Last VOICES Reading Features Poems On Scientific Phenomena ,“Orphaned Images”

On Thursday, April 21, this year’s VOICES Reading Series ended with a poetry reading from Linda Bierds, professor of English at University of Washington and author of First Hand. Bierds read poems from several of her collections and ended with more recent work, sequencing her reading in order to convey “the arc of [her] career.”

With poems that often stem from “moments on PBS or from reading a newspaper clipping,” as Bierds explained, her poetry frequently deals with scientific phenomena and “orphaned images” that she said she morphs together in order to reveal the similarities she sees. In “Memento of the Hours,” Bierds morphed together the image of a late 18th century refrigeration room with the image of bluebell syrup used to stop choir boys’ voices from cracking. Bierds described a refrigeration room chilled by a brook running below it, bluebells releasing their elixir, “a dram of postponement.”

The poems Bierds read from one of her most recent collections, First Hand, dealt with the potential to misuse science. Gregor Mendel, a monk and scientist, served as “a guide through science in the centuries.” In “Counting: Gregor Mendel in the Prelacy,” Bierds combined mathematics and a spiritual sense of nature with pastoral images such as “pale / symmetrical petals of snow.” It concluded with Mendel’s prayer: “Holy father, do not think that I think of you less / when I think of you mathematically.”

Bierds ended her reading with poems from her upcoming collection. Transposing a 19th century chemist to the 1940s, Bierds contemplated an article she read on mirrors and light in “On Reflection: Michael Faraday, 1940.” Since mirrors need to be half as large as the objects they reflect, a small mirror will never hold a complete image of the poem’s swans, no matter how far back the scientist moves the mirror.

Bierds’ Faraday character laments that “the mirror [is] too small for the swan,” “unlike thought, which easily triples or transforms the whole” as the “image doubles the distance before you.” Unlike Bierds’ poetry, which easily combined the inquiring images of science with the awed contemplation of the unknown, Faraday’s mirror is “the mirror that will never contain the whole of it.”

Like her concluding poem, “The Swifts,” an exploration of the wonder of thousands of birds that fly backwards into a chimney against a “sunset that stains their bellies,” Bierds’ poetry did not merely explain what surprises. In the voices of characters throughout history, Bierds’ focused images themselves caused surprise—the brittlestars in “Questions of Replication: The Brittlestar” reproduce through self-division and with their thousand eyes “look towards the self for completion.” With Bierds’ reading finishing off this year’s VOICES Reading Series, the audience instead are like Dorothy Wordsworth in “Shawl: Dorothy Wordsworth at Eighty”—“all we have passed through sustains us.”

 

St. Mary’s Men Walk a Mile In Her Shoes

The First Responders Network, Programs Board, and Walden Behavioral Health worked together to bring Walk a Mile In Her Shoes (WAM) to St. Mary’s on April 3. WAM is a walkathon where men raise money to combat sexualized violence by walking a mile in high heels. Proceeds went to Walden’s crisis program and the College’s First Responder’s Network. Above, students and Assistant Vice President for Academic Services Lenny Howard walk around the track.

 

Film Brings Local Practice Under Scrutiny

On March 9, the Facing Fences project and the Campus Community Farm held a screening of Fresh, a film on agriculture and the food system in the U.S.

Fresh explained many of the problems pointed out by Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and the recent film Food, Inc., such as the dangers of monocultures, farms that lack biological diversity. However, the film focused on the ways some farmers address these problems.

Many farmers who attempt to combat this, such as Joel Salatin, focus on organic production with a diverse crop.  Salatin runs Polyface Farm in Virginia and raises chickens and cattle.  His farm, which he inherited from his father, has not used chemical fertilizer for 50 years; instead Salatin uses waste from his cattle and chickens to fertilize his crops and pastures.

Will Allen, Director of Growing Power, an urban farm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, similarly combats the current food system. He runs workshops in the urban farm, showing local community members how they can utilize vertical space and make compost in order to grow their own food.

As many farmers from the local community attended, a subsequent discussion led by Christine Bergmark from the Southern Maryland Agricultural Commission focused on local agriculture in St. Mary’s County. Bergmark pointed out that though Southern Maryland does not have industrial farms such as those pointed out in the film, 375,000 acres of farmland have been lost to development in the past decade.

