Details on Upcoming Sexual Assault Forum

By Emma Kaufman, Contributing Writer

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual assault, trauma, violence

In many ways, St. Mary’s College of Maryland is a paradise for students. The campus is small, but comforting. Many class discussions are intimate and enlightening. The student body is so familiar with each other that it’s nearly impossible to walk down the path without saying “hello” to at least one person you know well. But our school, like many colleges, has a problem with sexual assault. The administration is aware of this and has implemented a new sexual misconduct policy this past semester. They have sought student opinion through campus-wide surveys to gauge the sentiments regarding how sexual assault is handled on campus. They have also hired a Title IX coordinator to oversee all issues pertaining to sexual assault of students at St. Mary’s.

But this process by which these changes were made lacks transparency in many ways. There are many questions that remain to be answered. Some of these include: How should we raise awareness to combat sexual assault on campus? Are there better approaches than The Clothesline Project? Who is the new Title IX coordinator? What is the new sexual misconduct policy? Why is the First Responder Caller Hotline no longer permitted to maintain caller anonymity? How are we training students, faculty, staff and administration to prevent sexual assault on campus? Is it effective? How might previous mistakes made in handling issues of sexual assault on campus inform our action for the future?

There are some methods by which people on campus have attempted to raise awareness about this issue, such as the Take Back the Night event that allows survivors to speak about their experiences. Another way to empower survivors is the Clothesline Project, which is a series of t-shirts depicting the stories of those who have experienced sexual assault. These t-shirts are hung in stairwell to the Great Room the Campus Center each year, with the trigger warnings at each entrance to the stairwell, warning of the contents of the Project. The display of shirts provoked a lot of controversy this year, but most of the critics of the Project were anonymous. It’s time for people on the SMCM to speak out about sexual assault, and there needs to be a place for them to do so.

On April 30th, 2014, there will be a forum on campus sexual assault held for students, faculty, staff, and the administration. This event will feature a panel comprising of Interim President Ian Newbould, Dean of Students Roberto Ifill, Title IX Coordinator Kristin McGeeney, Professor of Religious Studies Katharina von Kellenbach and Peer Health Educator/First Responder Helena Klassen. The panel will answer questions concerning recent changes to the sexual misconduct policy, improving ways of raising awareness about sexual violence (such as the Clothesline Project) and discussing methods of preventing sexual violence on campus. Meghan Root, the SMCM wellness/sexual assault advocate, will moderate the forum. The forum will be held in Cole Cinema at 8pm. All students, faculty, staff and administrators who believe that sexual assault is an issue that most be confronted and prevented on the SMCM campus are encouraged to attend.

 

Please email all questions or comments regarding the forum to Emma Kaufman at ekaufman@smcm.edu.

 

Changes Coming to Route 5 Next Year

The half mile section of Route 5 that separates the Historic Campus from the Main Campus is set to undergo several changes over the next year or two. Phase one of these changes are set to begin this summer. The deep concrete swale that has been responsible for draining storm water from the roadway for the past several decades is to be replaced with a shallower and more environmentally sensitive grass swale. The shoulder is going to be trimmed back on both sides of the road in order to make room for eight ft. wide pedestrian sidewalks. In addition, a crosswalk is to be added between the edge of the wooden pedestrian bridge across St. John’s Pond and the boathouse parking lot. The college is also looking to install over a dozen new lamp posts to light the pedestrian sidewalk.

Perhaps the most drastic changes slated to occur this summer is to the intersection between Route 5 and Trinity Church Road. The turn is going to be shifted so that it is more of a T-Intersection. This will allow cars turning right off Trinity Road to make a shallower turn without peeling into the lane of oncoming traffic. Another benefit is that the sharper angle should prevent cars from rocketing off Route 5 as though Trinity Church Road is an off ramp. In the words of Director of Design and Construction, Daniel Branigan “cars roar down that road at ludicrous speeds; honestly, it’s a miracle no one has been killed.”

