Title IX Office at SMCM Discusses Recent Changes

By: Nicholas Ashenfelter

It is no secret that there have been recent changes to the Title IX regulations, but there is some uncertainty over what exactly these changes entail. On August 28, Michael Dunn, the Director of Title IX Compliance and Training, and Helen Ann Lawless, the Title IX Investigator/Prevention Specialist hosted a Title IX Community Meeting via Zoom. Here they were able to shed some light on the details of the new policies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) and across the country. These regulations were released on May 6 of this year and implemented on Aug. 14. 

President Donald Trump’s administration put the 2020 guidelines into effect by changing the federal regulations surrounding Title IX. The previous administration had simply suggested guidelines through the use of a “Dear Colleague” letter. The key difference here is permanence. If a future leader wishes to challenge these regulations, they will have to go through the same process as the Trump administration. This includes a “notice and comment” period, in which every single criticism must be considered. In this case, there were over 124,000 criticisms. 

These new regulations primarily slimmed down what was covered by the Title IX rules, including “narrowing the definition of sexual harassment,” as reported by Lawless. The Department of Education (ED) defines sexual harassment as “any instance of quid pro quo harassment by a school’s employee; any unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access; and any instance of sexual assault […], dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking.” 

Under the previous guidelines, SMCM would pursue action for students who were victims of sexual violence off school grounds; however, the new regulations do not require enforcement of this– only “at houses owned or under the control of school-sanctioned fraternities and sororities,” as explained by the ED. Mandatory reporters are similarly fewer in number. Dunn reported that the text now reads that “officials with authority” must report events, a far cry from the previous guidelines that included everyone from the SMCM President to Orientation Leaders. Dunn said the ED’s motivation for these changes was an effort to “correct the pendulum that Obama swung” based on their concerns that too little emphasis was placed on the rights of the accused.  

Before anyone begins jotting these new rules down, it is worth noting that Lawless and Dunn are doing their best to preserve the old guidelines, while respecting the new regulations. The wording is that schools “may” act as outlined; despite the force of law behind these regulations, there is a degree of freedom in their application. Dunn and Lawless expressed concern that changes to legislation could come with every new administration, which could lead to confusion on the nature of Title IX policies. To remedy this, they intend to keep as much as possible about Title IX the same from year to year, no matter who enters the Oval Office. Another consistency worth noting is that “the definition of consent is unchanged” by the new regulations– a point emphasized by both Dunn and Lawless. 

One major procedural change for SMCM is what happens after a report is filed. Under the old regulations, for a formal investigation, Lawless and one other staff member would conduct an investigation to determine if there was evidence of a policy violation. Under the new regulations, both accuser and accused are allowed “an advisor, and the right to submit, challenge, and cross-examine evidence at a live hearing”–a substantial change from the old guidelines. In anticipation of potential emotional strain, the new regulations also “[shield] survivors from having to come face-to-face with the accused during a hearing and from answering questions posed personally by the accused.”

In addition to the ED’s requirements, SMCM and the state of Maryland have both provided assistance for students. Schools are permitted “to conduct Title IX investigations and hearings remotely,” as stated by the ED, so SMCM is prepared to run hearings, including cross-examinations, over Zoom. This way, accusers and the accused do not have to be in the same room. Maryland has stepped up to ease the financial burden by providing funds to help obtain legal counsel. This will ensure all students can be fairly represented, regardless of income. Most importantly, survivors can always elect to avoid the formal investigation process. 

Dunn expressed regret that the time frame before implementation of these regulations “didn’t allow for more student or community response,” and said that he wants feedback, which students and faculty may provide through email. So far, Dunn and Lawless have had two community meetings in May and two in August, and hope to have more as the year continues. In addition, one can contact individual members of staff as well as read the Title IX information at mailto:titleix@smcm.edu or read the new Title IX information on the website at https://www.smcm.edu/title-ix/. As SMCM gets used to the Title IX changes, Dunn has only one piece of advice– “stay tuned and buckle up!”

New Campus COVID-19 Guidelines

Maggie Warnick 

      As the semester gets into full swing, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM)  has created new safety guidelines in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the COVID-19 handbook, the College’s “aim is to reopen in the spirit of The St. Mary’s Way in as safe a manner as possible given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.” In light of this, there are new procedures and protocols for students to keep in mind. 