As for local food on campus, senior Tess Wier, president of the Campus Community Farm, explained that the Farm has had difficulties developing a relationship with Bon Appetit due to insurance issues. Local farmer Brett Grohsgal, co-owner of Even’Star Farm, responded, “Your local Bon Appetit leaves everything to be desired.”

Grohsgal, who used to sell produce to the College’s branch of Bon Appetit, said that changes in management in the past few years led to many local farmers being “pushed out” from a relationship with the local Bon Appetit.

Even’Star currently sells produce to the Bon Appetit branch at American University, where Grohsgal said his experience has been nothing but positive. However, he said Bon Appetit at St. Mary’s has required local farmers to “jump through too many hoops” in order to maintain their contracts.

Grohsgal said one farmer was asked to obtain humane certification in order to continue selling his eggs; such a certification would have required him to build a roof over his 18 acre pasture, Grohsgal said.

“They have more words than actions,” said Grohsgal, referencing Bon Appetit’s mission to buy most of its food from local sources. He added that there are “so many local farmers trying” to sell produce to the College.

Students interested in purchasing local food produced in Southern Maryland can go to somarylandsogood.com in order to find local farmers’ markets or farms that participate in community-supported agriculture.

 

Board Votes to Increase Tuition by Six Percent

During their General Session on Feb. 26, the Board of Trustees approved a six percent increase for tuition, room and board, and mandatory fees for the 2011-2012 academic year in a decision that Board of Trustees Chair Molly Mahoney Matthews described as following a “difficult discussion.”

As part of the Trustees’ and the administration’s dedication to accessibility, Vice President for Business and Finance Tom Botzman explained that the budget for need-based aid will increase by six percent as well.

Prior to the Board of Trustee General Session, Botzman attended the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Feb. 22 in order to explain the need for the tuition increase.

In speaking to the SGA about the six percent increase, he said, “you were certainly hoping for a lower number — I was too.”

Even so, he said with the current economic climate, “we should be happy that we’re holding our ground.”

Botzman explained that the Class of 2013 will likely be the first class to have all four years of their education overlap with a national financial crisis since the 1970s.

Such an economic climate has directly contributed to the tuition increases at St. Mary’s, according to Botzman.

Increased retiree and health benefits costs imposed by the state of Maryland, the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Foundation’s struggle to provide any sort of support, and the loss of revenue projected for next year due to a decreased proportion of out-of-state students are all directly connected to the recent recession and its fallout.

The costs due to retiree and health benefits would have necessitated a three percent increase on their own, said Botzman.

The Foundation’s inability to provide funds for approximately $800,000 in scholarships in the past three years has also contributed to rising costs as the College is providing the funds for such scholarships in its operating budget once again.

Many prospective out-of-state students have also chosen to attend schools where they can receive a state-funded education, leading to a significant loss of revenue for the College.

Botzman said that these circumstances necessitate a tuition increase, especially since the College’s block grant from the state is only receiving a 1.6 percent inflator.

The block grant covers approximately 27 percent of the College’s operating budget for the 2010-2011 academic year, according to a presentation Botzman gave during several occasions last fall.

Tuition woes have also been exacerbated by the block grant system; since St. Mary’s is not part of the University System of Maryland, state funding is not based on population.

Despite complying with a 25 percent population increase requested by the state earlier this decade, the College’s block grant has only increased by 19 percent in the past ten years, according to President Joseph Urgo.

Since administrators want to maintain the high academic standard for the College, budget cuts are difficult to execute without compromising quality.

In the end, these increasing costs must be covered by tuition increases.

“A lot of what we do is different from a business … We can’t run a deficit and then cut programs,” Botzman said to the SGA in explaining why these costs must be covered immediately by a tuition increase.

The Board of Trustees expressed a similar sentiment on Saturday morning, with one member saying there are “no alternatives but to pay our bills.”

The motions to increase tuition, room and board, and fees were approved almost unanimously, with Student Trustee Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, senior, being the only member of the Board who voted against the increase.

In his column from Feb. 15 in The Point News, Ruthenberg-Marshall explained that, despite his understanding that the additional revenue is necessary, his voting against the increase was due to his commitment to represent the opinion of the student body.

