Welcome from the Student Trustee

Greetings St. Mary’s community!

My name is Taylor Schafer and I am proud and honored to be your student trustee for the 2014-2015 school year! As a senior and very involved member of the community, I will serve as the voice and a liaison between the student body and the Board of Trustees. I want to thank last year’s student trustee, Michael Killius ’14, for guiding and preparing me for this year. I am also pleased to introduce student trustee-in-training Eric Schroeder ’16, who will join me in the spring when he returns from Dublin to prepare for his role as my successor.

The Board of Trustees serves as the governing body for the College, making major big picture decisions regarding things like student tuition, campus construction, and external and government relations. I encourage you all to attend our quarterly meetings, the first of which will be held on Saturday, September 20, at 8:30a.m. in the Glendening Annex. All are welcome.

For those of you who don’t know, this year’s Orientation theme was “A Voyage to a New Beginning.” Of course, the theme is referring to St. Mary’s starting its year with some new faces—a new president, a new dean of students, a new public safety director, etc. And of course, our newest Seahawks, the cohort of 2014, who joined us just last week. I welcome you all to campus and look forward to working with you all this year to move St. Mary’s forward in a positive direction. I encourage you all to carry the theme of new beginnings with you throughout the entire year in order to strengthen our community. The best way to do that is to be open-minded to change and the views of others, to lend a helping hand whenever you can, to pay attention to the language you use, to try something new, and to engage in meaningful dialogue with others. In short, embrace the St. Mary’s Way.

So I challenge you all: next time you overhear an offensive comment or rude slur used, say something. Next time an interesting and exciting opportunity arises, take it. Next time you see someone lost or hurting or alone, guide them. May we remember all the times we’ve been helped, guided, and saved in our lives, and pay it forward.

As a student trustee, I plan on spearheading several projects and events that will embrace the challenges listed above—to engage students in positive dialogue and awareness within our community and beyond. I will be communicating in several ways to the campus to give information about those projects throughout the year. For now, I encourage you all to reach out to me if you have questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions. I am always willing to chat and I look forward to creating an unforgettable new beginning with you all!

 

Love,

Taylor Schafer ‘15

Student Trustee

 

  • Open Hours: Monday 11am-1pm @ The Daily Grind
  • Twitter: @TaylorSMCM
  • Email: tmschafer@smcm.edu
  • Stop me on the path!

Tackling 'Bad Words, Bad Language, and Bullying on Campus'

DISCLAIMER: Explicit or triggering language is used in this article.

Slut. Faggot. Whore. Cunt. “That’s gay.” “You’re so retarded.”

If these words don’t make you feel uncomfortable, why not? It’s not a criticizing question, it’s just part of a profound realization that our society has become so desensitized to words with hateful roots. We barely take the time to stop and think what they mean. And the words above just skim the surface. The list goes on and on with racial slurs, sexist comments, religious and political criticisms, and verbal bullying in general.

And if these words do make you feel uncomfortable, how do you stop them from being used? It’s hard to stand up to others and call them out for using words that are offensive, even if you do it in a polite way. Most of the time it’s our friends or family – who we don’t want to embarrass or alienate by reprimanding – especially if they are not using the words in a directly derogatory way.

So how do we stop this epidemic of bad words, bad language, and bullying in our world, in our communities, and on our campus? Let’s talk about it.

On Monday, Sept. 30, Student Government Association (SGA) Programs Board held the first discussion of a series called “St. Mary’s Speaks,” which focuses on major issues in our culture and world today. Monday’s discussion was titled, “Bad Words, Bad Language, and Bullying on our Campus,” and was facilitated by Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Joanne Goldwater and Director of Campus Programming senior Anuli Duru.

Duru started the series because she “was tired of the silence. There are and have been many issues on this campus and in this world that few of us know of, but most are unaware of or don’t realize the extent that the issue is severe,” she said. “Language is a beautiful thing but in many ways, we’ve distorted it to have ugly meanings and to hurt or attack one another – and this one way that bullying, discrimination, and hatred thrives,” Duru stated. “Yet if we have the power to create these words, we also have the power to destroy them – and that requires dialogue.”

