Applications for the St. Mary’s Washington Program are now open

By: Lily Riesett

The Washington Program, a faculty-lead professional development program for students interested in political science, now has its applications open for the 2021-2022 season. This program gives students the opportunity to apply to political science internships in Washington D.C. with the help of political science faculty Professors Fehrs and Shafqat, a Washington Program Student Intern, and graduates of St. Mary’s who now hold positions in political fields.
The biggest aspect of the Washington Program is the internship placement that all program participants are assisted with. If chosen to be a member of the program, all spring semester participants will be applying to internships related to what they want to go into professionally. These include non-profit positions, internships on The Hill and think tank openings. The professors and Washington Program Intern revise resumes and cover letters before every application is submitted. Some of these potential positions even include a small stipend or hourly pay.

Once placed in an internship, participants can fully commit to the Washington Program and register for the class portion of it. This is an eight credit course taken during the first and last week of the summer semester. This class is about six  hours a day and focuses on policy in D.C. While it might be long, it helps participants to understand how politics play out in our nation’s capital before they go to their internship site. This course is also a great opportunity to bond with fellow program participants and professors. The final week of the class includes a presentation of research on a piece of policy relating to your internship.
Students also have many opportunities to get to know alumni who now hold predominate policy-related positions. Each participant is paired with a mentor who graduated from St. Mary’s and the Washington Program. They meet one-on-one with participants to advise them on their internship positions, review resumes and to make connections. There is also a summer speaker series where alumni come to speak to students. Politicians such as Mayor Brandon Scott of Baltimore and Council Member Robert White of D.C. have led talks on their experiences in politics after college. 

Emily Rudo, class of 2023, interned for the Potomac Group during the summer of 2021 with the Washington Program. When asked about her favorite part about the program, she said “Some of my favorite parts include interning in a field I knew very little about, so I was exposed to a lot of new information and skills –especially since I worked one-on-one with the Founder/CEO. Also, I get to edit and write reports for the firm created for The Nature Conservancy. Lastly, Potomac Group was unable to find an effective way to track information and clients, so I developed a system that they can use –and as far as I know they still do!”

Applications for the Washington Program are now open through January of 2022. Application materials can be found at https://www.smcm.edu/washingtonprogram/.

Reach out to Washington Program Intern Lily Riesett at  lmriesett@smcm.edu with any questions. 

Pride Garden paves way for LGBTQ+ acceptance and agricultural sustainability

By: Hannah Yale

In the aftermath of the successful Call Us By Our Names sit-in for LGBTQ+ student rights, members of the SMCM community are continuing to make progress for queer issues on campus. One such project that has just recently broken ground is the Pride Garden at the Kate Chandler Farm. This new initiative paves the way for progress in both LGBTQ+ acceptance and agricultural sustainability at St. Mary’s.

Environmental studies professor Dr. Barry Ross Muchnick– who openly supported and attended the sit-in during October– told The Point News that he is “impressed and inspired by the resolve and resilience our LGBTQ+ folx” and said that the sit-in “open[ed] channels of communication across campus [and] demonstrated what self-advocacy and collective courage look like.”

At the sit-in at Calvert Hall, Muchnick told protesters about the new Pride Garden at the campus farm that aims to celebrate queer culture and express solidarity with SMCM’s LGBTQ+ community.

The Pride Garden opened this fall after being developed by the Kate Farm and LGBTQ+ student groups like STARS (St. Mary’s Triangle and Rainbow Society) and Transgenda. The Pride Garden is growing rainbow colored produce to sell to the Great Room to support sustainable food practices on campus. The coordinators of the Pride Garden also have plans to launch an online store of Pride Garden merchandise in the near future to help fund other LQBTQ+ awareness projects on campus. 

“The Kate Chandler Campus Community Farm is a safe and inclusive space to grow food, awareness and community,” Muchnick said. The Kate Farm is located just south of SMCM campus on Point Lookout Rd.– about a 10 minute walk from the Campus Center. 

There are many ways for students and faculty to get involved with the Pride Garden and other Kate Farm initiatives. Campus community members can email Dr. Muchnick at brmuchnick@smcm.edu to sign up to volunteer at the Pride Garden, join a Pride Garden coordination email list, or to receive notification when the Pride Garden online store launches. 

Muchnick also recommended that students can learn more about how sustainable agriculture supports inclusion, diversity and equity by enrolling in ENST 391: Field Study in Sustainable Agriculture, next semester.

