By Bryer Sousa, Free Press Staff
On Wednesday, April 13, USM English Professor John Muthyala served as a facilitator of critical cultural reflection and as an educator as he presented a talk titled “Drones: Weapons of War or Tools for Entertainment” to students and members of the community in 423 Glickman Library.
In Professor Muthyala’s presentation, two questions were explored as part of the Faculty Lecture Series that was brought about by the Department of English, those questions being: “How do digital tools, systems, and networks extend, justify, or contain America’s role in the world? And what impact do they have on society, culture, and liberal democracy?”
Professor Muthyala elaborated on the two aforementioned questions due to the fact that he is penning a book concerned with surveillance cultures and drones. Moreover, his intellectual endeavors are concerned with various questions in disciplines such as the digital humanities, globalization studies, the literature of the Americas and cultural criticism. In fact, Professor Muthyala has authored two books, Reworlding America: Myth, History, and Narrative and Dwelling in American: Dissent, Empire, and Globalization.
When asked about how he arrived at the title of the talk, Professor Muthyala stated that “It [the title] was framed in that way to avoid the perception that drone technology is inherently oriented only towards control, surveillance, and destruction, at least in the way that drones have captured the public imagination, that is, primarily as tools of state violence. Because of the rapid infusion of technology into society, the commercialization of drone technology has also started and that has lead to the application of drone tech in a variety of contexts.”
Professor Muthyala expanded upon the contexts, by noting that “Researchers in both private and public universities are using drones to survey the impact of rising sea levels in areas they simply could not reach… We have drones being used for natural disasters to access humanly impossible to reach areas to watch a dissipate things they could not do without this technology, especially where time is of the essence, for example, in the case of an apartment building fire.”
Nevertheless, rather than simply highlighting the fact that drones can be used for enhancing public safety and just causes, Professor Muthyala also delved into the state-violence-based nature of drone use as well. “In this lecture, I was going to focus primarily on the military aspects and American foreign policy,” he said. He continued by explaining that “One of the things that the Obama administration has done is move beyond the personality drone strike strategy that the Bush administration employed. The personality based strike was oriented towards understanding and assessing individuals’ behaviors, for example, who they were meeting and what they were doing… Obama moved that into a entirely different realm with his signature strike strategy, which exams patterns of behavior among large groups of people, irrespective of the individual nature of an activity. Thus we have instances where the parameters of the strike can be indiscriminate.”
Professor Muthyala concluded our conversation by stating that “Drones and surveillance systems inaugurate a new dispensation of empire. While changing our sense of space and time they are altering notions of war and peace, guilt and innocence, visibility and invisibility, security and the greater common good.”
Following the interview with Professor Muthyala, Catherine, a student of the University of Southern Maine, was asked what her views are with respect to the utilization of drone technology. “It seems irresponsible to put innocents at risk by way of algorithms and artificial intelligence. Drones shouldn’t be the first resource used in international diplomacy. It is dumbfounding to me,” she stated.
To read a recent article by Professor Muthyala, please see “Whither the Digital Humanities?” For another perspective on the militarized employment of drones in international affairs, one may be interested in a column written prior to this presentation, titled “The Millennials Conscience, On The Drone Papers,” published by The Free Press.
By Julie Pike, Free Press Staff
Dating back to 2010, every spring at USM, students, staff, faculty and alumni participate in the Husky Day of Service. This event is a way to engage its participants in community service projects with local organizations for the day. The Husky Day of Service is a great opportunity for first time volunteers to experience community service in a comfortable group setting.
This year the 7th Annual Husky Day of Service was held on Friday, April 15. The event is primarily sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement and Career Development, with support from a planning team comprised of students and staff from various departments at USM.
Last year, 70 students, staff and faculty volunteered for a total of 207 hours with 12 local organizations. This year, over 240 people were registered to volunteer at 18 different community organizations in the Greater Portland area. The event’s success continues to grow with each year. Some of the local organizations that were included in the event were Preble Street, Garbage to Garden, Goodwill, Portland Gear Hub, Girls on the Run, Cultivating Community, Animal Refuge League, Rippleffect, Partners for World Health and more.