Looking farther into the future, phase two of the changes to Route 5 involves improvements to the road and bridge in front of college drive. The college hopes to build a new foot path along the college property that borders Route 5 and a 700 ft wooden foot bridge across the swamp that separates the rugby fields from the rest of the college. At present, the shoulder of the road is dangerous and not conducive to pedestrian traffic. The situation on the bridge is even worse; where pedestrians have barely ten inches of shoulder to walk on.

The college received five bids for the construction contract. W.M. Davis, a general contracting company based in Southern Maryland,  offered the lowest bid, winning them the contract. At the time of writing, the college is waiting for permission from the State Highway Administration to formally award the contract to W.M Davis.  The total contract award is for $996,000, of which the college is contributing $150,000 to make up the difference between the federal funding available for the project and the actual cost of the construction. Approval to award the bid is expected any day. Phase one is scheduled for completion by Jul 1, 2014 and phase two is anticipated to begin sometime in 2015.

Tennis Season Update

Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams have been beset by hard matches and bad weather this season. At the time of writing, the women’s team is sporting five wins to seven losses while the men have four wins and six losses. By the time this article has gone to print, both the men and women will have, weather permitting, played against Salisbury and Frostburg. The men also have a match against Mary Washington before the finals.  Within their conference, the men are 1:2 while the women are 2:2. This means that the each of these remaining matches, all of which are conference matches, will have considerable impact on the outcome of each team’s season.

In identifying this season’s challenges, all three captains and head coach Greg Shedd agreed that the weather has been hugely problematic. Indeed, several matches have been cancelled or rescheduled this season and other matches have been played in near-raining weather. None the less, Shedd looked to the silver lining, saying: “It has been very frustrating and challenging to play in the sub-par conditions; however, as a result it has made us mentally tougher.” Rough weather caused trouble for practices as well as matches. Team captain, senior Andrew Gear, described “practicing in sub 30 degree temperatures” as “never fun.”

Both teams have gained several promising members this season. Team captain, Junior Shannon Ramsey pointed to three young women, Firstyears Lisa Moore, Madeline Darbie, and Mollie Johnson; who she described as “natural athletes [with] a ton of potential.” Johnson has been playing doubles with the other team captain, Junior Lauren Rost. According to Gear, the men have two particularly promising new players. Sophomore Nick Ersoy joined the team and seems o have potential as a developing player. Gear also pointed to Arvind Srinivasan, the only firstyear on the men’s team, as a promising doubles player. Gear said that the efforts of these two players “will greatly help out our young team next year.”

Looking to the rest of the season, the men’s and women’s teams are hoping to get through to, at least, the conference semifinals. Gear expects that the men, if they secure a spot in the semi-finals, will likely face off against York College; the Seahawks greatest rival, by his account. The Seahawks beat York when they met in their conference match, but Gear expects that “ it would be a close match if we see each other again.” With her team 2-2, Rost is focused on the matches leading up to the playoffs; especially the one against Salisbury. Even so, she took the time to say: “I love being part of such a positive atmosphere and am excited to see what the future holds for St. Mary’s tennis.” In addition to continuing to win and succeed on the court, Shedd stated that his “goal, as always, is to be competitive with the elite teams without sacrificing our high standard of academic achievement.”

Music Department's Vocal Concert Features Women’s Ensemble, PING, and Chamber Singers

The Women’s Ensemble is an all-female vocal group that was founded in the fall of 2013. PING is a selective a capella  group, limited to ten members, that is run by Choral Director Larry Vote. PING was founded just over two years ago and is, according to junior member Rachel Buxton, defined by the dictionary definition of it’s name: “a sharp resonate sound meant to draw attention.” The Chamber Singers make up the largest vocal group on campus, with over 30 members, and consists of music majors and non-majors.

Dozens of people turned out on Wednesday, April 9, for a vocal music concert hosted by the Music Department. The Women’s Ensemble opened the event with a series of songs by R. Vaughn Williams entitled “Folk Songs of the Four Seasons.” They performed ten songs, eleven including the prologue; each attributed to either spring, summer, or winter.

