Supreme Court Debates Texas Abortion Law

By Jordan Williams

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

On Monday, Nov. 8, the Supreme Court of the United States  began debate on a controversial Texas abortion law, Senate Bill 8. The law is the most restrictive abortion law in the country, prohibiting all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, when a heartbeat can be observed. When the law went into effect in September, SCOTUS voted 5-4 not to challenge the law. Since then, the SB 8 has prevented thousands of abortions in the state, and Texas residents seeking abortions have been travelling across state lines to receive treatment. As a result, abortion providers of neighboring states have backlogs of Texas residents, according to the Texas Tribune.

Abortion is a constitutionally protected right by the federal government due to the precedent set in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case of 1971, but SB 8 effectively bypasses most constitutional protections due to its unique enforcement mechanism. Normally with laws, the state has the burden of enforcement, and constitutional protections are meant to keep the state from infringing on citizens’ constitutional rights. However, SB 8 forbids state officials from enforcing abortion restrictions and instead allows private citizens to sue one another through the court system. Private lawsuits are not beholden to the same constitutional restrictions as state officials, so SCOTUS decided that SB 8 did not need to be challenged. Under SB 8, private citizens can sue anyone getting an abortion, or abortion provider, for a minimum of $10,000 if the mother is six weeks into pregnancy. 

SCOTUS voted 5-4 not to challenge SB 8 when the law went into effect in September, but a recent lawsuit made certain judges on the Court reconsider the constitutionality of SB 8. Supreme Court justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, two judges that originally voted against challenging the law in the 5-4 September vote, have since reconsidered their decision. Barrett and Kavanaugh said that the enforcement mechanism of SB 8 is problematic and could be used to infringe on other constitutional protections, “There’s a loophole that’s being exploited here,” said Kavanaugh. “It could be free speech rights. It could be a free exercise of religion rights. It could be Second Amendment rights, if this position is accepted here,” according to Texas Tribune. The Supreme Court began debating SB 8 on Monday, Nov. 8 but they have not released a decision as of Nov. 11.It is important to note that the Supreme Court is not debating on the constitutionality of abortion, so Roe v. Wade will not be overturned with this case. With SB 8, the Court is only questioning the constitutionality of the law’s unique enforcement mechanism. SB 8 does not challenge Roe v. Wade because the burden of enforcement is in the hands of private citizens, not the government. However, a recent Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks into pregnancy, challenges Roe v. Wade directly. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the Mississippi law on Dec. 1, according to NBC. The stakes are high with this case, as the judges will decide on whether to uphold or overturn Roe.

Governor Hogan Announces Plan to Prevent Anti-Asian Hate Crimes in MD

By Angelie Roche

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

On Nov. 15, Maryland governor Larry Hogan announced a new plan to stop the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, the number of which has more than doubled since 2018. More specifically, his plan targets two main steps: updating hate and bias training for law enforcement agencies, and instating a special state police commander to act as a liaison in regards to hate crime cases. Governor Hogan’s plan also seeks to increase accountability in police offices, which means creating a process in which hate crimes are properly reported and dealt with. 

According to the US department of justice, there were 40 hate crimes in Maryland in 2020, 27 of which were based upon race and ethnicity. One of the most violent anti-Asian attacks of 2020 occurred in Baltimore, where a man used a cinder block to attack two Korean women inside a liquor store. The suspect also attacked three Asian-owned businesses, supposedly because he “refused to wear a mask,” according to CBS Baltimore. When questioned on his motives, he said that “[Asian people] need to go back to their country.” The victims of the attack had to be hospitalized, and the suspect now faces up to life in prison on both attempted murder and hate crime charges. 

The crime in Baltimore is just one of the many which have been perpetrated against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that is currently documenting racially motivated attacks against this group, has documented over 9,000 anti-Asian incidents across the US since March of 2020. In May of this year, president Joe Biden signed the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which accelerated the Justice Department’s review of anti-Asian attacks and made federal grants available to those who have been affected. In addition, the act made reporting hate crimes more accessible by ensuring that reporting resources were translated into multiple languages. 

However, civil rights agencies such as Stop AAPI Hate have said that, because these measures are law enforcement-centric, they ignore the real threat of hate incidents that cannot be classified as crimes. Additionally, they argue that more needs to be done to address the systemic racism against Asians and all people of color that is deeply rooted in the systems these laws target. 

