Close Quarters and Strong Cosmos: Senior Cocktail Delivers

For graduating seniors, another milestone has passed. Though 100 days isn’t until this Thursday, Feb. 2, senior cocktail is a thing of the past. The cocktail, which was held Friday, Jan. 20, was held at the Inn at Broome Howard and was limited to the first 70 seniors to buy tickets (which were $15 for students under 21 and $20 for those of legal drinking age).

Though the cocktail was close to empty when it began, shuttles leaving from Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC) brought crowds in droves and it quickly filled up. At the entrance, legal students were handed two drink tickets to use at the bar; after that, students could purchase drinks. The bar offered two beers on draft, an Irish Stout and a Ruddy Duck Light, both of which are brewed at the Ruddy Duck, a restaurant located in Solomon’s. For wine, students could choose either a dry white called Yellowlegs or a red called Red Drum. Both wines are from former St. Mary’s President Maggie O’Brien’s vineyard, from her line called Slack. The bar also offered cosmopolitans as the cocktail option.

As a disc jockey (DJ) played music, students mingled, danced, drank, and snacked on platters of cheese, bread, vegetables and dips. However, some students were disappointed that the cocktail was limited to 70 students and others were unhappy that the event was never advertised as first come, first serve.

“I just thought it was weird that we were never notified that there were a limited amount of tickets available,” said senior Adrienne Gordon. “I was able to get one, but none of my friends were, so I ended up selling my ticket to someone else. I really would have liked to have gone because I think it would have been a fun opportunity to dress up, spend some time with friends, and enjoy my night with the entire senior class.”

Senior Emily Gershon, Vice President of the Class of 2012, explained that the cocktail was capped because it would be too cold to have the event outside without a tent and heater, and fire codes prohibited more than 70 people inside the Broome Howard. The tickets were on sale for a day and a half before the limit was reached.

Gershon noted that a lot of students were disappointed; “I feel really bad we couldn’t sell more tickets,” she said. But she also noted that last year, the senior cocktail did not sell many tickets at all. “We really didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

Senior Julie Frank said at first she was confused at why the event was so small, but after attending the crowded cocktail, she understood the reasoning. “I was really disappointed because a lot of my friends couldn’t come, but there’s no way they could [have] fit more than 70 people here.”

Senior Camille Campanella agreed, saying, “Class participation in previous years has been relatively low… I think the fact that we capped out is extremely impressive.”

Overall, the students who attended seemed to be pleased with the event.  “I got to talk with a lot of seniors who I don’t get to see very often,” said senior Gabrielle Cantor. Senior Carmen Fuentes commented, “It’s great hanging out with awesome friends, and the cosmos are delicious.”

Welcome Back Weekend for Students a Success

Welcome Back Weekend drew crowds of students to the three events organized by the Student Government Association (SGA) programs board. The events ran Jan. 20-22, and included the 2011 comedy-drama film “50/50” in Cole Cinema, Hypnotist Tom Deluca, and the return of the band Pearl and the Beard to the campus.

The film “50/50” was nominated for two awards at the 69th Golden Globe Awards, and featured two very well known actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam Lerner, and Seth Rogan as his co-worker Kyle.

The film follows Adam as he discovers that he has a rare cancer and must undergo chemotherapy, finding that his chance of survival is 50 percent. Adam develops a strong relationship with his therapist Katherine, played by Anna Kendrick, and comically uses his illness to pick up women at the behest of Kyle. Through chemotherapy, Adam develops a new perspective on life through his interactions with other patients.

This emotionally driven film was well received by many students, according to SGA programs board member senior Anna Danz. The film had five showings throughout the weekend.

Welcome Back Weekend also featured Hypnotist Tom Deluca on Jan. 21 at 7:00 p.m. in St. Mary’s Hall. According to the St. Mary’s Website, Deluca earned a Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois and developed his hypnosis show while working as a therapist, focusing on hypnosis as a stress and burnout prevention program.

Sophomore Anuli Duru, one of students hypnotized on stage, recalled the experience as a surreal dream state.

