Final Coffeehouse – Featuring The Five One Band

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Qz8cCOSn-s

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss40SriSYnM

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksAs1ITMxAY

The following is footage from the final coffeehouse (formerly ‘Thursdays at the Grind’) of the 2008-2009 academic year. The headline band was The Five One Band. The event also featured St. Mary’s Students. You can see all the footage from the event at our YouTube channel.

Grievance Filed Against O'Brien

An anonymous source delivered a copy of a letter to The Point News that was circulated to over twenty faculty members. The memo details a series of events leading up to a meeting between Professor Tom Barrett, the Chair of the History Department, and President Jane Margaret O’Brien and the aftermath of their encounter. Barrett confirmed the letter’s contents.

On Dec. 23, 2008, Barrett met with O’Brien in her office to discuss a meeting of academic department chairs that occurred on Dec. 9, which Vice President of Business and Finance Tom Botzman attended.

President O’Brien was not present at the initial meeting.

According to the letter, Barrett pointed out at the department chairs meeting that, “many university presidents were voluntarily giving back some of their salary because of the tough fiscal climate,” and asked if this had been considered at the College.

According to Tom Botzman, however, furloughs for a limited number of St. Mary’s staff had already been announced at the opening of the department chairs meeting.

“I have spoken to numerous chairs who attended the meeting, as well as our Faculty Senate President, Bob Paul, and all agree that Tom spoke in a respectful and professional manner,” Christine Adams wrote in the letter. Other faculty sources have confirmed that Barrett was respectful while discussing the possibility of furloughs.

At their Dec. 23 meeting, according to the memo, O’Brien confronted Barrett for raising the issue of salary cuts. She also noted a “pattern of disturbing and confrontational behavior based on what she had heard about the meeting.”

The letter also states that O’Brien “asked [Barrett] how he saw himself, and whether he intended to be at St. Mary’s long term.”

“Tom responded by telling her exactly what he had said at the Department Chairs meeting — that he had not suggested that she should take a 10 percent salary cut, but rather, he asked whether executive furloughs would be on the table if push came to shove,” according to the faculty memo. O’Brien allegedly ended the Dec. 23 meeting after Barrett began taking notes.

According to O’Brien, however, the discussion of salary cuts was only one facet of their meeting and the issue lasted less than 20 seconds. She said that the meeting escalated to the point that she sought out the help of Public Safety.

David Densford, O’Brien’s legal counsel on the issue, said, “When a conversation becomes sufficiently uncivilized and loud on the part of one party that Public Safety has to be called then [O’Brien] has to protect everyone’s, including her own, right to feel safe at the College.”

After the Dec. 23 meeting, Barrett filed a grievance against O’Brien with the College due to her alleged accusations.

According to O’Brien, the grievance was filed and handled by Provost Larry Vote. The grievance was taken up by the College’s Board of Trustees at a hearing on Feb. 21, as per college policy. It was unanimously denied.

O’Brien said that she is pleased with the Board’s decision.

Densford said, “Everyone who has watched the progress at the College knows that President O’Brien has always stood for free speech and the free flow of ideas.”

Barrett, although hesitant to comment about the hearings themselves, said, “Although I am ambivalent about the way the grievance was handled, as far as I’m concerned the matter is settled.”

According to O’Brien, no action has been taken against Barrett and he remains a tenured member of the faculty.

Barrett also expressed his desire to remain at the College and he remains highly respected among the faculty. David Kung, the Chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, said, “I have always been impressed by Professor Barrett’s devotion to St. Mary’s College. As a fellow chair, I have sat in many meetings with him. He has always been collegial and respectful, always keeping the best interests of the College in mind.”

Students Vote for SGA Exec Board, MAT Amendment

This past week, St. Mary’s students voted for a new SGA executive board and a new constitutional amendment to allow MAT student participate in the SGA.

