SGA Approves Free Menstrual Product Trial Run

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, the Student Government Association (SGA) unanimously approved of a bill that appropriates $2,500 to provide free menstrual products to students.

The bill, Bill 19:05 [S] – Menstrual Product Trial Run, was introduced by Townhouse Sen. Alec Bernstein (‘19) at Feb. 19’s SGA meeting. “I hope the trial run is successful, and I’m excited to see the results,” Bernstein said.

The menstrual products, a combination of tampons and pads, will be available in the food pantry, located in the Campus Center.

Additionally, a bill to appropriate $7,000 to purchase a vending machine that will sell emergency contraceptives was introduced, and will be voted on Tuesday, March 5. If approved, the machine will also be placed in the food pantry. Details such as OneCard payment and the cost/brand of the emergency contraceptive are still to be determined.

“If St. Mary’s wants to state that it is at the forefront of… advancing student needs and caring about the student body, then this would be a good place to start,” Bernstein stated. Columbia University, Stanford University, and Dartmouth College have all installed emergency contraceptive vending machines.

In the past few weeks, the SGA has also passed bills that allow for the Wellness Center to hold two flu vaccination events next fall semester, and will fully fund flu shots for the first fifty students. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Collette Nortman, mentioned that the Wellness Center hosted a flu vaccination drive last semester, but noted that “it wasn’t really well advertised” and that “the attendance was really low.”

Student’s Response to Director of Student Activities Apparent Absence

On Oct. 2, news began spreading that Kelly Schroeder, former director of student activities, was gone. Everyone had heard something different: she quit, she was put on leave, she stepped down or she left for “undisclosed reasons.” At The Point News we are not able to report any non-speculative explantation on this story. Instead, we aim to cover the student reaction to the situation.

Schroeder has worked at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) for over 15 years, and her absence has resulted in an outpouring of support from current and past students. News about her leaving spread fast, with little-to-no word from the administration at the time.

On Oct. 30, an email was sent to all students at SMCM announcing Schroeder’s position as the new “associate director of [a]lumni [r]elations.”

Prior to this announcement, no email was sent updating students on the situation. This prompted many students to become upset, alumni to organize, and the Student Government Association (SGA) to hear concerns during student speak-outs. Posters were hung in the Campus Center sharing that Schroeder was gone without an explanation. Students began sharing what they knew on social media, including a Facebook page called “SMCM Alumni in Support of Kelly Schroeder,” currently with 529 members, where alumni created videos of support. Other students made an online petition which was read aloud at SGA Student Speakout on Oct. 3.

Many students have shared their inability to comment on Schroeder’s absence due to a lack of information, as well as the fear of their on-campus positions being jeopardized. However, some alumni were able to share what they knew, after the Board of Trustees meeting which took place on Oct. 21.

I will say that I worked with/for Kelly for 3+ years. At that time there was a lot of turnover in the office and Kelly handled each change gracefully,” said an alumna who graduated this past spring and asked not to be referred to by name. “Kelly has always stood by her employees when she felt they were doing their best and fought for them tooth and nail when necessary.”

However, support for Schroeder has not been universal. “As a club leader, sadly, I did not have the same experience that I’ve seen other alumni describe in working with Kelly Schroeder,” Nicole Zimmerman, ‘14, explained. “Her actions towards the organizations I was involved in often felt arbitrary and capricious.”

But no matter students’ feelings regarding Kelly Schroeder, it’s clear that the situation has stirred up feelings of frustration among the student body. It’s been more than 20 days since Schroeder was put on administrative leave, with very limited responses from SMCM administration. A recent graduate, who also chose to remain unnamed, reached out to Dean of Students Leonard Brown, afterward saying, “Administration does not seem to respect the students’ voices and the institution seems to be taking a turn away from the student-centered education it used to pride itself on. I shared the response I got from the dean with other students and got assorted responses. He did not even take the time to sign the email or remove the “Sent from my iPhone” stamp.”

To contribute to the frustration felt on campus, administrators have shared that they are working with the student leaders, but according to many students, administrators have not reached out or addressed their concerns. Some students have reported feeling pushed aside, silenced and disrespected regarding this incident. Many alumni are asking for administrators to find a better way to work with and communicate with the students.

