SMCM Best Buddies Adapts During COVID Pandemic

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

From club sports to academic clubs, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) offers a plethora of clubs for students to find something that fits their interests. Across campus, there are various clubs that work to give back to the community, including Knits for the Needy, Habitat for Humanity and Relay for Life. Another student-led organization at SMCM that works to give back to the community is Best Buddies. 

Best Buddies is an international organization that has chapters in many colleges and high schools, as well as some middle schools. Each chapter is partnered with a host site or group of individuals within the school, and members of the Best Buddies club volunteer to create opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. College chapters are paired with a host site and interact with individuals in the community, whereas high school and middle school chapters are paired with students from that same school. 

Since Best Buddies is an international organization, there is an annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference which members of the executive board are required to attend. At the conference, executive board members learn strategies to make their chapter as great as possible, while also having the opportunity to meet and get to know executive board members from around the world. In addition to the international conference, there are also local state training sessions throughout the year. SMCM Best Buddies president Lily Tender (‘22) explained that she keeps in touch with local representatives and executives throughout the year to help the club become as successful as possible. 

Tender has been involved in the SMCM chapter of Best Buddies since her first year, and she also participated in Best Buddies throughout high school while serving as her high school chapter’s vice president. She has worked to create opportunities for SMCM’s chapter of Best Buddies, and explained: “In a typical year we will have a barbeque, valentines day gala, friendsgiving potluck and more. We also like to go to SMCM sports games to support members of the club.” 

SMCM Best Buddies vice president Ashley Blasko (‘23) has been a member of the College’s chapter of Best Buddies since her freshman year, and she was also involved in Best Buddies for six years prior through her middle and high schools. Blasko explained that her favorite memories include going to Indiana for the leadership conferences. She also stated: “I loved our Friendsgiving celebration last year. We carved pumpkins and ate pizza and we just had a great time!” 

However, this is no ordinary year for SMCM clubs and organizations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In previous years, SMCM Best Buddies has met as an entire group on one Saturday of every month, with peer buddies meeting with their partners throughout the month as well. Tender explained that this year, since they cannot meet in person, they have transitioned to an all online format, with buddies meeting with each other over Zoom. She mentioned, “It has definitely been difficult because of technical difficulties but we are trying our best to make it work.” 

Throughout her years as a member of SMCM Best Buddies, Tender has helped coordinate many opportunities for SMCM students to socialize and interact with their buddies. She recounted one of her favorite memories from her freshman year when SMCM Best Buddies danced during the intermission of the dance show. Tender remarked that it “was really exciting and all the buddies had an amazing time!”
Best Buddies is a great way to join a fun and inclusive club that allows members to become involved in the community and to work with people who they would not ordinarily meet. For more information, check out the club’s instagram account @SMCMBestBuddies. One can also reach out to Lily Tender via her email: lrtender@smcm.edu.

SMCM Relay for Life Offers Numerous Fall Events Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s (SMCM) chapter of Relay for Life works tirelessly throughout the year to raise money for their big event in February to donate to the American Cancer Society. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has proved challenging to be able to host fundraising events in person, however, co-presidents Cady Gorsak (‘21) and Dianna Greene (‘22) have found ways to transition to online fundraising and are hosting events that follow social distancing protocols to adhere to the College’s guidelines. 

Throughout the month of October, SMCM Relay for Life has provided numerous fundraising activities to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s research on cancer prevention. Gorsak explained that planning for the October events began at the beginning of the semester, and hosted a virtual kickoff event on Sept. 30. 

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Relay for Life Club worked to create fundraisers that align with this theme. One fundraising event which has been offered throughout the month of October is Tea for Ta-Tas. Participants can purchase hot chocolate, tea, baking kits and teaware from Sipology, and 20% of the proceeds will go towards SMCM Relay for Life. In addition, the club has also been advertising Boo-B Grams, which are bags full of candy that can be purchased through a Google Form for $2. The candy bags were picked up on Oct. 30 during the Pumpkin Decorating and Costume Contest. 

Gorsak explained that she was most excited about the Pumpkin Decorating and Costume Contest because she loves fall and everything that has to do with pumpkins. Participants signed up and paid a fee of $8 to participate in person or $5 to participate virtually. The fees include the pumpkins as well as the decorating supplies. 30% of the proceeds will be donated to the winner of the pumpkin decorating contest, and the winner of the costume contest will be given a gift basket. 

