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Zika virus now confirmed in Maine and New Hampshire

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:42

by Zachary Searles/News Editor

At the end of February, Maine saw its first case of the Zika virus, months after the first outbreak in South America. The person who was affected is older than 65 and had travelled to a Zika-affected country, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control.

According to Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine’s state epidemiologist, this one case is not cause for widespread alarm.

“It’s important for the public to understand that the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the Zika virus is not found in Maine and that your neighbor who has come home from a trip to South America cannot transmit the virus to you,” Bennett said in an interview with Bangor Daily News.

Then, last Tuesday, New Hampshire reported its first case of the Zika virus, a female who had sexual contact with a man that had travelled to a Zika-affected country. According to New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist Dr. Ben Chan, the women was not hospitalized and has recovered.

According to the CDC, as of February 24, there have been 107 reported cases of the Zika virus, all of which were due to travelling to countries where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is commonly found. Florida has the most confirmed cases, 28, which is largely due to the warm climate and the fact that it attracts many tourists.

The virus is transmitted primarily through mosquito bites, with the common symptoms being fever, rash and joint pain. People rarely die from the disease and are rarely sick enough to go to the hospital, so a lot of the time cases of the virus can go undocumented.

The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and was named after the Zika forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first human cases were documented. Fast forward 63 years and Brazil sees its first confirmed case. Then on February 1, the World Health Organization declared the virus to be a public health emergency of international concern.

Currently scientists are studying possible connections between pregnant women who contract the virus and microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads. As of now, the CDC recommends that pregnant women delay any travelling to Zika-affected areas.

So how can you protect yourself against the Zika virus? Well, currently there is no vaccine or cure for the disease, and the countries that are being affected by it the most have yet to develop any kind of concrete plan to combat the virus.

Modern Pest Services, a family owned pest control company that’s headquartered in Brunswick and operates throughout New England, would like to remind people that the mosquito responsible for transmitting the disease does not reside in the Northeast.

“New Englander’s are understandably concerned with the new threat that Zika virus brings, and while the primary carrier the Aedes aegypti mosquito is not currently known to be in New England, there are over 40 different types of mosquitoes in the northeast that carry other harmful diseases like eastern equine encephalitis,” Mike Peaslee, technical manager and associate certified entomologist at Modern Pest Services, said in a press release.

Peaslee also pointed to the fact that the Aedes aegyptti mosquito thrives in warmer climates, and while New England typically has the cold on their side, due to unseasonably warm conditions it has now been made easier for warmer climate mosquitoes to spread.

“Taking precautions now to control our environment to create unfavorable conditions for mosquito breeding will help prevent the spread of all mosquito-transmitted diseases, like the Zika virus,” Peaslee said.

Peaslee and Modern Pest Services advocate getting rid of every form of standing water as mosquito season approaches to cut down on the breeding grounds for mosquitos. These forms of standing water include: buckets, tires and even things as small as bottles and cans. Kiddy pools are another good example of standing water. Peaslee says that you should keep them drained and even flip them over when not in use to prevent them from collecting rain water.

Modern Pest Services also stated that you should treat every area outside of your home as if it was a mosquito breeding ground, and “cover up exposed skin and wear bug spray to avoid getting bitten – or sick.”



New Software Takes the Distraction out of Internet Resources

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:42

by Bradford Spurr

Some new software from the UK promises to reduce the time students spend surfing the web instead of finishing their research paper. With promising statistics from a nationwide survey, Stop Procrastinating looks to solve the motivation problem in this internet age.

A blank word document five pages short of the minimum has become the symbol for this millennial generation. In a study published by Stop Procrastinating, in which 2,000 students across the United States participated in, it was found that nearly 64 percent of students felt that they were affected in some way by distractions found on the internet.

The application can operate in three different modes depending on the student’s level of self-discipline. The first is the ‘nuclear option.’ It cuts off all internet connectivity for a certain amount of time and does not let you back on until that time has elapsed.

The second option restricts all access to the internet for a certain amount of time, only allowing access online if the student physically restarts their computer. And the third introduces a ‘blacklist’ of websites that Stop Procrastinating will not let you on. Now this is important because the student themselves can pick and choose what websites they feel are most distracting to them like Facebook, YouTube, or BuzzFeed.