Governor Hogan’s measures are more community-based than those in the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, and in his plan is a list of specific steps the Maryland government will take to combat anti-Asian hate. Most notably, he is increasing Protecting Against Hate Crimes funding from $3 million to $5 million, and directing the Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs to “conduct aggressive outreach efforts” which will ensure that the funds reach all communities. Resources to report hate crimes in Maryland will be expanded, including the use of 211 Maryland and an online resource center. There will also be options to report hate crimes through other, non-law-enforcement networks such as nonprofit and religious organizations. 

When putting the new motion in effect, Hogan stated, “Words are not enough, which is why today we are turning those words into real action.”

November/December Scoreboard

By Annilee Hampton

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

Nov. 12 – Women’s swimming vs. Mary Washington; Loss 48-210

Nov. 12 – Men’s swimming vs. Mary Washington; Loss 56-189

Nov. 12 – Women’s basketball vs. Catholic; Loss 30-64

Nov. 13 – Women’s cross country at Mid-Atlantic Regionals; 23rd out of 31

Nov. 13 – Men’s cross country at Mid-Atlantic Regionals; 21st out of 31

Nov. 13 – Women’s basketball vs. Methodist; Win 67-54

Nov. 13 – Women’s swimming vs. Cedar Crest; Win 154-69

Nov. 13 – Women’s swimming vs. Gallaudet; Win 161-62

Nov. 13 – Men’s swimming vs. Gallaudet; Loss 109-122

Nov. 13 – Men’s basketball vs. Hood College; Postponed 

Nov. 14 – Men’s basketball vs. Catholic; Loss 76-79

Nov. 17 – Women’s basketball vs. Washington College; Loss 43-75

Nov. 20 – Women’s swimming vs. Washington College; Loss 93-159

Nov. 20 – Men’s swimming vs. Washington College; Loss 82-154

Nov. 20 – Men’s basketball vs. Johns Hopkins; Loss 53-75

Nov. 23 – Women’s basketball vs. Catholic; Loss 48-73

Nov. 23 – Men’s basketball vs. Hampden-Sydney; Loss 60-99

Nov. 28 – Men’s basketball vs. Delaware Valley; Loss 58-82

Dec. 3 – Women’s basketball vs. Penn State Berks; Win 69-26

Dec. 3 – Men’s basketball vs. Penn State Berks; Win 73-54

Dec. 4 – Women’s basketball vs. Penn College; Win 55-50

Dec. 4 – Men’s basketball vs. Penn College; Win 68-39

Basketball Season is Here!

By Catherine Wasilko

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14 2021

The SMCM basketball season is starting up again. The men’s basketball team recently had a home game on Nov. 20 against John Hopkins, and an away game on Nov. 23 at Hampden-Sydney. The women’s basketball team also had an away game that same day at Catholic. When asked for his thoughts on the season starting, senior Seth Jones said, “I’m just excited to be back with the team since I stayed home last year and learned remotely,” Jones explains. “I still reflect back on our first official practice we had this season and I remember how ecstatic I was for the season to start.”

The men’s basketball team began their season on Tuesday Nov. 9 at Morgan State losing 55 to 118. Their home game on Nov. 13 was against both Catholic and Gallaudet. They were to play Hood that same day, but the game was postponed. On Nov. 14, they had another home game against Catholic. They pushed the needle far enough to take the lead, winning their first game 79 to 76. The most recent game was home against John Hopkins, losing 53 to 75. The men’s basketball season will continue after finals week, ending their season on Dec. 20. Jones explained his past experiences with the team, stating, “In the past we’ve always had very talented teams composed of high character athletes that came to practice everyday with a mentality to work hard and get better.”

The women’s basketball team began their season on Nov. 6 at Hood, losing 37 to 73. They had a home game on Nov. 12 against Catholic, losing again 30 to 64. Another home game was played on Nov. 13, with the team’s first win 67 to 54. On Nov. 17, they had an away game at Washington College, losing 75 to 43. The women’s basketball season will continue through the break before the spring semester, with their final game on Jan. 11 at St. Mary’s. When asked what she was looking forward to most this season, senior Cassidy Kupchinskas answered, “I’m looking forward to playing in this new conference and seeing new teams we’ve never played before.” She adds, “I’m also looking forward to playing in front of fans because it seems like we haven’t played in front of a crowd in such a long time.” Kupchinskas explained how the team played in an empty gym as a result of the COVID pandemic.

Both Jones and Kupchinskas came from humble beginnings to their basketball careers. When asked about their start in basketball, Kupchinskas answered, “When I was younger I lived in a neighborhood with a lot of kids my age and we all really enjoyed playing sports.” She added, “We would play in each other’s backyards and driveways but our favorite sport to play was basketball because we had a few different basketball hoops we could play on.” Jones answered the same question, saying, “I started playing basketball when I was five years old at the John Eager Howard Recreation Center located in West Baltimore.” He added, “Both of my older brothers were playing at the Rec Center before me and that’s how I ended up playing there as well.”