SMCM is now a fully masked campus, with requirements for face coverings over nose and mouth at all times, except when actively eating, drinking or in a private room or vehicle. There is also a requirement to remain six feet apart from others when possible. If students, faculty or staff are experiencing symptoms, they are expected to report this to SMCM and not visit campus. Symptoms are listed by the CDC as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea, and these symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Testing is available through the campus Wellness Center.             

One of  the most noticeable changes from previous semesters in response to COVID-19 is access to the Great Room and other dining options. Exits and entrances are separately marked, along with spaces six feet apart from other diners, and all food is placed into to-go containers. The Great Room will continue to provide hot food options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as prepackaged food options. Solomon’s Kitchen (the Pub) will have grab-and-go options for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, as well as late-night food Thursday through Saturday. 

 The guidelines for housing occupancy maximums have also changed. Single occupancy rooms may have one guest, townhouses four guests, eight-person suites two guests, 14-person suites may have 14 people in the suite at one time and outdoor gatherings are restricted to 10 people. Non-student guests are not allowed in buildings except for move-in day, and no overnight visitors are permitted. Students are required to remain on campus except for essential purposes. 

  Sports facilities are open, and require masks and social distancing, and sports teams are allowed to hold outdoor practice after September 1. 

Many changes to campus life have been made in this unique semester, so for further knowledge students should consult the SMCM COVID-19 Handbook to answer any questions or concerns, and familiarize themselves with the new guidelines.

 It can be accessed through the school website at https://www.smcm.edu/reopening-smcm/wp-content/uploads/sites/121/2020/08/Employee-Handbook.pdf and students should have received an email with a link to the handbook as well.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland Fall 2020 Phased Move-In

Clare Kelly 

On August 11, President Tuajuanda Jordan declared a phased return to campus. Rather than all students returning to campus on August 15 as planned, students were assigned new move-in dates based on their housing location, with move-in dates spanning from August 15 to September 7. In her message to the community, President Jordan assured students, staff, faculty and parents that the College has “ been closely monitoring local, state, and national COVID-19 conditions.” The College took into consideration the wellbeing of freshman and transfer students; therefore, they moved in as planned to better adapt to college life. The phased move-in allowed the St. Mary’s community to gather information on how prospective locations should function with this unprecedented time. 

Concerns surrounding the steady rise in COVID tests throughout Maryland, and qualms about the ability of local facilities to handle the influx of students returning to campus convinced the college to change their initial fall 2020 move-in plans. St. Mary’s College of Maryland administration decided a phased move-in would mitigate the strenuous impact on the campus, students and the surrounding community. President of the Class of 2023, Nicholas Howard (‘23), shared  “I’ve embraced the reasoning behind having the phrased move-in. Though I understand that COVID has posed many challenges, the last-minute email created many problems. ” 

The College took extra considerations to ensure marginalized students still had access to the tools they needed to start classes on August 17. Derek Young, the Executive Director of Student Life and the Interim Dean of Students shared the exceptions to the new move-in policy and directed those students to complete a form. The College indicated that students with internet issues, incompatible college environments, already purchased plane tickets or  labs required to complete a class during the three-week move-in time were eligible to complete the form. 

After September 7, move-in will officially be considered complete and all of the students who wished to return to campus will be back.  Kyle Musselman (‘21) mentioned: “I thought [the phased re-opening of campus] was a good idea overall, but the fact that senior housing was last [to move in] was upsetting (but I’m biased). Also, I think it should have been communicated earlier, the fact that I signed up to move in and then had to wait another three weeks was frustrating and upsetting. 

President Jordan ended her email with an uplifting message: “As our St. Mary’s Way reminds us, our College is a place ‘where people contribute to a spirit of caring,’ a place that causes us to hold ourselves accountable and respectful of each other.” As the last phase of students settle into campus, it is important to be mindful of one another and to respect the College’s protocol by wearing a mask and adhering to the six feet social distance guidelines.

North Woods to Form Commune

Written by Kristina Norgard.

The students of St. Mary’s College of Maryland are known to be adventurous, outdoorsy, progressive, and willing to take some risks every now and then. Because we are a campus that boasts an impressive riverfront with surrounding wooded areas that are begging to be explored, The North Woods behind the upperclassmen housing of Waring Commons, has become a popular place to “explore.” 

Between and after class “adventures” have become more and more frequent for a fellow group of students. A few weeks ago, the Woods only had an abandoned lifeguard chair, a table, and a few other unmentionable items scattered around. Today, there are more than just the tents they started living in out there – they have built a few brick houses and even a hairdresser and a bakery that has brought some serious competition to Enzo’s in Historic St. Mary’s City.

