USM Free Press News Feed
By Sarah Tewksbury, Staff Writer
The student senate met Friday, April 28 on the Gorham campus in Upton Hastings Hall. The start time of 2 p.m. was delayed by an executive board meeting in which a Violations Inquiry Committee (VIC) recommended that Liam Ginn, former student senate chair, issue a second and separate apology for alleged Islamophobic comments.
According to VIC evidence, three witnesses to the incident, the accuser, the accused and an eyewitness bystander, all had different versions of the story. After lengthy deliberation, the VIC made their recommendation to the student senate. Once the weekly senate meeting was officially called to order, Ginn issued one public apology to satisfy his punishment.
“I’m deeply sorry for any ableist comments and Islamophobic comments that I have made,” Ginn said. “I’m sorry if I have offended anyone.”
Following Ginn’s brief words, the meeting began with its usual formalities: attendance and introductions. As individuals in the room introduced themselves, it became clear that President Glenn Cummings was present to speak to students.
Cummings began by thanking the students who had chosen to participate in the senate, particularly during this intense academic year. He noted that this was a difficult and “rugged” year that hopefully would not be repeated in the future.
It became apparent that Cummings was there to issue a series of apologies. The first was in regards to how he felt the administration had failed the student senators. It was obvious that Cummings did not believe the administration had provided the student senators with the tools to combat the wide variety of issues that they saw.
“It is so important to have significant training,” Cummings said. “The administration did not train you for what you had to face this year.”
Switching gears, Cummings then apologized for not making his role more clearly known to senators and students at large. As the leader of the university, Cummings believes he has no say in how the senate is run and that in order for the governing body to exercise its power freely, he has to let it run without his influence. Though he acknowledged the fact that he has the right to suggest changes to the senate, Cummings fully admitted to his desire to allow the students to autonomously govern the USM student body.
Leading into the discussion of free speech, Cummings disclosed his upset over not having taken a stronger stance during the issue of Larry Lockman visiting the campus. Concerned about who was affected by the controversial speaker, Cummings issued several strong statements.
“I’m not sure I protected the people I was meant to protect. Larry Lockman was given a microphone to spread hate speech against the people I’m paid to, and want to, protect,” Cummings said. “If we have another conservative speaker at USM, we won’t have them up there alone—spewing their hate. We’ll have [them] debating the dean of the law school. There are ways to limit their microphones.”
Stemming off of this, Cummings went on to ensure those in the room that he is still learning how to deal with these kinds of situations. The motivating factor that led to Cummings’ presence at the meeting was a conversation with a student in which the student calmly explained why they were taken aback by the way USM handled the Lockman event.
Ending with optimism, Cummings proposed that the new senators for the 46th Senate work together with him to create policies that protect the rights of all individuals at USM and determine who can and cannot come to speak.
“We’re the university of everyone. You don’t have to agree with me because I’m the president, but I want you to know that you’ve gotten my attention — and more importantly, my respect.”
Growing up, we look to our mentors for guidance and support, particularly from role models such as family and close friends. But what if we don’t have the support system we need to thrive as young adults, and turn to criminal behaviors as a way to cope with the struggles of our upbringing? For some young adults, the reality of a crime record will follow them throughout their life.
A report by the Muskie School of Public Service, published in March of this year, explored how the issue of unsealed criminal records for minors can have implications for individuals in Maine with a juvenile record.
The 82-page report, “Unsealed Fate: The Unintended Consequences of Inadequate Safeguarding of Juvenile Records in Maine,” delves into the misconceptions surrounding the practice and ultimately aims to highlight how, regardless of rehabilitation efforts, these unsealed record can have consequences for minors beyond their time served.
“People were experiencing consequences and punishment beyond what was handed down to the courts and I think common sense would tell you that’s what happens to people who are incarcerated,” said Mara Sanchez, a graduate assistant at the Muskie School of Public Service who helped with the research presented in the report. “Everybody is telling each other and believing that records are automatically sealed in one way or another and that just isn’t the case.”
The whole system, she stated, is very confusing: When a juvenile commits a crime, the records are not sealed away from the general public, and these records are taken into consideration in various aspects of their lives as they grow older, especially when applying for college or jobs.
“College, housing, employment, getting a loan, buying a car, getting a cell phone to a certain extent, you gotta fill out an application…” she elaborated.
For one Portland local, Steve, the reality of a criminal record has followed him throughout his life. As a young adult, he was abused by his parents, who were both alcoholics. He experienced various forms of severe abuse and turned to criminal behavior as a cry for help.
“I’ve been through some crazy stuff, staying outside, running the streets at eight years old and couldn’t get back in. My mother would be drunk and lock the door and wouldn’t let us in,” Steve said. “As a teenager, I mostly committed simple assaults. I fought all the time.”
Sanchez explained that Steve’s experience isn’t unusual, as many of those who commit crimes are likely victims of crime themselves, especially of assaults.
Maine Inside Out, a community based organization in Portland, aims to work with Maine prisons to help young adults released from Long Creek re-enter the community. According to Danielle Layton, a research analyst at the Muskie School and intern at Maine Inside Out, the organization operates on the philosophy of transformative justice that works for kids who have been in the justice system.
She personally helps to co-facilitate the groups in the girls unit at Long Creek twice a week with another facilitator, who is currently working on an original play to highlight some of their own personal struggles with their juvenile crime experience.
“The target of the organization is to change the public perception of criminality and to change the way we go about justice and punishment, because it gives hope for a restorative transformed relationship with the community,” she said. “Even when harm occurs, we want to work to address the gaps or disconnections that preceded that harm.”
She also noted that many young adults with criminal records are labeled as the problem, but in reality, they went through a great deal before making those decisions. She explained that the theater performances act as a way to express those frustrations, and they become an outlet for the young adults to process what occurred and move forward in a way that can benefit themselves and their community.
“Nobody ends up in the juvenile system if they don’t have a difficult past. There is a strong intersection between being a victim of violence or a witness to violence, and to becoming involved in the criminal justice system yourself,” said Layton. “I see that intersection over and over and over again here at Maine Inside Out.”
Making a life outside of prison walls is difficult. Steve, who knows the criminal justice system first-hand, believes that the stresses that come with being integrated back into society are a large reason those who commit crimes go back to their old habits.
“A lot of people promise you the world, I promised everybody in the world, ‘Oh when I get out this is my last time, this is never gonna happen I’m gonna do this I’m gonna do that’ because in prison you have a clean mind because that’s what you want to do,” he stated. “Unfortunately it goes back to not having money, a place to live, or direction when you get out.”
Layton explained that the stigma around those who commit crimes never goes away, which only worsens the exclusion of those with juvenile records. She said that the root of criminal activity is often issues at home. If unaddressed, the choice to commit a crime only adds more stress. When records pile up, opportunities are lost, and it can become hard to stay out of the system. Steve knows this first hand after attempting to apply for jobs that don’t require a college degree.