The songs themselves had to distinguish from one another as the ensemble never really stopped singing. The end of each song flowed into the beginning of the next, the only indication of each shift was a brief lull as the singers changed melodies. Buxton performed an impressive solo during the first song of the summer songs. Junior Lauren Rife and sophomore Caroline Davy performed a duet in the middle of the song “The Sheep Shearing,” also in the summer songs. Erin Tennyson provided the piano accompaniment for the entire Women’s Ensemble line up.

Buxton said of the Women’s Ensemble, “It has been a fun experience singing with an entirely treble ensemble because the sound is completely different than with a SATB [soprano, alto, tenor, base] choir.”

PING, the smallest and newest group in the concert, performed four songs by a variety of artists. Rachel Buxton performed another solo during “A Jubilant Song,” which was accompanied by piano instructor and artist-in-residence Brian Ganz. The last song in the PING performance, “De Profundis,” included members of the Chamber Singers and pianist Beverly Babcock on organ.

The Chamber Singers performed the longest set of songs. A set of five Hebrew love songs were accompanied by first-year Keely Houk on violin and Beverly Babcock, this time on piano. “Serenity-O Magnum Mysterium” was accompanied by sophomore Amanda Durst on cello. Sophomore Alexandra Kennedy performed a solo during the song Loch Lomond. Rachel Buxton performed her third solo during the “The Road Home.”

The concert was an excellent showcase for St Mary’s vocal talent. All three groups select their members through competitive auditions that ensure everyone who appeared on stage was well prepared to be there.

According to first-year Daley Burns, “the performance was dominated by a paradigm which one might define as geared towards the exceptional rather than the average.”

In addition to their impressive singing, each group was supported by talented instrumentalists on piano, organ, and violin.

Delegate Heather Mizeur Visits SMCM

The Maryland Democratic Primary will be held on June 24. Whoever wins that nomination will proceed into the general election to face off against the nominees from other parties, most notably the Maryland Republicans. For the rest of the Democratic candidates, the primary will mark the end of the road for their campaigns. As a result, most candidates are throwing as much time, effort, and money as they can afford into winning the nomination. At present, the vast majority of decided, registered Democrats claim to support one of three frontrunners: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Att. Gen. Doug Gansler, and Del. Heather Mizeur.

On Friday, March. 7, Del. Mizeur spoke at an event organized by Seahawks for Mizeur and sponsored by the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in Daugherty Palmer Commons (DPC). The talk was well enough attended by students and faculty that some late comers were forced to stand as seating filled up. Dr. Michael Cain, Director of CDS and Professor of Political Science, provided his usual brief on the role of the CDS and its purpose in encouraging political events on campus. His words were followed by junior John Holtzman, the president of Seahawks for Mizeur, who introduced Mizeur to the crowd.

Of the three main Democratic candidates, Mizeur is the most radical in both politics and personality. Politically, her stances on most issues place her well to the left of her competition. For example, Gansler, who visited campus in February, took a very moderate stance on environmental issues. In the specific case of Cove Point, he stated that his perspective would be determined by the outcome of certain pending environmental studies, but that he was open to the prospect of the new gas shipping facility being built if those studies indicated that environmental disruption would be minimal. His opinion on fracking was stated as “there should be fracking in Maryland if, and only if, it is proven to be 100 percent safe.” Brown has expressed a similar sentiment.

In contrast, Mizeur placed herself squarely against fracking in Maryland and cited environmental problems in other states as proof that Marylanders made the right choice in banning hydraulic fracking. On the issue of Cove Point, she described the site as “a devastating source of CO2” and asserted that people “cannot claim to be in favor of addressing climate change and for the proposal at Cove Point, it’s just not possible.”

Mizeur talked at length about her plans to improve education in Maryland. Her plan consists of three main goals: providing comprehensive Pre-K to all four-year-olds in the state, improving after school programs, and reforming the school funding process and educational subsidies. Mizeur admitted that these proposals will cost money; her plan to pay for them is one of the most headline grabbing proposals of the primary contest. Mizeur proposes that the state legalize marijuana and use ensuing taxes to pay for her educational programs. This statement, despite being fairly common knowledge, still received quite a reaction from the crowd.

