Spotlighting Student Veterans at St. Mary’s

Nov. 11, Veterans Day, is a national holiday for the purpose of honoring those who have served in the military. St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), due to its proximity to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, is greatly impacted by the military aspect of Southern Maryland.

It’s important for the College to acknowledge not only those veterans in our surrounding area but those who are a part of the College’s community as well. The Point News met with several veterans that attend SMCM to get their perspective.

Allison Burnett, ‘19, joined the Army in 2001 and was serving until 2004 when she was pregnant with her first child. But she still remained involved in the military life, as her husband was in the Air Force. He later on changed branches and joined the Army.

Burnett’s reasoning for going into the military came as a result of living in a small town in Ohio while working at Kmart and attending various colleges but realizing she couldn’t afford this life on her own. She had several family members in different branches of the military and decided that military was the best route for her.

She chose the Army specifically because she was impressed with what she saw upon walking into the recruiter’s office. Burnett says she saw the people working and how they carried themselves, as well as a poster that read “Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.” She felt a deep connection to those values. Burnett had several years of language experience in German, Italian and French, and also had a great passion for languages and culture, making the Army was the best route for her.

Burnett went to Monterey, California to study language, then moved to San Antonio, Texas for her work which was considered classified with her involvement with languages. She also traveled out of the country with her husband and spent some time in Madrid. She considered this experience to be her “absolute favorite,” later writing her ELAW (Experiencing Liberal Arts in the World) essay on the experience.

Burnett told The Point News that some of her personal benefits with being in the military was being able to work well with a wide variety of people from various different cultures. She also said that she “was put in situations where giving up was not a viable option, so I learned how to continually adapt and overcome.” She continued, saying, “I know pain is temporary, so I no longer fear it or avoid it if it needs to happen.”

Alan Frampton, ‘18, spent 20 years in the Air Force after joining in 1985. His job in the military was as a security police officer. Frampton told The Point News that some of his friends had joined the military and looking at his options, “the Air Force was just the best choice.”

Frampton spent most of his time overseas in England, Spain, and Korea, and then later spent five years at the Pentagon, followed by five years at the Andrews Air Force Base. Some of the personal benefits that he felt that he gained from being in the military were being able to see places that he would not have been able to see otherwise, along with meeting new people and creating new relationships with those people.

During his first 10 years of service, Frampton mainly guarded aircrafts, weapons, etc., and then spent the next 10 years doing “back office work,” which included working on programs related to background checks. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he helped work on the development of new background check processes.

Frampton adds that some of the things that he misses about being in the military are the traveling, the people he met and became friends with and the group. He’s hoping that SMCM will look more closely into trying to recruit potential students involved with the military because the school is so close to the PAX Naval Base, and sees it as a “pool of potential students” that could gain something from attending a liberal arts school.

Rebecca Hitch, ‘19, spent six years in the Navy. She worked with flight engines, in which she sat in between the pilot and the co-pilot during flights and was an E-5, a Petty Officer Second Class. She got involved with the Navy through a co-worker of her because at the time the recruiter was looking for women who had swimming skills and Hitch had been a part of her high school’s swim team.

When she was going to meet with the recruiter, she said that “at first I was just gonna see what he has to say, but I’m not joining the Navy.” She ended up joining to help her get out and see the world beyond her small town and to also help her save money to attend college in the future.

During her time in the Navy, Hitch traveled to Chicago for boot camp, went to Pensacola for schooling and then traveled to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, Greece, Africa, and several other regions.

Her personal benefits from joining the military include gaining leadership skills, being able to hold herself accountable, gaining motivation, and also being able to go to college. She says that what she misses most about being in the military is “my job actually. I didn’t think that I would, but now that I think about it, like my job and my office was inside of a plane.”

She also misses the camaraderie and the companionship that she had within the Navy. Hitch enjoyed her time in the Navy and is planning on going back into the military after college to become an Officer, and hopes to rejoin the Navy.

