Sustainability Fellow Not Sustainable

At a recent President’s Council, the decision was made to suspend the Sustainability Fellow position. Though members of the administration noted the choice was one of a reallocation of limited resources, to some the suspension is a fundamental back-tracking on the College’s mission.

The Sustainability Fellow was started in 2008 as a one-year fellowship held by a recent graduate. Its duties include researching and implementing sustainability efforts on campus. According to Student Trustee Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, “The Sustainability Fellow is the only full-time position in the sustainability office. Their job is to do anything and everything possible to make this school more sustainable.” The past and current Sustainability Fellows (Lisa Neu, ‘10) have assisted and coordinated such sustainability efforts as the drafting, editing, and submission of the College’s Climate Action Plan, the phase-out of trays in the Great Room, and the Green St. Mary’s Revolving Loan Fund (GSMRF).

According to Ruthenberg-Marshall, the Sustainability Fellow position was suspended at a meeting of the President’s Council on April 8. After finding out about the position’s suspension, a number of students including Ruthenberg-Marshall drafted an appeal letter. Ruthenberg-Marshall brought this letter to the next President’s Council on April 22. He noted that the Council was favorable in principle, but ultimately rejected the appeal.

According to Dean of Faculty Laura Bayless, the position was suspended because of strategic choices the College had to make concerning its limited resources.

Bayless also pointed out that the College decided to use these resources instead on a new position in the Office of Financial Aid, meant to deal with the added pressures of new federal financial aid regulations and direct lending, and to hire a new Coordinator of Student Activities to relieve the dual duties of current Coordinator of Student Activities and Judicial Affairs Clint Neill.

According to Vice President of Business and Finance Tom Botzman, the Council is instead looking for another model for the position.

He added, “[The Sustainability Fellow position] came about as an experiment, and we’re still trying to find the best way to do it.”

Though tentative, Botzman suggested that the Fellowship may be split between three full-time students, which he said might open up new opportunities for students to work more directly with the faculty.

“[In] sustainability, more than any other [initiative], we’ve seen what students can do, and faculty say they can do more.”

Bayless said she envisioned something similar with a potential project focus instead of overall sustainability focus, depending on how Vice President of Planning and Facilities Chip Jackson and Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray wish to split the money allocated to the new positions.

She added that she felt confident that students could juggle the position and their academics and said, “I don’t think it’s setting the institution back, and it doesn’t mean we’re not continuing to be sustainable.”

Both Botzman and Bayless noted that it was “absolutely“ likely that the position would be reinstated in the future if this new model is not successful.

Many students and faculty concerned with sustainability, however, see the status of this “experiment” far differently. For the past week, students concerned with the loss of the position have been sending emails and letters to members of the President’s Council, handing out fliers, and tabling in the campus center. According to Ruthenberg-Marshall, it is all part of a plan to “up the pressure” against administration and bring the case for a Sustainability Fellow to the Board of Trustees.

According to Ruthenberg-Marshall, the Sustainability Fellow position as it stands is advantageous specifically because it is full-time. “By the sheer fact that we are students we prioritize academics…a full-time position doesn’t have that conflict.”

Chandler echoed these sentiments, and said, “[students and faculty] can go to the Sustainability Fellow and get action. I don’t know if we can do that with a student.”

Chandler also noted that, though students often come up with sustainability ideas, the Sustainability Fellow has access to time and resources which allow them to facilitate these projects in ways students cannot.

Chandler also said that the loss of the position would especially negatively impact Mowbray. She said, “[Mowbray] is really good at his job, but…he was hired as half sustainability coordinator and half the planning office. His other responsibilities keep encroaching on his sustainability efforts, and that’s not his fault.”

Those who protest the suspension of the Sustainability Fellow, such as Ruthenberg-Marshall and Chandler, see its loss as a major blow to not only sustainability on campus but to the College’s larger mission.

Chandler said, “Sustainability is in our mission. It’s being emphasized in the new strategic plan, and my concern is that it’ll fall to the way-side…I feat that sustainability will just sort of melt away.”

Ruthenberg-Marshall said, “We’re hoping the administration sees reason, in a time where we are upping our commitment to sustainability.” He added, “While I’m still appreciate all this school has given me, I do not know if I can support a school that is back-tracking on one of the most important social issues of our time.”


Students, Faculty Work Towards Freeing Patty Prewitt

Twenty-five years ago, Patricia “Patty” Prewitt was ripped from her five children and locked away for 50 years based on bad police work and a falsified motive of “lust and greed.” This past Friday, St. Mary’s faculty and students came out to try and make sure her suffering doesn’t last another 25 more.

Prewitt was accused of the murder of her husband in 1985, and convicted after a four-day trial. Sentenced to 50 years without parole, she has since been detained at Women’s Eastern Receiving and Diagnostic Correctional Center in Vandalia, Missouri. She will be eligible for parole on April 29, 2036, when she is 86 years old.

From prison, according to Associate Professor of English Beth Charlebois, Prewitt has been “a mentor to hundreds of women” through her advocating for prisoner’s rights and her focus on educating others with job skills. Charlebois said, “She has done more good [in prison] than I will ever do out in the free world.”

