to spray for 5 years. Our hope is after 5 years of spraying that we’ve eradicated the majority of it, the reality is eventually we’ll have to go back and spray some more.” After being asked if the phragmites were an invasive species, Angueira said “just look down any creek or river in MD and you’re going to find these phragmites growing all over the place. So now they’re pushing for the eradication of that.”

 

The project, which was approved by the Maryland Department of the Environment, requires that the College restore wetland shorelines elsewhere to make up for the disruption caused by removing the invasive phragmites. The application of pesticides to the invasive phragmites requires licensed applicators to ensure that no damage is being done to sensitive flora and fauna in the wetland ecosystem. Angueira stated that the College has hired a private contractor to perform the herbicide application to ensure that proper protocol is followed.

 

Construction on the living shoreline began in the first week of February, and is expected to conclude in the second week of March. McGuire also noted that students interested in learning more about living shorelines can take a free study course at livingshorelinesacademy.org, and can direct any questions about the project to his office at 240-895-2105.

New Live Music Policy Proposed

Student bands may soon have the opportunity to perform on the Townhouse Greens, thanks to a new policy drafted by Student Government Association (SGA) President Andrew Messick, ‘19, and Townhouse Senator Alec Bernstein, ‘19.

 

“People were asking for this when I did my rounds last semester”, Bernstein said when asked what prompted him to write the new policy over winter break. “Right now, the perception is that you can’t play music [live]. The new policy that we’re doing allows for that, during the warmer months- we were trying to do it every 2 weeks and we got feedback saying that perhaps we should do it only during the warmer months of the school year, specifically after spring break in the spring semester and after the first week of classes through the week before Thanksgiving break, so those will be the time periods in which students can play music.”

 

Although policy regarding live music in the “To The Point” student handbook is sparse— stating only that “Student bands are allowed to rehearse in the suites, apartments, and townhouses Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.” The new policy would allow student bands to perform on Saturday nights at the river end of the Greens, where the stage for the Summer River Concert Series is typically located.

 

Until the policy is finalized, SGA will be running a pilot program to test out the new protocol. Students interested in performing will have to meet a few requirements— they must sign up for a timeslot with their band’s name and the genre of music the band will perform, and the band must have played together before prior to the performance. The policy applies only to bands entirely consisted of current St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) students; bands with SMCM students and additional members will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Non-student or alumni bands would not be affected by the policy change, and will still have to plan their performances through the Office of Student Activities.

 

The pilot program expects to set up a stage for live music once a month between 9 and 11 p.m., with a possibility of an 8-9 p.m. open mic. Bernstein said “the times that you would be able to play stop at 11 p.m. due to county ordinances, and it’s really hard to get around that, from what I’ve seen”, but said he would be interested in expanding the pilot program depending on student input.

 

The current draft of the policy states that SGA will provide equipment for these performances, but Bernstein noted that SGA equipment is limited to microphones and speakers. He hopes SGA will set aside enough money to purchase their own tent and stage, to save on the cost of hosting these performances down the road. According to Bernstein, currently “every single performance anyone wants to do (with a tent and stage) is predicated on having like, $2,000 already” because of the equipment rental fees.


Bernstein also mentioned that students with an eye on changing policy should be aware of the Student Initiatives Committee, a group of 16 students focused on influencing resources for students mental and reproductive health.The Student Initiatives Committee community letter can be seen on page (whatever).

 

Bands interested in performing on the Greens under the new policy should contact Alec Bernstein via his email, ajbernstein@smcm.edu.

Office of Sustainability October Events Successful

Sustainability fellow Kaitlin Aaby, ‘18, was happy to see that the Office of Sustainability surpassed its goal for student engagement this month. This October, the Office of Sustainability put on its first Campus Sustainability Month, an event recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

As the sustainability fellow, Aaby helped plan and organize four weeks of themed events all dealing with environmental issues on campus. “There are so many events, I know it’s overwhelming, but I wanted to spam people on campus with as much as possible, and I tried to get a wide range of interest. So there’s science, cooking, and art- I just wanted to get [The Office’s] name out there, because not a lot of people know we have an Office of Sustainability… My goal is to help students do what they want to in terms of sustainability. I’ll help them apply for grants (she later mentioned the Green St. Mary’s Revolving Fund, also known as GSMRF, as the major application she can help with), and stuff like that- that’s my job!”

