From the Chief’s Desk: Students Must Make Themselves Heard

Buried amongst official correspondence from the College’s Presidential Search Committee is a simple and staggering fact: There are only two students on a committee of 27.

Obviously, though, I am not the only student to take umbrage with this. In our front-page article “Search for College’s Next President Kicks Off,” sophomore Aaron French – one of the two students chosen to sit on the committee – notes that, “There are two students and six faculty, and everyone else is a trustee or administrator, which sort of puts the balance of power against students.“

While he goes on to state the receptivity of other committee members to students’ voices, French’s first point is the most salient. Students, at least in terms of concrete representation, are vastly undermanned.

We are one of the largest constituent groups at this college, though, outnumbered only by alumni and – maybe – interested members of the local community. Further, our tuition fuels St. Mary’s. And I can almost guarantee that at least a portion of the next president’s salary will be paid with our dollars. We deserve a say. Yes, we have been given one, but the approximately 1,958 of us who do not have a seat on the committee must weigh in on the search at every turn.

This point was only amplified  at the first open forum held by the committee last Thursday. Nine students attended; among them were French, the Student Government Association President, the Student Trustee, the Student Trustee-in-Training – who also sits on the search committee – along with the Student Trustee-in-Training Designee and three Point News staffers who were present to photograph and report on the event.

Nine is not enough, especially when the majority of the nine were quasi-obligated to attend. We need to mobilize every student, not just a select few: the biology majors, the Resident Assistants, the lacrosse players, the library denizens, the members of the Black Student Union, no matter what defines us on the campus, we all must have a vested interest in the selection of a new president.

And I believe that we all do. So, we must now show the committee that we sincerely care about the outcome of this campus-changing search. Please come to events, write emails, do anything that is necessary to ensure that the next president of St. Mary’s is a representation of the students who love this institution so deeply.

O’Malley Celebrates Maryland Day

Elementary school students present flags of their counties (Photo by Brendan O'Hara)
Elementary school students present flags of their counties (Photo by Brendan O'Hara)

Standing at a sundrenched podium in Historic St. Mary’s City, Governor Martin O’Malley joined hundreds of his fellow Marylanders on Sunday to commemorate the state’s 375th birthday.

Though a strong wind whipped off of the St. Mary’s River and swept through the pages of the Governor’s statement, O’Malley remained composed as he delivered an alternatingly humorous and emotional address on the heritage of Maryland.

“We cannot afford not to preserve the beauty of this place,” he said as his speech reached its climax, acknowledging the need to fund HSMC despite the state’s ongoing budget crunch.

O’Malley was joined onstage by House Majority Leader and St. Mary’s Trustee Steny Hoyer, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., Washington Post Vice President-at-Large and Trustee Ben Bradlee, College President Maggie O’Brien, Executive Director of HSMC Regina Faden and President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Richard Moe, among others.

Numerous local politicians and St. Mary’s administrators, professors and students were also spread throughout the crowd. All were gathered to celebrate Maryland Day, a legal holiday that observes the landing of the Ark and the Dove on St. Clement’s Island.

Appropriately, each speaker centered largely on the legacy of Maryland’s first colonists and St. Mary’s City.

“This is not only Maryland’s first capital, but this is also where the roots of democracy were first planted in Maryland; it’s where the roots of religious freedom were first planted in Maryland…These are concepts we still believe in and embrace,” Moe said.

Hoyer, who represents St. Mary’s County in the House of Representatives, described his district as, “the mother county, a county of so many firsts.”

In a linear retelling of the Ark and the Dove’s journeys to Maryland, Frank J. Russel – President of the St. Mary’s County Board of Commissioners – concluded by adding, “Thank God it turned out this way!”

The Maryland Day Ceremony’s speakers also took time to honor all those who have contributed to the preservation of HSMC. Descendants of the first Marylanders, members of The Society of the Ark and the Dove and present and former Historic St. Mary’s City Commissioners were asked to stand and receive applause. Bradlee, who is 2009’s Marylander of the Year, was also frequently acknowledged.

