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Candidates for new provost announced

Mon, 2016-05-02 18:59

Candidates for the provost position have been announced after the search committee, chaired by Tom Parchman, interviewed all interested candidates, narrowing the search down to three. Each candidate will have two days on campus, starting during finals week, where students and faculty will be able to ask questions of them.

The three candidates in the running for the position are Dr. Jon Harbor, Dr. George Anthony Peffer and Dr. Jeannine Uzzi, who is currently serving as interim provost.

The first candidate to be visiting campus is Dr. Jon Harbor who will be visiting on May 9 and 10. Dr. Harbor currently serves as the director of digital education and associate vice provost for teaching and learning at Purdue University.

“I am particularly excited by the emphasis that President Cummings and the community at Maine’s Metropolitan University has placed on providing a high quality, accessible and affordable education, and its specific focus on advancing learning through meaningful engagement and opportunities with communities,” Harbor said in the opening to his cover letter.

Harbor received his PhD in Geological Sciences from the University of Washington and has published several articles in peer reviewed journals. While at Purdue he was included in their “Book of Great Teachers” for his success as both a professor and a researcher.

The second candidate to visit campus is Dr. Jeannine Uzzi, who will be open to questions on May 10 and 11. She has been serving as interim provost since late September and was a USM faculty member who was brought out of retrenchment by President Cummings to serve as interim provost.

“When President Cummings asked me to step into the provost’s office last year, I was excited, but I understood that the university faced significant challenges. On day one I took on the full responsibility of the office, focusing on the hard work USM needed,” Uzzi said in her cover letter. “If retained, I will continue to put every ounce of my energy, enthusiasm and goodwill into what is best for USM.”

Uzzi also stated in her cover letter that President Cummings told her that she could help heal the university. Since she accept the interim position, Uzzi has held many open meetings, spoken at a wide range of meetings and events and has met with many students and staff, addressing any concerns they might have.

“When I was retrenched, I accepted my fate, changed course and adapted to a new role in administration… Simply put, I love this institution and would be honored to continue as provost and VPAA,” Uzzi said in her closing paragraph of her letter.

The final candidate to visit campus is Dr. Tony Peffer, who will be visiting towards the end of finals week on May 11 and 12. Currently, Dr. Peffer serves as the chief academic officer of Castleton University.

Peffer is among the leaders of Castleton to implement and develop graduate programs to attempts to become “Vermont’s Comprehensive Master’s Institution.” He also serves as a representative of the university to build partnerships with high schools and universities in China.

According to Peffer, his main responsibility is supervising around 250 full-time and part-time staff and faculty.

Peffer claims that one of his highest priorities is expanding the access of higher education and having the privilege of helping first generation, minority and international students realize their dreams.

“Castleton has won my heart as a special family full of cherished friends. I can’t imagine leaving here for anyplace but a university that offers even more meaningful connections with faculty, staff and students. USM seems exactly such a place,” Peffer writes in his cover letter.

A decision on who will become the next provost is expected to be made by the end of May, with the winner starting the first of July.

Candidates for provost announced

Mon, 2016-05-02 18:58

By Zachary Searles, News Editor

Candidates for the provost position have been announced after the search committee, chaired by Tom Parchman, interviewed all interested candidates, narrowing the search down to three. Each candidate will have two days on campus, starting during finals week, where students and faculty will be able to ask questions of them.

The three candidates in the running for the position are Dr. Jon Harbor, Dr. George Anthony Peffer and Dr. Jeannine Uzzi, who is currently serving as interim provost.

The first candidate to be visiting campus is Dr. Jon Harbor who will be visiting on May 9 and 10. Dr. Harbor currently serves as the director of digital education and associate vice provost for teaching and learning at Purdue University.

“I am particularly excited by the emphasis that President Cummings and the community at Maine’s Metropolitan University has placed on providing a high quality, accessible and affordable education, and its specific focus on advancing learning through meaningful engagement and opportunities with communities,” Harbor said in the opening to his cover letter.

Harbor received his PhD in Geological Sciences from the University of Washington and has published several articles in peer reviewed journals. While at Purdue he was included in their “Book of Great Teachers” for his success as both a professor and a researcher.

The second candidate to visit campus is Dr. Jeannine Uzzi, who will be open to questions on May 10 and 11. She has been serving as interim provost since late September and was a USM faculty member who was brought out of retrenchment by President Cummings to serve as interim provost.

