Campus News

SMCM Opens New Academic Buildings

The Learning Commons (courtesy of Madeleine Phillips)

By Kephely Igoni

The new Performing Arts Center and Learning Commons have been built! According to the SMCM website, this has been a 6-year project between the college and the state of Maryland. These two buildings will house more classes and spaces to study.

The Performing Arts Center is complete with multiple classes for the major, practice rooms and a recital hall. It also includes a huge auditorium, which different musical groups such as the Orchestra, The Jazz Ensemble and Choir can use. This building is completely devoted to the Performing Arts department and will help students majoring in it to immerse themselves in their interests. Professor and Department Chair of Music Jeffrey Silberschlag noted that the recital hall is equipped with new lights and panels that reflect sound. With this students will learn about sound better as they get to hear it differently than in the past. He believes the building’s acoustics will help students understand sound and tambere better. He told The Point News, “We have needed that large space to teach projection of the voice and instruments.”. 

According to Silberschlag there have been three other blueprints for the PAC, specifically the concert and recital hall, over the past 36 years. The fourth and final one finally stuck, and over the construction process Silberschlag told the staff and workers that, “you’ll need your patience and humor most”.

Not only is the building new, but the time matrix and configuration of the major is too. The new schedule has introduced classes that are at different time periods, so students and teachers alike will have to get used to them. With the new buildings teachers are finding new ways to teach and students new ways to learn.

The Learning Commons is the other new building that is dedicated to the Educational Studies department. This building has a 24-hour study commons for student use as well as a cafe called Brew’d Awakening offering snacks, coffee and other beverages.

Professor of Educational Studies Katy Arnett shares that, although construction was still happening when the department moved into the building, they managed to teach through noises and vibrations and are excited to be rid of such challenges. Through the building’s official opening this will be possible. 

The LC classrooms are modeled from the previous educational studies rooms in Goodpaster Hall and include ways for natural light to come in. There are also flexible seating options and Arnett says that this allows teachers to make the space fit their needs.

The finishing touches are still being put on the two buildings and students can access portions of them, but the grand opening of the Performing Arts Center and the Learning Center will be on Sept. 24. There will be an opening celebration on the 23 that includes a food truck, performances by SMCM’s music club, the ‘Zero Degrees’ dance club and live music. In addition, prizes will be given away in the interlude, so stay for that! 

The buildings come with a new parking lot near Waring Commons, which is equipped with 4 electrical vehicle charging stations.

Neal Katyal Hosts Lecture at SMCM: His Concerns

The Point News

In honor of Constitution Day on Sept. 16, SMCM invited American lawyer Neal Katyal to hold a lecture in the Auerbach Auditorium at St. Mary’s Hall. In his lecture, Katyal discussed his praises and concerns over the Supreme Court from the past and the present, and pondered the future of the court and American Democracy in light of the justices’ recent decisions. Before his lecture, The Point News held an interview with Katyal hoping to find out more about him and his thoughts on the matter.

Before becoming a lawyer, Katyal was focused on teaching politics. He went to college to learn how to teach, but his professor encouraged him to go into law, and so he attended Yale Law School. When he graduated, he moved to Georgetown and wound up interning for then vice president Al Gore, where he says he truly learned how to be a lawyer. He would work as a teacher at Georgetown until the 9/11 terrorist attacks that would start his first case, which he won. He became very successful and in high demand as a lawyer from both corporations and nonprofits. “A law degree gives you a lot of power. You could sue practically anyone, including the president if you wanted to. But you need to have a lot of responsibility with that power, and it can be very dangerous,” Katyal says. 

Katyal has also argued more oral arguments before the Supreme Court than any other minority lawyer, and he is still going strong. He stated that he is going to give his 46th case in November, titled Cruise vs. Arizona. When asked about how he managed to achieve this record, he responded that it is always very stressful and reliant on luck, but he cares about his cases a lot, stating that “it’s been a privilege to represent anyone before the Supreme Court.”

Katyal describes himself as an American Exceptionalist. He states that there is a lot of good in this country and that he is grateful to it for welcoming his immigrated parents, calling it the genius of the government. However, he adds that he is worried about the future of Democracy. He notes that a lot of humans are being used as props for the sake of argument, and worries about the ethics of this. “It’s not American, it’s not Christian, and it’s certainly not human. I think we should go back to treating people above politics.”