Charlebois met Prewitt during her 2007 sabbatical working with Prison Performing Arts (PPA), which according to the program’s website is “a nineteen-year-old, multi-discipline, literacy and performing arts program that serves incarcerated adults and children.” According to Charlebois, Prewitt’s leadership and personality immediately showed through. “She was the unofficial leader of the acting troupe and poetry class.” She added, “[Prewitt] recruited about 90 percent of the class.”

It was also in PPA that Charlebois learned of Prewitt’s case, and was exposed to a collection of letters Prewitt had written from prison outlining her experience both leading up to and including her incarceration. Charlesbois said, “I really learned about her past through her letters, and I learned about who she was after five hours a day in class with her. I realized with increasingly horror what it meant for her to still be in prison.”

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Charlebois.
Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Charlebois.

For many, including Charlebois, Prewitt is unequivocally innocent. Charlebois said that both court documents and Prewitt’s own accounts painted the picture of a trial tainted by sloppy police work, gender bias, bad evidence, and selective attention to details. “To me, the state did not meet the burden of proof.”  Charlebois also said she felt Prewitt expressed too much love for her family to have killed her husband in her home with her children sleeping only a few feet away in their rooms. “The woman I met would not have shot her husband. I can’t come up with a scenario in my head where she would’ve done that.”

Charlebois said, “I think she was convicted because, in a small town, if you don’t have a culprit and a smoking gun you need somebody.”

Charlebois also noted even if Prewitt has been in some way implicated in the crime, her sentence demonstrates a powerful gender bias against women who kill. Especially egregious is the lack of parole on her sentence, something that according to Charlebois is granted to many other convicts who commit crimes similar or even worse tthan murder. She added, “My guess is they wanted her to plea, they stuck it to her.”

Ever since meeting Prewitt, Charlebois has sent the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, weekly post cards from St. Mary’s asking him to free her. Charlebois has also lectured in a number of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGSX) classes about Prewitt, informing students who have become increasingly desirous to do something about what they also perceive as an injustice.

This year sentiments reached a head when Charlebois’s passion spread to first-year Maddie Alpert, who in February wrote Charlebois asking how she could help. Alpert said, “I heard [Charlebois] talk about [Prewitt’s case], she was so passionate and the case was so appalling to me.”

Since then, Alpert and Charlebois have worked together to coordinate students to write letters and call Nixon’s office, calling for Prewitt’s release. As efforts at St. Mary’s grew, they also became increasingly connected to the “groundswell” of support for Prewitt around the country preceding the 25th anniversary of her incarceration, according to Tim Bazzle and Brian Reichart of Georgetown’s Community Justice Project.

Reichart and Bazzle are some of the major legal forces fighting for Prewitt’s release. Reichart helped Prewitt draft her official clemency (submitted in December), and Bazzle has attempted to draft legislation in the Missouri senate which would grant prisoners such as Prewitt a parole hearing. Reichart and Bazzle, along with providing ethical and legal arguments similar to Charlebois’, also noted that there were economic disadvantages for keeping Prewitt in prison. Bazzle said this was something that legislators seem to have caught on to, and Reichart noted that the upwards of $1 million spent on keeping Prewitt incarcerated could be spent to fund upwards of 14 teachers.

To support the efforts of Bazzle and Reichart, and as a culmination of efforts throughout the week, members of the St. Mary’s community came together Friday to provide a new background for Charlebois’ weekly postcard: over 50 students in front of the Garden of Remembrance, holding a sign that said “GOV. NIXON – FREE PATTY.”

Senior Monica Powell, who helped coordinate the event, said “I feel pretty connected with this [issue] since [Charlebois has] been so passionate about it. I was absolutely happy to help.” Sophomore Aryel Rigano, also part of the event, said, “This is an opportunity to free an innocent women…I don’t know why the entire campus isn’t here.”


Graduation Order Back to Being Based On Major

An ostensibly minor change to how students line up and receive their degree at graduation has led to a much larger discussion between students and administration regarding how students affiliate themselves in relation to their academics.

The proposed policy, which calls for students to process in alphabetical order, was brought forth by President Joseph Urgo upon reviewing the graduation policy earlier this year. Urgo said, “I want to present St. Mary’s College as one student body … not divided into smaller segments.” He added, “I’ve never seen a small college line up by major.”

Urgo also said that the system could help double majors, which he said was an increasing segment of the student population, who were torn between their majors.  Shortly after knowledge of the change got to students, however, Urgo said that he received a significant number of emails from students, especially Biology majors, expressing their wish to maintain the original policy, which was to process alphabetically by major, with majors ordered alphabetically. At the April 12 Student Government Association (SGA) meeting, the SGA also passed a resolution in support of processing by majors.

At a meeting held April 14 to discuss the issue, students from the senior class expressed their concerns in person to Urgo. Many students said that, though they identified themselves as St. Mary’s students, they felt a special bond with the people they worked with in their departments.

One biology major said, “We’re a pretty tight-knit group of nerds. We’ve kind of struggled together the past four years.” Other students noted that they not only had a strong academic connection, but personal connection to the people in their majors. One student said, “I’m a math major, and about 95 percent of my friends, my close friends … are from [the math department].”

Students from humanities majors also came out in support of walking by major. One english major said, “I’d rather sit with people who have been in the same types of classes … I’m proud of my major, and I want to sit with people who are proud of our major too.”

