New Mr. SMC Takes Crown

On Sunday, Nov. 13, the annual Mr. SMC competition was held during the final hours of brunch in the Raley Great Room within the Campus Center.

With the room almost full of students who came to watch the pageant, seven different male students from various years, competed in five categories: Introduction, Wacky Wear, Talent, Swimwear, and a Question and Answer portion.

Five judges, including the 2010-2011 Mr. SMC Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall ’11, sat alongside the stage to critique each contestant in all five categories. When introducing the event, Ruthenberg-Marshall said, “Every year we have Mr. SMC to find the most prettiest, most talented, and best male on campus.”

The seven contestants vying for the title were senior Raza Ahmad, first-year Tim Carey, sophomore Sam “Gucci” Uwahemo, senior Geoff Cooper, first-year Darrell Jackson, junior Josh Olexa, and sophomore Ben Vannest.

The introduction round consisted of contestants strutting around the center of the Great Room in nice clothes while the two masters of ceremonies (MCs), junior, Michael Bargamian and sophomore, Anuli Duru, gave short biographies that each contestant had entered.

Audience members were able to donate their spare change to whichever prospective Mr. SMC they supported, which would not only help them gain more points in the competition, but would also be donated to the Class of 2014.

“If you really want your friend to win,” said sophomore Shelby Perkins, Class of 2014 President, “throw in a quarter, throw in a dollar.”

Wacky wear followed the introductions, which involved fur coats, female clothing, spandex, belly dancing attire, a pajama onesie, a duck mask, and a tiara all being worn.

Ahmad kicked off the talent portion with his own Seahawk-inspired version of “Stu’s Song” sung by Ed Helms to Mike Tyson’s tiger in the film The Hangover. “I’ve never played the piano before, everyone,” Ahmad told the audience at the end of his performance. “I’ve never played the piano.”

Other talents involved the ability to give great hugs, dancing to “Teach Me How to Dougie,” a free-styling rap in another language, tying a knot with one hand, singing Katy Perry’s song “Teenage Dream,” a moment involving a contestant rubbing lotion into his skin while only wearing a towel, and a magic show.

Vannest introduced his magic show by saying, “Let me possibly let you understand my awesomeness by making people do stuff for me.” He then proceeded, with the help of some friends from the audience, to convince people to do things from creating a symphony and making a girl swoon. He even referenced the Harry Potter franchise by yelling “Accio Margaret Brent Hall!” Vannest then turned around, saw the recently placed Margaret Brent Hall through the windows of the Great Room and said, “Yes! Didn’t think that would work.”

The swimsuit portion of the competition followed next with two contestants wearing normal male swimming shorts, but the others wore everything from the Men’s Crew uniform, to a wetsuit accompanied by a snorkel and fins, to a grass skirt with a coconut bra and lei.

Staying in their swimsuit outfits, all the contestants were then called one-by-one onto the stage to answer a randomly chosen question. Questions ranged from typical ones, such as, “Do you prefer boxers or briefs?” to St. Mary’s College specific questions, like, “What’s your favorite cruise ship memory?” and “If you could chose one St. Mary’s professor to go on a date with – male or female – who would you chose?”

After a ten-minute break while the judges counted the donations made towards each contestant, along with their own votes in each category, all contestants were brought onto the stage to begin the crowning ceremony.

Third place went to Cooper, second place to Ahmad, and first place and the title of Mr. SMC 2011-2012 went to Olexa.

St. Mary’s College’s new Mr. SMC was pulled onto a special platform and handed a sash by former Mr. SMC Ruthenberg-Marshall, as well as a crown, a cozy, and a wand. Standing in front of the cheering audience, Olexa gave his acceptance speech by saying, “I guess you really like me!”

Route 5 Traffic Calming Projected for Summer 2012

Following the reemergence of Route 5 traffic safety projects in 2008 and this semester’s plans for traffic calming from North Fields to Historic St. Mary’s City, plans are underway to begin main construction projects this summer.