“You felt awake but you felt like you were sleeping too,” Duru said. “In the beginning he had asked us to make ourselves as comfortable as possible and think of happy thoughts. I thought about sipping smoothies on beach next to my idol, Nicki Minaj. Then he told us to breath in and out deeply, which made me very sleepy. I remember some things like my friends, Peter Robertson barking at the crowd and Pooja Taneja pretending to be Tinker Bell. Yet for the most part, I had to find out from my friends what else had happened. Turns out, he had at one point told us that we were in our underwear, and everyone hid, except Aimee and me. I guess we aren’t shy.”

Another student who was successfully hypnotized, senior Peter Robertson, said his experience was similar to Duru’s.

“For me, when I first opened my eyes it was as though I were in some translucent bubble. Everything seemed fuzzy and muffled. I recall most everything he said and what I did; it’s difficult to explain my actions. It felt as though I were just doing. I ended up vigorously squeezing milk from a cow, leading the school in cheering on the St. Mary’s Locomotives, and taking on the guise of a spy attempting to assassinate the hypnotist. Afterwards, I didn’t feel well rested, as the hypnotist had said we would. If anything, I felt sleepier. The entire experience was wicked grand fun.”

Pearl and the Beard returned to St. Mary’s for their third performance, and played before a large crowd of students in St. Mary’s Hall Jan. 20.

“It was great, we had a good turn out” Danz said. “There were some a capella things going on that night and senior cocktail, but we still almost had a full house in St. Mary’s Hall. So considering that, I thought it was pretty good.They’re really quirky. Students have been saying they wanted them back, so we brought them back. When they left, they said that this was like their school, and they felt like the school’s band.”

“There wasn’t much publicity for it, because it was right when we all came back” Danz added. “Still, I think it was a successful Welcome Back Weekend.”

Seahawks' Defense Suffocates Hood

On Wednesday, January 25th, the St. Mary’s men’s basketball team defeated Hood College in an 18-point defensive battle. With a score of 64 to 46, the Seahawks  dominated in Cole Arena with 25 defensive rebounds, 13 turnovers, 10 steals, and 8 blocks (a season high).

Sophomore forward Christian MacAuley and junior guard Chris Hutchinson led the Seahawk offensive with MacAuley scoring 16 points with 9 rebounds and Hutchinson scoring 13 points including going 2-of-2 on 3-pt. shots.

The Seahawks never trailed at any point throughout the game with the closest instance being a game-tying shot by Hood at 17:03 in the first half. Sophomore guard Brendan McFall anchored the Seahawk’s defense by leading the team in defensive stats with 5 defensive rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 5 turnovers.

Overall this season, the Seahawks are 14-5 (.737) with a conference record of 8-2 (.800). The victory over Hood College marks the third consecutive win by the Seahawks. Junior captain and forward Jeff Haus said, “We have been fortunate enough to win a good amount of games this season and intend on winning a whole bunch more by the time it’s all over.”

As a captain, Haus understands the pressure on his team to succeed. “[I] need to be able to ‘rally the troops’ and get everyone working towards common goal,” said Haus. Over the past two seasons, the Seahawks are 2-time CAC champions and have advanced to the NCAA’s “Sweet Sixteen” and “Elite Eight” tournament rounds respectively.

“We want to be perfect, and perfection in our eyes only comes when we win a championship.  If we continue to play together, play hard, and have fun, we see no reason why we can’t make a legit run in the post-season,” said Haus.

The Seahawks’ defense has certainly been stifling this year. With an average of 70.9 points allowed per game, the 2011 – 2012 Seahawks’ defense is on pace to allow only 1773.7 points on the season (the lowest amount in the past five seasons). Furthermore, the team’s average defensive stats (defensive rebounds, steals, blocks, and turnovers) per game total is 54.6, its second highest in the past five seasons.

“Coach Harney has done a great job with this program thus far, and I believe St. Mary’s will have a competitive team for years to come,” said Haus.

Sea Voyager Residents To Possibly Receive More Compensation

Starting on January 15 all residents of Caroline (CD) and Prince George (PG) Halls were allowed to return to their previous dormitory rooms after having been displaced for the majority of the fall 2011 semester to various other residences on campus, hotels throughout St. Mary’s County, and the Sea Voyager cruise ship docked in Historic St. Mary’s City.

The first experiences of St. Mary’s life for many first-year students were filled with unpacking, repacking, cramming into new rooms, traveling miles to and from campus, and trying to figure out what was going to happen next and how they would be compensated for it.