Many of the students we were able to speak to expressed their support for Schroeder. “I’m not as eloquent as other alumni, but I would just say I love Kelly and owe a lot of where I am today to her. I would hate for other students to have to attend a St. Mary’s without her,” said Megan Darby, ‘17. Students are hoping for a public explanation from the administration about what has happened this month, and where that leaves the students, the Office of Student Activities and Kelly Schroeder.


Update: Carolyn Curry, the Vice President for Institutional Advancement, stated in an all-student email on Oct. 30:

“Institutional Advancement announces Kelly Schroeder as the new associate director of Alumni Relations. Alumni engagement at our College is at an all-time high. Our Alumni Relations team, working hand-in-hand with the Alumni Council and alumni, lead and/or support a variety of key in[i]titiatives including Hawktoberfest, Bay to Bay Service Day, Alumni Weekend, Bookbag to Briefcase, GivingTuesday and micro[-]internships. We welcome Kelly‘s experience as we continue to work with alumni to strengthen our College’s impact and outreach.”

The story has been updated to reflect this change.

Hallowgreens Do’s and Don’ts

Hallowgreens is an annual unofficial St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) holiday. It celebrates Halloween. Most students who choose to participate dress-up in costume, and some do not. In order to ensure everyone’s safety, the Student Government Association (SGA) usually produces a list of “do’s and don’ts.” With permission from this year’s SGA, The Point News is publishing this year’s list online.

Courtesy of the SMCM SGA and Elizabeth Allnut, here are this year’s “Hallowgreens Do’s and Don’ts.”

This weekend please do:

Dress warmly and be festive!

Be responsible for your guests and make sure they have their guest passes[.]

Make sure that your phone is fully charged and with you[.]

Look out for your friends and stay with them[.]

Throw away your trash and recycling properly[.]

Respect PS, RA’s and staff[.]

Get water and snacks[.]

Shine your phone flashlight if you need help[.]

Look out for others! IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING, remember bystander intervention!

Ask a NIGHTHAWK to walk you home!

Please do not:

Bring open containers outside[.]

Walk home alone[.]

Run away from RA’s, PS and staff if they stop you[.]

Litter[.]

Take a drink from [an] unknown source[.]

Stand on the townhouse porticos[.]

Be disrespectful to other students and guests[.]

Leave your house unlocked and unattended[.]

If you have any questions contact:

Whittni Pickens, SGA President (wapickens@smcm.edu)

Evan Lesser, 2018 President (eplesser@smcm.edu)

Sharon Phillips, Student Trustee (stphillips@smcm.edu)

Lookout for The Point News‘s costume photo feature in the next print edition.

On Yik Yak

Below are letters we have received regarding the resolution proposed to the SGA to ban Yik Yak from campus Wi-Fi.

If you want your voice heard about this or any other issue, send your letter to managingeditor@thepointnews.com.

Pieces will be judged on quality of writing, not perspective.


 

When we agree to become members of a campus community, we relinquish some of the rights that we bear in the “real world”, in the interest of keeping our community safe. Firearms, knives, and candles are all objects that any member of St. Mary’s can purchase in their own right. However, the College has mandated that we prohibit these items from our campus in the interest of student safety and security. Every student who signs the contract to live on campus agrees to abide by these policies – seemingly without question – because it makes sense for campus safety to take precedence over an individual’s perceived or real right to possess these items.

I fail to see how this resolution would be any different. It would be the College’s way of saying that students’ general emotional and mental wellbeing is a greater priority than an individual’s perceived or real right to access the app through the school server. If an individual chooses to access the app with their personal data connection, then the College is no longer endorsing that right by providing a means for it.

Candles have the potential to hurt people if misused. Most of us have had pleasant experiences with candles, but people have been burned. Objects have caught fire, and there is a very real threat of danger if things get out of hand. Yet we don’t protest in ResLife saying, “I’ve only ever had positive experiences with scented candles!! I should be allowed to burn them in my room!” We value the collective health and wellness of our community enough to let it go. Why can’t we do the same where this app is concerned?

I posted something on Facebook the night of the SGA meeting that I’ll share below; because I still don’t understand why we are entertaining an argument to keep an anonymous app when we are watching people express the ways in which the misuse of the app has impeded on their ability to thrive in the community.

