Crime Report: Armed Robbery in WC

This article has been updated. Click here to read more.


By Cecelia Marquez and Scott Zimmerman

Four St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) students reportedly entered a suite in the Waring Commons residential area on the afternoon of Feb. 9 and committed an armed robbery. The students reportedly robbed another SMCM student; the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office classified the robbery as a theft between $100 and $1,500.

SMCM’s Public Safety (P.S.) sent out a notice to students, faculty and staff on Feb. 13, stating that the “Office of Public Safety received a report of a hand gun [sic] on campus. After an initial investigation, it was determined that there was no immediate threat to the campus community.”

As of Feb. 18, P.S. had not yet issued an official statement informing the community of the robbery. The email sent to the community mentioned the handgun and noted that “the students that [sic] are suspected perpetrators were identified, placed in police custody and have been suspended pending further investigation.” This language suggests but does not state, that the alleged robberies were associated with the handgun, showing that P.S. has yet to come to an official conclusion about weapons involved in the event.

The Baynet News and the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, in a blog post, state that one of the suspects was armed with a firearm.

On Feb. 13 the four suspects, Marquis Xavier Bullett, Kevin Louis Makle, Judge Clifford Payne and Kyndle Joshua Terrell-Jones, were located on campus by St. Mary’s County deputies and were arrested, according to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the State of Maryland case search, Bullett is charged with two felonies, armed robbery and robbery, and two misdemeanors, second-degree assault and theft. Makle, Payne and Terrell-Jones were charged with the same two felonies and misdemeanors as well as a firearm use charge.

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up for Payne. The webpage says that Payne “was arrested [at SMCM] for an incident he was not involved with. There is no evidence to indicate that he was involved.” This fundraiser appears to have been set up by a family member of Payne’s. It states that Payne “is being profiled as a young black male for something he has not done.”

The Point News (TPN) is unaware of any similar campaigns taking place for Bullet, Makle or Terrell-Jones.

According to the SMCM Athletics website, three of the four suspects were members of the men’s basketball team. Head coach Christopher Harney, ‘97, did not respond to TPN request for comment.

According to SMCM students present at the time, at least one student was arrested in an academic building during class. Beatrice Burroughs,‘19, said in an email to TPN that on Feb. 13 she and other students were waiting for class when “the police and [Public Safety] came to the classroom door right next to where we were sitting … They said they had a warrant for his arrest.” Burroughs added that the officers “handcuffed him” and left. “We were just kind of shocked,” she said.

Students on campus expressed concern over the incident. “Me [sic] and my friend Shane Brogan [‘19] saw two [of the alleged perpetrators] around 3 p.m.,” Patrick O’Leary, ‘19, told TPN. O’Leary and Brogan say that their on-campus residence is in the immediate vicinity of the reported crime. O’Leary said, “it’s crazy that they were right there, next to us.”

“There were three of us here, five feet away from the robbery, and we heard nothing that went on,” said Adam Scrivener, ‘19, who lives in the same residence as Brogan and O’Leary.

Scrivener says that the incident has made them wary of crime and danger on campus. “We all agreed to start locking our common room door.”

Public Safety was not made aware of the incident until Sunday, Feb. 12, when they received notification from the County Sheriff’s Office, according to Director of Public Safety Tressa Setlak. “It was not reported to us [by any students],” stated Setlak.

She commented, “I wish more students would be more forthcoming more quickly so we could act faster.” Setlak stated that students can submit reports anonymously through 911Shield, the app that the college has been trying to implement as a main source for safety-related communications.  

At this time, 911Shield is not setup to disseminate mass communications, but Setlak reports that it will “soon be what we use to … do our mass communication.”

In addition to the legal consequences being decided in the justice system, if these students return to campus they may face further repercussions.  Their actions, if found true, violate the SMCM Residence Life Office policy against “firearms or weapons of any kind” and many articles of the Code of Student Conduct.

The College’s investigation into the alleged robbery is still ongoing. If anyone has information, Setlak encourages anyone with information to come forward. “Any information we get can help,” she said.

Students have expressed discontent with the comments section on local news sites reporting te alleged robbery. “I was shocked to hear about the incident but more shocked when reading the comments on the news,” Caitlin Henry, ‘19, told TPN in an email, “this revealed so many racist perspectives in the community.”