“When President Cummings asked me to step into the provost’s office last year, I was excited, but I understood that the university faced significant challenges. On day one I took on the full responsibility of the office, focusing on the hard work USM needed,” Uzzi said in her cover letter. “If retained, I will continue to put every ounce of my energy, enthusiasm and goodwill into what is best for USM.”

Uzzi also stated in her cover letter that President Cummings told her that she could help heal the university. Since she accept the interim position, Uzzi has held many open meetings, spoken at a wide range of meetings and events and has met with many students and staff, addressing any concerns they might have.

“When I was retrenched, I accepted my fate, changed course and adapted to a new role in administration… Simply put, I love this institution and would be honored to continue as provost and VPAA,” Uzzi said in her closing paragraph of her letter.

The final candidate to visit campus is Dr. Tony Peffer, who will be visiting towards the end of finals week on May 11 and 12. Currently, Dr. Peffer serves as the chief academic officer of Castleton University.

Peffer is among the leaders of Castleton to implement and develop graduate programs to attempts to become “Vermont’s Comprehensive Master’s Institution.” He also serves as a representative of the university to build partnerships with high schools and universities in China.

According to Peffer, his main responsibility is supervising around 250 full-time and part-time staff and faculty.

Peffer claims that one of his highest priorities is expanding the access of higher education and having the privilege of helping first generation, minority and international students realize their dreams.

“Castleton has won my heart as a special family full of cherished friends. I can’t imagine leaving here for anyplace but a university that offers even more meaningful connections with faculty, staff and students. USM seems exactly such a place,” Peffer writes in his cover letter.

A decision for provost will be made by the end of May, with the winner starting the first of July.

Raising awareness for sexual assault in April

Mon, 2016-05-02 18:58

By Julie Pike, Free Press Staff

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States. SAAM is an annual campaign to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent it. The campaign began in the late 1990s. The month of April was selected by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) who created the awareness project.

Each year during the month of April, different community based organizations, schools, businesses and other groups plan events and activities to highlight sexual violence as a public health, human rights and social justice issue and to reinforce the need for prevention efforts. The slogan, resources and materials for the SAAM campaign are coordinated by NSVRC, which helps assisting different anti-sexual assault organizations throughout the country.

USM has been recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month for many years. Each year programming changes, all with the intent of raising awareness.

Sarah Holmes, the Assistant Dean of Students, states that: “The more awareness raising we do, the more reports we see – not meaning it happens more, but that more people know to come forward to get help and support.”

USM takes their own measures to prevent sexual assault at school and in the community. According to USM’s “Annual Security Report” the university prohibits dating and domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in all forms. Violators of these policies may be subject to criminal prosecution and disciplinary measures, including dismissal.

At USM, different organizations on campus conduct educational programs to increase awareness, understanding and prevention of sexual harassment and violence. All students and employees are required to participate in these educational programs.

USM’s Campus Safety Project staff conducts educational programs designed to raise awareness of these crimes and incidents and to encourage students and staff to be an active bystander. Some of the educational programs include: Speak About It, UnSpoken Maine and Title IX, an online primary prevention program called “Not Any More” by Student Success.

More recently, on April 26, there was a film showing of “The Mask You Live In” that was co-sponsored by the USM Campus Safety Project and partnered with Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine (SARSSM) and Maine Boys to Men. The film is a documentary that was released in 2015, that shows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves as they face America’s harsh definition of masculinity. The film is an example of the impact that our culture’s pressure of masculinity has on society as a whole.

In conjunction with the film showing during the month of April, emails have been sent out to all students to inform them about sexual assault.

The Campus Safety Project also uses social media to spread awareness, community partners have been tabling on the Gorham and Lewiston campuses, and SARSSM has held office hours of the Gorham and Portland campus.

USM also has ongoing awareness campaigns on campus, such as, Community Advocate Resource Tabling, Floor and Hall Meetings, Campus Safety Project Facebook postings, educational bulletin boards, Consent Days, and Take Back the Night Rallies.

USM’s “Annual Security Report” has exact directions informing students on what to do if they are sexually assaulted, experience domestic violence, dating violence or stalking. For the complete sexual assault policy, relationship violence and stalking policy for USM, students can pick up a physical copy in the Dean of Students Office.

“Sexual assault is a problem at every college and university. National statistics tell us that 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault during their college years. At USM, incidents of sexual assault are under reported,” Holmes said.

