Usage of Solar Panels to Cut Energy Costs

One reason St. Mary’s is not your run of the mill school is that students have a real say in a lot of the decision making that goes on (depending on the area of course).

In the past year alone, amongst other initiatives, students have spearheaded movements to change the controversial “protest policy” in “To The Point,” as well as plans for a “footbridge,” and voted to give much needed monetary assistance to departments ailing from the budget cuts forced by a time of economic uncertainty.

But the ailing economy is not entirely to blame for our school’s current monetary troubles. It is my opinion that we spend too much on dirty energy that drives up costs and pollutes the planet.

If St. Mary’s wishes to retain and augment its status as an exemplary education that is affordable to a wide spectrum of people, we must kick the fossil fuel habit.

With money we spend purchasing energy that poisons the air, the water and heats the globe, we could be hiring new professors, offsetting the recent tuition and student fee hikes or purchasing first- rate lab equipment.

The Campus Sustainability Committee, as well as the Office of Facilities, and concerned students, have identified a myriad of ways we can convert to clean, renewable energy sources for our campus while also saving the college money by reducing volatile energy costs.

One of these projects that could be “shovel-ready” by the end of this year is the installation of solar water heating systems on one or more of the dorms. If you have ever left a garden hose outside during the summer for a while then squirted the water, you know the water gets HOT.

That’s basically how solar water heating works. We heat water with the abundant, free energy of the sun, and use it for showers, washers, sinks, etc.

While the initial cost is considerable, the money we will save by not buying oil will pay for the system within three to five years of the installation, and continue to save us for over a decade after that.

This will end up saving close to $200,000 in student fees if we install solar water heating on each dorm.

A group of students from Dr. Kung’s Math of Social Change course are applying for a Talon Grant from the SGA to install solar water heating on one or more of the dorms.

Please email your SGA senator to say you support initiatives such as this that save us money and make our school more sustainable. You can also email your campus administrators like Tom Botzman (Vice President of Finance) to say you want to see the campus invest wisely in clean energy instead of toxic assets and dirty fuels.

-Shane Hall ‘09

Talon Grant Program Begins Selection Process

As we gear up and get ready for paper writing and test taking I want to remind everyone about a way that you can affect change on campus.

No, I’m not talking about running for office (although, you should seriously consider doing that too).

I am talking about the SGA Talon Grant Program. Do you have an idea for a program or a purchase that would better the campus community? Are you looking for a way to fund it?

The Talon Grant Program was created last year as a way for any full time, degree seeking student to apply for funding from the SGA to support a campus initiative that they would like to see carried out.

This program gives the student body a way to avoid the ‘red tape’ of going through an SGA member, creating a bill, and so on.

In the next few days the Talon Grant application will be made available on the SGA website and in the Club Room and Office of Student Activities. The application is short and relatively easy.
After completing it, the application will direct you submit the proposal to either the SGA Treasurer or the SGA Director of Programming.

From here the SGA Finance Board or the SGA Programs Board will review your application for feasibility and make a recommendation as to whether it should pass. Finally, your proposal will be moved on to the SGA Senate for approval.

It seems as though this year has flown by and that the end of the year is quickly approaching.

In these next few weeks I hope to see some Talon Grant proposals at the Senate meetings on Tuesday nights!

Enjoy the warmer spring weather!

Sunny Schnitzer
SGA President
ocschnitzer@smcm.edu

Clubs Fill Kohler’s Void

Oh, Kohler’s. Most of use have missed you so since your dissolution sometime at the end of last year. You have enabled us in our weekend addictions to pizza, Buffalo chicken, and pizza covered in Buffalo chicken. You even encouraged an illicit affair with “Doug balls,” that unfortunate e-mail misspelling of the doughy dessert treat. Kohler’s, how I miss and want you.

Or not. Perhaps, actually, I want Kohler’s to stay six feet under, if only for just a little bit longer.

Now, as a sophomore, I can’t say that I have seen Kohler’s at its best. When I came in as a first-year, Kohler’s was beginning to struggle, and this year it has been altogether out of service.
In fact, I remember Kohler’s mostly from my visit to the College during my senior year of high school, when I first experienced Buffalo chicken pizza with a throng of St. Mary’s students, with French rap music playing in the background.

I know that Kohler’s is a part of St. Mary’s culture, and many of us, including myself, are sad to see it die.

All of this, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the lack of Kohler’s is a bad thing; it just means that a Kohler’s replacement is needed.

We have Kohler’s replacements, if only sporadically. As the fundraisers for the Class of 2010, Circle K, Physics Club, and the Intercollegiate Fashion Club have shown, the absence of a late-night pizza service on campus has created opportunities for clubs and other organizations to raise money without having to apply for funds from the Student Government Association (SGA).