The theme for week one was Global Climate Change, and saw such events as Dr. Lee Cooper’s Lecture on Climate Change to kick off the month, tabling for the Climate Action Petition outside of the Great Room, natural tie-dye and a movie. The Climate Action Petition was the singular event that received the most student engagement, with over 100 students signing the petition.

The theme for week two was November elections, which primarily featured tabling for voter registration outside of the great room at lunch and dinner times. SMCM alumnus Pat Elder, ‘77, a local candidate running for Congress in the Green Party, visited campus on the 10th and spoke to prospective voters at Cole Cinema. For more information on Pat Elder’s campus visit, see Dan Belson’s article on the event in the last edition, or online.

Week three, which was themed Green Infrastructure, was a bit slower in terms of student engagement. The Office of Sustainability hosted tours of the Tiny House this week, showed a movie in Cole Cinema, and tabled with recycled crafts and bobbing for apples at Hawktoberfest.

The last week of the month was themed Food Justice and featured a Meatless Monday sampler at the Great Room. On Tuesday, four teams of two students competed at the Green Chef competition, preparing vegetarian and vegan dishes in the Great Room for a panel of judges. The week also saw a cooking workshop with Bon Appetit and a workshop on beekeeping with Josh Calo at the Kate Chandler Campus and Community Farm.

The Office of Sustainability also used the month to inspire composting around campus with some friendly competition. Student volunteers weighed the compost as they collected it all throughout the month and pit the similar residences against each other- traditional dorms in one group, Waring Commons against Lewis Quad, and the Crescent Townhouses against the Greens. Once the final totals for the month have been calculated, the winning residents from each group will be invited to the Office of Sustainability cookout at Daugherty- Palmer Commons in November.

Students interested in getting involved with campus sustainability should consider joining the Food Recovery Network, which takes extra food from the Great Room to a local soup kitchen, the Garden Club, which manages the campus bees, the Student Government Association’s Environmental Protection Committee, the Sustainability Club, or volunteering with Compost Collection and Keep St. Mary’s Beautiful. This semester, compost collection volunteers meet at the Physical Plant Fridays at 3:30. Another option for volunteering is the Kate Chandler Campus and Community Farm, which hosts open volunteer hours every day.

Aaby hopes to keep the momentum up, and is currently working to plan Sustainable Living Workshops for students. In the past, these workshops have made eco-friendly laundry detergent and taught sewing. Aaby hinted that future workshops may include a vegan nutrition workshop and a class on waste-free living. The fellow is also planning a student yard sale, and considering bringing back Meatless Mondays at the Great Room. Aaby encourages students to like SMCM Sustainability on Facebook to stay up-to-date with all sustainability-related events on campus.

 

Multiple Reported Thefts on Campus

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, The Office of Public Safety (PS) sent an AllStudents email regarding multiple reported thefts from townhouses. The thefts, according to the email, had all occurred in the past few days, coming not long after a scourge of laptop thefts on campus. At least two students reported that their laptops were stolen from their backpacks three weeks before this most recent crime spree. The laptops have not yet been recovered.

The email tells students that gaming consoles were the common target of the thefts, and offered a few tips for all to consider, suggesting that students not “leave your doors and windows unlocked,” not “give out your keys or ID cards to others” and finally reminding us that the best way to prevent theft is to “not take property that is not yours,” ever cautious of victim-shaming.  The party responsible for the thefts may be unacquainted with the St. Mary’s Way, a cherished social code among the people who have spent a lot of time at the College.

The College’s website page describing the St. Mary’s Way states that by joining the St. Mary’s College of Maryland community, you socially agree to work with others to “develop this College as a community” in several facets, including keeping St. Mary’s a place where people “take individual responsibility for their work and actions”, as well as ”foster relationships based upon mutual respect, honesty, integrity, and trust”. Certainly, the responsible party or parties in the cases of the stolen valuables should be reminded of their commitment to “accept the responsibility of helping to build on [the College’s] past heritage, of living its ideals, and contributing to its future”.

Student Sarah Guthrie made a post in a Facebook student group on Oct. 9, writing that “Last night someone came into our townhouse and took my housemate’s Xbox, a game, and a controller. We would like you to return them. Please remember the St. Mary’s way and bring the Xbox back.”