However, Ruthenberg-Marshall was not the only student representative present.

The Board of Trustees also listened to student concerns on tuition increases.

Ruthenberg-Marshall and Dean of Students Laura Bayless asked for student volunteers to speak with the Board about their experience with tuition increases and financial aid.

Much of the discussion throughout the meeting centered on the nature of the College’s financial aid system in light of the tuition increase and its impact on lower-income students, with attention being paid to the differences between non-need based financial aid and need-based aid. (Urgo refers to “merit” scholarships as “non-need based” aid, pointing out that all financial assistance offered to accepted students is intrinsically merit based.)

In his report to the Board, Urgo explained that “the tradition of non-need based merit scholarships is antiquated and counterproductive” since it was developed to encourage students to attend college instead of entering the workforce in an era when a college education was not always the best path to success.

He maintained that scholarships for “students whose families have the financial resources to pay the full amount” conflicts with the College’s mission and dedication to access.

“It does not provide access for those who lack the financial means to attend an elite, residential liberal arts college; it instead provides a bargain to those who have numerous other options,” Urgo said, asking that there be a dialogue concerning a shift from non-need based financial aid to a completely need-based system.

Such a change would have an impact on the College’s rankings. Rankings are based on an entering class’s average SAT scores and high school GPA, not on “the quality of education delivered or how much students learn in our classes,” said Urgo.

With a reduction in non-need based financial aid, wealthy students who were able to attend private or well-funded high schools may choose to attend colleges that offer them scholarships, meaning that the average SAT scores and GPA for St. Mary’s students would drop and rankings along with it.

Urgo explained that colleges around the nation are dealing with this predicament, pointing out that it begs the administration to question: “How do we balance between two goals, our ranking and our mission?”

The College has been heading in the direction that Urgo is pushing for for many years.

In an interview with The Point News after the Board of Trustees General Session, Botzman said that, though tuition has risen by 85 percent, financial aid has risen by 232 percent.

According to Botzman’s presentation to the SGA, only one-third of the financial aid budget was dedicated to need-based aid ten years ago; today, two-thirds of financial aid offered by the College is need-based.

Even so, Urgo has created a task force in academic affairs in order “to study the relationship between financial aid and student performance.”

In addition, this task force will examine how it is “possible to begin to shift funds more aggressively away from non-need based scholarships to need-based financial assistance without jeopardizing academic rigor and the standards appropriate to an honors-level program.”

“I’d like to see students despite financial status drawn to St. Mary’s College not simply because of its value, but because of our values,” said Urgo, pointing to the College’s “egalitarian ethos” and its dedication to “address[ing] the cycle of privileged education in America by making an elite education accessible to the public.”

For now, tuition increases will be negatively impacting students and their families’ ability to cover costs.

There are emergency funds that have helped over two dozen students over the past years and that are available for students who are struggling financially, though Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Wes Jordan, explained that these funds are usually reserved for students who experience catastrophic difficulties.

Fund-raising remains as the top priority to avoid such high increases in the future.

Any students who are interested in learning more about tuition, the College’s operating budget and the College’s sources of revenue are encouraged to attend the SGA meeting on Mar. 8 where Botzman will be giving a more thorough presentation on the recent tuition increase.

“You have the right to know” about such financial matters, said Botzman to the SGA in his previous discussion, “you make a huge investment in this place.”

 

Board of Trustees: New Faces, New Goals, New Discussions to have

In addition to tuition increases, there were several developments during the Board of Trustees’ third quarterly meeting on Feb. 26.

The meeting began with Board Chair Molly Mahoney Matthews acknowledging the presence of several prospective Trustees.

The Board will be experiencing a 20 percent changeover, though the new members will still need to be appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley before the next Board meeting in May.

Faculty Senate President Bob Paul, in discussing the tuition increase and the sustainability of the academic program, pointed out that St. Mary’s professors’ salaries are at the median of those of the College’s peer and aspirant peer institutions.

This lack of competitive salaries causes difficulties in attracting prospective faculty members, though he thanked the Board for increasing salaries for Assistant Professors at the last Board meeting.

Paul also addressed the recent speculation concerning online courses, letting the Board know that faculty were concerned such “quick fixes” to the increasing budget “do not reflect what is best of the St. Mary’s.”