President Urgo stated in an all-student email at the beginning of this spring 2012 semester, “Throughout October, November, and December, daily acts of kindness and determination typified the campus and allowed our displaced students to endure upheaval and in the end, prevail over this period of disruption.” Despite this positive view on the situation, many of the previously displaced students are still advocating for more compensation, saying that they have been unfairly treated.

Due to the large number of students on campus who have been affected in one way or another by this most recent outbreak of mold, which range from mostly first-years and sophomores but include even juniors and seniors, it soon became evident that it would be pointless to give every single affected student extra housing credits for next year. “It would eliminate the benefit being offered” and “the remaining 425+ students in CH [Calvert Hall], DD [Dorchester Hall], and QA [Queen Anne Hall] would be unfairly disadvantaged because they were not assigned to a building with mold,” said Director of Residence Life and Associate Dean of Students Joanne Goldwater in an all-student email sent out mid-November 2011.

Therefore it was originally planned that those students that were first affected (all of CD’s First Left hallway, PG’s First Right hallway, PG 224, and CD 112, 115, 116, 117, 118, and 211) would all receive 15 extra housing credits. For all others located in CD and PG it was decided that on Dec. 1 the seniors would be entered to win two non-alcoholic tickets to Senior Gala in May 2012, a townhouse would be raffled off to rising juniors and seniors (one townhouse being offered to CD residents and one to PG residents), and all other residents would earn a chance to win four Waring Commons (WC) suites (two available to CD residents and two to PG residents).

Various students complained about the compensation, pointing out that those that were displaced into forced triples and other on-campus residences were being financially compensated, while those placed on the Sea Voyager were not receiving anything, unless they won their respective raffle. Therefore, Student Government Association (SGA) President Mark Snyder, senior, sat down this past week with Assistant Director of Residence Life Kelly Smolinksy, Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Laura Bayless, Goldwater, and Interim Director of Campus Technology Support Services (CTSS) Michael Gass in order to advocate for better compensation on behalf of the affected students.

“We want the people who moved onto the ship to feel like they got something. We don’t want this to have a huge negative impact on everyone else,” said Snyder. As a result, it was proposed by Residence Life at the Jan. 24 SGA meeting to give all students that had been displaced to the Sea Voyager would receive four extra housing credits for the room selection process which begins within a month.

He states that two credits felt like not enough compensation, while anything more than four would leave all those not affected by mold in Calvert, Dorchester, and QA an unfair disadvantage in the upcoming housing selection.

According to Snyder, a large portion of the credit for this new batch of possible compensation should go to Gass, as this proposal would not have happened without his help and the help of his CTSS staff.

“Right now we are just trying to see how people feel about it,” said Snyder, who also stated that he has been having informal conversations with those affected and hopes to have some more formal conversations with others in order to “make sure that this is something everyone is cool with, not just people in PG and Caroline, but in Dorchester, Queen Anne, and Calvert.”

Garth Treasures “Silence” and Absurdity in Music

The evening of Jan. 19 marked a posthumous musical celebration of the milestone birthdays of two renowned pianists. St. Mary’s music faculty member and pianist Eliza Garth hosted a recital in St. Mary’s Hall to honor the lives and works of Claude Debussy and John Cage; in 2012, Debussy would have been 150 and Cage would have turned 100.

The recital, billed as “Let Us Begin with a Moment of Silence,” began with the presentation of a video clip of the elderly Cage, a twentieth century American pianist, explaining his philosophy behind music. “When I talk about music,” he said, “I talk about sound that doesn’t mean anything more than what it is. I love sounds just as they are, and I have no need for them to be anything more psychologically. I don’t want sounds to pretend to be a bucket, or be president, or be in love with another sound. I just want it to be a sound.”

After the clip, Garth described the influence that Debussy and his friend Erik Satie, both French pianists, had on each other. “Debussy wrote ‘Claire de lune,’ the first arabesque. What could be more romantic? And Satie got the ball rolling on many innovations,” said Garth.

Henry Cowell, an American pianist and Cage’s mentor, was as inspired by the works of Debussy and Satie as his pupil. The recital sampled works from each of the four pianists who were instrumental in creating the music of the twentieth century.

“Cage’s music sometimes stepped into Dada or the theater of the absurd,” said Garth. “He experimented with the nature of music and silence, and believed that music did not have emotion, but that the person listening to music had an emotion that he would project on to the music.”