Students can contact Public Safety or local law enforcement if they feel they are in danger of a sexual assault.

University Health and Counseling Services provides confidential supports to any students facing sexual assault and those impacted by it.

All employees at the university are also mandated reporters of sexual assault, dating or domestic violence and stalking. Those reports are sent to Sarah Holmes. Holmes is the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for the school. She works with students who have faced sexual assault to provide the support and resources they need.

The biggest resource for students are the sexual assault centers in every region. In Portland and Gorham, SARSSM is the agency that would help. There is a 24-hour hotline that anyone can call for help at 1-800-313-9900.


USM awarded grant for recovery center on campus

Mon, 2016-05-02 18:57

By Colin Cundy, Free Press Staff

A federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHA), has been awarded to open a recovery center here on campus. Having a center for those in need will stand in contrast to the existing group’s, Students and Recovery (SAR),  previous set-up.

SAR has been directly involved in coordinating with the university throughout the application process. The group, formed in 2014, met with the administration this past August and USM’s Collegiate Recovery Program Steering Committee was formed as a result. The committee worked to successfully apply for a grant funding to increase Collegiate Recovery services offered at USM. The funding is contracted with Bringing Recovery Support to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) and through SAMHSA. USM was one of seven universities to receive this funding.

In the past, SAR has met in reserved classrooms for one hour a week. This hasn’t been ideal according Andrew Kiezulas, a participant and group leader within SAR: “It causes confusion,” he said in regards to the brevity of their meeting times and to having to use a space that wasn’t their own.

Having a center on campus will be a considerable step toward treating the issue of substance use as one that deserves more attention and more resolution.

“The fallout from this not being here is more friends of ours die,” Kiezulas said. “We’re trying to increase positive outcomes.”

Diane Geyer, coordinator of substance abuse clinical services at USM, said the center will expand the current services offered through SAR.

“The new Collegiate Recovery Center will offer a physical space, a home for SAR group and all students in recovery,” she said.

While SAR will continue to meet, the Recovery Center will likely be open during regular campus business hours. The center’s presence and availability will exponentially increase the reach of its vital services.

“With the Recovery Center, we would like to have a space where people can go,” Kiezulas said.

Having a dedicated space located on campus will give students and those in need of help a supportive environment and a place to go to.

Working closely with the university, a location has been selected to centralize recovery services at USM. It will be located on the first floor of Payson Smith.

This location also features the benefit of being located down the hall from the university’s Health and Counseling Services office.

“This was very deliberate,” Kiezulas said, speaking positively of the relationship between SAR and the university’s Health and Counseling Services office.

“We’re hoping to be liaisons to them,” he said. “A lot of our community members would do very well seeking professional clinical help.”

However, SAR and the Health and Counseling office’s hands are tied to a degree. SAR only meets once a week, and similarly clinicians can only work with someone for an hour a week.

“It can really stunt the growth of people when they’re trying to transition into recovery… without there being a continuum of care,” Kiezulas said.

That’s where the Recovery Center will come into play.

The exact date of the center’s opening hasn’t been announced yet, but efforts by the university and SAR will be made toward opening the center in August, or to at least ensure it is open in time for the fall semester.  

“We anticipate the center being open to students by the middle of August,” Geyer said.

When the launch date is in sight, the university, according to Geyer, “will be having an open house for the public and the college community.”

Locker Project establishes pantries in local high schools

Mon, 2016-05-02 18:57

By Angelina Smith, Contributor

In Maine, 1 out of 4 children are food-insecure, and in Portland and other locations in the state,it is often 3 out of 4 children.

Maine has the highest rate of child hunger in New England and the need for nutritious food for these hungry children is critical.

The Locker Project is a non-profit organization that creates and supports food pantries in schools, and helps meet the needs of children suffering from food insecurity in Maine.

The Locker Project began in 2011 when Katie Wallace, a volunteer and parent of a student at the East End Community School in Portland, noticed that some kids had to sit out during snack time and went hungry.

Wallace began to bring in snacks for these kids, and soon began a small food pantry with the help of the school nurse and a grant from the Good Shepherd Food Bank, so children could bring home food with them.

From there, the pantry expanded to other schools like Deering High School and Presumpscot Elementary School, and with collaboration with the Good Shepherd Food Bank, continues to provide food for students to eat as snacks at school or to take home with them.

In the future, the Locker Project plans to establish more food pantries in schools across the state of Maine in order to reach as many children as possible.