The elections for the SGA executive board were held from Apr. 14-17, during which 306 students voted via their Blackboard accounts. Three days after polls closed it was announced via email that juniors Justin Perry and Elisabeth Neu, junior Kaitlin Hines, and senior Olusola Ogundele were elected as the new President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Director of Campus Programming, respectively.

Voting on the Masters in Arts and Teaching (MAT) Student Inclusion amendment also occurred during this time, but did not receive enough overall votes to pass or fail. According to SGA Parliamentarian Adam Matthai, the referendum ballot will be offered for students who didn’t vote from Apr. 25-28, and the results will be known by Apr. 29.

The MAT Student Inclusion amendment would integrate MAT students into the SGA by giving them the same inclusive rights as those given to other degree-seeking students. According to current SGA President Sunny Schnitzer, she decided to sponsor the bill after realizing that MAT students are currently not considered members of the SGA. Schnitzer said, “[SGA advisor Kelly Schroeder and I] discussed how it was really absurd that someone who is going to be on campus, who’s very invested in it, and has a lot of experience and time here, couldn’t technically participate in [the SGA].”

Schnitzer’s position was further galvanized when she realized that despite their lack of representation MAT students still pay the same student activity fees as undergraduates. According to Schnitzer, passing the bill will, “make it very very clear that all degree-seeking students, including MAT students, are members of the SGA.”

Schnitzer said support from the SGA was strong and the vote was unanimous to put the issue to referendum. This support, however, is not enough to pass the amendment. According to Matthai, any amendment to the SGA constitution must be voted on in the form of a referendum by at least a third of the student population; a simple majority of the voters decides the result.

Even if this amendment does pass, however, Schnitzer said that she was not sure where MAT SGA involvement goes from there. Schnitzer pointed out that no one really knows how much involvement MAT students want in the SGA, and whether they are going to have their own senator or be subsumed into the commuter constituency.

More clear-cut results came from the executive board election itself. With the exception of Director of Campus Programming, which had no formal candidate, all SGA positions were uncontested, a fact that likely affected voter turn-out for the MAT amendment as well. Both Neu and Hines have previous SGA experience; Perry, although lacking a prior SGA title, has co-sponsored multiple bills and is the current Editor-in-Chief of The Point News.

According to Vice President-elect Lisa Neu, both her and Perry’s main goal will be to increase administration-student communication. Neu said, “To me, the issue is not that students don’t know what is happening on campus, and that we should therefore send them more all-student emails… I believe the issue is that outlets for student feedback such as the SGA are not used to their full potential, and that is a problem for everyone.”

Schnitzer agreed with the sentiment and said that the SGA President and Vice President must serve as liasons between the student body and the administration, and must be approachable and attuned to student needs. Schnitzer is confident that her successors, and in fact everyone elected to the executive board, will embody these traits. She said, “I think [Perry and Neu] are big proponents of student well-being and student opinion.” She added, “I love [the candidates]. I’m so excited!”

SGA Vote Breakdown

pres-vp1treasurermat-amendment

Earth Day Fair Educates Students

Senior Guy Kilpatrich rides the power generating bicycle at the Earth Day Fair. (Photo by Rowan Copley)
Senior Guy Kilpatric rides the power generating bicycle at the Earth Day Fair. (Photo by Rowan Copley)

Despite the overcast and sporadically rainy weather, students gathered last week to celebrate their home, Earth. The Earth Day Fair, sponsored by the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), the Sustainability Committee, EcoHouse, and the St. Mary’s River Project, sought to teach passersby how to live in a sustainable manner and ways to promote environmental change.

Using the lure of a bike powered music generator and pinecones on strings, the Earth Day Fair brought students to tables set up under the balcony of the campus center this past Wednesday. EcoHouse had a table set up with tips for waste reduction, how to save energy and water, and what products and companies are good or bad for the environment.

As she handed out tips for sustainable living, sophomore Laura Sipe said, “We’re just trying to get people to do things we do every day at EcoHouse.”