Garth also explained Cage’s fascination of the relationship between sound and silence: “Silence is only a concept to Cage; he believed that there is always sound, but it ends in our heads when we turn our attention elsewhere.”

The first two works of the recital were Cage’s “In a Landscape” and two pieces from Debussy’s “Preludes, Book I.” Cage’s piece provided a fuzzy, dreamy, opening that grew into a more impassioned tone in Debussy that peacefully settled down by the end.

The “Moment of Silence” for Cage came when Garth played his famously absurdist work, “4’33’’,” so called because it is four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence, exemplifying the importance of silence as a non-entity to Cage’s works. No music is played for its entirety. Garth sat at the piano with her hands on her lap, smiling as if enjoying nothing but the quiet sounds of the audience. At intervals, she would gently and reverently uncover and cover the keys, and then pause in between with her hands idle. At other points during the piece, Garth would touch the page of music lovingly as it lay on the piano stand. When the piece was over, Garth bowed to hearty applause.

Cage’s eccentric style was also evident in the next piece, “Suite for Toy Piano,” in which a small toy piano and a small chair was brought to the stage. The incongruous image of the adult Garth sitting at the tiny piano showed that music could be made in the most unconventional places. Garth played the tinkling, chiming piece that gave off an air of maturity in spite of the sounds of the childish toy piano.

Two pieces from Henry Cowell, “Swaying” and “Tides of Maunaunan,” continued the unexpected musical features of the night by making heavy use of the throbbing low notes of the piano to create a feeling of the strong tides of the sea.

Garth then played Satie’s “Les Trois Valses,” a piece whose full title in English means “Three Distinguished Waltzes of a Jaded Dandy,” which was as jaunty and spirited as the title suggests. For the final piece of the night, Garth was joined by Music Department Chair David Froom to play Debussy’s “ Six Épigraphes Antiques,” a lengthy but beautiful masterpiece whose melodies can only be enjoyed by using four hands on one piano.

Sophomore Ben VanNest said “I came out of the concert viewing music slightly differently, namely from songs like Cage’s ever-famous ‘4’ 33’’’ and Erik Satie’s ‘Three Distinguished Waltzes of a Jaded Dandy.’ I also never legitimately considered spending money on a toy piano. This is a strange feeling for me.”

Sam Dodd, a sophomore, also enjoyed the recital: “Hearing Brian Ganz play is a once in a lifetime chance, however, at St. Mary’s we are so spoiled, but his specialty is in composers of the romantic period, namely Chopin. Hearing the Twentieth Century represented, however weird the style may be, is a welcome event, and I would choose very few people above Eliza Garth to do so.”

For Coke Fans, an Exciting Change

The debate is timeless, based entirely on personal preference, and never-ending and yet St. Mary’s students have come down decisively on one side: it’s Coke, not Pepsi. When the College’s contract with Pepsi expired, Bon Appetit decided to make the switchback from serving Pepsi products to Coke products in the Great Room, at the Upper Deck, and at the Lewis Quad Grab and Go based largely on student feedback.

Joel Blice, Director of Operations for Bon Appetit, cited three main reasons for the switch back to Coke from Pepsi, which the college has served for the past couple of years. First, the Office of Residence Life had done a survey when the college was beginning the bidding process and the majority of the responses were in favor of Coke products. Student feedback in favor of Coke was large, Blice said, and “anytime we make a big change [it’s] always in response to student feedback [and] student requests.”

Blice also said that beverages at The Pub contributed to Bon Appetit’s change in the Great Room. When The Pub opened, Coke products were being served for use as mixers in drinks such as rum and Coke, and the response to that was extremely positive, Blice said. Though The Pub no longer serves alcohol on a regular basis, students still reacted favorably to having Coke there. With such a positive response at The Pub, Bon Appetit decided to consider changing the drinks they served at the locations. Finally, the decision to switch was solidified because Coke manufactures Minute Maid products which are a “high quality juice,” Blice said.

With the decision, Blice said he’s heard a lot of questions and comments, as well as feedback from Residence Life, and overall, the response has been favorable. The focus groups earlier in the year preferred Coke, and as Blice said, “certainly it’s in our best interest to … please the students and faculty.”