Student Trustee Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, senior, introduced Alex Walls, sophomore, as the next academic year’s Student Trustee-in-training.

Among tuition concerns, Ruthenberg-Marshall acknowledged the worries some students have about free services gaining new charges, specifically the new fee for official transcripts.

He also conveyed the student population’s excitement towards the recent increased internet speeds and the opening of the campus pub later in the semester.

Michael P. O’Brien, ‘68, reported for the Community Relations Committee, announcing that work had been completed to ensure that the Governor’s Cup remains cost neutral.

He also discussed the concerns many have about SlackWater’s loss of funding, calling the journal “very popular” among the community members.

Enrollment and Student Affairs Committee Chair Neil Irwin, ‘00, reported that Director of the Peace Corps Aaron Williams will be unable to be the Commencement Speaker for 2011.

Williams was asked to travel abroad by President Barack Obama shortly before Commencement, meaning Deputy Director of the Peace Corps Carrie Hessler-Radelet will be speaking instead.

Cindy Broyles, ‘79, spoke for the Development Committee, announcing that there was 100 percent Board participation in donations to the College for this fiscal year, raising over $200,000.

Peg Duchesne, Co-Chair of the Inaugural Committee, announced that Governor O’Malley will be unable to attend the Maryland Day celebration and President Joseph Urgo’s inauguration.

However, she updated the Board on the several activities planned for the four-day long event.

In closing a meeting that Matthews said involved very “difficult discussions on tuition,” Executive Director of Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) Regina Fadden let the Board know that HSMC was voted as being the number one place to walk in the United States.

“We beat the Grand Canyon,” she pointed out.

The next Board of Trustees General Session will be held May 13 in Glendening Annex at 3 p.m. All General Sessions are open to the public and College community members are encouraged to attend.

 

Nest Controversy Leads To Shutdown

Though the Nest has not always been a popular late-night weekend hotspot, last semester saw extraordinarily high attendance, leading to a volatile situation that recently resulted in its temporary closing.

Rumors abound on campus about the events of Saturday, Feb. 5, but certainty has been hard to find.

Since its inception in 2007, the Nest’s function has been to provide substance-free events in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC).

However, in the past attendance at the events has been fairly low. According to Clint Neill, Coordinator of Student Activities and Judicial Affairs, “Typically in past years the Nest hasn’t been so heavily attended. Usually people come and go… to other events on the Greens, but we’ve been noticing that students are staying.”

In December, there were slightly less than 300 people who would attend throughout the night, Neill said, but even that is large for a small venue like DPC.

In anticipation of large crowds, senior Mica Artis, Programs Board Nest Chair, had asked Neill and Coordinator of Orientation and Service Sola Ogundele, ‘10, to help staff the event due to a lack of student volunteers.

Senior Jessica Harvey, Director of Campus Programming, was also on the volunteer staff.

On the night of Saturday, Feb. 5 attendance almost immediately became an issue, Artis said. In the past, students did not usually arrive until 11:00 and would come and go frequently; in this case, there was a steady stream of attendants beginning at 10:30, with few of them choosing to leave.

By 11:30, at least 400 students had arrived or were waiting to get in, many of whom were “highly intoxicated,” according to Neill.

Artis explained that the dance floor had reached capacity, with many students standing in the lobby instead.

Student volunteers, in addition to Neill and Ogundele, were frantically trying to check IDs, manage the number of allowed guests, and restrict the backpacks and purses that students were attempting to bring.

Artis explained that, due to the difficulties in attracting members for the Nest Committee, there were only nine people staffing the event, including Ogundele, Neill, Harvey, and herself.

Eventually after a consultation with Public Safety, Neill and the rest of the staff attempted to further regulate entry to DPC, since there are multiple side entrances, by creating a line at the front door.

The situation continued to escalate, with many disruptive students pushing and hassling the volunteers and staff members, and with some becoming confrontational, according to Artis; Harvey said that a student had his t-shirt sleeve ripped off in the commotion outside.

“It was out of control,” said Artis, explaining that one of the volunteers was sexually harassed and many others were verbally assaulted. “None of [the volunteers] had to be there; they were helping me out.”