Many students responded to the post with Facebook’s “angry” and “sad” reactions, and encouraging students who know more about the crimes to report— even if the perpetrator is a friend. Guthrie responded to this comment, saying “Agreed. But no charges will be pressed or questions asked if they give it back.”

Not long after Guthrie’s post was made, other students came forward on the page to report their own stolen items. Scott Sutton made one such post speaking of the theft which occurred at his residence on the Townhouse Greens, where the lost item was again a gaming console and controller. Sutton told The Point News via email “They basically snuck in right under our noses and stole from us. And I can say with wholeheartedly that its a way more disturbing feeling knowing someone was in your home and could have taken whatever they wanted then realizing what was actually taken. [We] just feel violated.”

In the past, St. Mary’s students have been very trusting of one another. Just a few years ago during admissions tours, prospective students would hear from student tour guides that the biggest thing to worry about on campus was “bike borrowing,” a temporary instance of theft in which students would often “steal” others’ bikes when left unlocked and then later ditch them at another location on campus. As a result of the “bike borrowing” trend, most bike owners on campus purchased simple wire bike locks. But the degree of violation occurring now is unprecedented on the St. Mary’s campus.

Other students recalled times when they felt comfortable leaving their laptops unattended in the library while they went to grab coffee or use the restroom, hoping that the days of being able to trust peers for five whole minutes are not gone forever.

The email from Public Safety also asks that members of the Campus Community report “anything or anyone suspicious looking,” not elaborating on what a suspicious thing, or person may look like.

If you have any information on the missing items, contact Public Safety at 240-895-4911 or via the Seahawk Safe App powered by CampusShield.

Convenient, Quality Coffee: The ARC Café is a Good Idea

It’s hard to walk through the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center (MPOARC) without noticing the big change that’s been slowly taking over the forgotten concessions corner. Students walking past are struck by signs bearing the Starbucks logo, enticing them to think the new cafe will serve the go-to coffee brand for young people with a little extra cash on hand— or now, flex.

Though wary of it not living up to my expectations, I’m excited to patronize the MPOARC cafe. I usually go to the gym later in the day, but some days I wake up early and start with a workout. My hope is to do this more in the winter, which will be perfect— I can treat myself to a hot, fresh and even specialty coffee before a long day of class. I may even visit it as a reward for long hours spent reading or working on my St. Mary’s Project, something a visit to the Grind doesn’t often feel like for some students. Students who don’t often have a reason to visit Campus Center— students not too unlike myself, who live in townhouses or apartments and don’t rely on the Great Room for food, or who take classes mostly in Montgomery, Schaefer, and Goodpaster Halls– are now just a short walk away from an old favorite, which will doubtless be even more valuable as the temperature outside drops.

Granted, as a North Campus resident, I’m already fairly close to an establishment that sometimes also serves coffee— though I’d hesitate to call the Pub a café. The Pub, beloved for its late-night weekend fare, is not exactly the most artful with its coffee.

As college students who likely never have more than five dollars to spare at a time once the tuition bill is paid, loans are taken out and groceries are bought, there isn’t an inexpensive option better suited for the old snack bar space than a café.  As someone who now has my own living room, the idea of hanging out in the Pub feels a bit foreign now. My likelihood of happening to be in the MPOARC, on the other hand, is much higher.

While the cafe’s position adjacent to the weight room is not ideal, I believe we could easily solve two problems at once by painting over the glass panes in the weight room, except at doorways and windows facing the exterior. I am a big fan of the Movement Room in the MPOARC, and especially of the fact that it offers a rack of some lighter free weights. I personally am less inclined to use the weight room because I don’t like the idea of people watching me break a sweat, a fear certainly not helped by the fishbowl vibes the glass walls give the weight room. Unlike the Arena, which is likely to host spectator events (Basketball and Volleyball games, namely), and large windows facing the exterior as the Aquatics Center, Cardio, and Movement Rooms all have, those panes of glass allow nothing more than others who are not also exercising a full view of my workout. The chairs and tables don’t help.

The MPOARC cafe, now boasting an espresso machine and multiple fridges, seems to have improved every week since move-in day back in August. A poll is currently being held on what this space should be named, which students can access through their school emails. The Pub is also on the ballot for renaming. My deep love for coffee shops (and yes, even the more expensive chain ones when it comes down to it) has my standards high for the new MPOARC cafe, and I am excited that it might truly be a version of the Grind a little closer to me.