“The deep, intimate, searing pain that some of us feel is nothing more than an entertaining debate topic, or a philosophical question of legality. People are hurting, and those in power are appealing to logic. Human beings are hurting, and those in power are leaning on their own understanding. Fellow community members are hurting, and we are trying to brush over their pain with the rose colored glasses of idealism, and the veil of ignorance.

How did the human condition become so wretched that the pain of our friends is insignificant in comparison to our personal experience? Why doesn’t the pain of our friends drive and directly influence our personal experience? How cold are we?”

As a student leader and campus advocate, I’m still struggling to understand why we need to gather the opinions of those who are unaffected when there are human beings who are deeply hurting. It’s not a question of free speech; it’s about freedom from harm. It’s not about legality anymore; it’s about liability and the responsibility we have to our students. The app may very well be dead; but if getting rid of it served as nothing more than posthumous retribution for those who have been hurt by it in the past, I would still consider it worthwhile.

Vera Damanka

Student Trustee
MAPP Coordinator
Vice President, Black Student Union


 

Banning Yik Yak is the right thing to do. No one should have to live in a community where he or she feels threatened. It’s unfortunate that Yik Yak has been continually used for negative messages instead of positive ones. 

Sincerely,

Kathleen Carmean


 

Thank you for taking the time to read over all opinions, even those you may not agree with. I can personally attest to the importance of surrounding yourself with opposing viewpoints. If I had not had that opportunity last Monday, my outlook on the world, and this microcosm of it, would still be as narrow it was in the previous nineteen years. Altering a mindset in a three hour period is a tall order, but that is the power of open and free conversation. In part, I would like to use this platform to express my beliefs on the importances of observation and educating oneself through listening; but also to explain my position which I have very recently been convinced of – to ban Yik Yak from the SMCM online networks.

I feel obligated as a journalist to set the scene. On Tuesday, the fourth of October, our student government assembled. The first motion was called to amend the agenda so that the guest speakers could address those in attendance prior to the “student speakout.” The SGA leadership knew their section where they allow students to voice their opinions on matters important to them, was going to take longer than usual. The proposed resolution of removing Yik Yak from the school’s server had attracted many community members in order to share their views. Students one by one stood up to make their perspective known and put on record.

As I sat in the Schaefer Lecture Hall, I contemplated my thoughts. Why would we ban Yik Yak? What harm could an app possibly do? Isn’t this breaching the first amendment? Surely there was no way this resolution would pass. My argument was airtight, or so I thought. Initially my logic was that: The vocal group who opposed Yik Yak were so small in numbers that the resolution would be ignored by the vast majority. Those people in the majority who are not harmed by its existence directly. In retrospect I see the idiocy of this privileged statement, but at the time it seemed logical. I thought that this was a slippery slope we were perched upon. The vote may not pass, but it would nudge us towards an uncontrollable tumble towards the depths of total censorship. Freedom of speech is a principle that the United States is based on. I thought that any act which limited the outlets a person has available was an attack on the basis on America.

The first few people who spoke that evening seemed to affirm my original train of thought. As I stated before: Yik Yak does not negatively affect me, and I did not comprehend how an application could make someone so upset. However, as the accounts continued to be shared, I began to realize that I was the minority in the room. The majority of those present supported the ban. This made me feel small, insignificant and uncomfortable. Then one student pointed out that that feeling is how it feels to be be the minority in a much larger context. I realized that the oppression I felt as someone who opposed the ban is exactly why we should have the ban.

On our small campus, we live in a fairly homogenous society. Statistically, most of us identify as white and middle class. I check both of those boxes. It is quite rare that I am in a room and I see no one who is in agreement with me, no one who thinks in the same way. Just like when the professor at the “Time to Pause” meeting told me to sit down based on my race, gender identity, and sexuality, I got a rare taste of how it feels to be marginalized based on something I can not control. This made it very obvious to me that this feeling is disgusting. It felt horrendous and I only was in said situation for a short amount of time before I returned to my privileged position. As a member of the minority, my case had to be extremely strong in order to carry any merit. While the Yik Yak conversation continued I realized the lack of substance behind my position. Every time my opinion was countered, I would try and find a justification for keeping that opinion. Until eventually I realized I didn’t have any reason to feel how I did, besides my dignity in being right the first time. This was completely unfair.