About 48% of the students that participated in the survey said that they lost at least an hour of potential productivity through distractions offered by social media platforms.

Tim Rollins, director of the Stop Procrastinating team said that “Students have always had distractions, but they have never had to deal with a technology that is everywhere at once and influences every part of our lives. It is unprecedented, the level of intrusion and distraction that today’s students have to cope with.”

And this all stems from education’s need to try and get back into the technology race. When the average classroom has multi-screen integration and some form of media tool hybrid program, technology and the art of procrastination begins to take shape as the entire problem rest upon bringing distractions into the classroom.

“We have made Stop Procrastinating free today in order help students to beat their Internet distractions and boost their performance in their studies. The Internet, social media, emails are pervasive and eating into our quality time. We need urgently to put ourselves back in control.

One student confirmed to have mumps at USM

Wed, 2016-03-02 20:41

Earlier this evening,  a student at the University of Southern Maine was confirmed to have been diagnosed with Mumps.

“Staff members are currently contacting individuals who may be more directly affected, but we think it is important for the entire university community to be informed of the symptoms of mumps and what to do if you have any questions or concerns,” said Director of Health Services Lisa Belanger in an email to USM students, faculty and staff on Wednesday evening.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mumps is no longer very common in the U.S. Over the course of the past few days, other colleges such as Harvard, Butler University, New Hampshire College, University of Louisville and Indiana University have come forward with emerging cases of Mumps being spread across campus, each school (with the except of USM so far) have had at least two or more cases arise. As of March 2, Harvard has confirmed four additional cases of mumps on campus, bringing their student outbreak to six.

Outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated U.S. communities, especially those that are in close-contact. Many cases of mumps have been seen in high density across schools, colleges and camps. However, a high vaccination rate amongst students can ensure that the outbreak stays condensed in a smaller population of people. After coming into contact with the virus, it can take 12-25 days before the symptoms appear and can spread for three days before and five days after symptoms begin, according to the CDC.

Mumps affects the parotid glands, salivary glands below and in front of the ears. It is spread through infected saliva and a person can experience little to no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, it can happen suddenly and include swollen, painful salivary glands, headache, fever, fatigue and loss of appetite. “We recommend that you minimize your contact with others for 5 days if you are experiencing mumps-like symptoms,” said Belanger. “This may require that you do not attend class, work, sports activities or other gatherings.” If you have questions or concerns about the mumps, please feel free to contact the Health & Counseling Services at (207) 780-5411.  Alternatively, you may contact the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at 1-800-821-5821.  

A look at Black History Month

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:35

By Zachary Searles/News Editor

The United States finds itself in an interesting time, on one hand you have citizens that believe that the Civil Rights Movement and the ending of segregation and slavery also ended racism in America.

On the other hand, there are citizens of all races and nationalities that say racial tensions are rising due to the still present racism and discrimination that people of color face on a regular basis.

Some of this discrimination can be a direct result of embedded ideologies that an average person might not even recognize they have, due to being brought up a certain way in their home as a child.

Black History Month started in 1976, stemming from an older tradition of “Negro History Week,” a tradition started by historian Carter G. Woodson. Ever since each president has designated the month of  February for acknowledging and celebrating achievements made by African Americans. Other countries have similar traditions but do not necessarily celebrate them in February like the U.S. does.

“Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” said former President Gerald Ford, calling upon the public to recognize the achievements of African Americans in this country when he formally established Black History Month in 1976.

Here at USM, we had guest speaker Eddie Moore Jr. come to campus to give talks and facilitate workshops revolving around diversity and in the Glickman Library there are currently displays of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and on the sixth floor of the Glickman Library you can see the special collection of African American Collection of Maine History.

The purpose of the collection is to collect and preserve various records that document African American history in Maine and to emphasize the importance of such materials. The collection was inspired by Gerald Talbot, the first African American elected to the Maine state legislature and whose family has been in Maine since the eighteenth century.

“It is because of my long involvement in civil rights in Maine and New England and my deep interest and involvement in my black culture and history, that I have collected and preserved pieces of that black history, nationally and locally, for others to see and learn from,” Talbot said back in 1994.