Moe honored both Hoyer and O’Malley. He described Hoyer as “indefatigable” in his support of HSMC and called O’Malley one of a group of politicians who “gets it.”

Former Executive Director of HSMC Martin Sullivan and Roger Hill were also presented with an award for their service.

Additionally, O’Brien announced the College’s Martin Sullivan Museum Scholars program, which is planned to launch in 2012. The program, which aims to provide students with an intensive program in Museum Studies, has already garnered 240,000 dollars in endowment funds.

After the ceremony, senior Perry Colvin said, “I think that it’s tremendous to see Marty Sullivan honored so well. It’s a boon to our school to have such a wonderful man associated with us for so long.”

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Referendum Sends a Message

On behalf of The Point News, I would like to congratulate the students of St. Mary’s for voting in favor of the Student Government Association’s referendum.

Not only did we allow the SGA to give much-needed aid to students and to the academic departments, but also we once again proved our dedication to maintaining – and enhancing – the integrity of the academic program here at St. Mary’s.

And, hopefully, our voices will be resoundingly heard on this issue. The referendum’s result was overwhelming; 561 students voted in favor, with only 64 opposed. I believe that every ‘yes’ vote sent a clear message that we will not allow our education to be compromised.

As students, we will carry the ultimate burden if academic budget cuts continue. It is refreshing and rewarding to attend an institution where we all act with purpose to address such a central issue. Obviously, special consideration must once again be given to the SGA for leading the way.

Now, the pressure is on the Board of Trustees and the alumni of the College. They have been challenged to match the SGA’s contribution.

If they do, an astounding 60,000 dollars will be donated to the Emergency Assistance Fund and 45,000 will be given to the academic departments. Hopefully, both will heed our collective voice and recognize the need for these funds. I urge the Board and our alumni to consider how they would react if they were attending St. Mary’s during such an extensive budget crunch.

As the recession drags on and the College’s budget continues to tighten, we, the students of St. Mary’s, must continue to stand behind our academic departments. We may not have seen the worst yet.

Academic Budgets Cut

Students, faculty and staff gather to consider different budget options at the budget forum. (Rowan Copley)
Students, faculty and staff gather to consider different budget options at the budget forum. (Rowan Copley)

The College’s academic departments saw 15 percent of their yearly discretionary budget slashed earlier this spring, according to Provost Larry Vote and numerous department chairs.

Maryland Higher Education Student Advisory Council Representative Lauren Payne said the budget cuts were “unfortunate given that we are an Honors College and academics should be our first priority.” But, she added, “I know that St. Mary’s is not the only institution of higher education that is feeling the impact of these economic times”

Vice President for Business and Finance Tom Botzman said the cuts were necessitated by a budget shortfall of approximately 2.3 million dollars. Shrinking interest earnings and endowment funds, coupled with growing energy, food, travel, benefits and minimum wage costs caused the deficit. Also, the State of Maryland rescinded 125,000 dollars of funds from St. Mary’s, with an additional 232,000 dollars of cuts pending approval by the Board of Public Works.

The 2.3 million dollar discrepancy was partially offset by leaving vacant staff positions open and filling the College to capacity, but Botzman said, “We still needed about 750,000 dollars to close this fiscal year’s budget.” This burden was proportionally spread between each Vice President’s office and the Dean of Students, according to Botzman.

The Office of the Provost, Vote said, “had a target number to meet and 15 percent of each unit’s operating budget potentially allowed us to meet the target with the least amount of impact and most equity across the campus.”

Many academic departments were able to absorb the budget cuts without suffering extensive obstruction to their day-to-day operations.

“I don’t think it really affected us that much. My big concern is really on the teaching side. Since that budget was already allotted, it only had a small effect on us,” Michael Cain, the Political Science Department Chair, said.

