'Shakespeare in Hollywood' is a Delightful Romantic Comedy

“I go, I go, look how I go!” So says the fairy Puck in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and in Ken Ludwig’s comedy “Shakespeare in Hollywood,” a  in which literary characters come to life in a real-world setting. And if you went to one of the showings of the Theater, Film and Media Studies Department’s spring production of the latter play, you would know that it went very, very well.

The show’s cast under the direction of Holly Blumner, associate professor of TFMS, brought to life both well-known Shakespearean characters and historical 1930s Hollywood figures. In the play’s opening scene, film critic Louella Parsons (senior Maggie Schmidt) interviews Austrian director Max Rhinehardt (junior Christopher Joyce) at the premiere of his new film adaption of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”–a real film that opened in 1935. From there, we are taken on a flashback in which Oberon, Shakespeare’s king of the fairies (sophomore Edward Brence, whose commanding and deep voice lends itself well to his character) and his sidekick Puck (the effervescently funny sophomore Abby Doyle) materialize on the set of Rhinehardt’s film, and get roped in to the scheming, romantic entanglements, and power plays of the Hollywood elite.

“Performing in this show also required some research into Hollywood during its time period,” said senior Jemarc Axinto, who played movie star legend Jimmy Cagney. “Almost all of the characters in the play are real people–in fact, Mickey Rooney [who starred in the actual film] passed away during our rehearsal period, so we had to capture the essence of the real person, then create a caricature of that character.”

The heavily-researched acting was not the only notable aspect of the show, which also featured a depth of detail on the part of the set and costumes, courtesy of Jessica Lustig, the production’s scenic and costume designer and visiting professor of scenography. The set featured layers of panels painted with foliage fit for an enchanted forest, and the costumes emulated true Hollywood glamour and whimsical fairy fashion.

“All of my costumes have loads of tiny details in them, from the buttons on the jacket, to the dye in the gloves, to the historical accuracy of the fur closures (and those are fake furs, on the insistence of several cast members),” said Schmidt. “Also, each character got a special costume element that repeats in each of their scenes. I have a different hat in each scene. Alexander Rhoades, who plays Daryl [underling to a studio director], has a different argyle sweater vest for every scene, even the ones where he just walks on stage.” 

The show’s success owes a great deal to the cooperation and camaraderie of the entire cast and crew. “Everyone was amazing to work with, including our director, Holly,” said sophomore Celia Rector. “It made coming to rehearsals and shows fun because I knew we would be having a great time together.”

From the Manager's Desk: Bidding Farewell to the Point News Cave

It seems to be a mocking rule: every time a Point News layout weekend comes around in the spring, the days are stunningly beautiful, and all the colors of St. Mary’s–the shimmering blue of the river, the pink, white, and yellow of the blossoms dotting the trees on the path, the red of the brick buildings, and the green of the scrubby trees–are brought to life by the sun. When compared to the gloriously sunny outdoors at the moment, The Point News cave tucked away in the SGA Club Room, with its small windows and minimal access to cell phone signals, is disproportionately freezing.

The setting mocks the chilly hesitation I’m feeling at leaving this remarkable community of learners, teachers, activists, scientists, and artists which I have grown to love and appreciate so much, especially now that I realize this type of community does not easily exist elsewhere in the “real world”–the world after college.

Although I’ve learned a lot in my four years at St. Mary’s, like how to write a semi-decent paper in two nights, how to efficiently forage for tater tots during Great Room brunches, and how to find the quickest route between the north side of WC and the Campus Center (you make two stops through Monty and the ARC, in case you were wondering), the most enduring and profound lesson that St. Mary’s and working for The Point News has taught me is the power of communication.

Whether it is expressed through the mass media or in a private face-to-face conversation, communication has the ability to bond people together or break them apart, and to see someone else as more relatable to oneself or more disparate than you would have realized otherwise. It’s a tool that must be wielded with the utmost caution.

I’ll admit it: what I have enjoyed most of all about being the managing editor of this lovely newspaper is the exclusive insider knowledge that I am able to glean from various administrators and students on campus. I do realize, however, that with this knowledge comes responsibility, and my goal as managing editor is to inform students, faculty, and staff of the issues that are the most pertinent to them, while also being mindful of how the campus community could react if not enough caution is exercised in regards to the publishing of sensitive information.

