O’Malley Celebrates Maryland Day

Elementary school students present flags of their counties (Photo by Brendan O'Hara)
Elementary school students present flags of their counties (Photo by Brendan O'Hara)

Standing at a sundrenched podium in Historic St. Mary’s City, Governor Martin O’Malley joined hundreds of his fellow Marylanders on Sunday to commemorate the state’s 375th birthday.

Though a strong wind whipped off of the St. Mary’s River and swept through the pages of the Governor’s statement, O’Malley remained composed as he delivered an alternatingly humorous and emotional address on the heritage of Maryland.

“We cannot afford not to preserve the beauty of this place,” he said as his speech reached its climax, acknowledging the need to fund HSMC despite the state’s ongoing budget crunch.

O’Malley was joined onstage by House Majority Leader and St. Mary’s Trustee Steny Hoyer, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., Washington Post Vice President-at-Large and Trustee Ben Bradlee, College President Maggie O’Brien, Executive Director of HSMC Regina Faden and President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Richard Moe, among others.

Numerous local politicians and St. Mary’s administrators, professors and students were also spread throughout the crowd. All were gathered to celebrate Maryland Day, a legal holiday that observes the landing of the Ark and the Dove on St. Clement’s Island.

Appropriately, each speaker centered largely on the legacy of Maryland’s first colonists and St. Mary’s City.

“This is not only Maryland’s first capital, but this is also where the roots of democracy were first planted in Maryland; it’s where the roots of religious freedom were first planted in Maryland…These are concepts we still believe in and embrace,” Moe said.

Hoyer, who represents St. Mary’s County in the House of Representatives, described his district as, “the mother county, a county of so many firsts.”

In a linear retelling of the Ark and the Dove’s journeys to Maryland, Frank J. Russel – President of the St. Mary’s County Board of Commissioners – concluded by adding, “Thank God it turned out this way!”

The Maryland Day Ceremony’s speakers also took time to honor all those who have contributed to the preservation of HSMC. Descendants of the first Marylanders, members of The Society of the Ark and the Dove and present and former Historic St. Mary’s City Commissioners were asked to stand and receive applause. Bradlee, who is 2009’s Marylander of the Year, was also frequently acknowledged.

Moe honored both Hoyer and O’Malley. He described Hoyer as “indefatigable” in his support of HSMC and called O’Malley one of a group of politicians who “gets it.”

Former Executive Director of HSMC Martin Sullivan and Roger Hill were also presented with an award for their service.

Additionally, O’Brien announced the College’s Martin Sullivan Museum Scholars program, which is planned to launch in 2012. The program, which aims to provide students with an intensive program in Museum Studies, has already garnered 240,000 dollars in endowment funds.

After the ceremony, senior Perry Colvin said, “I think that it’s tremendous to see Marty Sullivan honored so well. It’s a boon to our school to have such a wonderful man associated with us for so long.”

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The Dove May Fly No More

Perceptive students may have noticed that in the last few years, the College yearbook, The Dove, has steadily been published later and later. This lateness has been due to a serious decline in Dove staff members.

The Dove is a College club that relies on the support, interest, and cooperation of the students; however, unlike other clubs on campus, students who participate in The Dove have an obligation to finish a completed project, a project that requires extra work on top of classes and summer participation. “The problem with a major publication being a major club [is that] unless it’s a club that has a lot of active members, it can’t come out. It can’t get done by one person,” said advisor Kelly Schroeder

At the moment, The Dove has one staff member, Editor Laurie Hammond, a senior. “Laurie has had pretty much no help,” said Schroeder.  Laurie admits that she has had some people show interest in working on the yearbook; however, she does not want them to be stuck in the same position she is now.

“I can’t hand [The Dove] to someone else. I don’t want to put someone in the same position I’m in,” said Hammond.

Last year, staffing was so lean that the yearbook was not completed and distributed. In fact, the 2007-2008 edition of The Dove has still not been distributed.  Fortunately for those who had purchased the issue, Hammond has been working on the issue and will send it out this April. “The people who ordered ‘08 will get it. Laurie has finished all her work, the publisher helped. It’s in production right now, we should receive the books in April,” said Schroeder.
There were more factors into the late publishing of the ‘08 Dove than simply understaffing. There was also a problem with the publisher and also problems with student participation. According to Hammond, she had trouble getting pictures and club information from students.

