Search for 2014-2015 Student Trustee Down to Two Finalists

By Michael Abrams

On  Friday, Jan. 25, sophomores Jonathan Holzman and Taylor Schafer were selected as finalists for the Students Trustee position for the 2014-2015 school year.

The decision by the selection committee consisting of current Student Trustee Alex Walls, the Student Trustee-in-Training, and three other underclassmen, took place after the Student Trustee Applicant Open Forum in Cole Cinema on Jan. 24 at 8p.m.

The four candidates for the position were sophomores Teresa Padgett, Elaine Buckman, Jonathan Holzman, and Taylor Schafer. During the forum, the candidates each answered a series of ten questions asked by the selection committee  about themselves and various topics and issues on campus. Questions were then opened up to the audience of students and Dean Roberto Ifill, who was also in attendance.

Questions varied from ‘what animal would you be and why?’ to ‘what makes St. Mary’s great?’

The selection committee then met on Friday afternoon and made the decision to choose Schafer and Holzman as finalists although Walls noted that all four candidates were extremely well qualified for the job.

The Student Trustee is the only student position available on the Board of Trustees, the governing body of St. Mary’s. This unique position allows for greater communication between the student body and the Board, and guarantees there is a voice advocating for the student perspective.

Involved with nearly every facet of Student Government on campus, and a slew of other activities such as the Model UN club, being an Orientation Leader, and being a Student Ambassador, sophomore Holtzman is already used to being a face representing St. Mary’s. Why then is he looking to be Student Trustee? “I want to see St. Mary’s get its mojo back,” Holtzman answered. “This school and its community have so much to offer, but I think we’re not developing as quickly as we ought to be.”

Holzman sees the Student Trustee position as an outlet to start a dialogue about how to keep St. Mary’s the thriving community it always has been, and to ensure steady growth of SMCM’s “mojo.”

The next candidate for Student Trustee is, much like her competitors, found in an array of positions. The Managing Editor of The Point News, sophomore Taylor Schafer also finds time to work as an SGA Senator for Prince Goerge Hall, a student ambassador, be an Orientation Leader, play for the club Volleyball team, and host a radio show.

“I really enjoy all the people I get to meet and work with already,” Schafer said. “Getting the position, I think, would just expand that group further so I am excited to be considered for that opportunity.”

Schafer stressed what the St. Mary’s community has meant to her, and she sees the Student Trustee position both as an opportunity to give back and a chance to maintain the community’s familial feel.

“I want future St. Mary’s students to have the same or better experience I have had while here so far,” said Schafer. “The Board is such a vital factor in what path the College takes, so the Student Trustee is important in relaying the student perspective for that vision.”

Padgett is also thoroughly involved on campus. A planner for the College’s Relay For Life event set to occur in March, an upcoming student co-Chair for Orientation, and an active member of the St. Mary’s River Project, Padgett has found many ways to give back to the community.

Bucknam, another sophomore who was in the running for student trustee, is all over campus; you may have seen her working the campus farm, studying rats with Dr. Jordan in Goodpaster Hall, leading visiting-student tours, or discussing campus life on the Dean’s Advisory Council.

Out of the four very involved and very dedicated St. Mary’s students who are vying to be a student member of the Board of Trustees, two have been eliminated through the selection process: Padgett and Bucknam. Schafer and Holtzman are now the two finalists for the position.

“I definitely have some fierce competition with Jonathan, but we have a fun and friendly rivalry going on. I’ll be happy about whoever gets the position because we both have a great love for St. Mary’s and I think the job would be in good hands either way,” said Schafer.

The announcement of the 2014-2015 Student Trustee will be made in mid-February after the finalists go through another round of interviews by the selection committee and also members of the Board on Friday, Feb. 8.

Smcm Insults: an Insult to St. Mary's

The Smcm Compliments Facebook account is a wonderful addition to the St. Mary’s social media community. It brings to light all the wonderful people on our campus by sharing why we love them in a positive manner. Plus, receiving a compliment easily makes your day.

But this week, I received a friend request from the newly created “Smcm Insults” account. It posts insults about various people on campus.

I don’t know who runs the account, but so far some pretty rude things have been said. I am sure these are meant to be humorous and aren’t serious, but I think the whole thing should be ended immediately. To be honest, it makes me a little sick.

Doesn’t the idea of an insults page seem a bit regressive?

We have things like the St. Mary’s Way, St. Mary’s Day, and open discussions about various topics on campus to try to promote more positive dialogue and an overall positive atmosphere at St. Mary’s.