When asked about what they most look forward to this season, Kupchinskas summarized her response, saying, “Overall, I’m very excited for this upcoming season because of the new conference, finally playing in front of fans again, and being able to compete with my teammates for a conference championship.” Jones answered, “I’m looking forward to competing with my teammates.” He explained, “We have a young team this season and I’m excited to see how our team grows as the season progresses.” Jones is also a featured Seahawk on the school’s athletic website.

TFMS Performs “Lost Girl”

By Angelie Roche

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

On Nov. 17-20, the SMCM Theater, Film and Media Studies (TFMS) department presented Kimberly Belflower’s “Lost Girl,” a show about Wendy Darling years after her return from Neverland. As Wendy faces pressures from her family and friends to move on, she recounts her experiences with Peter Pan, continuously searching for him in the hope that he will return. The advertisement on InsideSMCM called the play “a moving meditation on memory, grief and the power of stories to harm and to heal.” 

The show was an immersive experience from start to finish; the doors did not open until right before it began. As the audience eagerly waited outside the theater in Montgomery Hall, director Amy Steiger introduced the play and spoke briefly about the importance of TFMS’s return to live theater. 

Erika Berry, a senior TFMS major at SMCM, played Wendy. She has performed in two other SMCM theater productions as well as several student-led productions during her time here, but this is her first since the pandemic. Berry prepared a lot for Wendy’s character, who she says represents a young woman growing up in a society that promotes the idea that “you will just find the person for you [without] putting in the work.” She appreciated that Wendy was a creative person who struggled against that expectation, illustrating the challenges many girls face. To get into character, she thought about how to make her “real” and engage the audience, going beyond the lines to create a relatable character. 

Masks were an added challenge, Berry says. Because of this, the actors dedicated a lot of time and energy to body language and indicating emotions with eyes. They also utilized an intimacy choreographer to determine how to coordinate romantic scenes without traditional kisses. In the show, some of the most memorable scenes were those between Wendy and Slightly (played by Chloe Colvin), the Lost Boy who had a romantic interest in her but recognized she was not yet ready to move on from Peter. “Chloe is a good friend of mine, too, and it was easy to create that chemistry because I felt safe with them on stage,” explained Berry. 

Sarah Grzyb, a sophomore environmental studies major, played the part of Nina, a curious young reporter who is later revealed to be another of Peter’s previous love interests. She shared Berry’s sentiment that the cast was close-knit; additionally, she said that director Amy Steiger “really valued everyone’s input and creative ideas during the production,” allowing the cast to shape their own characters in meaningful ways. The show made her realize the true importance of live theater, albeit with masks, and she hopes to be a part of more TFMS productions in the future. 

Because there were no real pauses or breaks in the narrative, the one and a half hour show kept the audience at the edge of their seats throughout. Because of this, though, Wendy was onstage during the entire production. Berry called this experience tiring but rewarding, and her ongoing presence made the final scene– in which she finally closes the window and exits the nursery– so breathtaking. The boxes which were also onstage for much of the production represented unpacking, as Wendy quite literally “unpacks” her feelings to the audience; at the end, though, she re-packs a box and leaves, signifying that she understands the importance of her experience and will take it with her as she moves into a new chapter of her life. 

“Lost Girl” transcends the simple story of Peter Pan, bringing fantastical elements into the very real-world context of a young girl grappling with her first heartbreak. When Wendy finally sees Peter again in the second-to-last scene, the tension is familiar to everyone who has lost touch with someone who was once important to them– meeting him again, Wendy realizes that he was not what she had been missing after all. The takeaway message, Berry says, is that “the real people we should cherish are the ones who stay.”

Pet Feature: Charmander

By Madeline Kenerly

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

Meet Charmander, the fun-loving bearded dragon! Charmander currently resides in LQ and is loving college life. One of Charmander’s favorite activities is to climb up on elevated surfaces and then make the big jump off and back to the ground. Other than death-defying stunts, Charmander likes to get some midday beauty sleep under the warmth of her basking light and get all the pets and attention she deserves. Charmander also loves to eat. I mean who doesn’t right? Veggies, strawberries and, of course, bugs are all a part of a bearded dragon’s heart-healthy diet. Many times, you can find Charmander sitting in her windowsill watching the world go by.  So if you ever find yourself walking in LQ keep your eyes peeled for Charmander.