In order to maintain social distancing and COVID-19 protocols, Gorsak stated: “We adapted our guidelines by having three blocks for the event to limit the amount of people per each time slot, so for the Pumpkin Carving and Costume Contest. Each of the three time slots will last 40 minutes. Then we will provide hand sanitizer and have wipes to wipe down tables that are used throughout the event.”

The main Relay for Life event held in February will more than likely be virtual, explained Angela Draheim (‘03), who has been involved as a member of the SMCM Relay for Life committee for as long as it has been at the College. She explained that she first became involved in Relay for Life when her mother-in-law was associated with the event in Washington County, MD. Draheim’s life has been greatly impacted by cancer, so she is happy to participate and raise awareness and money for cancer research. She stated that SMCM Relay for Life has a fundraising goal of $15,000 for their main event. Draheim mentioned: “The American Cancer Society has predicted nearly a 50% drop in donations this year due to COVID-19 so it is more important than ever to support this worthy cause in any way possible to ensure the continuation of the critically important research and patient programs that are supported by RFL fundraising.”

As the fall semester is wrapping up, Gorsak, Draheim, Greene and club co-advisor Dean Joanne Goldwater look ahead to the spring semester and their main event in February. During these uncertain times in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to continue to raise awareness and money for cancer research to ensure that those suffering from cancer can continue to receive the proper treatment to ensure their recovery.

Dodgers Win World Series Title for the First Time in 32 Years

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

ARLINGTON, TX – OCTOBER 17: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with Manager Dave Roberts #30 after the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the NLCS at Globe Life Field on Saturday, October 17, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Dodgers wrapped up their 60-game season by claiming the World Series title after beating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in the sixth game of the best-of-seven series. Down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Los Angeles’ catcher, Austin Barnes, scored on a wild pitch followed shortly by right fielder Mookie Betts, scoring on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Corey Seager, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead over the Rays. The Dodgers franchise now boasts seven World Series titles, with their previous title coming from their win in 1988 against the New York Mets.

2020 has presented challenges for all aspects of life, including in the realm of professional sports. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball’s (MLB) season was pushed back from a March start date to July, which meant that the 60-game season would turn out to be a sprint, rather than a marathon. The Dodgers picked up numerous additions before the 2020 season, including pitchers Blake Treinen, Alex Wood, and Jake McGee–who was picked up after being released by the Colorado Rockies in July. In addition to these new bullpen contenders, the Dodgers picked up Mookie Betts, a stud outfielder and productive hitter from the Boston Red Sox. Betts scored both the go-ahead run in the Dodgers’ championship game and added on an insurance run with a solo homerun shot in the bottom of the eighth. 

The Dodgers took advantage of a pitching change in the bottom of the sixth inning when Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled Blake Snell, the Rays’ ace who boasts a 3.24 career earned run average after giving up a single to Austin Barnes. Barnes’ hit was followed by a double by Betts, putting two runners in scoring position. Nick Anderson, who replaced Snell on the mound, gave up both the tying run and the go-ahead run, costing the Rays the lead for the rest of the game. 

Although this is their first title in 32 years, the Dodgers have made three World Series appearances in the past four years. Los Angeles Manager Dave Roberts said in an interview with CNN: “I had a crazy feeling that came to fruition. It’s just a special group of players, organization, just all that we’ve kind of overcome, I just knew that we weren’t going to be denied this year.” Roberts has managed the Dodgers since 2016, and accompanied his team on World Series appearances in 2017, 2018 and 2020, where they emerged victorious. 

COVID-19 tainted the 2020 MLB season and these fears remained inescapable even during the final game of the World Series. Heading into the top of the eighth, the Dodgers defense indicated that something was wrong by the shifts in the players’ positions. Edwin Rios entered into the game playing third base and batting eighth in the lineup, replacing Joc Pederson; Chris Taylor shifted from second base to left field; Enrique Hernandez entered the game batting third in the lineup, replacing Justin Turner at third base. Turner disappeared from the dugout and rumors started to emerge about an injury. After the Dodgers’ victory, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that Turner had received a positive COVID-19 test, which is why he had been pulled from the game. 