As the school year progresses, look for “Grown with Pride” signs on dishes and produce in the Great Room, and make sure to visit the Pride Garden to cultivate community, sustainability and LGBTQ+ celebration.

Lunchtime Lecture by Dr. Celia Rabinovitch: “Through Her Own Eyes”

By: Charlotte Mayer

On Wednesday, Nov. 3, Dr. Celia Rabinovitch gave a lecture called “Through Her Own Eyes – Surrealist Women Artists In Their Own Words.” The lecture took place from 12 to 1 p.m. over Zoom. Dr. Rabinovitch looked at the intertwining artistic biographies of surrealist women artists such as Frida Kahlo, Luchita Hurtado, Meret Oppenheim, Dorothea Tanning, Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington.

Dr. Celia Rabinovitch is an artist and writer “whose paintings of mood and luminous atmosphere evoke the uncanny,” says InsideSMCM. She has written two books: “Duchamp’s Pipe: A Chess Romance” and “Surrealism and the Sacred: Power, Eros and the Occult in Modern Art.” Her art has been shown in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. She earned an MFA in painting at the University of Wisconsin,and a Ph.D. in history of religions and art at McGill University in Montreal.

Rabinovitch realized there were many women artists not covered in our history, so she conducted a series of interviews consisting of audios and videotapes starting in 2007. These artists’ take on the art world was different from that of more renowned male artists. 

These women artists, including Frida Kahlo, Luchita Hurtado, Meret Oppenheim, Dorothea Tanning, Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington, challenged the view of women in surrealism as exotic objects or muses. Many of these women actually knew each other and were friends. 

While researching, Rabinovitch found that it is much more interesting to look at actual archives and form your own opinions rather than reading a book someone else has written. With books, you are only getting the author’s point of view, but Rabinovitch is “an independent thinker.” 

One of the more well-known artists Rabinovitch discussed was Frida Kahlo, who once said: “I am not surrealist, I never painted dreams. I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint always whatever passes through my head, without any other consideration.”

Male surrealist artists often “employed the image of woman as an emblem of the unconscious, rooted in the ground, an example of repetition compulsion, and as a vehicle for psychological projections,” according to the presentation. They also referred to the women artists of the movement as “femme-enfant, the child-woman, and saw them not as equals but as muses.”

Meret Oppenheim was a surrealist artist who produced sculptures, paintings, drawings, jewelry, and more. “She constantly challenged society’s rigid definition of male and female and encouraged her audience to tread the fine line between reality and dreams,” said Dr. Rabinovitch in her presentation. 

Another artist, Leanora Carrington, began studies in art at the age of 19 when she took painting lessons in London. She once said, “I don’t have time to be anyone’s muse… I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist.” Leonora Carrington was friends with Remedios Varo, a surrealist artist who worked in Spain, France and Mexico. Dr. Rabinovitch shared many of Varo’s paintings, which are haunting and dreamlike. 

Overall, this lecture was captivating and brought the words of many surrealist women artists to light. Said Dorothea Tanning: “Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don’t see a different purpose for it now.”

Is Marvel’s “Eternals” As Bad As The Reviews Say?

By: Annilee Hampton

Marvel’s newest offering “Eternals” surprised fans in all the wrong ways when its Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score was revealed to be only 47%; Marvel’s first ever film to have a rotten score. However, the audience score differed strongly from the critics’ score, settling at 80% –at the time that this article is being written. This disparity may leave potential viewers wondering whether “Eternals” truly is the worst Marvel movie ever. 

One of “Eternals’” greatest strengths is its diversity, not only in its cast but in its settings. The present-day storyline takes the characters from London to Iraq to the Amazon Rainforest, while flashbacks show ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Babylon and the Aztec Empire. In addition, a wide variety of different languages other than English are used throughout the film, including Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, and even American Sign Language. This serves to highlight the massive scale of the film, taking place across thousands of years and spanning the entire Earth – and beyond.

The film makes sure to give each member of its ensemble cast a chance to shine, however, audiences may be left wanting more from certain characters. For example, Lauren Ridloff’s Makkari, the first deaf superhero in the MCU, is the last of the group to appear in the present day. Makkari’s power of super speed is among the most interesting depicted in the film, leading to a thrilling fight scene in the film’s climax. Also of note is Makkari’s relationship with fellow eternal Druig, played by Barry Keoghan. While the two have very few interactions, their romantic chemistry is palpable, perhaps even more so than the film’s main couple, Sersi — Gemma Chan — and Ikaris — Richard Madden. Other standouts among the cast include Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, an inventor and technopath whose primary motivation comes from his desire to keep his husband and child-safe, and Angelina Jolie as Thena, a warrior struggling with an illness called Mahd Wy’ry which causes her to forget who and where she is. 