Creative Writing in the Community Class Holds Book Swap Event

By Annilee Hampton

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

A book swap took place outside of the library on Nov. 16, 17 and 18, inviting SMCM students to give new homes to unwanted books.

The book swap was organized as part of Professor Crystal Oliver’s Writing the Word in the World: Creative Writing in the Community class, which centers around literary citizenship and what it means to write with the purpose of serving the surrounding community. It was one of four projects that students worked on throughout the semester, with the other projects including From Pen to People, an open mic that took place at St. Inie’s Coffee in Lexington Park on Nov. 5; a creative writing podcast consisting of interviews with writers from the SMCM community; and the development of the Lucille Clifton Lounge, a space for writers to create and share their work in Montgomery Hall.

“Originally this started out as a book swap treasure hunt,” student Catherine Wasilko said when asked what drew her towards the idea of the event. The other students that worked on the book swap were Taylor Byrd, Maya Miller and Irene Ragan. “We wanted to expand on this idea and add more activities. Eventually, we decided to have several activities that involved reading and writing!” 

The book swap consisted of many different activities, including a poster on which community members could leave a message or drawing on a post-it note, scavenger hunts around campus for hidden books and an activity called “Read Me When.” Wasilko cites this activity as her favorite at the event. “This was the activity I helped to complete,” she said. “I wrapped books in paper and marked what mood they had. On the first day, I prepped 19 books and they were taken within the hour! People were very excited as they did not know what book they would receive, but they were happy to know what book they ended up getting. Jennifer Cognard-Black came by and said, “‘It’s like a blind date with a book.’ I thought that was the best way to describe the activity in a clever way.”

In addition, the book swap offered giveaways of journals and pencils. Wasilko stated that this truly allowed the event to embody the idea of creative writing in the community. “We wanted people to be inspired in writing their own stories,” she said regarding the giveaways. The aforementioned poster where passersby left notes was also an important part of the community aspect of the event. “I think this allowed people to share a bit of kindness with the community,” said Wasilko. 

Setting up the event took most of the semester, and was not without its challenges. “I think I can speak for everyone when I say the hardest thing was finding a location,” said Wasilko. “We’ve had to contact several people, and most of the time, no one responded.” However, despite these initial setbacks, the event was a success, with many members of the SMCM community walking away with a new book in their hands.

Campus-Wide Wi-Fi Outage Affects Students

By Catherine Wasilko

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

As many students and faculty know, the wifi has frequently been having issues throughout the fall semester. There have been wifi outages, bad connections and hard-to-reach spots where the internet works perfectly. The most recent outage was on Thursday Nov. 11. The outage was campus-wide and affected both students and The Daily Grind. It started around 2:45 p.m, and E. Jennell Sargent sent out an email at 2:59 p.m. that day to let everyone know the Wi-Fi was having issues. As a result, The Daily Grind was unable to make purchases using flex dollars, as the systems were down due to network issues. The Package Center was still able to allow students to receive packages.

Numerous students complained about the Wi-Fi outage. Since this occurred after most classes had ended, students most affected by the outage were attempting  to get homework done after class. However, some students were not as affected by the outage. It appears that the Offshore Sailing Club went out on the water, unaware of the reality of a student’s nightmare on campus. After a few hours, the Wi-Fi started working again around 5:00 p.m. Sargent sent out another email at 4:56 p.m. stating, “The OIT Network team has identified the issue and they are working diligently to resolve it.” The Daily Grind was able to make purchases again and things began to run smoothly as it shifted back to normal.

Sargent sent out an email at 6:04 p.m. giving a second update about the Wi-Fi outage that occurred. In her email, she stated:

“I hope all is well.  Network Service (Internet) and the WiFi is now working.  The Office of Information Technology Network team identified that one of the major core switch equipment (this controls the network) experienced a total malfunction and required replacement.  Fortunately, the Network team noted that a replacement switch device was in stock and they replaced it immediately.  Upon replacing the switch this required the Network team to configure the new device to support the campus network.”

This has been one of many Wi-Fi outages through the fall semester. There have also been critical updates once a month, and simultaneously outages during class times. Although outages have occurred frequently, there haven’t always been emails stating any updates. This has been an issue for students, leading many to complain about work that needs to be submitted online.

As the fall break comes to an end, students may hope for better connections in the spring semester. Sargent is always available to be contacted by email. In her second update about the Wi-Fi, she said, “If you are experiencing any additional network related issues (Internet or WiFi), please do not hesitate to contact me immediately.” While other students may be studying abroad, the ones who continue to live on campus will keep their fingers crossed that the Wi-Fi will be stronger and faster in the spring. Otherwise, students will be used to the same routine of having weaker connections.

