Dear Miss Meghan…

Hi Miss Meghan,

I’m a virgin and it is not that I don’t want to have sex but the longer I do not have sex the harder it gets. I get nervous that my lack of inexperience will turn boys off. Quite the catch-22. How can I get this to change?

-Cherrie

 

Dear Cherrie-

Most of the members of humanity are sexual beings; as in engaging in sexual acts has some biological/instinctual bases that equip us with the skills we need to accomplish the various acts of sex, and gain some pleasure out of it. I would say that you probably have some level of sexual skills, even thought you still carry your “V-card.” The way to reduce that anxiety is to increase your skill and confidence levels.

There are two ways to reduce that anxiety. The less recommended, scarier, but more time efficient method, is the “sink or swim.” The theory is that if you are scared of a drowning, go swimming. Facing the fear that you will be perceived as sexually inexperienced by having sex will help you realize that you are not perceived that way. This method has some risk thought, in that odds are that you won’t drown, but you would probably already be swimming if there wasn’t some chance of drowning.

Therefore, I would recommend the “test the waters” method. Do little things that may still make you nervous, but that are more likely to boost your confidence. Start talking to men folk and see what they think (as in, “I have a friend who is a virgin and…”). Talk to female folk about their past sexual experiences and how they gained sexual confidence.

Do some self-exploration and figure out what areas of your body you get pleasure from. Do you enjoy a light touch here, but a rough touch here, every where a touch touch? Your virginity status is significantly less important during sexual acts than your ability to tell a partner what and how you like it. Change your focus from the fear of potentially turning a boy off to teaching him how to turn you on. Each person has different things that turn then on and off, so being comfortable enough with some to have that conversation is a great place to aim for before engaging in any sexual acts with them. If your goal is to turn your partner on and your partner’s goal is to turn you on, and you teach each other the most effective ways of doing that, then the odds of swimming (and swimming well) are significantly higher.

Also try swimming, but with floaties. Learn to get your face wet, learn the different swimming strokes, learn how to come up for air (have I taken this analogy to far yet?).

Most importantly: yes it is normal to feel some anxiety about engaging is sexual acts for the first time. However, if you are feeling pressured into it, don’t think you are ready, or just want to wait, that is a healthy and ok choice.

Sinseriously,

Miss Meghan

 

TPN Special Investigation: Gendered Wage Gap at College

In an investigation into the issue of a gendered wage gap among tenure track faculty at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the data show that by itself there is a significant difference in salaries for males and females.

When statistically factoring in other variables, such as differences in base salaries for different departments and years of service to St. Mary’s, gender does not have a significant effect on salary above and beyond these other factors. However, gender is correlated with the departments that make less on average and to years of service. The departments that on average make less are more likely to have more women in them, and women are less likely to have more years of service teaching.

Specifically, there is a significant negative correlation between gender and years of service. This means that if the numerical variable that was assigned for gender goes ‘up’ (in these tests, males defined as ‘1’ and females as ‘2’) years of service goes down. Being male, then, is correlated with having more years of service at St. Mary’s.

There is also a significant negative correlation between gender and salary: as the variable for gender goes ‘up,’ salary goes down.

Furthermore, there is also a trending significance (i.e., almost significant difference) between gender and department base salaries. This means that if the variable for gender goes ‘up,’ base salaries go down.

Correlation tests examine variables and whether there is any similarity to the data. For example, looking at gender and salary, as salary goes up, gender goes ‘down.’

Gender was separated into male and female and rank was divided into assistant professor, associate professor and full professor, all tenure track or tenured positions. Listings of faculty salaries and rank came from the listings of current salaries of employees at the College which can be found at the library; this and all information used in this investigation are public records or publicly available.

Department base salary was used  as a variable because different departments are paid different amounts of money, and therefore do not have the same base salary. Salaries at St. Mary’s are set according to these types of averages. A base salary is the salary that professors start with when they start in a position. National averages were used as a “baseline” to compare across departments at St. Mary’s.

Department base salaries came from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website which records national averages of salary in different fields in higher education for 2010-2011. This variable was used to break up professors into departments and enable comparisons of salaries between departments.

For example, the national average base salary for new assistant professors in English departments is $51,786, and the base salary for new assistant professors in mathematics and statistics departments is $56,647.

Years of service at St. Mary’s came from the Academic Catalog website that lists faculty and the year they began teaching at St. Mary’s. This variable was included because of its possible influence on salary as a result of things like intermittent raises and other perks meant to retain faculty.

An independent samples t-test, a common statistical test used to test group differences, was run comparing salaries of males and females in tenure or tenure track positions at St. Mary’s. Results showed a significant difference between the average of the two groups. The mean of females’ salaries was significantly lower (a mean of $66,741) than males’ salaries (a mean of $73,970).