So why is it important to celebrate Black History Month? According to Robert Stein, executive director of public affairs, there are a couple reasons.

“First, for people of color, Black History Month provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of earlier generations and the obstacles and significant challenges they had to overcome,” Stein said.

He went on to say that for people who aren’t of color, Black History Month provides them with the opportunity to better understand and appreciate the struggles and achievements of African Americans throughout the history of the U.S.

Lastly, Stein said that Black History Month serves a purpose for everyone and that’s to create “an opportunity for all of us to commit to work together on the many serious challenges that still must be addressed.”

Others had that same feeling: that Black History Month was about more than just celebrating achievements. It was also about addressing the problems that African Americans and other minority groups are still facing on a regular basis.

According to Joy Pufhal, dean of students, the goal of Black History Month is just as critical today as it was back in 1976 when it got officially extended from one week to a full month.

“It is a time to reflect, to dialogue, to learn, to highlight the challenges and injustices that Blacks are facing in America today, and to raise awareness and commitment to the important work still to be done to create a more perfect union,” Pufhal said. “The key is to continue the work beyond February throughout the rest of the year.”

Rebecca Nisetich, Honors Program Interim Director, claims that we need Black History Month because African American History “is still systematically marginalized in our education system.” She went on to say that black culture is still constantly defined as ‘other’ culture.”

Nisetich referred to the backlash that Beyonce has been receiving lately, both for her new music video “Formation” and her Super Bowl performance, where she made reference to the Black Panther Party.

According to Nisetich, in her video, Beyonce “puts southern Black culture unapologetically front-and-center, and not only black culture but black women and black children.”

Beyonce isn’t the only musician who has gotten criticism in the past weeks for performances that made bold statements about race relations in America today. Kendrick Lamar’s performance at the Grammys has also been receiving attention, along with criticism.

His performance, which started with several black males in a prison setting walking in chain gang style, ended with a silhouette of Africa projected with the word “Compton,” Lamar’s hometown, displayed in the middle.

For Nisetich, a scholar and specialist in African American literature and critical race theory, Black History Month is a way to “emphasize aspects of our history and culture that often given short shrift.”

Not everyone is for Black History Month. Prominent people in popular culture, such as Morgan Freeman and Whoopi Goldberg, have spoken out against the month, claiming that African American history is American history, so people should be learning it all the time, not just during this one month.

Brewery Partnership

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:33

By Dora Thompson

The University of Southern Maine and the Maine Brewers Guild announced a partnership Thursday aimed at helping the region’s growing craft beer industry with analysis and testing by USM’s Quality Assurance/Quality Control and Research Laboratory.

The lab will help brewers deliver a consistent, quality product to their consumers, ensure contamination has not been introduced during the brewing process, and develop new varieties and products as demand increases. For USM students, it will be a chance to work on practical projects that could help them find work in the growing industry.

“This provides our students with a great, real-world understanding of what they can do when they leave USM,” said Lucille Benedict, an associate professor of chemistry at USM. For brewers, benefits will include lower lab costs and shorter wait times for needed results.

“This public-private partnership, between USM and the (Maine Brewer’s) Guild, creates an important local resource that ensures our breweries are able to continue to lead the region in producing some of the highest quality beer in the country,” said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers Guild.

Maine’s craft beer industry employed 1,500 people and generated an estimated $432 million in sales in 2014, he said. The lab received received a three-year, $488,514 seed grant from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund to build the infrastructure for the project.

Once the lab is fully functional and all equipment is in place, brewers and attendees of the inaugural New England Brew Summit on April 1 will have the opportunity to view the lab and learn more about the certifications and capability.

“We have been emanating our desire to be a community-based university, one that’s deeply connected to our region and to our state,” Cummings said. “This is the exact kind of partnership that we believe moves Maine forward.”

News Briefs

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:32

Local & State

Group offers for reward for any info lobster theft

The group Maine Operation Game Thief is offering an $11,000 reward for information about a lobster theft that occurred on the Gulf of Maine. An investigation by the Maine Marine Patrol shows that around 200 lobster traps were stolen.