Ethics Bowl Team Goes 2-2 at Mid-Atlantic Regionals

By Lily Riesett

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

Saturday, Nov. 14, the St. Mary’s Ethics Bowl team competed in the 2021 Mid-Atlantic Ethics Bowl hosted by the University of North Georgia. Under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Philosophy Dr. Michael Taber, the Seahawks won the verdict of eight judges and lost the verdict of four. The team competed in four rounds of reasoning and ended up going 2-2. One round was narrowly lost by one point, being “the closest [match] they [the judges] could recall.” The team was also congratulated extensively on their thorough presentation of ideas and decorum during the discussion.

The Ethics Bowl Team is an extension of the Philosophy Department at St. Mary’s. It was founded by the department in 2010 when it began participating in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ethics Bowl. The event is hosted by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, an organization devoted to the advancement of ethics and ethical thinking. This has given the team the opportunity to compete against some of the top academically-ranking schools in the country, such as Duke, Georgetown and UNC Chapel Hill. The team has competed every fall since 2010 in this competition.

The team is composed of five students, ranging from philosophy students to biology majors. The students include Zane Obi, Nnenna Ejikeme, Mollie Rudow, Hannah Yale and Nathan Villiger. The members have been meeting since the beginning of the semester for 4 hours a week to prepare for the competition. 

To prepare for competition in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ethics bowl, students developed arguments for 15 different prompts. These include whether climbing on indegenous land is morally correct, whether the filibuster is still useful in today’s political environment, if policing should be reformed and whether critical race theory should be banned from being taught in schools. Each student prepared a stance and research for a few of the cases which they presented to the class for them to use during the competition. 

“One of my favorites that we discussed was case number 9, which focuses on the ethics of paying ransom in ransomware attacks,” said sophomore team member Nathan Villiger. These are attacks which encrypt files on devices and render them non-usable. He liked this case because of how topical it was. “We got to apply one of my favorite ethical frameworks, utilitarianism, to the case.” Utilitarianism follows the idea that an action is morally correct based on the level of happiness it produces. Students used frameworks such as this one to make arguments during the cases. 

“We did not grab a spot at the regional competition to continue on at nationals, and therefore we will probably take this semester to recuperate and rebuild our team to what we want to see at nationals in the fall of 2022,” relayed Villiger. Nevertheless, the school is incredibly proud of their hard work during the Mid-Atlantic Regional competition.

SMCM Fall 2021 Orchestra Concert

By Jordan Williams

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

On Nov. 18, the SMCM community gathered in Montgomery Recital Hall to listen to a live performance of the St. Mary’s Orchestra. Friends and family members of the musicians cheered in support as the musicians showed off what they had been working on over the past few months. The concert featured several soloists, including MK Meyers on trumpet, Dylan Parham on violin 1, William Capon on oboe, Zayon Morgan and Jonathan Zutt on percussion and Robert Hayes –an SMCM music faculty member on piano.

This concert was really special to the orchestra. It was the first time in two years that the group was able to put on a performance together. Normally, the orchestra does one concert every semester but due to COVID, they have not been able to perform since fall 2019. For three whole semesters since COVID hit, the orchestra met twice a week, mostly over Zoom, and only came together a few times in-person outside when the weather was nice. They did not get enough rehearsal time to put on a concert. Everyone was excited to finally show off their skills and everything they have learned since the last concert.

Angelie Roche is a sophomore violin and viola player in the orchestra. They described the concert as a success, “I think that overall the concert went well. We had a lot of difficult material, so we did experience some trip-ups, but overall I feel really proud to have finished my first concert at SMCM!” The weeks leading up to the concert were stressful for the group. There were delays receiving some of the music scores, so the orchestra had limited time to work on certain songs. “The pieces that we got last turned out to be some of the hardest ones, so everyone was busy practicing and preparing for the concert,” said Angelie.

The lack of instrument variety in the orchestra this year posed a challenge, “Being a small group, we had some unevenness and had to fill in several parts. I actually switched from viola to violin 2 halfway through the semester because there were 5 violas (at that time) and only one 2nd violin,” said Angelie. Some wind instruments were missing entirely from the group. Despite the challenges, the group was able to put on a performance they were proud of.

The orchestra is excited to move into the new music building being built. It is set to open with a full-fledged auditorium. The Montgomery Recital Hall has many acoustic issues that make it difficult to play in. The new building will hopefully fix those issues once it opens next year.