News-in-Brief: Dove Yearbook Available Before Graduation for First Time

The Dove yearbook for the 2011-2012 school year, which will be available for purchase by students and staff the week before finals, has chosen to take on the theme of “Apocalyptic.”

Filling up a total of 81 pages, all in color, this year’s yearbook reflects on the many trials and tribulations the student body has faced throughout the year, including the earthquake, hurricane, fire, the mold, hotels, the Sea Voyager, bed bugs, and power outages.

The yearbook will include such things as an introduction from President Joe Urgo, pictures of sports teams (both varsity and club) and non-athletic clubs, photograph collages, personal advertisements, and senior portraits.

The Dove, which was acquired by The Point News Publications last semester, is planning to be better than ever. The Point News Publications has been able to offer a larger access to photographs of on campus events, the use of a professional software program (InDesign), and a cozier financial standing. While the staff have only been able to put together the yearbook this semester, they are quickly working on completing it so that it will be available before graduation, which has never been done by The Dove before.

This early release date will allow time for students to have their friends sign their yearbooks before leaving at the end of the year. Photographs of World Carnival, the awards ceremony, senior week, commencement, and graduation, though, will not be placed in the yearbook, but The Dove staff plans to create a Final Events mini-book that will include those events and be released online at www.thepointnews.com for free after graduation.

The yearbooks, which will cost $49, are slightly more expensive than last year, but the higher price allows for all pages to be in color and for more flexibility on the cover design. Books that are purchased after graduation and need to be shipped to the buyer will cost $55.

Out of the entire graduating class, 196 seniors sat for their senior portrait, which was offered for free by The Point News photographers. In the past, students have had to pay for their photographs to be taken, but this year they were free and have been placed on The Point News website for a free download. But if students wish to receive a copy of their senior portrait in a different size or without the watermark, it will cost money.

Production of the yearbook has also been aided by the purchase of advertisement space by the Campus Store, Taylor Gas Company in Lexington Park, The Green Door, and fourteen families of graduation seniors paying for personal advertisements.

Post Graduation: The Job Search, The Bounty Hunter, and a Dream

Remember when you were a kid, and you dreamed of being an astronaut, or a firefighter, or a hand model? I had those dreams, too—Eden Carswell the telemarketer, Eden Carswell the singer/songwriter, Eden Carswell the bounty hunter. I never thought for a second that a pre-graduation misstep could eventually lead me to Eden Carswell, “permanently attached to the couch,” Eden Carswell the 30-year-old bum, or Eden Carswell, broke-as-a-joke.

But it’s a very real possibility! There are no guarantees that any of us will get jobs right after Commencement Day, or six months after, or even a year after. With the economy in ruins and competition for jobs being about as tight as spandex on a fat guy, it seems as if the only people that will find work in their fields are people with two Master’s Degrees, four Doctorate’s, and an A+ in 5th grade Sex Ed. I don’t plan on going to Grad school; being a humor columnist doesn’t really require it. Many students do though, because either A) the careers they opt into require them, or B) they all want to get ahead, so they’re not the ones sitting around jobless, watching MARTIN reruns and dropping mustard on their t-shirts. But even the folks with Master’s Degrees aren’t invincible; they get railroaded by the PhDs, and the PhDs slap-box each other for positions. Everybody’s screwed.

The job search itself is a full-time job, sucking the life out of applicants like a cruel, vindictive vacuum.

Once we find these jobs and apply, if we’re not getting rejected on the spot by companies, then we’re not getting responses at all. The infamous “Due to the large number of applications we receive, we are only able to contact those who are selected for interviews” hangs in the center of the email like a broken chandelier, clearly an indicator that there’s a ton of competition and that a callback is about as likely as one after a bad, cheap date.

Despite all of this, I keep submitting resumes and cover letters, and calling places back anyway. Why? Because the last thing I want is to skip off campus with bachelor’s degrees in hand, only to end up working the fry machine at McDonald’s, restocking the jumbo-packs of Oodles of Noodles at Sam’s Club, or tap dancing for change downtown in DC.