“The goal of traffic calming is to create a safer area for pedestrians and cars to use Route 5,” said Dan Branigan, Director of Design and Construction for the College. “We’re planning sidewalks, lighting, curbs, medians, splitting islands, and other things to separate traffic from pedestrians.”

The speed limit on the portion of Route 5 that passes near the campus is 30 miles per hour, but is 50 mph near the Green Door and quickly slows to 40 mph near the campus. These conditions, combined with the road’s width, lack of traffic-slowing structures, and diminished lighting, make Route 5 a potential hazard for pedestrians and drivers that are near the campus on a daily basis.

The master plan for traffic calming includes projects from the North Fields section of Route 5 and south on 5 until Rosecroft Road near Historic St. Mary’s City. A large sidewalk will start just north of College Drive, according to Branigan, with bicycle lanes on the sides of the highway and a general narrowing of the road to slow vehicles entering the new speed limit zone. More streetlights and sidewalks will be placed farther south, with islands in the road at intersections to College Drive and Historic St. Mary’s City to guide turning traffic.

In addition, the intersection to the River Center will be shifted from its current 140-degree angle with Route 5 to 90 degrees, making the turn easier for northbound traffic and slowing southbound traffic turning onto the road. Accompanying the crosswalks (which will be moved closer to intersections to make their use safer and more convenient) will be “bumpouts,” extended curbs that narrow Route 5 to slow traffic for pedestrian crossing.

The final phase of the project will be to make an intersection to Route 5 with the Historic St. Mary’s City entrance and the Campus Center parking lot entrance, which will be done as the parking lot is being extended for student and Historic St. Mary’s City use.

“We’re hoping to get construction going this summer,” said Branigan, “to time it near Anne Arundel Hall construction.”

The projects will be discussed with community members and students during one of the Open Houses in Spring 2012, but the College will meet with the State Highway Administration later this month. Project plans haven’t been changed since the recent accident involving a Penn Line truck and student, but are being continued, according to Branigan, to prevent accidents like this from occurring.

“I think, especially for the lower crosswalk, there needs to be more done to illuminate them during the night,” said senior Jeff Gibson. “During the day it’s fine, less people are in a rush and they are attentive. But at night, you’re dealing with exhausted drivers, often speeding to get home.”

“I think something needs to be done, but I’m not sure of the best way,” said Biology Professor Samantha Elliott. “I don’t think there’s enough traffic to justify lights, and with extensive road work for islands, I would be concerned about the impact on the river. But safety is a major concern because many people cross that road on a daily basis.”

“Cars who know the area know to slow down at night,” said senior Elizabeth Bromley, “but visitors don’t as much, and the signs on the crosswalks aren’t as visible during the evening.”

Sea Voyager Cruise Ship Gets Mixed Reviews

On Nov. 1, 244 of the displaced residents of the dangerously moldy Caroline and Prince George’s Halls were finally allowed to move aboard their new home: a small cruise ship named the Sea Voyager, docked right outside Historic St. Mary’s City. Some students welcomed the change, while others reported a tough adjustment to life on the boat.

The new “floating dorm” includes a spacious lounge, which contains a baby grand piano, exercise equipment, and The Love Café, an extension of campus grocery and coffee shop The Daily Grind. A separate but equally large study room, in what is usually the ship’s dining room, is also available for students who do not want to trek to the library. The Resident Assistant office is located in what was the ship’s gift shop. Each bedroom is named after a nautical area, such as “Cape Cod” or “Lake Huron.”

According to first-year Jemile Safaraliyeva, “The guest policy is difficult, checking in and out.” Only 294 people are allowed on the Sea Voyager at any one time; given students, faculty, and staff already on the ship, only 28 guests at a time are permitted to board the ship. Public Safety is stationed outside the dock to check residents and guests in and out of the Sea Voyager and keep track of the number of people on board.