The event kicked off at 9:30 a.m. in the Sullivan Gym on the Portland campus, where each participant chose their volunteer site. USM President Cummings was there with a special kick-off speech to start the day. Every participant received a free light breakfast and lunch, as well as a free t-shirt and free transportation to their project site. All projects wrapped up at around 3 p.m. to conclude the day.
The event was created as a way to get members of the USM community interested in volunteering, while also providing extra help to community partners who need assistance with special projects. For USM students, faculty and staff who want to get involved in their community but have busy schedules, this event provides a great opportunity to them with a one-time volunteering project. It can also inspire those who want to make a long term commitment to volunteering in their community.
One student, Gabrielle Perron, described her experience volunteering at the Wayside Food Program in Portland. There she helped package food and brought it to an apartment building where elderly and disabled residents who can’t afford to buy their own live. Perron and other students also helped set up a table there with different types of foods, and then helped served this food to the residents. Perron commented that “it was really humbling to see these people who struggle be capable of being so happy.”
For any students who want to learn more about volunteering opportunities outside of the Husky Day of Service, they can visit the Office of Community Engagement and Career Development in 100 Payson Smith on the USM Portland Campus, or they can visit usm.maine.edu/volunteer or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The city of Portland is looking to pass a new budget, which could cause all clinics at the India Street Public Health center to close. In the wake of this decision, over 20 public health workers would lose their jobs, and 1,114 patients receiving care at these clinics would be forced to shift their services to the Portland Community Health Center.
With the loss of India Street Clinics, there will also be a loss of programs for HIV Prevention, Positive Health Care, STD Clinic, the Needle Exchange, Free Clinic and the Immunization Clinic. The India Street Needle Exchange, which currently distributes more than 100,00 clean needles yearly, would also be shut down, with the current idea to transfer the services still in it’s early stages of thought.
The Portland Community Health Center, a privately run non-profit currently provides their services to over 6,600 people a year, but in the transfer of services, it had been made unclear how they will accommodate that demand of services that will be lost on India Street.
Jessica Grondin, director of communications for the city of Portland, stated that she doesn’t anticipate any problems to arise, and made clear the reasoning as to why this consolidation has been proposed.
“The city is no longer receiving as many grants as we used to, and unfortunately the federal government is no longer funding cities. They want health care to be distributed through these federally regulated health care services all under one roof,” she stated. “Instead of waiting another year or two and losing all our grants, we’re trying to proactively take the steps to start transferring these services and maximize reimbursement levels and make sure.”
Grondin is right about the heavy reliance on grants for India Street: According to the Public Health Division’s 2014-2015 annual report, the India Street clinic had an annual budget of $1.4 million, with nearly half of that cost being paid through federal and state grants.
She further explained that across the country, municipal health services are no longer providing direct clinical care, pointing out that only 11 percent of cities provide direct health care in clinics like those found on India Street. For Grondin, the change can be seen as a positive one.
However, other individuals in the community have expressed more concern for the issue at hand. Last Thursday, members of the Portland City Council’s Finance Committee expressed their concerns about the plan to close the health center on India Street. The three member committee will vote next week at a public hearing. If the proposal goes through, the vote will go back to the full council and they will have the first reading on May 2, with a second read and vote on May 16.
Dick Morin, a senior sociology major at the University of Southern Maine and participant in the Students and Recovery group on campus, explained that although he has never personally used the services on India Street, he knows a lot of individuals who do, and the loss of these services would be detrimental to their well-being.
“I think if services were transferred to another entity, the continuity of care will be broken,” he explained. “You have people who have gone to this clinic for years and people have a comfortable factor along with relationships being formed. You don’t have to have an appointment to get served, either – if this transfer occurs, I think a lot of people will get swept through the cracks.”