“I couldn’t work at a regular job, I couldn’t work anywhere there are cash registers even though I’m a different person. They see that [I have a record] and say ‘oh no, no, we don’t want you.’”
The cycle of perpetual punishment forces young adults who commit crimes to pay the price for the rest of their lives, rather than propel themselves into a future where they could be a benefit to society.
“There is a lot more that needs to be explored, but we couldn’t because it’s extremely difficult to talk to people who have juvenile records. We can’t just call them up, [and] there is no database we can get at,” said Sanchez.
While he is unable to make up for his lost time in jail, Steve hopes that one day, he can provide inmates like himself a place to reintegrate into society in ways he never had the chance to.
“If [people] were given a chance to get out here, get taught a skill, and have a place to live and learn the value of money and how to manage money and everything else, [they] would have a much better shot to make it out here.”
* To protect the identity of individuals involved, the name of the Portland local was substituted to keep this individual’s anonymity.
By Dionne Smith and Sara Tewksbury, Staff Writers
On April 21 the USM student senate held their weekly meeting. Senators began the meeting by discussing new systems to be implemented and leadership programs. After one hour of the meeting, students began speaking on the current controversy surrounding the student senate chair, Liam Ginn, and the creation of the new Violations Inquiry Committee (VIC).
Student senators discussed plans for a judicial branch that would act as a form of checks and balances for the SGA, and act as a way of holding the senate accountable for their actions. It would run independently of the SGA, but would work with the SGA when ruling on issues within the senate. Senators approved a motion to begin the drafting process for the judicial branch.
A clause called a “Vote of No Confidence” was also brought up. The clause would allow for a vote to take place to force senators out of the SGA if they aren’t fulfilling their duties.
Once the meeting allowed for non-members to voice their concerns, talk about the VIC was brought up again. The VIC is a private committee that will gather information on different incidents, in this case being the incident with Ginn. The VIC would meet privately and go over the consequences that Ginn could face. It could take up to thirty days.
Senators told students that they want student information to remain private during the violations inquiry process.
“People should be held accountable by the public, but we don’t want to share any confidential information before it needs to be shared,” said Student Body President Humza Khan
Hawraa Rikan, who will be a student senator next year, said she believed that since the issue is involving the student senate chair, the decision making process should involve students. Elizabeth Donato, a USM student, was also opposed to the fact that the VIC is private, including the investigation involving Ginn.
“Are you trying to protect the student senate or are you trying to protect the students and people at USM?” Donato said. “You’re supposed to be allocating funds but you’re allocating hate and discrimination. You should be doing the things that we ask.”
“Senate should be held accountable for everything we do,” said Senator Aaron Piece.
Students in the audiences demanded an apology from Ginn for his statements. They asked that Ginn speak for himself instead of having the senate defend him. The senators tried to motion to move on from the issue twice, but they were voted down during both attempts.
“We can’t make Liam apologize but we can hold him accountable,” Kirkland said.
“It has been made very clear that we don’t have your trust,” said Student Senator Dylan Reynolds. Senators discussed ways to improve the relationship between the student body and student senators.
“Have we failed you guys in that regard? Absolutely,” said Pierce, discussing concerns of the SGA addressing discrimination.
After the official SGA meeting ended, student senators remained in the room to hold a VIC meeting regarding Ginn’s alleged ableism. After intense discussion that was closed to the public, Ginn was asked to step out of the room while the final verdict was determined.
Muna Adan, the vice chair of the student senate, disclosed the student senate’s decision to Ginn. According to Adan, Ginn will face a one week suspension without pay, complete mandatory sensitivity training with the Disability Services Department and issue a public apology. Ginn is expected to publicly apologize at the student senate meeting in 166 Upton Hastings in Gorham on April 28. The public apology is solely for the comments Ginn made about individuals with disabilities. Other issues and comments made by Ginn will be addressed in the future by another VIC.
By: Julie Pike, Staff Writer
In Hannaford Hall on Tuesday, April 18, Gov. Paul LePage addressed an audience of USM students, faculty and staff and community members. LePage focused on three main topics: tax policy, budget, energy policy and welfare reform.
He was invited by the USM chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). Ben Bussiere, the chairman for YAF, introduced the governor before his talk. This event took a similar turn to a recent event hosted by YAF, when Rep. Larry Lockman spoke at USM.
Ten minutes into the event, an audience member stood up in the crowd, yelling profanities at LePage. This man was asked to leave by USM faculty and campus police who were in attendance, including Dean of Students David McKenzie. The Portland Police Department were also present at the event. Audience members were asked to leave if they were considered to be disruptive and were not allowed back in.
President Glenn Cummings issued a statement over email to the entire student body, urging LePage’s critics to practice “peaceful protests” and to challenge his positions during the Q&A portion of the event.
“Denying the Governor his right to speak, or denying others their right to hear what he has to say, is not free speech, runs counter to our student code of conduct and flies in the face of a core USM principle that hearing differing points of view sharpens our own critical thinking,” Cummings wrote.
Cummings wishes, however, did not come true. LePage was interrupted during his talk over a dozen times by people sitting in the audience, including USM students and community members. While some shouted profanities and spoke negatively about LePage, others brought up questions about policy choices and budgets.
People in the audience also stood up in unison chanting “Black Lives Matter.” The woman who began the first chant also said that she and her fellow protestors are committed to ending white supremacy.
While LePage stayed mostly reserved while protestors spoke, he sometimes gave quick responses to their statements.
“All lives matter,” said LePage in response to their chants.
“All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter in this country,” said another woman who stood up in the crowd.
Many of the protesters focused on accusations of LePage being racist. Some referred to a well known quote that LePage said at a town hall meeting in January 2016:
“There are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty…they come from Connecticut and New York…they sell their heroin, they go back home… half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave…”
One of the protestors of LePage’s event, Brian Ferguson, a USM alumni, felt that LePage’s words and policies prove that he is a racist and white supremacist.
“His own words speak for [themselves], but his policy positions really send the message,” Ferguson said.
There are some students who disagree. This includes Bussiere, who was involved in getting LePage to come speak at USM.
“My question for them is, where is their evidence that he’s a white supremacist?” Bussiere asked. “This is a narrative that is pushed by the far left, to paint whites and white conservatives as the enemy. They want to shame people for their love for their country or for being white.”
Alex Shaffer, a student from the USM chapter of the College Republicans said that LePage has not shown evidence of being racist.
“I have not seen him demonstrate any signs of white supremacy,” Shaffer said. “I’ve seen him treat everybody equally.”
LePage’s event only lasted around an hour. As it came to an end, LePage thanked the crowd and ended by saying that despite all of the commotion, he had survived.
As people left the auditorium, approximately 25 students stood outside on the sidewalk in peaceful protest, holding signs and continuing to chant “Black Lives Matter.” They also chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Paul LePage has got to go,” and “You’re a racist, Paul LePage, get your ass off the stage.”