During the Q&A section, Scott Mirabile, an assistant professor of psychology at St. Mary’s College, asked Mizeur about her ideas to improve the state’s higher education opportunities and facilities. Mizeur responded by saying that she is still researching higher education and that she had yet to decide on a best policy. She did, however, list a number of policies that she had heard of other states pursuing and said that she already feels that state level student loans are becoming more important due to federal dysfunction. Mirabile told The Point News that he was “happy that she’s exploring solutions that others are looking into, but I would have liked a more refined response.”

Senior Rachel Braunstein inquired about which energy sources Mizeur felt the state should pursue, if not fossil fuels. To this, Mizeur said that she feels a diverse portfolio of renewable fuel sources would be best. She cited wind, geothermal, solar, and biomass power plants as sources of energy that she considered particularly promising. With regard to biomass, she specifically pointed out the benefits that demand for biomasses, such as switch grass, could have for state agriculture in terms of money and environmental restoration. She also took this time to address statewide composting. She feels that many composting and biomass companies are scared away from the state by overly complex regulations which are spread across too many agencies. If elected, she promised to work to streamline state regulations and policies without weakening them. To The Point News, Braunstein described herself as a “huge environmental advocate” and said that she was “excited that [Mizeur] was exploring so many renewable energy sources.”

At the time of writing, most poll numbers indicate that the Mizeur campaign is gaining in popularity but still trails Gansler and Brown. That said, a sizeable number of registered Democrats still claim to be undecided; enough that the nomination is still well within reach of any of the three frontrunners. Mizeur has considerable support from liberals who relish the idea of voting for a highly progressive candidate favoring stronger social programs and drug legalization, a candidate who would also be the first openly gay governor in the U.S. history; not including Jim McGreevey, who came out as gay and resigned his post as Governor of New Jersey in the same speech.  Despite being somewhat of a fringe candidate, a term that Mizeur claimed to take pride in, the crowd of young liberal arts students who gathered in DPC showed considerable enthusiasm for Mizeur. However, her challenge in the coming months will be achieving similar support among voters whose tastes are more moderate or even conservative.

Green Chemistry: Reducing Chemicals' Negative Impact on the Environment

By Danielle Fullerton

Environmental issues are vast and involve many disciplines from politics and journalism to biology and language. With these different disciplines, we can understand, educate, and solve the problems we have today. I have never thought of Chemistry as a discipline that can solve problems, just educate and understand them, until I heard of the term, “Green Chemistry”. I was in Dr. Eller’s class Organic Chemistry class, when I was enlightened by this term.

Dr. Eller has been a part of the movement in Organic Chemistry called “Green Chemistry”, which is to try and reduce the negative impacts to the environment that chemical processes have. It can be done in many ways, such as running experiments with sustainable mechanisms, renewable materials, and finding alternative pathways that has less waste or side product.

Dr. Eller has been applying Green Chemistry into her ongoing projects. Her first project is in the green synthesis of substituted pyrroles. Pyrroles are chemical structures that have important environmental and medical applications, but pyrroles are made from unsustainable chemicals. She wants to be able to create a molecule that mimics the pyrroles in a more cheap and sustainable way.  The second project has to do with molecular recognition and extraction of sulfates. Radioactive waste has a combination of anions and radioactive waste. In order to store the waste, it is placed in large vats under the ground, for example, Yucca Mountain. Today, scientists are finding that the radioactive waste is leaking from these vats into our ground, which can in turn lead to harmful effects. A solution for safe storage of the radioactive waste is to convert the salt-like substance into glass. However, sulfate retards the glass making process. Therefore, Dr. Eller is interested in working with molecules that could selectively bind to the sulfate, so it can be safely removed from the radioactive waste. Finally, Dr. Eller is interested in using organic photovoltaic (OPV) for solar energy. She explained that these types of molecules are common in biological systems, for example chlorophyll for photosynthesis. The efficiencies are very poor and sourced from non-sustainable toxic materials. So, Dr. Eller are looking for sustainable materials that would be useful in the corporation into solar cells, which would also be more efficient than the molecules found in biological systems.