Smcm Insults just seems like a very easy way to breed the wrong kind of community feel: a false sense of who we are. And if this is who we are becoming, we need a serious wake up call. Pages like this are what leads to cyber bullying. And I’m not saying that this page will, but it certainly has the makings. Does anyone remember Formspring?

Plus, if people from outside our community see posts from the page, they most likely won’t know it’s a joke. Imagine how that might reflect on us as a school.

One of the main reasons I came to St. Mary’s in the first place was because I felt really drawn to the tight-knit community full of people who care about each other and are proud of their achievements and goals. I’m sure a lot of other students feel the same way as well.

Smcm Compliments reminds me why I go here, and makes me proud to share this campus with such individuals mentioned by its posts. Smcm Insults is an insult to the College itself and just makes me sad.

Students Participate in MLK Service Day

On Monday, Jan. 21, students and community members participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day, which was hosted by the Office of Student Activities. The event began at 11a.c. on the Campus Center patio where participants met and dispersed. Service opportunities included Keep St Mary’s Beautiful campus clean-up, Church Point clean-up, and at off-campus sites like Three Oak Shelter, Historic St. Mary’s City, and St. Mary’s Caring soup kitchen.

Click HERE to view more photos from the day.

Programs Board Hosts Welcome Back Weekend

From Thursday, Jan. 17 to Monday, Jan. 21, SGA Programs Board hosted a variety of events on campus to welcome students back from winter break. The events

included spoken word artist Hidden Legacy, magician Jay Mattioli, comedians and college dating coaches Dave and Ethan, comedy duo Dakaboom and this week’s SGA weekly mo

vie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. On Friday, Jan. 18 the SGA also hosted Club Fair in the Campus Center patio.

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Beth Charlebois: Passionate Professor and Shakespearean

An Associate Professor of English Literature who has been with the St. Mary’s community for 12 years, Beth Charlebois is both heavily invested in her students and in the subject she teaches. Professor Charlebois grew up in Manchester, Connecticut, and attended Georgetown University where she earned both a B.A in Government International Relations and an M.A in English.

After this, Charlebois went on to graduate school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Upon receiving her P.h.D in English Literature, with a specialization in English Renaissance Literature, Professor Charlebois began searching for a job.

Among 35 other offers, St. Mary’s stood out because it was a “small, liberal arts environment, (reasonably) close to D.C. in a beautiful area by the water.” This English professor says the best part of SMCM is the “openness, warmth, good humor, and curiosity of St. Mary’s students which makes my job a joy.” One of her favorite moments is when she walks into a classroom because it feels both like coming home and having a new adventure.

Beth Charlebois

“Introduction to Literature,” “Literary Topics in Shakespeare” and “Studies in Authors: Staging Shakespeare” are just some of the courses Professor Charlebois has taught at the College. When asked about the most memorable experience of her teaching career, she recalled how during one spring class that was held outside Montgomery Hall a “water balloon landed smack in the middle of the discussion” after being launched by a giant catapult on the other side of the building. The phrase ‘only at SMCM’ came to mind as only our unique mix of quirky and intelligent students could come up with a balloon catapult. “And you wonder why we don’t want to have class outside?” Charlebois added.

When Professor Charlebois is not teaching, she enjoys listening to all types of music. One of her favorite songs is Adele’s “Turning Tables,” which she says “is gritty, soulful and has a gorgeous piano part.” Though she cannot sing, Charlebois would love to sound like Adele if given the chance. In the past, Charlebois has given lectures and workshops for The Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and she is passionate about literature, film and anything Shakespeare.

During her last sabbatical, Professor Charlebois was involved in a non-profit organization called Prison Performing Arts that brings theater opportunities to the imprisoned. She was the scholar-in-residence for the PPA and brought A Midsummer’s Night Dream to a maximum-security women’s prison in Vandalia, Missouri.

When asked what character she would spend the day with if she could, Charlebois replied, “If I could spend a day with a literary character, I would have to pick Villanelle from Jeanette Winterson’s novel, The Passion. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with an early 19th c. Venetian cross-dresser who walks on water?” Between teaching her students about Renaissance literature, pursuing her passions in Shakespearean plays, and listening to Adele, Professor Beth Charlebois is a well-respected and admired part of the St. Mary’s community.

SCA Helps Students Facing Conduct Board

Unknown to many, the Student Conduct Advisors (SCA) at St. Mary’s are student volunteers that assist any student that must make an appearance before the Conduct Board. The Conduct Board (C-Board), previously known as Judicial Board, makes decisions regarding student conduct when they fail to obey the Code of Conduct at college. These advisors work with students who must appear before C-board to present an articulate account of what occurred as well as an insightful and meaningful reflection on the events.