More time has passed since that revelation, and now I see the flaws in the rest of my initial argument as well. If we have any human empathy at all, which we all claim we do, it should not matter if the sample size affected is only one person. No one should have to feel unwanted in our campus society. The greater good should be taken into account, but the inconvenience of many is negated, in my opinion, by the extreme circumstances of individuals. Lives are being literally ruined by this application. People have been called words so powerful that they fear daily that their classmate is the same anonymous user using language reminiscent of slavery. Yik Yak’s anonymous nature make it so that no one knows who is suggesting, via derogatory language, that their classmates do not deserve respect, and basic human decency. In the meeting, students stated that they wanted to leave the campus, because of how Yik Yak was making them feel unaccepted. Is that not severe enough to warrant action? I think that it shows this action is long overdue.

This resolution is not final. The college’s administration has the final call; the potential legal result is one to be determined by professional attorneys, not us. Our job as the student body is to determine if we want to sit ideally in the eye of injustice, or attempt to do something about it. Ultimately, if the ban passes through the SGA and the administration, those who want to use Yik Yak still have the full right to do so; the school will just no longer facilitate that right. This action will symbolize our distaste for bigotry, racism, homophobia, anti-semitism and sexism. We have the opportunity to send a powerful message to those affected, the community, and the rest of higher education, that St. Mary’s students will not stand idly while these injustices occur. This is not simply an opportunity, but our duty. Those in positions of privilege must realize that this can not be done by any one portion of the community, but all of us in our entirety. We must feel empathetic to those situations we cannot understand, and be advocates of equality for all.

Ultimately, racism is based on a lack of understanding of another culture, or set of ideas. A world where we speak less, and hear more is one where we can maybe, possibly, start to become decent human beings.

Yours Truly,

Scott Zimmerman

Managing Editor of The Point News
Cross Country Captain
Class of 2018

SGA Looking Forward to Productive Spring

Hi Seahawks!

As promised, I would like to follow up on my last article in the Point News, which covered the numerous accomplishments of the Student Government Association (SGA) in the first semester, in order to outline the goals Vice President Becky White and I have for this semester, our last at St. Mary’s.

Budget season is upon us and the financial pressures on our school are many. Tuition increases loom as our school struggles to keep pace with rising costs and the desire to deliver a strong academic program and residential experience, among other priorities. Given that tuition increases put additional stress on current students and threaten to discourage students from applying to this incredible institution, advocating for the College in Annapolis is a top priority. I have reached out to the University System of Maryland (USM) Student Council Chairman Zach Cohen to help create a groundbreaking joint venture between the USM and SMCM aimed at raising the profile of student voices in the discussion of affordability of higher education. Thanks to a great deal of work on his part, students from all Maryland public colleges and universities will descend on Annapolis on February 28th to urge the General Assembly to ensure the affordability of higher education into the future. Students will participate in a rally featuring high-profile political leaders and addresses from a few student leaders including myself. St. Mary’s students will then meet with key legislators who will ultimately decide whether we receive a tuition buy-down and support to go ahead with critical capital projects like the demolition and reconstruction of Anne Arundel.

The SGA is also working to make sure students have transportation to the February 22nd Board of Trustees meeting in Annapolis should they wish to voice their opinions regarding the proposed tuition increase for the next fiscal year. I have complete faith in Student Trustee Alex Walls’s ability to represent the students to the Board and I know it will only assist him in conveying the student position on tuition increases if more students travel to directly voice their thoughts. The Board of Trustees is genuinely interested in hearing students’ voices so I wholeheartedly encourage anyone interested to contact Student Trustee Walls or myself if you are interested in speaking.