This incident has sparked conversation about guns on campus. A bill titled the Gun-Free Higher Education Zones Act passed the Maryland State House of Delegates in 2017 according to The Diamondback, University of Maryland’s student newspaper. The legislation currently in debate in the Maryland State Senate would “prohibit the carrying or possession of specified firearms on the property of public institutions of higher education.”

Brogan, on the other hand, expressed concern about how P.S. would have responded if the gun were used. In the event of a shooting Brogan said, “we’d have to wait 20 minutes for actual cops with weapons” to arrive and subdue the perpetrator.

If you have any information relevant to this story that you wish to share with The Point News, please email Cecelia (cemarquez@smcm.edu) or Scott (editorinchief@thepointnews.com).


Correction: A previous version of this article stated the robbery happened “at gunpoint.” The County Sheriff’s office classified this incident as an “armed robbery.” The Southern Maryland News Network used the phrase “at gun point” but that has not been verified.

Syrian National Coalition Appeals to UN For Help After Claims of Another Chemical Attack

Activists and the Syrian National Coalition have reported claims of another chemical attack in Syria in the Idlib province. The incident is said to have occurred on Sunday, Feb. 4. The Syrian government, headed by President Bashar al-Assad, denies the claims that his government has used chemical weapons on its own citizens in the battle to regain control over war-torn Syria. The U.N. has condemned the actions and called again for a solution towards peace in Syria.

The Syrian National Coalition, also known as the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, is one of many opposition groups vying for power in the area. Its goal is the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, followed by a transition to a democratic and pluralistic state, according to the BBC.

Russia is a close ally of the Assad regime and has vetoed resolutions regarding the Syrian conflict and specifically attempts to point to the Syrian government as responsible for these chemical attacks. Though a joint report from the United Nations and international chemical weapons inspectors concluded that the Assad regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attack, Russia has continued to prop up the governmental regime through the use of vetoes, as well as assisted military action in Syria itself.

According to CNN, President Trump had previously urged United Nations Security Council members to vote to renew the mandate of the United Nations to ensure that the Assad regime “does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again.”

In 2013, Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, prohibiting the use of chemicals such as chlorine gas, which was used in the latest attacks. Though Syria joined this convention, it is questionable that they disposed of their chemical weapons stockpile and evidence from the more recent attacks are suggesting otherwise.

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) has been documenting, treating and providing humanitarian aid to people in Syria for twenty years, and still, today works on the front lines of the conflict. According to SAMS, “Since the beginning of the conflict, medical workers and first responders in Syria have treated victims from at least 161 chemical attacks.”

SAMS also note the psychological effects of chemical weapons attacks on the people of Syria, stating “Chemical attacks have generated intense fear and psychological trauma, led to birth defects and long-term health effects, broken down communities, and driven mass internal displacement and displacement into neighboring countries.” The group emphasizes that these attacks have become the new normal, due their frequency in the lives of people living through the conflict.

According to Al Jazeera, many people are unaware of the correct course of action to take to minimize bodily harm and death in these attacks. Once the canisters full of chemicals are dropped, the gas is quickly released. Many families go into their basements to hide, as one would in other forms of attacks, but chlorine gas is heavier than air, making it sink downward where families are attempting to hide. The gas becomes trapped in the basement and effectively acts as a chamber, killing or severely injuring those within.

Though the UN condemned the actions and are investigating the reports many view this as equivalent to no action because the Assad regime continues to ignore international laws that prohibit the use of chemical weapons and their close relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues to shield them from consequences.

Former US Olympics Gymnastics Doctor Sentenced in Sex Abuse Trial

Former doctor for the U.S. Olympics gymnastics team Larry Nassar has been sentenced to an effective life sentence in prison.

In December, the former doctor was sentenced to 60 years in prison on charges of child pornography and in January he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for seven counts of criminal sexual conduct; more than 150 accounts of sexual assault were shared during those January trials, according to CNN.