Even more than that, though the whole ordeal is tedious and difficult, beneath the negativity I do have a plan for my life, and a dream job in mind. I guess that until my hands can’t write anymore, or humor isn’t humorous anymore, I’m going to keep working towards that, trying to get as much experience as possible.  Yes, the job market is ridiculous and highly competitive, but it’s not hopeless.

People are getting jobs out there, and if all of us graduating seniors prepare, bedazzle our resumes with glitter and a little optimism, and perfect our cover letters, we can stand out amongst the millions of job-seekers looking for the same thing.

Eden Carswell, the Humor Columnist, is a reachable goal in my mind. Now that I’ve put my dreams of being a bounty hunter and telemarketer to rest, hopefully I can put my pessimism aside, take my bachelor’s degree and do something meaningful.

 

Graduation Order Back to Being Based On Major

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Seniors Want to Walk With Majors At Graduation

After reading the Point/Counterpoint articles in the April 5 edition, not only did I feel the true spirit of informed discussion was being disregarded, but also that the reasoning behind Urgo’s change to the walking order at graduation was not addressed.

From what I have been told, Urgo’s reasoning for changing the long-standing tradition of walking with majors is that we, as graduates of St. Mary’s, have been a part of a liberal arts experience.

This experience is ostensibly defined not by one’s major, but by the broader knowledge gained from familiarity with a wide range of subjects.

Additionally, as noted in the Point/Counterpoint article by Steve Rees, Urgo’s decision was also based on his observations of campus life at St. Mary’s, where students freely mingle between majors in groups of friends based on common interests rather than academic schedules.

While I feel this side of the debate is reasonable, I personally do not agree with it. Although my major may not matter in twenty years, I currently spend hours, days, even weeks, of my life completing theses and other class requirements for my major.

Graduating is not about receiving a diploma and moving on, but about being recognized for achieving excellence in an area of study.

As liberal arts students, we must complete math, science, art, and other requirements, but it is in our major that we express our personal interests and passions.

Unlike News co-editor Amanda Zelaya, I do not believe this issue is just about whom you will sit next to on graduation day.

Rather, graduation represents the final opportunity to celebrate and remember the accomplishments of the past four years.

Who better to do this with than someone who has shared your experiences? Walking and sitting with a fellow major upholds the bonds of community that Urgo is rightfully concerned with.

This issue of community brings me to my biggest concern with the article by Zelaya intended to defend the change to walking order. Although the   Chik-fil-A debate is mentioned in the article, it seems the author has missed the biggest issue the debate has stirred on campus—the issue of civility.

In order to have a productive debate, both sides must recognize the validity of the other, even if they do not agree with it.

By labeling the debate surrounding the graduation debate as laughable, or as a distraction from “more important things, like homework,” the spirit of discussion fostered by the Point/Counterpoint section of our school paper is undermined.

I think that we, as a community, can have a mature discussion about the issues at hand and come to a mutually beneficial conclusion without resorting to mean-spiritedness or incivility.

As May 14 nears, this topic becomes increasingly pressing for those who will be walking this year.

Although disappointed by some members of our community, I still feel a courteous, informed debate will help us reach a conclusion favorable to all.

 

Counterpoint: Walking At Graduation

Recently a heated debate has sparked over the new changes to St. Mary’s graduation ceremony. If you have not heard about these new changes-we will now graduate via last name instead of major- then you clearly do not have a Facebook page. Seemingly overnight a group named “SMCM 2011 Majors Should Walk Together” formed and since then students who disagree with the decision have been encouraged to storm the President’s inbox with emails. While my own graduation is a year away, every time I see the invite to join the group and take a stance against this injustice I cannot help but question the motives of those so thoroughly against walking alphabetically; then after I question their motives I go back to more important things, like homework.

Naturally, people get upset when you attempt to change a long standing tradition, especially when they feel as though they have not been consulted over the change. This seems to be the source of a lot of anger from the St. Mary’s student body, or at least that is the impression I received when I decided to check out the Facebook group one night during a fit of procrastination.