The group talked about how to tackle the issue of hurtful language on campus, agreeing that it starts with us. Simply being aware of the words we say and paying attention to what others say is a good first step. Checking ourselves and our words, not being afraid to let others know if they are using offensive language, and simply talking about it in an appropriate setting – it will only work if it starts in the grassroots.

Duru mentioned that the program was successful because “everyone was engaged…even after the discussion ended, the dialogue continued on. It was so great to see people continuing the discussion and it gave me hope that we are making a difference one step at a time and one voice at time.”

Duru will be holding more discussions throughout the year with the help of professors and staff members “to give everyone an opportunity to speak, to listen, and to learn.” The next discussion will be held on Monday, Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. in Cole Cinema. The topic will be “How Can WE Solve World Hunger?” with Assistant Professor of Philosophy Barrett Emerick.

Renovations to The Pub and Upper Deck Nearly Complete

After the recent transition into the new food services operation on campus, renovations in the Upper Deck area of the Campus Center and The Pub on North Campus are nearly complete.

Changes to the food services on campus began on Aug. 29, which included extended hours in the Great Room (now open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.) instead of only for certain time frames throughout the day. In addition to the Great Room’s hours and meal plan options, other new changes include the closing of the Green Bean Café in Goodpaster Hall, the closing of the Upper Deck — both Quizno’s and The Grill — and the extension of The Pub services and hours.

Since the Upper Deck services have discontinued in May, renovations have been underway to convert the space into additional Great Room seating. As pictured, the new space will consist of overflow seating, a demo station for Big T. where Quizno’s once was, and a new prep and storage room where The Grill used to be.

In addition to the new seating, the space will be utilized as a study, club meeting and programming area after the Great Room closes daily at 8:30 p.m., according to Director of Residence Life Joanne Goldwater. Community members will be able to gain access to the space through two doors accessible from the Upper Deck hallway.

As to when the space will open, “the projected date is some time in the last week of September,” said Bon Appetit General Manager David Sansotta. According to Sansotta, the goal is to have the space open for Family Weekend at Hawktoberfest, which is scheduled for Oct. 4-6.

The Pub, which opened on Monday, is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The Pub has absorbed the services of The Green Bean Café and the Grab n’ Go, and it will now serve coffee, snacks, and regular Grab n’ Go items in addition to its normal menu. Grab n’ Go services will be available everyday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., coffee and snacks during all operating hours, and regular cook to order menu items from 5 to 10 p.m. everyday and until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Though the cook to order menu has not expanded since the recent changes have been made, eventually new menu items such as various hot sandwiches will eventually become available, according to Sansotta.

All of these changes came into focus when the College developed a Food Master Plan in 2012 in accordance to the Campus Master Plan that will be completed over the next 15 years. In June, when the College renewed their food services contract with Bon Appetit, Procurement Officer Pat Hunt began to work with the company’s architect to plan out how the changed spaces like The Pub and Upper Deck would be best utilized and designed.

Goldwater was on the original food master plan committee along with other staff members like Hunt, Vice President for Business and Finance Chip Jackson, and Assistant Vice President for Finance Chris True. According to her, her position on the committee was “being an advocate for the students.” Both Goldwater and Jackson presented ideas and took input at numerous Student Government Association (SGA) meetings last year, and final changes were proposed to the community in the spring. The opening of The Pub and Upper Deck will be the final implementations of the food service changes on campus.

In regards to the food service changes as a whole, both Sansotta and Goldwater have reported positive feedback from students. “I’ve gotten a little bit of feedback, and the students are happy,” claimed Goldwater. “They seem to be enjoying the anytime dining plans. I’m sad that we couldn’t have the Upper Deck and The Pub open at the start of the year, but things happen.”

“Everybody’s been loving it,” said Sansotta. “We’ve also noticed on Tuesdays and Thursdays that we’ve had a nice crowd around 2 or 3 o’clock.”

Hunt also added that Bon Appetit and the College’s food service committee members will monitor the flow of traffic in The Pub and Great Room and continue to welcome feedback throughout the year.

Administration Clarifies Concerns About Public Safety

Over the past few weeks, there has been much buzz and confusion throughout campus about the newly hired Public Safety Director, Sean Tallarico, and his plans for Public Safety (PS) as he assumes his new role.