Even double majors, a group Urgo thought might welcome the change, had similar sentiments. One art/art history double-major said, “doing [the processional] alphabetically, I would feel a lot more alienated.” Another double major said that, despite her status, “I’m definitely sure which major I would walk with.”

Student Trustee Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, as a student-designed major who said he may not have ties to people in his major in the way that others do, was the sole dissenting voice.

Although he understood the reasoning behind Urgo’s proposed change and personally agreed with it, he added, “I’ve never heard anyone vehemently for walking alphabetically, and there’s a whole group here vehemently [for walking by major].”

After hearing student opinion contrary to his proposal,  Urgo noted that he was not particularly attached to either plan and suggested that he would change the policy back to processing by major as students wished. He said, “I really need to know what the class wants to do…this is not a ditch I’m going to die in.”


Pres. Urgo Officially Inaugurated

Two Saturdays ago marked the inauguration of President Joseph Urgo with a ceremony which combined the usual pomp and circumstance with a unique combination of laughter, celebration, and fiscal modesty.

According to Board of Trustees Chair Molly Mahoney Matthews, the inauguration was about two things: in relation to the College as a whole, asserting the “value of a liberal arts part of the University of Maryland system,” and, in relation to Urgo, “celebrating what has already been a great fit for the College.” She added that she felt Urgo’s eight months prior to the inauguration provided an excellent track record and that Urgo has surpassed her already high expectations.

Urgo, who was highly involved with planning the event, said, “we want to recommit to residential liberal arts education.” He also emphasized he wanted, especially through other events surrounding the inauguration, to foster a community “where students have a tremendous obligation to contribute to the College and help maintain its standard.”

The event started around 3:30 p.m. with a processional and took place on the Townhouse Greens. According to Vice President of Trustee Relations Kathy Grimes, students could be heard whispering “There he is!” as Urgo walked passed students viewing from outside their homes.

The installation ceremony began with remarks from Senior Alexandra Todak, Vice President of the Class of 2011. She, along with President of the Class of 2014 First-year Shelby Perkins, acted as “book-ends” to the experience. Grimes said, “I really liked starting and ending with students. That was [Urgo’s] idea.”

After Todak’s opening remarks were remarks from the Co-chairs of the inauguration committee and College trustees Peg Duchesne and Tom Daugherty. Both co-chairs noted how this inauguration, both in timing and theme, was tied to Maryland Day and the “many firsts” which occurred in St. Mary’s City, especially in regards to inclusion and civil rights.

Comments by Duchesne and Daugherty were followed by the reading of “At the Bend in the River,” written by Professor Emeritus and former Poet Laureate of Maryland Michael Glaser, and a performance by the Gospel Choir.

Glaser’s poem, written for the inauguration and read at inauguration for the first time, read in part: “Here on St. Mary’s shore, we are ready to renew the dream,/ the imagined and still unimagined promise of this place,/ the stirring of our hearts’ desires, the sweet crescendo/ of transforming fires soaring like the Seahawk/ in bold and joyous flight, singing on the wind/ ‘new life, new life.’”

The ceremony then continued with remarks from Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Israel Patoka, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives (representing the office of Governor Martin O’ Malley), and President of St. Mary’s County Commissioners Jack Russell. Hoyer noted how happy he was that Urgo’s presidency had been received so positively, and said, “[Urgo’s] been here but a short time…but [everyone] is saying ‘Well done!’” Russell, in a comical anecdote referencing both Urgo’s down-to-Earth demeanor and a quintessential Maryland past-time, noted how his first time meeting Urgo was at a picnic while they were both eating hard crabs.

Following these greetings, Matthews took the stage to formally charge Urgo with six responsibilities entrusted to him by the Board of Trustees, including “to serve St. Mary’s to the best of your abilities” and “to face the challenges of the future while upholding the fundamental  values that underpin this institution.”

Urgo then took the stage to deliver his inaugural address, sharing his allotted time with mentors from his past and people who inform his present, in order to address the notion that “none of us is self-made.”

First to speak was George Montinero, Professor Emeritus of the English Department and Adjunct Professor of Portugese and Brazilian Studies at Brown University. Montiero spoke about his experiences advising the pre-doctorate Urgo. He reminisced, for example, about their first meeting: “I had an odd feeling about this…perfunctory meeting.” He added, “he had not come to my office…to be himself interviewed. I realized later that he was interviewing me.”

As a testament to his character, Montiero also talked about how Urgo handled a group of hecklers in the class on William Faulkner the future President had been teaching at the time. Montiero said, “he stood his ground with no sense of rancor or impatience.”

Referring to Urgo, Montiero said, “we need champions in the liberal arts…we need teachers who believe in civilization, in civilized people, and in civility itself.” He concluded, “Urgo, this man of civility; he has time [to teach]. So listen up!”

Next to speak was Cecelia Tichi, a professor of American Studies at Vanderbilt University. According to Urgo, she “became a mentor and guide [at my stay in Vanderbilt], and for reasons I am not certain I know, took an interest in me, saw me through difficult early career times, and continued as confidant through the next decade of career decisions.”

Tichi remarked primarily on the need for liberal arts educations and students from the liberal arts. She said, “many ask ‘What can you do with a liberal arts education?’ The question [really] is, ‘what are people with liberal arts degrees doing?’” Her answer: “everything.”