Charles Adler, Chair of the Physics Department, added, “We were able to give the requested amount back without too much change in the department’s operation.”

English Department Chair Ruth Feingold said that the cuts would have “little to no” impact on English students. But, she added that, “Morale might be lower across the board.”

Still, the Biology Department – whose budget hovers above 100,000 dollars – “didn’t have as much money left in the kitty as we needed to pay back,” according to Department Chair Rachel Myerowitz.
“I was really scared, I thought I might jump out of a window because I didn’t know how we could give the money back,” she added.

Myerowitz credited Vote for being “flexible.” The department eventually was able to return 5,000 dollars after being asked for 16,000.

Biology students will see the department ordering fewer supplies, sharing reagents and traveling less this spring. “We won’t replace broken glassware. There’s a piece of equipment that is down, so we’ll try to catch the moment where it’s functional instead of replacing the software,” Myerowitz said.

Other departments are responding similarly; many are delaying new technology purchases, prioritizing the travel plans of professors and inviting fewer speakers to campus. Dave Kung, Chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Departments, said he had to “postpone plans to build a network for Computer Science students.”

Overall, Vote said, “We have tried to minimize the effect on students. People will be asked to be more observant of waste and use of equipment. Some replacement purchases will be postponed, some materials may be in shorter supply, social events will be less expensive.”

While the College has attempted to shield students from feeling the effects of the budget rescission by cutting from various pools of funds, there are consequences, according to History Department Chair Tom Barrett. He noted the benefits of on-campus speakers. Also, Barrett said, “It would have been nice to be able to use some of that money to hire students to help us with research. That’s a direct value for students, in many different ways.”

The Chairs of both Mathematics and Political Science also anticipated possible consequences for their student-workers. Kung asked his department’s teaching assistants if they would be willing to work for credit instead of an hourly wage. Additionally, Cain said that Political Science students might not be able to conduct paid research as late into the semester as in previous years.

Many Department Chairs noted their relative unease over fiscal year 2010, which begins on July 1, 2009. “We’re very concerned about FY2010. We don’t know what’s going to happen there,” Barrett said.
While no academic budget cuts have been planned for the next fiscal year, Vote said, “The [economic] environment is unstable.  We will need to be ready for further action should it be called for.”

To address the College’s budget issues, Kung hosted an all-campus forum that was attended by about 50 students, faculty members and staff last Friday.

“I think there is a real benefit in getting the people on the ground – the students, the staff, the housekeepers – involved in finding solutions to budget cuts. They’re the people who see how the money is spent and might generate great ideas. Having this sort of forum generates a shared sense of sacrifice,” he said.

Senior Stephanie Hartwick attended the forum. She said, “Everyone needs to realize that every light they leave on, every load of clothes they dry, every paper towel they use drains money away from the livelihoods of the teachers and the staff we depend on.”

From the Chief’s Desk: Vote…and Vote Yes

While conducting interviews for “Academic Budgets Cut,” I was frequently stunned by the amount of discretionary funds that each academic department receives every fiscal year. The amounts, which often hovered around 35,000 dollars, were absolutely dwarfed by the Student Government Association’s budget of about 350,000 dollars per year. Even The Point News’ yearly allocation of 24,375 dollars comes close to the operating budgets of some disciplines.

Now, this is not to say that the SGA and TPN are not worthwhile investments. I believe that just the opposite is true. But, hopefully, these numbers illustrate that, after enduring a 15 percent cut, some of the academic departments’ budgets are less than healthy; different disciplines have seen their travel plans scaled down, their new purchases delayed and they will invite fewer speakers to visit campus this semester.

Thankfully, though, we as students have an SGA that recognizes their relative wealth. And, further, we are fortunate that our SGA is committed to helping the academic departments – and their fellow students. They have pledged to cut their own budget by 15,000 dollars this year to aid the departments. Also, 20,00 dollars from the SGA’s Special Carryover Fund will be donated to the Emergency Assistance Fund, which provides scholarships to at-need students.