Turner had been asked to self-isolate after receiving his positive results, however, nobody prevented him from rejoining his team to celebrate the victory. World Series MVP Corey Seager told ESPN that Turner’s positive result is “gut-wrenching… It hurts me. I can’t imagine how he feels. If I could switch places with him right now, I would, because that man more than anybody deserves to take a picture with that trophy, celebrate with us, have his family around and enjoy this moment, and that got taken away from him, and that’s not right. That doesn’t sit well with me.”

However, Turner’s COVID-19 test results were not the only positive part of the night, as the Dodgers players and families celebrated their hard-fought victories throughout an unprecedented 2020 season.

Check-up with SMCM’s Pre-Med Club

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) offers a wide variety of clubs, spanning from educational disciplines to community service and everywhere in between. Given the state of the world due to the pandemic, many clubs have had to adapt to a strictly online format. Despite the online transition, club members are making the best of the circumstances and continue to meet regularly to participate in club activities. One club in particular that is remaining active during the pandemic is SMCM’s Pre-Med Club. 

The SMCM Pre-Med Club was recently revived last year by current co-presidents, Lauryn Ridley (‘22) and Megan Rankin Herring (‘22). The club’s website describes the organization “a space where all aspiring nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, pharmacists, doctors, and any other health care professionals can come together to celebrate the big wins while also helping each other through inevitable rough patches in [their] undergraduate journey.” 

Additionally, at the biweekly meetings, club members discuss tips for selecting and applying to medical school. They also exchange tips for how to earn the best grade possible in prerequisite classes as well as how to best study and prepare for exams. The club serves as a safe and comfortable environment for those interested in possibly pursuing a career in medicine to learn the ropes of the various science departments at SMCM and how to best build an application for graduate school. 

Although meetings have all been moved to an online format, the club continues to meet every week. Ridley, Rankin Herring and the rest of the executive board refused to allow the pandemic prevent the Pre-Med Club from hosting interesting events and activities for their members. Rankin Herring remarked: “We have a second year medical student, a genetics counselor, a physician’s assistant, and two rockstars currently wading through the medical school admissions process all coming to speak in the month of October. We are putting together a partnership with the local rescue squad, hosting a virtual 5K, and running an Shadowing and Internship Bootcamp within the club.” Also, Ridley remarked that over the summer, she used club-raised funds to purchase perishable food items to donate to a local food pantry, which is something that the club hopes to continue into the future. 

In addition to the numerous speakers and activities, Pre-Med Club Secretary Elisabeth Wellings (‘22) noted that the club has also started a mentorship program which allows younger club members to “shadow” members of the executive board. Co-outreach chair Saige Teti (‘23) helped institute this program, and recently helped select ten students to serve as mentors. Teti remarked, “I have a lot of experience with this stuff, so I thought I would share that knowledge…I am really excited about the group of people we picked!”

The SMCM Pre-Med Club is not limited to those who know for certain that they wish to pursue a career in medicine. Wellings explained: “That is what we are all about, helping students figure out the weight of being a pre-med student and then how to handle that weight.” Anyone is welcome to attend a meeting and get to know the hardworking executive board members and the amazing opportunities that the club has to offer. 

For more information, contact premedsmcm@gmail.com, laridley@smcm.edu or mrandkinherring@smcm.edu and follow the club on Instagram @smcm_premed. The club also has its own website, which can be found at premedsmcm.wixsite.com/medicine. 

Get to Know the Meaning of Life with the SMCM Philosophy Club

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) offers a wide variety of clubs, including those pertaining to certain disciplines, community service or activities around campus. This year it has been particularly difficult for some clubs to hold regular meetings. However, SMCM students continue to find a way to adapt and make the best of the circumstances. The Philosophy Club at SMCM has remained active during the pandemic and welcomes students to discuss and ask questions about morality, ethics and overall existence.  

Biweekly, the SMCM Philosophy Club meets to allow members to explore philosophical dilemmas and ideas. In addition to discussion, the meetings are typically accompanied by an activity, such as watching a movie or painting. The Philosophy Club is continuing to hold meetings over Zoom this semester, which will allow students to continue to consider and discuss philosophical questions, as well as socialize with their fellow club members. 

Co-president of the Philosophy Club Gina Fioravante (‘22) joined the club during her first year at SMCM. She found out about the Philosophy Club at the involvement fair during her first semester. Fioravante encouraged all students to join: “You do not need to be a philosophy major/minor to join the club! The philosophy club aims to provide a forum for students to discuss topics surrounding ethics, philosophy, and mindfulness in an open and inclusive environment.”