Other individuals gave a similar response regarding the possible change, with worries that it will lead to reduction in efficiency, accessibility and reliability of currently well-integrated services. The widespread fear is centered around the possibility that the community health care will not be able to live up to it’s promise of community health support.
“Even if you plot it out perfectly, somebody is going to get lost in the shuffle. I don’t see how that is not possible,” said Erika Ziller, a health policy researcher and faculty member at the University of Southern Maine’s graduate center. “I just don’t know this plan has been fully thought out to the extent it needs to be to be effective.”
As a follow-up statement, Mayor Ethan Strimling informed the public that their concerns were being heard via Facebook last week, stating that as he reviews the proposal, he will be looking to ensure that if any changes are made in serving those in need, there will not be even the slightest reduction in their service.
“I firmly believe that a city can and should be judged by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us,” he wrote. “It is incumbent upon the council as we review the City Manager’s proposed budget to keep that in clear focus.”
The proposal will go before the City Council’s Finance Committee from 2-5 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. The committee is charged with making a recommendation to the full council. A public hearing and vote on the proposal is scheduled for April 21.
By Colin Cundy, Contributor
On April 14, polls officially opened for the 2016 student body president and vice president elections. Candidates for these positions introduced themselves and their platforms in two debate-style events. The first was held late-morning in Woodbury Center on the Portland Campus and the second occurred in the evening in the Brooks Student Center on the Gorham Campus.
The student body president and vice president lead the Student Senate and act as representatives to the university’s administration. The Student Government Association (SGA), which the student body president and vice president are a part of, is responsible for governing all student groups. Each student pays a ‘student activity fee’ based on the student’s credit hours. The SGA is the steward of the fund this fee creates.
Muhammad Khan, candidate for student body president and a history major, is running with specific goals in mind. “I would like to work with USM Libraries and help them purchase all the necessary textbooks needed for coursework at USM,” he said.
Khan continued to say that college is very expensive, and that the first step to reducing the cost of college is eliminating the cost of textbooks.
The cost of attending university to begin with is very high, he contended, which makes it imperative to find other ways of cutting students’ costs. In order to provide the textbooks needed at USM, Khan would work to expand USM’s libraries and make required texts available for borrowing.
He would also make fundraising one of his administration’s priorities. “Fundraising for an increased number of scholarships open to all members of the student body” would be yet another effort he’d undertake if elected.
Khan, who has served in the student senate, highlighted the need for unity within the student body as another reason for his seeking the presidency. “We need to stop factionalism that is prevalent among many student groups,” he said. Khan further remarked that a united student body is needed for the betterment of USM.
Khan has also served as a member of the Gorham school board, and would like to see more involvement between USM and Gorham and Portland school districts. On the subject of increased community outreach, Khan said, “This would be a great opportunity for USM students to gain internships as mentors and coaches in the Gorham community.” Kahn noted that this increased outreach is a way to improve both USM and its local communities.
Matthew Raymond is running alongside Khan as candidate for vice president, and wants to use the position to advocate for a more positive environment on campus. He said he’d “like to advocate for the issues that they care about most.”
Raymond, a member of USM Socialists, promised to argue for increased funding from the state. He said he would work to “support working and middle class students here at USM and across the University of Maine system.” Dylan Ross, a senior political science major, is also running for student body president.
“I am disgusted with how the university I love has been operating,” he said. This feeling, he continued, has motivated his running for office. Ross, while praising his opponent, didn’t hold his feelings about the SGA back.
“I would like to see most preexisting student leaders resign,” he said. This personal belief has left Ross feeling “like running is the only way to correct the problems.”
Ross, previously involved in the Student Senate, also noted that the institution’s retention rate needs to be addressed. “Our retention rate is 67 percent, and the national average is 72.3 percent,” he said. He said the solution is “to take our school back, not with a polite suggestions, but with clear demands, and reasonable dialogue.”
The polls opened on April 14 and will be open through April 20. Students, residential and commuter, can find ballots on the SGA’s page on the USM website. Students can also find other relevant information on this page, such as more information on the candidates, Senate meeting times and more. Students can also find more information on Facebook page ‘USM Votes 2016.’