The only negative comments Blice has received regard Mountain Dew, which is manufactured by Pepsi. Coke’s version of the product is Mello Yello which Blice said is identical to Mountain Dew; however he said people tend to be “hung up on the brand name.”

Additionally, the response to serving Diet Coke and Coke Zero is overwhelmingly favorable, both at the Great Room and The Pub.

Since vendors sell the two major competing products to institutions, prices differences are almost negligible, according to both Blice and Patrick Hunt, Procurement Officer for the Business Office. Hunt, who oversees but does not mandate where Bon Appetit makes their purchases, reiterated both that a number of students asked for Coke products in the Great Room and that “the response to having Coke at The Pub was very large; students liked it there.”

Bon Appetit approached Hunt in the fall with the option to change products and after research into student preferences decided to make the switch. Hunt had no objections, since the change “will not impact us negatively.”

Blice is pleased with the decision: “When the switch, which is what the majority wanted, [also] would give us access to [Minute Maid]… this is great on both counts.”

For the die-hard Pepsi devotees, the soft-drink can still be purchased at the Grind, though the vending machines are all Coke.


A Return of the Campaign for Living Wage at St. Mary's

Stemming from The Point News article last semester about raises in administration wages and a freeze on college grounds, housekeeping, and maintenance staff wages, a campaign has started that is demanding a living wage for these college staff members.

In the campaign flyers, many of which were distributed during the Club Fair on campus on Friday, Feb. 20, a living wage is defined as “the minimum yearly salary required for a worker to meet basic needs for themselves and their families.” Living wage in St. Mary’s County is $34,317 for a single-parent, one child home. Also according to the flyers, “the lowest paid College staff members make $24,500 a year.” Thus, many college staff are paid far below living wage and cannot afford basic necessities.

This is not the first time students at St. Mary’s have campaigned for a living wage. In September of 2006, students rallied and held a sit-in in former college President Jane Margaret O’Brien’s office for seven days. In a Washington Post article written by staff writer Michael Tunison on Sept. 24, 2006, it was stated that the students were “demanding that the college pay all workers a living wage, which they defined as $32,000 annually, based on cost-of-living figures for a household of three or four living in a two-bedroom apartment in St. Mary’s County and spending less than 30 percent of their income on shelter and utilities.” During the sit-in, students missed class and extracurricular activities and received a lot of support from college staff members.

Though progress was made with the union (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3980), staff members did not receive a raise in salaries to the demanded figure.

In an email sent to all staff, faculty, and students on Jan. 18, President Joseph Urgo stated, “I am keenly aware of the ongoing anxiety that the state freeze [on wages] has created. We have taken advantage of whatever windows were available to make adjustments where possible, and will continue to do so when the opportunity is provided.”

Meetings about the campaign for a living wage occur on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. in Goodpaster Hall, room 186. Email with any questions.

Resident Assistant Applications Now Available

Applications to apply to be a Resident Assistant (RA) for the 2012/2013 school year are now available. Applications are available online or from any RA interest meetings held by Assistant Director of Residence Life Derek Young. Applications are due to the Office of Residence Life by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3.

Becoming an RA is a big responsibility. It is a full-time job and puts a student in charge of a large group of fellow peers. In the Resident Assistant position description, it is stated that, “RAs should possess a willingness to commit time and energy to be effective peer advisers and to facilitate educational and social programming in the halls, suites, apartments and townhouses.” Even when not on duty on a weeknight or over the weekend, an RA is still required to “confront and effectively resolve individual and group conflicts” among their resident students.

“I decided to become an RA because I had seen the relationships between the RAs and residents and I was inspired by it,” said sophomore Alexia Tanski, a new RA in Prince George Hall this semester. “I met many RAs my first year here and I wanted to help make a positive impact on others and I wanted to be able to interact with my peers and meet more people, and becoming an RA seemed to be the most efficient way to do so.”

In the position description, it is stated that an RA has seven different jobs: student; community organizer; role model, listener, peer advisor, and mediator; educator through programming, community standards agent; referral and resource person; and administrator. An RA is first a student; academics are always a priority. But then, they are a coordinator for activities for their residents and a model and enforcer of college rules and regulations.

According to senior Andy VanDeusen, Residence Hall Coordinator (RHC) of Caroline Hall, the qualities that Residence Life looks for in an RA applicant are “leadership, compassion and understanding, quick thinking that leads to effective results, creativity, respect, and openness (not necessarily in that order).”