We interviewed a member from the junior class (‘21) who said that their “escapades” have become so frequent that they have now “dropped their housing and meal plans after building a small village between sociology and painting classes.” This group of students has now reached a headcount of more than 25 and has simply started calling themselves “The North Woods Commune.” 

Some fellow members of the senior class (‘20) have been concerned about the members of the senior class who spearheaded the idea of the commune, noting that it could possibly be a coping mechanism for not wanting to graduate and leave the river. (The wellness center has walk-in hours as well as the career center, because seniors, we care about you). We interviewed a senior resident who lives on the greens, “My roommate moved out two weeks ago and she hasn’t been back since. I went and visited her a couple of days ago and she insisted that she wasn’t going to return back to Homer anytime soon. She said that the woods were her home now and nothing could tear her apart from the fresh air, her sourdough starter, and her twenty-two plants growing out of recycled ceramic mugs.” 

Some public safety employees have been concerned about the student’s wellbeing and have been seen pacing outside the treeline of the woods, but not walking actually inside. We reached out to public safety for a comment on this, but they declined to respond. 

A few professors have been rumored to also be spotted after class in the new commune. There have been mixed reactions from faculty across the board as to what the students have started doing (according to a poll sent out to every member of the SMCM community for a psychology SMP). Overall, as a result of the poll, students and faculty have reached a 65.8% approval rating for the commune so far. The biggest complaint from the 34.2% was the “pungent” smell that now lingers from the north end of campus. 

If you or someone you know from the St. Mary’s community has any thoughts about the new commune, feel free to reach out to the paper and let us know how you feel.

Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

Joe Biden to Hold Presidential Rally at Nearby Solomons Island Venue

Written by Devin Garner.

Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 election Joe Biden will be holding a rally at a local venue in Solomons Island, Maryland. Biden will introduce his vice presidential running mate and will further unfold his platform for his campaign.

When the news came out that Biden would be holding a rally in Solomons, constituents from around the Southern Maryland region were stunned. One Biden supporter stated, “I am shocked that he will be coming down here to this area. While I am surprised, I am very proud that we will be able to show off this beautiful town that Southern Maryland has to offer to such a great presidential candidate.” 

In Biden’s press release about holding a rally in Southern Maryland, he argued, “It is important that all my supporters across all regions are aware of my goals as president. I want to reach every supporter across the country. I am going to represent all people.” As he continued, Biden remarked on the beauty of the region and his admiration for the great state of Maryland, explicitly mentioning St. Mary’s county.

When explicitly talking of St. Mary’s county, Biden mentioned St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He acknowledged the prestige of the college and stated the possibility of visiting after his rally. He stated, “I have been made aware of the National Public Honors College here in Southern Maryland. Many have told me that this college is a hidden gem. I hope to take a walk through campus and shake many of the students’ hands across campus.”

Upon hearing this news, the college’s twitter account reached out to Biden’s campaign and stated that they would love to have him on campus. The college tweeted, “We would love to have you @JoeBiden, please provide contact information so that we can arrange for you to come to campus.”

When many of the students across campus heard the possibility of Biden coming to campus, they were shocked. One student said, “This is unbelievable. The possibility of the future president of the United States coming to campus is absolutely incredible.” One student even remarked on a rumor that they had heard, “I heard Biden will be coming to many lectures across campus and will discuss his political experiences.” This will provide a great opportunity for students and will allow them to build a further connection with him.

Until the visit is officially announced to the college, students are still questioning the possibility of whether or not Biden will actually visit the campus. One student remarked, “This is an exciting possibility but I doubt it will actually happen.”

Biden will be holding his rally on April 1 at the Calvert Marine Museum stage. The Calvert County police are preparing for a big crowd for the event. After, Biden will visit a local pub–the Green Door– and have dinner with Maryland government officials. Biden remarked, “I am thrilled by this opportunity and cannot wait to see all of you Marylanders come out and support me. We are going to win this election.”

Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

Great Room Soft Serve Found to Contain Trace Amounts of Laxatives

Written by Rebecca Raub.

Recently, many students at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) have been complaining of stomach issues, especially right after eating at the Great Room. In a survey of a wide range of SMCM students, 80% shared that they have experienced this phenomenon. In particular, it seems that the soft serve machine may be the culprit, as all of the students that shared that they’ve been having these issues have one thing in common: the preference of having ice cream as a dessert after meals. 