Though the SGA has taken the steps to prepare for these donations, they cannot act until the student body passes a referendum. On this referendum, which will be available on Blackboard until Wednesday, I strongly the College’s students to vote. And, moreover, I urge you to vote in favor of it.

I cannot give enough credit to President Sunny Schnitzer, Treasurer Jesse Lee, the rest of the SGA’s Executive Board and the Senators for not only writing and voting in favor of this bill, but also for allowing the students to ultimately decide.

The SGA has proven its commitment to the College’s academic program, now it is up to the students. We must vote in favor of this bill; the funds will not only greatly aid the academic departments and students, but by passing this referendum we can show our solidarity with them. The results of this vote will prove where we stand as a college. If our priorities lie in upholding our tradition of a superior liberal arts education, this referendum will pass.

Maggie Prepares to Step Down

President Jane Margaret O’Brien, shown here speaking at the St. John’s Site Museum opening, recently announced her intention to resign her presidency at the College. (Stock Photo by Rowan Copley)
President Jane Margaret O’Brien, shown here speaking at the St. John’s Site Museum opening, recently announced her intention to resign her presidency at the College. (Stock Photo by Rowan Copley)

On January 7, during winter break, St. Mary’s students learned of President Jane Margaret O’Brien’s intention to resign her post as president of the College through an email message composed by James P. Muldoon, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The all-student email explained that, after she officially steps down, O’Brien will take a job with the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford, England. This past Saturday, January 24, The Point News was fortunate enough to sit down with O’Brien and talk about her past, present and future at the College just as the search for her successor was beginning.

The Point News: What will you miss most about St. Mary’s?

President Jane Margaret O’Brien: Because I will continue to live in this area I will not miss the landscape and, it’s strange to say, but the smell of estuarine areas is very important to me. I like the water; I like the edge of the water. I like the seasonal trees; I like the season of winter. I like the way winter is in Maryland. This area is so much my home.

I will miss mornings at the College. I will miss very much the student events. There is rarely an event that I go to where I don’t learn something that I’m surprised with.

I will miss the regular lectures and the regular programs that reveal themselves of personalities.

TPN: Can you speak a little bit about the transformation St. Mary’s has undergone in your 13 years as president?

JMO: We only had 1,046 beds on campus when I came here. One thing that I noticed was the lack of a critical mass, particularly on weekends. Our events have energy, intellectual energy, particularly for a community that is outside an urban area. That’s, to me, one of the most important parts of the campus now.

The goal was never to create prestige. It was to improve, as best we could, the learning environment. Our goal was to respond to the state of Maryland’s request to grow a place where 18-year-old students could come to college.

TPN: What were some of the hardest issues you’ve had to deal with during your tenure?

JMO: Eric Kafka, who was our Director of Counseling, and I once took a tally – this was perhaps five or six years ago – and found that every semester had started with a crisis. These were very sad personal events, accidents that had cost the lives of students. I would say that the personal loss in a community, when individuals have their freedom compromised, when lives are lost, those are the hardest things.

TPN: Why decide to leave the College now?

JMO: It takes a good year for a search process to be developed because there is the Board’s notification; there is the faculty’s notification, the students’ notification, alumni, etcetera. There is the process by which a search firm is hired for a national search like this, a search of this prestige. Then, the collection of candidates, the call to apply and nominate, the vetting and then there is a funnel, basically. 300 applicants, down to 30 airport interviews, down to about four who will come on campus to be interviewed. And, like all colleges, this is such a large family. You have seven constituencies – students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, parents and friends – who are going to want to know something about this person. It takes a long time. I wanted to be able to assure that the College had enough time to develop this search.

I have been, for the last ten years, working through a very important relationship for the College with the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Their timing, as much as anything, has prompted my timing. We love to ask young people, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But some people, even into their fifties still haven’t decided where they want to be when they grow up. I think that’s a wonderful aspect of contemporary life, still being able to dream what our next steps might be. Nobody has to be caught or locked.