“People were up in our faces screaming, ‘Let us in! Let us in!’” Harvey said.

Inside the building, students were attempting to open the side doors to allow others to enter, and some students in line outside attempted to push through the front doors.

Harvey explained that though the side doors were an issue, they are unable to block them because that would pose a fire hazard.

Neill also saw beer cans inside and witnessed students try to bring in open containers into the intentionally alcohol-free event.

Though the event was advertised as alcohol-free, as all student-run events are, Neill encountered many students who were “highly intoxicated” attempting to gain entrance.

Neill was eventually approached by the student volunteers about concerns for their comfort and safety. “I, as a staff member, could not have a safe event … When my students tell me that they do not feel safe then I take that seriously. The students came to me and said, ‘We can’t handle this.’ I said, ‘Shut it down.’”

After making the call at midnight to close the Nest down, it took thirty minutes to evacuate the more than 470 attendees from the building.

According to Neill, when Public Safety came to assist, students booed. “That really disappointed me,” Neill said.

He also said that he and the volunteers were “flipped off” by drunk, angry students, “because we were asking them to leave.”

While cleaning up after everyone had left, staff saw many empty beer cans and heard students who had brought coats, clutches, or purses searching for presumably stolen items.

“We need to reassess how we do the Nest so these kinds of things don’t happen,” Neill said, while Harvey mentioned that there’s a possibility of instituting a coat check to eliminate the risk.

Additionally, Harvey said that many of the paintings that hang in DPC were taken down. Though they weren’t damaged, “that’s a huge issue,” Harvey said. “We can’t vandalize these buildings and get away with it.”

An important component of the safety of the Nest is the staffing of the security.

The staff is comprised entirely of student volunteers, and not many students feel compelled to assist with safety.

In the past, when attendance was relatively low, security and staffing was less of an issue. However, with increased crowds, security poses more of a concern.

Artis explained that for an event of that size in the future, she would need at least 20 volunteers.

Such a number is difficult to reach considering there are only three members on the Nest Committee, including Artis.

Harvey, who was the Nest Chair last year, explained that typically there are eight or so students who volunteer to staff the events.

According to Harvey, Artis had a meeting with Safe House, and the town house RAs to devise methods for attracting more student leaders to staff the events.

Harvey also said they’re considering instituting a way to identify staff from the people attending the event.

All Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored events are staffed by students, including the coffeehouses, comedians, lectures, and films.

Only larger events, such as World Carnival (which also has the added concern of being outside), are staffed by adults.

Following the event, Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder and members of the SGA Executive Board decided to suspend all SGA-sponsored dance events for the semester, according to Artis and Neill.

This led to the cancellation of two events hosted by the St. Mary’s Triangle and Rainbow Society and the Black Student Union, arousing negative feedback, according to Artis.

“I had angry people blaming the Nest for all of this, but I did not even know about the suspension until after it had been decided,” she said.

However, she added that the decision was for the best: “The SGA didn’t want to be hosting parties without knowing how to control them and knowing how to prevent what happened at the Nest,” she said, adding that many of the rumors concerning the role the Nest had in the cancellations of other events could have been easily dispelled had anyone bothered to ask.

“All they had to do was ask, but they just got angry instead,” citing many interactions on Facebook having a role in perpetuating misinformation.

Both Neill and Artis were quick to explain that, to their knowledge, the Nest and other SGA sponsored dance events have been temporarily, not permanently, suspended.

Artis is still planning next month’s Nest with hopes that the SGA and Student Activities will have implemented a policy on dance events by that time.

Neill explained that such a policy would likely address the required staffing for having fun events while maintaining security.

On Wednesday, Neill will meet with Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder, Director of Campus Programming senior Jessica Harvey, and Director of Public Safety Christopher Santiago.

At the meeting, Neill hopes to discuss ways to improve the security at the Nest. “We’re going to look at what other schools are doing,” Neill said, “we’re going to get the feedback from SGA, and then we’re going to say ‘What is best for our students and our culture here at St. Mary’s?’” They’re also looking for student input on the situation.

While looking at other schools’ policies, Neill has noticed that though they usually address alcohol, the general security issues, including staff numbers and training, are relevant.

Extra security, in the form of Public Safety, is an option; however, Neill wants the events to remain approachable to students.