Though not tested for significance, there are differences in the number of males and females in ranks of assistant professor (49 percent female), associate professor (49 percent female), and full professor (39 percent female). There appears to be a gendered imbalance in the highest academic rank.

A stepwise regression with the independent variables years of service, department base salaries, and gender, with the dependent variable of salary, found that gender by itself is not a significant predictor of variance in salary above and beyond the effects of years of service and department base salaries.

Years of service and department base salary each had a significant effect on salary. Considering these two factors, gender doesn’t have a significant effect on how much an individual gets paid.

A stepwise regression, used to examine the relationship years of service, department base salaries, and gender have to overall salaries, is a test that examines gender as a variable related to salary after taking into account the effect of these other factors.

When looking at correlations between department base salary, years of service and gender, however, there are correlations between these variables. There is a very strong significant negative correlation between gender and years of service. This means that gender goes “up,” years of service goes down. There is also a significant negative correlation between gender and salary; if gender goes ‘up,’ or as you are more likely to be female, salary goes down. There is also a trending significance between gender and department base salaries; if base salaries go down, gender goes ‘up.’

Gender does not directly influence salary when taking into account the effects of these other variables. Indirectly, because of the connection between gender and years of service and the connection between gender and base salaries, gender may have an effect on salaries of individuals.

The College has also run tests analyzing the impact of gender on salary. Tom Botzman, vice president of business and finance, said in an email correspondence, “The study was conducted by the Office of Institutional Research [OIR]. The study is conducted annually using base salary as the dependent variable. Independent varialbes [sic] include academic field (department), academic rank, time in rank, and years at the College. We then run it again using a stepwise regression and add gender as a variable. Gender comes back as not significant, indicating no significant difference in salary based on gender as a predictive variable.”

This is the same test that was run for this investigation and came back with the same results. Botzman said that the OIR’s test “contains personnel information that we choose not to release as it identifies employees,” which is why that test was run separately for this investigation.

He also said that though gender is not a significant predictor in this test, this “doesn’t mean that there is not systemic difference or [that salary is] correlated with fields,” which is similar to the correlations and their possible impact on salary found in this investigation.

Looking at the base department salaries listed in The Chronicle for Higher Education, there are differences in average faculty salaries. In national averages, the departments that are paid most are the social sciences (anthropology, economics, sociology, political science), physical sciences (physics, chemistry) and biology; the lowest paid are the visual and performing arts (art, theater, music), English, and philosophy and religious studies.

At St. Mary’s the fields that have the most males are music, physics and economics, and the departments that have the smallest percentage of males are education, art, and sociology, anthropology and psychology.

Professor of history Christine Adams spoke in an interview about broader issues of salary disparity and its relation to gender. She said this issue is related to women in roles of domestic labor who then began to enter the professional workforce. She said, “domesticity [was] not valued for labor…[and this] bled into professions that were dominated by women.” In regards to investigations about gendered salary gaps, she said, “there will always be ways of explaining away any anomaly,” but, “I don’t think St. Mary’s consciously discriminates against women.”

She brought up other factors that may affect the variables that are connected to differences in salaries, such as the choice to have a child. “Some female faculty stop the tenure clock when they have children.”

Liberal arts associate and adjunct assistant professor of the liberal arts Andrew Cognard-Black, who specializes in studying gender and workplace dynamics and has researched job placement and compensation of academic personnel in higher education spoke about the broader issue of gendered salary differences in higher education. He said, “fields that tend to be dominated by women tend to have lower salaries,” and “liberal arts fields tend to make less” than vocational degrees in business, engineering, computer science, etc. because of market demand for those jobs.

Focusing specifically on the issue of gendered wage gaps among faculty at St. Mary’s, Jennifer Tickle, associate professor of psychology said, “the gender wage gap is not something the faculty have talked about much recently in light of more prominent discussions of salary freezes, furloughs, and wage comparisons to other institutions.”

If there are concerns among the faculty about differences in salary, whether based on gender or other issues, she said, “faculty members can request equity adjustment.” She added, however,  that she was “not aware of any equity adjustments that have been requested based on gender wage gaps.”

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Larry Vote said that faculty “process appeals directly to [the] Provost or me, vice president of academic affairs” about equity adjustments. The faculty member “must provide data…that supports an equity action.” He said there are usually six to ten requests for equity adjustment a year and that perceptions of equality come from “comparisons with peers” and are “focused more broadly on [characteristics such as] like years of service, colleagues in other departments,” rather than gender.