These are simply highlights of a select few of the veterans that attend our school. It is important to recognize not only these students and the other student veterans on campus but also the veterans in our surrounding community for their service and time in the military. While the veterans community on St. Mary’s College campus is relatively small, they are still a part of our lives and our community. Appreciate those who have served just not on one day, but every day.

Seahawk Swimming Enters Second Half of the Season

Under the purview of their relatively new coach, the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) women’s and men’s swim teams are gearing up for the second half of their seasons. Thus far, their performances have been noteworthy, with many swimmers breaking their personal records in dual meets.

Last weekend, the SMCM swimmers faced off against numerous Division II and III NCAA swim teams. The men’s team matched their performance from last season, placing eighth once again according to collegeswimming.com. First-year Andrew Scott had a standout performance, breaking the school record in the 500-yard freestyle by 1.52 seconds with a time of 4:41.25. The women’s team finished sixth overall. First-year Anna Lapoint also had a strong showing, finishing fourth out of 41 swimmers in the 500-yard freestyle.

Such a performance follows the trend of the swim teams’ seasons thus far. This season, the Seahawk’s efforts have earned the men’s and women’s team victories over Randolph-Macon College and Frostburg State University in dual meets.

In the prior of those two meets, the men’s team pulled off a riveting last-minute comeback to defeat the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets in their home opener. The surge was aided by senior Captain Kieran Broder and sophomore Jacob Rosenzweig-Stein. Broder and Rosenzweig-Stein finished first and third respectively in the 100-yard backstroke according to the SMCM athletic department website.

In the final event of the competition, the 200-yard freestyle relay, first year Nate Donoghue, junior Reed Rhoads, sophomore Ryan Akhavan and junior Colin Cassady took to the starting blocks for a race which, according to the SMCM athletic department website, “supplied plenty of suspense and drama.” The cohort of swimmers ended up beating Randolph-Macon College by 35 hundredths of a second in order to claim victory in the race and the meet in its entirety.

The groundwork for the victory was laid by many noteworthy performances. First year Andrew Scott, for example, won the 1,000-yard swim by more than 27 seconds.

The women’s team also arose victorious against Randolph-Macon, but by a larger margin. Sophomore Carolyn Sutton and first year Anna LaPoint led the Seahawks with three gold medals apiece according to the SMCM athletic department website. Junior Hailley Baughman, senior captain Rachel Sonnenberg, junior Rachel Yates, junior Elizabeth Valenti and first year Alekxandra Grcic all contributed outstanding performances to bring the Seahawks to victory.

Valenti and Baughman also earned individual gold medals, according to the SMCM athletic department, in the 1,000-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke, respectively.

The Randolph-Macon dual meet was but one example of the effort the Seahawks have been giving to their sport.

“To be at [a] point, where you are at your personal bests during hard training, is pretty impressive,” remarked Coach Casey Brandt regarding the numerous personal records set by the swimmers thus far.

The St. Mary’s team, both women’s and men’s, has fallen short in their other five meets, according to the SMCM athletic department.

Head Coach Casey Brandt took to the helm of SMCM’s varsity swim team following the departure of former Coach Andre Rudolph Barbins. According to Fox 5 News, Barbins was “charged with one count of child pornography and one count of displaying obscene matter to a minor.” He had been the swim coach for nearly two decades.

Brandt has brought his 18 years of coaching experience to the Seahawks. When he took the program over in the summer of  2016, SMCM’s director of athletics and recreation, Scott Devine, stated, “[Brandt] will bring a great deal of technical and developmental knowledge to our swim programs. Casey’s club and USA Swimming connections throughout the state and the region will allow him to attract strong swimmers to St. Mary’s College, both in terms of quality and quantity. This will help us build upon an already solid foundation.”

“Last year we made a few big changes in training […] we’re trying a lot more new things [and] doing a lot more strength training,” Brandt told The Point News. This allowed swimmers to come into the season better prepared. “We won a couple dual meets that we lost last year,” Brandt said, speaking of how the training has helped the team. He continued to explain that the team got a little closer to victory in some meets than they were last year as well.