At present, while a debate over what should be private or public knowledge as been resurrected again with the leaks of surveillance plans from the National Security Administration, we are more keenly aware of the aspect of consent which comes with the sharing of information.

St. Mary’s is a place that loves to communicate; we host countless open forums (namely the “St. Mary’s Speaks” series) on topics ranging from world peace to climate change, and from race to gender equality and sexuality; we form close relationships with our professors and administrators while working for a better campus environment in projects such as the St. Mary’s Wages campaign, Green Dot, or the Public Safety Advisory Committee; we advocate for total transparency between students and all offices on campus; and yet sometimes these efforts at communication don’t pan out in the way we would hope, sometimes due to polarizing or unclear rhetoric.

A few years ago, The Point News dealt with cases in which a wholly well-intentioned attempt to raise a topic for discussion in the Opinions section erupted into a much more inflammatory issue than anyone on staff had anticipated. This incident has been haunting the back of my mind ever since I took up the managing editor’s mantle, and I had made it my goal to ensure that similar incidents will not occur under my watch; and considering that this is my last issue of The Point News, I’m happy to report that I’ve reached my goal.

Although working for TPN has been exhausting and tedious at times (This is the one and only issue I’ve stayed up past one in the morning to work on. Why not go out with a groan?), I wouldn’t exchange my time on staff for anything else. The experience has been thoroughly rewarding. Mostly due to the pizza parties. And with that, I leave the coming generations of SMCM with a final word of advice: Please continue to communicate, and do so with your ears and your mind open.

Los Primos: Your Fresher (and Yummier) Alternative to Taco Bell

I had heard legends – whispers, if you will – of an authentic Mexican taquería hidden in the Millison Plaza in Lexington Park, just past Sake Japanese Restaurant and your friendly neighborhood Rita’s. I was curious to sample its flavors, as I couldn’t believe that such a place could exist in little ol’ LexPark. The name of the place, I had been told, was Los Primos Mexican Grocery. Since the name means “The Cousins,” I assumed it was a family-owned business, and I’m always down for supporting those mom-and-pop places.

Feeding my yearning for tacos recently was the fact that this August I will be moving to Los Angeles, a city rumored to have the best tacos this side of the border. The reviews on Yelp looked promising, so I decided I would get a leg up on my taco knowledge by going to Los Primos, the closest thing Southern Maryland has to California (no, not the town with Target and Walmart).

At first glance, the interior of Los Primos resembles an unfinished space.  I’ve seen emergency rooms with a warmer ambiance. The walls are completely bare, and the actual grocery section, which sells such items as tamale wrappers, a wide array of hot sauces, and Mexican soda brands like Jarritos and Squirt, is blocked off from the restaurant by a little wall.

A few friends had beaten me to Los Primos, and they were already snacking on warm tortilla chips and spicy red salsa when I walked in. The menu featured a wide range of taco choices, which included taco staples such as carnitas, chicken, steak,  and pork, as well as some unexpected carne choices like tripa and lengua: tripe and tongue! One of my meal-mates tried the tongue tacos, and said that they were quite tasty despite the odd choice of meat.

Other items on the menu included enchiladas, quesadillas, gorditas, and sopes. This last one had me confused, since my friend and I thought it might have been another word for sopas (soups), when in fact they were kind of like mini Mexican pizzas – small rounds of fried corn tostadas topped with all manner of meat, beans, vegetables, cheese, and salsa.

The tacos al pastor stuck out to me on the menu, as they were billed as a mixture of pork and pineapple in a savory sauce, and they were just a delicious as the description promised they would be. The tortillas were warm and fresh; the pork was incredibly tender with the pineapple adding a pop of flavor, and it was all sprinkled with cilantro leaves. I enjoyed them immensely. We were also given a choice of three salsas to put on our tacos. The bright green one was incredibly spicy, while the red was just less so, but the dark green salsa had just the right amount of kick for those wary of spice.