A freshman at St. Mary’s, who wished to remain anonymous, shared, “I used to never have these issues before I came to college. I’ve heard people make jokes about the Great Room putting laxatives in our food, but I’m starting to think this stuff is serious.” He went on to say, “Every day after lunch and dinner, I get chocolate ice cream from the soft serve machine. And every day after lunch and dinner, I need to sprint to the bathroom. Seriously- I usually finish my dessert before my friends, so I’ll just be sitting at the table waiting when I get that feeling in my stomach. I’ll give my friends a look, and they instantly know what’s up. They know that I’ll be gone for about 30 minutes and not to worry. I’m lucky that they wait for me.” 

When asked why he did not just choose another dessert, the student said, “Well, I know I might regret my life choices immediately after I eat the soft serve, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Many other students seem to share the same philosophy. 

In fact, a member of the Great Room head staff shared, “We have received several complaints about the ice cream causing stomach problems, but so far, the soft serve has still been in high demand, and we still see many students eating it.”

When asked about why the soft serve may be causing so many problems, a Great Room employee shared, “Okay, promise you won’t tell anyone. But I think I know what’s been happening. I went to my doctor and he told me that I should start adding MiraLax powder to my drinks for…reasons. So one day, I was supposed to fill the soft serve machine up and I realized that I had forgotten to take my daily dose. I quickly brought my drink and the container of MiraLax over so that nobody would see, and I was filling my drink up when my hand slipped.”

She continued, “Next thing you know, half of the powder from the container is in with the soft serve. I quickly mixed it in so that nobody would see what happened, not thinking about what that would do for those who ate it. I didn’t want to say anything to anyone, because first of all, they would know about my stomach problems, and second of all, I’d get in so much trouble. I apologize for all of the bathroom visits that I have caused.” The employee wished to be kept anonymous.

It seems that this may be the reason for laxatives being found in the soft serve, however, the employee assured me that this will never happen again. Although this may urge people eating in the Great Room to stay away from the soft serve, a little bit of laxatives won’t hurt you, plus there is no other place on campus to get soft serve.

Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

St. Mary’s Student Concussed by Falling Shoe from Shoe Tree

Written by Olivia Sothoron.

On Wednesday, April 1, a St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) student was walking back to their dorm in Prince George’s Hall when they were struck on the head by a shoe falling from the Shoe Tree. The student was knocked unconscious by the falling shoe and was immediately rushed to the St. Mary’s County Hospital where he remains in critical condition. 

The shoe tree, one of SMCM’s seven wonders, was first reported in a 1992 article featured in The Point News. In the early 1990s, the tree was considered an installation of student art. However, by 1997, it came to be known as a marker for memorable “firsts” on campus, whether it be your first A on a college exam, your first meal in the Great Room, or, you know what I mean. 

Some members of the SMCM community do not support the Shoe Tree, arguing that it is a tacky feature of the campus which tarnishes the appearance of the College. “I have never liked that tree,” remarked an SMCM groundskeeper who specializes in the South Campus area. “It just looks trashy and it was only a matter of time until someone was hurt by the careless actions of the students who wasted good shoes on that tree.” 

The tree definitely captures the attention of prospective students and their parents when they first tour the school. One touring prospective student stated, “My mother and I were a bit confused when we first saw the tree with all of the hanging shoes, but then we passed someone on campus who informed us that pretty much everything that goes on around Dorchester Hall is strange and confusing.” 

While the Shoe Tree is a memorable feature of SMCM, it is definitely a safety hazard, as demonstrated by recent events. The injured student, who wishes to remain anonymous, recounted the events of that day, stating, “I was just walking back to my room to do some homework when I heard a branch snap. I looked up at the Shoe Tree and saw an old, weathered high-top Converse hurtling downwards from the tree straight for my face. Everything went black, and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital.”

President Tuajuanda Jordan did not wish to comment on the recent event; however, another member of the Executive Board of SMCM released the following statement: “We offer our deepest sympathy to the student who was recently harmed by the falling shoe from the Shoe Tree. As St. Mary’s faculty, it is our job to protect the students. We are working on establishing deeper precautions to prevent any similar occurrences from happening in the future.” 

While the Shoe Tree is dangerous to the students walking underneath it, it is still a prime example of the mantra “Keep St. Mary’s Weird” (there are few things more weird than a tree draped with people’s shoes). There have been protest posters posted throughout the campus, arguing against the removal of the tree. One student remarked, “[the Shoe Tree] is a part of the St. Mary’s tradition. We simply cannot get rid of it. I’m sorry for the student who was injured, but if we need to institute college-funded helmets to protect the students, I am all for it.”