Now the Seahawks have a few more weeks of practice before they get their well-deserved break to a season which began in October. After two weeks of break, during which Coach Brandt tells The Point News he hopes his swimmers stay in shape, the Seahawks will be heading to Florida for a weeklong training trip.

Brandt told The Point News, “we are not where we want to be yet, but we’re headed in the right direction for sure.”  

Women’s Basketball Begins Conference Play

Newly hired St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) women’s basketball coach C.K. Calhoun has started off her tenure as a Seahawk well. Under her leadership, SMCM has had had two key early season victories against Washington College and Mary Baldwin University.

The Washington College game is arguably the most intense game of the season so far. When the two schools squared off on Nov. 18, it only took two points to decide the winner as the Seahawks took the victory, 60-58. Washington College went into halftime with a 27-26 lead. The game remained extremely close in the final two quarters, before SMCM first year forward Hallie Persell hit a go-ahead and game-winning jump shot with just 6.7 seconds left in the game. In the victory, junior captain Katie Robey dropped 19 points and recorded her first career double-double by adding 11 rebounds. Junior Kobe Chaney had a double-double of her own, notching 11 points and 11 doubles in the victory. Senior Captain Kerri Kline became the 11th member of the SMCM women’s basketball 1,000-point club during the game. Kline finished the day with 14 points, according to smcmathletics.com.

The winning ways continued for the Seahawks as their victory over Mary Baldwin University came in the following game. Unlike the match against Washington College, this Nov. 25 game was a resounding victory for SMCM. The Seahawks finished on top by a score of 78-56. Persell led the charge with 19 points, while Chaney chipped in 18 rebounds. A critical point in the win was that SMCM shot a season best 42 percent from the field. They also set season highs by getting 53 rebounds, 13 steals and 11 assists, according to smcmathletics.com.

As of Dec. 1, both Kline and Robey are leading the scoring for SMCM. Kline is averaging 12.8 points per game and Robey is getting 11.2 points per game. Robey additionally leads the Seahawks with 2.8 assists per game and Chaney leads the squad with 11.4 rebounds per game.

Now in the midst of their conference play, SMCM will take on Christopher Newport University on Dec. 6 and Frostburg State on Dec. 9.

Kline, Robey and Olivia Nowlan are all captains for the 2017-2018 Seahawks.

St. Mary’s Takes on Towson

For the sixth time in Chris Harney’s tenure as the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) men’s basketball head coach, the program took on an opponent not in NCAA Division III. This year, the SMCM basketball squad took on Division I Towson University on Nov. 27. SMCM fell 90-57 against Towson; however, this was an exhibition game so it did not count against their record. With Harney at the helm, the Seahawks fell 1-5 against non-Division III opponents. Their one non-Division III victory was against Bowie State (Division II) on Nov. 7, 2008. Due to the magnitude skill of their Division I opponent, SMCM was not expected to win this exhibition. However, it did serve as an opportunity to get some additional work early on in the season.

Despite the loss, there were several bright spots in the match. Not only did SMCM score the first basket of the game on a lay-up by senior Chris Craft Jr., but they also outscored Towson in the paint 40-34. Towson scored the majority of their points from behind the arc, connecting on 12 out of 24 three-point attempts. This was more than enough for Towson to secure a victory. First year forward Kevin Makle led the Seahawks with eight points, while sophomore guard Matt Ayoub added three assists.

So far in the regular season, SMCM has struggled despite winning the first game of the season, defeating Gallaudet 80-75. Since that victory on opening night, the Seahawks have fallen to Shenandoah University (77-66), Lynchburg College (106-95), Penn State Altoona (92-72), and Mary Washington University (89-73).

The game against Mary Washington marked the start of Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) play for the Seahawks.

Ayoub led the scoring for the Seahawks in the CAC opener, dropping 18 points in the losing effort. Makle was also strong on the defensive side of the ball, grabbing nine rebounds. Although the Seahawks fell behind 10-4 to begin the game, they were able to overcome this deficit and actually lead 37-36 at the half. This SMCM momentum carried on into the second half, as Ayoub led the squad to a 46-41 advantage. Things then quickly unraveled for the Seahawks as they turned the ball over 11 times in the final 15 minutes of the game. This led to nine three pointers by Mary Washington, which easily secured them a victory, according to smcmathletics.com.