Visually, “Eternals” is one of the most spectacular Marvel movies. Director Chloé Zhao has infused the film with a unique style similar to that of her previous film “Nomadland”, which won Best Picture and Best Director at the 2020 Oscars. Much of the film was shot on location rather than through the use of green screens. This gives “Eternals” a much more grounded feel than many of Marvel’s other films, complementing its wide global scope. The film’s visual effects are also notable, particularly the golden cosmic energy that appears whenever an Eternal uses their powers. This looks especially striking on the weapons that Thena conjures out of thin air. Also notable is the design of the invasive species the Deviants. Each creature is unique, with some appearing amphibious, some appearing birdlike and even a Deviant that is more humanoid. The Deviants’ design appears intentionally incomplete and flawed, further emphasizing their monstrousness and establishing them as true threats. Perhaps most striking is the appearance of the Celestial Arishem, whose size is appropriately intimidating and emphasizes the Eternals’ contrasting humanity. 

“Eternals’’ weakest moments tie back to one thing – its runtime. Clocking in at two hours and 37 minutes, the film struggles with pacing, seeming rushed in some places and dragging in others. The beginning of the film, featuring Sersi, Ikaris and Sprite traveling the world in order to assemble the rest of the Eternals, feels particularly repetitive. While the film picks up speed in its second act, it is not quite enough to prevent audiences from feeling its runtime. 

Marvel fans will surely be looking for ties to the rest of the cinematic universe, and Eternals gives them much to think about. The most clear sequel hooks appear in its mid-credits and post-credits scenes, both of which include cameos that no one will see coming for very different reasons. However, throughout the rest of the film, small details tie the Eternals to the Marvel universe both past and future, from mentions of the Global Reparations Council (last seen in Disney+ series “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”) to the appearance of Dane Whitman, played by Kit Harington, who is sure to have a large role in the universe’s future. The film offers multiple opportunities to speculate about the Eternals’ involvement in other films, with one fan wondering if there is a connection between Phastos’s technological abilities and the titular objects in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. 

Overall, “Eternals” is a very different film than its predecessors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While its ambition can sometimes be its downfall, especially in the areas of inconsistent pacing and its lengthy runtime, stellar performances from the cast and outstanding visual effects prove that Eternals is worth your time, even if it might be asking for a little too much of it. 

Alec Baldwin Involved in On-Set Shooting

By: Lily Riesett

On October 21, 2021, Alec Baldwin was in the middle of shooting his low-budget, small crewed film, “Rust,” when a deadly set mishap occurred. This historic filming area, Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been home to many famous westerns, all of which have gone off without a hitch as severe as this. In the middle of shooting a scene, Baldwin picked up and shot his supposedly unloaded prop gun, killing a member of his crew in the process.  

Baldwin’s character, a cowboy outlaw named Hardin Rust, was in the middle of a shootout between a sheriff and a U.S. Marshal in a small wooden church when the fatality occurred. Baldwin was given a .45 Colt Revolver which was told to him to be “cold”, or not loaded with ammunition, by the props workers on set. He held the gun up facing the lens of the camera for a close-up shot of the action, but was stunned when he pulled the trigger and an actual bullet was released. Halyna Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer, was fatally wounded in her stomach while Joel Souza, the film’s director, was injured.

It is difficult to pinpoint the perpetrator of Hutchin’s death in this situation. Though Baldwin was the one who shot the gun, he was told the gun he was holding did not contain live ammunition. The majority of the film’s crew must be looked at to get a solid grasp on who messed up in this situation.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the lead armorer, or the person who handles weapons as props on a movie set, was only 24 when she was hired to work on the set of “Rust.” The gun wasn’t only in the hands of Gutierrez-Reed though. Her lawyer made the argument that  “The first one on this set was the prop master, and the second was a stunt man after Hannah informed him his gun was hot with blanks.” 

Sarah Zachary, the props master, was the first individual to handle the gun the day of the shooting, taking them out of a combination locked safe and handing them to Gutierrez-Reed. She then placed the gun on a cart on set. Dave Halls, the first-assistant director, checked the gun to make sure the only rounds loaded were dummies. These resemble bullets when shot but contain no gun powder. Halls recalls seeing three rounds in the gun, but Gutierrez-Reed did not turn the revolver for him to analyze if they were dummies or not. 