Before reading the wall I assumed that the idea of walking alphabetically was either generally accepted, or people had better things to do with their day then contemplate who you will be standing next to when you walk. I soon discovered that I could not have been more wrong.

People are really up in arms about this and have even started a letter/ email group to President Joseph Urgo and Assistant Vice President for Academic Administration Mark Heidrich. When I read some of the posts I could not help but burst out in a fit of laughter at how seriously some people are taking this.

As someone who could care less about who I stand next to when I graduate I have a very difficult time taking this action seriously, and am actually a little upset that my fellow students will start a counter boycott towards a movement to ban Chick-fil-A but the second you suggest they have to stand next to someone they may not know they unite against the administration. I am all for student activism, in fact one of the things that I love about St. Mary’s is that my fellow students care so much about having their voices heard. However, I feel like the energy that is being expended on this campaign could be better placed elsewhere.

Sure the sentiment is understandable – my last name starts with a “Z” so once again I am graduating dead last – but is graduating by major really the most important part of your college graduation? No. Probably not. Not once in this entire argument have I heard anyone mention the fact that if we manage to make it past four years and graduate college we are pretty darn lucky.

Who cares what major we graduated in? In twenty years that is not going to matter for a majority of us.

What should matter is that we managed to survive four years of class, lab, professors, and campus life and made it out of here in one piece. Whenever someone begins a discussion about how by not graduating by individual major we are not being recognized for our individual achievement I have the urge to scream out that we are all being recognized as being college graduates.

If people are so worried about individual recognition than let’s add personal bios to the entire ceremony so we can make sure everyone receives their due. Just kidding. Graduations are already boring enough.

 

Point: Walking At Graduation

I’d like to start by saying that I’m currently a junior at St. Mary’s, and that the issue of graduating by name or by major is not one that immediately affects me. When next year comes around, I’m hoping that the students and faculty find a common ground between their opposing views, and that the Class of 2012 is also comfortable with the choice that seniors and the administration will discuss in an upcoming meeting to determine what is best for the students.  But given that a precedent might be set based on this meeting, and that many juniors are also talking about this subject to professors and others via email, meetings, and Facebook groups, it’s important that we and other classes begin to think about how we would want to remember the day we graduate.

President Urgo showed support for seniors graduating alphabetically when he began meeting with students throughout the year, noticing that students liked spending time as groups rather than just as majors outside of class, as far as I understand.  Given that the campus supports a tight, inclusive community, this would make sense, and if enough students knew each other across majors, there should not be a problem with graduating everyone together, as one united school, rather than by one of the 24 majors we offer.

However, we should take this a step further to analyze what it really means to graduate from St. Mary’s.  The experiences most students have here are certainly more than academic, and for all include mixtures of sports, theater, trips to the Point, community service, independence development, zombie hunting, shoe tree participation, sailing on the River, or even just hanging out with friends (as well as plenty of other things that could fill up an entire The Point News article, which would be awesome if someone reading this wants to do for our next issue – just saying).

Graduation certainly remembers all of these components.  But, to graduate, all of the requirements seniors need are academically-related. Graduation is about finishing an academic career and moving on to the workplace or higher education, while also remembering how hard we’ve worked while at St. Mary’s to get to the “Green” grass.  For most of us, all of that work, all of that time in class and doing homework, writing those papers and finishing on those presentations late into the night, is what we want to recognize.  When we graduate, it’s about what we had to do to get that degree, with everything else that defines St. Mary’s helping us to get to know each other, build connections, relax, and personally develop into independent adults and thinkers.

For me, the best way to represent that work is to spend those last few minutes in our academic undergraduate careers with those who worked alongside us, with those who spent the same time in class and doing the same homework, writing those same papers and finishing those same presentations late into the night.

We want to remember what it was like to finish that Physical Chemistry exam, to compile that last Robotics code, to finalize that last International Politics paper, to really understand the subtle nuances of that Bach piece.  Most students in each major are proud of the work they’ve done, and would want to remember their individual and very different focuses when they receive that diploma.

Professors would want to see the students that they taught walk together as a group of smiling faces and excited tears, as they say “those are our kids.”