In addition to shifting the club’s meetings to an online format, Fioravante mentioned that the Philosophy Club is planning on hosting an outdoor and socially-distant movie night at some point during this semester, where members will gather to watch either “The Matrix” or “A Clockwork Orange.” Along with the outdoor movie night, Fioravante is also looking forward to the Halloween-themed meetings. She stated that last year, the club held a meeting focused on the philosophy of serial killers. 

Philosophy Club Vice President Mollie Rudow (‘22) has been a member of the club for the past two years. She stated that she found out about the club through the posters outside of the campus center. Rudow also explained that the Philosophy Club is welcoming to students of all disciplines. She mentioned, “Most of our discussions don’t require members to reference texts or have a background in philosophy, just be open to discussion and asking questions!”

Although Rudow is happy to be able to continue to hold club meetings over Zoom, she explained that she misses the in-person meetings, specifically pizza nights and art nights. Rudow remarked that art night was her favorite last year, as it allowed the members to gather and discuss the meaning of art. She stated: “the grooviest meeting we had was last year’s art night. We discussed what constitutes art, and if anyone is specifically qualified to say what is or isn’t art. While we had the discussion, we painted and doodled.”

In order to determine what club members are most interested in discussing this semester, the club executives are sending out Google Forms, which are then used to plan their upcoming meetings. Although they cannot meet in person, Rudow indicated that the Philosophy Club is making the best of their meetings over Zoom. In addition, the Club has been able to welcome new members from the first-year class despite their inability to host in-person meetings or an in-person involvement fair. Rudow commented, “I’ve also loved to see so many new faces this year— our community has totally grown with lots more freshman joining!”
The SMCM Philosophy Club invites students of all disciplines to attend meetings and explore philosophical questions. For more information on the Philosophy Club, reach out to Mollie Rudow at mprudow@smcm.edu or direct message the club’s Instagram account @philosophyclub.smcm.

St. Mary’s College to Offer Winter Term in 2020

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

For the first time in decades, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) will offer a winter term between the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. The winter term– or “Winterim,” as it is being called–was announced to students in an email from the Office of the Registrar on Sept. 9. The email stated that the Winterim “begins on December 14, 2020, and ends on January 12, 2021; final grades will be submitted by January 15, 2021. Classes can carry up to four credits and will be taught as either three-week or four-week courses.” 

The email also explained that students who enroll in the courses during the Winterim will be charged “the College’s published per-credit rate of $200 per credit.” In addition, some courses which require the use of a laboratory or studio could have an additional fee. For the purposes of Financial Aid, SMCM is counting the Winterim as a part of the Fall 2020 semester. This means that students who decide to take a course during the Winterim period who were considered full-time students in the Fall 2020 semester will not have to pay for an additional fee, and will only be charged $200 per credit. However, students who are considered part-time in the Fall 2020 semester and decide to take courses over the winter term could possibly be considered full-time students in the fall since the winter courses are counted as a part of the fall semester. 

Another email from the Registrar on Sept. 29 announced that registration for Winterim courses will become available on Oct. 19 and will remain open until Dec. 11. The email also stated that since the SMCM Portal is unable to handle registration for both the Winterim period as well as the Spring 2021 semester, registration for the Winterim period will be completed through a Google Form. 

The email on Sept. 29 also released the courses which will be offered during the Winterim period. SMCM faculty have the opportunity to submit proposals for Winterim courses. A list of the courses which have already been approved for the winter term can be found on the SMCM website under the Office of the Registrar and Winter Session. The Winterim period will feature courses in the following disciplines: anthropology, art, art history, astronomy, biology, chemistry, economics, educational studies, English, environmental studies, international languages and cultures, math, philosophy, physical fitness and recreational sport, political science, psychology and theater, film and media studies. The website also features course descriptions so that students can decide whether or not they want to take that specific course. 

The courses offered are not just CORE requirements, but also upper-level electives for specific disciplines. For example, Dr. Indrajit Chaudhury in the SMCM Biology Department is offering BIOL 480, which is Molecular Biology of Human Diseases. The course description states that “in this course students will learn a wide range of human diseases ranging from infectious diseases such as bacterial, viral (including COVID-19) and prion diseases, diseases of immune system, cancer, nervous system diseases, cardiovascular diseases and genetic diseases.” 