Residents faced some unexpected nuisances to boat life. “It’s nice to be on campus, but the crew has safety boat drills two times a day,” said sophomore Sydney Hunter. First-year Jonathan Grossman-Zoha also expressed annoyance with these drills. “The staff uses the intercom in the morning and it wakes me up every day,” he said. “We hear all of it.”

Students had the most issues with the rooming situation on the Sea Voyager. “I have one of the biggest rooms, but others have rooms the size of prison cells,” says Grossman-Zoha. “You can hear every little thing through those walls, making it very hard to fall asleep, no matter what time,” added first-year Willow Smith.

“I like having a private bathroom, but it feels claustrophobic, and I get sea-sick,” said sophomore Lindsey Lepage.  Adding to the bathroom issues, Smith said, “The shower curtain likes to randomly blow in and stick to you.”

The Sea Voyager lacks a full laundry room, so many residents walk to nearby Calvert Hall to do their laundry. “It’s really annoying to share only three sets of washers and dryers among the residents of essentially three residence halls,” said Calvert Hall resident and sophomore Mike Harp.

Other students tried to keep a positive perspective of their new living situation. “We need to remember that this boat wasn’t built to be lived in for long periods of time, usually people are only living here for a week,” said Grossman-Zoha.

“I’ve really gotten to like the boat,” said first-year Andrew Murti. “When compared to a dorm, this is really swanky. I would do it for an extra semester. Walking ten minutes is better than a forty minute bus ride.”

First-year Serra Erbis lived in Waring Commons when she was originally ousted from her dorm, but says “When I found out there was a boat, I left. It sounded really awesome.” Safaraliyeva recognizes the uniqueness of her time on the Sea Voyager. “It’s an experience,” she said. “This is what college is all about, with everything changing so rapidly.”

St. Mary’s Lives Up to “Tree Campus USA” Title by Planting More Trees

Living up to St. Mary’s College’s recent approval as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, Lesley Urgo, a member of St. Mary’s Arboretum Association, along with 21 students and community members planted 19 trees around campus on Thursday, Nov. 10.

According to L. Urgo, the group broke up into three teams for about an hour to plant one Sour Wood, five Crab Apple, six Sugar Maple, and seven Linden trees. All are native to the area and were planted around the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center (ARC), Goodpaster Hall, Schaefer, and Calvert Halls, and Waring Commons (WC).

Although the original plan was to plant 29, the grounds crew will plant the remaining ten trees over Thanksgiving break when the cars clear out of Parking Lot R located near WC, where the unplanted trees currently reside.

“We had a good turnout. The rain held out, and we got everything done we wanted to,” Urgo said.

Urgo also claimed that besides adding to the campus, the tree planting is also about the environment. “There’s more to it than being beautiful, we try to be smart, we try to be environmentally sound,” she said. “Every spring and every fall we hope to have some event much like this.”

Urgo also urges the importance of student involvement in the association. “If students get involved [with the Arboretum Association], it shows they care about their campus and community,” she said.

She noted that planning has already begun for a student project in the spring, which involves planting fruit-bearing apple trees on the site of the old campus farm.

For more information about the St. Mary’s Arboretum Association, contact Lesley Urgo via email at ldurgo@smcm.edu, or visit the Arboretum webpage on smcm.edu. For more information on Tree Campus USA, visit arborday.org/treecampususa.

Club Spotlight: Volleyball

Some of us play barefoot, some of us played in high school, some of us have never played before, and all of us just come to have fun.

Every Monday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., the club volleyball team meets in the recreation courts of the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center (ARC) to work on fundamental skills and scrimmage in game-like situations.

The club’s president, sophomore Michael Bender, and vice president, sophomore Sami Keyani, are also its founders, as this is the first year for club volleyball at St. Mary’s.

Though there is usually a solid group of around 15 people at every practice, there is no commitment required to join and we are always open to new members to come play with us. No prior experience with the sport is necessary. Whether you want to improve your game or have something fun to do on Monday and Thursday afternoon while getting to know some cool people, there is a spot for you in club volleyball.