Tichi also commented on Urgo’s civility, noting his ability to mediate within Vanderbilt University’s notoriously uncivil English department.

Perhaps the most unorthodox choice of “speakers” is someone who didn’t speak much at all: Urgo’s son, George Urgo. Instead of giving a speech as Montiero and Tichi had, the blues guitarist and singer gave a blaring rendition of Willie Dixon’s “I’m Ready”, which was received with cheering and clapping by the audience.

The piece’s lyrics acted as a segue into Urgo’s own speech. He started, “to borrow from the cadences of our students, ‘I do, I do believe, I do believe I am ready to be the president of St. Mary’s College’ – and yes, I hope you are ready for me!” He added, “In the past nine months there has gestated in me a love for this college and a passion for its mission. And now I am ready to talk to you about it.”

Urgo continued his speech by using the line “and now we’re going to talk about love” from Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! to make the point that, “understanding, unlike regurgitation, demands emotional investment, and more, requires interpersonal, collaborative creativity.” He noted that he wished to make this model of emotional investment and personal interaction, “the core value of what we do here…in learning, in teaching, in research and creativity, in daily work and in the responsibilities we share.”

Urgo focused a great deal on the notion of inclusiveness and  “an elite education that is not elitist.” “My goal is to make the academic rigor of an elite residential liberal arts education available to all members of the coming generation who possess the will and the capacity to meet its challenge. At St. Mary’s College we do not make class distinctions for education deemed as ‘appropriate’ to the wealthy as apart from that ‘appropriate’ to the general population.”

Urgo also talked about how member of the College community could in large part sustain this possibility by creating sustainable systems which “[consider] future generations to be our partners, not our creditors”, as well as by taking on the charge of Faulkner’s “old virtues” of love, passion, and sacrifice in the face of the “important things [that need] to be done.”

“Learning to love what you do is a signal achievement of a lifetime. Finding the important thing that needs to be done, and investing yourself in that significance, sacrificing for it, and loving where it leads—this is the essence of a liberal arts education.”

Urgo concluded, “I ask you, gathered here today: Are you ready? Because I am ready–ready for the future of St. Mary’s College of Maryland.”

This speech, followed by a standing ovation and chants of Urgo’s campus nickname, “Jurgo”, was followed by  the response by Matthews and the final installation of Urgo as President, after which occurred the performance of Stephen Paulus’ “The Road Home” and the premiere performance of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, arranged by Professor of Music David Froom and written by Professor of English Jennifer Cognard-Black.

The ceremony concluded with words of thanks by Perkins and the forming of a “gauntlet” on either side of the recessional as a surprise welcoming gesture by the student body for Urgo.

Duchesne said, especially considering the amount of time the committee and others put into the inauguration, she was very pleased with how things worked out. She also emphasized the inauguration was conducted in as cost-effective a way as possible.

“We tried every which way to keep costs down. Each and every decision we made we thought [about] if we could do it in a more reasonable way.” She noted, for example, that instead of giving out more expensive gift bag to attendees they instead received a packet of seeds for Black-eyed Susans from the St. Mary’s Arboretum.

In an email to the campus community, Urgo stated that the inauguration cost about half the price of what many of the College’s peer institutions have paid for their recent inaugurations.

Duchesne also said that she felt the inauguration reflected very well on the College and that it demonstrated that, “we do it, we do it right, but we have fun while we’re doing it.”

Grimes echoed the sentiment, and said she was very pleased to hear people having a good time and laughing at points during the ceremony. She also said that many veteran representatives from other colleges commented on the fact that this was the first inauguration which they had actually had fun at, and added, “alumni said [the inauguration] made them remember why they went to St. Mary’s.”

The formal inauguration was the culmination of a collection of activities throughout the weekend, including an academic symposium which focused on the past 40 years, and future 40 years of the College (see adjacent); the ribbon-cutting for the St. Mary’s Arboretum Association (see page three), Maryland Day (see page three), and student entertainment both Friday and Saturday night (see page six).

These events, with the exception of Maryland Day (which this year purposefully coincided with the inauguration and is held annually in Historic St. Mary’s City), were coordinated by an inaugural committee created by Grimes shortly after Urgo started this past summer. The committee which was headed by Duchesne and Daugherty. The committee also included staff, students, alumni, and faculty, as well as Urgo himself.


Pub Opening Delayed, Food Still Available

In an email to campus last week, President Joseph Urgo informed students and faculty that the opening of the campus pub, scheduled for tomorrow, would be delayed.

Urgo said that it came to the attention of administration that Bon Appetit, the provider of food and alcohol for the pub, did not have the necessary liquor license to serve beer and wine as was initially planned. Urgo added that this “wasn’t for any lack of will”, but was an unfortunate oversight and something that Bon Appetit would have to work out.

According to Botzman, Bon Appetit had a liquor license in the past, and have managed pubs on other campuses including Urgo’s own Hamilton College. He added that the discussion concerning the specifics of procuring an actual liquor license started in February, and that, “they had assured us that they would be able to get a license in time.” He further stated that administration was not informed of the fact that a liquor license would not be procured in time for the pub’s opening until late  Mar. 25.

Botzman said, “Part of it was that they were still working on getting the license…had we known there was a snag we would have liked to have had time to adjust.”