Moving away from budget issues, Vice President White and I will make greater strides with regards to sustainability. We plan on exploring the scaling up and redesign of the reusable to-go box program and are looking to restructure the Green St. Mary’s Revolving Loan Fund (GSMRF) to better empower students to develop and launch energy-saving projects for the campus as part of our commitment to be carbon neutral by 2020. We also would like to re-engage the campus in dialogue over wireless printing. We are confident that a transition to a wireless printing system would address student printing concerns that have been repeatedly articulated through annual surveys completed by the Office of Residence Life and the Office of Information Technology in such a way that saves students money, expands access to printing across campus including at night, and saves ink and paper at the same time – a win-win-win! We fell short in conveying the urgency for and ease with which such reform can be accomplished and we will make a better case to students this semester.
In addition to sustainability, diversity issues are core to this administration’s efforts. We will advocate for the creation of a full-time Diversity Officer position to help coordinate diversity initiatives across offices. In doing so, we also endeavor to signal to potential applicants that we truly care about having a student body that reflects Maryland’s diverse population and that also attracts students from across the country and world to our beautiful school. Additionally, we will explore the possibility of creating more gender-neutral bathroom spaces on-campus given existing infrastructure as well as seek to pass a resolution aiming to incorporate gender-neutral bathrooms in all future campus construction plans.

Lastly, the SGA will be working to generate proposals to amend the SGA’s constitution, a document that has remained unedited since 2007 despite several failed attempts. Many operational realities of the SGA have changed and it is time for the constitution to reflect them. The Vice President and I will ensure that a thorough, transparent review of the constitution takes place and that each amendment is considered individually by the Senate instead of attempting to push a raft of reforms through the Senate en masse. The amendments that clear the Senate’s review will be put to the students alongside elections for President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Director of Campus Programming and the referendum on Meatless Mondays. We must see turnout above 1/3 of eligible voters for the amendments to be adopted. We are aiming to launch these elections on April 1st, as early as constitutionally possible, so that newly elected officials will have a month to shadow current SGA officers in their roles to facilitate a smooth transition into next school year’s administration.

There are certainly many other student issues that require attention and I promise to do my very best to learn about and act on them. I know I speak for Becky and myself when I say we are immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve this College. We hope to make the student body proud and empowered by all that we can accomplish together this semester.

SGA Senate Elections Results

On Feb. 12, the Student Government Association (SGA) opened its Senate elections for the spring semester. Open seats up for grabs included one seat in Caroline Hall, Prince George Hall (PG), and Townhouses, and two seats in Waring Commons (WC) and Lewis Quad (LQ). Elections closed on Feb. 15, and the winners were finalized over the weekend.

The winners of the elections are as followed:

Caroline: Sophomore Ben Wallace

PG: Sophomore Nick Gay

Townhouses: Senior Michael Hullet

WC: Senior Chris Pasch and Natalie Van Sant

LQ: Sophomore Jacob Taylor and Brett Ogden

These new senators will join the current SGA Senate for the remainder of the school year. Elections for next year’s Senate, class presidents, and SGA President/Vice President will be held in April.

For SGA updates, follow TPN on Twitter: @thepointnews.

Programs Board Hosts Welcome Back Weekend

From Thursday, Jan. 17 to Monday, Jan. 21, SGA Programs Board hosted a variety of events on campus to welcome students back from winter break. The events

included spoken word artist Hidden Legacy, magician Jay Mattioli, comedians and college dating coaches Dave and Ethan, comedy duo Dakaboom and this week’s SGA weekly mo

vie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. On Friday, Jan. 18 the SGA also hosted Club Fair in the Campus Center patio.

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SGA Update from President Reighart

Welcome Back, St. Mary’s!

Although the weather has been rather bleak lately, it is heartening to see that people’s enthusiasm for returning to our beautiful campus has not been diminished. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the Student Government Association thus far. In the next edition of the Point News, I will lay out some of the goals Vice President Becky White and I have for this semester.

This fall was truly a banner semester for the SGA. We undertook meaningful reform of the bylaws to ensure that the Finance Board, Programs Board, Student Investment Group, and SGA committees were streamlined. The Student Life committee, for example, is now directly linked to Dean Ifill’s Advisory Council, establishing a pipeline for student ideas and concerns to be channeled into legislation and action. We also added a bylaw that set forth the structure of the Bike Shop and ensured that it is permanently funded into the future. I would like to particularly thank Nathan Smith for his work on making this a reality. His leadership of and advocacy for the Bike Shop, ensures the Bike Shop will no longer face funding uncertainty each year and that student jobs

will be protected.