Maine Operation Game Thief is a non-profit organization that works with other Maine groups and wildlife groups, such as Marine Patrol and Warden Services, and has offered the reward in hopes that they will get information that will bring the guilty party to justice.

“This is an extremely serious violation involving multiple victims, and we would appreciate any help from the public,” said Jon Cornish of Maine Marine Patrol. “The money for this reward comes both from the Operation Game Thief program and from lobstermen committed to bringing this person or people to justice.”


Maine sees its first case of the Zika virus


The virus that has been tormenting South American countries for the past few months now has a confirmed case in Hancock County, according for the Maine Center for Disease Control. According to the Maine CDC, the person is older than 65 and travelled to a Zika-affected country. The traveller has not been hospitalized and is recovering at home.

The Maine CDC is recommending that pregnant women and men who are sexually active with pregnant women who has travelled to a Zika-affected country should go and get tested for the virus.

“It’s important for the public to understand that the aedes mosquito that transmits the Zika virus is not found in Maine and that your neighbor who has come home from a trip to South America cannot transmit the virus to you,” Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine’s state epidemiologist, said.

Bennett also said that there is no need for widespread alarm or panic.


Public hearings on El Faro wrapped up last week


Last Friday the Coast Guard wrapped up the initial stages of their investigation into El Faro, the ship that sank last fall, killing all 33 members on board. Now, the agency is waiting to see if they can find evidence that gets recovered from the shipwreck.

In April, a second attempt will be made to recover the voyage data recorder, which is similar to an airplane’s black box, and it could provide details about the sinking of the ship. The recorder could have data on the final 12 hours of the voyage.

While the first round of hearings just finished up, the Coast Guard plans to have a second round that focuses in greater detail on the trip. As of now, no date is scheduled for this second hearing but it’s expected to start back up in early summer.




New Jersey Governor endorses Donald Trump


Just weeks after ending his own bid for the Republican candidacy and presidency, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump. Gov. Christie is the first major politician to endorse Trump.

Gov. Christie introduced Trump at a rally in Texas late last week where he said, “I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States.” He went on to say that Trump is the best chance of the final five Republican hopefuls to beat Hillary Clinton.

Christie has been critical of Trump in the primaries before he dropped out, claiming that he was nothing more than an “entertain in chief” and he called his plan to ban all muslims absolutely “ridiculous.” Christie is now saying that part is over and that there is no one better prepared to provide American with strong leadership.


Eight people shot in Kalamazoo, Michigan shooting rampage


Jason Brian Dalton was charged with six counts of murder and two accounts of assault with intent to commit murder on Monday after his shooting rampage that took place that previous Saturday. Dalton is reported to have showed no emotion in court when the charges against him were read in court.

Police are saying that Dalton drove around for hours Saturday night going from victim to victim, gunning them down at random. Dalton even picked up Uber passengers in between the shootings.

“There isn’t a connection that we’ve been able to establish between any of the three victim groups with each other, any of the three victim groups with the defendant,” Jeffrey Getting, the prosecutor in the case, told CNN. “It just is, well, it was random, unprovoked violence.”

A report that came out later in the week showed that Jason Brian Dalton had no mental health history. Dalton also got the gun he used on his rampage legally, though he did not possess a concealed carry permit for his pistol.


Confederate Heritage Month defended by Miss. Governor


Last Thursday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant defended the notion of proclaiming April as Confederate Heritage Month in his state. Bryant had issued this proclamation earlier in the month saying that people should really try understand their heritage.

“Gov. Bryant believes Mississippi’s history deserves study and reflection, no matter how unpleasant or complicated parts of it may be,” Clay Chandler, spokesperson for Gov. Bryant, said. “Like the proclamation says, gaining insight from our mistakes and successes will help us move forward.”

Bryant issued a very similar proclamation back in 2012 and the proclamation comes at a time when the Mississippi legislature is going through 19 bills that all deal with keeping or changing the state flag, which is the only flag left in the US to feature a Confederate battle flag emblem.




“I’m not going to pay for that f****** wall”


Presidential hopeful and billionaire businessman Donald Trump has taken an aggressive stance on immigration, making claims that when he becomes president he will force everyone here illegally to leave, but humanely, and then they can re-enter the country legally. He has even made claims that he will build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to prevent any more illegal immigration and when asked how he will pay for it, he has always claimed that he will force Mexico to pay for it.