Right now, we practice as and are a co-ed club, but eventually we plan to break up into men’s and women’s teams for tournaments and games. As of right now, the men’s team hopes to compete against other local school’s club teams such as University of Maryland College Park, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Salisbury University, and Towson University as well as possibly some other local tournaments. The women’s team hopes to compete in local weekend tournaments against other club teams, too.

Currently, we do not have a coach, but we are in the process of finding one to help us out with strengthening our skills and to prepare us for future games and tournaments.

For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Michael Bender at mfbender@smcm.edu, or just come out to a practice and see what we are all about! We hope to see you on the court!

Former SMCM Professor Norton Dodge Dies at Age 84

On Nov. 5, trustee emeritus and emeritus professor of economics Norton Dodge passed away from multiple organ failure at the age of 84. Dodge received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1948 and, in 1960, his doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) in economics from Harvard University, where he researched economics and industrial development in the Soviet Union.

According to an all-student email sent out by President Urgo, Dodge visited the Soviet Union on research trips, where he became interested in vocal opposition among artists. While there, he accumulated much of their works thereby preserving dissident art from the USSR that might have been otherwise lost or destroyed. Dodge smuggled nearly 10,000 works of art from the USSR to the United States during the Cold War.

In 1977, Dodge decided to hold an art show in Washington, where he displayed the works he’d smuggled. After that, he knew his name and face would be recognized in the Soviet Union, since embassy officials attended the show, and he chose not to return.

Now, the art resides in the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art From the Soviet Union, which is part of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Though many art critics dismissed the work as being useless, Dodge was always careful to warn not to judge art by western standards. In 1977, Dodge told The Washington Post, “You may think this art is good – or bad. I think it should be seen.”

His books include “Women in the Soviet Economy” (1966), and he became a leading Sovietologist who did pioneering work on the role of women under the rule of Josef Stalin. He also edited “From Gulag to Glasnost: Nonconformist Art in the Soviet Union” (1995), with Alla Rosenfield.

Dodge taught economics at the University of Maryland, College Park for over 20 years, during which he was appointed to the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees by Governor Spiro Agnew. He served as a trustee until 1980, when he moved to St. Mary’s and became a professor of economics. In his years here, Dodge established five Dodge Awards, which recognize talented faculty, and donated the physics laboratory and two student townhouses to the College.

Dodge is survived by one sister, Alice Dodge Wallace, and his wife of 32 years, Nancy Ruyle Dodge.

Vandalism in Lot R, Prince George Hall, Montgomery Hall

In the past few months, there have been several reported acts of vandalism across campus. Headlights and taillights of vehicles in cars parked in Lot R have been broken, windows in Prince George’s Hall (PG) have been broken out and a bathroom wall in Montgomery Hall was dirtied with feces.

In an email sent to all students, staff, and faculty, Director of Public Safety, David Zylak reported the vandalism in Lot R and PG. He informed the campus that “several of the windows on the South side of the building” had been broken. He also stated there have been six separate reports of vandalism to cars in Lot R (the parking lot between Waring Commons and Lewis Quad). In an interview, Zylak further reported the vandalism found in the Montgomery bathroom.

Zylak received positive feedback from sending out the vandalism email. In the email, he stated, “I find [it] disheartening that anyone would show such a level of disrespect and lack of personal pride toward the campus and campus community.” In an interview, Zylak said the message in the email responses he received communicated that is was a “nice email, well deserved.”

The damage done to the cars was initially discovered when a student came forward reporting that her own car had been damaged and that she had also noticed other damaged cars in the lot. This caused Public Safety to investigate the rest of the cars in the parking lot for further damage. The officers then informed the owners of any damaged cars they discovered. The damage to the windows in PG was discovered and reported by staff from the Physical Plant.

“Because I do have my car parked in Lot R, after hearing about these incidents, it makes me very nervous to be parked there,” said sophomore Alexia Tanski. “I’m not sure if the cars are specifically targeted or not, but whoever is doing it really should find a different pastime; it doesn’t seem as though they realize that they are making things more difficult for the students who are already paying so much to come here.”