When: Apr 20, 2016 05:00am
Expected Duration: 1hr
Scope: MSLN/UMS non-campus sites
During the maintenance window a core router will be upgraded.
The majority of sites involved will be MSLN sites as well as some UMS non-campus locations.
Most (if not all) sites connected to this router will NOT realize a loss of connectivity as their secondary paths will remain active. [...]
At the bi-monthly Board of Trustees meeting, which took place earlier this month, four members of the USM faculty were awarded tenure and upgraded to the title of associate professor.
Kelly Hrenko Ph.D., Yuseung Kim Ph.D, Alexander Lapidus Ph.D. and Peter J. Woodruff Ph.D., have each been apart of USM for six years and each got a unanimous vote from all 16 board members to be granted tenure.
Professor Hrenko, before coming to USM, was teaching art in Minnesota to kids in kindergarten through 12 grade. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota for Art Education with a focus in culture-based art and culture-based education. She has published three book chapters along with three articles in journals and created an interactive website.
Before being brought to USM as part of a National Science Foundation grant linked to a research program, Professor Kim was an instructor at the University of Colorado, where he received his Ph.D. and spent three years, from 2001 to 2004, as a planner and researcher at Seoul Development Institute. Currently, Professor Kim teaches eight different programs, in both undergraduate and graduate programs, focusing planning, town design and sustainability.
After earning an undergraduate degree in Russia, a masters degree in Thailand and a Ph.D. in English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, along with teaching in several foreign countries, Professor Lapidus came to USM, teaching literacy, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, on the multiple campuses and online.
When not in the classroom, Professor Lapidus represents the state on the executive board of the Northern New England TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Association. He also serves on the Faculty Senate here at USM.
The final professor to receive tenure at USM was Professor Woodruff, who teaches classes in Biochemistry at both the graduate and undergraduate level. When not in the classroom, Professor Woodruff is advising the Chemistry Club, which has been acknowledged by the American Chemical Society, for work completed under his leadership.
According to the USM website, Professor Woodruff’s research is focused on a group of small organic compounds called compatible solutes. His work has resulted in two publications, a patent, and oral and poster presentations.
President of USM, Glenn Cummings, was quick to congratulate the four professors, including a small blurb about them in weekly email blast that gets sent out to students.
“On behalf of the USM community allow me to express our sincere admiration and appreciation for their tremendous devotion to our students and their disciplines that this recognition implies,” President Cummings said in the March 14 edition of the Monday Missive.
By: Candice Isaac
On April 1, several student staff members from the USM Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity headed down to Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York to attend the 21 annual Northeast Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Conference. The three-day conference highlighted many ways to discover and develop best practices, programs, resources and policies to support the LGBTQ community at campuses across the northeast. Too often heteronormativity, which is based on attitudes that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural expression of sexuality , is pervasive in our culture leaving those with different sexual identities feeling marginalized. CSGD staff members were amongst several local, regional, and national activists and organizations who share in the vision for judgment-free campuses where anti-LGBT sentiments are non-existent.
The conference held several interesting and relevant workshops as well as breakout sessions often led by student leaders who personally dealt with the topic. Presentation titles included “GaySL: A Crash Course in LGBTQ American Sign Language,” “Organizing at the Intersections of Black Lives Matter and& Gender Justice,” “Appropriation versus Diversity: Beating the Double-Edged Sword,” “Things Nobody Tells You About Coming Out,” and “How to Create an LGBTQ Friendly Campus.”
“From Fear to Advocacy,” was a presentation led by Jay Hicks, a young man who shared his personal story on how he went from victim to victor. Hicks talked about dealing with the mental and physical ramifications of being a victim of a hate crime and his triumph to regaining his life and becoming an advocate for LGBTQ students on his campus.
Hicks noted that several university outlets such as university counseling, the office of student affairs and advisors that were sympathetic to LGBTQ students were to thank for supporting him throughout his journey to healing. He also mentioned that students become informed of university resources such as medical withdrawals that can help them deal with their pain and also maintain their good academic standing. Peer mentoring was equally important to the speaker who said that without that he might have felt more isolated after the incident.