Hammond and Schroeder question whether or not a hard-copied yearbook is even in the interest of the students. “I think the problem with college is that many people don’t know we have a yearbook, “ said Hammond.

“I guess the question is have yearbooks gone out of fashion, since people chronicle their lives on Facebook?” said Schroeder.

The future of The Dove is up in question, but it appears that as of this moment a 2008-2009 edition might not be published; however, according to Hammond, if this is something that students still want, then they will do what they can to make sure it is completed..

Math for Social Justice Brings Numbers to Life

Mathematics professor David Kung has implemented a service project in his Survey of Mathematics class meant to promote activism in the community through the use of mathematics.

“There’s a lot of activism on campus, and I wanted to harness that energy and get people to learn some mathematics while trying to be activists,” said Kung. Kung’s survey project coincides with his specific survey class, which is entitled Math for Social Justice.

Kung hopes that this project will help the students in his class do three things, be less intimidated by math, utilize math to achieve social change, and learn to be more active in their communities. “I hope they are more critical consumers of mathematics and the media, and I hope they are able to use mathematics to promote social justice,” said Kung.

Before students began the project, Professor Kung shared a proposal that he had created several years ago that would give the students some ideas and give them an idea of what steps they should be taken when implementing a project of this nature.

Students had to complete several steps before they could officially begin working on their project. “Each student had to propose a project. Thirty-two projects were proposed, we’re only doing eight. [Students had] to explain an issue, say how they wanted to address issue, explore mathematics, needed to understand the issue, and talk about the impact that project would have,” said Kung.

One of the groups in the class has built their project around the idea of senior Shane Hall. According to sophomore Monica Powell, a member of this group, the premise of the project is to “get solar energy panels on the dorms which would save a bunch of money in a short time.” Senior Katie Ryan, also a member of this group, says that Shane Hall was inspired by the Sustainability Committee.

This group has been attending Student Government Association (SGA) meetings, discussing their plans with people in the university, and looking at other universities who have implemented similar projects. “We went to an SGA meeting and listened to the sustainability fellows, and they are the ones who convinced us that it would be more realistic to get solar panels on the dorm rather than the ARC (Athletics and Recreations Center), which was the original idea,” said Powell.

Thus far, the group has had hardly any problems with the project. “The hardest part about this is coordinating our ideas with the College’s agenda; right now the school is cutting back on funding and doesn’t really want to hear about new projects,” said Ryan.

Overall the problem with most groups seems to be remembering to add a math component to their project. “A lot of us keep forgetting that there’s a math component for the project. He [Professor Kung] keeps gently reminding us that we need math,” said Powell.

Kung’s hope that these projects will help promote activism among his students seems to be taking effect. “I really just want to do something that helps the St. Mary’s community,” said Powell, “Personally, I probably won’t be around to see this [the project] put into effect, but I like that I helped get the ball rolling.”

A Sample MFSJ Problem:
A hospital administrator claimed that over the past year, 90% of the patients who have spent a night in the hospital checked out within a week.  The nurses were incredulous – they knew that at any time, 80% of the patients had been in the hospital for longer than a year! How is this possible?  (Similar statistics hold for the homeless, people on welfare, and those without health insurance.)
-Submitted by Dave Kung

Campus Turns Out the Lights to Celebrate Earth Hour

Students turned off their lights and met in the circle between the dorms for a cookout during Earth Hour. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)
Students turned off their lights and met in the circle between the dorms for a cookout during Earth Hour. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)

On March 28, lights went out across the globe at 8:30 p.m. local time.  Starting with New Zealand, countries around the world began to turn off their lights as part of Earth Hour 2009.  Las Vegas, Nevada, went dark, as did Times Square in New York City.

As the official Flagship Campus of Maryland for Earth Hour 2009, St. Mary’s was no different.  Starting at 8:30, Eastern Time, the lights in many of the residence halls, townhouses, suites and apartments went out one by one. With a variety of activities occurring across campus, there was no just sitting in the dark.  Students could chose between hide and seek and flashlight tag at Calvert, a block party at Prince George, Caroline, and Dorchester, s’mores and glow sticks at Queen Anne, and a bonfire at Waring Commons.