At CMRS, I can apply a lot of the fundraising skills that I’ve learned in a place that I’ve become very fond of.

TPN: With the College’s relationship with CMRS, will you still be very involved with St. Mary’s?

JMO: Not the day to day. This question is a very prescient one. What will I miss? I’ll miss the day to day.

TPN: Can you describe the search process for our next president?

JMO: The Board is meeting [on] Thursday. Torre Meringolo will always be meeting with the Board, I will not. The sitting president, in my opinion, should have very little engagement with the selection, except counsel if anybody wishes it. The Board of Trustees has the authority and the privilege, primarily, in the choice of a president. They will be working with the faculty. After their next meeting, the Board will be in the stages of selecting a search consultant. That will probably be done in two months. There will be advertising, a call for nominations and applications.

Maggie cracks a joke as she speaks at the James P. Muldoon River Center dedication ceremony. (Stock Photo by Brendan Larrabee)
Maggie cracks a joke as she speaks at the James P. Muldoon River Center dedication ceremony. (Stock Photo by Brendan Larrabee)

Our hope is to make this as smooth as possible. The Board asked me to stay on through the selection of the next president and I agreed. They will, during the summer, start to develop the shortlist of candidates. So perhaps 300 or 400 applicants, by August or September they should have that down to a small pool. Typically there is an off campus interview. There will be students actually, I didn’t mention this, but there will be students involved. I suspect that [Student Trustee] Jeremy Pevner and [Student Trustee-in-Training] Debbie Travers will be involved in the discussions with the student body, probably [Student Government Association President] Sunny Schnitzer as well. When I was in the search process myself, there were two students on the search committee. That’s very important for communication to and from the student body.

TPN: You mentioned hiring a firm for a national search, but how many familiar faces do think we’ll see in the pool of candidates?

JMO: I think we are a very, very attractive school for a presidential candidate. The term that is often used, if someone is familiar with the institution, is an internal applicant. They come from the internal faculty, which would probably be most likely, or they come from a slightly extended network of the College. I’m sure there will be those individuals.

TPN: Some recognizable names are being passed around campus.

JMO: You’ll often find in the early part of a search where people will advance candidates and names. But really, until the on-campus interviews it’s a pretty wide-open field. And, as I said, there will probably be 300 candidates.

TPN: Just to pin this down, what are the odds of hiring a candidate who is already employed at St. Mary’s?

JMO: You can only look at the broader national patterns and the pattern is typically for schools to hire from the outside and from similar schools. Probably the most common appointment is a provost from a comparable institution. This will look again, just as it did in 1995 when I was hired, like a very attractive position for candidates.

TPN: You said you won’t be very involved in the search, but what do you think the College should be looking for in its next president?

JMO: Knowing college presidents, the most successful college presidents are academics. They are also almost long in the tooth, old, in management. Having an individual who has experience already in the core operating issues of a college or core operating issues of larger entities would, to me, be an absolute requisite. It’s as important to me as the academic leadership. The absence of either of those could create an imbalance in a person’s performance on behalf of the institution.

These days, having experience in fundraising is considered important, or having experience in legislatures. But I find those definitely secondary to strong management and financial understanding of institutions and academics. Beyond that, the president sets the tone for an institution. There are way too many books and movies that describe the dysfunction that occurs when heads of schools are troubled or distracted or in other ways not functioning. All members of the community have to be very involved. You really want consensus and excitement about one candidate in the end.

St. Mary’s Tuition to Climb By Five Percent

Tashia Graham, Mary Donahue, Tess Wier and Rhett Greenfield prepare to protest an increase in tuition. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)
Tashia Graham, Mary Donahue, Tess Wier and Rhett Greenfield prepare to protest an increase in tuition. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)

The Board of Trustees chose not to break from over a decade of precedent and voted last Saturday to once again raise the cost of obtaining a St. Mary’s education.