On Feb. 5, Nassar was sentenced to an additional 40 to 175 years in prison, according to ABC News, and the number of sexual assault victims to come forward reached more than 250. The former doctor began treating gymnasts for USA Olympics in 1986 and gymnasts for Michigan State University (MSU) in 1997, according to The Lansing State Journal. He treated Olympic gymnasts until summer 2015, when an internal investigation found Nassar guilty of sexual assault, according to CNN. Nassar continued to see patients at MSU until September 2016 when the Indianapolis Star published an article with allegations against
Nassar, reported CNN.

It has been revealed that at least one victim of sexual assault at the hands of Nassar, McKayla Maroney, reached a $1.25 million confidential settlement with USA Gymnastics around 2016 in exchange for keeping silent about her experience; she has since broken her confidentiality, according to USA Today.
In response to this, Sen. Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California, sponsored legislation that would create a body independent of the U.S. Olympic Committee to handle cases of abuse and ensure that such cases are properly and swiftly reported to law enforcement agencies, KTLA 5 reported. President Trump signed the legislation Feb. 14.

Sexual misconduct has also affected the sports community at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM). In Feb. 2016, former swimming coach Andre Barbin was arrested on one count of child pornography and one count of displaying obscene matter to a minor, according to Southern Maryland Online.
An investigation on Barbin began after police in Knox County, Ill. discovered Barbin had been engaging in indecent communication with a minor, Southern Maryland Online reported. Barbin began coaching the men’s and women’s teams at SMCM in 1998.

Changes in drop/add Period

The period during which students at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) can drop or add a course from their course schedules was shortened at the beginning of this academic year, sparking confusion from some students and faculty. The policy change comes as a decision made by the Office of Registrar at the recommendation of the Financial Aid Office.

On August 27, 2017, SMCM’s registrar, Nick Tulley, sent an all-student email explaining the change. The “schedule adjustment period” — commonly referred to as the “drop/add period” —  was shortened from four weeks to two. Changing one’s schedule during the first week is free, but during the second week students are charged a $25 fee to change their course load. Prior to this school year, students had two free weeks followed by two weeks with a fee.

Tulley also sent a reminder of the policy change prior to the start of the spring semester.

“It’s a federal policy that the Financial Aid Office has to follow,” Tulley explained to The Point News (TPN), the policy is in place “to try and keep students … from enrolling full time and then dropping out but still taking the financial aid money.”

Tulley says that he referred to what other institutions do in order to set a drop/add period timeline. “I could not find another school that [had] four weeks [of] drop/add [time]. The typical is two or one week drop/add [period], which is why I took ours to two weeks.”

Rob Maddox, director of financial aid at SMCM, told TPN that his office recommended the change around a year ago, in the spring of 2017, to comply with “some of the federal guidelines we have to follow.” Maddox continued to say “it allows [the Financial Aid Office] to reconcile and put everything into place a little sooner.”

Tulley and Maddox both emphasized that the College was not breaking any rules, but rather acting to preempt any possible issues with audits in the future. If the federal auditors were to find SMCM out of compliance, then the SMCM would no longer be able to give financial aid to students which would, according to Tulley, “pretty much guarantee the doom of the College.”

Maddox told TPN that the financial aid regulation needing to be met is under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. According to the United States Code, Title IV is meant “to assist in making available the benefits of postsecondary education to eligible students.”

Maddox also told TPN that the policy change was initiated due compliance necessities, but further clarified that this was not due to reprimands, rather to get out ahead of possible future audits.

“The next couple years will probably be tough; I’m not gonna lie,” Tulley told TPN in response to concerns about how quickly this change requires students to amend their schedule, “we will probably have to use judgment call to get through it.”

According to Tulley, the Integrated Computer System, commonly referred to as the Portal, was implemented in 1999. A updated system may make the process of registering for classes much easier and possibly quicker.

“We did not change [the drop/add period] to make it more difficult for students, faculty or any[one]. It was mainly a compliance reason … it wasn’t done to be spiteful.”

Maryland Joins 43 Other States in Terminating Rapists’ Parental Rights

After more than a decade, the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act will pass, allowing rape victims to terminate the parental rights of their assailants.

The bill has failed to pass nine times, since Delegate Kathleen M. Dumais, a Montgomery County Democrat, first proposed it in 2007.

The measure passed both chambers of Maryland’s legislature last week, making the way for one last technical vote before the bill is sent to Governor Hogan to be signed. The bill made headlines when it failed to pass last year, and activists noted that an all-male panel failed to come to an agreement for the ninth time. Dumais attributed the delay partially to the lack of women in the House and Senate, according to Time Magazine.