One friend ordered a chicken taco and a steak taco, and she said afterwards that she enjoyed the steak much more than the chicken, which was a bit too moist and made the tortilla fall apart. Another one of my less adventurous chums gave a thumbs up to his cheese quesadilla with a side of rice and beans – but not so much the beans, which were a little runny for his taste. My friend who ordered the enchiladas verdes to-go, as she had to help out at the Twain Lecture, said that it was a bit too mushy. So the verdict seems to be: stick to the tacos, but not the chicken ones.

I should also mention that the service at Los Primos was excellent, possibly because we were the only customers eating in the restaurant at the time. Our waitress brought everything out very quickly, especially our one to-go order. As for the price range, everything on the menu was under 13 dollars, which isn’t a bad deal when considering the freshness of the food and the fact that it’s a small business. I got three mini-tacos al pastor and a bottle of Jarritos for eight dollars, and there was even a deal offered in which you could get three mini-tacos, a side of rice and beans, and a soda for $9.75.

Overall, I would recommend Los Primos to the college student who gets the feeling they should go back to the hallowed roots of the taco and leave those 2am Taco Bell runs behind. Eat tacos the the way they are supposed to be eaten: with love and fresh ingredients.

Addendum: The establishment formerly known as Los Primos is now run as El Taco Feliz, but the restaurant is still located at 21703 Great Mills Road, Lexington Park, MD. 

Meet Tuajuanda Jordan: An Exclusive Interview with the New President of St. Mary's

All of the open forums, search committee meetings, and interviews have come to an end. At long last, St. Mary’s College of Maryland has a new president. On Mar. 15, the Board of Trustees named Dr. Tuajuanda Jordan as the College’s president-elect by a unanimous vote. Dr. Jordan, who is currently the Dean of the College of the Arts and Sciences and a professor of chemistry at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, will assume her position at St. Mary’s this coming fall. Jordan has had an impressive academic and administrative career at Xavier University of Louisiana, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the National Genomics Research Initiative.

In the week leading up to Jordan’s appointment as president, the three finalists for the presidency visited campus and fielded questions from students, faculty, and staff at various meetings and forums.  Members of the College community were able to provide feedback about each finalist to the Board’s Presidential Search Committee through an online survey, and the results of this survey aided the Committee in making their final selection. This method marked a distinct change in how St. Mary’s presidents have been chosen previously. When Joe Urgo was appointed as the College’s president in 2010, the Board faced criticism that their selection process lacked transparency. Jordan’s appointment, however, was the result of a lengthy four-month process in which the opinions of the campus community were fully integrated.

Taylor Schafer, a junior and the Student Trustee-in-Training who was a member of the Presidential Search Committee, said in a public statement that she has “absolutely no doubts that she will come to know and love St. Mary’s quickly, that she will be welcomed with open arms, and that she can lead our community strongly into the future.” To take Schafer’s advice and welcome Dr. Jordan to the St. Mary’s community, The Point News sat down with the College’s new leader during her busy second day at St. Mary’s following her appointment to the presidency. We had a relaxed chat about the important issues facing the College, as well as some essential elements of St. Mary’s campus culture; the results, as you will see for yourself, were unexpectedly amusing. TPN would like to thank Dr. Jordan for taking the time to squeeze us into her hectic schedule, and for being incredibly gracious, open, and honest with her answers to tough questions, a quality which bodes well for her professional relationships with members of the community.

TPN: I have some straight questions, just about the campus community in general, but I’m going to end with some real good ones. Probably the most important ones.

TJ: Oh my…

TPN: So, my first question! You may have heard about an ongoing campaign organized by students, faculty, and staff about instituting a benchmark system for salaries so that every employee of the College is guaranteed a living wage, which would be in line with the St. Mary’s Way. How would you approach this issue, and have you heard about it at all?

TJ: I have heard about it, but I’ve not been able to study it; it takes a bit of time to figure out what people are saying and what the majority of the community wants. From what I understand, it’s been discussed in the faculty senate and with the staff, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of support for it so I don’t know what’s going on. But until then, I don’t think it’s wise to weigh in on something I don’t understand.

TPN: That’s a legitimate answer.  It’s just an issue that comes up every other year or so, and it’s something that will probably be dealt with at some point in the future. Anyways, the students here are very concerned about our community’s affect on the environment. How would you strengthen sustainability efforts at the College, and in your own words, what is sustainability?