Everyone at The Point News wishes the injured student a speedy recovery. Hopefully the concussion will not impact their ability to look at their computer screen to join their class meetings on Zoom. 

Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

Bath Bombs: The Sensation That Gripped SMCM Nation

Written by Clare Kelly.

Bath bombs are the latest fad! People use, make, and give them to one another. These objects of every shape and size—for they’ve evolved from the common, traditional shape of a sphere—have taken over every body of water from baths to pools. And, well, now they’ve come to St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM)–yes, even the little college, way down on the Western peninsula of Maryland. Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology students deliberated with each other for weeks regarding the prospect of releasing a large bath bomb into the St. Mary’s River. The chemistry students studied the mechanics behind the reaction of the baking soda and the type of water in the St. Mary’s River while the biology students wanted to ensure the bath bomb would be eco-friendly to the organisms that claim the river as their home. The mathematicians calculated the exact measurements to ensure the bath bomb’s circumference did not exceed the length and width of the river itself.

Ironically, the science and mathematics departments reported instances of missing supplies to The Office of Public Safety (PS). The faculty claim there have been strange occurrences of finding classrooms covered in baking soda. One staff member even acknowledged seeing a ghost in Goodpaster Hall, although, on second thought, she said it might have just been a student covered in cornstarch and baking soda—or perhaps it’s just Casper dropping in for a visit. The SMCM community may never know. In an interview these students commented, “It’s truly strange, I- ah -I wonder how they happened.” Well, so does the rest of the SMCM community, buddy.

In the spirit of the St. Mary’s Way, no posters or advertisements were made for the releasing of the 9ft ball of baking soda, starch, and all of the other ingredients that appear in a bath bomb,  yet, all of campus knew the time, place, and location of the unveiling. Students gathered at the waterfront in anticipation to see a great display. One spectator commented, “I’m excited to see the bath bomb. Rumors have engulfed all of campus, it has been the talk of the month.”

When the much-anticipated time approached, a Sysco truck pulled up to the St. Mary’s River Center. In much confusion, students chatted amongst themselves about the possibility of the truck being lost. Students began to swarm the truck to get the driver’s attention, but they just kept steadily backing up into the river, only stopping within feet of the water’s edge.

With a loud bang, the truck’s rear entrance snapped back to reveal the 9ft bath bomb. Students began to cheer and chant, as others helped roll the ball off the truck. To create the greatest effect, they decide to drop the ball off the side of the dock.

With one last cheer, the students settled into a deep silence as the bath bomb was pushed off the dock. Students watched the ball fall in silence, but all remained in suspense as they watched in anticipation for this ball of hope to re-emerge from the depths of the St. Mary’s River.

Students lined the decks, docks, grass, and boat ledges as they watched the bath bomb re-emerge to the surface. As the baking soda dissolved into the murky body of water—home to SMCM’s only Division 1 Team—colors of blue and gold emerged on the water of the river.

One student mentioned, “It’s beautiful to see all the students come together to grace the wonderful water of the St. Mary’s River with society’s greatest fad. What better way is there to commemorate THE National Public Honors College.”

It is without a doubt, that in all SMCM students do, they remain steadfast in their pride for the blue and gold. At the end of the day, they will do anything for their school, even if that means creating a 9ft bath bomb.

 Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

Wellness Center Hosts New Art Therapy Group

Written by Emily Murphey.

The St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Wellness Center has adopted a new way to reach out and help students through the use of what is known as “art therapy.” Maria Haugaard, a licensed counselor and art therapist at the SMCM Wellness Center has brought her love for art and counseling together to the  in her art therapy group. Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy which involves encouragement from a counselor for the client to freely express themselves whether in drawing, painting or modeling. Kelly Muldoon, another art therapist at the Wellness Center states, “sessions are for individuals, families, couples, and groups.” During these sessions, an art therapist might offer specific art directives to a client to help them approach an issue or topic that they might be struggling with. Or, an art therapist may invite their client to make whatever they would like in session if they just want to explore and create. Haugaard reflects “Chalk pastels can illustrate emotion through abstraction, and pencils a desire for precision.”

The benefits of the SMCM art therapy include allowing students to express their feelings in a tangible way in order to gain insight into their own psychological state, allowing students to relieve painful emotions in a creative manner and allowing students to become cognizant of feelings that they may be unaware of and to uncover the obstacles to heal. 