Another major change was the upgrade of the Survey Monkey elections system, which ensures additional security for elections and enhances the SGA’s ability to collect and analyze student feedback. With this enhanced tool, we have held very successful opinion surveys and elections – with over 700 voters participating in the At-Large Senator Elections. Much of our new success with surveys and elections is due to Parliamentarian Thomas Kenny’s commendable initiative in this area.

On a more somber note, I would like to condemn in strongest possible terms the writing of a racial epithet on one of our candidates’ campaign posters. This campus is a haven of acceptance and respect and acts like this simply damage our sense of community. I am happy to report that despite this repugnant act, the campus rallied behind this candidate and his bid for election was successful. Even in the face of vitriol, this candidate and his supporters persevered, demonstrating an absolute rejection of this kind of thoughtless behavior and a triumph of positive campaigning. In light of this incident and others, I call upon appropriate members of the professional staff and administration to fast-track the establishment of an automatic public reporting mechanism to inform the campus of on-campus bias-based incidents, similar to how sexual assaults must be publicly reported to the campus community. While receiving notification that racist or homophobic acts have taken place might be jarring and unsettling, knowledge is power. We must be more aware of the threats to our campus culture so that we can stand up to these incidents and work towards building a more harmonious community.

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Moving on, the work of the Publicity Committee and Director of Publicity Emily Burdeshaw has also been a tremendous asset to the SGA as they have launched an SGA Twitter account (@SeahawksSGA), created a new SGA logo, and reinvigorated our Facebook presence (join “SMCM SGA” to get our latest updates!). We also established an e-mail account, sga@smcm.edu, and overhauled the SGA website, www.smcm.edu/sga, to include, among other things, the constitution and bylaws, as another means to facilitate engagement with the student body.

The SGA Programs Board, under the leadership of Director of Campus Programming Chelsea Cesaro and Assistant Director of Student Activities Clint Neill, was responsible for an array of incredible and diverse programming ranging from special events like our very own Hunger Games to a rap battle in the Grind. I cannot wait to see what this team has in store for this semester, especially for World Carnival!

On the budget side of things, Treasurer Tiko Mason has done an excellent job making sure our clubs are adequately funded – holding regular and emergency fund appeals in a timely fashion and leading the Finance Board to meet club needs while also ensuring that SGA finances are carefully managed and not disbursed if a club’s funding request is not detailed enough. Club Coordinator Gwen Kokes has also been phenomenal in her work. She has held regular Club Council meetings to make sure clubs understand fund appeals, vehicle requests, trip planning forms, and so much more. She was also very responsive to the numerous inquiries clubs had. She, along with Treasurer Mason, were great resources for new clubs seeking to become officially recognized by the SGA.

Lastly, I would like to thank the SGA Senate for their careful consideration and support of Meatless Mondays and the Open Housing Policy. The Meatless Monday initiative forced this campus to have a serious discussion about institutional values and sustainability. The attendance at Student Speakout was record-breaking and people with all opinions were given the opportunity to speak their mind. I would like to particularly thank SEAC and Vice President White for their leadership in this effort. Our planet faces the very real threat of climate change and making this small, yet meaningful and awareness-raising change shows that our generation has the capacity to consciously make sacrifices in order to realize long-term benefits of climate stability and environmental justice. Similarly, by voting to support the Open Housing Policy, the Senate demonstrated the campus’s commitment to creating a more flexible and welcoming Residence Life system, particularly for members of the LGBTQIA community.

This school has a lot to be proud of and I am so thankful for the chance to serve alongside all of the great people who are a part of the SGA. We all also owe an immense debt of gratitude to the Office of Student Activities, led by Kelly Schroeder, which supports the SGA on a day-to-day basis. This semester is a testament to the fact that if people get involved and care about their community, truly fantastic things can come of it. I look forward to building on the momentum of the fall as we kick off the spring semester and continue to serve the students of St. Mary’s!

Open Housing to be Implemented Next Year

In the upcoming semester, Fall 2013, the College will instate a new policy: open housing. This new policy states that members of different sexes or identified genders can live in the same room. This differs from the current policy, which allows different-gendered individuals to live in the same suite, apartment, or townhouse, but not in the same room. The new policy will be open to all students.