According to the Academic Catalog 2011-2012, “It is the philosophy of this College, as reflected in the [conduct] process, that any inappropriate behavior be redirected rather than punished.” The goal is to foster a stronger community of students that share values and communication.

The Student Conduct Advisors also “provide advice to both respondents and complainants for any charge and any case” said junior JohnHenry Hain. The process is not similar or comparable to a criminal trial. Advisors are not legal attorneys speaking for their client- the student speaks for themselves. The experience is not supposed to be harsh and demeaning, but educational.

According to Hain, Advisors do this as a volunteer service to aid the community. Anyone in good standing with the college, academically and behaviorally can join; the program is not solely designed for students thinking about law school. Even professors can join, though none have as of yet. First-year Cameron Kenyani stated that he enjoys being an advisor because “on a personal level, it makes me a far more responsible person. How can I be advising people who’ve been written up if I myself aren’t conforming to the code of conduct?”

Advisors are assigned a case by the Hain, Coordinator of the Student Conduct Advisors. The advisor assigned is given the respondent or complainants email, and then guides the student through the process. Another Advisor, Erica Haworth, said, “I want to see everyone get an equal chance of representation and aid so the actual experience of going through the Student Conduct Board is educational, and not just a stressful and resentful experience.”

The Advisors do not, as some may believe, allow a person to get away with a violation, rather they work to help students who take responsibility for their actions to get through the process and receive appropriate  sanctions. Students interested in becoming an advisor should email studentconductadvisors@smcm.edu for more information.

SGA Update from President Reighart

Welcome Back, St. Mary’s!

Although the weather has been rather bleak lately, it is heartening to see that people’s enthusiasm for returning to our beautiful campus has not been diminished. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the Student Government Association thus far. In the next edition of the Point News, I will lay out some of the goals Vice President Becky White and I have for this semester.

This fall was truly a banner semester for the SGA. We undertook meaningful reform of the bylaws to ensure that the Finance Board, Programs Board, Student Investment Group, and SGA committees were streamlined. The Student Life committee, for example, is now directly linked to Dean Ifill’s Advisory Council, establishing a pipeline for student ideas and concerns to be channeled into legislation and action. We also added a bylaw that set forth the structure of the Bike Shop and ensured that it is permanently funded into the future. I would like to particularly thank Nathan Smith for his work on making this a reality. His leadership of and advocacy for the Bike Shop, ensures the Bike Shop will no longer face funding uncertainty each year and that student jobs

will be protected.

Another major change was the upgrade of the Survey Monkey elections system, which ensures additional security for elections and enhances the SGA’s ability to collect and analyze student feedback. With this enhanced tool, we have held very successful opinion surveys and elections – with over 700 voters participating in the At-Large Senator Elections. Much of our new success with surveys and elections is due to Parliamentarian Thomas Kenny’s commendable initiative in this area.

On a more somber note, I would like to condemn in strongest possible terms the writing of a racial epithet on one of our candidates’ campaign posters. This campus is a haven of acceptance and respect and acts like this simply damage our sense of community. I am happy to report that despite this repugnant act, the campus rallied behind this candidate and his bid for election was successful. Even in the face of vitriol, this candidate and his supporters persevered, demonstrating an absolute rejection of this kind of thoughtless behavior and a triumph of positive campaigning. In light of this incident and others, I call upon appropriate members of the professional staff and administration to fast-track the establishment of an automatic public reporting mechanism to inform the campus of on-campus bias-based incidents, similar to how sexual assaults must be publicly reported to the campus community. While receiving notification that racist or homophobic acts have taken place might be jarring and unsettling, knowledge is power. We must be more aware of the threats to our campus culture so that we can stand up to these incidents and work towards building a more harmonious community.

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Moving on, the work of the Publicity Committee and Director of Publicity Emily Burdeshaw has also been a tremendous asset to the SGA as they have launched an SGA Twitter account (@SeahawksSGA), created a new SGA logo, and reinvigorated our Facebook presence (join “SMCM SGA” to get our latest updates!). We also established an e-mail account, sga@smcm.edu, and overhauled the SGA website, www.smcm.edu/sga, to include, among other things, the constitution and bylaws, as another means to facilitate engagement with the student body.