According to Zylak, a culprit has not yet been found for the various acts of vandalism. He stated, “It is near impossible to solve without an eye-witness.” It is unknown whether this vandalism was the fault of a St. Mary’s student or someone outside our community.

“I was disappointed when I heard about the incidents,” said Emily Burdeshaw, senior and Residence Hall Coordinator of PG. “I know that emotions were high when we were moving so much, but I don’t think that it is an excuse or valid reason to vandalize a building. It’s still our home, even if we are not currently living there. It’s frustrating to me that a person (or people) would take out their aggression by destroying a part of the campus that we live on, whether a residence hall or elsewhere.”

“You live in this community,” said Zylak, “It’s your community. Law enforcement can’t do this by themselves. We need the community to be eyes and ears for us.” Zylak explained that vandalism culprits usually like to brag. Any student who knows anything about these crimes should report any tips to Public Safety, either by calling the office (240-895-4911) or reporting anonymously using the Silent Witness link on the Public Safety page of the St. Mary’s website.

“There have been about 350 students displaced,” said Zylak. The students who previously resided in PG are now living on the Sea Voyager or in other places on and off campus. “Every bit destroyed just takes us longer to repair.”

“With all the problems on campus, I can’t believe that people would want to create more problems,” said junior and Resident Assistant Alex Walls, currently studying abroad in Alba, Italy. “This is just ridiculous!”

In terms of general crime prevention, Zylak wants to remind students that it is important to stay safe on campus. There have been several reports of stolen bicycles and other theft. It is important to lock up bikes and keep doors locked, especially at night. “We live in a society where you have to lock doors,” said Zylak. “Lock your stuff up.” It can be dangerous to jog at night, especially with darker hours starting earlier with daylight savings time. Zylak stated that he will soon be sending out an email reminding students to stay safe on campus.

Winner of Sarah Michele Guineviere Pyles Memorial Scholarship Announced

The recipient of the Sarah Michele Guineviere Pyles Memorial Scholarship was recently announced as sophomore Shelby Perkins. With a double major in Political Science and International Languages and Cultures: Spanish, she fit all of the criteria of the scholarship, including a grade point average above 3.0, and having already completed at least one year at St. Mary’s.

Those competing for the scholarship were asked to write an essay detailing how they would change the world to make it a better place, since the namesake of the award, Sarah “Sadie” Pyles, who abruptly passed away while studying abroad in Alba, Italy last semester, wanted to better the world by improving international relations.

Perkins will receive the $1,000 award, which will go towards her school funds for the 2011-2012 school year.

“I’m honored to win this scholarship,” said Perkins, “and although I did not know Sarah, I hope to use this scholarship to help my cause of advancing the education of young women throughout the world.”

Registration Process Included No Major Issues

Registration officially opened for students for all Spring 2012 classes at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Throughout registration, which ended Nov. 11, no unusual problems were reported to the Office of the Registrar.

Most students reported either no problems at all, or just that Student Portal was slow. First-year Leigh Callahan expressed that she “wished classes didn’t fill up so quickly.” When bringing up these concerns to Registrar Susan Bennett, she noted that Student Portal problems are the result of unreliable WiFi connections as well as an influx of students trying to access Portal at the same time.

Bennett also described the registration process. Registration is assigned to students on a credit basis. Students with the most credits are the first to register, which is why seniors register first. The only exception to the credit-based system is with the students that have been inducted into the Nitze Scholars Program, who are able to also register within the first time slots along with seniors. When asked what underclassmen could do about late registration dates, Bennett replied that registration will reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 29 for first-year students. Registration will then be reopened for sophomores on Wednesday, Nov. 30, juniors on Thursday, Nov. 31, and seniors on Friday, Dec. 1. Registration will then stay open through Dec. 9 for students to add and drop courses. This will help first-year students to become more likely to gain their desired classes for next semester.