This investigation suggests that salary differences at St. Mary’s may not be directly related to an individual’s gender, but it does bring up other issues that indirectly relate gender to salary, such as the question of why women on average would have fewer years of service, why the fields that are dominated by women tend to pay less on average, and why there are fewer women in the higher academic ranks.

One possible explanation for the difference in tenure track and fewer years of service is the issue of childcare. Women may delay going for tenure in order to take care of or focus more on caring for children. If childcare was more available on college campuses for faculty, staff, and students, this could affect more women earning higher ranks and more years of service and therefore higher pay. This is an issue that merits further research.

Part of the issue may also be that base department salaries in higher education are set off of national averages of salaries. The article “Disciplinary Differences in Faculty Salaries,” published in  the Journal of Higher Education by Marcia Bellas, examined how gender might be related to disciplinary differences in higher education salaries. The paper concluded that the process of setting salaries by national averages do not adequately reflect labor market demand for certain positions and that the general cultural devaluation of women and work done by women may be reflected in setting salaries at individual schools, which is then reflected in the national averages. The author called for a reevaluation of the basis for setting salaries and more open discussion about faculty salaries in general, including the ability to address equity issues.

The purpose of this investigation is not to attack individuals at St. Mary’s or attempt to hurt the institution, but to create a space for discussion about the issues and variables that affect how individuals are compensated for their work.

For example, setting salaries by national averages may perpetuate gendered disparities in compensation. Another example is the lack of services such as childcare that may prevent females from being able to work at the same level as their male counterparts.

There are differences in the number of females and males in specific fields, how much individuals on average earn in those fields, the number of years that males and females serve at a college, and the number of males and females in higher ranked positions.

The purpose of this study is to question why those differences exist and what St. Mary’s, as an institution that values “diversity in all its forms, social responsibility and civic-mindedness” can do to counteract negative effects of a culture that has a tradition of devaluing work done by women.

 

Sustainability Fellow Not Sustainable

At a recent President’s Council, the decision was made to suspend the Sustainability Fellow position. Though members of the administration noted the choice was one of a reallocation of limited resources, to some the suspension is a fundamental back-tracking on the College’s mission.

The Sustainability Fellow was started in 2008 as a one-year fellowship held by a recent graduate. Its duties include researching and implementing sustainability efforts on campus. According to Student Trustee Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, “The Sustainability Fellow is the only full-time position in the sustainability office. Their job is to do anything and everything possible to make this school more sustainable.” The past and current Sustainability Fellows (Lisa Neu, ‘10) have assisted and coordinated such sustainability efforts as the drafting, editing, and submission of the College’s Climate Action Plan, the phase-out of trays in the Great Room, and the Green St. Mary’s Revolving Loan Fund (GSMRF).

According to Ruthenberg-Marshall, the Sustainability Fellow position was suspended at a meeting of the President’s Council on April 8. After finding out about the position’s suspension, a number of students including Ruthenberg-Marshall drafted an appeal letter. Ruthenberg-Marshall brought this letter to the next President’s Council on April 22. He noted that the Council was favorable in principle, but ultimately rejected the appeal.

According to Dean of Faculty Laura Bayless, the position was suspended because of strategic choices the College had to make concerning its limited resources.

Bayless also pointed out that the College decided to use these resources instead on a new position in the Office of Financial Aid, meant to deal with the added pressures of new federal financial aid regulations and direct lending, and to hire a new Coordinator of Student Activities to relieve the dual duties of current Coordinator of Student Activities and Judicial Affairs Clint Neill.

According to Vice President of Business and Finance Tom Botzman, the Council is instead looking for another model for the position.

He added, “[The Sustainability Fellow position] came about as an experiment, and we’re still trying to find the best way to do it.”

Though tentative, Botzman suggested that the Fellowship may be split between three full-time students, which he said might open up new opportunities for students to work more directly with the faculty.

“[In] sustainability, more than any other [initiative], we’ve seen what students can do, and faculty say they can do more.”

Bayless said she envisioned something similar with a potential project focus instead of overall sustainability focus, depending on how Vice President of Planning and Facilities Chip Jackson and Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray wish to split the money allocated to the new positions.

She added that she felt confident that students could juggle the position and their academics and said, “I don’t think it’s setting the institution back, and it doesn’t mean we’re not continuing to be sustainable.”

Both Botzman and Bayless noted that it was “absolutely“ likely that the position would be reinstated in the future if this new model is not successful.

Many students and faculty concerned with sustainability, however, see the status of this “experiment” far differently. For the past week, students concerned with the loss of the position have been sending emails and letters to members of the President’s Council, handing out fliers, and tabling in the campus center. According to Ruthenberg-Marshall, it is all part of a plan to “up the pressure” against administration and bring the case for a Sustainability Fellow to the Board of Trustees.