Both Halls and Gutierrez-Reed had come under scrutiny for mishaps on sets before being hired for “Rust.” In 2019 Halls was hired from a movie “Freedom’s Path” after letting a live gun go unchecked causing it to injure a crewmate. Gutierrez-Reed acted as head armorer for Nicolas Cage’s film “The Old Way,” but was almost fired due to having two rounds of live ammunition go off accidentally. 

Though no one has been charged with the death and injury during filming, Baldwin has been sued by multiple crewmembers over keeping an unsafe work environment. The decisions made regarding this case will forever change the way firearms are handled in Hollywood. 

Facebook Experiences Two Major Outages in a Week

By Angelie Roche 

Around 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 4 and 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8, Facebook and all of its connected apps– including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger– became inaccessible to users across the United States and the world. Monday’s outage lasted for five hours and Friday’s for nearly two, causing widespread panic as people who relied on the apps for communication or otherwise depended on that omnipresent ability to scroll through posts suddenly found themselves unable to do so. According to The New York Times, there are nearly 3.5 billion people who use Facebook’s platforms worldwide, and in some places, the internet cannot be accessed without some involvement of Facebook’s services. Many others use the “sign in with Facebook” option when accessing other websites or apps, and were barred from doing so during the outages. 

On Monday afternoon, Facebook sent out an update apologizing for the five-hour blackout and explaining what caused it. According to their engineering team, “configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers,” which caused a disruption so massive it “cascaded” down to every service the company provides. They added that there was no malicious activity or hacking behind the blackout, as that has been a problem with some services in the past and a concern among users; rather, it was simply an error in programming. 

Though Facebook said they were working to fix these issues, the second outage on Friday suggested that there could be even more in the future. Both outages occurred just after the social media giant was exposed for prioritizing profit above restricting hate speech on Oct. 3. The whistleblower, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen, said that the company was aware of the harm Instagram caused to teens’ mental health and the misinformation about vaccines that was being spread on Facebook, but did little to mitigate either. 

Facebook’s many problems– some of which have been occurring for years now and are only worsening– are raising questions about social media, big tech companies and mental health for people worldwide. Officials in Moscow, Russia used the blackouts as an example of global technology’s failures, stating that its nationalized social media was superior. In Belgium, EU antitrust chief Vestager said that the blackouts showed the danger of tech monopolies and the need for more competition in Silicon Valley, stating that we “must not rely on a few big players” to control much of our internet usage. 

Still, others cited the short-term positive effects of the outage. In an interview with CNN, therapist Ian Kerner said that the 5-hour gap made some of his patients realize how reliant they had been on social media. Scrolling through your feed is a quick and easy way to gain serotonin, but it is not a healthy coping mechanism; for some, the outages on Sunday were reminders to take a break, go outdoors and turn off their phones for a while. Still, the wider implications of Facebook’s recent crashes left us all with more questions than answers.

Supreme Court Votes No on D.C. Voter Representation

By Jordan Williams

On Monday, Oct. 4, the Supreme Court struck down a case that would have granted District of Columbia (D.C.) residents the right to vote for representatives in Congress. The case was called CASTANON v. United States, Dist. Court, Dist. of Columbia 2020. In this case, the plaintiffs argued that D.C. residents were entitled to representation by virtue of being U.S. citizens who have residency in other states. Their argument did not include a right to statehood, but rather a right to vote for representatives of states that they resided in the past before they moved to D.C. For example, a Maryland resident who goes to D.C. should be allowed to vote for Maryland representatives, according to the plaintiff’s argument. “They cited laws that have entitled residents of other federal enclaves or U.S. citizens living overseas to vote even though they do not currently reside in states, saying the same logic should apply to residents of D.C.,” said the Washington Post. 

The Court sided against the plaintiffs, citing Supreme Court precedent from Adams v. Clinton 2000, which stated that D.C. residents could not vote for representatives because they do not reside in a state. While the decision dealt a blow to the D.C. activists, it is ultimately insignificant to the overall movement. The Supreme Court ruling does not prevent Congress from passing a law to give D.C. a vote in Congress. Indeed, with a 6-3 Conservative majority in the Supreme Court, taking the fight to Congress remains the most promising option towards representation in the District. The Court’s decision does not make any claim on the constitutionality of D.C. statehood, which means that Congress most likely has the constitutional ability to make D.C. the 51st state through a vote.