There were also several run by SEAC members. One table had letter writing materials for writing to Congressman Steny Hoyer. The letters were to ask Hoyer, the representative of Maryland’s fifth Congressional district and House Majority Leader, to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

This bill proposes support for clean and renewable energy, more efficient energy use, a limit on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants, and promotion of green jobs and a clean energy economy. Students were encouraged to write to Hoyer to pass this legislation and to express the importance of the bill to them.

Students had a range of styles for their letters, from pasted magazine cutouts to a traditional handwritten letter, but they all expressed similar messages. While writing his letter, sophomore Jimmy O’Keefe said, “I want this to pass, and I think it’s time for something new in America.”

Several members from SEAC also traveled down to Washington D.C. on Thursday and Friday for the Congressional hearings on the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Students from St. Mary’s and other schools around the country convened in D.C. to show their support for the bill and talked to members of Congress to lobby them to vote for the bill.

Back at the Earth Day Fair, students could make birdfeeders out of pinecones smeared with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed. The pinecones were attached to strings so students could hang them from trees and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Next to pinecones was the generator run on bike power and hooked up to speakers so that an iPod could play music. The bike-generator contraption was fashioned by seniors Guy Kilpatric and Yang-Yi Chen and junior Paul Parzynski.

Sophomore Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, who helped organize the Earth Day Fair, was taking pictures for a photo petition organized by the Energy Action Coalition. Photos showing student support of environmental action and awareness were taken to be sent to Congressional members.

The St. Mary’s River Project, an organization that teaches environmental awareness to children in the College community, was also represented at the Earth Day Fair, spreading it’s message of education and action.

Earth Day is celebrated in the U.S. every year on April 22. It was started in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in. It is a day dedicated to education and appreciation of the environment and to raise awareness about environmental issues.

Students Save Endangered Trees

St. Mary’s students collaborated with Historic St. Mary’s City to plant trees on Mattapany Road. (Photo by Dave Chase)
St. Mary’s students collaborated with Historic St. Mary’s City to plant trees on Mattapany Road. (Photo by Dave Chase)

Several weekends ago St. Mary’s students in conjunction with Historic St. Mary’s planted chestnut trees on Mattpany Road, behind the Artist house.

“The American Chestnut tree was one of the most indigenous trees in the American forest. Sometime in the 20th century a blight was introduced–a fungus that kills the trees,” said junior Kyle Wichtendahl, who became involved in the project when doing a research project for his Post and Beam Class.

There have been many efforts to restore the chestnut tree by scientifically cross breeding the American Chestnut with the Japanese Chestnut to try and create an immunity within these new American Chestnuts that will leave them un effected by the blight.

Historic St. Mary’s was given several seedlings to plant and monitor to see if this new cross breeding method has worked. “ Essentially 50 seedlings from mother trees [were given to Historic St. Mary’s] who are responsible for monitoring them and seeing how they grow,” said Wichtendahl.

Those who are monitoring the trees will not know if they have developed an immunity until several years from now. “ We won’t know if we were successful for some time because the blight doesn’t attack until the tree reaches maturity,” said Wichendahl.

Reid Returns to Campus

T.R. Reid gives lecture. (Photo by Dave Chase)
T.R. Reid gives lecture. (Photo by Dave Chase)

On April 14, T.R. Reid, the Nitze Senior Fellow for 2008-2009, returned to the College to give his third and final lecture, entitled “The Global Superpowers of 2050 (The U.S. won’t be No. 1. Neither will China.).”

He said that despite the economic downturn in America, there was a chance that it would still be the leading power in 2050. Reid also acknowledged that many people believe China is a strong contender for global superpower considering that it currently has the second largest economy. However, Reid disagreed saying that China is too disorganized, and lacks the equality that he feels is only attainable under democracy. According to Reid, China is fighting its way to the top, but it will never get there.

Reid believes that the real contender for global superpower is the European Union (EU). Reid said that they stand a good chance of being the next global superpower because they are a model of unity despite being a group of culturally and linguistically diverse nations. The EU also has a strong, unified economy under the Euro, and nations who have not yet adopted the Euro will soon.