For more information on the Winterim period, visit the SMCM website and look under the Office of the Registrar and Winter Session. The Winterim 2020 semester provides an opportunity for SMCM students to get ahead on their credits while taking interesting courses in order to keep themselves busy over their winter break.

President Trump and First Lady Contract COVID-19

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. – President Trump is in Cleveland, Ohio for the first of three presidential debates. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

On Friday, Oct. 2 at 12:54 a.m., President Donald Trump announced in a tweet that he and the First Lady had tested positive for the coronavirus. The tweet read: “Tonight, [the First Lady] and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” 

Only 32 days before the Presidential Election, this announcement will prove challenging for the Trump Campaign, as he is unable to attend events for at least the next 14 days, potentially longer if he shows symptoms. An article by Peter Baker and Megan Haberman in “The New York Times” wrote that if Trump does start to show symptoms, “it could raise questions about whether he should remain on the ballot at all.” 

Although the White House did not specify how long Trump and the First Lady would remain in isolation, his campaign rally scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2 in Florida was canceled. Trump’s schedule for Friday, Oct. 2 was entirely stripped aside from a midday phone call regarding “COVID-19 support to vulnerable seniors.” Upcoming rallies within the next few days have also been canceled, such as events scheduled to be held in Wisconsin and Arizona.

White House physician Dr. Sean P. Conely stated: “The president and first lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence…Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.” The White House has not released whether or not the President and First Lady are experiencing symptoms, but they have assured the nation that Trump will continue to work from his home while in isolation. 

Trump’s contraction of COVID-19 could prove damaging to not only his health but also his campaign efforts. The President has downplayed the gravity of the virus for months, despite the loss of over 207,000 American lives due to the pandemic. He has made it clear for months that he does not believe scientific claims which demonstrate the effectiveness of wearing a mask, and has refused to do so in public. He has repeatedly brushed away the seriousness of the pandemic, asserting that the virus was “going to disappear” and that the end of the pandemic was “rounding the corner.” 

There is a possibility that Trump and the First Lady contracted the virus from Hope Hicks, a close adviser of the president. On Wednesday, Hicks accompanied Trump on a flight to Minnesota for a campaign rally. She began to feel sick and was quarantined on the flight home, disembarking from the back of the plane when it landed in Washington, DC. Hicks’ positive diagnosis was released on Thursday when Trump informed Fox News that he too was awaiting his test results. 

Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden announced in a tweet on Oct. 2 at 12:22 p.m. that he and his wife have reported negative test results for the coronavirus. The tweet stated: “I’m happy to report that Jill and I have tested negative for COVID. Thank you to everyone for your messages of concern. I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”

The 25th Amendment makes it possible for a medically incapacitated President to confer power to the Vice President for a short time and then reclaim authority after they have recovered. The amendment, ratified in 1967, has only been used three times: in 1985 by President Ronald Regan during a colonoscopy, in 2002 and 2007 by President George W. Bush also during colonoscopies. The possibility is there for Trump to transfer authority to Vice President Mike Pence while he remains in isolation. 

The President’s diagnosis will potentially damage his campaign efforts as his focus has been away from the seriousness of the pandemic which has taken the lives of countless Americans. The New York Times explains that “Since Reagan was shot in 1981, no president has been known to confront a life-threatening condition while in office.” More information will be sure to follow Trump’s recent diagnosis as well as his plans for the remainder of the campaign for the 2020 election. 

Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center Adapts to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

With the reopening of St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) for the return of students, the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center (MPOARC)  rules and regulations have been adapted in order to reopen for the use of students. Although students, staff and faculty are able to return to the MPOARC, exercise this year looks very different, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the College to institute various limitations to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

The MPOARC website lists the various guidelines which must be followed in order to use the facility, including: completing health screening and a temperature check upon entry, arriving in workout attire (no use of locker rooms), wearing a face mask at all times and wiping down equipment after use. In addition, the purchase of guest passes is not permitted this year in order to prevent people outside of the SMCM community from entering into the facilities. 