This is easier said than done; D.C. activists have been trying to achieve statehood for decades. In order for D.C. to become a state, a bill would have to pass in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Democrats in Congress argue that D.C. residents have the right to federal representation by virtue of paying federal taxes, while Republicans argue that D.C. would be an abnormal state and push the boundaries of what statehood means. If D.C. were to join the 50 states, it would be the smallest in terms of territory and have the third lowest population.

The Legends of Southern Maryland

By Ellie Pratt 

Southern Maryland is a place teeming with legends of ghosts, witches and all manner of strange things. Although they may seem silly at times, Julia King, a professor of Anthropology at St. Mary’s explained that: “Ghost stories help us work through some of the anxieties that we as a society have–sort of cultural anxieties… They also show that even though we think we’re a very literate 21st century culture, we still have our oral traditions that we tell and work out through ghost stories.” 

One of the most famous examples of Southern Maryland ghost stories is Point Lookout. Formerly a prison camp during the American Civil War, this is the site of over 4,000 deaths of confederate soldiers. According to Edwin Warfield Beitzell in his book “Point Lookout, Prison Camp for Confederates,” “The tale of the camp is a horrid story to tell. It is a story of cruel decisions in high places, a story of diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid and typhus, of burning sands and freezing cold in rotten tents. It is a story of senseless shootings by guards.” 

In her book, “Archaeology, Narrative, and the Politics of the Past: The View from Southern Maryland” King says that although it cannot be scientifically proven that Point Lookout is haunted by ghosts, “Telling stories about ghosts at Point Lookout has become a important way of talking about and actively remembering Point Lookout’s difficult past.” 

Many have reported paranormal activity in or around the lighthouse, with the Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society even compiling all of these documented hauntings on their website. Screams, strange whispers and even far off drums can be heard in the recordings collected on the site, in addition to interviews with those haunted and photographs of blurry figures, shadows, and strange lights. 

The legend of Moll Dyer, a woman accused of being a witch in 1698, is another prominent story in Southern Maryland culture. According to legend, St. Mary’s County had been consumed by sickness and crop failure for a few months, and the townsfolk were looking for someone to blame. Unfortunately, the older single woman living alone in the woods became their scapegoat, and she only just managed to run to the woods when they burned her home to the ground. 

The story goes that as she lay dying from hypothermia, she gripped a nearby boulder and burned her handprint into it, cursing the town and all those who had done this to her. According to The Washington Post, after it was found in 1968, the rock lived at the Old Jail in Downtown Leonardtown before being moved to Tudor Hall in early 2021, where anyone can go visit to see the strange handprint left in the rock.

Like with Point Lookout, King stated that this story can tell us something about how we remember a difficult past: “Moll Dyer is another sort of anxiety . . . the story has a lot to say about– in that period– women who live alone and who may be ascribed certain powers that are not necessarily looked on favorably by the community.” 

In her St. Mary’s Project titled “Ghosts and the Creation of Place,” Sabrina Graham notes that “​​ghost stories in St. Mary’s were utilized as a way of creating place through the establishment of community identity.” According to her research in the community, “ghost stories were used to forge a personal connection with history just as much as they were used to interpret it.” 

So, although ghost stories might be considered meaningless entertainment most of the time, they have many uses from a way to cope with loss and grief to a way to remember–or to change–an unpleasant past. Overall, they provide an amazing amount of insight into our own cultural values and community, which can be seen in our very own local legends. 

Student Opinions on Parking Regulations at Historic 

By Ellie Pratt

On Sept. 13, 2021, the official Instagram of the student government association for St. Mary’s posted a reminder that “Public safety can still ticket you if you park in Historic, even if you’re a patron of Enso’s. Avoid the $20 fine, take a bike and enjoy the walk!” This post sparked some controversy, with students questioning what made them any different to other patrons of Historic St. Mary’s City and why they could be fined. 

According to Public Safety’s ticket records, year to date–as of Oct. 1–out of a total 518 parking tickets issued, there have been 46 parking tickets issued for Lot A–Historic St. Mary’s City. Tressa Setlak, the director of Public Safety for St. Mary’s explained: “The college and Historic St. Mary’s City have a memorandum of understanding…in that memorandum of understanding, we provide patrol and security services to Historic, and we also have an agreement with them that they allow us to use a few spaces in Historic’s lot for faculty and staff specifically.” She went on to say “Part of the patrol security services that we offer is we enforce parking regulations on Historic’s property, so Lot A belongs to Historic.” 