Harvey also thinks having Public Safety staff the event might be intimidating, even to students who “have nothing to hide.”

Additionally, she’s not sure that Public Safety has the officers to spare for the Nest. “They don’t have the time or ability to stay here and babysit a program for students the entire time,” she said.

Another possibility is moving the location of the Nest to a larger, more accommodating space, preferably one that is further away from North Campus.

Suggested venues include the Upper Deck and the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center.

Artis said that the Nest for next month is being planned for the Upper Deck, though she is not sure how many students that would accommodate.

Even so, “there needs to be more large venues on campus,” said Artis.

Though she did not know DPC’s standing room capacity, she said that the building was not built to be used as a venue for large student events.

She also pointed out that events being over-capacity is not uncommon, citing the popularity of I <3 Female Orgasm, hosted by Feminists United for Sexual Equality last fall.

Harvey believes that the location of the Nest will be contingent upon the motivation of the attendees. If students legitimately want to go to the Nest, she explains, than a larger venue is a feasible option.

However, if students are attending because “there’s nothing else to do and they’re already intoxicated, then we may try moving it away from the residential areas and putting it in the Upper Deck,”

Harvey said. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way of efficiently determining which is the case, and for now Harvey believes they’ll have to rely on trial and error.

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, Harvey is going to present a resolution to the SGA which will remind students of the purpose of the Nest; she hopes to be able to send out an informative all-student email reiterating the Nest’s intentions.

Ultimately, Neill said the goal is to provide an “alcohol-free, alternative venue for students who don’t want to go to the club scene.”

The Nest will continue at some point, he assured. “We just need to figure out how to have it where the true purpose can continue.”

Alums Advise Prospective Farmers

“Farmers should be respected just like doctors and lawyers,” said Meredith Epstein, ‘08, at a presentation she gave with fellow alum Guy Kilpatric, ‘09, on the successes both have found as part of a growing movement of young farmers in the United States.

As part of “Do It in the Dark” Month, the event was sponsored by the Student Environmental Action Coalition, the Campus Community Farm and EcoHouse on Feb. 3.

Though neither comes from an agricultural background, Kilpatric and Epstein became interested in farming at St. Mary’s as members of the Community Garden Club.

Since graduation, they have spent their time cultivating their careers in sustainable farming.

Most recently, they both served as apprentices at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In the apprenticeship, they learned more about a growing community of “greenhorns,” a name used to describe young adults who are getting progressively more interested in farming.

They explained that the program also gave them a more scientific background when it came to sustainable farming.

Along with the 700 hours of field work in the farm during the six-month long program, apprentices spent 300 hours in the classroom.

“The most important thing is that there are a lot of people who are willing to reach out to others new to farming,” explained Kilpatric.

Epstein and Kilpatric described other opportunities available, including programs that connect young farmers with others who have become too old to farm their land.

Instead of selling their land and risking development, older farmers can connect with younger farmers and keep the land as an agricultural zone.

“I don’t know if the Career Development Center gives advice on how to be a farmer,” said Kilpatric, but he felt it was important that students know of successful young farmers.

“I am getting a salary comparable to any recent college grad with a degree in biology, economics, political science,” he explained.

Epstein added that it is important for young people to know “it is possible to also be successful” as a farmer, no matter their academic background.

Kilpatric majored in English and writes about farming while Epstein had a student-designed major in environmental studies.

“Farming is a lot more than just digging around in the dirt,” said senior Tess Wier, President of the Campus Community Farm, “so it’s good to see how alum with a liberal arts background were able to apply their education to this very important field.”

“It’s exciting to bring home all the knowledge, the experience, exciting to bring back the excitement,” Epstein said, explaining why she and Kilpatric wanted to speak at St. Mary’s about their farming experiences.

“I just wish there had been some way for me to learn what I learned in Santa Cruz here in a liberal arts setting,” she concluded.

Love Will Conquer Everything

Imagine your favorite professor is planning on retiring and she or he has the chance to impart one last bit of wisdom.

Sybol Anderson, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, was given the opportunity to do just that (though she is not retiring—we promise).

The Last Lecture Series is organized by Nitze Scholars and gives student-selected professors the opportunity to give a lecture on the topic they are most passionate about without the hassle of retirement or death.