Tallarico spoke at the March 26 Student Government Association (SGA) meeting, in which questions were raised by student leaders regarding the future of PS’s presence and role on campus. The major concerns included whether officers would be carrying guns, how the student conduct system would be changed, and Tallarico’s overall approach to St. Mary’s, him being new to the College and the area.

These queries came to light after an article was published by TheBaynet.com covering the St. Mary’s County Sheriff Office meeting held on the St. Mary’s campus on March 21. Tallarico was in attendance, and was interviewed by TheBaynet.com about his plans as the new PS Director. In the article, Tallarico mentioned that he wanted “to move his force towards having full police powers,” after noting that he himself had full police powers and carried a gun at his previous job at Moravian College in Pennsylvania.

This brought concerns to the campus community due to the College’s reputation of a generally safe place.

When asked about the article in the SGA meeting, Tallarico claimed that his comments were taken out of context. Dean of Students Bert Ifill also noted that Tallarico was “entirely misquoted,” according to President Joe Urgo.

During the 40-minute question and answer period in the SGA meeting, the direct question of whether or not PS officers would be carrying guns in the near future was asked several times, however, no direct yes or no answer was offered from Tallarico.

Ifill responded to the article’s claims by stating that Tallarico was being asked about a specific hypothetical situation — if there were to be a shooter loose on campus — and not his thoughts on PS officers carrying guns. The article posed Tallarico saying that in the event of a shooter on campus, he would “tell his men [and women] to get as far away from that as possible, because it would be a situation of an armed person against an unarmed police force.” The article then claimed, “Tallarico did say, however, that he is licensed to carry a gun and as a sworn officer, it would be hard for him to walk away from the situation.” “The situation” the article is referring to, according to Ifill, is him intervening if a shooter was on campus and he was unarmed due to his responsibility of keeping the campus safe, not carrying a gun.

Dick Myers, TheBaynet.com reporter and author of the article, however, simply stated, “I stand by the article,” when asked about the misquoting claims of Ifill and Tallarico.

Ifill put skepticisms to rest, however, by mentioning that he and Tallarico have had specific conversations about the topic of PS officers carrying guns. “From our own [the College community’s] set of values, it’s not workable,” he claimed. Urgo also confirmed that “there are absolutely no plans to do that.”

Other concerns raised by student leaders include Tallarico’s inclusion of the students in making such decisions about PS’s roles on campus, and Tallarico’s knowledge of the St. Mary’s Way and campus culture. Tallarico said that getting to know the campus and students is very important to him. Ifill noted that his interest in the community is one of the reasons he was being considered for the job.

Still, after the March 26 SGA meeting in which Tallarico spoke, concerns among students in regards to PS’s future role on campus remained.

So on April 2, Ifill came to speak at the SGA meeting to clear up any lingering questions about Tallarico’s plans, and attempted to put rumors to rest.

In the meeting, Ifill opened by stating three main principles that both the administration and Tallarico would like PS to soon embody. Those three principles are: 1) giving PS more positive visibility on campus, 2) keeping the student conduct system as educational and not a crime and punishment system, and 3) to give PS officers more training so they can do their jobs at the highest caliber possible.

Though Ifill outlined these main three goals, he said, “The major principle, though, is that they are here to keep us and our campus safe. It’s not about dividing the community into perps and victims. I want the officers to be part of the community, too.”

When commenting on the second principle, which addresses PS’s role in the student conduct system, Ifill stressed that the St. Mary’s system is very unique among college campuses, and becoming ever rarer as time progresses. “The point of our system is to impose community standards on our community. It’s an accountability system imposed by students.” Ifill also mentioned the importance of the educational aspect of the system.

While concerns were raised in the SGA meeting Tallarico attended over how severely PS’s role in the conduct system will be changed, Tallarico mentioned that any changes made will be aimed at improving PS officers’ performances when handling cases. A sting of discontent was felt throughout the room, though, when Tallarico stated that he would like outcomes of student conduct hearings to be reported to PS. Right now, PS does not receive those outcomes, so officers involved in hearings do not know how a given case is resolved. Reasonings for that stem from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which states that the students’ conduct records are protected from parents or other certain outside parties unless permitted by the student. If PS obtains outcomes of hearings, the student is then not protected under the act.