Dr. Regina Faden, the executive director of Historic St. Mary’s City, told The Point News: “When people park vehicles in the State House lot and leave them there as they go to class or meetings, this ties up limited spaces for visitors to the museum. As the [Instagram] post explained, cars parking in bus spaces has caused significant problems in the past. When school children are visiting we need to provide a place for their coach buses to park, as the tour requires students to be on and off the bus through their four hours on site.” 

Junior Hannah Yale is mostly concerned with the accessibility of Historic for disabled students. She suggested a collaboration between Public Safety, Historic, and the Accommodations Office “to issue school wide accessible parking passes for students who have physical disabilities but don’t have a state-issued disabled parking placard. That way, students could use their own vehicles as mobility aids to help them get around campus.” 

Public safety has worked with OAS to work out an option for temporarily disabled students. Setlak explained: “There’s four or five handicap spaces right in the front of Lot A –which belongs to Historic. So I did work with [historic] and we share those spots now, so if we have a student from accessibility services that has some mobility issues temporarily they can get a permit from OAS that lets them use those spaces.” 

Sydney Lipsman, a senior, has mixed feelings about the situation. On one hand she understands why Historic must regulate Lot A. It is connected to campus, but is not the college campus and that should be respected. However, students do patronize Enso’s and Historic regularly, and Lipsman sees this as a big part of the campus culture, so prioritizing other visitors over St. Mary’s students is upsetting. 

“The parking regulations are kind of ridiculous sometimes,” she stated and expressed interest in alternative solutions like allowing students to park there after a certain time or on certain days in order to foster a better and more accessible relationship between students and Historic.  

The issue of student parking at Historic has been a longstanding issue; however, it is important to understand that Lot A is the property of St. Mary’s City, and Public Safety can only work within the agreement that has been established. Perhaps in the future, more flexible accommodations can be made for students, but for now the policy remains. 

Is the Full Fall Semester Better?

By Ellie Pratt

Fall 2020 was an incredibly strange time for most people, but especially for students. Here at St. Mary’s, the majority of classes were completely virtual, in addition to the semester being compressed. Rather than ending two weeks after Thanksgiving break, students went home the week before and had finals the week after online. 

This compressed semester did have its benefits. Due to concerns over a COVID-19 outbreak on campus, it made sense for students to not come back after visiting their families for the fall holidays. It also created a longer winter break, allowing many to relax after an incredibly stressful year. 

Senior Emily Corral noted that “The condensed semester allowed me to spend more time with my family and unwind before classes started again in the spring.” Corral also expressed concern for this semester, stating “Since the entire student population is on campus this fall, it leaves room for questions of if we’re going to experience COVID problems later in the semester when we all return from Thanksgiving break or even when a fair percentage of people go home and return from fall reading days.” 

Corral admitted that the 14 week semester with little to no break was “very mentaly and emotionally exhausting” and that being home and doing school virtually helped her through it a lot. She went on to say that the bumps and kinks of last fall’s compressed semester could have easily been solved for fall 2021 and that starting slightly earlier and adding a few mental health days–as the school did during the shorter spring semester–would have been simple and very possible. 

Sophie Hannah, a junior, expressed a different opinion about last year’s compressed schedule. To her, having a longer semester, “just makes work more manageable and prevents burnout.” Last fall was overwhelming for Hannah, as it was for many students, and she did not enjoy having to do the same amount of coursework in a much shorter period with no reprieves. 

Additionally, the lack of social and physical interaction during the school’s completely virtual semester was difficult to adjust to. Hannah put it plainly with, “The compressed semester was online and that sucked.” This blunt statement is echoed in research done on how online courses affect student learning with a study by Eric P. Bettinger, Lindsay Fox, Susanna Loeb and Eric S. Taylor for Harvard University. The study found that “taking a course online, instead of in-person, reduces student success and progress in college. Grades are lower both for the course taken online and in future courses. Students are less likely to remain enrolled at the university.” 

Having a compressed semester comes with both advantages and disadvantages; however, with the lack of an online option for students to work through the stress of a faster-paced term in the comfort of their own homes it may not be particularly desirable for most. There is always the option in the future of starting the fall semester slightly earlier and still ending before Thanksgiving break, reducing the possibility of people bringing COVID-19 back to campus and allowing for a longer winter break.