Before joining SMCM, Haurgaard used art therapy to help elderly and homeless citizens in D.C. while working with N Street Village.  At St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital she worked with several populations, including the forensic patients, incorporating art therapy. She also noticed how those in drug rehab used art therapy differently between pre- and post-treatment. Each of these settings allowed people who normally may feel separated from society to freely express their individuality while also working with others. 

As a licensed therapist, Haugaard helps in facilitating the group activities and the therapeutic process by encouraging participants to analyze their artwork after the session. She also provides counseling while doing so in a group setting. Haugaard notes that at the end of the sessions, participants’ attitudes towards themselves tend to be different than when they first began. Muldoon also adds “Sometimes for someone with different physical abilities, the goal in treatment is to pick up a paintbrush and be able to make some marks on the canvas or mix colors. Or, for someone who may have limited cognitive abilities, the goal is for sensory activation to help them engage with their senses. ‘Art as therapy’ is often used for the therapeutic value of art-making.” 

SMCM is one of the few colleges in the U.S. that incorporate art therapy into their college mental health programs. The SMCM art therapy group is a nine week session hosted each semester on Fridays. Programs differ each semester, whether they are intended to help those with body image, drug abuse, relationships and grief. Currently this semester, two sessions of “My place in the world,” and “Loss and Renewal,” are available for spring 2020. Each meetup takes place over an hour and 15 minutes. The first 10 minutes allow students to reflect on their last week’s art work. The next 45 minutes are used for art time, and the remaining 15 minutes allow for students to come together as a group to discuss what they made and internalize what they discovered about themselves. Haugardd concludes, “No art skills necessary!”’ Muldoon says “Art has been a universal language for hundreds of years, so making art is a way to help a student communicate, explore, and understand what it is they are working on.” Muldoon also believes that with art therapy, certain parts of the brain can be activated which are not always used in verbal communication. By integrating these parts, it allows the possibility for people to heal from traumatic events. 

For anyone interested to learn more about art therapy, please contact Maria Haugard mbhaugaard@smcm.edu or Kelly Muldoon at kmmuldoon1@smcm.edu.

College and State Response to Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Maryland

Written by Joseph McManus.

On Friday, March 6, President Tujuanda Jordan sent out an email message pertaining to new cases of COVID-19 discovered in Maryland. According to a memorandum distributed to all state employees from the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), three Maryland residents tested positive for the virus and were quarantined as of March 5. The Washington Post reported that all three individuals were Montgomery County residents.

In response to the presence of the virus in Maryland, President Jordan canceled the scheduled St. Mary’s Day on March 10, which was intended to promote civic discourse in anticipation of the 2020 Presidential election. On the cancellation of St. Mary’s Day, Jordan wrote, “This is an incredibly important activity for our community as it helps us navigate issues of inclusion that extend well beyond race and we sorely need help in doing that. Nonetheless, in spite of the fact that there have been no COVID-19 cases reported in Southern Maryland and to decrease the likelihood of mass exposure to a potentially infected individual, St. Mary’s Day will be re-scheduled to a later date.”

Despite the cancellation of the event, professors have been authorized to conduct classes as usual on Tuesday, though whether they choose to hold class is ultimately subject to their discretion.

Other college activities that have been canceled and suspended include all club trips that entail out-of-state travel to states “that have declared coronavirus-related emergencies” and all school sponsored international travel. The Programs Board trip to New York City which was scheduled to occur on March 7 was canceled as a result, among other events.

Dr. Jordan’s email also addressed restrictions on students, staff, and faculty who may be traveling to other affected areas over spring recess, suggesting they may be instructed to impose a 14-day self-isolation and to seek a medical diagnosis from a doctor before returning to the school.

Additionally, on March 5, Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in order to mobilize funding to the MDH and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, according to the MDH memo. The MDH Memo also states that those who have been to geographic areas of concern and exhibit symptoms, and those hospitalized for “unexplained acute lower respiratory symptoms” are eligible for testing at the MDH facilities in Baltimore.

Other schools in affected areas have chosen to alter their regular activities in response to the virus, including the University of Washington. According to The New York Times, the University of Washington is holding the rest of its class sessions online until March 20, the end of their spring quarter.

As spring break approaches and students disperse throughout the country and abroad, the college’s response is likely to evolve as to how the rest of the semester should be conducted in light of the virus. Whether or not classes and college activities will continue as usual for the remainder of the semester after spring break remains to be seen.