Some of the protesters included members of the student group Students for USM’s Future, who were against LePage speaking at USM.
“The university would rather threaten removal by police to anyone who disrupts than acknowledge the violence in allowing LePage to speak in the first place,” USM’s Future wrote on their Facebook page.
Overall, Bussiere stated that he felt the event went better than the Lockman event.
By: Heather Roberts, Staff Writer
The early arrival of spring may be a relief to the people of Portland, but for scientists, early spring means a rapidly changing ecosystem. According to the National Weather Service, in 2016, the average temperature in Portland was 48.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which was as high as 2012.
The Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Andrew Pershing and USM’s Karen Wilson observed that the change in Maine’s temperature affected Maine’s lobster, cod and herring populations, which have influenced the Maine market. Both scientists noted the change in Maine’s temperature in 2012 and its effect on life.
“In 2012, we had temperatures throughout the year where we were almost three degrees Celsius above normal,” said Pershing. “So that would work out to almost five degrees Fahrenheit above normal on any given day of the year.”
The change in temperature affected river herring spawning. Wilson said that, in 2012, at a spawning site, herring were aware of the temperature change because they arrived four weeks early.
According to Pershing, the lobster in 2012 mated a month early. The increase of lobster lowered the market price. Although lobstermen caught a lot of product, they made less money compared to 2011.
Between 2004 and 2013, the Maine cod market also suffered. Pershing said that the temperature increase reduced the cod population before fisheries could adjust their quotas. He added that the fisheries later realized the quotas were set too high.
Warming temperatures may decrease cod food sources such as river herring, especially during spawning. These herring spawn in May and leave between July and October. Wilson reasoned that despite the changing climate, river herring are highly adaptive, but because of droughts the fish can’t get to spawning sites or out to the ocean.
“Last summer we had a drought starting in July that lasted to October. There was not enough water going over the dam,” Wilson said. “People kept reporting that the adults were still in the lake. They stayed in the lake and it wasn’t until October when we had the first rains that the fish started to leave.”
Temperature change may have an impact on river herring travel. Wilson added that warmer temperatures may bring the river herring’s sister species, the blue herring, north. Other southern species may also travel to Maine waters. According to Pershing, Humboldt squid and striped bass are likely arrivals.
“In 2016, we had a year as warm as 2012,” Pershing said. “In many ways, the landing and fisheries played out very similarly to what they did in 2012.”
Pershing explained that, because of what occurred in 2012, markets adapted to the overproduction of lobster. By learning and adapting to Maine’s temperature change, fisheries can avoid overfishing, high quotas and economic setbacks.
In Portland on Saturday, April 22nd, an estimated 1,000 people gathered downtown for the March for Science in response to Trump’s cuts to the EPA and National Parks, as well as to show support for scientific research surrounding climate change. Other marches took place around the country.
By: Sarah Tewksbury, Staff Writer
The Maine Economic Improvement Fund at USM (MEIF@USM) is currently working hard to increase and improve Maine’s relationship with the North Atlantic region.
In 1997, USM received a portion of the MEIF, a fund that was established by the state legislature to spearhead research projects. The initial value of the fund was $482,000, roughly one quarter of the University of Maine System’s total MEIF allocation from the state legislature.
“None of [the projects] are really possible through [USM’s] own funds,” said Glenn Cummings, president of USM. “We just don’t have enough money in our reserves to be able to spend this kind of money in terms of developing our partnership.”
Each year, money is set aside by the state legislature to support the MEIF, which, in turn, supports the growth and development of seven target areas: biotechnology, aquaculture and marine technology, composite materials technology, environmental technology, advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture, information technology and precision manufacturing technology.
MEIF@USM is focused on funding initiatives that have significant economic development impacts, fit community needs, produce measurable workforce development outcomes and are focused on one of the MEIF target areas. Due to the focus of science and technology courses at UMO, the majority of the MEIF goes to Orono.
“The emphasis is more at UMO than USM, but we do get about 20 percent of the allocation,” said Terry Shehata, MEIF Coordinator. “We started to invest in initiatives that made sense for USM, primarily to provide our students with international exposure so they can become globally competent. More and more companies want to hire folks with a better appreciation for the global economy and cultural awareness.”
According to the MEIF@USM Strategic Framework for fiscal years 2017 to 2021, initiatives and projects that are results of the program share a common goal: “To strengthen USM’s research and workforce development capacities in strategic areas that are responsive to the needs of one or more businesses and industries in the seven MEIF technology areas and/or support ecosystems.”
Cummings said that the allocation USM receives is used to help foster the interest of the next generation of USM students in the North Atlantic region. Current projects within the North Atlantic Initiative that USM is working on are intricate and interdisciplinary. One of the most well known programs is the partnership between USM and Reykjavik University (RU), which, spearheaded in 2015, is finally allowing USM student participation this summer.
In June, a trip of 15 matriculated students will travel to Iceland with the USM Honors Department with funding from both MEIF and an endowment from a private donor. The rising sophomore honors students will spend four weeks on the island participating a semester-long honors seminar course. The cost of the trip for participants could be as low as zero.
“Students have to procure their own passport, so that’s the only potential cost, but all the travel, food, lodging and transportation are paid for by the honors program. The honors program is also paying their tuition,” said Rebecca Nisetich, the director of the Honors Program.
Not only will honors students experience international travel during summer 2017, but students also enrolled in an ethics lab course or a tourism and hospitality course will travel to Iceland. The Tourism and Hospitality Department is offering the travel course to the public as well as USM students. With plans to transfer to USM next spring and expand her studies in the tourism industry, SMCC student Alysa Grindlinger will be among those traveling to the North Atlantic in June.
“I’m really enjoying this partnership,” Grindlinger said, in reference to the USM-RU alliance. “It’s giving me a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The value of the real world experience that I’ll be getting is fairly balanced with the cost of the course.”
Students who do not travel with the honors program are not able to take advantage of grant money, as it was designated for students with high GPAs.
Internships, research opportunities and innovative projects are just some of the additional benefits MEIF@USM has been able to provide to students and faculty members. However, the impact the entire MEIF@USM and North Atlantic Initiative have on the community surpasses the benefit for the USM community.
By creating opportunities for coalition work between businesses, such as EIMSKIP, research institutions and academic institutions throughout the North Atlantic, connections and relationships have been established.
“USM and RU are two small, isolated communities that have had the opportunity to network and gain knowledge of other communities,” said RU’s president, Ari Jonsson, at a formal event during an RU visit to USM on March 17. “It would have been impossible to have connected RU to the United States without a partner.”
By: Johnna Ossie, News Editor
In 2016, the University of Maine System gave its five-year dining services contract to French multinational corporation Sodexo. According to Buster Neel, interim chief business officer at USM, Sodexo was the best decision financially for the university.