Even though RAs have a lot of responsibilities, the job can still be fun.

“I have gotten the opportunity to meet a bunch of intelligent, motivated, and classy people (other RAs),” said VanDeusen. He also noted, “I got to stay here for the summer for free.”

“Being an RA has allowed me to put things into new perspectives,” continued Tanski, “I feel as though I am able to reach out to more people now and even though I haven’t been an RA for very long, I am very happy and humbled by being allowed this opportunity.”

“Students should consider becoming RAs because the lessons they will learn as an RA will help them throughout their lives and careers,” said VanDeusen. “Plus, if they get it, they’ll never have to worry about housing selection again.” RAs get to live in single rooms while RHCs get their own apartments.

“Besides the obvious single room at a double room rate and being paid $1,850 to $1,900 per semester, RAs will gain lots of experience in responding to crisis situations, resolving conflicts, community building, and listening skills,” said Young. “These transferable skills are also great resume builders and will benefit our students in their professional careers after they move on from St. Mary’s.”

On the RA Application, students are asked to demonstrate leadership experience, employment experience, and letters of recommendation. One letter must be from an RA, and one from a current St. Mary’s faculty or staff member (outside the Office of Residence Life). Part of the application process involves a submission of an object of “personal expression,” which can be anything that fits into a 8.5 by 11 inch envelope. There is also an interview by Residence Life professional staff and RHCs, at which time the object of personal expression can be explained.

“We are looking for passionate students for the RA position who care about the St. Mary’s community and who are interested in working with a wide variety of students,” Young said. “The Residence Hall Coordinators for the 2012/2013 academic year are excited about meeting potential new staff members and finding the candidates to make strong staff teams.”

Zombie Apocalypse According to a Chemist, Psychologist, Science Major

Hollywood has tried to make our worst nightmares imaginable for years, but on Wednesday, Jan. 25, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Leah Eller, Assistant Professor of Psychology Scott Mirabile, and senior Chemistry and Biology double major Steven Rees all joined forces to tell the scenarios of a real life zombie apocalypse.

In the first Natural Science and Mathematics Colloquium (NS&M) of the semester, in which not an open seat was to be found, the three departments combined to discuss three main components of a zombie apocalypse and what it would mean for humans: biological plausibility, the chemistry of basic survival needs, and the psychological aspects of survival.

Rees opened the lecture discussing what exactly a zombie virus might biologically look like. Though Rees claimed that we actually have no idea what a zombie virus would look like, through looking back in history, scientists have come closer to finding possibilities.

Italian physician Girolamo Fracastaro first recorded a condition with zombie-like symptoms in 1594, which was rabies. Rees explained the two different types of the rabies virus: furious and paralytic. Furious rabies symptoms include fever, irritability, violence, and salivation while paralytic rabies symptoms include depression, confusion, hallucinations, and disorientation.

But though such symptoms like biting others people and foaming at the mouth, which all lead mostly to death, were recorded, the disease usually is only recorded in Africa, Asia, and South America. Also, human-to-human transmission is highly unlikely.

However, other viruses known to humans, like Ebola viruses could have an epidemic ability to significantly affect the human population. The Ebola virus can cause viral hemorrhagic fever and other serious symptoms. But Rees concluded the virus is not easily transmissible among humans and is mostly in low sanitation areas.

“But what if we were to combine the Ebola virus and furious rabies?” asked Rees. Taking the zombie-like symptoms of furious rabies and the often-fatal Ebola virus, the world could see a rapid third-world spread. However, Rees concluded that even this deadly combination might not exactly be a plausible model for a zombie endemic.

So is there any virus out there that we have to be worried about? The answer to that question, Rees explained, is scarier than one would think. Simple proteins in the brain, with which we are all born, could be the cause. Now these natural proteins aren’t themselves the problem. Prions, or misfolded proteins, can infect our healthy proteins and lead to a serious brain disease called encephalopathy, which has never been survived by a human. The deadly phenomenon can be transmitted sporadically or through inheritance or acquisition. Fortunately, there is no history of an epidemic outbreak and it can take up to six to 18 months to kill its host.

So now that a zombie virus, or something close to it, is biologically possible, what would it take for humans to survive? Eller took the stage next to describe the chemistry of survival.