Given the state of the College’s financial system and the economy as a whole, it makes sense that both clubs and the SGA would benefit from an increasing number of clubs raising money directly from the students.

While the club-run pizza nights may not feature the selection of other foods such as Buffalo wings and Doug[h] balls that Kohler’s did, their popularity indicates that students still enjoy the food they receive. With Kohler’s still running, this opportunity for clubs would never exist. Whether Kohler’s will return or whether club fundraisers will eventually completely fill the niche once occupied by Kohler’s remains to be seen.

Ideally, Kohler’s would return and allow clubs to run fundraisers on one weekend every month (or something of the sort), so that students would be guaranteed a pizza service every weekend, but clubs could still receive money without having to ask the SGA; whether this would be economically feasible for Kohler’s remains to be seen. Until something new is worked out, I’ll be checking my email for the next club-run pizza night.

Referendum Sends a Message

On behalf of The Point News, I would like to congratulate the students of St. Mary’s for voting in favor of the Student Government Association’s referendum.

Not only did we allow the SGA to give much-needed aid to students and to the academic departments, but also we once again proved our dedication to maintaining – and enhancing – the integrity of the academic program here at St. Mary’s.

And, hopefully, our voices will be resoundingly heard on this issue. The referendum’s result was overwhelming; 561 students voted in favor, with only 64 opposed. I believe that every ‘yes’ vote sent a clear message that we will not allow our education to be compromised.

As students, we will carry the ultimate burden if academic budget cuts continue. It is refreshing and rewarding to attend an institution where we all act with purpose to address such a central issue. Obviously, special consideration must once again be given to the SGA for leading the way.

Now, the pressure is on the Board of Trustees and the alumni of the College. They have been challenged to match the SGA’s contribution.

If they do, an astounding 60,000 dollars will be donated to the Emergency Assistance Fund and 45,000 will be given to the academic departments. Hopefully, both will heed our collective voice and recognize the need for these funds. I urge the Board and our alumni to consider how they would react if they were attending St. Mary’s during such an extensive budget crunch.

As the recession drags on and the College’s budget continues to tighten, we, the students of St. Mary’s, must continue to stand behind our academic departments. We may not have seen the worst yet.

Fundraiser Reiterates Student’s Pleas

Students of the Class of 2010 held a fundraiser to cater to the student’s desire for on-campus pizza. (Photo submitted by Chris Rodkey)
Students of the Class of 2010 held a fundraiser to cater to the student’s desire for on-campus pizza. (Photo submitted by Chris Rodkey)

It’s 11 or 12 o’clock on a Friday night and you are craving some late night food. The Upper Deck is closed, a Sheetz run is out of the question for obvious reasons and the Ramen Noodles or Easy Mac you have in your room are simply not sufficient.

An easy call to x8140 was the obvious choice: Kohler’s Pizza. One bite yielded instant satisfaction for the late-night cravings.

On January 30th, the Class of 2010 stepped up to fill the Kohler’s void by teaming up with Bon Appetit, Nicolletti’s Pizza and Pepsi to bring pizza delivery back to campus.

Orders started coming in early and did not stop until pizza dough ran out less than two hours later.

I cannot even begin to convey the pure excitement of the students when I knocked on their doors holding a steaming box of goodness. One student made me wait while she sampled the pizza. One bite of the greasy, cheesy pizza and the result was clear: we passed the taste test.

If the success of the Class of 2010 Pizza Delivery is any indicator, the campus would like to see weekend pizza delivery come back. In fact, students even offered to sign a petition in support of campus pizza delivery.

Maybe your dreams are about to come true. The Class of 2010’s business plan is being used as a model for various other clubs and groups. I see this as a complete win-win situation: students get their pizza and clubs can make a few hundred dollars.

With continued support from the students, I am confident pizza delivery will slowly work its way back into St. Mary’s culture as the hallmark of weekend shenanigans.

-Submitted by Chris Rodkey

SGA Urges Campus to Vote on All-Student Referendum

You might have heard a lot recently about the SGA All Student Referendum that is going on from Sunday February 22 through Wednesday February 25th. Wondering what it’s all about? Well here is a bit more information for you.

This referendum was created in response to a significant amount of concerns raised to a number of SGA representatives regarding the current financial crisis. Specifically, we were hearing two things: 1. Concerns about student’s ability to pay for things ranging from tuition payments to rent payments 2. Concerns about the recent budget cuts for the academic departments.

In a show of solidarity with the rest of the campus community the SGA decided to cut our own budget by $15,000 and donate this back to the college for the use of the academic departments. This money will not affect club or programming funding at all. The areas where we have decided to cut are as follows:

-Copier and Rental Supplies:    $600.00
-Executive Board Constituent Outreach: $1,100.00
-Leadership Conference (Executive Board):  $5,500.00
-Senator Constituent Outreach:   $1,800.00
-Helium Rental: $250.00
-Office Supplies: $2,200.00
-Publicity Committee: $1,050.00
-Capital Resources Committee: $2,000.00
-Technology Committee (Club Room Tech): $500.00

Although these funds are traditionally unspent, any money that might be needed to cover these costs may still be obtained by petitioning the SGA Senate through a bill.