Maryland is one of a handful of states that still allows rapists to have parental rights. Other states that do not have legislation allowing victims to terminate their attackers’ rights include New Mexico, Minnesota, Mississippi, Alabama, North Dakota and Wyoming. Mississippi is currently considering similar legislation that, if passed, would achieve the same goal as Maryland’s Rape Survivor Family Protection Act, according to CNN.

A bipartisan group of delegates has supported the bill for years, but there was debate surrounding amendments to the bill and concern over how to fairly revoke rapists’ parental rights while also allowing for due process.

According to the Baltimore Sun, some still have concerns with the bill. One of which was whether rape victims could still apply for child support after termination of the attackers’ parental rights. Another issue raised was how to properly terminate the rights if the rapist had not been criminally convicted, a hurdle that advocates said would prevent victims from getting justice, citing the Department of Justice statistics stating that fewer than 3.5% of rapes ever result in a conviction.

Those who have become pregnant through rape would be allowed to terminate the attackers’ parental rights after providing “clear and convincing proof” of the assault in court. This is a lower level of evidence than that of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is used in criminal convictions. This standard of proof concerned certain legislators, but over time, advocates were able to convince them that the higher standard of evidence would not provide a solution to the issues these women faced.

The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, previously named The Maryland Network Against Rape, was instrumental in advocating for the bill, arguing that it was a protection that would allow victims to not have to interact and parent with their assailants. They are a federally-recognized state sexual assault coalition composed of 17 rape crisis centers and groups who work directly with sexual assault survivors, offering assistance through legal services and advocacy. Their mission, according to their website, is to “help prevent sexual assault, advocate for accessible, compassionate care for survivors of sexual violence, and work to hold offenders accountable.”

Governor Hogan signed this bill when it came to his desk. During his State of the State Address, according to CNN he stated that“no rapist should be allowed to maintain parental rights and no victim should be forced to interact with her attacker,” adding, “I commend you for finally passing the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act, and I will sign it into law the moment it reaches my desk.”

Please Learn to Tip: A Word of Advice from a Student Server

A student’s time in college is full of ups and downs. One of those downs includes food. Yes, while the fifth day of Ramen Noodles is saving you money, and the food on campus will occasionally hit the spot, it just doesn’t really do it for you. So you come to the solution of going to a restaurant and it always seems to do the trick.

However, for you students who go to St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), please do not go out. Why, you may ask? Because you bright, well-educated, and hard working students have no clue whatsoever how to tip properly or you just don’t tip at all. Now you may be saying to yourself, “So? Servers get a paycheck anyways and they will have other tables.” Let me enlighten all of you, as someone who has been a server for the past three years, as to why you are being rude for not tipping and why it doesn’t matter that we get a “paycheck”, and you should tip regardless.

As a server at Cracker Barrel (yes, the place with the cheesy hashbrowns) hourly pay is less than $4.00 and after taxes and other deductions that the fun world of adulting takes out of my paycheck, there’s barely anything. My main source of income while working comes from the people that sit at my tables and leave me tips. Along with that, our checks don’t include the gratitude within the check total, and if you would pay attention to the check when you get one at Cracker Barrel, you would see that. So if you sit down at a table and either don’t leave a tip or leave a crappy tip, you just costed me or another server money by using up one of our tables.

I’m specifically talking about Cracker Barrel because not only is that where I work, but also where a lot of you students come in to eat, and I have waited on a decent amount of you guys. And every single time I have waited on a SMCM student, they haven’t left a tip. No, it was not because the service was horrible or I was rude to you. You just refused to leave a tip. I get it: being in college, money is tight, so you have to spend it wisely. But if you know you are going out to eat and you know that you aren’t going to leave a tip, please do us all a favor and stay on campus. Not only have you stiffed me when you come in to eat, but also my co-workers, who come up to me after you have left, and, knowing that I go to SMCM, tell me that you didn’t leave a tip and that my school has such “great people.”