Bennett also made sure to note that registration is based on credit class standing, not graduation year. Thus, first-year students who came to St. Mary’s with Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) credits could potentially have sophomore standing.

When asked what advice she would give to students during registration, Bennett replied, “Check your emails! We send out emails describing certain registration processes that answer most of the questions we receive during registration.”

Other advice Bennett provided included planning courses before registration begins, having multiple options in case a course fills up, and to check with the Business Office for any holds on one’s account.

Overall, the Office of the Registrar and many students described Spring 2012 registration as smooth and without any outstanding issues or concerns.

Students and Other Lecturers Contemplate Boundaries Seen in Society

The Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGSX), Studies Living-Learning Center (LLC), and faculty presented Transcending Boundaries on Nov. 11, an annual conference that discussed constraints and stereotypes in society.

The conference, previously presented by the Women in Science House (WISH), was split into four sections: The Past-The Canon, Present-Gender and Media, Present-Practice, and Future-Calls to Action. Each section included two to three 15-minute essay discussions and presentations on various topics followed by a discussion led by a moderator. The lectures were held in Goodpaster 184 and 186.

Senior Lisa Davidson, a moderator in the discussion on Present-Practice, was involved in essay submissions earlier this semester and felt the conference covered several important topics in today’s society.

“This is my first year getting involved in it,” Davidson said. “It’s cool to talk about issues that are relevant today and to see people thinking about things they don’t normally talk about.”

“The good thing about the essays this year is that we had a lot more submissions then we did last year, and had a good selection to choose from,” she said. “Last year we took all the papers but this year we had to be selective because we got so many submissions. They were all really good.”

The first half of the presentations included discussions on the masculinity of Jesus, gender roles in Disney, a lecture led by Professor of English Donna Richardson on “Females and the Feminine: Just How Sexist is Aeschylus’ Oresteia,” and a presentation on misrepresentations of women in Picasso’s cubism.

The presenter, sophomore Derek Mullin, spoke about the dichotomous view of women at the time that was evident in many of Picasso’s paintings, referencing his 1932 work titled “Le Reve” and the 1937 piece “Femme en Pleurs.”

According to Mullin, the women were either seen as “goddesses” or “doormats” as the hyper-sexualized woman was painted with pastels and curvy representations of the body while women who displayed unattractive behaviors such as being overly emotional or engaging in prostitution were painted with “distorted geometric faces.”

The conference included speakers from other universities as well, including Davidson’s sister Laura Davidson, who visited from Towson University to discuss “Women in Minimum Wage Society”

“It was nice to have [Laura] come in,” Davidson said. “In the past the conference was open to other university systems, and we used to bring in other professors and students from other universities to present. It was an all-day kind of thing. It bridges the gap, and hopefully in the future we will open it up again and expand, so it will be even bigger.”

Sophomore Ashok Chandwaney, who attended the lectures, “Mexico, Maquiladores, and You: A Cartoon Explanation and a Real-Life Call to Action” and “The Privilege of Civil Disobedience,” felt the conference gave him a new perspective.

“I liked them all because each of them took something you take for granted (Disney movies, pens and consumer products in general, and protesting) and attacked them from the angles of privilege and societal ‘normality’ to present an insightful conclusion,” said Chandwaney.

The conference also included keynote speaker and Associate Professor of English Beth Charlebois, who presented “Biblically Prescribed: Sex and Violence in Othello.” The lecture centered on the parameters for male and female interactions set up by the Bible.

“Basically a man’s faith in god can only be reaffirmed and confirmed through his relationship with his wife. We talked about how sex in a relationship is always questioned, especially in Othello, where Othello was always questioning his wife,” Davidson said.

Charlebois talked about the implications of this in early-modern England, how it is still present today, and the future implications of it.

Davidson felt that the transcending boundaries conference was an important event for students to attend. “Students need to talk about things that are happening today and think about them from a critical analysis standpoint. There are boundaries in our society today that don’t have to be there. This conference helps bring those boundaries to light and start the discussion of how to break them down and transcend them.”