After hosting Marymount University on Nov. 3, SMCM hosts Christopher Newport University on Nov. 6 and then will travel to Frostburg State on Nov. 9.

Early on in this young season, Ayoub is leading the Seahawk offense with 16 points per game (PPG) and is followed closely by sophomore transfer (West Point) Spencer Schultz (15.6 PPG). Senior LaVonte Sanders leads the team in assists per game (2.8), while Schultz also leads the team in rebounds per game (7.4).

The Seahawks are led this season by captains Ochae Bynum, Donovan Robinson, Craft and Sanders.

Giving Tuesday Raises $239,589 in Donations

The online-born phenomenon of Giving Tuesday, a holiday in which “charities and organizations all over the world…participate in a day of giving” according to its website, occurred on Tuesday, Nov. 28th at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM). The event is a 24 hour period in which students, employees, families, and anyone affiliated with St. Mary’s is invited to make an online donation.

Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, Lauren Taylor, identified bringing #givingtuesday to St. Mary’s as the brainchild of Alumni Director Dave Sushinsky. The nonprofit began five years ago as an attempt to partner with organizations and use social media to spread philanthropy, and SMCM has been participating since 2014.

This year’s Giving Tuesday at SMCM resulted in a total of $239,589 from 1,411 donors in the 24-hour giving period, an increase of $87,358 from last year.

The fundraiser included live music in campus center, s’mores and a photo booth with Solomon the Seahawk to engage community members and solicit donations throughout the day. Donor challenges in which alumni pledged to donate money once the College had received a target number of donations were established in order to stimulate further alumni engagement. The Alumni Council, in collaboration with the athletics department, launched a video challenge which called for sports teams and clubs to contribute videos about why they love St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Donna West (‘76) launched a donor challenge which contributed donations to a scholarship under her name for environmental science and biology students with financial need, totaling $5,000 in donations for the fund.

Jeanne and Jack Saum (‘88 and ‘89, respectively) donated $10,000 at 300 donors for the St. Mary’s Fund, which, according to the College website, contributes to “areas of greatest strategic need”, emergencies, faculty initiatives, the Honors College 2.0 plan, institutional emergencies, faculty innovation, lectures, student research and community service.

Professor of economics and honorary alumnus Don Stabile donated the largest contribution, totaling $100,000 for the Don Stabile Fund, which includes postgraduate and doctoral scholarships for SMCM graduates.  

The Alumni Council video challenge winner was the sailing team, winning $5,000 with a total of 248 votes. Men’s varsity lacrosse took second and women’s varsity lacrosse took third, winning $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. Each club or team who entered the contest but didn’t place received $138. SMCM’s philanthropy fellow, Sophia Macek, who works with the Office of Alumni Relations and the Office of Institutional Advancement, wrote in an email that engaging students in the video challenge “really played into the success of our fundraising!”

The fundraising efforts to set up Giving Tuesday require the coordination of many administrative components of the school. Macek said that “planning and execution efforts were accomplished by the Office of Institutional Advancement, which includes: the Alumni Office, the Office of Events & Conferences, the Marketing Department and Development. It is really quite exciting to get to work with such a diverse group of staff members, [and] many are alumni themselves.”

Macek also emphasized the contribution of volunteers to the success of the event, as well as the students involved in Seahawks Advancing Graduate Engagement (SAGE), a new institutional advancement group involved with philanthropic and alumni events.  “Students and staff were busy working the day before and the day of. Some of our volunteers began their shifts at 6:30 a.m. to begin setup for the event. Our volunteers were present throughout the day at the event headquarters supporting our variety of stations. These stations ranged from helping with thank you card writing and manning the photo booth, to assisting our dip jar and voting stations.”

Since its implementation in 2014, Giving Tuesday has boosted alumni contributions and engagement, aided largely by efforts in marketing and student engagement to organize and execute the event.