According to Ruthenberg-Marshall, the Sustainability Fellow position as it stands is advantageous specifically because it is full-time. “By the sheer fact that we are students we prioritize academics…a full-time position doesn’t have that conflict.”

Chandler echoed these sentiments, and said, “[students and faculty] can go to the Sustainability Fellow and get action. I don’t know if we can do that with a student.”

Chandler also noted that, though students often come up with sustainability ideas, the Sustainability Fellow has access to time and resources which allow them to facilitate these projects in ways students cannot.

Chandler also said that the loss of the position would especially negatively impact Mowbray. She said, “[Mowbray] is really good at his job, but…he was hired as half sustainability coordinator and half the planning office. His other responsibilities keep encroaching on his sustainability efforts, and that’s not his fault.”

Those who protest the suspension of the Sustainability Fellow, such as Ruthenberg-Marshall and Chandler, see its loss as a major blow to not only sustainability on campus but to the College’s larger mission.

Chandler said, “Sustainability is in our mission. It’s being emphasized in the new strategic plan, and my concern is that it’ll fall to the way-side…I feat that sustainability will just sort of melt away.”

Ruthenberg-Marshall said, “We’re hoping the administration sees reason, in a time where we are upping our commitment to sustainability.” He added, “While I’m still appreciate all this school has given me, I do not know if I can support a school that is back-tracking on one of the most important social issues of our time.”

 

Students Vote in Favor of Raising Student Fees

Voting on the issue of raising student fees ended on Saturday, April 23 at midnight with a total of 33.3 percent of the student body voting on the referendum and 78 percent of the votes in support of the referendum to raise student fees, according to an email sent out by sophomore Joshua Santangelo, Student Government Association (SGA) Parliamentarian.

Student fees will be raised $25 per student, per year in order to fund the SGA’s general operating budget which goes towards funding clubs and SGA sponsored events like on-campus films and World Carnival. This fee raise will go into effect in the fall semester of 2012.

SGA Treasurer, senior Matt Smith, said a push to vote on raising fees came from “inflation and rising prices. We really had to raise fees.” He also said he has had to work with an unbalanced budget.

According to Santangelo, another impetus for supporting raising student fees was because of the Special Carryover Fund, which is all the money that rolls over from previous year’s budgets to fund projects that are not projected in the yearly budget. The Special Carryover Fund was rapidly running low on money because of projects that came to the SGA asking for financial support.

He said, “it started getting hard to say yes because we were running out of money.”

Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder said that she has “been supplementing a lot of SGA related events out the the student activities budget.”

Student fees were raised last year, but those funds were specifically for the Green St. Mary’s Revolving Fund, which is put towards environmental initiatives.

The funds from this raise in student fees will go towards supporting campus clubs, service organizations like SafeRide, the Bike Shop, and the Campus Community Farm, and events like movies, Coffeehouse, comedians and World Carnival.

For example, Schroeder said it was the goal of the SGA to “think about how we can better meet the interests [of students] in terms of band entertainment…it would be nice to have a little more flexibility to respond to students.”

Voting on the referendum was set up concurrently with SGA elections as a ‘class’ on Blackboard and students were notified through email and tabling in the Campus Center about voting.

Though some students brought up objections to raising student fees, such as comparing St. Mary’s they to other institutions, Smith explained why he felt they were necessary and what would have happened if students had voted against raising fees or if not enough students had participated in voting.

He said that part of the reason was because “we’re a rural campus” and “this is not a commuter campus.”

“There is a greater burden of the SGA to keep [the students] entertained.”

Schroeder said, “other institutions don’t have those services or institutions can pay [the money for services].”

“No student pays to go SGA events or to use student services” past student fees.

If students had not voted to raise student fees, Smith said the SGA would “probably take a little bit out of everything” and there would have been a “weaning back of activities on campus.”

Schroeder said “clubs would have had to do more of their own fundraising” which would have been complicated because all of the clubs doing fundraising would be competing for the same groups within the St. Mary’s  community.

The referendum still needs to be approved by the Board of Trustees, which has not been an issue in the past. Santangelo said, “when a worthy cause comes to the SGA, we’ll be able to to say yes.”

 

Forums Discuss Civility, Improving St. Mary’s

While much of the controversy over the Chick-fil-a boycott has subsided, at least in outward expressions,  many on campus have taken the aftermath to consider how St. Mary’s can be a safer, more open and respectful place where discussion about important and potentially divisive issues can happen in positive and constructive ways.  Several recent meetings and forums on this issue have facilitated discussions on the presence of prejudice on campus, the role of civility, the difference between  tolerance and respect, and what students, faculty and staff can do to build the type of community they would like to live and work in.