In coordination with the Locker Project, USM students in Professor Sharon Timberlake’s Honors course, A Cultural and Historical Perspective on Poverty, recently stuffed thirty bags with food for children to bring home with them from school to help them get through their vacation week, a time during which students who would normally be provided meals and snacks at school often go hungry.

The bags were enthusiastically filled with macaroni and cheese, soups, granola bars, breakfast cereal, and other foods, and carried to an awaiting van to be delivered to the school.

“I am thrilled that the students in HON 103 had an opportunity to provide emergency vacation food supplies to food insecure school children in Portland,” said Professor Timberlake.

While the class is interested in working for long term change, students recognize the importance of healthy food and good nutrition in the academic performance and overall health of young people.

USM students interested in getting involved with the Locker Project can help in all kinds of ways, such as organizing a food drive, starting an online donation drive, or assisting with tasks liking loading vans or delivering food.

Some foods that are particularly good for children to be able to bring home with them from school pantries are boxes of macaroni and cheese, pasta, pasta sauce, cans of soup, peanut butter, granola bars, cereal, tuna fish, rice, instant meals, beans, and canned fruit and vegetables.

You can even start your own food pantry, in your hometown or wherever you recognize a school in need of one, with the help of the Locker Project.

For more information about this, and the Locker Project in general, you can contact the Locker Project by calling 899-9540, emailing them at, or finding them on Facebook through their website at


Small businesses look for skilled lawyers

Tue, 2016-04-26 18:28

By Candice Isaac, Free Press Staff

The student organization Maine Law’s Business Law Association held its final panel of the academic year last week, titled “What Do Small Businesses Expect from Their Attorneys?” The panelists helped to reinforce the need for the entrepreneur and legal professional relationship, while law student attendees learned about yet another avenue in which to use their legal degrees.

John Kaminski, an attorney at Drummond Woodsum, whose practice focuses on transactional business and tax law, moderated the presentation. Panelists included both attorneys and small business owners, as well as those who are a combination of the two. Panelists engaged attendees by discussing the needs of the entrepreneur and the point at which legal counsel is often sought.

Sage Friedman, co-founder of Theobroma LLC and a second-year law student at the University of Maine School of Law, suggested that some new entrepreneurs may not always know what small business owners look for in a lawyer.

“Entrepreneurs should think about their business interests and their personal interests,” he explained. As a business consultant, Friedman often counsels small business owners to ensure that “everyone in the deal has their own lawyer.”

Owen McCarthy, president of MedRhythms, added that it was important for new small business owners to reach out to other business founders for attorney recommendations. McCarthy also advised that when interviewing potential attorneys, small business owners should look for client-focused attorneys.

According to McCarthy, client-focused attorneys are sincerely interested in growing with one’s business and are attentive of where a business is headed. Kaminski also remarked that “competence, chemistry, and fit” are important in selecting an attorney.

The role of the attorney is often not one that operates in isolation, so small business owners should also look for attorneys who are well-rounded and who can see the gaps in the business’ overall plans.

Tamlyn M. Frederick, a partner at Frederick, Quinlan & Tupper LLC, said that she often takes on the role of educator when new entrepreneurs first come to her. Frederick said her role as an educator in assessing risks for new clients is integral in helping them make the right decisions for their businesses. Additionally, knowing how to adapt  to different situations, and prior work experience, can go a long way with clients.

Helen Sterling Coburn, a transactional associate at Bernstein Shur, concurred with Frederick’s remarks, adding that in the legal field customer service is highly important. Sterling Coburn added that addressing client concerns upfront and providing clients with information on free community resources like SCORE can help to build and gain client trust. SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.

Jess Knox, president of Olympico Strategies, concluded by saying that attorneys should think beyond themselves and look for opportunities to help the larger business community by offering free advice via blogs. For Knox, regulatory support is another hurdle that many small businesses need to overcome.

She also suggests that attorneys “look for things that are key barriers for growth” and step up to assist their clients. He further advised that attorneys not wait for the perfect question from clients, and if they see a red flag, they should raise the question themselves.

Overall, small business owners need a good relationship with an attorney that can advocate for their businesses. Knox concluded his statements by saying that companies should engage lawyers around the contract phase, which ensures they have a successful start.