Katyal also notes concern with the Court’s recent decisions. He worries that the Supreme Court is leaning into mainstream views. When the Supreme Court affirmed Roe vs Wade in 1992, it was controversial, but it would damage the court’s legitimacy to overturn it. Katyal states that he grew up with this idea, only for the court to throw it out. He states that the court is traditional and moves slowly but deliberately. He feels that the court is leaning in a more radical direction, going beyond what it has done before, which concerns him. 

When asked about any potential advice for students going into law, Katyal had this to say: “If you want to go to law school you have to really want to go into it. Don’t do it if you don’t know what you’ll do with it. Take one to two years off in between to try and think about where your career goals may lie. It’s important to have a good mentor, like a professor, who will watch out for you.”

Neal Katyal (Photo Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Democracy)

SMCM Releases Covid-19 Guidelines for the Fall 2022 Semester

Blythe Petit

For the past two years, leaders at every level have struggled to decide what to do about the Covid-19 pandemic. Globally, there have been over 6.5 million deaths due to Covid-19, with over 15,000 occurring in Maryland. Due to the responsibility of St. Mary’s College to keep its students as safe as possible, they have put restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. These have been ever-changing as the situation evolves, both on campus and in the surrounding communities. 

For the start of the Fall 2022 semester, St. Mary’s is requiring students to wear either a KN95 or N95 mask in all classrooms and labs. Two of these masks were provided at move-in, and more are available across campus, including in all RA offices. According to the Covid-19 dashboard on the SMCM website, this measure is due to the current high level of community transmission and the current recommendations from the CDC. In addition, all students are required to have all Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters, unless they have an approved exemption. In all other buildings, masks are optional. Visitors are also allowed to return to touring, as long as they are vaccinated or can present a negative Covid test. 

As of September 1, according to the SMCM Covid-19 dashboard, there were zero active cases, zero people in quarantine, and zero isolation beds in use. If students do test positive, they should report it to the Wellness Center, who will provide further instructions. Students can also contact the Office of Student Success Services if they need help managing any class time that they miss due to isolating. 

These Covid-19 protocols are quite controversial among the student body. Sophomore Michael Wade supports the current policy, saying that “Requiring masks in classrooms is good right now because it keeps students and faculty safe, while allowing masks to be optional in other buildings offers some of the freedom that people are craving. It is a good middle ground.” Sophomore Kiki Sandifier agrees that “masks should be required in classrooms, because attendance is mandatory and they are very tightly packed.” 

There are those who disagree with the new policy. For instance, freshman Ava Riley told the Point News that “masks shouldn’t be required. We didn’t need to wear them last year in high school, and there were no spikes in cases.” Sophomore Ryan Knight disagreed differently, saying “I would like the current mandates to be stricter, especially towards the beginning of the semester. I am worried about an increase in cases following move-in, when people are all coming together from across the country.”

These requirements are likely to change frequently over the school year, and students can learn more at smcm.edu/covid-19/. 

SGA Holds Elections for 2022-2023 School Year

Jordan Williams

The Point News receives funding from the Student Government Association. However, the author of this article is completely independent of the SGA and remains unbiased.

With the beginning of a new school year, the Student Government Association (SGA) is kicking off election season. SGA plays a key part in campus life by holding fundraisers, events and services that affect the entire student body. Clubs, sports teams and Programs Board derive their funding directly from the SGA’s yearly budget, and SGA members make decisions on how these funds are allocated. Events such as last year’s Yung Gravy concert and projects like the new Climbing Wall repairs and improvements were completely funded by the SGA. By providing these services, the SGA plays an important role in fostering a lively campus community.

The primary responsibility of the SGA is to assess the needs and concerns of the students they represent. SGA members are expected to listen to the students they represent and cast votes that are in their constituents’ interest. According to SGA President Emily Rudo, “SGA is tasked with advocating for student needs and improving campus life – we speak for YOU.”

The SGA is also in charge of monitoring club activities and legitimizing official clubs. If students want to form a new club, they will have to develop a Club Constitution and present it to the SGA. Then, all the senators and class presidents vote on whether or not to approve the club’s existence. But votes on club approval almost always meet the SGA’s standards and pass. Once a club is approved by the SGA, they are eligible for school funding that they can use to buy club equipment and put on fun events. Last semester, the Art Club and Wrestling Club Constitutions were approved by the SGA. Each residence area has two senators and each class has one president that votes for every piece of legislation.