Dean of Students Laura Bayless called a meeting on Tuesday April 12 of the Student Affairs staff, made up of Residence life, Judicial Board, Student Activities and Health and Counseling offices. The meeting was also attended by a number of student leaders. The purpose was to discuss and brainstorm strategies for the coming year about the issue of incivility on campus, and find ways to expand the conversation to include the entire campus. Bayless said that “it was clear that the students needed to be part of the conversation, given that a large part of the incidents were related to students.” Bayless also expanded upon some of the unclearness that surrounded the incidents of harassment, saying that there were a few incidents that were “very severe and required investigation….some people may think this discussion is just about being polite, but that is not what I mean when I talk about civility.” While releasing details of the harassment and abusive behavior is not possible, Bayless stressed that these issues were something that demanded action on the part of Student Affairs. “I’m happy this conversation is happening,” she said. “Its an opportunity to help shape the community in ways that are important to us.”

One way Student Affairs is addressing this issue is through creating some new responsibilities for certain positions within Student Affairs, specifically the creation of a peer mediation program to possibly deal with issues around LGBTQ students, but also problems with harassment and prejudice on campus in general. Other ideas and plans involve programming during orientation, increased visibility of the ‘St. Mary’s Way’ and reaching students on this issue through SGA sponsored clubs and activities.

A forum on prejudice on the St. Mary’s campus was hosted by first-year Jessica McCarter on Wednesday April 13 as a response to the recent issues of harassment. McCarter is a student in the DeSousa Brent program and as part of the program students host different events on campus. McCarter said she wanted to host a discussion on prejudice because she is “interested in different types of prejudice on the St. Mary’s campus,” and was confused when some said they didn’t see prejudice happening on campus, wondering, “didn’t they see all the emails? Haven’t they been talking to people and hearing about this? I wanted to have an event to talk about what I was seeing with other students.”

At the forum, students that attended described several different types of prejudice they have encountered on campus introduced issues of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and even involvement in the DeSousa Brent program. Attendees said they have experienced prejudice at the hands of other students but also from faculty in the classroom. Said sophomore Brittany Davis, “There definitely is a lot of prejudice on this campus. We all come from different places….but civility doesn’t mean just sweeping things under the rug. We need to understand each other. Confrontation and awkward conversations aren’t always a bad thing.” Attendees agreed that having more conversations about race, gender identity and sexuality on campus would be one way to start to approach these issues.

President Joseph Urgo also held a special President’s Forum on Wednesday April 20 facilitated by Assistant Professor of Philosophy Sybol Anderson and Director of the Library Celia Rabinowitz. The forum was titled “Building a Better St. Mary’s” and was well-attended by students, faculty and staff a like. Urgo remarked at the opening that while “everyone is in favor of civility…passionate feelings stretch our civil instincts.” Anderson echoed these sentiments as well, saying, “the thing I’d like us to think about today is the conditions under which our discourse becomes uncivil…the recent climate on campus has been uncharacteristic of the story we tell ourselves and world about St. Mary’s.”

The forum was conducted through general questions posed to the audience that were then answered by members of the audience. Some of the questions asked the audience to reflect on what exactly is happening on campus right now, what civility and respect are, and what students, faculty and the administration can do to encourage better discussions and a better atmosphere on campus.

Many students talked about a sense of division and apathy they feel from others. Senior Kyle Jernigan, Editor-in-chief of The Point News, said, “There seems to be a correlation between incivility and apathy. There is a disconnect between the people who are involved on campus and the people who aren’t.”  Sophomore Joshua Santangelo said, “the population of people who care is dwindling…separate groups keep separate.”

On the issues of civility and respect, opinions ranged. While some felt that civility was not enough and ultimately St. Mary’s needs to strive for a fundamental sense of respect for every person, Assistant Professor of History Charles Musgrove talked about how civility “reminds us we have responsibilities to each other, no matter if we have differing views, or don’t like each other.”

In some cases where passions might stress relations, he said, “we’ll take the false kind of civility anyways.”

Students and faculty committed to trying to break down some of the barriers they see on campus just by being friendlier, which although a small thing, can lead to general “good feelings” on campus, as junior Marshall Betz described it. Anderson also suggested “reaching out to people that aren’t as involved and inviting people to leadership roles.”

Others suggested more all-campus events, putting the St. Mary’s Way on syllabi rather than, in Professor Emeritus of English Michael Glaser’s words, “burying it in the course catalog,” and having more orientation events related to respect and open discussion of hard issues.