Angus King joins climate change panel

Tue, 2016-04-26 18:27

By Bryer Sousa, Free Press Staff

The Muskie School of Public Service of the University of Southern Maine initiated its 2016-2017 Public Service Speakers Series by way of hosting a panel on April 22, 2016, designated as Earth Day, that was concerned with the Paris Agreement on climate that was signed by 175 nations on the same day. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change was supported by the 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention of the Climate Change during COP21 that was held on December 12, 2015.

The Paris accord on climate change, that has been ratified by the 175 nations who signed it at the United Nations headquarters in New York, aims to prevent a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, even though the countries pledged their efforts at halting the rise of global temperature to two degrees Celsius. However, critics such as Bill McKibben, founder of, environmental activist, and author of Eaarth, who spoke to USM community members earlier this semester, have claimed that the COP21 agreement will not enable the international community to achieve the goals discussed in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The panel took place in Hannaford Hall on the University of Maine campus at 3:30 P.M. Free and open to the public, this panel discussion was hosted by Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s Susan Sharon. The members of the panel included U.S. Senator Angus King, Dr. Andrew Deutz, Director of International Government Relations for the Nature Conservancy, and Executive Director of Efficiency Maine, Michael Stoddard.

Introducing the panel, Director of the Muskie School of Public Service and Professor of Geography, Dr. Firooza Pavri stated that “it is my privilege to welcome all of you to the Muskie School of Public Service Speaker series for 2016-2017… the theme of our speaker series for the coming year is climate, society, and Maine’s future… from public health… to the development of sustainable urban design. Senator Edmond Muskie’s indelible environmental law legacy is, quite simply put, stunning. Both in terms of its scoop and its positive impact over the past four plus decades, on the importance we play on our nations and our worlds resources.” MPBN’s Susan Sharon introduced the members of the panel to those in attendance.

“The Paris Agreement has been called a lot of things, including, historic, durable, and ambitious… like anything else this agreement has some flaws, so let’s break down the good and the bad and the potential trouble spots.

First of all, let me ask you what do you think were the most significant achievements, Dr. Deutz?” Sharon stated.

In response, Dr. Deutz said “there were 187 countries plus the European Union in Paris, each of whom put on the table their own national commitments to reduce climate change. So we are now in a world where pretty much every country in the world are committed to solving this problem… everyone has agreed that they will come back every five years, review the science, review the actions that countries are taking and agree to comeback with new and more ambitious commitments every five years.”

Thereafter, U.S. Senator Angus King also shared his thoughts on the COP21 climate agreement, expressing that “the agreement isn’t perfect, it probably doesn’t go far enough in terms of what we have to do… to have an international agreement of this scope is really pretty amazing.”

Further into the dialogue that transpired, Meaghan LaSala, who travelled to Paris to attend the climate talks with a delegation called It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm, of Divest UMaine and the Southern Maine Workers Center, raised the following question to Senator King:

“Just this week you cosponsored a bill on biomass. Maine’s biomass, in addition to burning wood, also burn construction and demolition debris from surrounding states, most of which ban the burning and dumping of this debris, so do you support the burning of out of state waste as a renewable energy?” King answered by saying that “Susan Collins and I sponsored an amendment of the energy bill to make sure that the federal government defines biomass in a consistent way across all the agencies… I think that biomass is carbon neutral.”

After the panel finished its conversation, LaSala shared her thoughts and reflections upon the talk, pointing out that “I find it extremely disturbing that Angus King sponsored a bill, just this week, about biomass and that he doesn’t know that biomass incineration includes the incineration of waste… it is a real problem that companies could be getting renewable energy credit by burning waste and debris. There was also a bailout of these biomass companies, by the taxpayers, that happened recently… without any stipulation that would ensure that those companies could not take the money and leave Maine tomorrow.”

For the entire panel conversation, one may follow up with MPBN’s programming to listen to the recorded audio or video of the event.


USM chemistry lab to open next semester

Tue, 2016-04-26 18:26

Next year, incoming freshman majoring in any science degree can expect to have a new, updated lab, located in the Science Building. This room will serve 100 level chemistry courses, with an estimated 500 students per year, and will take place in a room that’s no longer filled with outdated equipment.

According to Caryn Prudenté, professor and chair of the chemistry department, explained that the current chemistry lab, which resides in Payson Smith, was built sometime in the 1950’s – Charcoal square tables sit cluttered in the small room, old equipment scattered and out-of-date. Prudenté made it clear that the current lab in Payson Smith is not appropriate and applicable to real-world research.