Conference attendees also had the opportunity to hear from American actor and singer, Mya Jeanette Taylor. Taylor talked about her journey as a transgender woman and how her life has changed for the better since landing a leading role in Sean Baker’s film Tangerine.
Taylor’s candid personality helped some audience members open up about their own personal struggles about not being accepted by loved ones once coming out. Taylor reminded student attendees that being, “respected, not accepted” was important, as not everyone will agree with your lifestyle changes. Taylor also suggested that those lacking family support create and build relationships with friends as those are the people that they will need to depend on during tough times.
The conference ended on Sunday, April 3 with an uplifting unified exercise led by Adaku Utah, an award-winning liberation educator and organizer committed to healing and liberation within oppressed communities. Utah began with a mindfulness meditation exercise to help attendees center and ground themselves for the work that lied ahead. Next, Utah talked about how human connection and interdependence was needed for humans to be and feel supported throughout their lives.
This idea supported the overall message during the conference that the LGBTQ community, along with allies, needed to be there for one another during what would be difficult times. What followed was several exercises based on really getting to know the person you were paired with.
Utah said “too often we give polite answers to the question “how are you?”” and challenged attendees to go deeper and to share how they were really doing. This exercise led to comments by attendees that they never have the opportunity to share how they are really doing. One participant said that the exercise was difficult because she felt vulnerable because no one she encountered before had ever cared.
Understanding our heteronormative society and learning how to include and support other sexual orientations will have many benefits for us on campus which is work that the CSGD continues to encourage. The USM Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity seeks to ensure a university environment that is positive, safe and supportive for individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities, in particular members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Asexual community.
Byline: Bryer Sousa
Having explained how the caucusing process works in Maine, in a piece titled “Maine is one of 13 States that has a Caucus, Here’s how it Works,” prior to when state party members of the Republican and Democratic Party’s caucuses as a means of declaring their respective preferences for the presidential nominee’s, members of the USM community may be curious about the state of the current primary election season.
According to the Associated Press, Bernie Sanders, with 62.3 percent of the vote from Maine Democrat party members claimed victory over Hillary Clinton, while Ted Cruz earned 45.3 percent of the Maine Republican caucus goers, beating frontrunner Donald Trump and John Kasich. In other words, Sanders was awarded sixteen delegates, Hillary was awarded nine, Cruz was pledged twelve and Trump was assigned nine, while Kasich was awarded two from the caucus goers of Maine.
With twenty states having yet to caucus or hold primaries, the current frontrunner of the Democrat’s is Hillary Clinton with 1,280 pledged delegates as well as 469 superdelegates, in comparison to Bernie Sanders 1,030 pledged delegates and 31 superdelegates. With respect to the Republicans, Trump has accumulated a total of 743 delegates, whereas Cruz has been awarded 517 while Kasich has 143.
Given the enthusiastic emphasis upon income inequality, wealth distribution, international trade agreements, and the economy in general during this election season, Professor Michael Hillard of the University of Southern Maine (USM) Department of Economics was reached by phone to provide an economist’s point of view.
“If you look at [this election season] it as an economist, it has been about forty years since we have had a genuine political left in this country,” said Dr. Hillard. “This political emergence of a candidate like that of Sanders illustrates a really dynamic shift in our politics, as a consequence of the Great Recession,” stated Dr. Hillard.
Hillard continued by expanding upon the notion of needing a sustained effort for political and economic change organized by the people, such as a prolonged Occupy-like movement.
“We elected Obama with a naivety that simply electing the right person will take care of all of the problems that began accelerated under Reagan,” said Hillard.
As an attempt to expand upon Hillard’s comments, Esther Pew, a graduate student dually enrolled in the School of Social Work and the Muskie School of Public Service of USM, who also is involved with USM for Bernie, stated that despite reports of voter suppression in states like Arizona through the form of fewer available polling places, many voters continue to show their support for Bernie’s message.