District Manager for Bon Appetit Dave Connelly said procuring the license, “turned out to be much more of an administrative and legal challenge than we’d anticipated.” According to Connelly, Bon Appetit first attempted to get their own liquor license, but after weighing the difficulties of that option decided to attempt to serve alcohol through a sister company. The logistics of this option, however, were similarly convoluted.

Connelly said, “It was only a week ago that it became clear to me that [getting the liquor license] wasn’t going to work out.” He added, “It’s certainly our doing, not the College,” and that although Bon Appetit was still working on getting the license they would likely not have it until next semester.

The pub is currently open, and is offering late-night food and non-alcoholic drinks. Botzman in an email to the campus community, said that there may be one-day pub events that include beer and wine in the near future; according to Connelly, one-day alcohol permits are much easier to procure than permanent licenses.

Botzman said, “We were really excited about this, and I hope we will continue to be excited about it. It just won’t happen as smoothly and as easily as we’d hoped.”


Twelfth Annual WGSX Colloquium Explores Women & War, Today and Past

This year’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGSX) Colloquium, Women in War: Object/Subject, explored the often tragic use of women to both commit and justify warfare.

The colloquium, according to Associate Professor of Political Science Sahar Shafqat, was “started by a number of faculty on campus that wanted a unique intellectual experience in Women’s studies.” The committee created for this year’s colloquium, headed by Shafqat and Professor of History Gail Savage, chose the theme of women in war in part  because , according to Shafqat, “the intersection of [WGSX and war is … ] very timely and frankly a very urgent topic that needed to be discussed.” She added that the topic had also come up many times before as a possibility.

This year’s colloquium, which took place on Wednesday March 23 and Thursday March 24, consisted of four speakers connected by their focus on women in wartime.

The first colloquium lecture was led by Isis Nusair, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and International Studies at Denison University in Ohio. Her presentation, titled Gendering the Narratives of Three Generation of Palestinian Women in Israel, focused on how Palestinian women define themselves and their culture in light of the ongoing Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

Nusair, having conducted more than 100 interviews with Palestinian women, stated that many had experienced war first-hand and throughout most of their lives. Their narratives, according to her, focused on two major themes: the imposition of the Israeli government on their economic opportunities and personal well-being and the ever-increasing surveillance over their bodies by men in the communities with which they identified.

Nusair said many of the women interviewed emphasized the loss of their home and land. Second generation women in particular reported an experience of being “under siege” and “crushed” by the Israel government, and living in communities in which the fear of possible rape by outsiders or cultural assimilation of more liberal Israeli values may make them “loose” and embarrass the men in their communities. She added that the third generation in particular was most willing to adopt some Israeli values of feminism, but still felt the need to protect their bodies and still maintained a communal rather than national affiliation.

The second colloquium lecture, titled Collateral Image: Portrait of Iraqi Refugees, was by documentary photographer Gabriela Bulisova. Her focus was on the under-reported situation of close to five million Iraqis who have been displaced by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. According to Bulisova, many of these displaced women and men had to flee because they had helped the U.S. during invasion and largely left without protection or assistance from the U.S. government.

Many of her pictures, which were also on display in the Montgomery Hall Upper Commons during a reception the day before, highlighted the turmoil these people had faced as a result of their choice to help the United States. Many of the refugees photographed and interviewed lived in squalid conditions with few opportunities for employment or money as a result of their status as illegal aliens. Many also had experienced estrangement from or the death of their friends and family as a result of their fleeing Iraq.

The third colloquium lecture, titled Neither Battle Field Nor Home Front: The Liminality of Women in Early American Warfare, Real and Imagined, was led by Assistant Professor of History at Macalester College Andrea Robertson Cremer. Cremer took a historical approach to the use of women as justification of war against Native Americans. Shafqat said, “we wanted to be very sure … not to just make this colloquium about the here and now.”

Cremer’s lecture centered around the idea that warfare is as much a matter of rhetorical justification as it is actual combat. The “purity” of women was often an excuse used to justify the Peaquot War. She noted that women on both sides of the divide were often kidnapped as a form of leverage, and that “rape function[ed] as a primary tool of coercion and conquest [for colonialists].”

Her study was on “women’s Indian captivity narratives,” a collection of very popular semi-biographical stories about women who were kidnapped or captured by American Indians and, at least according to the telling of these stories, forced to guard their own purity and chastity against their captors. Cremer added, however, that these stories were often either written or at least approved by men, and were therefore likely edited to accentuate the justification for violence against the Peaquots.

Her specific study, however, was of the off-hand captivity narrative of a Peaquot woman at the hands of the colonialists. Using the narrative of this woman, she demonstrated how, in wishing to protect herself and her children, she was not only acting with her personal well-being and chastity in mind (as these stories are usually portrayed), but as a shrewd political negotiator trying to maintain the political power of her family and tribe.

The final lecture, titled A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice, was to be given by the Afghan politician, teacher, and activist Malalai Joya. However, according to Shafqat, Joya could not attend; she had been denied a visa by the United States government due to her living “underground.” Shafqat noted that Joya has to live in hiding as a result of multiple death threats she has experienced since speaking against other members of the corrupt Afghani Parliament, and that she is in fact “the kind of woman that our government claims to want to protect.”