TJ: Well you know, those questions about “how  I would do such and such”–and it’s not a cop-out, it’s just being who I am–I can’t say how I’m going to do something if I don’t understand what’s being done, to what extent it’s been done, and to what extent people want what’s being done. So that’s something that I’ll take the time to understand. But sustainability, in my view, is trying to make as little a negative impact on the environment as possible, and when you take something out you try to make sure it replenishes itself in some way and doing no harm, essentially. That’s the way I think about sustainability.

TPN: We have an Sustainability Fellow who’s in charge of setting up green initiatives, there’s the Campus Farm…and I know that sometimes students are concerned that sometimes the College isn’t doing enough to be a green school, but there’s definitely been a lot of progress on that front in recent years.

TJ: Right now, I live in one of the greenest cities in the country [Portland, OR]. They pick up recycling much more frequently than they pick up trash. And everyone even has a compost bin, it is expected that you are going to compost. So that’s not going to be anything new to me, and even in Portland, I live as close to the campus as I can without living on-campus. It’s something we’re always very much aware of, and it’s not going to be something out of the ordinary when I come to St. Mary’s.

TPN: In recent years, certain administrative offices and positions on campus have had a particularly high turnover rate. How would you try to alleviate this issue and try to boost employee morale?

TJ: I think that if you look at the upper-level administrators, you have to make sure that you have the right people in these positions. There has to be some cohesiveness in the group, so you have to pay attention to group dynamic. And you also have to be willing to get at the issues–why are people leaving? There’s some offices that seem to have a huge turnover rate, and there’s something going on there.  So I’m beginning to ask questions to try to figure it out, and if the College is going to continue to do well, it needs to have stability.

When I was a faculty member a hundred years ago [at Xavier University], when you came up for your developmental review and your tenure review, the first question they asked you was “What is the mission of the College, and how does what you do fit in with our mission?” And when I was interviewed [for the SMCM presidency] I started talking about the St. Mary’s Way and how it really spoke to me, and I think that you can identify people to whom that [Way] is important–people who aren’t just here for a job. [The St. Mary’s Way] is going to be important, because that’s our ethos. We don’t want people who don’t believe in it. People can give really good lip-service, so you have to be able to read them.

TPN: So here comes…

TJ: Wait, those were the easy questions?

TPN: Oh yeah! Of the seven wonders of St. Mary’s, which is your favorite? Do you know the seven wonders of St. Mary’s?’

TJ: I don’t think, I know…

TPN: The seven wonders are the Bell Tower, the Pond, the Hidden Grave, the Point, the Naked Man, the Garden of Remembrance, and the Shoe Tree. I don’t know if you’ve ever been introduced to them.

TJ: I have never gotten a campus tour!

TPN: Really?!

TJ: No! When I interviewed, all they did was take me from office to office and building to building. I have never walked this campus, so I don’t know…I know the Pond, I’ve seen the Pond…

TPN: You know about ponding?

TJ: Yeah, I heard about that.

TPN: So do you want to give us your birthday?

TJ: No, I am not giving you my birthday. That’s exactly what I thought when I heard about it.

TPN: Once you get a chance to actually see the sights, there’s a lot of quirky little monuments to St. Mary’s culture.

TJ: Are they on the website, the “seven wonders of St. Mary’s?”

TPN: They might be on there somewhere, but it’s a very informal institution I guess. But there’s a painting of all seven wonders in The Pub. 

TJ: I haven’t been in The Pub! But I’m going to come back in May for commencement weekend, so maybe then I’ll get to see all that stuff.

TPN: Yeah. There’s some fun backstories to some of those monuments, I’m sure whoever gives you a tour will be very willing to tell you about them. So what made you interested in St. Mary’s, and what aspect of the College community are you most looking forward to?

TJ: Well what interested me in St. Mary’s was actually the St. Mary’s Way. A colleague who was looking for a job came across the St. Mary’s presidency, and he sent it to me and said “Tuajuanda, you need to look at this. This is for you.” When I was reading about it I was really intrigued by the public liberal arts college.

TPN: It’s a weird genre!