Anderson’s lecture on Feb. 10, entitled “Love is How We Make It” addressed the relationship between romantic love and other concepts that help shape our world.

“We don’t talk enough about love,” started Anderson, clarifying that the songs heard on the radio are not a good indication.

She explained that “love is how we make it” is meant in two ways: “You want love?” she asked, “Make love … And be a good lover in and out of the bedroom.”

The second meaning that was more central to her discussion was that “love is the way we’re going to make it out of every problem we face, individually and socially.”

Anderson sees love in the second sense taking many forms: respect, recognition, solidarity and finally intimacy and affection. All forms of love would help to heal social ailments, she said.

She proceeded to ask the room full of people to engage in an exercise with her.

She asked audience members to stare into another person’s eyes: “Just really seeing another person is a profound … form of intimacy that can be transformative,” she said.

Audience members seemed to feel the same.

“Even though I don’t know her, I began to feel like I had known her for all my life,” said one person. Another added that staring into his partner’s eyes made him feel more comfortable asking questions.

In the end, Anderson asked that all of the audience members take the forms of love experienced in their relationships and bring them out into the community.

“If we … made St. Mary’s a community in which intimacy, solidarity, recognition, and respect were normal practices,” Anderson said, “we [would] go into the great wide world, generating solidarity, recognition, and respect.”

Anderson’s last lecture concluded with a video she composed with the help of several students, faculty, and staff members.

Entitled “Real Love,” the video showed clips of people smiling into the camera, friends hugging and others enjoying each other’s company throughout campus.

Anderson concluded the lecture with a playful demand, “So go! Make love!”

Ice Rink Reaction Lukewarm

Students returning to campus from winter break were welcomed back by an artificial ice rink event on Saturday, Jan. 22. Hosted by the Student Government Association (SGA) and Programs Board, the event was planned as a fun and unexpected way to start off the semester.

With the Hawk Radio providing music, students were able to snack on chips, drink hot coffee and watch their friends skate on the artificial ice rink.

The rink, constructed out of large puzzle-piece shaped plastic, was sprayed with water to provide a more realistic skating experience. However, the day’s freezing temperatures and the rink’s small size deterred many students who had planned on attending.

“It was small and kind of disappointing,” said first-year Erica Wharry, who had intended to go ice skating with some friends. Seeing that the rink only covered at most a third of the basketball court behind the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center, she and her friends changed their minds.

“After seeing it I didn’t want to go,” Wharry explained.

Junior Marshall Betz saw it differently. “It’s not really what I expected,” he admitted, but he also added that it was a “great thing to get people to come together,” even if it was “just to complain.”

Despite the cold, senior Jes Harvey, Director of Campus Programming, said that many of the participants were having fun, with students displaying their skating talents or dancing on the rink. There was a consistent flow of skaters, with no need to impose the 30 minute limit since the rink never reached full capacity (35 skaters).

Harvey explained that the men’s basketball game against Stevenson University made many students opt out of the cold and into the heated arena making the rink close early at around 4:30 p.m. By that time, 213 students had skated.

As for whether this will become a new St. Mary’s tradition, nothing has been decided. Harvey suggested that next year’s Programs Board spend the extra money for a bigger rink if they decide to bring it back.

With some funding provided by the SGA, Programs Board paid $5,800 for the rink, including skate rentals. However, Harvey was unsure how much a larger rink would cost, pointing out that in the end, it would depend on “what the students want.”

Wharry said she would “definitely consider” attending an ice skating event if the rink were bigger. Betz said, “I would come back next year, even if I didn’t skate.” However, he added that it “depends on how much” a larger rink would cost. “It might be too much to spend right now,” he concluded.

Trustees Discuss Finances, Future

Concerns over a tuition increase, budgeting, and the availability of scholarships dominated the conversation at the Board of Trustees’ second quarterly meeting of the academic year.

Held on Dec. 4 in the Glendening Annex, the meeting’s planned location in Washington DC was changed in an effort to save money, said senior Student Trustee Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall.

Molly Mahoney Matthews, Board Chair, opened the meeting by emphasizing the Board’s responsibility to maintain the “quality liberal arts education” provided by St. Mary’s, despite this being a “time of financial challenges” for the school, the state, and the nation.