In her recorded message to those in attendance, Joya noted that despite the fact that the United States government had used the “liberation of women” as part of the justification for the beginning and continuation of the war in Afghanistan, and that she herself had initially been hopeful, the occupation had in no way improved the rights or lives of women. She added that the only possible solution would begin with the United States withdrawing from Afghanistan. Joya also discussed her status in Parliament, and how the fact that she simply spoke up against the oppression of women in the country was enough to be forced out of government and into hiding.

In a later interview, Shafqat explained that Joya had actually received a visa shortly before the colloquium after the United States government saw substantial public pressure. Though the visa was granted too late for her to make the colloquium, Shafqat confirmed that Joya will be speaking on campus Wednesday, April 13.

At the end of Joya’s video, the three presenters at the colloquium sat down to discuss the striking similarities between each of their topics. Cremer said, “there are so many parallels between women of the 17th and 18th century and today…[the] legislation and language used to describe victims has not changed.” She added that the “liberation” motto and the rhetoric of American imperialism is still very present in the notion of “American exceptionalism” present today.

Shafqat said the next WGSX colloquium is already in the planning stages and that the topic will be Women and AIDS.


BREAKING: Campus Pub Opening Possibly Delayed

11:20 a.m.: According to President Joseph Urgo, the opening of the campus pub, scheduled for tomorrow, may be delayed. Urgo said that it came to the attention of administration that Bon Appetit, the provider of food and alcohol for the pub, may not have the necessary liquor license to serve beer and wine as was initially planned. Urgo added that this “wasn’t for any lack of will”, but was an unfortunate oversight and something that Bon Appetit would have to work out. Urgo was unaware of the details of the situation, but said that currently Vice President of Finance Tom Botzman is in discussions with Bon Appetit.

Though the pub option may not open tomorrow as planned, it is still possible that the late night food component will open without beer or wine options, or that some sort of temporary liquor license can be procured, according to Urgo. The Point News will continue to update this story as events unfold.

6:06 p.m.: According to Botzman, Bon Appetit had a liquor license in the past, and have managed pubs on other campuses including Urgo’s own Hamilton College. He added that the discussion concerning the specifics of procuring an actual liquor license started in February, and that, “they had assured us that they would be able to get a license in time.” He further stated that administration was not informed of the fact that a liquor license would not be procured in time for the pub’s opening until late last Friday, not yesterday as previously reported.

Botzman said, “Part of it was that they were still working on getting the license…had we known there was a snag we would have liked to have had time to adjust.”

District Manager for Bon Appetit Dave Connelly said procuring the license, “turned out to be much more of an administrative and legal challenge than we’d anticipated.” According to Connelly, Bon Appetit first attempted to get their own liquor license, but after weighing the difficulties of that option decided to attempt to serve alcohol through a sister company. The logistics of this option, however, were similarly convoluted.

Connelly said, “It was only a week ago that it became clear to me that [getting the liquor license] wasn’t going to work out.” He added, “It’s certainly our doing, not the College,” and that although Bon Appetit was still working on getting the license they would likely not have it until next semester.

According to Botzman the pub will still open tomorrow as scheduled, and will offer late-night food and non-alcoholic drinks. He added in an email to the campus community that there may be one-day pub events that include beer and wine in the near future; according to Connelly, one-day alcohol permits are much easier to procure than permanent licenses. There will also be free non-alcohol drinks provided for those that come to the pub between tomorrow and Sunday.

Botzman said, “We were really excited about this, and I hope we will continue to be excited about it. It just won’t happen as smoothly and as easily as we’d hoped.”

Programs Board Faces Difficult Controversy Over Firing Chair

The recent termination of junior Reid Levin from the position of Programs Board Coffeehouse Chair, ostensibly related to lackluster attendance at meetings, is leaving some students crying foul play.

According to Levin, the incident occurred Sunday, Feb. 20, when he was called into a meeting with Director of Campus Programming Jessica Harvey.

Levin said that Harvey confronted him at the meeting about missing two Programs Board meetings and not attending other Programs Board events (the latter not mandatory, but encouraged), which she said was grounds for his dismissal. Levin said, “essentially [Harvey told] me that I’d been kicked off of Programs Board.”

Levin said that, although he did miss two Programs Board meetings this semester, he notified Harvey both times of his absence and claimed that she said at the time that it was okay. Levin also said that he was not aware of the two meeting policy before his termination, and that although he had missed other Programs Board events, he rarely if ever saw other members of the Board at Coffeehouse.

Levin believes that there are no solid reasons for his termination and that the reasons for it are likely related to a personal issue with another member of the Board.

Junior Dave Gittes, who Levin said had “been involved with everything from the beginning”, added that Levin had attended peer mediation for the issue and that both he and Levin believed the issue was settled at its conclusion. However, Levin said that even after the mediation, he felt ostracized by the Board.

Harvey, however, gave a much different timeline of events. According to her, Reid was provided with the Programs Board Mission Statement, Goals and Expectations during the first week of last semester.

She added that she and Programs Board coordinator Clint Neill became concerned about the fact that Levin neglected to fill out a number of evaluation forms for Coffeehouse events and missed two meetings, a Coffeehouse, and a Programs Board mini-retreat on Jan. 29; she added that although he warned Harvey of his absences, he did so either immediately before or during events.

That following day, Harvey said she and Clint met with Levin to discuss his lack of attendance, but the situation did not improve and Levin missed a third meeting.