According to the SGA website, the SGA had a budget of nearly $400,000 last year, which increased to $405,000 this year. The yearly budget is roughly determined by the total number of students enrolled in the academic year. This year, the total college enrollment is 1,500 students and the funds allocated per student is $270; 1,500 * 270 = 405,000.

The SGA’s most significant funding project of the 2021-2022 academic year was “Final Climbing Wall Repairs and Improvements,” or Bill S22:01 (named for the first bill of the Spring 2022 semester). It completely overhauled the climbing wall at the Athletic Recreational Center (ARC). The legislation was sponsored by the Climbing Club and ARC faculty and they led a campus-wide campaign to raise awareness and support for the new wall. The bill passed 14-2 and the total funding for the project was $41,000, paid for entirely by the SGA. The wall began and finished construction over the summer.

There are several student leadership positions including residence hall senators and class council members that need filling. Nicholas Howard, the Club Coordinator of the SGA, said “We are always looking for students of diverse backgrounds that are excited to represent the student body.” There are 12 senator seats and 12 class council seats up for election. According to Parliamentarian Hudson Christensen, the SGA will hold a special election later on if these seats are not filled.

To run for an open seat or learn more about the SGA, visit their website, https://www.smcmsga.com/about-sga. Open meetings take place every Tuesday at 8pm in the Glendenning Annex. Students are welcome to attend open meetings to voice their opinions and/or complaints at the Student Speak Out portion of every meeting.

St. Mary’s Welcomes Michelle Carter as the New Title IX Coordinator

by Jordan Williams

The Title IX office at St. Mary’s is going through many leadership changes this year. The new Title IX Coordinator, Michelle Carter, started on Sept. 12 and the administration is  finishing up the hiring process for a new Investigator. The Point News (TPN) interviewed Carter as well as a student intern at the Title IX office, Hailey Findley to get the latest information about the office. Findley is a second-year intern and a junior at St. Mary’s. Her job at focuses on student outreach, sexual assault prevention measures and encouraging active bystanders of sexual assault and harassment.According to the St. Mary’s website, “Title IX is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination at colleges and universities that receive federal funding. Sexual harassment, which includes sexual violence, is a prohibited form of discrimination.” The Title IX office is tasked with enforcing that law, investigating reported cases of sexual harassment and providing resources to support victims of sexual harassment. The office also does proactive education with students focusing on sexual safety and healthy relationship practices.

The Title IX Coordinator is the highest position and oversees all of the office’s operations. The Investigator handles the bulk of the sexual harassment cases reported to the office, but the Coordinator also assists in these. Interns are concerned with student outreach and educational programs. There are also Mandatory Reporters who are required by law to report any instances of sexual harassment that they happen to hear about. Mandatory Reporters consist of faculty, staff, coaches, Public Safety officers, Resident Assistants (RAs), and Residence Hall Coordinators (RHCs).

Michael Dunn, the previous Title IX Coordinator, still works at SMCM but has changed offices to the Career Center as the Interim Director of Professional Pathways. On Sept. 12th, Michelle Carter started as the new Coordinator. TPN sat down with Carter for an interview to get a general idea of who she is and what she plans to do in her position.

Carter has been working in Higher Education since 1999 in several different positions, including the Executive Director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Louisiana State University (LSU) as well as part of the Title IX Institutional Team at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University. Carter was asked what her goals are for the office this year, to which she replied, “I want to change the culture and change the reputation [of the office]. I want to ensure that every case receives quality attention, that there is transparency, as much as possible.”

Carter was also asked about potentially bringing back the Sexual Misconduct Advocacy and Resource Team (SMART), which was a group of trained students that worked to support victims of sexual harassment. They also had a 24/7 confidential hotline that students can call to get personal support. The program was shut down last year due to a staffing shortage. Carter expressed interest and said she will look into bringing the program back but cannot confirm anything; in previous years, SMART was run by the Wellness Center. 

When asked about the progress being made on hiring a new Investigator, Carter disclosed that the administration is close to filling the position. Carter told TPN, “I think the College is finished with interviews and it’s just a matter of going through the [selection] process … The Investigator

role should be filled within the next month. We are in a great place now because we are about to be fully staffed.”