“His overwhelming wins in states like Alaska, Maine, Hawaii, and Washington shows that his message is resonating across the country and with a variety of populations,” she stated.
Nevertheless, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Chair of Philosophy and Liberal Studies of USM Jason Read provided comments on the current election season.
“If there is one defining feature of the current election it would seem to be that conventional wisdom has utterly fallen apart,” he explained. “Conventional wisdom dictates that outsider candidates, businessmen and celebrities, do well at the early stage of primaries only to fade away and be rewarded with a talk show. The same wisdom dictates that socialists, democratic or otherwise, do not stand a chance.”
Senior political science and international relations major Rochelle Soohey, who serves as the Deputy Secretary General of the Maine Model United Nations Conference, provided her thoughts on the 2016 presidential election as well. She believes that if you were to have asked her months ago on her election predictions, she would have aid that former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, would have soared through the primaries and caucuses with his large super PACs and clearly established political ties.
“Although I personally voted for Bernie Sanders in the Maine Caucus and have done work for his campaign, I feel that this election season has been very successful for third party candidates, particularly the Libertarian party,” Soohey said. “Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is at 11 percent in the national polls. The 2016 election has been very unusual to the point where many Americans are looking for alternatives”
Lastly, Associate Professor of Political Science, Ronald Schmidt Jr., who also serves as the Coordinator of the Political Science Major at USM, stated that his one take-away from this year’s elections if how unpredictable the electoral politics remain.
“This election points to the enduring significance of race in politics, where race serves as an important organizing question,” he said. “Trump has been able to acquire a lot of free publicity by way of the major media outlets as well.”
Dr. Schmidt concluded the discussion by highlighting the upside as well as downside of Maine holding a caucus rather than a primary.
“A caucus is the closest form of participation that we have [with respect to national elections] to a town hall…” he stated. “The downside of a caucus is that it can lower voter participation.” said Professor Schmidt.
By Nicholas Beauchesne, Sports Editor
Every ten years, the University of Southern Maine gets evaluated by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) on an array of standards that all reputable academic institutions in the region are assessed on.
These evaluations are directly tied to the university’s standing as an accredited institution. The last official accreditation visit took place in 2011. Five years after each NEASC accreditation, USM is required to complete an Interim Report, where they are tasked with showing what steps have been taken since the last visit, as well as what other things the university needs to work on in order to ensure a positive assessment in 2021. In the middle of this ten year cycle this year, USM hosted NEASC representatives visiting the campus this past week.
Universities are evaluated on a set of 11 separate standards, each of which has a series of sub-standards that further encompass what makes up a university. Ranging from Mission and Purposes, Students, Faculty, Financial Resources and Integrity, the standards, created by faculty and administrators from across the region, aim to evaluate all of the facets of an academic institution.
In preparing for the Interim Report, USM was required to address what it has done to improve upon the standards that were highlighted as areas to work on in 2011. A progress report, drafted in 2013, reported out on those issues, which included system finances and data collection.
Accreditation is run out of the office of the Provost at USM. Sally Meredith, Chief of Staff of the Office of the Provost, explained how the points of emphasis in the 2011 accreditation process coalesce with issues the university has been dealing in the time following the last visit by NEASC.
“We are constantly seeking to improve our institution. There is no time to rest on your accreditation in this process,” stated Meredith. “With the end of each cycle begins another one, so we work constantly to grow through assessing ourselves and making adjustments based on the data we collect.”
During the NEASC visits, the focus on accreditation and self-assessment goes into overdrive. Despite the fact that this part of the cycle is only a half-way progress report of sorts, the emphasis on remains on ensuring that the university is prepared to present its progress when official re-accreditation comes around in 2021.
It is important to understand that the standing of USM as an accredited institution is not something that is in jeopardy. Meredith explained that every institution gets critiqued, and this midcycle check-in allows them to catalogue internally where USM has grown and where they still need to imrpove.