Another new guideline in place for the MPOARC requires all who wish to use the facilities to register for a specific time to use the equipment. In order to register for a time slot, one must download the IMLeagues application and create an account. Then, through the app, one can select the equipment which they wish to use, and they can reserve a time slot for that equipment. Time slots are limited to 45 minutes, before that time is up, patrons must clean their equipment and leave. After the patron leaves, an employee of the MPOARC will also wipe down the equipment, ensuring that it is properly sterilized before the next time slot. 

Lily Pohlenz (‘21) typically goes to the MPOARC between four and six times each week, where she visits both the fitness center for weightlifting as well as the cardio room, where she likes to use the stairmaster. In addition, since Pohlenz is a member of the SMCM Women’s Basketball Team, she will visit the auxiliary gymnasium to shoot around. 

Although Pohlenz agrees with the efforts being taken to prevent the spread of the virus, she expressed wishes to have an extra ten minutes added to each time slot to allow for her to thoroughly clean her equipment upon finishing her workout. She explained: “Sometimes I find myself just quickly wiping down and not really thoroughly cleaning the equipment I used just because I feel like I am short on time. The ARC employees do come by after we leave and clean all of the equipment for a second time, though I definitely would appreciate at least a full 60 minutes when working out.”

Pohlenz explained that IMLeagues is fairly easy to navigate, and she recommends that one register at least 48 hours in advance of their desired workout time in order to reserve the equipment and time slot they desire. Pohlenz remarked that she thinks having to reserve a time slot is good not only because it limits the amount of people who can use the facilities at one time, but also because it “is a great way to motivate people to go to the gym.” She continued, “If you have to sign up to workout, then you are more likely to go because you went through all of the effort of signing up in advance.”

However, Pohlenz mentioned that having to wear a mask, although necessary, complicates physical activity. It causes her to take more frequent breaks in order to avoid becoming lightheaded while engaging in extraneous physical activity. She also stated that wearing a mask during exercise is definitely more conducive to light intensity workouts, however, workouts of a higher intensity can be difficult with a mask as they make it more difficult to breathe. Pohlenz explained, “I have been and will continue to wear my mask while working out, because I do not want to get sick and I also want the ARC to stay open, but sometimes it is a tad bit difficult.”

It is obvious that wearing a mask is not ideal in an exercise setting, however, as Pohlenz explains, it is more important to be grateful that the MPOARC is open for use. Pohlenz stated, “I am just thankful that the gym is open and I would much rather be slightly light headed/irritated with my mask on than actually be sick with COVID and not be allowed to workout!”

For more information on the new guidelines or to make a reservation, visit the MPOARC website at smcmathletics.com. For more information on the College’s policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 around campus, visit the COVID-19 Dashboard on the College’s website.

President Tuajuanda Jordan Releases Updates on College’s COVID-19 Procedures in Townhall Meeting

By Olivia Sothoron

On Thursday, Sept. 17, Tuajuanda Jordan sent out an email to the entire St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) community announcing that the administration would be holding a Town Hall in regards to the College’s response to the new COVID-19 cases emerging on campus. President Jordan, as well as Provost Michael Wick, Wellness Center Director Laurie Scherer, Dean Derek Young, Vice President for Business and Chief Financial Officer Paul Pusecker and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Shana Meyer addressed concerns over the Zoom call. 

Jordan explained that the way in which the College monitors the status of COVID-19 cases on campus relies upon the college community’s positivity rate for four consecutive days, the positivity rate for two consecutive weeks, the quarantine isolation capacity as well as the county and state conditions. Throughout the meeting, Jordan kept emphasizing that “no one factor will cause the transition to remote learning.” 

One hopeful remark from Jordan during the meeting was that the College is not yet in a position that has made the administration begin to consider transitioning to fully remote learning. She continued that if the College does at some point come to this decision to go fully remote, they will work with the residential population to continue addressing the needs of students who have no place to go. 

In order to clear up confusion and to address questions which are frequently asked of the administration, Scherer explained the difference between various terms which are associated with the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. She defined “isolation” as “what happens to somebody who has COVID-19 and is a way to keep them away from the population.” “Quarantine,” on the contrary, is for “someone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. These people are to isolate, assess their symptoms and monitor their health.” She defined “close contact” as being “within six feet of someone for longer than 15 minutes,” and most close contact will be eliminated through the use of masks. 