SGA President, senior Andrew Reighart, said, “I think open housing will create a more accepting and flexible environment for current LGBTQ students and will improve our ability to attract LGBTQ students to apply and enroll in the College. But it is important to note this this policy is inclusive of everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The open housing policy allows all students greater choice in their living arrangements. Almost all St. Mary’s students are legally adults; thus, we should both comport ourselves as such and be afforded the greater decision-making responsibilities that come with adulthood.”

College President Joe Urgo said, “I can’t think of a reason why not [to support the policy]. We’re giving additional choices to people.” From an administrative standpoint, he adds, “It’s simpler, it gives more options, and therefore makes it easier to put people where they want to be. Exclusively gender-specific housing can be complicated when you have more of one gender than the other, and you might have more empty rooms.”

He agreed with Reighart’s statement that decision-making is an important part of adulthood, but added that it is also important to education, saying, “I like that students are thinking about these kinds of things, deliberately thinking about it. What you eat, where you’re going to live. Don’t just take that passively, take an active role it in. That’s an important part an education, to take initiative and to not be passive about any part of your life. Taking an active role and wanting to determine what your choices are going to be, I think that’s really healthy. You’re the ones that live here; this is your community.”

In terms of what started the debate, Reighart said, “There was a formal push for open housing legislation when an SGA resolution was passed in 2010 by the 2009-2010 SGA Senate. That legislation was sponsored by former SGA Vice President Ken Benjes. The following school year, SGA President Marlena Weiss worked to move the issue forward, developing the language of the policy with Kelly Smolinsky. Once Marlena graduated, Clint Neill continued to work with Kelly on the policy language. Their work was continued and completed this year by the Open Housing Task Force.”

Reighart, who served on the Open Housing Task Force, strongly advocated that the policy included incoming and underclassmen students. “I am proud to say that this was taken into consideration and incorporated in the final policy language,” Reighart said. He added, “Once the policy was constructed, I sponsored the SGA resolution to back the Open Housing Policy and was overjoyed to have all but one Senator vote in support of it.”

When students were surveyed for opinions on open housing, most were in favor of it, though some acknowledged potential problems. Junior Alexia Tanski said, “I think the open housing policy is a really good idea for students who will be using it in order to stay in their comfort zone and live with someone they are really comfortable with. But there’s a 100 percent guarantee that couples are going to use this policy to live together, and if they break up, it could create more problems than are necessary.”

Come fall of 2013, the open housing policy will be put into effect throughout North Campus (Waring Commons, Lewis Quad, and the townhouses), and in Prince George (PG) Hall, first left. While upperclassmen will more likely be living on North Campus, and choosing where they want to live, incoming first-years are more likely to live in PG and must therefore apply to live in its “open” hall.

Letter to the Editor: Meatless Mondays, Starting the Year Off Right

By Kathryn Kullberg, (’03, B.A. in English)

As an alumna of St. Mary’s, I was excited to learn that the SGA supported a resolution to implement Meatless Mondays.

Why is Meatless Mondays so important? Since graduating from St. Mary’s, I’ve devoted my career to working for animals, helping creatures big and small, from captive to free-roaming wildlife.

Over the years of working to protect animals, I’ve seen the darker side of humanity, capable of extreme cruelty. I’ve also seen the brighter side of humanity, which seeks justice for the most commonly abused animals in our society – animals raised for food. Most animals raised for food in the U.S. come from factory farms, windowless sheds where many of the animals are unable to do some of the most basic things that are important and natural to them, like move freely and flap their wings. Reducing our meat consumption is an easy and simple way to help reduce the suffering of these animals.

Raising over 9 billion land animals for food each year takes an enormous toll on the environment, using up precious resources like fresh water, fossil fuels, and arable land. Environmental Defense Fund said: “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains…the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.”

As we shift from a meat-heavy diet to a more plant-based diet, consuming less cholesterol and saturated fat, and increasing our intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts, our health will improve. That’s why Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and more than 20 other public health institutions also support Meatless Mondays.

Meatless Mondays are a common-sense approach to a number of critical issues facing our nation, addressing head-on environmental conservation, the obesity epidemic, and animal cruelty. I’m proud to see St. Mary’s do its part – let’s support this effort.