General Manager Tadd Sloane oversees all of the Sodexo operations at USM and at UMaine Augusta. Sloane explained some of the corporation’s goals on campus, which have been to bring in more local foods and be involved in local community hunger initiatives.
At USM Sodexo has worked with the local Boys and Girls Club and the Husky Hunger Initiative. They have also promised to bring more Maine produce to campus dining. So far throughout the Maine campuses Sodexo has purchased over 17 percent of its produce locally. Sodexo employs 117 employees across the Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn campuses.
According to Sloane, the company is able to get food from several dozen Maine farms through the distributor Native Maine, including Lakeside Farm in Newport. The company also gets its dairy products from Oakhurst, located behind the Woodbury Campus Center.
Sodexo has business ties with Starbucks and suggested bringing the coffee shop to Glickman Library. Neel says Starbucks was chosen as a result of student, staff and faculty interest, but it was Sodexo who originally proposed bringing a Starbucks to campus. Neel also said that right now the coffee stand in Glickman is not technically a Starbucks, but simply Sodexo serving Starbucks coffee.
Sloane believes that product fatigue was the reason for not choosing Coffee by Design for the library.
“Currently, we have eight or nine locations serving Coffee by Design…we hear that students are looking for some variety,” he said. He confirmed that Sodexo offered Starbucks as a potential business to come to campus.
Though Sodexo at USM is working to maintain community involvement, the business is not without its share of corporate controversy. In 2005, the company paid out 80 million dollars in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by thousands of the company’s Black employees. The employees claimed that they did not receive promotions because of racial discrimination and that a segregated work environment was being fostered.
In 2003, the company was forced to suspend distribution of all frozen beef products due to horse DNA being discovered in various meats.
According to a 2016 article from Medium, until 2001, Sodexo owned a large amount of stock in the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a corporation that owns over half of all private prisons in the United States. After pressure from students at Pomona College, the company dropped its CCA shares but continues to manage over 100 private prisons abroad. These are located in countries including Belgium, Chile, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The company also manages prisons and immigrant detention centers throughout the United Kingdom.
One of the company’s prisons is HMP Northumberland, Britain’s seventh largest jail. The prison was recently the target of BBC undercover journalism which reported that within the prison, drug sales, security breaches and weaponry were commonplace, and that there was a general sense of “chaos.”
At Scripps College in Southern California, students have started a campaign, “Drop Sodexo,” demanding their school drop the caterer. Leah Shorb, a member of the group and first-year student at Scripps, provided a statement from the Drop Sodexo campaign.
“Students have been actively organizing…to pressure the Scripps administration to terminate the facilities and dining services contracts with the corporation. Sodexo is one of the largest corporations in the world that services institutions such as prisons, schools and universities, assisted-living facilities, hospitals, government agencies, military bases, and others,” the group wrote. “It is infamous for its host of civil rights abuses, exploitative labor policies, neoliberalism, anti-unionism, substandard food quality, violations of food safety, environmental destruction, racial discrimination, major class-action lawsuits, ownership of over 100 private prisons abroad, and much more.”
The group has organized a boycott and continues to work to get Sodexo dropped as the school’s food provider.
“Our focus is…how do we serve our students best, that’s the whole key and clearly Sodexo presented the best proposal,” said Neel. When asked for USM’s stance on Sodexo’s controversies, Neel said the university does not have a position.
While a Starbucks in the Glickman Library may seem like an exciting new addition to campus, the service fails to provide a full assortment of options. Sodexo, USM’s food provider, was chosen because they presented the best offer and the highest capital amongst competition. Many of the statements by USM officials about the Starbucks’ success differ greatly from the perspectives of students on campus.
Sodexo, which has business ties with Starbucks, made the suggestion of bringing a Starbucks coffee shop to Glickman. According to Buster Neel, the decision was made after hearing strong student, faculty and staff interest.
The Starbucks in the library is not a full-service location, and offers only coffee and snacks. The initial installation cost, according to Neel, was around $20,000–$25,000. The contract started on July 1, 2016, and will continue through June 30, 2021. It is renewable for five additional one year terms by USM.
According to an article by the Free Press published in March, “The money is pulled from a one-million-dollar contract between USM and Sodexo,” so in the first two years of the contract, there is this much money available for “university renovations through Sodexo.”
Neel explained that changes will come to the Starbucks in the summer, after the university begins running water lines to the Starbucks location in order to meet health department requirements for speciality drinks. He said that during this time, various quotes on pricing for Starbucks installations will come in.
“[Sodexo] can have a Starbucks operation or we can just serve Starbucks coffee instead. It’s much more expensive to have a full fledge Starbucks,” said Neel. “By the fall semester, students, faculty and staff will be able to get a lot more than they’re getting now.”
The current plan is to see what summer brings. Otherwise, future goals aim to completely redo the whole first floor of the Glickman Library so that the Starbucks location will be closer to the entrance and exit doors.
“One of the things I know that the director of the library wants to do is get students in the building,” said Neel, speaking for David Nutty. “The long-term goal is to have a strong gathering place for individual and group study, as well as a charging station. But that takes money, and that takes time.”
All six institutions in the UMaine system now have a contract with Sodexo. Neel explained that this was a system-level decision to go out and re-bid. He noted that three bids came in back: Sodexo, Aramark and local individuals in the state.
“After looking at all the financial components, the service component and so forth, the collective wisdom of the system showed that Sodexo provided the best offer,” said Neel. “These local individuals couldn’t come up with the capital or a price point that was competitive. A lot of what we’re trying to do is not only provide better service but keep the costs down too.”
According to Tadd Sloane, general manager of Sodexo operations at USM and UMaine Augusta, product fatigue was a big reason for not choosing Coffee By Design for the library, one of USM’s current local coffee options, which is offered in the Woodbury Campus Center, the Luther Bonney Snack Station and on the Gorham campus.
“Currently, we have eight or nine locations serving Coffee By Design…” he said.“We hear that students are looking for some variety.” He confirmed that Sodexo offered Starbucks as a potential business to come to campus.
Since the initial excitement of the Starbucks installation, students interviewed by the Free Press have expressed a huge disinterest in and dissatisfaction with the new addition to Glickman. Senior history major Jessica Vogel stated that while it is nice to have decent coffee available, calling it a Starbucks at all is not the right label when considering how little it offers.
“I think if you’re gonna have a contract [between Sodexo and USM] that costs so much, there are a lot of local shops that have great products,” she said. “If students could form partnerships with those kind of companies, it’s much more beneficial.”
Neel explained that after establishing rates and working with Sodexo to provide students what they need, USM gets as close to “breaking even” as possible. He explained that USM spends 3 million on meal plans through Sodexo, and that USM turns around and charges students for these meal plans. He also stated that Sodexo has catering, which USM gets a sales commission on. This extra income, he said, is “for the most part” put back into the dining operation.