While a lot of you students are going to sit here and read this article and not care, you should. You affect my ability to pay for my bills, to put gas in my car, and to buy textbooks at the start of each semester. If you were to go and get your hair done, have a tattoo artist work on a piece for you, or any other form of service provided for you, you would leave a tip for them, but why not a server? So the next time you are thinking about going out to eat and you know you aren’t going to leave a tip, please just use that money to go to McDonalds or to buy another box of Ramen Noodles. Oh, and as a side note, we servers have a great memory for the faces of people who don’t tip us. Just as a FYI when you go out to eat again.

Race, Riots and Privilege in the Superbowl

When people protest for human rights, as in the case of Black Lives Matter, law enforcement brings out its best militarized gear and sets a tone of violence before any real threat is even present. When sports fans decide to vandalize their own cities as a way of celebrating a win, law enforcement takes an entirely new perspective. This was so eloquently displayed after the Eagles won the Superbowl on the Feb. 4 when fans took to destroying the streets before halftime was finished.

It’s as though they see the rioters as small children in a new environment, going the extra mile to protect them from themselves by greasing light poles and asking residents to kindly put away their flower pots. There was no condemnation from officials or representatives following the Superbowl riots, and I shouldn’t have even hoped to expect any. There was no public outcry saying it was disrespectful to deface the city for the contradicting purpose of celebrating hometown pride. After all, it’s just a twisted privilege we allot to sports fans, right?

Do the damages inflicted by a political riot and a sports riot not mirror each other? In both instances, some individuals take it upon themselves to set a poor example. People climb and smash light posts, bust open windows, flip cars and start fires in the streets. If the damage looks the same, what are police seeing differently that changes their response? It’s the exact distinction that has created the problems we face with police-civilian relations: skin color.

We hesitate to even call the Superbowl riots what they are, year after year. The words we choose over “riot” are used essentially any time that the events are white enough, harmless enough or passive enough. It’s unbearably easy to simply turn the other cheek because no one is earnestly offended by a celebration. However, people of color and our allies taking to the streets to protest and mourn the unjust deaths of community members at the hands of our sworn protectors does make people uncomfortable. And it ought to. The way society decides to handle riots, regardless of whatever spurred their creation, must change.

 

Sen. Ben Cardin: An Advocate for the Resistance

By Zach Mossburg

A perfect coincidence happened as Sen. Ben Cardin was speaking on campus this past week. Ostensibly coming to discuss President Trump’s State of the Union Address, Sen. Cardin, like so many of us, got distracted by all of the news that happened between Tuesday, Jan. 30 and Friday, Feb. 2. There were rumblings that President Trump was going to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the gate-keeper of the Robert Mueller investigation. President Trump refused to enact sanctions against Russia for its election hacking, which were almost unanimously passed by both the U.S. House and Senate. Most notably, as Senator Cardin was the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time of this talk, President Trump was talking about declassifying the Nunes memo, a document that the FBI had “grave concerns” about and that Democrats alleged inappropriately attacked the FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ) and the special counsel investigation. Commentators and intelligence officials alike worried that releasing this memo would endanger U.S. intelligence secrets, on top of adding more confusion to an already turbulent news cycle. Sen. Cardin himself said that he had yet to see the memo, but made clear that from what he knew, the memo was specifically intended to discredit Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein. He told all of us that he did not think the memo should be released. Then, as he was answering one of his last questions, many people who were in attendance noticed their phone light up with a Washington Post notification: President Trump had just officially declassified the Nunes memo. An hour later the memo was public.

At times, Sen. Cardin sounded exasperated discussing certain mishaps by the Trump administration. He opened by discussing the elephant in the room: the Russians and their hacking of the 2016 presidential elections. “Our democratic institutions are being attacked from global players and from within,” he warned. The mastermind behind these Russian influencing efforts, Russian President Vladimir Putin, has created a “design on infiltrating democratic countries,” according to Sen. Cardin and sees democratic regimes in general as antithetical to his foreign policy goals. Despite this, Donald Trump lavishes the Russian regime with praise, carefully making sure not to say anything distasteful while still flinging insults wildly at nearly everyone else, such as ridiculing a morning talk show host for “bleeding from the face,” or calling democratic representatives who didn’t clap for him at the State of the Union “treasonous.”