New Materials Science Minor Offered at SMCM

A new course, MTSC 301, appeared in the course catalog at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) in the spring of 2017. This course is the introduction to materials science, a new minor offered at SMCM that combines physics and chemistry disciplines.   

The materials science minor has been a partnership between the physics, chemistry, and biochemistry departments at SMCM. Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Troy Townsend, submitted the proposal for the materials science minor in the summer of 2015.

According to the course website, materials science is “an interdisciplinary field combining physics (fundamental laws of nature), chemistry (interactions of atoms) and biology (how life interacts with materials) to elucidate the inherent properties of basic and complex systems.” The required course for the minor include general physics or fundamentals of physics I and II, organic chemistry, quantum mechanics, and introduction to materials science.

Dr. Townsend graduated from SMCM in 2007 with degrees in chemistry and biology. He knew his interests were in renewable energy, specifically solar energy. He began looking at Ph.D programs to work with solar energy and found that most of the programs involved chemical engineering, materials science and electrical engineering, but his background was only in chemistry. He ended up pursuing his Ph.D at University California, Davis, where he joined Dr. Frank Osterloh in making nanocrystals that split water into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas when exposed to the sun.

Dr. Townsend says SMCM gave him a foundation in chemistry, but it took him longer to develop the skills needed for materials science on his own. The idea for a materials science major came from his own experiences, “thinking back, if I had an opportunity to get a materials science minor or do research in materials science, I would have absolutely done that. That’s what I had in mind for this, to offer an opportunity for students to get exposed to this new field that St. Mary’s had never offered before because it’s so important to me and to the world to have this ability to take our liberal arts well-rounded ideas and figure out how to apply them to solve problems.”

Barry Liang was one of two students who graduated in spring 2017 with a minor in materials science. He is currently working towards his Ph.D in bioengineering at University of Maryland, College Park. Liang decided to pursue the materials science minor to “get a better understanding on properties of different materials and how different materials interact with each other.”

Liang worked with Dr. Townsend on his St. Mary’s Project (SMP), which worked on “creating a drug delivery system using biodegradable polymer nanoparticles for cancer therapeutics.” His project focused on using nanoparticles to deliver drugs, which increases the amount of the cancer drug that can reach the target sight.

Liang stated that the minor program could improve by offering more electives, and more “funding for different materials characterization instruments so students can learn how to use them.” He added that a strong materials science program “may attract future prospective students if we have another strong STEM program.”

Dr. Townsend added that with a new materials science minor, he hopes it “will attract students and offer them opportunities that they wouldn’t normally have had.” As for the future of the program, Dr. Townsend hopes that as the minor develops and becomes more popular, “we can hire the faculty to support it and we’ll start offering more classes and other classes to support it.”

Staffing Changes at SMCM

St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) has made many changes to their staffing over the past few weeks. From the Alumni Relations department to Student Affairs, members of the SMCM community should expect to see some different faces in roles than they may have seen before.

Dr. Kyle Bishop, who was formerly Executive Director of the Wellness Center, is now taking a position as Assistant Dean of Students. According to an All-Student email sent out by Dean Students of Leonard Brown Jr., Bishop “will be taking on responsibilities for Student Conduct, Deputy Title IX coordinator and various divisional tasks.”

The Administrative Organizational Chart, found in the SMCM Board of Trustees meeting minutes, shows that the assistant dean of students position runs parallel to the heads of Residence Life, Public Safety, and the Wellness Center.

According to Dean Brown’s announcement, Laurie Scherer, previously Assistant Director for Counseling Services, will assume responsibilities as Director of the Wellness Center. Stephenie Gutridge-Snode will now take over as Assistant Director of the Wellness Center.

Carolyn Curry, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, also sent an All-Student email to announce a staffing change. Kelly Schroeder, who formally was Director of Student Activities, now works as the new associate director of Alumni Relations.

Schroeder’s move comes after considerable student response to her departure from the Office of Student Activities. To read more about those student responses, please see our “Student Response to Kelly Schroeder Absence” article.