“It is important that what you do with the organic molecule is green, but the source of the molecule is also green. That strikes me to be far less hypocritical than using a very toxic thing to make an green molecule.”

Dr. Eller has spent her education and career working towards combining her passion of chemistry and the environment. Green chemistry will open avenues to understand, educate, and solve the problems we have today.

Doug Gansler Comes to SMCM

Maryland’s gubernatorial race is rapidly picking up steam. Primary elections are less than three months away and the general election will soon follow. For most of the men and women who have declared their candidacy the primary election will mark the end of their campaign. As a result, many campaigns will begin, if they have not already, to shift their focus from fundraising to voter appeal.

The SMCM College Democrats, in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Democracy, has invited three of the most prominent Democratic Party candidates to campus to give talks and answer questions. In doing so, the club hopes to stimulate interest in the gubernatorial election while also offering these candidates an opportunity to promote their campaigns.

On Monday, Feb. 17, Attorney General Doug Gansler came to the campus to give an informal talk and meet with members of the College Democrats. The talk was held in Glendenning Annex and lasted about an hour. With the exception of his short introduction, Gansler relied on questions from his audience to direct topics and subject matter. These questions ranged from broad concerns such as taxes to specific issues regarding welfare recipient urine tests.

With regards to the Maryland economy, Gansler asserted that the state has two primary industries that it should focus on cultivating: life sciences and cyber security. He pointed out that “no other state has NIH (National Institute of Health) and the NSA (National Security Agency) like we do, which makes us very attractive to companies in those industries; it’s a big advantage for us.” Gansler indicated that Maryland should try to capitalize on advantages such as these in its attempts to attract businesses.

Despite his optimism, Gansler had big problems with a trend that he described as “tech transfer”. As he described it: “money comes in for research and development, products come out. But then, the people who invented those products tend to leave the state to start their private companies and open up production.” Gansler identified this trend as one of the most pressing issues for Maryland’s economy. As he puts it, Maryland already benefits from invention but needs to find a way to hold on to the products of invention; businesses and jobs.

Questions about Gansler’s opinion on the proposed expansion of the Dominion facility at Cove Point led into an extended talk regarding Gansler’s positions on environmental regulation. In the specific case of Cove Point, which has become something of a hot-button issue at the College as well as the surrounding county, Gansler said he would reserve his opinion but keep an open mind until more information becomes available. Specifically, he claimed to be waiting for an upcoming environmental impact report to be released.

In addition to economic and environmental issues, Gansler had much to say on social issues. In this regard, most of his criticism was leveled at prisons and minority achievement. Specifically, he felt that the state could do more to reduce incarceration and recidivism rates as well as the minority achievement gap, which he cited as being the second worst in the nation. In both cases, his proposed solutions were based on improving education. He argued for fairly conventional improvements to failing public schools; better teachers, better facilities. However, his goals for prisoners were more innovative. First, he argued for better job training and placement programs outside of prison. Second, he argued for considerable improvements to education within prisons that would, as he put it, “enable prisoners to leave prison already equipped with the tools they need to become employed.”

Generally speaking, Gansler seemed well received by his audience. Junior John Holtzman, a self-described ardent supporter of competitor Delegate Heather Mizeur, said that he was “impressed, but concerned about [Gansler’s] responses to questions about the environment.” First-year Madeline Edelstein said she “enjoyed the talk, but felt unconvinced.” Her opinion is likely shared by other undecided voters who, according to a poll by The Baltimore Sun, make up approximately 40 percent of registered Democrats. This considerable margin indicates that the primary is still hotly contested, despite Lt. Governor Anthony Brown’s considerable lead, 21 points according to the same poll by The Sun, over his competitors.