Putin befriending the U.S., a country that sees itself as the global protector of democracy, makes no sense from a rational decision-making standpoint (realpolitik), unless you consider the possibility that Putin believes he can bring an end to U.S. democracy. Once you think about Russia’s actions from a viewpoint that prioritizes Russia’s foreign policy goals, much of the Trump administration’s actions make sense. Despite imminent warnings from the CIA director that Russia will “of course” be engaged in influencing the 2018 elections, President Trump could not seem less interested, even going as far as refusing to enact sanctions on the country. When it comes to protecting these upcoming elections, the White House has done nothing to either warn Russia against attacking us or to strengthen our defense systems against another attack. To further drive this point home, in a Senate Intelligence Committee testimony on February 14th, FBI Director Christopher Wray made it clear that the President has never directed him to look into stopping any further attacks.

While the Russian threat is no doubt flashy and intriguing, almost spy novel worthy in some instances, the Trump administration is also taking less flashy actions to undermine American democracy. Sen. Cardin made it clear that the American public needs to be able to sort through the distractions (see Devin Nunes in general) and focus on what the Trump administration is doing on a day-to-day basis. One of the things that Sen. Cardin is most worried about is the administration’s stance towards DREAMers and other immigrants. Since Trump took office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement  has been working with police state-esque authority to deport immigrants. A quick Google search will show multiple stories of immigrants with hardly any wrongdoing in their past, who have been in this country for decades, being deported back to extremely hostile environments. Sen. Cardin wanted it known that Donald Trump’s actions towards the DREAMers had “put a date on their back” and gave other countries fuel to attack American values. How, as a nation, are we supposed to stand up for the idea that everyone is equal and that human rights for all is a noble cause when we are deporting non-violent Americans who may not have been born here but have been here for longer than most of us at this school have been alive?

While some of the talk had an exasperated tone, other parts had a more desperate or pleading tone. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona had “essentially given up” due to actions taken by the Trump administration and, especially, the non-action by Congress against him. “We need the President’s leadership,” Sen. Cardin demanded, to protect our ever closer approaching elections, and yet he is nowhere to be found on the issue. Congress should have acted by now to pass a statute protecting the independence of the DOJ and FBI, but once again, nothing. President Trump claims that his policies are putting “America first” but Sen. Cardin sees his foreign policy more as “America alone.” The quick and automatic response for many would be to just tune out politics, focus on things that are more easy to control. But Sen. Cardin pleaded for us to stay focused. In one of his closing remarks, he said that the best part about the Trump Presidency is that it has created a whole new generation of political activists. As long as there is anger and backlash against the hateful actions by this administration, Sen. Cardin is confident we will survive as a democracy. Although it may not always feel like it, “the power is with the people,” he declared, and we will get a chance to prove this in a little more than eight months time.

 

Ban “Thoughts and Prayers” until We Ban Assault Rifles

The “thoughts and prayers” cycle has started, meaning by next week we will have moved past thinking of the 17 people — many of them children — who were murdered in Florida on Valentine’s Day.

According to Time Magazine, 14 students — Nicholas Dworet, Jaime Guttenberg, Alyssa Alhadeff, Meadow Pollack, Luke Hoyer, Carmen Schentrup, Gina Montalto, Alex Schachter, Peter Wang, Alaina Petty, Martin Duque Anguiano, Helena Ramsey, Joaquin Oliver and Cara Loughran — and three adults — Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel and Christopher Hixon — were slain in a preventable tragedy, due in part to the repeated inaction and refusal of politicians to put measures in place which would prevent mass shootings.  

“Blood is being spilled on the floors of American classrooms, and that is not acceptable” David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the shooting, told CNN. Hogg’s takeaway was that more needs to be done to keep schools safe.  

Another student, Isabella Gomez, speaking with CNN, said, “What could our teachers do in that situation, rather than save themselves, just as we were?  … I feel like [Trump] really needs to take into consideration all this gun control.”

“Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers,” wrote a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student on Twitter, “prayers won’t fix this. But Gun [sic] control will prevent it from happening again.”

But the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a formula to prevent positive measures from being enacted. Step one: express condolences. Step two: claim its too early to talk about reform. Step three: “forget” to talk about reform. We saw the same exact thing happen after the Las Vegas shooting, when the conversation of bump stocks was delayed just long enough to be  forgotten. According to The Independent, momentum for gun control legislation “slipped within a few weeks. At the same time, the Trump administration and congressional Republicans sought ways to loosen existing restrictions on guns.”