Scherer also announced that the Wellness Center would begin conducting surveillance testing beginning on Sept. 20. An email will be sent out to randomly selected SMCM students–both residential and commuters–faculty and staff to be tested at an on-campus site. The point of surveillance testing, Jordan explained, is to look at the asymptomatic population in order to mitigate the spread of the virus by those who are not displaying symptoms. The surveillance testing is set up through the University of Maryland System and it promises results within 48 hours. University of Maryland Baltimore County is the primary vendor for all on-campus testing in all of Maryland. 

After the administrators spoke, Jordan opened the meeting up for questions. One of the questions asked was in regards to the campus’ decision to continue to allow tours, while preventing friends and family members of students from visiting campus. The administrators explained that the College is only allowing one tour per tour guide at all times, families must wear a mask and must maintain social distance at all times and visitors are asked to complete the symptom check and use hand sanitizer upon entrance. In addition, tours have been shortened to reduce the number of indoor locations that the prospective students visit, and all restrooms are off limits except for the restrooms in the Admissions Building. Tours are continuing in order to “provide the support for prospective students to see campus in a restricted way.”

Another question asked was in regards to the College’s ability to ensure that students are abiding by isolation requests. Director Scherer explained that any student who has tested positive or has symptoms is asked to isolate in a specific unit. In addition, the Wellness Center staff is in contact with the students in isolation daily in order to check in to see how they are doing. Students who test positive also have the option to go home. She also mentioned that a person living with someone who has tested positive should also be quarantined. 

These are very challenging and stressful times and it is important that everyone takes the proper precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, there are various sources across campus to provide help to students, staff and faculty. Scherer remarked: “Watch your health, use the symptom checker and make sure that you are doing okay. If you have any questions, please let [the Wellness Center] know. We care about your health and safety.”

All of the information regarding the College’s procedures for handling COVID-19 can be found on the COVID-19 dashboard on the SMCM website.

Artist Feature: Erin Moran ’20 Creates Art through Graphic Design

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

Erin Moran (‘20) is completing her major in art and a minor in anthropology. She has worked to focus her coursework on graphic design specifically within the fine arts field. Throughout her time at the college, she has created various artworks for the College, including creating the cover of the Fall 2020 edition of “The Mulberry Tree” and designing a t-shirt which is sold in the Campus Store. 

Moran came to St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) after completing her associate’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in graphic design. While she was enrolled in community college, she gained valuable experience with graphic design. She explained:  “A lot of my community college classes were digital media courses. I did a small internship with my community colleges athletic department where I was able to practice and learn new software.” This internship allowed Moran to gain experience working with various software programs and further developed her skills as a graphic designer. 

Although the SMCM Art Department does offer a few courses in digital media, many of Moran’s experiences come from her work around campus, creating digital art to promote the College. For the past year, she has worked as an intern in the Office of Integrated Marketing under Keely Houk (‘17) and has produced various publications used by the College’s social media sites as well as around campus. Moran stated that she found this position with Houk through a recommendation by one of her professors. She remarked, “Keely is the most amazing mentor and has taught me so much!”

Many artists have a creative process for producing their art, and Moran’s process is to sit down at a computer and jump right into the designing process. Her experience with various softwares allows her to have a firm understanding of which programs work best for certain artworks, and she is able to produce wonderfully crafted pieces through graphic design. In regards to her design process, Moran mentioned: “I skip right to the computer to sketch my designs. I think about what I want to do and just go for it.”

One of Moran’s more recent designs is featured as the cover of the Fall 2020 edition of the College’s alumni magazine, “The Mulberry Tree.” Moran brainstormed a cover page that demonstrates the various contributions and efforts of members of the SMCM community during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the main focuses of the cover is the impact of technology, which is something that has been able to keep people together during this uncertain time. Moran stated: “I brainstormed how COVID-19 has impacted my life and the lives of my fellow students. Technology has been a huge part of everyone’s lives and although we are all distant, the technology brings us together.”

After graduating from SMCM, Moran plans to pursue a career in graphic design at the professional level. She emphasized her willingness to work hard to achieve this goal. In addition, the best advice she has to give to others wishing to pursue a career in graphic design is “to never give up and to really pay attention to typography. Typography is everything.” 

Moran’s artwork can be seen around campus–including in the Campus Store on a t-shirt–on the College’s social media sites and in the Fall 2020 “Mulberry Tree” which was released on Friday, Sept. 18.