Both Ifill and Urgo noted that the administration and Tallarico are planning to review the judicial process as a whole along with Student Conduct Officer Kelly Smolinsky. According to Ifill, Smolinsky is currently researching a “restorative justice” system, which would give justice to both the affected victims and offenders in a given case without breaching confidentiality.

As far as giving PS officers “full police powers,” a term in which had not been clearly defined, Ifill mentioned that simply “any police powers has to be negotiated with the campus community. There are a number of abilities that PS officers have already that we use with discretion,” he said. Those powers include the ability to issue search warrants, stop cars on campus, etc.

Ifill’s main concerns with the extended training, however, are specifically geared to handling bigger incidents on campus, such as sexual assault. “The skills I’d like PS officers to have is to be better acquainted with the laws of the state, better able to diffuse situations, and having good judgment to be able to recognize where there may be risk,” he said. “I want PS to be an ally in the Green Dot Program, also in helping teach the community how to interject in hazardous situations correctly.” Ifill also said that part of the training will include knowing who to go to for bigger cases within the St. Mary’s Sheriff Department and other law enforcement agencies as necessary.

While the extra training will certainly cost the College money, Ifill was not sure of the exact expense. According to him, Tallarico would need to present a proposal for the training to Ifill and then the budget would be sorted out from there. Ifill also noted that the training would not be for all of the officers.

From here on out, Ifill said that plans include getting Tallarico more involved and visible in the campus community. One of the first steps Tallarico intends to take is reinstating the Public Safety Advisory Committee, which was started under former Director Dave Zylak.

Tallarico expressed his intent to bring back the advisory committee, which is currently being rebuilt with Student Trustee senior Alex Walls, junior William Sokolove, and junior Jenny Housley. Meetings have been taking place last week and this week to determine the role the committee will play and its members, according to Tallarico.

“It is my belief that where PS is concerned, any dialog that fosters a better understanding of safety and security on campus promotes safer students in a safer environment. I believe students want a place they can share their concerns and a good PS Department needs to establish the ability to have ongoing communication so that the campus community understands what the role of PS is and why it does what it does.

“PS should not only be seen as the department that shows up when something bad happens or is only around to be the enforcers of rules and regulations,” Tallarico said. “Its primary role is within and must be part of, the education framework.”

Four Seniors To Complete 'Ride Across America'

Fun fact: It is 3,440 miles from the Washington Monument in Washington DC to the San Francisco Bay in California.

About 5 and a half hours by plane and 1.5 days by car, seniors Nathan Smith, Alex Cole, Lukas Iriola, and Devin Jerrard will see every mile of this cross-country journey from their bicycles, in 41 days.

On the morning of May 12–with freshly printed St. Mary’s diplomas in hand–Smith, Cole, Iriola, and Jerrard will start their journey from the Washington Monument.

Though the quartet has planned their trip over 41 days, Smith mentioned that that is ambitious. According to him, that’s on average 85 miles per day.

“Traditionally, you touch your back tire to of body of water and your front tire in another body of water [on a cross-country trip],” said Smith. “So we’ll get the tidal basin [in DC] and the bay [in San Francisco].”

The route of their trek will take them through Western Maryland, up through Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Northern Nevada, and right through to California, according to Smith. “That is a ‘Race Across America’ route,” he said. “It’s a route with a lot of bike shops on it.” Smith also currently manages the SMCM Bike Shop on campus.

In addition to being an adventure of a lifetime, the four cyclists are currently raising money to support Alzheimer’s research. Each of the seniors will be aiming to raise at least $1,700 for the trip: $1,200 for their personal expenses and $500 plus to donate to Alzheimer’s.

After Smith noted that he and other riders had been affected by the disease, he also stated that numbers of those directly affected by Alzheimer’s are expected to increase three fold. “In our lifetimes, mental health problems will be major concerns. The organization we are donating to specifically does care-oriented research.”

According to Smith, Cole and Iriola came to him with the idea for the trip. After much consideration, Smith agreed and started planning. Smith mentioned that they have all gained support from friends and family, and even strangers via their social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get a better time in my life to do this,” said Smith. “The consequences of taking a risk like this at this point in my life aren’t very severe.”