President Joseph Urgo’s report similarly expressed concerns over the rising prices for education, both at St. Mary’s and around the country. He pointed out that “St. Mary’s is situated better than many” with its ability to control its own budget while receiving state support, and the effect this has is on keeping “our price lower than our peers without sacrificing the quality of the educational program.”

He added that there are ways the College is attempting to maintain this quality more sustainably, including an increased effort to raise funds from the private sector and, more specifically, alumni.
“We require investment by those…who find in our mission and accomplishments an endeavor worthy of their intellectual and financial support,” he said, adding that this support is merited through “the strength of our [educational, administrative, and fiscally responsible] operations.”

Maureen Silva, Vice President for Development, has been working to cultivate alumni and other donor relations “so that [in the future] private funds can be relied upon for College operations” in addition to state support, said Urgo.

“If those whom we’ve educated do not conclude that we merit their support, the argument cannot in good conscience be made to the state or to anyone else,” he added.
Ruthenberg-Marshall’s report as the Student Trustee echoed such financial concerns.

Despite knowing “the financial realities of [running] the College,” Ruthenberg-Marshall asked that the Board take student concerns into account when determining the tuition increase. He reported that students frequently approach him worried about how tuition increases might affect their ability to attend St. Mary’s.

“Traditionally, the second quarterly meeting would be when we vote on tuition changes,” he explained, but the vote was postponed until the next meeting. This was done to avoid raising tuition more than is necessary, since more must be learned about the College’s finances and its block grant from the state.

However, Ruthenberg-Marshall pointed out that some sort of tuition increase is inevitable.

Neil Irwin, ’00, Chair of the Committee for Enrollment and Student Affairs, discussed that the students who struggle the most when paying for college tend to be middle-income students who are ineligible for government grants, despite not coming from affluent families.

He also pointed out that rising costs could lead to losing top-tier students to institutions that are more expensive on paper but cost less due to larger financial aid packages.

Irwin referenced a presentation Wes Jordan, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, gave to the Enrollment and Student Affairs Committee previously on the rising costs of tuition.

Jordan pointed out that since the 2001-2002 academic year, tuition increased 85 percent for in-state students and 105 percent for out-of-state students.

The financial aid budget also increased in that time (from $1.8 million to $5.4 million), but the student population grew by 23 percent Cindy Broyles, ’79, Chair of the Development Committee, asked the trustees to consider a philanthropic commitment to St. Mary’s in order to “support retention of top students.”

She brought up the importance of giving regular contributions rather than occasional large gifts. Many grants that the College could apply take into account the percentage of Trustees who have made monetary contributions.

Last year, 83 percent of Trustees donated money, though Broyles set a challenge to meet 100 percent participation this year. At this point in the academic year, 43 percent of Trustees have made some sort of monetary contribution to the College.

Broyles also reported that an alumni phone-a-thon led to 54 percent of alumni contacted making commitments to the College, though more information was needed to see how alumni were selected to be contacted.

Alumni contributions during the phone-a-thon rose by 18% from last year, a good increase, said Broyles, since alumni contributions are also measured when the College applies for grants.

Despite the focus on tightened finances and fundraising, Matthews reported that the Board of Trustees approved a salary increase for tenure track assistant professors during their Executive Session earlier in the day.

The increase was necessary for faculty retention, said Matthews, considering that these professors’ salaries fell below the average salary of tenure-track professors at the College’s peer institutions. On the other hand, salaries for tenured professors at St. Mary’s are above the average of tenured faculty salaries at peer institutions.

According to Ruthenberg-Marshall, the raises will only add an additional $100,000 to the College’s budget.

At the meeting, the Board also approved to have Aaron Williams, Director of the Peace Corps, come to St. Mary’s as the Commencement Speaker for 2011. Robert Paul, Faculty Senate President, also reported that the faculty approved to recommend to Larry Vote, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, that St. Mary’s join the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CMRS) Consortium.

The continued relationship would ensure that St. Mary’s has five to ten slots available at CMRS, the College’s only Signature study abroad program in the United Kingdom.
The next General Session for the Board of Trustees will be held Feb. 26, 2011 at 10 a.m. in the Glendening Annex; it will be open to the public.