“I think we don’t necessarily try to make this a profit operation for us, obviously Sodexo has to make a profit, but our main concern is to try to offer products to the student at a reasonable price,” he said. “The surveys that have come out so far have a pretty high rating of satisfaction. At this point the students are, overall pleased with us.”
Sophomore social work major Samia Ali disagrees with Neel’s statements, saying that the costs of items in the Starbucks are too expensive, so she has never purchased any product at this location.
“The costs could be a lot cheaper than they are now,” said Ali. “It shouldn’t cost so much. A lot of people like their coffee but as students it is hard for us to afford.”
In March of this year, senior psychology major Brent Shabnore told the Free Press that he thinks the Starbucks addition makes a lot of sense for the university. He explained his liking for its convenient location, noting that you “can’t have a library without a coffee [shop] at the bottom of it,” saying that it’s “basic economics.”
When addressed with several Sodexo controversies, which include allegations of providing low-paying wages, owning private prisons and finding horse meat DNA in food, Neel stated that the decision was made without “getting into the political side of things.” He continued by explaining the importance of satisfying students.
“I think the committee went about this with what’s best for our students, providing the needs that we have. We haven’t had any comments on controversy at this point,” he said. “It’s never gonna be perfect, there is no such thing as that.”
Some information in this article was collected by Johnna Ossie, News Editor of the Free Press.
By: Sarah Tewksbury, Free Press Staff
The USM chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) has invited Gov.Paul LePage to speak at Hannaford Hall on Tuesday, April 18 at 6 p.m. According to the USM YAF Facebook event page, LePage will be speaking about four different areas: “the budget, tax policy, welfare reform, and energy policy.” Ben Bussiere, the chairman for YAF, titled the event, “Making Maine Great.”
“The purpose of the governor’s visit is to inform students and community members about issues regarding the state of Maine,” Bussiere said. “I am hosting this event so people can be educated and informed on these key issues in our state. I also am hosting this event so community members and students can ask Gov. LePage questions that are important to them.”
Bussiere has been planning to invite LePage to speak since the fall semester. LePage, who has not been to Portland for a forum since 2015, will spend 45 minutes discussing current and future Maine policy topics, which will then be followed by a 15-minute Q&A period.
Since the beginning of the semester, the YAF group has attracted a considerable amount of attention due to controversial incidences. In February, YAF hosted an event where Maine State Rep. Larry Lockman discussed an immigration bill he was planning to sponsor. The event was protested and caused disagreement and discussion among USM administrators.
Increased publicity for the group has allowed for the USM community to become involved in the events YAF has sponsored. Though attention has not necessarily been positive, students say the presence of the small group has been felt on the Portland campus.
“I think it has negatively affected campus. It’s really stressful to have [Bussiere] and [YAF] host events, especially because it’s very clear that he’s hosting events with politicians who are controversial and far-right leaning such as Gov. LePage and Rep. Larry Lockman,” said Emma Donnelly, a sophomore social work major at USM. “He’s bringing politicians that spread hate rhetoric and make students feel unsafe, namely our queer, trans, immigrant and Muslim students and our students of color.”
Some students feel like tension has increased on campus because of the open presence of the group. Though YAF has experienced contention during the recent months, USM continues to support the presence of the group on campus. In an attempt to be fair and respectful to the public official visiting campus Tuesday, President Cummings has initiated that the President’s Office pay the rental fee for Hannaford Hall. Bob Stein, executive director of Public Affairs and Marketing, spoke about the cost of renting Hannaford Hall.
“Because Gov. LePage is a public official, USM picks up the cost of the rental,” Stein said. “He’ll be bringing his own security detail, but to compensate, we might be bringing in more security presence.”
Though Stein originally said USM pays for public officials to come to campus and does not charge student groups, such as YAF, for the cost, Elizabeth Morin, the director of Conference Services, has a different perspective. According to Morin, the cost of hosting LePage would be $900 and would cover a half-day rental. She also said that USM does not cover the cost of events for public officials. Upon further questioning, the office of the Conference Services referred Free Press staff back to Stein.
Following up on his initial comments, Stein detailed more clearly why USM has covered the cost of Hannaford Hall.
“The President’s Office has paid the cost of Hannaford Hall. President Cummings feels that when a statewide officeholder comes to USM, we should not charge a fee,” Stein wrote. “We recently did the same when Senator King held a town hall in Hannaford Hall regarding the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.”
The inconsistencies between administrative offices’ interpretation of the rules and protocols did not go unnoticed.
“President Cummings plans a university review of our guidelines on rental of space and security costs,” Stein said. “He feels we have not been consistent in the past with enforcing our guidelines, and is also uncomfortable with some specific guidelines on the cost of security. He wants USM to develop clearer guidelines that will be consistently enforced.”
By: Julie Pike, Free Press Staff
For most of the student senate meeting on Friday, April 7, business ran as usual. There were guest speakers present, various campus committees that spoke about their projects and discussions about budgets. However, throughout the meeting a group of roughly 15 students gathered in the back corner of the lecture hall in Payson Smith. At the point where concerns were allowed to be brought forward, several students began to speak. They were directing their comments toward Student Senate Chair Liam Ginn. Ginn was accused of making an Islamophobic comment to a Muslim student. Iris SanGiovanni, a senior political science major, began the discussion.
“You told a young muslim woman that she could not be a feminist because of the hijab that she wears,” SanGiovanni said. “You consider yourself an ally to the Muslim community, yet you talk to an individual student in such a way.”
In her statement, SanGiovanni brought up other instances when Ginn allegedly discriminated against the same Muslim student.
“The very weekend that comment was made,” she began, “there was a policy created that the Student Senate Office would only be used as a place of business, and that this same student that you directed those words would not allowed in there.”
During the meeting several students were trying to talk at once, to the point where their concerns could not be heard. Rodney Mondor, the director of Transitional Programs at USM, asked students to express their concerns in the format that the student senate traditionally uses.
“There is a process for the order of concerns here,” Mondor stated. “Concerns are first brought forward, [and then] the senators will address those concerns and then report back at the next meeting.”
Student Senator Fadumo Awale responded to claims that the senate is not doing anything about Ginn’s comments and stated that three violation inquiry committees have been filed against Ginn.
“We are processing these at the moment. We are working on it and have formed a committee to work on investigating it,” Fadumo said. “We are doing something about it. We’re not just sitting and watching these things happening.”
A violation inquiry committee is made up of six members of the senate, who are remaining anonymous. Senator Jeffrey Ahlquist, the chair of the Finance Committee, explained how his committee will handle the concerns.
“A group of people will gather all of the information, ask both parties involved questions, come up with a ruling and make a recommendation for discipline,” Ahlquist stated.
SanGiovanni asked if there was a call for Ginn to resign.
“We cannot ask someone to resign without [a] proper investigation,” Awale responded.