“This lab was built on the idea of providing more space for modern, sophisticated equipment. The lab in Payson Smith looks nothing like a modern chemistry labs should,” she said. “Students look at this and it doesn’t bare any resemblance with what they might see in the workforce or in graduate school. It will be much more modern and a more enhanced experience.”

She further explained that the lab was constructed with the idea to collaborate work amongst students in mind. Most work in entry level chemistry, she states, is project based. This will allow local high school students to also take advantage of the new labs, which are set to be used for classes taking place this summer.

“It’s nice to have this new lab in the Science Building, instead of across campus. I have sophomores and Juniors who have never been to the science building!” she exclaimed. “Getting them in here, interacting with upper level students and seeing this building helps develop a sense of community. It gives students a sense of where they belong.”

In the chemistry department, there are three teaching labs: The organic lab, biochemistry lab and an analytical chemistry lab. According to Prudenté, each lab has a specific function that needs its own dedicated space, which explains why a new chemistry 101 lab, located in the same building as the other classes, was a decision that made sense in order to accommodate the rising interest in chemistry studies.


Fourth annual day of electronic recycling

Tue, 2016-04-26 18:26

By Colin Cundy, Free Press Staff

Springtime in Maine means many things: warmer weather, summer clothing, coats left on hangers and mud season are but the first to come to mind. Spring is also a time of year for new beginnings, and a time to clean out the past year’s clutter. Recently, some people were able to add recycling stock-piled electronic waste to that list.

Last Saturday was the 4th Annual Community Electronic Waste Recycling Day at USM. The event was held at the Woodbury Campus Center parking lot from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Since its inception in 2012, the event has become more prominent over the past four years, in large part because it has spread beyond the student body.

“Over 500 cars came last year,” said Emily Eschner, Asset and Surplus Coordinator for USM. While working with facilities on sustainability issues, she also runs USM’s surplus store. People who know about this recycling event sometimes save up their e-waste all year so that they have something to contribute.

Eschner continued: “I think recycling makes a ton of sense, both environmentally and economically. She then went on to point out that the Planet only has a finite amount of resources. Recycling will make that waste useful again, keep it out of a landfill, and probably be cheaper than extracting new raw materials.”

Eschner added that at this point, community members who drop off their electronics have come to outnumber students. Each year, hundreds of cars drop off thousands of pounds of electronic waste. Last year, the event received over 54,000 pounds of recycled materials, with 3,500 of those pounds in appliances alone.

The 2014 event saw an even larger turnout and numbers, however, as over 700 cars arrived for the E-waste recycling day. During that year’s event, over 60,000 pounds of waste was recycled, which included more than 6,000 pounds in appliances.

Among the items accepted during this event are televisions, computers and laptops, hard drives, monitors, keyboards, mice, speakers and other peripherals, printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, stereo equipment, cords, chargers, wires, cell phones telephones, cameras, refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves and a variety of other household electronic waste.

There are some items that cannot be collected, though, because often times USM recycles those items year-round. Batteries, light bulbs and smoke detectors are not accepted. Batteries for example can be recycled at each of the university’s three libraries. There are wooden kiosks where they can be deposited year round.

Volunteers were on hand in the parking lot, aiding in the unloading of electronic waste from what will most likely be hundreds of cars. The event will also served as a fundraiser for Preble Street Resource Center, for which these events have raised considerable funds in past years.

USM is also undertaking measures to reduce its carbon footprint, increase recycling and increasing awareness of how to be more sustainable in everyday life. Sustainability at USM’s is behind most environmental program and initiative at the University. Their website details the extent to which USM goes in being more sustainable. It also has detailed information on how to recycle just about everything.


The minds of USM showcase work at Thinking Matters

Tue, 2016-04-26 18:26

For college students, there is a lot of work that goes on inside the classroom. Regardless of their workloads, some students still choose to do research outside of the classroom, with the hopes of educating others on topics that mean a lot to them. Last week, that work was put on display during the annual event Thinking Matters.

The event started with breakfast as posters were starting to be put up, followed by some opening statements. The first comment was from the director of research, Kris Sahonchik who stated that Thinking Matters is one of the most important days of the calendar year.

“I hope that other people too are going to see these [student presentations], along with all the other work that’s here, and learn as much as they can possibly learn,” Sahonchik said.

Ethan Strimling, the mayor of Portland, was also in attendance last Friday, saying a few words before the presentations began. He joked that through his experience of participating in politics, sometimes thinking doesn’t matter enough.