The office is organizing several exciting events that students should be on the lookout for. On Sept. 23rd from 5:30-6:30pm, they will be hosting a presentation on Active Bystanders with a raffle. Also coming soon, Title IX is organizing a OneLove club dedicated to advocating and educating people on healthy relationship practices on campus.

The Title IX office is located at the Lucille Clifton House just across from the Boathouse. To learn more about Title IX, visit the St. Mary’s Title IX website, https://www.smcm.edu/title-ix/. The office is always looking for volunteers as well. To get involved or ask questions about anything Title IX, email the student intern, Hailey Findley at hafindley@smcm.edu.

SMCM Title IX website: https://www.smcm.edu/title-ix/ Michelle Carter LSU profile: https://www.lsu.edu/diversity/oma/about_us/staff.php

Michelle Carter (Courtesy of Jordan Williams via Carter)

The Daily Grind Addresses Health and Saftey Concerns

Blythe Petit

The Daily Grind is a very valuable asset to the St. Mary’s college campus. Students rely on The Grind for many needs, from early morning caffeine to late night snacks. St. Mary’s website calls it “a great place to hang out, listen to some good music, and relax with some fantastic people.” Located very centrally in the Campus Center, The Grind has been utilized by almost every St. Mary’s student. They offer a wide array of items, including smoothies, coffee, snacks, frozen meals and personal hygiene items. They even have local food from the Kate Chandler Campus Farm, at a farm stand that was just added last semester, and organic coffee from Equal Exchange. 

Recently, however, many have become concerned regarding potential health risks, such as expired food and bug infestations. Especially when compared to Brew’d Awakening, the brand new coffee shop in the Learning Commons building, students have questioned the hygiene of The Grind. Some have even taken to YikYak and other social media to warn new students not to buy anything unsealed from The Grind. Is there something behind these food-safety concerns, or is it merely campus gossip?

A manager at The Daily Grind said that “Although these claims have a foundation…we operate under health code and have regular health inspections. We wash everything down and check the expiration dates on food and milk every night. At one point there were maggots, but they were taken care of quickly.” 

For a business that sells food and drinks to remain open in the state of Maryland, they must follow the guidelines set forth in Title 10 under the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. This includes rules that all equipment and utensils must be sanitized after each use. It also states that if vermin pose a threat to public health, then the facility must take immediate action to eliminate the vermin from the area or they will be shut down. Since The Grind has passed all health inspections and is still allowed to operate, it is presumable that they are maintaining sanitation and that all drinks are safe to consume. 

An employee at The Grind shared that some causes for these health concerns could be that “everything is stored in the open air, attracting flies that come in the doors. There are many rushes in between classes that also make it hard to keep up with cleaning. All employees also aren’t as vigilant with quality, and some people are hired that don’t have the best work ethic.” These issues could lead to some lapses in cleanliness that have led to rumors regarding moldy food and fruit flies. 

Both employees agreed that Brew’d Awakening is unlikely to have similar issues, because of their more limited hours. This should make it easier for them to keep up with cleaning materials in between when they are open. They also have a smaller menu, making it easier to ensure that the drinks that they do make are more polished. Because The Grind has many services, it may be difficult to give full attention to every aspect of their business. However, the manager and employee both emphasized that they work hard to keep their standards high and that there is no reason to avoid ordering from The Grind.

The Daily Grind (Courtesy of Blythe Petit)

Students Government Association

Hello Saint Marians,     9/13/2022

My name is Zachary Pisarz and I am the Director of Communications for our Student Government Association (SGA) here at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.  

What is SGA and why should I care? 

SGA is an integral part of our campus community, and has a proven history of benefiting our campus through the student body. Being a member of SGA means honoring the St. Mary’s Way. We are committed to “examining and shaping the functional, ethical values of our changing world”–starting here, with all members of our campus community. We actively shape our values by investigating ongoing dialogues on campus and work collaboratively to create solutions on behalf of our student body. 

Okay I’m interested! How can I get involved? 

One of the ways we connect with our constituents is through our Student Speak Outs! Student Speak Outs (SSO) allow students a guaranteed opportunity to voice their concerns to members of the SGA in an environment that is conducive to improving our campus. Please consider stopping by our SGA meetings in the Glendening Annex every Tuesday at 8:00 PM. 

We look forward to seeing you! 

Zachary Pisarz, SGA Director of Communications 

Website: smcmsga.com

Instagram: smcmsga