“I’m really excited for people that we’re gonna meet, and the interesting food,” Smith added. “I’m excited for waking up in some amazing place, and I think there’s gonna be a lot of times when all of us go “what in the world are we doing?’ but it will be part of the fun,” he said.

Smith also mentioned that the SMCM Bookstore is sponsoring their trip, and has donated four St. Mary’s biking jerseys.

The four participants have a website for their trip in order to gain support via donations and advertise their trip: http://www.aridetoremember.net/.

In addition to accepting donations, the four riders are hosting an event at the Green Door on April 23. The SGA Programs Board will be hosting a Coffeehouse event in accordance with the Office of Service and Social Change on April 25 in the Grind to support the trip as well. All proceeds will go towards the trip.

Art Students Project Talent in 'Lightscape'

On April 3, students of the Advanced Digital Art class displayed their projects on the sides of various campus buildings. Work was projected on the Admissions Field, the ARC, Montgomery Hall, Goodpaster Hall, and the Campus Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Food Review: Teariffic

By Simone Levine

Hidden behind Thai Inter and squashed next to Famous Footwear, Teariffic, a restaurant with self-described “authentic and healthy Chinese food,” was crowded but not bursting at 6:00 on the Friday night when I visited, with the overall volume kept down to a comforting, dull roar. The restaurant is absolutely child-friendly, with high chairs and booster seats at the ready and familiar foods, such as lo mein or fried rice, that children feel comfortable ordering. The atmosphere is casual; patrons order at the counter and then seat themselves after getting their own water and utensils from a tray. There are Chinese pictures and a scroll along the walls, and one wall is covered with bamboo stalks.

I went to Teariffic with an open mind and an empty stomach, and I was not disappointed. The staff was friendly and helpful: the woman at the counter helped my friend and me pick out drinks and chatted politely with us. The food was absolutely delicious. I ordered tofu with mushrooms in brown sauce and my friend ordered vegetable lo mein.

The tofu was cooked to perfection, with the outside browned, hardened, and chewy and the inside still white and slightly raw. The mushrooms were a little undercooked, and I was unable to finish them after I had helped myself to the giant portion of rice that came with my meal.

Our drinks had great flavor, but the bubbles (black, chewy tapioca balls, for those who are less versed in the ways of bubble tea) were a little stale and got stuck in our teeth. My friend, who had never had bubble tea before, was intrigued, and said with a mixture of disgust and excitement, “It’s like I’m slurping fish eggs out of water, but in a good way.”

I had mixed feelings about the atmosphere. While the college-aged women next to us on one side were extremely friendly and struck up a conversation with us about tofu (they had never tried it before), the table on our other side was extremely rude to their server and loudly let loose a number of sounds that one does not expect or want to hear while eating dinner in a restaurant.

Teariffic itself was very pleasant and casual while still maintaining the mood of any other somewhat nice, sit-down restaurant, but that second table ruined the night for us. My friend and I both lost our appetites and wound up taking our food in to-go boxes (Styrofoam, unfortunately) rather than stay and listen to them yell at each other, the servers, and those who turned to see where the racket and belching was coming.

The service and the food itself were fantastic, and I would definitely recommend Teariffic to anyone looking for a casual restaurant that is a couple steps above a greasy Chinese food joint. They have the options of either carry out or sit-down dining, as well as an online menu and website so that hungry patrons can call ahead and have their food waiting when they get there. The service is so fast, however, that I would not recommend doing this if you are planning on sitting down and eating. I would give Teariffic a solid 4 out of 5 stars and my own stamp of approval for a tasty meal and wonderful service.

Burlesque Performers Appreciate the Student "Body"

On April 5-7, the St. Mary’s (SMCM) Burlesque Club held its spring burlesque show, titled Ifs, Ands, or Butts, in St. Mary’s Hall to a packed and extremely supportive crowd. The show opened with the club’s president, Miss Bella Vita, and co-vice president, The D.C. Chickadee, introducing the performance and the MC’s, Dr. Drei-Del and Easy Rider. After telling the audience how much they appreciated them coming out to see the performance, The D.C. Chickadee said with her typical humor and wit, “You could say we appreciate the student body.”