Also, according to an All-Student email from Tressa Setlak, Director of Public Safety, the college has welcomed two new full-time Public Safety staffers, Victoria Brasko as a dispatcher and Richard Deml as Public Safety Officer.

Brown and Setlak closed their emails by encouraging the community to welcome these new personnel and position changes.

Rights of Students with Disabilities on Campus

The rights of students with disabilities have been in the political spotlight in recent months. In October, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded a number of guidelines detailing protections for disabled school-age children, and the ongoing debate over the continuation of the Affordable Care Act is highlighting the concerns of some of those most directly affected by our healthcare system: those with disabilities and preexisting conditions.

While neither of these legislative efforts target college-age students directly, federal law does protect the right of those with disabilities to pursue higher education without threat of discrimination. An estimated 11 percent of undergraduate students report having a disability, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The Point News (TPN) spoke to Deirdre Bulger, Coordinator of Disability Support Services (DSS) for St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), about the state of rights for disabled students on campus.

Bulger currently works with 257 students at SMCM. In her role as Coordinator of DSS, she serves as a liaison for students as they request accommodations for various conditions, diagnoses, and disabilities.

Accommodations can range from requests for comfort animals, to needs for residence conditions like single room or ground floor housing, to extended time or distraction-free environments for test-taking. The most requested and most needed accommodation, according to Bulger, is extended time on assignments and tests.

TPN spoke with several former SMCM students who talked about their experiences requesting accommodations. Vera Damanka, class of 2017 and former Student Trustee, said that the level of responsiveness when it came to faculty and staff “depended on the year, the department, and what the request was.”

While Damanka found that some faculty members “went above and beyond the call of duty in terms of being accommodating” by recording lectures, reformatting exams, and finding her student aids and assistants, other faculty “pushed back pretty fiercely at accommodation requests.”

“I had faculty telling me that I was creating an uneven playing field,” continued Damanka. “Some refused to accommodate my requests simply because that was not the way that they typically ran their classroom. Still others were flexible to an extent, and then began to push back, the longer I needed assistance.”

“I’ve had a pretty wide array of experiences with requesting accommodations. It improved substantially, but I faced difficulties all the way up until the weeks before my graduation.”

Gillian Justice, also class of 2017, felt a lack of support during her time at SMCM. Justice pinpoints faulty communication and a “lack of clarity” in the established process for requesting accommodations as something that made the St. Mary’s campus feel unwelcoming and, at times, unsafe.

Justice described an instance in which she felt like she was playing a “game of telephone” as she tried to arrange accommodations through her professor and the Disability Support Services Coordinator. “I was unsure what had been discussed, and the professor still didn’t really understand what my accommodations entailed and continued to offer me only support that existed in class for all students,” Justice said.

Other times, Justice felt unsure that any action had been taken to arrange her accommodations. “I had other issues of access around the campus that were responded to incredibly poorly,” she added in an email, which “made St. Mary’s in general feel unsafe.”

Both Damanka and Justice said that better training for faculty and staff is necessary. Justice said that during her time at SMCM, it was made clear to her that professors and faculty receive no kind of training in responding to requests for accommodations.

Bulger confirmed that there is minimal training for faculty and staff regarding disability accommodations. What training exists is voluntary, rather than mandatory.

“I would like to develop a training similar to the Title IX training,” Bulger said, referring to the mandatory training that members of the SMCM community must complete that addresses sexual misconduct and gender bias. Right now, Bulger leads three to four training workshops that faculty and staff can voluntarily participate in.

Damanka spoke similarly to Justice, saying that “training more people on campus to serve as support would be immensely beneficial.”

“SMCM is a very small school,” added Justice. “The administration could leverage that to the advantage of students with disabilities. SMCM could easily create a robust disability services department for the size of our school with multiple coordinators. […] Professors and staff could really devote a lot of time to supporting students with diverse abilities and help them succeed.”

Another notable absence on campus is in the area of student-led advocacy. While in the past clubs like Active Minds and support groups like HEMP (Health Empowerment Group) existed as student-led groups that provided support and advocated for awareness, today there are few to no groups that advocate specifically for students with disabilities.