According to College Democrats President Alice Mutter, the club hopes to work with the Center for the Study of Democracy to bring all three leading Democratic candidates, Brown, Gansler, and Mizeur, to campus before the end of the semester. At the time of writing, Heather Mizeur is scheduled to be on campus for an event Friday, Mar. 7.

St. Mary’s Raises Over $4,000 Dollars for Christmas in April

by Elena Napolitano

Where in the world can you find Townhouses, private lessons from Professors, and free food? The Christmas in April Auction of course! On Friday, Feb. 21, the school held the 18th annual auction to raise money for the Christmas in April program. The program has been based in St. Mary’s County since 1991, and tours the county on the last Saturday of April fixing the homes of the less fortunate. In order for the program to continue in its success, St. Mary’s generously makes an effort each year to raise money. This year the money raised at the auction will sponsor the repair of an elderly man’s home, one of hundreds of homes the program has helped to repair.

Thanks to the generosity of students and staff alike, the school was able to offer some fabulous items to bid on. The night started off on a thrilling note with a heated competition for the ability to park anywhere on campus. Dave Sushinsky’s voice boomed and paddles jumped up and down, racing for a chance for vehicular freedom. In the end, the two highest bidders paid about 200 dollars for the privilege.   Like most years, the most popular items were priority housing for Waring Commons (WC) and the crescent Townhouses. While most items went for 50 to 100 dollars, the bid for priority housing in Waring Commons escalated quickly to thousands of dollars. Two lucky students won suites in WC for 2,400 dollars each!  Jonathan Herald, a lucky winner of a crescent Townhouse for only 250 dollars, remarked excitedly, “It was exhilarating to have won housing for next year! It’s a relief to know that I have housing for next year, and that I can choose whomever I want to live with me!”

Other items included cooking lessons with Big T, a Basket Cheer (filled with pub bucks and a nice bottle of wine), priority class registration for Fall 2014, and a personal security guard for a day with Sgt. Tony Brooks. Although the exact amount has not been calculated, it is estimated that the school raised a couple thousand dollars for the Christmas in April Program – great success for all. As sophomore Sarah Holter put it, “The auction was an exciting start to the night, and I’m glad it’s for such a great cause!”

If you wish to volunteer your time for the Christmas in April Program, call 301-884-2905 or visit them online at www.christmasinaprilsmc.org.

Jacqueline and Maia Attend a Basketball Game

By Jacqueline Gross and Maia Morgan

Wow..what a season! Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have had stellar seasons with spotlight moments, which demonstrated both teams’ unrivaled skills on the court as well as their excellent sportsmanship. Their blood, sweat, and tears all led up to the cream of the crop, the big Monty, THE FIRST ROUND OF THE CAPITAL ATHLETIC CHAMPIONSHIP (CAC)!  And what a game it was!

The women’s team fought valiantly throughout their first game of the CAC, against Salisbury. They ended the first half of the game down by only four points, and came back for the second half with great enthusiasm and determination. Salisbury, however, proved to be more of a challenge than ever before and maintained their lead through the second half. Although our women’s team won’t be going to the second round of the CAC, they went out with a bang providing for the graduating seniors a warm goodbye and a season they can all be proud of!

The men’s basketball team added yet another victory to their repertoire after the first round of the CAC against Marymount. Let us set the scene. First half: both teams were jockeying for a lead; men sweating, muscles bulging, armpit hair flying in the wind; hearts of the fans were frantically beating with anticipation of what was to come. The first half ended neck-and-neck: 40-38 Seahawks. While Marymount tried their hardest to catch up, the gap continued to grow throughout the second half. St. Mary’s five powerhouse starters made basket after basket, even adding a little flair by hanging on the basket – more than twice! Junior Nicholas LaGuerre, recently named to the 2014 Allstate NABC Good Works Team, upheld this honorable title by contributing 21 points to the team’s victory. Ablaze with talent and a great haircut, sophomore Troy Spurrier also scored 21 points. The three skillful senior starters of the team, Donn Hill, Brendan McFall, and Kyle Wise, also played a phenomenal game full of double-digit scoring, rebounds, and assists. First year Pat Ryan was also a standout player of the night, scoring 9 points over the course of the game contributing to the final score of 95-80.