Earth Hour, started in Sydney in 2007 in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, is a global movement in which people turn off their lights at the appointed hour to “vote Earth.” Turning off the lights symbolizes supporting finding solutions to climate change and demonstrates concern for the planet.

The students at the College were among the millions of people who participated.  Earth Hour 2008 saw 36 million people and 200 million cities across the globe turning off the lights.  The results of Earth Hour 2009 will be presented at the 2009 Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

Faculty Works Together to Offer Asian Studies Major

Starting fall 2009, St. Mary’s students will have the option to major in Asian Studies.  The program, which originally just offered a minor, is now offering the first cross-disciplinary major at the college.

The process for creating the major began in 2006, when the cross-disciplinary area was under review.  “The reviewers suggested we would be a very strong major based on the diversity and the strength of the faculty research,” said Holly Blumner, the current coordinator for Asian Studies.

Eleven members of the faculty worked together to come up with the core requirements.  Requirements for the major will include a year of Asian languages, ASIA200, and twenty-four semester hours in at least three different disciplines.

“I think one of the strengths of our major is that students chose from at least three disciplines,” said Blumner.  “That allows for a lot of freedom.”  Students can take courses cross listed with philosophy, history, literature and a variety of other subjects.

Other areas with cross-disciplinary minors may follow in suit.  “We are pioneering,” said Blumner.  “Most cross-disciplines will be looking at us to see how we do.”

Spring Showcase A Success

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On Friday March 27, St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s first Spring Showcase was held in the Athletics and Recreational Center. Sponsored by Triple S Effect, Dance Club, and the Black Student Union, the showcase featured a select few performances from the Dance Club, poetry from the newly formed Spoken Word group, a captivating step performance from the school’s step team Triple S Effect and music from FiveOne, a visiting band. Before the Showcase began, there were vendors selling merchandise and jewelry, as well as a club fair in the arena.  The three-and-a-half hour show was a success, as there was not only a huge turnout both for the showcase but also the black and white party sponsored by Raices Hispañas held directly after the show in Daugherty Palmer Commons.

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

Student Artists Given Awards and New Perspective on Art

On Monday, March 23, Boyden Gallery’s latest exhibit opened, to the sound of music playing in the background. Photographs, paintings, drawings, and sculptures lined the exhibit’s perimeter, two walls rising up from the floor created their own miniature hallway, and computers in the corners displayed various digital creations. It was the opening of the 40th Annual all-student art show, and students and faculty alike flocked to attend.

“I really like it,” said junior JaVon Townsend. “I’m really impressed with some of the stuff I’ve seen today.”

Sophomore Brittany Sigley, an art history major who also attended the show, agreed. “I thought that the art show was great,” she said. “The work presented was impressive and incredibly varied—there were so many perspectives.”

The art show was organized by Mary Braun, director of the Boyden Gallery. According to Professor Joe Lucchesi, the head of the Art and Art History departments at the College, the faculty’s role was more informal, involving talking to students about their work and encouraging them to submit to the show.

“It’s great for the students to have the experience of choosing work, submitting it to be juried, and having someone they don’t know review their work,” said Lucchesi. He said that the

College tries to rotate between art professors at other colleges, people involved in professional galleries, and curators or museum professionals to expose the students to a wide variety of juror styles.

This year’s juror was Ledelle Moe, the department head of sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Several years ago, she had spent a year at the College when sculpture professor Lisa Scheer was on sabbatical. As juror, she chose and arranged the works that would be on display.

Moe said that in every piece, she was looking for “resonance, not only on its own but with each other…no work operates alone.” The photos at the front of the gallery were “still,” and the sculptures functioned as “natural interrupters” to create a sort of “weave” as attendees walked through the gallery.

“I was reaffirmed that the quality of work is remarkable, and the diversity of the work is incredible,” Moe said.

Moe also selected an artist from each of the four years to receive an award for “Outstanding Work,” which came with a $50 cash prize, as well as a work to receive the Patti Runco Arts Alliance Purchase Award, in which the College buys the piece for $500 and adds it to the College’s collection. The winners were, respectively, first-year Yujia Dong, sophomore Dana Gittings, junior Kate Pollasch-Thames, senior Dan Bedford, and senior Spike Meatyard. Moe said that giving awards was especially difficult because “it’s a hierarchical system, and that’s not how art works.”