It’s time to make it impossible for assault rifles to get into the hands of the wrong people. The murderer, in this most recent iteration of gun violence in this country, purchased his weapon legally, according to The New York Times (NYT). Just like the killers in Newtown, San Bernardino and Las Vegas, this despicable human being used an AR-15 assault rifle to reign terror in what was supposed to be an innocuous location. This weapon, the AR-15, has been used in five out of six of the deadliest attacks over the past six years. Despite that, the AR-15 is easier to buy than a handgun for many people in Florida according to NYT. “Thoughts and prayers” are not going to stop the slaughter we have become far too accustomed to in the United States of America, but maybe banning the weapon of choice for mass murderers will.

The time has come and passed for waiting it out. It is clear as day that no one should be able to own an AR-15. According to NBC News, advocates of this murderous tool claim “it is a toy, a sleek beast of black plastic and metal that delivers a gratifying blast of adrenaline … And for many, it is a symbol, the embodiment of core American values — freedom, might, self-reliance.” That is sickening.

If your idea of American values is represented by a tool that is repeatedly used to murder innocent people, or if you think the children’s lives are only as important as your desire to have a “gratifying blast of adrenaline,” you need to pause and contemplate that. Promote civic engagement, for that is an American value truly lacking in society, or try a new sport. Maybe get your adrenaline through something that is not associated with mass killings.  

Yet gun owners are not the problem. According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), the NRA spent $54 million in outside spending during the 2016 election to get their candidates into office. Gun advocates like to claim that Planned Parenthood (PP) is the liberal counterpart to the NRA, but PP spent three times less money in outside spending in 2016 than the NRA did, according to the NYT. The NRA’s $54 million is almost as much money as the top three — including PP — comparable non-profit liberal groups spent in 2016 together.

Despite the Internal Revenue Service rules stipulating that non-profit groups, which the NRA is classified as, can not have politics as their primary purpose, the gun lobby is stronger than ever. Lawmakers continue to post on Twitter promising the victims of this killing spree their “thoughts and prayers” despite the vocal opposition from those victims to the lawmakers’ milquetoast reactions. These politicians, who would rather post tweets than enact life-saving legislation, or even make an attempt at curtailing the onslaught of violence, will continue to do so as long as the NRA is funding their campaigns.

Marco Rubio of Florida argued on the Senate floor that gun control would not have done anything to curb the violence seen last week in his home state, and that making a gun illegal would not prevent the killer from obtaining a weapon. But it is harder to get things which are illegal than it is to get them if they are legal. More gun regulations have been proven time and time again to lead to fewer gun deaths (see: every other county in the developed world). Coincidentally, according to NY Daily News, Rubio has taken 3.3 million dollars from the NRA over the course of his political career.

It’s safe to say “Little Marco” will continue to diminish meaningful reform as long as the NRA keeps ensuring he can keep his job.

John McCain said on Twitter that he and his wife are “praying for all those impacted … our hearts are with the victims.” Kind words, but they are nearly identical to what he tweeted just a few months ago, after the last mass shooting. McCain could help break the cycle of cookie cutter tweets, yet that’s unlikely as he has accepted over seven million from the NRA throughout his career, according to CRP.

Legislative fixes are possible. Current federal law states that an individual must be 21 to purchase a handgun, but only 18— according to penal code 18 U.S.C. § 922(b)(1), (c)(1) —  to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle. No one should be allowed to own an assault rifle, but considering the current makeup of our federal government and how many are financed by the NRA, that is unlikely.  So at the very least, the federal law should be that if you are unable to be trusted with alcohol and your own body, you should not be trusted with a weapon of a caliber designed to put holes in other people’s.

Those who oppose gun control are pawns for the NRA. Alas, however powerful the gun lobby is, despite the troves of money they are allowed to spend in our elections due to the ghastly Citizens United decision, they can not win if we vote out their pawns.

“We can’t ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises. And so, I’m asking — no, demanding — we take action now.” Cameron Katsky, a survivor of the recent attack in Florida wrote in a piece for CNN. Katsky continues, “Why? Because at the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience — our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools.”