At the conclusion of the event, Urgo said, “I’m gratified by the impatience with civility. We can do better than civility.” He also spoke to the idea that people at St. Mary’s came to this place to accomplish something purposeful and meaningful. He concluded by saying simply being nice to each other, while important, is not always enough to facilitate deeper connections, conversations and respect on campus.

 

College Plans Several Renovations, Projects for Summer 2011

As the semester is coming to a close and students plan their summers, the Office of Planning and Facilities are making plans for their own projects.  According to Chip Jackson, associate vice president of planning and facilities, it is going to be a busy summer.

The major project planned for this summer will be Margaret Brent Hall.  After several years of talks and excavations,  Margaret Brent will be moved from its present location behind Anne Arundel Hall to the parking lot next to the Campus Center.  Margaret Brent will be the future home of the Departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies.  The move is thought to be a more economically sound choice since it will cost less to move the building then building a new one.

Jackson could not elaborate on a date other than by saying that the move will take place in June or July.  “Once [the date is] known we will publicized [it]” said Jackson, “be sure to check the website during the summer.”

Lewis Quad will also be the focus of a lot of attention. First, the LQ Eatery will open officially in its new renovated form. There has been a lot of discussions about what the space will look like.  “[It] will be very different,” Jackson commented.

Planning and Facilities has also been considering a redesign of the LQ courtyard.  “No one seems to like the gravel” said Jackson as he discussed how it might be removed.  At this time, Jackson could not expand on what form the courtyard will take since several more meetings still have to take place.  “This is a goal” remarked Jackson.

Two other projects on campus will be the renovating of the Townhouse Greens’ bathrooms and new sidewalks in several location around campus. Jackson alluded that the bathrooms in the Greens are long overdue for renovating.

In several locations, the sidewalks will be remodeled as well. This includes between Glendenning, Montgomery, and Schaefer Halls and between Goodpaster Hall and the Michael P O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center.  These projects include putting more brick paths down while removing the concrete sidewalks that already exist. According to Jackson, the funds for these changes are coming from the state, not the College’s budget.

The sidewalk between St. John’s Pond and the Library will also be expanded to take account of the high levels of traffic along the path.  This will also help solve the problem of the muddy space that can be found along the entire path up to the Library. This project will be using College funding.

The last major task of the summer will be redesigns for Route 5.  Officially called the “Route 5 Safety and Traffic Calming Project,” this project is planned to make the crossings safer for students. “There will be a lot of community interest in this project,” said Jackson, “we want the students, who are also members of the community, to engage with us during this project.”

The project, which will be federally funded, is suppose to slow traffic that are driving along the bend in Route 5. According to Jackson, the designing will begin in the fall. The plans for this project are still in the air and Planning and Facilities are looking for student input.

“We need students,” said Jackson, “so please voice your opinions.” There will be several public meetings planned in the fall that students will be able to attend.

 

College Welcomes New Interim Director

Dave Zylak, former St. Mary’s County Director of Public Safety and, before that, the County Sheriff, officially entered his position as St. Mary’s Interim Director of Public Safety on April 25.

Now in the Public Safety Office behind the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center, Zylak is beginning to learn the intricacies of the College community and his own Public Safety staff, including safety and communications officers.

Graduating from Penn State University with a degree in forest technology, Zylak became involved in the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office in 1983, running for election as the Democratic candidate in 2004.

Zylak was the Sheriff of St. Mary’s County from 2004 to 2006.  After losing re-election to candidate Tim Cameron that year, Zylak became the County Director of Public Safety in February 2007. Zylak had had interest in the position as St. Mary’s Director of Public Safety before becoming the County Director.

“I had some interest in the position at the time,” Zylak said, “and it was something Tony [Brooks] and I talked about.”

Derek Thornton, the Physical Plant Assistant Vice President for Campus Operations, oversaw Public Safety that year, temporarily removing the need for a Public Safety head.

While Zylak’s wife, Deborah Zylak, has remained with an administrative role in the County Sheriff’s Office as records supervisor, Zylak’s family is strongly involved in education.

“My brother, Rick, is a physics teacher in Pennsylvania,” he said, “and my daughter Sara teaches music at Spring Ridge Elementary.”

Sara Zylak attended St. Mary’s almost a decade ago, graduating in 2006 with a degree in music.  Zylak’s other daughter, Samantha Zylak, is an administrator in the school system.

This background, combined with his experience as County Director, contributes to Zylak’s broader view of the purpose of Public Safety itself, which he hopes to implement at the College.

“I don’t want Public Safety to be a police agency,” he said.  “We need to work to change the cultural mentality. We need a broader view now, of providing safety and education.”