Tuition, fees and room prices will increase five percent for the 2009-2010 academic year, while meal plans will spike about 11 percent. The Board voted nearly unanimously in favor of the rate upturn, with Student Trustee Jeremy Pevner casting the sole dissenting vote.

After hearing the opinions of over 100 students, Pevner chose to vote as a representative of the student body. “Students were looking for some way to feel that they had a voice, to feel that they had some sense of efficacy on the Board,” he said.

Still, he acknowledged that increases are needed to maintain “the premier liberal arts education that the Board expects, that the administration provides and that the students demand.”

The Trustees discussed the proposed cost changes for over a half-hour, making them the centerpiece issue of the hour-and-a-half general session. Most debate focused on preserving the accessibility and quality of Maryland’s designated Public Honors College in the face of rapidly escalating operational costs.

Secretary of the Board Molly Mahoney said, “I think I speak on behalf of the Board in saying that this is not something we do easily.” She stressed that the Board’s aim was to support the students of the College.

The Board and the high-level administrators of St. Mary’s ultimately concluded that maintaining the College’s academic program and student services has sufficient utility to approve a rate increase.

Trustee Gary Jobson said, “No one around this table wants to compromise the quality of education in any way.”

“The one thing that is inviolable is our superior academic program,” added President Jane Margaret O’Brien.

Both O’Brien and Vice President for Business and Finance Tom Botzman were frank about the need for raising tuition, fees, and room and board.

One factor is rapidly growing operational costs. The College’s medical insurance premiums are skyrocketing by approximately 1.2 million dollars and energy costs are increasing by about 1 million dollars.

Student initiatives have aided the College in conserving money, but the savings are not enough to offset escalating costs. The Great Room’s trayless program reduces food waste by 23 percent and sustainability efforts have saved over 20 percent on heating oil and electric bills, according to Botzman.

“We are absolutely thrilled that the students are helping us,” he said.

Cuts were also made by the administration. After hiring 16 new faculty members, plans to employ three more have been delayed. Also, some vacant staff positions, including posts in institutional research and athletics, have not been filled and their duties have been reassigned when possible. Salary increases have been delayed as well.

St. Mary’s is also anticipating a cut in Maryland state funding. The College’s block grant is currently around 17 million dollars. “We will find out, we believe in the next month, that the state has rescinded funding [to the College] in the amount of about a million dollars,” said O’Brien.

The St. Mary’s College of Maryland Foundation – the College’s endowment – has suffered during the country’s recession and has seen its returns shrink.

Botzman said, “The endowment has not been strong. In fact, the College will supplement endowment funds for next year. Any scholarships typically come from the Foundation, what the Foundation can’t support, the College will.”

In addition to scholarships, St. Mary’s will add to its financial aid pool in proportion to rate increases so that sufficient need-based aid can still be designated to students.

Botzman noted that each percentage point raise in tuition, fees, and room and board brings St. Mary’s about 200,000 dollars in revenue. The College would face around a 1 million dollar deficit if rates were frozen for the 2009-2010 academic year and a 3.5 million dollar shortage if they were held constant for two years.

“We would have extreme difficultly closing that gap,” Botzman said.

The Trustees were also concerned about a possible rate freeze affecting future students of the College. “Five percent is a lot, but it could be a lot worse,” said Jobson. He added that if tuition, fees, and room and board were not raised this year the College could be forced to implement a 15 to 20 percent increase in the near future.

If the increases were voted down, St. Mary’s would also have to make more wide-reaching cuts to its spending. “If we do have to decide to reduce expenditures, it will affect the academic program,” said O’Brien.

Though the Trustees voted to approve the rate hike with the long-term interests of the College and its student body in mind, not all students agreed with the Board’s rationale.

After hearing of a possible protest against cost increases, James Muldoon, Chairman of the Board, invited sophomore Sarah Shipley to address the Trustees before they voted.

She said, “The student body is extremely concerned about the increase in tuition for next year” and added that most students are “confused” as to where their tuition money actually goes.