TJ: I know! And it’s a really cool concept that requires some balancing. I’m intrigued by those kinds of challenges. And then when I was first interviewed in the airport interviews, everyone just seemed so comfortable and committed to the College. It didn’t feel like an interview, it just felt like people talking. And when I came to campus, the students at breakfast during my first morning there asked great questions, very thoughtful questions. And you could tell that they cared about the school, and that’s when I really started to get it. It felt like home. And even though I’m from Maryland, I’ve never been to Southern Maryland…

TPN: It’s like another state!

TJ: That’s exactly right! But being in a community where people really care about a place, and really care about intellectual enterprise–I could feel it on this campus. And then there’s all this water…

TPN: It’s something in the water?

TJ: It might be! Listening to the students, they seemed so passionate about stuff, which is always very good, and can be a little bit…not worrisome, but you never know where their passions are going to take them, and I’m intrigued by that. When I worked at Howard Hughes, I realized that I was an intellectual and academic at heart, so I needed to be on a college campus, and I needed to be around all of those smart people. There were no students [at Howard Hughes], and the grown-ups there were much more jaded, but students have all this energy and curiosity, and I missed that part. So St. Mary’s just feels great to me.

TPN: Okay, so this brings me to my final question: have you had one of Big T’s crepes in the Great Room yet, and if not you should make it one of your priorities when you come back.

TJ: Big T? Oh, he’s that big guy? I already met him! …On Wednesday I went there for lunch and I came in and he shook my hand and said “You’re the president! I’m Big T, I’m really happy for you!”

TPN: Wow, so you’ve already met one of the St. Mary’s characters! That’s just wonderful.

TJ: I don’t know any of the seven wonders except the Pond, but I’ve met Big T.

Nitze Scholars Program Halts Acceptances for Fall 2014

By Yna Davis, Contributing Writer

Due to recent budget cuts to many on-campus programs, the Nitze Scholars Program (NSP) will not be accepting new students to its program for the upcoming semester for the first time since its formation in 2001. The Nitze Scholars Program– named for U.S. Ambassador Paul Nitze, a former member of the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees– has been attracting high-achieving students and potential leaders to St. Mary’s for over a decade, but now the school is faced with the task of finding new ways to recruit high-achievers. Each academic year, the NSP has accepted a select group of about 15 students (comprised of first-years and sophomores)  to participate in specialized leadership courses and an international study tour, as well as to receive an academic scholarship. For the upcoming Fall 2014 semester, however, the NSP will not be accepting a cohort of students.

In an email to current Nitze students, Nitze Program Director and Department Chair of Philosophy and Religious Studies Michael Taber stated that, in spite of the cuts to acceptance, the program will remain as-is for students currently in the program. Past cuts to the program have resulted in the elimination of the Nitze Senior Fellow Lecture Series, a discontinued membership to the National Collegiate Honors Council, and discontinued attendance at national academic conferences.

These cuts, however, do not seem to be affecting the program much so far. According to the October 2013 Nitze newsletter, the discontinued national conference attendance will be supplemented with more local conferences, which are “more student-focused.” An advisory committee, comprised of faculty members and current Nitze students under the guidance of Dean of Faculty Beth Rushing, will be meeting later in the spring to develop a more in-depth vision for Nitze’s future.

From interviews with current students, who have requested to remain nameless, it appears that the allure of the program depends on the perspectives of the prospective student. According to one current Nitze, “I probably would not have attended St. Mary’s without the program. I was looking at other schools which were more expensive but seemed like they had more opportunities. Nitze was a huge incentive. However, now that I have really gotten to know St. Mary’s, I realize that I could have had a good experience without the Nitze Program. It was just an added incentive.” However, many students who apply but are not accepted to the NSP do attend St. Mary’s anyway. In one such student’s words, “When I was invited to reapply [for my sophomore year], I was not interested–the courses available to me were compelling and challenging enough that I saw no reason to change my plans.”

According to the Nitze student previously quoted, “I don’t think I will be personally affected by the cut in terms of classes or experiences, but it is disappointing that we won’t have a new cohort of Nitzes to join us at our group events.” The incoming first-year portion of this year’s Nitze cohort was already the smallest ever accepted, consisting of only nine students. This number was supplemented by selected sophomores who had stood out during their first year at St. Mary’s, bringing the cohort to eighteen total students.