When asked about this, Damanka said, “I absolutely think that there is a need for such a group.” In her time at SMCM, Damanka, alongside other Peer Health Educators, led HEMP, which was advertised in All-Student emails as a “confidential, student led support group for students who are living with visible and/or invisible chronic illnesses.” The group did not continue into this semester.

Damanka elaborated on the group, saying, “it served as a confidential support group for students with chronic illnesses and disabilities, and we advised each other on navigating college with our conditions.”

“Sometimes we as students did not know what accommodations were available, or what was reasonable to request, until we spoke with each other or with Academic Services.”

Damanka continued in an email, “I think that having that group, or multiple groups, is extremely helpful. Putting the pressure on one or two people to lead is difficult when students are dealing with their own personal conditions, time constraints, etc.”

Bulger agreed that having more student-led advocacy groups on campus would be a benefit, but said that the absence of current active groups is due to stigma surrounding disabilities and chronic illnesses. Bulger said she’s worked hard since arriving in August of 2016 to create a campus culture where students feel comfortable being open about their disabilities and diagnoses, but that many are “still walking around silently,” not wanting to be seen as different.

“Once we remove that stigma, I think that students will start advocating for themselves,” said Bulger.

Peer Health Educators, a group overseen by the Wellness Center, does run various events and activities to bring awareness to disability on campus, but as of right now, there are few options for those interested in disability advocacy at SMCM.

If the SMCM community wishes to make the college a safer and more empowering place for students with disabilities, then faculty, staff, students, and administrators will need to demonstrate a willingness to change.

Hilda C. Landers?

Hilda Combs Landers was the oldest living St. Mary’s alumnus prior to her death in 1998. Graduating in 1923 from what was then St. Mary’s Female Seminary, Hilda Landers spent most of her life in Baltimore County with her husband, Arthur Landers. Mr. Landers studied at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md.  Both were large donors to the school. In 1998, Mrs. Landers was considered the largest single donor to St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), according to an article in The Point News. Few records exist of Mrs. Landers’ time at St. Mary’s. Calvert Hall, which was the main school building at the time, because the building caught fire and burned records and students belongings in January 1924.

Mr. and Mrs. Landers have an endowed scholarship fund, contributed to the Desousa-Brent program, established an endowed chair in the liberal arts and have two trusts in their names to benefit the college for many years. Through their trusts and donations, Mr. and Mrs. Landers have contributed over $6 million to the school.

Not much is known about Mrs. Landers’ life after graduating St. Mary’s female seminary. She had a close relationship with former college President Ted Lewis, who shared a passion for poetry with Mrs. Landers. Considering Mr. and Mrs. Landers contributed so much to SMCM, it’s fitting to name the library in her honor. On May 11, 2017, the Board of Trustees recommended that The Library is renamed the Hilda C. Landers Library. During Hawktoberfest, President Tuajuanda Jordan and the Board of Trustees dedicated The Library to Mrs. Landers on Saturday, October 21. The sign with the updated name, Hilda C. Landers Library, now sits in front of the library entrance.

GOP Tax Bill Gives to the Rich, Takes from the Poor

At 1:50 in the morning last Saturday, Republicans passed a massive tax overhaul bill on strictly partisan lines. The 479-page bill, titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was finalized only a few hours before it was voted on. Concessions to hold out senators and possibly wealthy donors were scribbled onto the margins of the page. The bill cuts taxes on the wealthy and takes healthcare spending from the poor.

This bill is bad because it was passed in in a hypocritical, unprecedented manner to benefit mostly only super wealthy people and corporations while harming the poor.

Partisan class warfare disguised as tax reform was cowardly passed by a cohort of hypocrites in the dead of the night because they knew it was going to harm their base. According to CNN, a few hours after the bill passed, “few have [read the bill,] even the lawmakers who voted on it. It was still being written, at times in cursive, on the night of the vote.”