“Why can’t he speak for himself? He should say something,” asked Mariana Angelo, another student in the audience.
Awale responded by saying there is a process for addressing concerns within the senate. She stated that Ginn does not have to answer right away. The senate is given the week to address the concern and will respond to the concern at the following meeting.
Shouting began at that point and Ginn declared that the meeting was adjourned. The audience responded to his action in an uproar. SanGiovanni chanted “Liam needs to go.”
The students that were there repeatedly asked Ginn to say something about the comments he made.
“Now you’re in a room full of people and you’ve got nothing to say,” Angelo said. “Liam isn’t saying anything because he can’t take accountability. We’re giving him concerns and he has the audacity to adjourn the meeting.”
Angelo then addressed the vice chair of student senate, Muna Adan.
“Muna is not even trying to hold him accountable,” Angelo said. “You are a Muslim woman and you are still trying to support him.”
At that point, students in the crowd became raucous, and a police officer, who was waiting in the hallway outside the meeting, started to step in. A majority of the senate began to disperse and left the meeting, and the rest of those in attendance eventually followed.
“I’m just disappointed in the behavior of students that decided to disrupt the meeting and start fights,” Ginn said.
Discussions continued in the hallway and then out in the courtyard outside of Payson Smith.
“I think everyone has a boiling point, but I don’t believe that everyone handles stress the same way,” Ahlquist said. “I think that today a small minority of the people at the meeting handled themselves in such a way where the majority of people weren’t able to get the results that they wanted.”
By: Johnna Ossie, News Editor
For the second time since the start of the school year, USM administration and campus police are investigating anti-Muslim graffiti discovered by students on campus. The graffiti was discovered in a third floor classroom in Luther Bonney by students who reported it to campus security.
The words “kill the muslin (sic)” were written on an active shooter response poster, misspelling the word Muslim. The words were written above a figure hitting another figure with a chair below the section of the poster labeled “fight.” The poster has since been taken down, but students took photographs that have been circulating on social media.
In November, campus police investigated graffiti found in the Student Senate office in Woodbury Campus Center where the phrase “Deus Vult” had been written twice in permanent marker. The Latin phrase was used as a rallying cry during the Crusades but has more recently been used as an anti-Muslim sentiment by the “alt-right” white nationalist movement.
USM has been in the public spotlight multiple times this year, first for the “Deus Vult” graffiti, and later when conservative student group Young Americans For Freedom hosted Republican State Rep. Larry Lockman on campus, prompting student and community protest of Lockman’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Hate crimes in the U.S. have been on the rise since the 2016 election. NBC reports hate crime are up by almost 20 percent in metropolitan areas. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that in the months following the election, most hate incidents took place in America’s schools.
“This is not the first incident of such behavior on our campus this year. I truly wish I could assure you it will be the last,” wrote President Cummings in a campus-wide email the day after the most recent graffiti was discovered. “…While we can not control the behavior of every single person who finds their way onto our campus, I can assure you our approach is that even one incident is too many and will not be tolerated.”
A campus-wide email from Student Body President Humza Khan called the graffiti “an outrageous, completely unacceptable, and heinous act of hatred.”
Students were informed that there would be staff available on all three campuses to discuss the graffiti and any issues around Islamophobia in the days following the incident.
The investigation is ongoing. Bob Stein, executive director of Public Affairs and Marketing, reports that President Cummings sought assistance from Portland City Manager Jon Jennings, who has involved the Portland Police Department in the investigation. According to Stein, the Portland Police have more resources than campus security for investigating the incident.
“It’s my understanding that essentially we have an investigation, and when that investigation is complete, and hopefully that includes finding the person who did this, there’s three places it will go,” Stein said.
He explained that if the person who wrote the graffiti is found, the investigation reports would go to the Student Conduct Office where an internal process would be done, as well as to the Attorney General and the District Attorney. The Attorney General would review the reports and decide if the incident qualifies as a hate crime, and the District Attorney would review the reports for possible prosecution.
By: Heather Roberts, Free Press Staff
On the Gorham campus, a Human Performance Lab has students hooked up to metabolic carts, a device used to measure oxygen consumed during exercise, to estimate how many calories they’ve burned. The goal of this research, according to Professor Christopher Scott of the Department of Exercise, Health and Sports Sciences, is to estimate energy expenditure before, during and after exercise.
If you’ve ever wondered how many calories you can burn while participating in a particular activity, such as bench pressing, bicycling or running, Scott has observed in his research that short, intense and intermittent exercise, followed by a recovery period, can help an individual burn the most fat.
This research, performed by lab students for science classes, attempts to measure the amount of energy produced during anaerobic exercise. Strength, speed and power tend to distinguish anaerobic exercise from aerobic.
Aerobic exercise is the type of physical activity that only uses oxygen. Anaerobic exercise is different from aerobic exercise because this type of physical activity makes the muscles clamp down on blood vessels, decreasing oxygen.
Due to the fact that muscles get less oxygen during anaerobic exercise, to make energy muscles resort to producing lactic acid from sugar. To measure the amount of energy produced during anaerobic exercise, students measure lactic acid in the blood.
As well as taking measurements of aerobic and anaerobic physical activity, students record their subjects’ oxygen uptake for the recovery period, or the ten or fifteen minutes following exercises where the body brings itself back to its state before exercise.
After taking the measurement of aerobic, anaerobic and recovery of a physical activity or activities, lab students input the data into a cost per task formula, where the cost is the volume of oxygen consumed and the task is a physical activity, which can include walking, running or weight lifting. They then graph the results overall to see the total energy cost.
Through this research analysis, Scott recommended an estimated seven seconds of intense exercise such as sprinting, weight-lifting or vigorous cycling, followed by three to four minutes of active, multiple recovery periods that include activity such as walking or light cycling. He explained that, for every liter of oxygen consumed, five calories are burned.
“[During] the recovery period, we’re bringing the body back to what we call homeostasis [stable equilibrium],” he said “So back toward resting metabolic rate and that takes energy.”
Everyone is different, so rigorous intermittent exercise with long pauses may not always be the best option. To lose weight, a twenty-minute walk might be better. Scott warned that one must be careful about how they use intensity in a workout, saying that perceived exertion, or what you think of as intensity, does not dictate what the energy costs are.
According to Scott, since rigorous physical activities, such as weight lifting, tend to become anaerobic exercises with long recovery periods, the cost per task formula is better at calculating total energy expended than the well-known cost per minute formula. On the other hand, Scott has found that, after a while, exercise and recovery periods plateau in calorie and fat consumption.
“If you keep exercising, you’re actually becoming more efficient as time goes on,” he said, adding that six percent of sugar breakdown is anaerobic while aerobic exercise accounts for the other 94 percent.
According to Scott, to explore the recovery phase further, additional research such as a student-led longitudinal study may help. For now, undergrad students perform short experiments on health and fitness for their Thinking Matters presentations.