The SGA Programs Board, under the leadership of Director of Campus Programming Chelsea Cesaro and Assistant Director of Student Activities Clint Neill, was responsible for an array of incredible and diverse programming ranging from special events like our very own Hunger Games to a rap battle in the Grind. I cannot wait to see what this team has in store for this semester, especially for World Carnival!

On the budget side of things, Treasurer Tiko Mason has done an excellent job making sure our clubs are adequately funded – holding regular and emergency fund appeals in a timely fashion and leading the Finance Board to meet club needs while also ensuring that SGA finances are carefully managed and not disbursed if a club’s funding request is not detailed enough. Club Coordinator Gwen Kokes has also been phenomenal in her work. She has held regular Club Council meetings to make sure clubs understand fund appeals, vehicle requests, trip planning forms, and so much more. She was also very responsive to the numerous inquiries clubs had. She, along with Treasurer Mason, were great resources for new clubs seeking to become officially recognized by the SGA.

Lastly, I would like to thank the SGA Senate for their careful consideration and support of Meatless Mondays and the Open Housing Policy. The Meatless Monday initiative forced this campus to have a serious discussion about institutional values and sustainability. The attendance at Student Speakout was record-breaking and people with all opinions were given the opportunity to speak their mind. I would like to particularly thank SEAC and Vice President White for their leadership in this effort. Our planet faces the very real threat of climate change and making this small, yet meaningful and awareness-raising change shows that our generation has the capacity to consciously make sacrifices in order to realize long-term benefits of climate stability and environmental justice. Similarly, by voting to support the Open Housing Policy, the Senate demonstrated the campus’s commitment to creating a more flexible and welcoming Residence Life system, particularly for members of the LGBTQIA community.

This school has a lot to be proud of and I am so thankful for the chance to serve alongside all of the great people who are a part of the SGA. We all also owe an immense debt of gratitude to the Office of Student Activities, led by Kelly Schroeder, which supports the SGA on a day-to-day basis. This semester is a testament to the fact that if people get involved and care about their community, truly fantastic things can come of it. I look forward to building on the momentum of the fall as we kick off the spring semester and continue to serve the students of St. Mary’s!

New Public Safety Director Search Underway

President Joseph Urgo and Dean of Students Roberto Ifill are expected to announce their choice for the new Public Safety Director sometime in the next week or so. Their search for a suitable candidate has taken close to a year and represents a marked departure from the administration’s past search efforts. Previously, candidates have been pulled from a fairly local sample, often including current members of the St. Mary’s staff. Several years of changing directors far more often than they would like, convinced the administration to change tactics.

Dean Ifill’s and  President Urgo’s offices decided that they would find their new director from a nationwide search for qualified men and women. They, obviously, will be able to sustain the specific role that Public Safety plays in campus life. This role, as described by Dean Ifill, is one which provides safety for students but which also promotes proactive attitudes among campus residents and staff. The most important thing, according to Dean Ifill, was that the new director must understand that Public Safety is not a police unit. Specifically, Ifill said “we want Public Safety officers and, of course, their director to treat each student as if they were one of their children.” To be clear, the Dean’s point was not that Public Safety officers should condescend towards students but, rather, that they should care about students on a personal level instead of treating them just as victims, criminals, and bystanders.

At this point, Dean Ifill and President Urgo believe that they have found their new director. However, they are remaining close lipped while a third party finishes up a thorough background check. The campus expects an official announcement of the new Director of Public Safety in the next few weeks.

Open Housing to be Implemented Next Year

In the upcoming semester, Fall 2013, the College will instate a new policy: open housing. This new policy states that members of different sexes or identified genders can live in the same room. This differs from the current policy, which allows different-gendered individuals to live in the same suite, apartment, or townhouse, but not in the same room. The new policy will be open to all students.

SGA President, senior Andrew Reighart, said, “I think open housing will create a more accepting and flexible environment for current LGBTQ students and will improve our ability to attract LGBTQ students to apply and enroll in the College. But it is important to note this this policy is inclusive of everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The open housing policy allows all students greater choice in their living arrangements. Almost all St. Mary’s students are legally adults; thus, we should both comport ourselves as such and be afforded the greater decision-making responsibilities that come with adulthood.”

College President Joe Urgo said, “I can’t think of a reason why not [to support the policy]. We’re giving additional choices to people.” From an administrative standpoint, he adds, “It’s simpler, it gives more options, and therefore makes it easier to put people where they want to be. Exclusively gender-specific housing can be complicated when you have more of one gender than the other, and you might have more empty rooms.”