Student Government Association Vice President Matt Fafoutis agreed that there should be an increase in transparency and student participation in the budgeting process. “Usually our exposure to the budget is ‘This is how the budget is’ and we have to say ‘Oh, okay.’ The process doesn’t always directly involve the students,” he said after the meeting.

Botzman offered to review the budget with students and present it to the SGA.

In her presentation, Shipley told the Board that, “You all are charged with looking after the long-term health of this College.” She said the “health” of St. Mary’s was staked on the diversity and happiness of its students and that both factors could only decrease as tuition increased.

Shipley originally planned to protest tuition increases outside of Aldom Lounge, the site of the Trustee’s meeting. Senior Tashia Graham, who is also one of the SGA’s Commuter Senators, organized the demonstration on Facebook. 24 students confirmed their participation online, but only around five attended. Protesters cited the cold weather and the relatively early starting time of the meeting – 11:00 a.m. on a Saturday – as the chief factors that thinned the crowd.

The protesters largely focused on the burden of higher tuition prices and the possible loss of socioeconomic diversity at St. Mary’s. Graham said, “I just see the economic diversity that was at St. Mary’s my freshman year dwindling.”

“Economic diversity provides different perspectives. People who come from more economically diverse backgrounds bring different ideas and different experiences,” she added.

Fafoutis did not protest, but was one of about seven students who attended the Board’s open meeting. He said, “I think we’ve reached a tipping point with socioeconomic diversity. I feel like we’re not nearly as diverse as even during my freshman year.”

Sophomore Mary Donahue, another protester, was concerned with her burgeoning debt load and the prohibitive cost of higher education across the country. “I need to pay for my own college education. My interest rates aren’t looking very good. To have to take more loans is so daunting of an idea,” she said.

Pevner also shared the stories he heard from students struggling to pay for college. One student he quoted said, “If you’re going to tell the Board anything, tell them not to forget the working-class students.”

Though attendance at the protest and the Board’s meeting was low, Trustees still took notice of student dissent. “I think it’s important that the students’ voices were heard about this issue and I believe they were,” Fafoutis said.

House Majority Leader and Trustee Steny Hoyer praised Shipley’s presentation and agreed that St. Mary’s should closely look at its expenditures. He also acknowledged a protester with a sign that read “$67,000 in Student Loan Debt” and said, “debt is a tremendous challenge for our country.”

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Business and Finance plan to aid both current and incoming students. “Access is part of our mission,” Botzman said.

The College has budgeted for sufficient need-based financial aid and will support scholarships that the Foundation cannot. Admission is need-blind, unlike many private institutions, and does not consider the financial situation of students before offering them acceptance, according to Rich Edgar, the Director of Admissions.

The Office of Admissions will continue to recruit a diverse student body. “The students have my word. We’re working hard to preserve the socioeconomic diversity of this institution,” Edgar said.

Botzman said that the Foundation’s end of the year appeal for funds is now for a call for donors to consider a gift to the Emergency Assistance Fund, which “goes directly to students struggling in the aftermath of an unexpected financial setback,” according to the College’s website. Both Admissions and Business and Finance also work directly with students to help them secure loans when necessary.

Botzman and Edgar also stressed that rapidly growing tuition costs are a national issue and that students considering St. Mary’s will likely see an equal, if not greater, upturn in costs.

“It is not insular…it’s a broader picture, everyone is going to have increases at this time and everyone is going to have cuts,” Edgar said.

After the concrete raises to tuition, fees, and room and board were in place, Pevner said he was “pleased with the amount of discussion that the Board had” and that he believes the Trustees will scrutinize the budget even further at future meetings. He added that he voted against the increases to give a “voice” to the students.

“It is important that the students feel that their voice was heard. Because, if not, then we stop caring and we can’t stop caring about this campus. As soon as we start doing that, then that makes us the same as everyone else,” Pevner said. “From here we move forward as a community,” he added.