“Schools that find themselves in danger of losing their accreditation demonstrate systemic failure over a period of time, and we are not in that situation at all,” she stated.
The visit by members of NEASC involved meetings with students, faculty and administration. Informational luncheons were held over the course of the week where members of the USM community voiced their concerns and opinions about the direction that the university is heading.
The range of opinions varied greatly with the experiences of each individual. A recurring theme particular attention during discussions were issues concerning recent retrenchment and how the university has handled its responsibility to teach out (provide a means for students to complete their degree) to the students that were matriculating through a discipline that has been eliminated.
This concern, along with those surrounding implementation of recommendations concerning the Metropolitan University model and USM’s goals to increase enrollment, are at the center of focus for what to improve upon during the five years between now and the 2021 NEASC visit.
As much NEASC evaluation is from an outside entity looking in at USM, the process of the accreditation cycle emphasizes the importance of academic institutions striving to improve themselves from within. Adam Tuchinsky, interim dean of the college of arts, humanities and social sciences, expressed this opportunity that the NEASC Interim Report affords the university in terms of self-measurement.
“They (NEASC) wants to see that we are actually assessing ourselves, and that, based on how we are measuring ourselves, look to see that we are making decisions for the future of the university, based on evidence.”
The full report from NEASC will not be received by USM until November of this year. From that point forward, there will be a little less than five years before the 2021 accreditation period. In the five years between now and then, USM will continue striving to grow and improve.
By Candice Issac, Free Press Staff
With so many competing interests and demands, law students are at a high risk for stress, anxiety and depression if they do not find balance early on in their law schools career. According to the American Bar Association (ABA) Substance Abuse in Law Schools Toolkit, if mental health and substance abuse issues are left unaddressed, the rates of law students grappling with substance abuse and mental health problems increase dramatically.
Additionally, a 2014 Survey of Law Student Well-Being, which is co-piloted by David Jaffe and Jerry Organ and funded by the ABA Enterprise Fund and the Dave Nee Foundation, showed that at the time of the survey that 20.4 percent of individuals have thought seriously about suicide sometime in their life and roughly one-sixth of those with a depression diagnosis had received the diagnosis since starting law school.
Like in many other communities, the legal community is no different in that there can be a stigma associated with mental health issues. However, achieving a well- balanced life is not too far from reach if students are able to identify the risk factors and common root causes of mental health issues as well as the tools to combat those potential risks. One of the common root causes of law student mental health issues is living an unbalanced life. An unbalanced life often leads to burnout. So on March 29, in honor of ABA National Mental Health Day, the
University of Maine School of Law’s ABA Law Student Division hosted a panel on mindfulness meditation as one method for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression among law students. Panelists included nationally regarded mindfulness teacher, author, and trainer Scott L. Rogers, M.S., J.D., founder and director of the Institute for Mindfulness Studies and of the University of Miami School of Law Mindfulness in Law Program, Professor Deirdre Smith, Director of the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, Bill Nugent, Director of the Maine Assistance Program for Lawyers and Judges, as well as Associate Dean Sherry Niang from the Office of Student Services.
Rogers led the discussion by highlighting Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness which states that “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” Kabat-Zinn is internationally known for bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society.
Rogers advocates for the use of mindfulness meditation by law students because of its benefits of increasing focus and productivity, reducing stress and anxiety, and heightened body awareness. Rogers notes that mindfulness takes practice so beginners should not pass judgment on themselves.
Smith, who led a brief mindfulness exercise, echoed the same sentiments that practice makes perfect when it comes to mindfulness. Smith’s mindfulness exercise helped attendees focus on their breathing and staying present in the moment. Smith explained that mindfulness can be done anywhere and that students would benefit from regular practice. Nugent, from the Maine Assistance Program for Lawyers and Judges (MAP), shared his personal journey with mindfulness and the need for people to be patient with the process.