The midterm elections are upcoming. This election is incredibly important for so many reasons, be it the 2020 census and gerrymandering, healthcare, gun control, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival  or possible Supreme Court nominations. Our generation has the power to beat the NRA, get big money out of politics and save lives.

Maryland politicians, besides Republican Representative Andy Harris, are not in the pockets of the NRA, but in order to ensure that the tyranny of the uncompromising gun advocacy is defeated, we must elect, and support, politicians who promise to enact policy for public funding of elections. So that the NRA system will not be able to have the influence they have and use to perpetuate our issue of guns in America.

Register to vote today. Thoughts and prayers will pass; taking legislative action will last forever. Vote often, vote progressive, and vote down the whole ballot.

We must get the NRA’s influence out. We must prevent another atrocity like this. We must listen to the kids who survived this massacre. In the words of Katsky, “Please do it for me. Do it for my fellow classmates. We can’t vote, but you can, so make it count.”

 

How Cole Meyerhoff is Sculpting a Future in Art: SMCM Alumnus Delivers Artist Talk

The Brown Bag Lunchtime Artist Talk —  organized by the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Art and Art History Department (AAHD) — hosts a wide variety of artists and historians on campus. Recently, on Feb. 6, the AAHD invited an alumnus, Cole Meyerhoff, ‘16, to present a lecture on his work to students, faculty and other professionals in Glendening Annex.

Members of the SMCM community have most likely seen a piece of artwork by Meyerhoff without even realizing it. His installation is “by the Monty [Montgomery Hall Fine Arts Center] dumpster” Meyerhoff noted in a humorous manner, jesting at how disreputable the location may seem.

Meyerhoff’s sculpture is a steel snaking structure. It is similar in its material to many of his other works. He is trained in bamboo, wood and metalwork Meyerhoff tends to work on grand sculptures with an industrial look, he explained at the lecture.

During his time at SMCM, Meyerhoff was a captain of the varsity men’s lacrosse team while he earned two majors at SMCM, studio art and environmental studies. The interplay between these two disciplines led him to create works which are inspired by, and are kind to the natural environment.

Over the years, his art has shifted from the abstract to the representational. For his St. Mary’s Project (SMP), Meyerhoff made metal sculptures which were, according to the AAHD, intended to express the “personal relationships, perceptions and societal issues” between humankind and nature.

In 2016 — after graduating from SMCM — Meyerhoff took a position at the Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota. There he aided in maintenance, mowing lawns and general upkeep. All the while, he created art which aimed to explain the “disconnect between the elements that make up the environments of our daily lives and our understanding of and attention to these elements,” according to his artist statement.

“Cardinal Marks and Forgotten Knowledge,” the title of his piece which resides at Franconia, “is a work that intends to connect the audience to the natural environment in a unique manner.”  according to the Franconia website, the sculpture moves with a just “subtle puff” of wind and then turns to denote the direction of which the wind comes.  

More recently, Meyerhoff has been creating sculptures of birds, fishes and other animals, some for commission and others for exposure. These works of art help to cover some of Meyerhoff’s expenses, but he still has a job working at a wooden boat restoration shop during the day.

Meyerhoff told the art students in the room to make as much work as they can. According to him, it is helpful to do so in order to figure out exactly what does and does not work for them.

More recently Hannah Seagrave, an art historian, gave a lecture in Glendenning Annex to a similar crowd of art majors, faculty and staff. She gave a lecture entitled “Magical Objects: Curatorial Connections and the Praxis of Art History.” Seagrave is a curatorial-track doctoral candidate in baroque art history at the University of Delaware. Currently, she is a research fellow of European art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The next Brown Bag Lunchtime Artist Talk will feature Lydia McCarthy, a Brooklyn-based installation and photography artist who is an assistant professor of photography at Alfred University. McCarthy’s talk will be on Feb. 28 from 12-1 p.m. in Glendening Annex. Free pizza, including vegan options, will be provided.

[Editor’s Note: The Point News was unable to send a reporter to Seagrave’s talk due to staffing restraints. If you would like to cover events like this for The Point News, please contact our features editor, Georgie Hardesty (gmhardesty@smcm.edu) to express your interest.]