The most recent results show that an interval exercise is best to burn both calorie and fat. “Really intense bouts – very brief and then coupled with some sort of active recovery,” Scott said, “You can’t get any more expensive than that.”
Mary Ellen Aldrich, Community Editor
Across Cumberland County, the state of Maine and the United States, opioid use and overdose is increasing. According to the Office of the Maine Attorney General, in 2016 opioid overdose claimed more than one life each day in Maine, resulting in a total of 378 lives lost to opioids.
“It’s an epidemic,” said Ash Havlin, a senior sociology and psychology major. “People are dying every day in Maine. And it doesn’t make sense. There’s no reason for it. People shouldn’t be dying, they should be receiving treatment.”
The Maine Medical Association refers to Maine’s rise in opioid use as an epidemic and a crisis that needs to be addressed. Opioids are on the rise in Maine, especially synthetic opioids. Synthetically made opioids are stronger and more unpredictable than natural opioids. According to a report published by the Maine DHHS State Epidemiology Outcomes Workgroup, Maine’s Central and Cumberland districts have seen some of the highest rates of drug-related overdose deaths in the state.
The Recovery Oriented Campus Center (ROCC), located in the Sullivan Gym on USM’s Portland campus, is trying to reduce the incidence of opioid overdose in the USM and Portland communities. Steps it has taken towards the goal of community healing include providing education and a safe and supportive environment to foster recovery and a sense of community.
On March 3, the ROCC hosted a training session to educate participants in the prevention of, identification of and emergency response to opioid overdose. The hour-and-a-half training was led by Zoe Odlin-Platz, a community health promotion specialist who works for the Portland Needle Exchange. Odlin-Platz discussed the importance of such training and how it relates to the current drug problems Portland and other parts of Maine are experiencing.
“We’re seeing a lot of really strong product, a lot of inconsistent product and there are a lot of people using [it],” Odlin-Platz said. “I think the internet plays a huge role in what’s available, and we’re seeing substances that we’ve never seen before. We don’t even really know what they are but we know that they’re here.”
In addition to providing Narcan, or Naloxone, training at the ROCC, the Portland Needle Exchange has facilitated training for USM nursing students and the Health and Counseling Center on the Gorham campus. According to ROCC members, training the community to correctly handle the situation of an overdose can help save lives and reduce the lasting trauma that results from being a bystander unable to assist. Knowing what to do and how to help doesn’t remove all fear and trauma, but it does lessen it and could save a life.
“I think it [Narcan training] is important because it is the reality that we live in now, people do overdose,” Havlin said. “I think that it’s important that we sustain people’s lives as long as possible so that we can provide people with treatment and give them the opportunity to live a life in recovery.”
Naloxone can make a difference in the number of deaths versus the number of survivors. According to the Maine DHHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health reports, 824 people required administration of naloxone by EMS due to opioid overdose in 2014.
“This type of training is important because it’s saving lives,” said Katie Tomer, a junior health sciences major. “I think that’s one of the biggest factors of importance, not only on college campuses but nationwide.”
Andrew Kiezulas, a senior chemistry major, sees the training as something important not only for someone experiencing overdose, but for the bystander as well.
“Feeling helpless,” Kiezulas said, “is far more damning than being in that situation and having something that you can do.”
Krysteana Scribner, Editor-in-chief
Last week, the weekly Student Government meeting experienced an interruption in protocol when Rowan Torr, a former senator, attempted to address concerns regarding alleged discrimination against individuals with disabilities within the student senate. According to Student Body President Humza Khan, various controversies the student senate has been at the center of over the course of the school year incited the incident.
He stated that, during each meeting, an average of five individuals show up to “take up space” and monitor the actions of senate members. While he was unable to identify all individuals involved in last week’s call to action against the student senate, he did note that Iris SanGiovanni, Elizabeth Donato and Marena Blanchard were three of the individuals who showed up with Torr.
“[They] started disturbing the peace, and were accusing me and other senators of being biased, anti-black, anti-trans rights and in support of white supremacy, despite the fact that the senate is more diverse now more than ever,” he said.
Dean of Students David McKenzie responded to an interview request with an email statement, which briefly explained the details of the meeting. When Torr was not given permission to break protocol and interrupt regular business, wrote McKenzie, Torr resigned from the senate. He reiterated that Torr was told several times to stop interrupting the meeting, but refused and continued to make a speech for another 20-30 minutes, at which point McKenzie had campus public safety officers escort Torr out of the room.
According to McKenzie, Portland local Marena Blanchard recorded the meeting. The recording, he said, “included the profanity laced tirade by [Torr].” He noted that while he did not see it for himself, he is aware that the video is now on social media. In the video, Blanchard can be heard telling Torr, as they are asked multiple times to leave the meeting, “You don’t have to stop. You don’t have to listen.”
Liam Ginn, the chair of the student senate, said that he was “very disappointed with Rowan and Marena for their actions.”
Torr initially sat down in the room with the senators and brought up concerns that were not on the agenda for the meeting.
“I can see there are a lot of questions you want to ask and a lot of anger, I can sense it. I can see some of the comments,” said Student Senator Fadumo Awale. “We will not tolerate this kind of behavior, you are a senator, there are rules and regulations to follow… we are all adults here.”
Awale continued by offering Torr resources to file a report on the incident, while Shaman Kirkland, senator and chief of staff, asked Torr, “If this is so important to you, why can’t we wait until the appropriate time to talk about it?”
Jason Saucier, the SGA advisor, proposed a five minute recess during the meeting, and upon the student senators return, Torr interrupted again, this time with a megaphone.
Khan explained that incidents of conflict were not uncommon within the student senate, but until the meeting on March 10, no one had ever interrupted a senate meeting in a way that broke protocol.
“I can understand that conflict and political disagreement may exist, which is fair grounds to be angry about,” Khan said. “But Rowan and their friends started targeting students on Facebook, both in public and private messages… calling them trash, losers… it was clearly harassment.”
Torr was reminded that they were violating student senate protocol, but they continued.
“You are all so transphobic and I have anxiety attacks every time I come to the senate,” they said.
In the two-part video series posted by Torr on Facebook, they claim the student senate was responsible for “attacking two femmes and calling them stupid and keyboard warriors.” Torr also accused Ginn of being “discriminatory against people with disabilities,” but provided no evidence when asked by members of the student senate.
On Facebook, Torr posted their confidential disciplinary hearing order, sent from Andrew McLean. Torr deleted the post a few days later, although the Free Press has physical records of its existence. The document states that Torr was scheduled for a hearing on the charges of “Causing a disturbance and a failure to comply with university officials.”
According to Pdg Mowins Muhamiriza, student body vice president, Torr’s actions were inappropriate, because to him, escalations of conflict like these turn to chaotic situations. Whatever their motives were, noted Muhamiriza, they could have made a more reasonable point by being ready to debate.