The performers all used stage names to maintain anonymity and mystery, and it was extremely effective; except for the few audience members who knew their friends’ stage names, it was a source of great anticipation and excitement to wait for the lights to come up and reveal which performer was on stage.

The acts ranged from a balletic performance by Miss Daisy Divine, to “Blue Velvet” by Lana Del Ray, to a messy but fabulous act by The Sweetest Tea  a mix of “Let’s Make a Pie,” “Candy Shop,” and “Birthday Cake” that ended with her spraying whipped cream and chocolate syrup on herself and eating a cupcake. Most of the acts had one performer, but there were two pieces that used more: the first was a hysterical three-person pirate-themed act that incorporated sword-fighting and jealous lovers, and the second was a hauntingly beautiful horror/zombie act complete with simulated blood and gore.

The show had two Acts and seventeen performances, with the two halves separated by an intermission activity. On Friday, April 5, The D.C. Chickadee and Miss Bella Vita orchestrated a pasty raffle, with the prizes personally made by members of the burlesque club. On Saturday and Sunday, the SMCM improvisation group, Take One! Improv, gave a hysterical performance based on audience-suggested scenarios.

Rather than having a stage crew clear the stage of clothing and glitter after each performance, the burlesque club continued its tradition of costumed stage hands, called stage kittens, who set up and cleaned up the stage before and after each act with their typical sass and occasional meowing. Their duties ranged from putting down a tarp before the messier pieces to setting up a pole for Poetry N Motion’s fantastic performance, which took place entirely on the pole and showcased her strength and artistry as she expertly executed spins and flips, occasionally only using one arm or leg to hold herself onto the pole.

Most of the acts had some kind of additional theme or attention-grabber apart from people taking their clothes off. Mirage, for example, had a The Hobbit-inspired performance to “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” by Leonard Nimoy and had the lights shut off as she became “invisible” by putting on the Ring. Babydoll performed a cute and entertaining piece to “Sweater Weather” by The Neighborhood in which she would put on and take off various sweaters until deciding she was more comfortable in her own skin. Additionally, many of the acts included acrobatics such as tumbles and splits, as well as both traditional and modern dance moves.

During a talkback with the performers, they exhibited their wit and grace while answering questions that ranged from where they purchased their outfits (“Your local Internet,” answered one performer with a rye smile) to how they picked their songs and themes. Miss Daisy Divine answered the latter question saying, “I didn’t have one particular moment of inspiration, I just listened to a bunch of songs,” and many performers nodded in agreement.

All in all, the spring burlesque performance was an entertaining night that combined sex appeal with humor, storytelling, and glitter.

The next set of performances will occur during the Fall 2013 semester, and will certainly elaborate and expand on the already very impressive SMCM burlesque club legacy.

A Student's Quest for Small Mammals on Campus

A couple of weeks ago, I was extremely bored on a Saturday night. I had been mulling over the idea for a while of proposing to change the school’s policy on pets to include small mammals, but I had been too busy and/or lazy to actually do anything about it. That night, I walked around Caroline Hall with a legal pad and an idea, and I wound up getting over 50 signatures in favor of changing the policy, with only two refusals due to personal preference.

Since then, I have met with Director of Residence Life and Associate Dean of Students Joanne Goldwater, President Urgo, Dean of Students Bert Ifill, and several members of the SGA to discuss my ideas. I think that this is an important issue that, if implemented with restrictions and regulations to protect individuals with allergies and fears, is entirely reasonable and doable in time for the 2014-2015 school year.

So far, the SGA has passed legislation to allow discussion and consideration for this issue, and I am in the process of drafting a specific proposal to be presented before the SGA. I have been circulating the original draft of my proposal around administration, and have been editing it according to their concerns.

There has been some confusion when I show my proposal, so allow me to define small mammals. My list of “approved” animals is growing and I am absolutely willing to speak with someone who wants to add or remove an animal to/from the list, but so far it has the broad definition of any animal that can be left alone in a (maximum) 3 cubic foot cage for long periods of time and still have a high quality of life. This can include gerbils, hamsters, hedgehogs, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc. but unfortunately means that dogs and cats are not included in my proposal.