Reid also said that there is a strong possibility that by 2050 we will be living in an apolar world, inwhich there will not be one individual superpower. Reid believes the next superpower will likely be a multinational union. Whether this power will be the EU or another possible conglomerate like “Chindia” is unclear. Or perhaps history will repeat itself, and a small nation will surprise the world by rising unchallenged to the top spot.

Defense Forum Discusses Foreign Affairs

On Tuesday and Wednesday, April 21-22, the College hosted the fourth annual Patuxent Defense Forum. Cosponsored by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Patuxent Partnership, the forum allowed academics, military officers, and policy analysts to discuss issues relating to U.S. foreign affairs and defense.

The theme of this year’s forum was “Roles of the U.S. Military in Fragile and Failing States,” with topics ranging from “Bridging the Cultural Divide: Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)-Military Relations in Complex Environments” to “Looking South: Intelligence Sharing to Empower Mexico’s Military and Stabilize North America.” Topics such as these were organized into three sessions held in Cole Cinema.

According to Michael Cain, Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, the Center chooses the theme by talking to professors of the social sciences as well as some students to come up with an idea that would appeal to the local and broader community of defense contractors. A call for papers is then issued, and a committee consisting of both professors and community members chooses the panelists who will present a topic.

Jason Reifer, a graduating senior at West Virginia University, presented with his political science professor David Hauser on conceptions of victory and the U.S. military in failed states. Reifer returned to school after having studied in South Africa and Syria and having worked for organizations from the West Virginia Supreme Court to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Africa. He and his professor worked on the paper and submitted it after receiving the call for work.

Reifer described the opportunity to present as “unexpected but interesting.” He described the College atmosphere as “instantly comfortable,” and praised Hauser as being engaging and for realizing that “no one is really the sole source of all knowledge.”

This year, said Cain, attendance was slightly higher than usual, with about 100 people attending. Attendees included local contractors and members of the St. Mary’s community, including 15-20 students from various classes in Cole Cinema at any given time.
“I think it’s a great experience for the students,” said Cain. He said that the time of the presentation was moved to increase the likelihood that students would attend.

However, the panels were aimed largely at the contracting community, making some sessions more accessible than others for students. “Most of the session I attended was over my head,” said first-year Rosa Palumbo. “I don’t know all the military lingo, and except for the professor who talked about what victory means, I had no idea what they were talking about.”

“I do think that some of the language used was a bit over my head, but overall I was able to understand most of what the presenters were saying and [was] able to walk away with a lot of useful information,” said junior Sara Metz, who also attended some of the panel discussions.

She said that it was difficult to find an aisle seat and to leave for class without disrupting the presenter, but overall, she found the experience a positive one.

“I think more students should attend next year,” Metz said. “It’s an invaluable learning opportunity from professionals, and not solely based in academia but also in experience.”

Cain hopes that more students will attend next year, and will involve the Student Government Association to find ways to get more students involved, especially seniors interested in international relations who might want to get a sense of the opportunities available to them.

He said, “It’s a resource for the students that I want to make widely available.”

Letter to the Editor: Students and the Search

Dear Mr. Perry,

Thank you for your editorial regarding student representation on the presidential search committee.

I understand your concerns and wholeheartedly believe that students, indeed all of us, want to ensure that the next president of St. Mary’s is a representative of the students who deeply love this institution.

We highly value the input of the student leaders selected by their peers to represent them.  Nine (nearly 30%) of the committee are or have been students at St. Mary’s College.

Among our alumni representatives, two of our committee members have graduated within the last 5 years.

We know the students at St. Mary’s are exceptional, committed and thoughtful.

We want their insight and share a mutuality of purpose: recommending the best candidate to serve the students and the college community to the trustees.

On April 9th we held an open forum; on April 14 we held two meetings with students leaders and we are scheduling a campus-wide meeting for any students on April 30.

We hope many students will attend so their voices can be heard. We will be listening.