It is possible that this will prove promising for St. Mary’s potential to continue attracting the type of high-achieving students that Nitze values. If nine qualifying students could be found among students who had already committed to St. Mary’s without the lure of Nitze, it is possible that the College will be able to continue attracting these types of students regardless of the decisions made regarding the NSP’s continuation.

SMCM's First Black Student Discusses Her Experience

By Yna Davis, Contributing Writer

On Friday, Feb. 28, Elizabeth Walker, the first black student to attend St. Mary’s (SMCM), returned to the school for a Black Student Union (BSU)-sponsored event in honor of Black History Month. While Walker’s visit was advertised as the main draw of the event, she was joined by a panel of three other black alumni: Kelsey Bush (’94), Jayson Williams (’03), and Esrael Seyum (’09) to discuss their experiences at St. Mary’s.

Held in Goodpaster 195, the discussion was introduced by junior Demara Austin, President of the BSU. The panel spoke in order of graduation year, beginning with Walker (’64), who chose to read a poem she had written about her experiences rather than give a speech. Titled “She Got Through,” a reference to a Mulberry Tree article about her experiences, the acrostic poem addressed her struggles, her faith, and the help she received from her family and community throughout her experience.

Each of the panelists who followed spoke on a different aspect of his experience at St. Mary’s. Bush, a first-generation student, had transferred from Lincoln University, a historically Black university. Bush had focused on creating teachable moments and a safe space during his time here, believing that “college should be a place where you’re safe to ask those questions and not be chastised.” He joked about White students’ questions about hair and tan lines, but also commended the diversity in the panel’s audience: “If the BSU had held an event while I was here, you wouldn’t see the mix!”

Williams, who is now involved in Prince George’s county politics, found his political passion at St. Mary’s. When he began running for  Student Government Association (SGA) office, however, he faced doubt that he could win. He said, “There was just this air of ‘you cannot succeed because of the color of your skin’ and it wasn’t coming from the White students, it was coming from the other Black students.” Things changed after he was elected as the first Black SGA President at St. Mary’s, however, and ultimately, Williams said, “The things I learned at St. Mary’s inspired me.”

An immigrant from Eritrea, Seyum, who now works with SMCM’s InterVarsity chapter, came to St. Mary’s avoiding African American students on campus. When an InterVarsity student with a strong belief in cultivating one’s identity pushed him to join the BSU, his experience changed. He said, “There’s something about feeling supported that gives you so much confidence.” Now, he encourages students to embrace their own identities: “Keep pushing your friends…keep embracing who you are.”

After the panel wound down with a few questions from the audience, the BSU presented each panelist with a gift, including a plaque for Walker, who responded with emotional stories from her experiences here. “I was not invited to any of the events that the president of St. Mary’s hosted…she didn’t shake my hand at graduation,” said Walker. “But it’s so good to see so many different people here today supporting each other.” Walker made it clear that a lot has changed since her time here. As first-year Stephanie Sraha commented, “There has been a definite change in social dynamics at St. Mary’s. If there was any doubt that this school, county, and state have come a long way, this reassured you.”

Presidential Search in the Home Stretch

In the coming months, St. Mary’s will finally have a new captain at the helm.  Gail Harmon, the Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee, sent out an all-student e-mail on Feb. 19 which gave an overview of the ongoing search for a full-time president to take office after the departure of current interim president Ian Newbould next fall. According to the e-mail, Witt/Kieffer, the search firm responsible for advertising the position and generating SMCM’s presidential candidate pool, “received 85 formal applications for our presidency, compared to an average pool of 50-60 applicants for their other small college searches.”

Of these 85 applicants, 11 semi-finalists were interviewed by the Presidential Search Committee (comprised of trustees, faculty, students, and staff) off-campus on Feb. 26 and 27. Following these interviews, three final candidates, who were selected during these interviews, will come to campus on March 6, 11, and 13, at which time they will engage in meetings and conversations with students, faculty, and staff and in open sessions for all members of the St. Mary’s community. Harmon said in an interview on Sunday, March 2 that the names of the candidates will likely be announced on Monday, March 3.

After the on-campus visits, she said, the Board plans to conduct an online survey in which the campus community will be able to indicate their opinions and reactions to each candidate.  This survey will be a continuation of the Board’s gathering of student feedback on the presidential search process; students had the opportunity last semester to voice characteristics that they would like the president to have or policies that they would like the new president to address during open-meetings hosted by the Board and the search firm to discuss these issues.