“Whenever you are tempted to make a sudden move or comment, regardless of how you feel, it is always best to try to understand the other side’s approach, and this time, it is safe to say that they pushed hard the senate’s buttons,” he said.
According to Khan, the most pressing issue at hand is some individuals’ unwillingness to listen to perspectives that differ from their own. He believes that, by interrupting and yelling, they demonstrate to others that “they lack a degree of knowledge and understanding about SGA, and [that] they are unwilling to cooperate if [things don’t] completely go their way.”
“I think to a certain degree there is a small group of students and they don’t know how to handle themselves. They have their own way of communicating and protesting their concerns, but there are some basic rules we follow in the US. and the world,” he said. “These kinds of behaviors are based in immaturity, and not having the willingness to listen to the other side, labeling someone and not understanding what the issues are.”
Muna Adan, vice chair of the student senate, observed that, as soon as a person joins or engages with the SGA, others cast aspersions on their commitment to respecting members of the student body.
“As soon as one joins the Student Government Association or engages with its representatives, they become an ableist, anti-black, a white supremacist, homophobic, Islāmophobic, misogynistic, oppressive, sexist, transphobic, et cetera,” Adan said. “If one belongs to and/or identifies with any of those groups, they are referred to as a self-hater. I know this because I, and those whom I work with, have been called those derogatory terms.”
“There are individuals from the past who have represented our organization negatively, but they are gone, and we do not stand for what they did,” she continued. “We need to stop with the us versus them mentality and learn to work with one another, regardless of our differences. How will we make progress as an organization, a student body, and a university if we are hostile and do not want to engage and work with others?”
SanGiovanni, Donato and Blanchard did not provide commentary. Torr, who was contacted by the Free Press, had one statement to make: “Watch the video.”
By Johnna Ossie, News Editor
Republican Maine State Representative Richard Cebra of Naples plans to propose a bill that, if passed, would allow students to legally carry firearms on campus. The bill, “LR 635 An Act To Enhance Safety on College and University Campuses by Allowing Firearms To Be Carried on the Campuses of Public Colleges and Universities,” is still in title form has not yet been printed and introduced.
Rep. Cebra has cosponsored a bill by Senator Eric Brakey of Androscoggin, LD 44 that would lower the age to carry a concealed handgun from 21 to 18. He has also cosponsored LD 574, the summary of which reads, “This bill eliminates the provision of law that requires a person lawfully in possession of a concealed handgun without a permit during the course of a detainment or routine traffic stop to inform the law enforcement officer that the person is in possession of the handgun.”
According to Cebra, “Gun-free zones, also known as Disarmed Victim Zones, have been shown time and time again to be magnets for bad people to do bad things to good people.”
Professor Dušan Bjelić, from the Criminology, Economics and Sociology Departments, said that he has never heard “Gun Free Zones” be referred to as “Disarmed Victim Zones.”
“‘Disarmed Victim Zones’ kind of belongs, to me, to this new Trump linguistic counter information, like fake news or alternative facts,” Bjelić said. “[Cebra] doesn’t provide any evidence, although he says ‘gun free zones also known as ‘Disarmed Victim Zones.’ I’m a criminologist and I learned that term for the first time. He is inventing facts rather than substantiating evidence that there is a history of gun violence on any of the Maine campuses, and there is not.”
As of now, USM’s Weapons Policy reads, “Dangerous weapons, including but not limited to, firearms… are not permitted on property owned by or under the control of the [USM] and off-campus activities sponsored by the [USM].”
Bjelić also discussed how he believes the rhetoric of “good guys and bad guys” fails to address the complexities of campus and national political culture, and discussed some of the history surrounding the carrying of firearms, which he says has roots in slavery-era America.
“Historically this goes back to the time of slavery,” he said. “In South Carolina, white people were ordered to carry guns when they could go to public places [and] where they [could] encounter slaves. So the function of the gun, to carry a gun in public places, was to protect yourself from the slave.”
Bjelić wondered who gets to define who is a “good person” and who is a “bad person,” in the context of racism and Islamophobia in the current political and campus climate.
“In some sense, if somebody should worry about their security it should be Muslim students and immigrants,” he said. “By that logic, according to this proposal, they should be the ones who should be armed first. But I don’t think that intent is here. I hear it, reading between the lines, [the bill] is for the white people to defend themselves.”
A major concern among those opposed to allowing guns on campus is that it would increase campus violence. While universities are generally known to be places with low levels of violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that works to end gun violence, reports that factors such as drug and alcohol use combined with students carrying firearms could increase the risk of violence on campus.
A report from Everytown cites a Columbia University study which found that half of U.S. college students binge drink or use illegal or prescription drugs, and that almost a quarter of college students “suffer from substance abuse and dependence.” The report also found that students who carried guns on campus “were more likely than students who did not do so to report drinking heavily and, more frequently, driving while under the influence of alcohol and vandalizing property.”
Bjelić also addressed concerns that a climate of alcohol and drug use on college campuses mixed with guns could be deadly.
“If you add drugs and drinking on the campus with loaded guns,” Bjelić said, “what is there that would prevent, let’s say, drunk students playing Russian roulette?”
Rep. Cebra believes that allowing students to carry guns on campus would increase campus safety.
“This bill would help restore that ability to lawful citizens currently being denied their most personal and sacred right in specific places,” he said. “Good people must have the ability to keep and protect themselves from harm regardless of location.”
Alex Shaffer, co-chair of the USM College Republicans and second-year history major, said he would need to know more about the bill to form a definite opinion, but that he would be in support.
“I support this legislation, for if it is implemented properly it will allow students to exercise their second amendment right, and at the same time cut down on the crime rate at the university,” Shaffer said. “Personally I believe allowing firearms on a university campus has both positives and negatives, and that little is known about the bill to know if it is what is best for the university and state as a whole.”
In an online survey of forty-eight USM students, twelve reported that they would support a bill that allowed guns on campus, thirty-four said that they would not support the bill and two said they did not know if they would support it.
Ben Bussiere, senior political science major and president of USM Young Americans for Freedom, said he believes that students should be allowed to carry firearms on campus, concealed or open. Bussiere believes that students carrying guns would make campus safer, in particular for women.
“I think it would be a significant deterrent for criminals and students who have the intent of sexually assaulting women, which we know, on campuses throughout America, that the sexual assault of women on campuses is a problem,” Bussiere said. “I think that concealed carry permits for women or anyone on campus would be significant.”
Bjelić explained that he does not believe guns are the way to address sexual assault on campus.
“We know in robbery and burglary, whoever tries to defend themselves with guns end up being more injured than those who cooperate…,” he said. “I would suggest instead of carrying guns, first of all, insist on the policy at the university…awareness of sexual abuse on campus, which is underreported. We have to have university administration very much aware of this and doing everything possible to identify and punish sexual aggressors.”