While working in the County, Zylak handled disaster plans for fires, floods, and other natural disasters, and worked with families to develop standard procedures for use in the case of emergencies.  According to him, these issues are beyond law enforcement, and while his experience as Sheriff has developed his sense of that aspect of Public Safety, other elements of his position, more specifically the educational side, are also very important to him.

Zylak took an interest in the College Public Safety director position again after retiring as County Director, and was offered the position of Interim Director following the sudden resignation of former Director of Public Safety Chris Santiago.

“I met with [Santiago] one time…we talked about radio issues on campus,” said Zylak, referring to when St. Mary’s County set up a new radio system and wanted to involve the College’s Public Safety Office.

While Zylak hopes to promote the educational element of public safety, he plans on maintaining the Advisory Board, a group organized by Santiago to discuss public safety issues on campus, to gain community input.

An avid biker on his Harley Davidson motorcycle, a self-taught guitarist, and golfer, Zylak hopes to bring some of his own talents and interests to the College community and to get involved with the students, faculty, and staff on multiple levels.

He plans to apply for the more permanent Director of Public Safety position, to be appointed before the fall of 2011.

 

Dove and The Point News Merge, Now The Point News Publications

At the last Student Government Association (SGA) meeting of the semester, The Point News submitted a new constitution that would include The Dove Yearbook under its wings. The new media group, The Point News Publications, will now produce both the bi-weekly newspaper and the yearbook. This shift is the final outcome of conversations regarding The Dove’s future that started in the fall of 2010.

Some may remember the poll last year that surveyed the student body on whether The Dove should move to an all digital database rather than continue as a printed publication.  According to Kelly Schroeder, Assistant Dean of Students, this poll was an effort to solve some of the problems with finances, support and infrastructure that The Dove was having. The Dove had been struggling with finding any students to work on producing the entire publication, placing ads, and securing enough material about events on campus.

While the poll about the move to digital revealed to Schroeder that “we weren’t quite ready for digital” at the time, The Dove still needed more support and help in order to keep a strong identity as a printed publication. Paying students to work on The Dove as editors was one way to draw students in; however, ultimately The Dove was costing the SGA money to produce rather than sustaining itself, and, as Schroeder said, “the yearbook shouldn’t fall to the Office of Student Activities; it’s a student publication.” When editors of The Dove approached The Point News staff about using their photo archives to help cover more events on campus, The Point News staff began brainstorming about how to help The Dove.

At the SGA meeting that passed the bill junior Dave Chase, managing editor of The Point News, pointed out how The Dove was “about to run out of funding … students had to come in during the summer and work on it without much support. This merge is an opportunity to solve these issues and add to our own portfolio.” All involved agreed that the shift will lead to a much improved final product. Editor-in-Chief senior Jaclyn Fiackos said that before, “there were only three of us working hard to get to all events on campus,” and without The Point News involvement, “I don’t even know if there would be a good yearbook” at the end of the year. She believed that the shift would keep The Dove’s essential identity but allow for much better quality.

The new constitution of The Point News Publications allows for another paid editor position to just work on The Dove. However, the shift is still going to save the SGA a considerable amount of money and still produce a better quality record of student life and activities on campus. New ideas that were proposed were for there to be an online section of the yearbook, shared advertising resources for The Dove and The Point News, and more collaboration about how to be a true historical record of the College.

 

New SGA Executive Board for 2011-2012 Officially Sworn In

Last week the results of the election were sent out by all-student email.  The winners were: Mark Snyder, President, Katherine Monahan, Vice President, Kevin Paul, Treasurer, and Francis Rodezno, Director of Campus Programming.  Even though the academic year is coming to a close, these student leaders have already been planning for SGA next year.

Snyder believes that one of the problems with the student body is it is apathetic to SGA issues.  “People don’t know what SGA is,” said Snyder, who then explained how by changing publicity methods the SGA could reach more students.

“We have great ideas but we have to access people who don’t get to come out,” said Snyder, “the SGA must become more active.”

Monahan and Rodezno both have their personal ideas about the directions of SGA in the coming year.  “Start planning bigger projects, including GMSRF and green initiatives” was one of the major desires for Monahan.

Rodezno states that he wanted to “get the name Programs Board out to the student body,” while educating students about how much Programs Board is present in their lives on campus.

When ask what the biggest problem the SGA faces in the coming year, the budget was on everyone’s mind. Even after the recent fee increase, the budget will be a major concern since the fee increase will not become official until the following academic year. “Students may be under the impression that the increase has happened” said Monahan; however, the SGA will be faced with some hard choices throughout this coming year.

Even on top of the looming budget, there is a lot of excitement building as these students prepare themselves for the responsibility of leadership.

 

Slackwater to be Discontinued?