Taylor Schafer, a junior and Student Trustee-in-Training, is a member of the Search Committee who has had a hand in narrowing down what qualities the Committee is looking for in a president.  “As a whole committee, we want someone with a fine academic background, a believer in the liberal arts, a strong sense of leadership, and success in fundraising–both from donors and through the state legislature,” she said. “We want someone who will know what questions to ask immediately upon arriving to campus in the summer in order to not only learn the community and culture, but also to understand our most prominent needs so they can be addressed.”

Harmon predicts that she will announce the Search Committee’s final presidential selection “certainly before the first of April,  and hopefully a lot earlier.” Schafer echoes Harmon’s confidence about the quality of the candidates for SMCM’s next president. “I’m very proud of the committee’s work and very excited to present our three finalists to the campus community,” she said. “I firmly believe the finalists are all excellent and viable candidates for the position.”

The Life and Times of the Calvert Porch

Dorch Porch is a soggy ashy mess. QA Porch is nice for first-year girls to get that fresh-baked tan next to the pond after a long winter. But it has long been an unspoken agreement that the porch on the second floor of Calvert Hall is the best porch at St. Mary’s. Of all the residences on campus, Calvert has an unbeatable view of the St. Mary’s River, which provides a sparkly blue backdrop to the charming red-brick Trinity Church and its lush graveyard, green and fertile thanks to its ancient inhabitants. It’s a sight that I will always be pining for after I graduate this year.

One of the main highlights of my sophomore year, when I lived amongst the creaking stairways and rotund windows of Calvert Hall, was the strong but strange community forged amongst the Hall’s residents by virtue of their collective use of the Porch. In comparison to the formality of the first-floor of Calvert which houses many administrative office, the second floor porch formed the building’s seedy upper-world. On any day in any weather, one was always likely to find a friendly face, a listening ear, or a free cigarette waiting for the Porch.

The complexities of language when used in the pursuit of love. The drudgeries and affirming joys of life. Magic the Gathering. Every topic was fair game among the Porch-dwellers. We even made up a game called “porch ball.” The premise was to knock around one of those cheap bouncy balls that you’d find at Walmart for as long as possible and to keep it in the air by any means possible. The only rule was that if the ball fell off the Porch into the bushes below, whoever touched the ball last had to retrieve it. And the game would continue.

I found the Porch endearing simply for its shabbiness in contrast with the glorious beauty of its surroundings. Three sagging couches that had seen better days (two the kind with wooden arms provided by res-life, and one plush but cigarette-scarred lazy-boy recliner whose origin has been lost to the ages) circled a small weathered tree stump splashed with painted color whose function doubled as a table and footrest. The sill of a window looking out to the porch directly behind one of the couches is painted win blue with the phrase “but for the sky there are no fences facing.” Certainly, the Calvert Porch was an environment in which the residents of the hall felt relaxed and uninhibited. 

The Porch itself, and not just its people, has always been like a reliable friend to me. One Sunday morning around 4 am, I was awoken by a nauseating feeling as a college student is wont to feel on a Sunday morning. My first instinct was to get some fresh air. I pushed open the door to the porch, the one with the screen peeling out of its frame, and I was immediately overtaken by the cool rush of breath from the river silvery in the cloudy early morning light, providing some much-needed comfort. I drank in that air like water. In that instance, my senses were fully present in taking in where I was and how  second by second my mind and body were being benefited and grounded by the crushing sound and sight of the trees surrounding the church swirling their leafy skirts.

It saddens me to see that those couches that had provided the setting for many memorable conversations are now gone. They have been replaced with hard, unfeeling lawn chairs. Whenever I revisit the old stomping grounds, it feels like a different place. It has been the end of an era. “Calvert Porch was a crucial element in my growth as a member of the St. Mary’s community. It made me the man I am today,” said senior Mike Harp, who was one of my Porch-compadres. “But we need to bring those couches back.”