“It was quite a surprise,” Meatyard said about winning the purchase award.

Meatyard said of his work, “It’s a wide range of stuff that I’ve collected. A lot of it is architectural and cultural as well.” His wooden sculpture came from a 1960s cruiser boat that was burnt at his family’s marina, and his purchased piece was a painting done on a piece of canvas that came off of his sailboat.

“It’s interesting to find new materials that can be recycled for art’s sake,” he said.

The art and art history departments also presented their own awards. The first was the Vasari prize, a book award for a junior or senior for scholarly accomplishment in the study of art history (winner: Kate Pollasch-Thames). Two awards were given for outstanding work in art history as evidenced by submitted essays (winners: Anna Danz and April Morgan). Awarded last were the Stephen Szabo award for excellence in both art history and studio art (winner: Bonnie Veblen) and the Frank McCutcheon Memorial Award for a junior or senior who demonstrates artistic promise (winner: Kelton Bumgarner).

All in all, the show was well-liked.

“I loved this year’s show,” said Lucchesi. “I think it’s really strong…and it really represents our curriculum. What’s important to us to teach students, I see a lot of that reflected in the show.”

Senior Kris Fulk, who had two pieces in the show, was happy with the show as well. “I wish I wasn’t a senior so I could be here next year to submit some more work!”

SMP Season Brings Stress and Rewarding Lessons

It’s that time of the year again – the time when seniors working on St. Mary’s Projects begin to freak out. They have had most of the year to work on their projects, and now are faced with a month until they are expected to present said projects in finished form. There are several interesting SMPs in Art and Theatre, Film and Media Studies being worked on right now.

“Right now is about breakdown point for everyone,” said Kelsey Blackmon. Blackmon is doing a study on film noir that showcases gender issues and the effect of the male versus the female spectator. She said that while film noir is famous for its characters’ vices like drinking, smoking and gambling, the classic “femme fatale” character can be a vice as well. Blackmon was inspired by film noirs such as Double Indemnity and The Lady from Shanghai, as well as the recent “neo-noir” Brick. She will give a presentation of her SMP sometime in May.

Alex Vaughan is making a film about assassins. Actually, it’s “a 20 minute-long film that seems to be about assassins but is actually about action movies.” Filming has been going on since

February, and Vaughan plans to complete principal shooting by early April. Vaughan said that scheduling was the most stressful aspect of making the film a reality, but having a crew that “rolls with the punches” and remains enthusiastic about the project helps.

“A movie is always stressful; if it isn’t you aren’t doing it right.”

Vaughan’s father is also a filmmaker, and plays a role in his son’s film – so this isn’t anything new for Vaughan. “I enjoy working on movies a lot; they’ve always been a part of my life.”Vaughan’s plans on screening his film on April 23rd and 26th in Cole Cinema.

Another film being made as a St. Mary’s Project is a documentary about dumpster diving by Judy Sellner. Actually, Sellner is making two films – one documentary that puts a positive spin on dumpster diving, and another that puts a negative spin on dumpster diving. However, Sellner is using all the same footage for both films. Sellner said she wants to “highlight and foreground the manipulative nature of the documentary medium.” So it’s really a documentary on documentaries. In the making of the documentary, Sellner said that the most stressful part was scheduling so that she could have a crew to film whomever she was interviewing. But the experience was rewarding.

“I’ve gotten a lot better about talking to people in interview situations,” said Sellner. Sellner’s film will screen alongside Vaughan’s on the 23rd and 26th.

Some SMPs can take on a far more personal tone. YaHaddy Njie is telling her life story and exploring identity through a series of abstract pen and ink drawings.

“I don’t think that people have identities,” said Njie. “I don’t believe that anyone is the same at any time.”

Njie said that she was inspired by the Buddhist concept that people are empty on the inside, while at the same time filled with everything. “I feel like every day I wake up and put on this new mask.”

These are only some highlights of the many St. Mary’s Projects that are in the works right now. There will be these and far more SMPs to look forward to at the end of the semester – watch out for emails listing the schedule of presentations and exhibits.