Nugent explained that MAP provides free and confidential assistance to students at the University of Maine School of Law for problems related to anything from mental and emotional health to work-life balance issues. To further assist with a mindfulness routine, Nugent announced that there will be a four session MAP- sponsored Course on Mindfulness which will begin on, April 21 available to law school community members (students, faculty, and staff).
The University of Maine School of Law recognizes the stressors that come with pursuing a legal career and continues to provide access to the mental health resources when necessary, said Associate Dean Niang. It is important for law students to develop a healthy, balanced lifestyle now as it will serve them well throughout their legal career.
“Not In Our Halls” is an initiative created by the Residential Life department on the Gorham Campus to stop the instances of hate and racism in residential halls. It began as a way to help educate students on how to be a good active bystander and to encourage students to stop bullying or tormenting others.
This initiative began after there were issues of graffiti being put up in the residence halls on the Gorham Campus. Other students had overheard rude comments, or microaggressions, which are brief verbal comments or behaviors that are hostile, derogatory and/or racist, directed towards them in the hallways that made them feel uncomfortable or targeted.
The “Not In Our Halls” program has put up bulletin boards in every residential hall on campus to inform students about this issue and to prevent those comments being made in the future. The boards explain how each student can help if they see an act of hate directed towards others. It encourages students to respectfully confront inappropriate behaviors or actions and to report it to a professional staff member or online anonymously.
The board also includes several phone numbers to call to report those acts, including the USM Police Department and Residential Life. To inform students about what hate crimes and microaggressive behaviors are, the board clearly outlines how to define them so students can be aware if they see or hear it happening.
Every Residential Director and Resident Assistant (RA) is working to inform each student about what to do if they witness an act of racism, sexism or any uncomfortable comments being made. Each RA was given a format to follow for the boards to be put up in each hall, and personalized them to their liking. In the dorm Upton Hastings, they also had a program where they asked residents what diversity meant to them, which is on display in the lobby of the dorm.
Rikki Demoranville, an RA in the Upton Hastings dormitory, stated that the board was a way for RA’s to open dialogue with residents to get people talking about issues they don’t necessarily want to address.
“Some people are not aware that what they are saying is hurtful, thinking of it as a joke, and this helps students gain a new perspective,” he stated. “It’s an important subject and it’s not easy to talk about, but it needs to be done.”
Jason Saucier from the Residential Life Office on the Gorham Campus, who is an active proponent of “Not In Our Halls,” said that he wants to encourage students to be active bystanders if they see any instances of students speaking against others, and for them to speak up and say something like, “Not in our Halls.” He is hoping this program will catch on with students on campus, to create a more welcoming, comfortable environment for all students to enjoy.
On Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 2:59 PM, John Scofield wrote:
> Where: Orono
> When: Apr 13, 2016 0500
> Expected Duration: 2hrs
> MaineREN sites that connect through Bangor will be migrated. The
> affected sites are:
> Bangor HS
> Ellsworth HS
> Messalonskee HS
> Mount Desert Island HS
> Waterville HS
> Winslow HS
> Jesup Memorial Library
> Ellsworth Public Library
> Networkmaine Contact Info:
> NOC 561-3587
> Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
> NONE [...]
When: Apr 13, 2016 5:30
Expected Duration: 1/2hr
Scope: US:IT IP Phones
Will be restarting a majority of phones across UMS. Restarts take roughly 30 seconds. No extended outage is expected.
Networkmaine Contact Info:
Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time
10 minutes in case anyone happened to notice.
On Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 4:24 PM, wrote:
> Where: Orono *** EMERGENCY MAINTENANCE ***
> When: Apr 12, 2016 5:30AM
> Expected Duration: 1hr
> Scope: Aubert Hall
> Switches in Aubert will undergo a software update to address a
> problem with Cisco Emergency Responder.
> Networkmaine Contact Info during the window for this work:
> NOC 561-3587
> Local/Campus Contact Info [...]
When: Apr 12, 2016 5:30AM
Expected Duration: 1hr
Scope: Aubert Hall
Switches in Aubert will undergo a software update to address a problem with Cisco Emergency Responder.
Networkmaine Contact Info:
Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time