In addition to this budget cut, the SGA would also like to donate $20,000, out of our (approximately) $150,000 carry-over account, to the College for the Emergency Assistance Fund. This fund was created to give monetary assistance to students who have “a sudden, drastic change in their financial situation.”

Last Tuesday, the SGA voted unanimously to support these donations. In addition, we voted to approve putting this decision in the hands of the entire student body. With this, we hope that we can make a unified and collective decision on how we, the student body, will approach the rough financial times ahead.

Finally, if the referendum is passed, the SGA will then issue a challenge to the alumni and donors of the College to match our donation. Before we can do any of this however we must vote. The referendum will not be considered valid until 30% of the student body votes on this referendum. Whether you vote in favor of or opposed to the referendum please please vote on the issue!! Anyone can vote on Blackboard any time of day! If you have any questions about the voting process, email Parliamentarian Adam Matthai at almatthai@smcm.edu.

Best of luck with your classes!

By Sunny Schnitzer, SGA President

From the Chief’s Desk: Vote…and Vote Yes

While conducting interviews for “Academic Budgets Cut,” I was frequently stunned by the amount of discretionary funds that each academic department receives every fiscal year. The amounts, which often hovered around 35,000 dollars, were absolutely dwarfed by the Student Government Association’s budget of about 350,000 dollars per year. Even The Point News’ yearly allocation of 24,375 dollars comes close to the operating budgets of some disciplines.

Now, this is not to say that the SGA and TPN are not worthwhile investments. I believe that just the opposite is true. But, hopefully, these numbers illustrate that, after enduring a 15 percent cut, some of the academic departments’ budgets are less than healthy; different disciplines have seen their travel plans scaled down, their new purchases delayed and they will invite fewer speakers to visit campus this semester.

Thankfully, though, we as students have an SGA that recognizes their relative wealth. And, further, we are fortunate that our SGA is committed to helping the academic departments – and their fellow students. They have pledged to cut their own budget by 15,000 dollars this year to aid the departments. Also, 20,00 dollars from the SGA’s Special Carryover Fund will be donated to the Emergency Assistance Fund, which provides scholarships to at-need students.

Though the SGA has taken the steps to prepare for these donations, they cannot act until the student body passes a referendum. On this referendum, which will be available on Blackboard until Wednesday, I strongly the College’s students to vote. And, moreover, I urge you to vote in favor of it.

I cannot give enough credit to President Sunny Schnitzer, Treasurer Jesse Lee, the rest of the SGA’s Executive Board and the Senators for not only writing and voting in favor of this bill, but also for allowing the students to ultimately decide.

The SGA has proven its commitment to the College’s academic program, now it is up to the students. We must vote in favor of this bill; the funds will not only greatly aid the academic departments and students, but by passing this referendum we can show our solidarity with them. The results of this vote will prove where we stand as a college. If our priorities lie in upholding our tradition of a superior liberal arts education, this referendum will pass.

Footbridge: Necessary Precaution or Eyesore?

Route 5 currently has few crossing aides, but a footbridge might be overkill. (Photo by Rowan Copley)
Route 5 currently has few crossing aides, but a footbridge might be overkill. (Photo by Rowan Copley)

The proposed footbridge that will cross route 5 and run between Anne Arundel Hall and the library area has become a hot point among the Saint Mary’s campus community.  Although we agree that something should be done about the safety of the route 5 crossing , building a bridge seems to be a drastic solution to a small problem.

Let’s ignore the entire fact that the bridge is going to be a waste of approximately, two million state dollars and focus on the fact that route 5 is only two lanes and not very traffic heavy.  We believe that most students and visitors are intelligent enough to look both ways before crossing the street therefore, preventing themselves from getting hit by an oncoming car.

A majority of the cars on route 5 travel at a reasonable speed and stop for pedestrians.  Even those that are speeding and don’t stop at the crosswalk can be spotted in a reasonable amount of time, so an accident can be prevented.  Although pedestrians have the right of way, it’s common sense to be cautious and make sure the vehicle is stopping before attempting to cross the street.

If the school does decide not to build the bridge, the money will go back to its source.  In other words, we won’t be able to use those dollars for anything else.  However, the money isn’t just going to disappear.  It will be used for other projects, projects that make more sense than a footbridge.