Additionally, though Levin said that many of these absences were the result of illness, Harvey claims that other members of Programs Board informed her that they saw Levin out at parties on days he claimed to be ill. She said, “I felt like he’d been lying to [Neill] and I the whole time.”

According to Harvey, this, combined with what she termed “consistently poor communication” regarding event planning and Levin’s inability to help at welcome-back events at the beginning of this semester, led to his termination.

She also said that his termination had nothing to do with any personal issues with the Board or its members.  “Although Reid held several excellent Coffeehouse programs,” she said, “there is a lot of behind the scenes work that Programs Board members must do in order to maintain their position on Programs Board.”

Complicating the matter further, a swarm of rumors began to surround the incident almost immediately after Levin’s termination. One of these, according to Levin, was that he quit Programs Board on his own volition.

Levin said that this is completely untrue, and that he has repeatedly tried to tell people that he was terminated, and did not quit. Levin said, “I essentially want people…to know that I still want to do Coffeehouse.” Harvey said she was unaware of the origins of these rumors, and said she had immediately informed all members of Programs Board of her decision (and her reasoning for it) shortly after making it.

More troubling, perhaps, are the rumors that Levin drained the Coffeehouse budget, causing the program to have to go on semi-hiatus during April. According to a Programs Board balance sheet provided by Levin, the Coffeehouse was allocated $5,500 for fiscal year 2010-2011.

Of that $5,500, Levin claims that $1,000 was spent prior to his knowledge by Harvey for the band Pearl and the Beard at the beginning of the school year. Levin used that money to book six bands, including Holy F**k, his most expensive band at $1,500. However, Levin said that the Holy F**k’s performance brought out some of the highest attendance in Coffeehouse history, and he believed the booking was justified as a result.

About $1,890 of the budget was left over at the end of last semester, and after the booking of three separate bands this year the budget still contained $490, with which Levin said he was “completely comfortable” completing the rest of the year’s Coffeehouse events. Harvey, however, pointed out that the stated budget was actually $100 less as a result of an unreported receipt for the reward gift card for AirBands.

Gittes is also upset about the Student Government Association’s (SGA) handling of the issue and the fact that Levin’s termination was not mentioned by Harvey at the SGA meeting the following Tuesday.

He said, “[Harvey] is required to discuss Programs Board activities; she did not. [It was] business as usual, which was the most perturbing part.” Gittes also said that he considered discussion he had witnessed on Facebook about Levin’s termination obscene and uncouth.

Harvey said that she did in fact report that the Board was looking for a new Publicity chair at the meeting, but did not mention Levin specifically because she felt uncomfortable doing so with him and his friends in attendance. She added that she believes in retrospect she should have done so.

Despite these issues, some students have stated that Levin’s actual work on Coffeehouse was exemplary. Gittes for example, pointed out that the Coffeehouse chair is only required to have one Coffeehouse a month; Levin had one every week, except in cases of inclement weather.

Dom Morris, in an unpublished editorial for The Point News, said, “I can honestly say that this year has held some of the best, and most well-put together Coffeehouse events that I have seen during my time at SMCM…I have watched Reid plan these events with great care and effort, I’ve watched him work hard to run the events, and most importantly, I’ve observed how much it meant to him.”

Harvey also said that Levin’s work, up to the current semester, was “phenomenal”, and added, “I’m really upset this had to happen.”

Harvey said that Coffeehouse will continue to run until the end of March with the Battle of the Bands and a concert for Invisible Children, but will be put on hiatus during April because of the large amount of other programs being offered around campus.


Campus Pub to Open Mar. 31

After months of debate, planning, and waiting, the pilot program for the campus pub and late night food option is anticipated to begin March 31.

The pilot, although limited, is meant to gauge the feasibility and potential of a true campus pub.

According to Associate Dean of Students Joanne Goldwater, the pilot program will take place in the Lewis Quad Rec Room, which would undergo some mild renovations to the Grab N’ Go kitchen (which will still be operational for breakfast and lunch) and the room itself.

Assistant Dean of Students Kelly Schroeder said, “We’ll be doing some work over spring break to do some minor renovations, but nothing too crazy.”

Goldwater also pointed out that the pilot will have an eclectic mix of different excess furniture from around campus, though dedicated furniture would most likely be bought in the fall after Goldwater has surveyed students on ideas for the pub’s decor style.

Director of Operations at Bon Appetit David Sansotta said that much of the equipment for making the food will similarly be brought from the Great Room kitchen or rented for the program.

Goldwater said that the pub will be open Thursday through Sunday, and serve beer and wine from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and food from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Goldwater said that the pub option would close earlier because “we don’t want to overexert ourselves” and the pilot would be taking place after spring break.

Goldwater said, “Spring break takes a lot of money out of [the students’] pockets…we’re mindful that students don’t have much disposable cash.”

Similarly, Schroeder said that the pub would likely be “too taxed” to stay open during Senior Week, and that “we’re just going to make it functional for now.”

Beer and wine have not been finalized, but Goldwater said that she was taking recommendations.

She and Sansotta said that there would likely be around four types of beer offered at a time as well as affordable wines, both of which would change regularly for variety.

Goldwater also said that they would be either can or bottle beers (with a possible tap option in the future), and students would not be allowed to take alcohol outside or bring in their own alcohol.