Sincerely,
Molly Mahoney
Chairperson
Presidential Search Committee

Sunny Encourages Students to Enjoy St. Mary’s

Hello Seahawks,

As studying and paper writing starts to consume our lives I hope that we will all take a few minutes to go outside and enjoy the spring/summer weather. In particular I hope that each senior gets one more chance to do those things at St. Mary’s that we so love to do.

Go kayaking, sailing, have brunch outside, watch a St. Mary’s sunset, or watch a St. Mary’s sunrise. Also go to those few remaining sports games, play a round of Frisbee golf, or take a walk to the point. Interact with your community by having coffee with the most difficult professor that you’ve had, starting a conversation with a staff member, hosting a barbeque, or by introducing yourself to someone that you pass everyday but whose name you don’t know. While you’re doing that take a few minutes to reflect on all of the wonderful events that have happened on campus this year or for some of us over the past four years. I hope that when we look back at the past year (or four) we have positive memories. Just like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home,” and for so many of us St. Mary’s is home.

Finally, I want to express my excitement and anticipation for all of the student leaders that have been selected to represent you for next year. I am sure that each of the club leaders and SGA representatives will bring wonderful new things to campus. In particular I am very proud that our next Student Government will be run by non-other than the Editor-in-Chief of the Point News, Justin Perry (SGA President) and two time former senator, Lisa Neu (SGA Vice President). I am positive that these two will do great, great things for St. Mary’s. In addition Kait Hines and Sola Ogundele are going to shine as SGA Treasurer and SGA Director of Programming, respectively.

Best of luck next year and have a great summer!!
Sunny

Students Rally to Retain Political Science Professor

Shouldn’t we have more of a say in who educates us? Well, we the students of visiting professor Guy Ziv certainly think so. Last week we started a petition to renew this professor’s contract for the 2009-2010 academic year, after finding out that he is not being invited back by the Political Science Department.

On Thursday April 23, we were able to garner over 535 student signatures in a petition to allow Professor Ziv to stay on as a Professor of Foreign Policy. Such support might strike you as remarkable on our part, especially given that we were able to get those signatures in a matter of hours. However our success was simply because Guy Ziv is a remarkable educator.

Guy Ziv has shown an unmatched dedication to teaching, and espoused the highest academic excellence standards that this school is renowned for.

A typical day in Ziv’s class involves a brief rapport about how his students are doing. And yes, he genuinely cares! Closely following the greetings is a current events segment where he tries to gauge how much his students follow world news and offers them insight to the theoretical and practical explanations for such events, while keeping in mind their broader implications. Then there’s a lecture and following that a discussion. Professor Ziv’s mastery of the subject content coupled with his love for teaching is immediately evident in his presentation. Ziv’s class is so intellectually engaging that it will never leave you day-dreaming or bewildered, a rare phenomenon in college campuses today.

Despite Professor Ziv’s dedication to excellence in teaching, he has not been invited back next year. We have started a strong initiative in an attempt to reverse the decision of the Political Science Department. But the matter goes much deeper than that of this educator’s employment.

At St. Mary’s we pride ourselves in the strong representation given to students in matters of how the school is run. Through Faculty Search Committees students are given a say in the selection process of new professors. However, thereafter students should retain some authority in deciding which professors stay here at St. Mary’s to continue our tradition of academic excellence.

Undoubtedly, Professor Ziv has proven more than capable of carrying on that tradition and, according to shows of overwhelming support, should be given the opportunity to do so. You can help his students’ current efforts to ensure that the faculty here at St. Mary’s remains top-notch by taking action!

There are numbers of ways to do this: Help by calling the Political Science Department at 240-895-4899. Urge them to reconsider their decision not to invite back Professor Ziv. You can also join the Facebook group “Petition the POSC Dept. to Keep Guy Ziv as Professor” and share your opinion(s). Most importantly, assert your power as a student in having a say as to who educates you!
-Patrick Koroma ‘11