The term slackwater is a nautical term, referring to the calm, glassy waters of the time when the tide is changing from coming in to going out. It’s a fitting title, then, for a scholarly journal that documents an area in transition; St. Mary’s County straddles the line between rural and suburban, and with the scientific advances of the naval base, between the technological future and the past. Slackwater the journal was originally conceived in the mid-1980s as the “Southern Maryland Documentation Project,” and in 1998 the first volume was published in its current form. The issue, which revolved around St. George Island, was the first of six editions that dealt with prominent issues that affected the county including the transitional period of the 1960s, tobacco, and the upcoming issue on rights, edited by senior Kyle McGrath.

Originally, former Professor of English Andrea Hammer headed the publication and for the last three issues she was able to procure a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Hammer and the students collected oral histories in the county and published them until 2004 when Hammer left for Cornell. At Hammer’s request, Professor of Anthropology Julie King stepped in, though King had also been involved in the journal under Hammer. “I loved the idea of Slackwater because I love this community. I think it’s the most fascinating and interesting community anywhere,” King said.

McGrath, who is a double major in English and Anthropology, found Slackwater to be the “perfect bridge” between his two interests. Since the spring of 2010, McGrath has been working on the current issue as his St. Mary’s Project and has contributed three articles as well as an editor’s introduction. The other components to the issue are contributed almost entirely by students in photo and cultural journalism classes.

According to King, the previous volumes of the journal have been accepted very well in the community, both at the College and elsewhere. Every time an issue is about to be published the bookstore is inundated with calls, King said. Now, in the wake of finishing the seventh issue, funds are almost non-existent. The journal was able to scrape enough grant money to publish the most recent issue, “and then the Mellon money runs out,” King said.

King understands that the economy is weak now and agrees that the College has to start prioritizing. Additionally, Slackwater is not a cheap journal; it’s published on very heavy, expensive paper and the publication, which is very time and labor-intensive, is very high-end. The question, then, is where Slackwater falls in the College’s priorities.

President Joseph Urgo formed a task force which met in February and which is preparing a report on Slackwater for his consideration. The task force consists of archivist Katherine Ryner, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of the Core Curriculum and Advising Program Ruth Feingold, Professor of Biology Chris Tanner, former principal of George Washington Carver Elementary School Janice Walthour, and mother of alumni and retired journalist Viki Volk.

King believes that the task force will be able to reveal aspects of Slackwater that are vital to the community. At the bottom, King said, Slackwater is an academic project, not a “feel-good” publication, with hard and disturbing pieces, as well as hopeful ones. As a community document, Slackwater functions as a collaborative exercise, and King’s dream is that the journal will have contributions by students, faculty, and community members.

McGrath, who also believes in documenting the county through Slackwater, is aware of the possibility of not receiving funding. As a Student Government Association senator, McGrath realizes that the College is discussing funding cuts for many programs and previous expenditures. The funding for the Terrified Pedestrian Bike Shop, for instance, was cut because it was perceived as stagnant, and though the Bike Shop has recently been funded for three more semesters, Slackwater is an expensive publication.

Currently, southern Maryland including St. Mary’s County, is the fastest growing region in the state, and Slackwater helps to document not only the present and the future, but also the past. Because of the traditional audience of Slackwater, any considerations of using a new, cheaper medium for the journal (such as the internet) usually result in sharply divided opinions. McGrath said that a digital format would not be effective because “folks in the community, watermen – [they’re] not carrying around Kindles … Slackwater lives or dies by its current form.” Additonally, Slackwater’s specific aesthetic and clean look could be compromised if the project became entirely internet-based. “The look has to be maintained to honor stories,” said King.

Though grants are still a possibility for funding, King said grant money would just “prolong the agony,” because eventually the grant would just run out again. Thus, the question of funding, which was originally posed in 2004, is unresolved. In the end, King said, the next step is contingent on priorities. If the benefits and contributions of Slackwater are deemed to be worthy, money will have to be found somewhere. King is confident in the advantages of the publication, though, explaining that whenever she brings Slackwater to other schools, she immediately runs out of them. “[Slackwater is] the envy of other institutions,” King said.

Additionally, King cites the value online archives. There are transcriptions of interviews with community members, some of whom have passed away, from decades ago. From this issue alone, McGrath has several hours of recorded interviews for his three articles.

In the end, McGrath thinks that there are more efficient cuts to be made, as Slackwater is “one of the ties to the community.” Many students don’t know much about the area, and McGrath is always surprised at the lack of knowledge. King agrees that Slackwater is a very important project because the journal reveals the the complexities of the community and the region. Without funding, though, Slackwater can’t continue. “I’m very hopeful that we will find a way to see it forward,” King said, “but I’m also not 100 percent confident.”