Dogs and cats require too much space and attention, and create the additional problems of safety (dogs and cats can cause severe pain with bites and scratches) and noise. I came to the 3 cubic foot rule because of the current rules, which allow non-carnivorous fish and non-venomous reptiles as long as they can be kept in a 20 gallon tank or smaller. 20 gallons is the equivalent of 2.67 cubic feet, which I have rounded to 3 feet because pet stores will not take you seriously if you get that specific, and also my OCD.

I need to stress that safety of St. Mary’s students is my (and administration’s) number one concern. Many students have severe allergies to animal fur and dander. Even if a student with a hypoallergenic pet were to keep their room extremely clean and ensure that the animal does not come into direct contact with individuals with allergies, the issue of central air comes into play.

Most rooms on campus with air conditioning use central air, which means that animal dander (which is present even in hypoallergenic animals) can spread from one room or suite to another through the air conditioning units. Not to mention that dander is still present in rooms that no longer have pets up to a year after the pet is removed, even if the room is vigorously cleaned and aired out. To ensure the students’ safety, my proposal designates one or two sections of WC and the Greens as “pet friendly” buildings; both of these locations have isolated buildings that could safely house pets without the risk of contaminating unwilling individuals and their rooms through central air.

Additionally, I am not taking the pets’ safety lightly either. I recognize that college students can be careless or neglectful, even if it is not on purpose. That is why my proposal includes mandatory registration of all animals on campus, not just mammals, and several accompanying forms to ensure the safety of students, pets, and the school’s property.

While signing in the beginning of each semester, students with pets must sign a form stating that they have an animal in their room and that they accept all responsibility for the animal’s safety and for the safety of those who come in contact with it. As a part of room checks during breaks, students would have to sign out their pets the same way that they check off that they have lowered the blinds and emptied the trash.

Along with registration, students would have to supply a vet’s or store’s form showing that the animal has been spayed or neutered and has no fleas, bugs, or contagious diseases (including a rabies shot for ferrets, which are carnivorous). In addition, all housemates and roommates must sign a form that states acknowledgment and permission of the animal’s presence, and all pet owners must sign a form saying that they have read and are aware of current animal abuse laws.

A $300 “pet deposit” would also be required, and would be given back in part or in full at the cleaning staff’s discretion at the end of the year, based on smells or damages caused by the animal. A $300 fine would also be in place for any animal that is discovered to be unregistered.

While all this seems to be a lot of trouble for the seemingly simple policy change of expanding the list of allowed pets, it is necessary if the college were to allow fur-bearing (and shedding) animals on campus. I believe that these changes are not only entirely possible, but necessary to allow St. Mary’s to feel more like a home-away-from-home than just an institution of learning.

Sometimes I forget that technically I no longer live with my family in Bethesda; I spend 8 months of the year at St. Mary’s. I worry that administration forgets this too when they try to sympathize with this cause, saying that they too have pets that they miss at home and would like to take with them to campus. The fact of the matter is that they get to go home at the end of the day. Resident students go to a different part of campus.

In my experience as a pet owner, animals are a vital part of learning responsibility and becoming mature; the feeling of being completely responsible for another life is a sobering thought and should not be taken lightly. At the same time, having pets is extremely rewarding, not only because having a soft, fuzzy animal to hold and play with is awesome (which it is).

Pets are extremely comforting and soothing, and I’m sure I do not have to write out just how many studies have been done to show the positive effects animals have on stress and moods, not to mention blood pressure. For me, pets are a reminder of home, and would have absolutely helped my transition to college go more smoothly.

Obviously this is not the full extent of my proposal (it includes many more boring details about forms and regulations), but I know that my editors will be very angry if I triple my already doubled word limit. I am more than willing to meet or email with anyone who has concerns or suggestions about my proposal, and I would like to encourage discussion about this topic, whether it involves emailing your SGA senator or just casually talking about it with your friends. My email is sllevine@smcm.edu and I will answer any and all questions to the best of my ability.

Seniors Celebrate 50 Days Until Graduation

On Friday, March 22, the senior class gathered at the State House for the annual 50 Days celebration. The event commemorated the seven weeks and one night left in the senior class’ St. Mary’s careers as they enjoyed wine and refreshments before heading to the Green Door from the remainder of the celebration.

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