Sansotta said that food for the pilot has already been decided upon, and will include a burrito and nacho bar with beef, chicken, and vegetarian fixings; cheese and pepperoni personal pizzas; subs with a daily special option; and soft drinks, coffee, and water.

Sansotta said that prices had not yet been decided for food, but that they should be comparable to food sold at Sheetz.

Alcohol prices have also not been decided upon, but they should be priced in a similarly competitive way.

According to Goldwater, students will be able to purchase food with cash and debit, with options for flex in the Fall.

Alcohol will be cash-only and require a state-issued photo ID, though the ATM in the LQ Rec Room will still be available.

Options for the pub are as of now limited, but Goldwater said there was a lot of room for changes, especially when it came to things like the menu and times.

Sansotta confirmed that Bon Appetit would be open to expanding the menu, and would possibly invest in an espresso machine.

Schroeder said that the campus pub would also be a great venue for events like tailgate parties, movie nights, and occasionally Coffeehouse.

She and Goldwater both also said that the pub could be a venue for campus bands, which might help alleviate the controversy surround the new music policy.

If things go well, Goldwater said them pub would open for full operation this fall; however, she did note that there were a few criteria for gauging its viability and success.

First, both the pub and late night food options would have to be financially feasible. Second, the pilot program would have to be free of any major student misconduct, such as sneaking alcohol into the pub or sneaking underage people alcoholic drinks.

Third, the pub would have to be attended by all members of the campus community. President Joseph Urgo said, “we’re hoping for a mix of students and faculty,” and that the pub could not run if only students were interested in it.

Goldwater echoed his sentiments, and said that students should invite their professors and staff to the pub. She added, “maybe some faculty will want to bring their class over [to the pub] to continue discussion after class has ended.”

Goldwater said that even if the pub was unfeasible the late night food option was “somewhat independent” of it, and was likely to still function whether or not the alcohol option worked out.

The campus pub and late-night food option (which still lacks an official name, though Goldwater is taking suggestions) will have its official grand opening the day after it begins operating.

Sansotta said, “we’re ready to roll with this. It’ll be a good thing to get on North Campus.”


Vote Focuses on Music Dept. to Form Possible Master’s Program

Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) and Dean of Faculty Larry Vote is stepping down to return to his roots as a music professor, and to help President Joseph Urgo possibly develop a summer Master’s program.

Vote worked as Provost for eight years prior to last semester, when he was given the new title VPAA/Dean of Faculty.

In both positions, Vote oversaw academic programs and relations between faculty and the administration; as Provost under former President Jane Margaret O’Brien, Vote also acted as a mediator between the Vice Presidents and O’Brien.

According to Vote, stepping down from his position as VPAA/Dean of Faculty will not affect his other duties, and he will continue to work closely with the music department (himself returning to the position of Professor of Music) and run the River Concert Series; in fact, it is his talents as a musician and music professor that led Urgo to approach Vote with the idea of creating a master’s program in the arts, connected to the series.

Urgo said, “I can’t think of anyone who has [more] artistic and administrative credibility…I’m just glad that he decided to continue administrative duties.”

Vote, as special assistant to the President, will be in charge of developing the master’s program and gauging interest among faculty and potential students.

Vote said, “I will explore the possibilities for enhancing, in particularly academic ways, our arts programming in the summer.“

He added “This will allow our students and students from other parts of the country to come to [the College] at a very beautiful time of the year to have an intense experience in one of the arts disciplines.”

Urgo said that he hoped this could be the start of a larger master’s program, in which students could take part in highly specialized areas of study which would require residency during the summer, but could be coordinated through email and online courses throughout the rest of the year.

He added that the offerings would, “depend on faculty [interest], but we’d like to start talking about it.”

Urgo said that many other small, liberal arts colleges have similar programs.

He added that having one at St. Mary’s would not only better take advantage of the “gorgeous” surroundings during the summertime, but would also provide new revenue streams for the college. No specific programs, however, have been finalized.

While Vote goes on to focus on developing this new program, a search committee has already been formed to find his replacement.

According to Professor of Psychology Anne Marie Brady, the committee consists of six faculty, five staff, and one student; she is both a faculty representative and the chair.

According to sophomore Annalicia Contee, the board had their first meeting this past Friday to develop a position profile for the new VPAA/Dean of Faculty, and decided what they’re looking for.

She said that the committee was looking for someone with a great deal of experience with a Liberal Arts education, outstanding communication skills, and a Ph.D or equivalent terminal degree.

Brady said that she believes the new VPAA/Dean of Faculty should also work closely with faculty and support faculty development.

According to Vote,  “the new dean should be dedicated to the liberal arts mission, an active scholar, and excellent teacher, one with strong management skills…a good sense of humor, [and have] a good judge of character, patience and vast energy.”

This position profile will be handed over in the coming days to Issacson, Miller (the search firm the College also used to find Urgo and Vice President of Development Maureen Silva), who will begin reaching out to candidates. Brady said that Isaacson, Miller would likely present the committee with a pool of around a dozen candidates, of whom the committee would choose the top eight to interview themselves.

The top three candidates from that pool will then be brought to campus. Brady said that the committee would like to have a recommendation to Urgo and the Board of Trustees (who make the final decision) by commencement, and have a new VPAA/Dean of Faculty ready to take Vote’s place by the end of the semester.