She started off with the basics: food, shelter, water, and sex. But Eller explained that the main concerns would be food and water once you’ve found shelter either fenced in in a rural setting or high above ground in an urban setting. Our main sources of drinkable water would be from an above ground water source, wells, buckets, rain barrels, and fog collectors. To survive, we would only need about two to four liters of water per day.

But once we have the water, Eller explained, we have to worry about its cleanliness. Fecal matter, inorganic and organic chemicals, and biological agents that can cause disease are all possibilities, and duplicating today’s modern filtration system under such conditions may not be possible. Eller suggests camping strategies like boiling the water and iodine, as well as sand and gravel filtration and carbon filters, though even those strategies aren’t 100 percent effective.

“So now we’re not thirsty anymore, but we’re still hungry,” Eller said. In such strict living conditions, whether it is a rooftop or a fenced in rural setting, Eller explained the basic foods that can be grown and eaten to ensure survival: peanuts, soybeans, and potatoes, all of which have the necessary amino acids needed by our bodies.

So after we find shelter, food, and water, we may consider ourselves lucky to have survived. However, Mirabile has little faith in human survival even after these basic needs have been met.

“I don’t have much hope for you all to make it,” he openly said. After research was done on the extreme conditions humans would face, and looking at anecdotal evidence, Mirabile explained the main consequences of being trapped in a relatively small space with little food and water, and the same people: depression, hostility, insomnia, fatigue, and anxiety.

Also, personality traits make a difference in psychological survival. Mirabile noted the three main categories of personalities that would gauge the chances of survival. The first, “the right stuff” is the category most ideal for survival, when a person is warm, sensitive, work-oriented, and independent. The second and third categories, “the wrong stuff” and “no stuff” both categorize people with low chances of survival. Traits include competitiveness, arrogance, hostility, and verbal aggressiveness. However, none of these traits will necessarily translate over into isolated, confined, and extreme (ICE) conditions. Also, based on research, even if one is able to psychologically survive with “the right stuff,” those would only last for about a 90-day time frame.

So what’s the best possible survival scenario? Mirabile says a survivalist, who is prepared and has a predetermined group to live with, is the most prone to survival.

The jam-packed colloquium, with 152 students in attendance, was well received by the audience. First-years Hannah Hafey and Jessica Farrell both enjoyed Rees’s portion of the presentation most. “Steve’s was most interesting because it’s crazy to think that they could come up with a disease that could cause a zombie apocalypse,” said Hafey. “ It’s actually very frightening!”

Spotlight: Anthropology Club

This semester yields a tremendous opportunity in which all of us anthropology students and enthusiasts can forge and crystallize our anthropology community. We, the leadership of the anthropology club, wish to provide forums for the fostering of positive interactions between all members of our community through establishing a reliable system of updates, discussions, and on and off campus outings. Many of us find that courses such as Tool Kit and Research Methods require that we collaborate with each other. The anthropology club wishes to foster the continual growth of these collaborations and provide frameworks for discussion to provide a means for the sharing of ideas and projects.

Collaboration between all members of our community is vital to the mission of anthropologists alike. Whether your studies focus upon Cultural Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, Archaeology, or Bio-Anthropology, we will all be collaborating with other anthropologists, academic disciplines, and real world communities. Our identity as an anthropologist begins here at St. Mary’s College of Maryland where a number of resources already exist. Proximity to Historic St. Mary’s City, museums and cultural experiences between St. Mary’s County and Washington D.C., and access to a world of anthropological literature and research are all means in which the anthropology club wishes to bring students together and thus address the strengthening of our community.

As members of our community move forward in their academic journeys, it is important to remember our humble beginnings in Anthropology 101 and the inevitable first 300 level course we took as underclassmen. I propose to implement opportunities for a lateral mentorship. Classmates who have conducted their own research and share a passion for particular aspects of anthropology should be given an informal way in which to inspire others. This will be accomplished through a series of informal meetings as well as structures already in place such as St. Mary’s Project, Independent Study, and Directed Research presentations.

The anthropology club aims to help organize the voice of our student cohort in the department’s search for a new full time professor. Candidates will be giving presentations starting Jan. 30 through Feb. 21. Two of the candidates include current visiting faculty members Giovanna Vitelli and Liza Gijanto. Our voice will help shape the future of our anthropology department and the already thriving relationship between its students and staff.