Mass confusion surrounded the bill which was circulated Friday night. Montana’s Democratic Sen. Jon Tester took to Twitter to lambast the process under which this bill was passed. He mocked what can only be described as chicken scratch along the right-hand side of the bill, inviting viewers to try and determine what it said. The Washington Post’s attempt to decode the word Tester pointed to in his tweet guessed the word read “attributabnto.”

Alongside the last-second additions, there were other struck through pages which appeared to be signaling their erasure. Leading many, including Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, N.J., to question if those pages were to become law.

“This is absurd. One page of the new #GOPTaxPlan is crossed out with an ex. Another page is just a line. Is that a crossout [sic]? Is this page part of the bill?” Menendez wrote on Twitter, “WHY AM I ASKING THESE QUESTIONS HOURS BEFORE WE VOTE ON IT?? [sic]”

Senators Elizabeth Warren, Richard Durbin, Heidi Heitkamp, Christopher Coon and Mark Warner also expressed their dismay on Twitter.

To ask senators to come to a thoughtful conclusion on the merits of a bill without adequate time to review it is insulting to the norms we have worked so hard to establish. It is obvious to me that this bill was rushed through the Senate in the middle of the night in order to hide it from public scrutiny. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked to delay the vote until Monday; the request was voted down by nearly every Republican.

What was the need for urgency? Does the bill have stipulations which need to take effect the weekend following its passage? Even if so, it needs to be reconciled with the House of Representatives before it goes into effect. So that argument would be invalid. It seems the only possible rationale for the hasty vote on this atrocious bill was simple fear of public repercussions.

When the Democrats passed the American Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) then-Minority, now Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decried that “Democrats on Capitol Hill [were] working behind the scenes on a plan aimed at jamming this massive health spending bill through Congress against the clear wishes of an unsuspecting public. What they have in mind is a last-ditch legislative sleight-of-hand called reconciliation that would enable them to impose government-run health care for all on the American people, whether Americans want it or not” according to The Washington Post.

If this bill weren’t such an atrocity, the hypocrisy of the previous quote would be humorous. Yet, the differences in the process which McConnell declare to be “behind the scenes,” “jamming” and a“sleight-of-hand” and the weekend’s displays are night and day. The ACA went through much debate and was made available well before it was voted on, according to The Washington Post.

Granted, the process did happen quicker than previous bills, but for one to say they are upset by that, then support what happened last Friday, is either ignorant or hypocritical, both of which should be grounds for electoral reprimandation.

So, this bill was passed in an unprecedented way, but what does it do? I am not a tax policy expert, but I have read a lot from people who are. The topline takeaways from this bill are that it would reduce the corporate take rate, repeal an integral part (individual mandate) of Obamacare and cut $338 billion from our healthcare system, leaving 13 million more people uninsured according to Vox.

This bill is reverse Robin Hood-ing our system. It takes healthcare from the poor and passes on those savings to the rich.

A report on this tax reform bill from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that within the middle quintile of earners— people earning $54,700 to $93,200 a year — 65.6 percent would see their taxes go up. Yet within the richest one-thousandth of Americans, only about 1.8 percent would see a tax hike.

One provision of the bill even gave a tax break to private jet owners, because that is what middle-class Americans need right now.

“In my long career in politics, I have not seen a more regressive piece of legislation,” Schumer wrote on Twitter, “so devoid of a rationale, so ill-suited for the condition of the country, so removed from the reality of what the American people need.”

There is no justification for such an egregious piece of legislation. This is another attempt at trying to stimulate the economy by giving the wealthy handouts. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek saying “I do” when asked, “Do you still believe in trickle-down economics?” Trickle down economics has not worked in the past, and we have no reason to believe it will now.

Matt Flyr, St. Mary’s College of economics major and 2016 valedictorian told The Point News, “[Trickle down economics has] been tried tons of times and it has never come close to working.”

Republicans Dean Heller of Nevada, Ted Cruz of Texas, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Debra Fischer of Nebraska, John Barrasso of Wyoming, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, all voted for this bill, and are up for reelection in 2018. Editorials condemning their actions must be coupled with votes to unseat them.