While we understand the “need” for a footbridge and believe that the safety of visiting school children is important, there are more reasonable methods to ensure their safety. The Capital Design Advisory Committee presented alternatives to the College and outside community and, “used surveys to evaluate the major concerns…to come up with the best way to solve the safety issue,” said Debbie Travers, the Student Trustee in Training.  “So far, it’s become very clear that a majority of students would like to see changes such as better lighting, sidewalks, and additions of medians to help drivers realize that they need to slow down instead of a footbridge.”

Let’s face it — the majority of the students who attend St. Mary’s come here at least partially because of the beauty of the campus, and a big ol’ bridge will kind of kill the local aesthetics.  The bridge is going to be an eyesore that will destroy the natural beauty on which the campus prides itself.

The entire situation, in general, seems kind of ludicrous.  After all, it’s not that hard to cross a two-lane street.

Is St. Mary’s Still a Great Value?

It’s possible that St. Mary’s won’t be considered a great deal in education anymore, which is one of its greatest attractions to potential students.

Last semester students got a message sent out by Maggie O’Brien to all students and faculty informing us that there were some cuts being made in the budget of the school.

Most notably:

  • No new hires for a while, except for Public Safety.
  • Less vacation time for staff.
  • Energy-saving moves, like dimmer lights.

How does this affect me, the average St. Mary’s student? Well, our tuition is still going up by 5%, so we’re still being asked to pay more even though St. Mary’s is paying less.
When I brought this up at the Vegetarian Co-op where I eat, people indicated they were a little pissed. We saw that the price of meal-plans was going up 11%.
“As if the meal plans aren’t already extortion,” said Rhett Greenfield, in an interview at the Vegetarian Co-op. There is no way to opt out of the meal plan, unless you live on campus with a kitchen, off campus, or eat at the Co-op.
Several other people in the Co-op said they would have difficulty getting the money.
And there’s the fact that the state of Maryland is asking for $125,000 back from St. Mary’s, so now we have to make cuts across the board, including all of our 20+ academic departments.
Isn’t this fair? We are in a recession. Sure it’s fair. I’m hardly an expert on school finances, but maybe there are some better ways that St. Mary’s could cut costs.
* Stop paying the administration so much.
Look, I know that the administrators of the college are important. But look at their salaries!
In 2008 Maggie O’Brien made $346,427. That’s more than four times what your bread and butter full-time prof makes.
Larry Vote, the provost, made $226,135. Don’t you think they could cut their paycheck a little, if only out of solidarity with the cost-cutting of the rest of the school?
Also, many administrative positions’ salaries increased somewhere around 50-60% during the past eight years, whereas full-time professors’ salaries increased an average of 10%.
Most people have heard that professors come to St. Mary’s not for the money, but for the atmosphere.
Maybe I don’t understand how college salaries work, and I certainly don’t know what our “peer group” colleges are doing with their salaries, but I think something needs to change here.
* Stop spending money on things that don’t matter.
$40,000 for a sprinkler system? This arguably won’t benefit students in the slightest. A new Anne Arundel and Montgomery Hall?
These new buildings might attract more students and current students will appreciate them, but they aren’t necessary.
By wasting our and the state’s money, St. Mary’s isn’t giving us enough and is asking us for more.

Kohler’s Come Back, Please

While I was sitting in the Point News office last week, talking about article ideas, I received a question from a few younger writers, and it took me aback: “What was Kohler’s?”

What was Kohler’s? What was Kohler’s!?! What is the world coming to?

Anybody who was around for any part of the previous three years knows all about the on-campus junk food heaven that was Kohler’s Pizza.

Sure, they weren’t perfect. There was the occasional messed up order, or delayed delivery, but come on, tell me where else I can get a large pizza with whatever I want on it delivered for nine dollars, and I’ll stop complaining.

For all those who never had the chance to order Kohler’s, you read that correctly.  Whatever you want on it. Nine dollars. Delivered.

Before news even broke about the downfall of Kohler’s, there was already talk from Bon Appétit and Kohler’s management that the on-campus student pizza service would be reopened “very soon.”

In an Oct. 7 Point News article, Bon Appétit manager George McClusick was quoted as saying that Kohler’s “is planning a return” and that he hoped the pizza shop would be back in business the following week.

But now here I sit, after more than a semester without pizza, talking with staffers who have never even heard of Kohler’s. You’re breaking my heart, Bon Appétit! In that same article, McClusick said that Kohler’s was shut down because Bon Appétit needed to stop to consider the feasibility of the service.

I’ve got an answer for you on that one. Just take one look at the class of 2010’s recent pizza fundraiser. They were completely overwhelmed by student demand, receiving 50 orders in their first hour, and quickly sold out well before their planned 1:00 a.m. closing time. Anybody with half a brain could make that profitable! Don’t let Kohler’s fall of the map, and be forgotten. Whatever other gripes the administration or Bon Appétit have with Kohler’s, I think they should be promptly settled. Student interest is off the charts, and we want our pizza back.

Two buffalo chicken pizzas to Homer 7 please.