According to our Web Editor Dillon Swensen, who took refuge in Calvert during the Great Mold Plague of ’12, the Calvert Porch “tastes of nostalgia. And hope. It gave me a home when I had none, and a sense of community when I was still a floundering freshmen. But without the couches that once dwelled there, it feels so plastic. So artificial. Like all the joy has been leeched from the world. I miss those ratchet-ass couches. Where else are we supposed to stub out our cigarettes?” It is my sincere hope, and a personal goal of mine, to take up an alumni fundraising campaign to purchase brand new couches for the Calvert Porch. Over the years, I hope that they will fray and stain into a beautiful patchwork  of life that will prove that they were used and loved to bits by many generations of students. The students will come and go; but porches, arguably, will stand the test of time.

Special Education Forum: A "St. Mary's Way" Event

By Gabrielle Collins, Vice President of Student Education Association and Class of 2014

St. Mary’s Student Education Association (SEA) and The St. Mary’s College of Maryland Best Buddies Chapter are preparing for their first collaborative event, the Special Education Forum, on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Five guest speakers, all current or past educators in St. Mary’s County Public Schools, will grace St. Mary’s College of Maryland with their presence and knowledge of various facets of Special Education. Professors, students, and families of St. Mary’s County will gather in Montgomery Hall at noon for refreshments and the chance to discuss their concepts of Special Education before attending three informational sessions.

The Best Buddies Chapter  will promote their mission of tolerance, acceptance, and friendship for everyone, and reaffirm their partnership with the College of Southern Maryland at the forum, as well as speak about, and publicize, the  “Spread the Word to End the Word” event to be held later in March.  Senior Karen Wathen, a current SMCM English major and Public Relations Manager of St. Mary’s County Special Olympics, will also attend the forum to inform the community about the determined spirit and positive morale sustained by St. Mary’s County Special Olympians throughout their annual Spring Olympic Games. If those details of the Special Education Forum do not have you hooked yet – brace yourself, there’s more. The final event will be a question and answer panel with parents of students with special learning and educational needs.

To witness and listen to the personal accounts of these parents will be a unique and invaluable experience, as no textbook or online article you could ever access will open your eyes quite like this. The forum is not the kind of event your average St. Mary’s student would want to miss. This forum allows students to learn about a new area of study from not only experts and teachers, but parents and young adults who know firsthand what it means to have a disability. Come support education for everyone and reaffirm the St. Mary’s Way in a new light.

Colloquium Discusses Importance of Oysters

By Danielle Fullerton

Last Wednesday, Feb. 19, I attended the Natural Science and Mathematics Colloquium hosted Dr. Loren Coen from Florida Atlantic University to speak about reef-forming oysters, their biology, ecosystem service, and related restoration.  I was excited to learn more about restoration efforts and new research in the field.

In his presentation, Dr. Coen enabled non-biology students to be able to understand oysters and their importance to the ecosystem. Dr. Coen stressed that in the U.S. alone, oyster reef area has decreased 64 percent and the biomass has decreased 88 percent over 30 years.  He pointed to the causes of this drastic decline to be overharvesting, low-dissolved oxygen, pollution, disease, and introduced and invasive organisms.

He also explained that oysters are very important filter feeders and can filter up to 2.5 gallons of water per hour.  This can lead to controlling HAB blooms. Oysters can also remove silt and incorporate nutrients, and improve water clarity and quality.  The ecosystem services are vast and range from supporting, regulating, and cultural uses.  By this point in the presentation, I was ready to learn how I can help and what the restoration efforts were. However, when I looked at the clocked, it ticked dangerously close to 6p.m.

Running out of time, Dr. Coen rushed through the restoration research, which could enable students to get involved with these efforts. The Chesapeake Bay is the backyard to St. Mary’s and means so much to the students here. I couldn’t help but to think that this information can lead to more viable conversations about oysters and restoration.

The Natural Science and Mathematics Colloquiums are important for furthering one’s education and finding a real-world example of what one may have learned in the classroom.  I recently attended a colloquium on Cephalopods by Dr. Nathan Tublitz. Similarly to Dr. Coen, he was able speak to a wide range of audiences, with no biology or cephalopod background, about these interesting creatures, with videos and understandable language.

This colloquium is an example of a success in the Natural Science and Mathematics Colloquium series because it enlightened and enhanced the interest in such a misunderstood group of organisms.