As the men’s team progresses on through the course of the CAC we wish them the best of luck and want them to know that we are cheering them on and will be proud of them no matter what. The women’s team can relax and enjoy their great season.

Congratulations to both teams for a wonderful year. Peace, love, and cats.

What's New at Admissions?

Although it did not become public knowledge until the summer, the spring of 2013 was a tumultuous time for the college admissions department. Due to a number of ill conceived decisions, misunderstandings, and miscommunications, the College found itself dangerously under-enrolled for the fall of 2013. A series of emergency responses managed to heal much of the damage over the course of the summer and fall, but budgetary scars still remain. With this in mind, The Point News sat down with St. Mary’s new Dean of Admissions, Gary Sherman, to discuss this year’s college acceptance season.

Sherman’s first order of business has been analyzing the mistakes made last year. One of the biggest that he identified was a misinterpretation of applications coming through the Common Application (Common App), which St. Mary’s first began accepting for the class of 2017. Not all applications are equal. Some come from people who are very likely to enroll if accepted while others come from people who are less likely to enroll if accepted. The mathematical representation of this likelihood is what Sherman refers to as an application’s yield. Yield is affected by a great many factors such as academic history, financial status, and the type of application. According to Sherman, the common app has a far lower yield than traditional applications for the simple reason that it is easy to fill out and send to a large number of schools. Traditional applications, in contrast, are more likely to come from people who are specifically interested in attending St. Mary’s. When the common app swelled applications last year, the admissions process failed to account for the less reliable nature of these applications and so accepted too few students.

Sherman is determined to avoid any such errors this year. In addition to avoiding the mistakes of last year, he pointed out that changes to the Common App fee have likely made it slightly higher yielding; an important piece of information for someone who is committed to avoiding over-enrollment as well as under-enrollment.

In addition to the Common App, SMCM has a unique application process that is receiving renewed attention this year. As every student who applied to the College before last year remembers,the  St. Mary’s application was known for its open-endedness and eclectic focus. In keeping with this tradition and style, the unique application this year asks for an essay on “the seven wonders of your life,” a prompt that is meant to offer a wide variety of responses which will also provide uniquely interesting information about applicants to reviewers.

There have been several nuanced shifts in the policies of the Admissions Department over the past year. For one, Sherman claims that the Department is putting considerably more effort into applicant outreach. Application reviewers are now more actively providing advice and support for prospective students. One-on-one interviews are now standard for virtually all applicants, a process that used to be available to only a portion. The college currently employs six student counselors, all of which are SMCM alumni, who focus on easing the enrollment process for applicants. Five of these counselors work with potential first-years while the sixth is exclusively focused on coordinating with potential transfer students. In addition to dedicated counselors, certain prospective students have been linked up with faculty members who can provide insight and advice regarding specialized tracks of study. For example, during the interview, Sherman pointed out that St. Mary’s Artist-in-Residence Brian Ganz was on his way to meet with a promising student in Annapolis. The Department has also modified the campus tour guide program by shrinking the size of tour groups and increasing the frequency with which they run. The hope is that this will enable prospective students to get a better sense of the campus and interact with their guide more.

Looking to the future, Sherman described several long term goals for his Department and the admissions program as a whole. He sees considerable value in making sure that the College continues to attract minority and first-generation college students. On the subject of diversity, he also wants to expand the number of out-of-state students enrolled at St. Mary’s. Out-of-state students not only expand the geographical diversity of the school but also provide considerably more tuition than in-state students. He acknowledged that this goal faces an uphill battle as the overall number of out-of-state St. Mary’s students is falling.

Overall, Sherman is highly optimistic. At present, the College has received 125 deposits from accepted early decision applicants, up from 78 this time last year.

Edit: The original version of this article misidentified the organization in charge of the Common Application, it is the Common Application Inc.