“The only word I would add to your title is critical thinking matters and questioning thinking matters. I hope that as you do this work, you’re continually trying to question what it is that you already see and try to confirm whether that may be true,” Mayor Strimling said.

This year, there were over 100 poster displays and student presentations, all of which showcased many different kinds of work students – whether it’s graduate studies work, or just a presentation on just something that is of high interest to them.

One student presentation titled, “Characterization of a Magnetic Tension Pendulum,” was given by Alexander Knight, who started the design process six years ago. The presentation focused on work that was trying to, “measure the strength, direction, and variations of the earth’s magnetic field in Portland, ME.”

Professor of environmental science Joe Staples regarded the research done by Knight as, “some really extraordinary work.” Most of the work is grounded in physics and high level mathematics, so Staples made it clear that he understood most of it, but not all of it.

Knight references some troubles that he ran into while conducting his research. He stated that the apparatus he was working with was highly sensitive and would track the greatest change in magnetic fields, which wasn’t always helpful.

“So when this thing is at a very high grade of sensitivity, we have a six-foot tall car detector,” Knight said. “ Any cars that drive by, it would stop what it’s doing and track [the cars] as long as it was in its field of view and then go back to what it was doing.”

Knight also explained that it is very difficult to track magnetic field data in a big city like Portland because there is just too much noise – such as noise from a car or a plane overhead – that messes with the data, which explains why a majority of magnetic field tests take place in the part of the country where there will be very little interference.

Timothy Sprague, a communications major, gave a presentation titled, “The Deep Structure of Bullsh*t,” which was based on research done by Harry Frankfurt, who stated that the essence of bullsh*t isn’t that it is fake, but rather that it is a phony concept. This project was a collaboration between Sprague and Lenny Shedletsky, a professor of communications at USM.

According to the abstract submitted, the research explores people’s perceptions of the nature of bullsh*t, their perceptions of its frequency in their lives and their perceived responses to bullsh*t. Sprague discussed a pilot study that was done where 83 percent of respondents said that at least 30 percent of their interactions on a day-to-day basis were BS.

“Bullsh*t is kind of a rhetorical device. You are trying to persuade somebody, but by using this BS,” Sprague said. “In Greek rhetoric, there’s three layers: Logos, pathos and ethos… So I’m thinking that there should be a fourth layer and that’s bullsh*t.”

After the preliminary study, there was another survey that went around, that gathered responses from mostly college aged kids, that showed that most people agreed that the most BS is encountered in the mass media. Surveyees were also asked what BS means to them and a lot of responses featured the words “misleading” or “embellishing,” according to Sprague.

Along with the three oral sessions, there were also three sessions devoted to poster presentations, with more than 100 students displaying posters of the research that have been conducting over the past semester and for some even longer than that.

Poster topics included: Fighting the Ebola virus, journalism ethics in a digital age, the impact of incarceration on relationships, Malaga Island geochemistry and even a poster that detailed why red hair comes in so many shades.

Before the Thinking Matters event took place, Rebecca Nisetich, director of the honors program and chair of Thinking Matters, wrote an oped piece for the Portland Press Herald where she states why an event like this matters.

“Research shows that to foster long-term student success, we need to give students opportunities to use their learning in real-world contexts,” Nisetich stated in her Press Herald piece. “At USM, our students learn with their communities in ways that shape their careers and broaden their horizons.”

USM professor gives talk on drones

Tue, 2016-04-19 13:08

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.


240 registered volunteers lend a helping hand at USM’s Husky Day of Service

Tue, 2016-04-19 13:07

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 or email for more information.


Bill to transition India Street services leaves some uneasy

Tue, 2016-04-19 13:05

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.


Polls are now open, student body president nominees provide their solutions

Tue, 2016-04-19 13:04

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.’


Four new professors receive tenure after unanimous voting at trustee’s meeting

Thu, 2016-04-14 17:47

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.

There’s more out there than heteronormativity

Thu, 2016-04-14 17:43

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.

Primaries are in full swing, twenty states still to decide

Thu, 2016-04-14 17:43

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.

NEASC visits USM for mid-cycle review

Thu, 2016-04-14 17:42

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.


Trainer advocates mindfulness for law students

Thu, 2016-04-14 17:42

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” initiative hopes to stop hate and racism on campus

Thu, 2016-04-14 17:40

Julie Pike/Contributor

“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.