He agreed with Reighart’s statement that decision-making is an important part of adulthood, but added that it is also important to education, saying, “I like that students are thinking about these kinds of things, deliberately thinking about it. What you eat, where you’re going to live. Don’t just take that passively, take an active role it in. That’s an important part an education, to take initiative and to not be passive about any part of your life. Taking an active role and wanting to determine what your choices are going to be, I think that’s really healthy. You’re the ones that live here; this is your community.”

In terms of what started the debate, Reighart said, “There was a formal push for open housing legislation when an SGA resolution was passed in 2010 by the 2009-2010 SGA Senate. That legislation was sponsored by former SGA Vice President Ken Benjes. The following school year, SGA President Marlena Weiss worked to move the issue forward, developing the language of the policy with Kelly Smolinsky. Once Marlena graduated, Clint Neill continued to work with Kelly on the policy language. Their work was continued and completed this year by the Open Housing Task Force.”

Reighart, who served on the Open Housing Task Force, strongly advocated that the policy included incoming and underclassmen students. “I am proud to say that this was taken into consideration and incorporated in the final policy language,” Reighart said. He added, “Once the policy was constructed, I sponsored the SGA resolution to back the Open Housing Policy and was overjoyed to have all but one Senator vote in support of it.”

When students were surveyed for opinions on open housing, most were in favor of it, though some acknowledged potential problems. Junior Alexia Tanski said, “I think the open housing policy is a really good idea for students who will be using it in order to stay in their comfort zone and live with someone they are really comfortable with. But there’s a 100 percent guarantee that couples are going to use this policy to live together, and if they break up, it could create more problems than are necessary.”

Come fall of 2013, the open housing policy will be put into effect throughout North Campus (Waring Commons, Lewis Quad, and the townhouses), and in Prince George (PG) Hall, first left. While upperclassmen will more likely be living on North Campus, and choosing where they want to live, incoming first-years are more likely to live in PG and must therefore apply to live in its “open” hall.

From the Chief's Desk: Stress Less This Spring

During my years as a college student, I have seen and met all kinds of people – but the one thing I can safely say we all have in common is the unwelcome presence of stress hanging over our heads.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is defined as the brain’s response to any demand – but that doesn’t seem to cover it, does it? To me, stress is the ten ton elephant in the room that seems to always travel in the company of its cousins, anxiety and panic.

Physiologically speaking, stress is a good thing. It keeps us moving, keeps us working – but an excess of it is what results in those rip your hair out moments we all seem to experience come finals time. And so, as we enter a new semester, I have decided to give you all some unsolicited advice to deal with the elephant and its cousins.

My first tip I am stealing from Douglas Adams’ book, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. That nugget of advice is this: Don’t Panic. Panic is the result of stressing about stressing, and it is counterproductive in that while panicking, that deadline that you are dreading is still approaching, so take a breath. It’s not the end of the world (although if you’ve read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, it kind of was).

My second piece of advice is Get Ahead, then Plan Ahead. Getting ahead in work while you can is always a good idea, however do not expect to stay ahead – as many of us know, the semester seems to speed up around midterms and sometimes assignments may come in the form of curveballs. So have a plan. Buy a planner in the campus store or make one on your laptop, scheduling when and for how long you will work on assignments. Have a calendar in your room with assignment deadlines color coded to indicate importance. Make sure to do lists every week. That way, when you can no longer be ahead, you have a plan to make sure you don’t get behind.

My next nugget of knowledge is something most people forget when facing a stressful event because it seems counterintuitive – but it is important: Schedule Time for Fun. According to a plethora of studies conducted on undergraduates, taking breaks while studying has been found to improve memory and reduce anxiety – and I can tell you from experience that spending fifteen minutes every two hours of studying to play Sims or jog will make a huge difference, if not in grades than in your sanity.

Fourth (and this one is important) – dont procrastinate in the beginning of the semester because you think you can “catch up” later. You can’t and you won’t. We all know Facebook, Reddit, Pintrest, Twitter, Tumblr and social websites of the like are the Bermuda Triangle when trying to get work done. To help avoid temptation, consider using productivity applications such as SelfControl or Cold Turkey that block your access to these websites for a period of time. I think having Facebook on a Blacklist for a day is healthy once in a while.

Finally, I would like to remind everyone of the importance of sleep. Young adults ages 18-20 need 8 hours of sleep to function at their peak, and sleep is incredibly important for your physical and mental health. The more sleep you get, the more you will retain, the less you will need to cram before that 8 a.m. exam.

If my advice helps at least one of you de-stress, then I can say I’ve done my job. Happy spring semester everyone.