Well, apparently, former president of Mexico Vicente Fox does not agree with this notion that Mexico will pay for the wall, claiming on a live television broadcast where he was being interviewed by Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network that, “I am not going to pay for that f****** wall.”

Of course Bartiromo was stunned and Fox went on to say that Trump should know that Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall and that he isn’t sorry. Trump then took to Twitter to say that Fox should apologize, and that if he were to do anything like that then there would be an uproar.


Dead sea lions wash up on shore in Chile


In northern Chile, marine researchers have found more than 100 dead sea lions that have washed up on the shore over the past three months, most of the sea lions being newborns. Researchers also believe that this is apart of a more widespread die-off being observed in other places on the South American coast.

“This is happening along the entire coast of northern Chile and we’re getting reports that it’s also happening in Peru, our neighbor to the north,” researcher Carlos Guerra-Correa told CNN. “We could be talking about hundreds of sea lions washing up ashore dead in the entire region.”

So what’s the cause of all these sea lion deaths? Well, according to Guerra Correa, there could be many factors but one is the lack of food sources due to climate patterns such as El Nino that is leading to the seals dying of starvation.

The warming waters do not have the same nutrients that the sea lions need, so since species like phytoplankton, which feed sardines and anchovies which sea lions thrive on, are prominently found in colder waters, they are disappearing because waters are getting warmer.



All information used in Briefs was taken from the Bangor Daily News, the New York Times, CNN and BBC.

Students for #USMFuture give their demands to administration

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:32

By Bryer C. Sousa/Free Press Staff

Graphic done by: Abigail Bailey/Design Assistant

Towards the end of the Fall 2015 semester, the collective Students for #USMfuture began working with Dr. Glenn Cummings, president of the University of Southern Maine, as well as Nancy Griffin, the vice president for enrollment management at USM, to address institutionalized racism on campus. Although the Students for #USMfuture could not be reached for comment, Nancy Griffin stated that “we [the University of Southern Maine administration] are thrilled to be working with them on improving the life of all marginalized individuals.”

Even though the Students for #USMFuture originally started out as a joint response, by students and faculty, to what they identified as being unnecessary faculty and department budget cuts, they have since expanded their mission to advocate “for our student interests, whether they pertain to academic freedom, affordable education, transparency and accountability, to justice, safety, and accessibility for marginalized communities on campus,” according to a Facebook post the group made on February 22, 2016.

Currently, the group has maintained a particular interest in “[ensuring] that USM is a high quality institution accessible to all students regardless of race, class, gender or any other part of their identity,” as noted in the group’s description on its Facebook page. Consequently, the Students for #USMfuture adopted a list of ten demands that they discussed with President Cummings on December 22, 2015. Such demands included “an increase in diversity in faculty and staff,” “track/record[ing] incidents on campus,” “retaining students of color,” and “meet[ing] with the Board of Trustees about our demands,” alongside six additional demands not mentioned herein. These demands have recently developed into a final draft of demands for the administration of USM to adopt as a means of ensuring cultural competency on campus.

On February 24, 2016, Nancy Griffin, among other members of the university staff, met with leaders, organizers and participants of Students for #USMfuture to go over the final draft of demands, item by item. Griffin said that the meeting would ensure that both the administration and the student group “better understand how to measure progress.” The proposed demands currently include ten items for consideration and was published on the website and titled Student Demands for USM Administration. Some of the demands listed on the petition include: “expand[ing] mental health resources,” changing the school’s general education requirements such that “in their first semester at USM, students are required to take a course on the history of privilege and oppression, specifically concerning histories and realities of the oppression of women and racial, sexual, gender, and religious minorities” and requiring “cultural competency trainings for faculty, staff, and students.”

Nevertheless, Students for #USMFuture is not alone in focusing on institutionalized racism on the University of Southern Maine campus. Student organizations are emerging on campuses around the country, following an array of racial occurrences at the University of Missouri, that sparked protests and provided momentum for students at other schools to enter into a dialogue with their respective administrations.


Melanoma is a preventable but common disease

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:28

Melanoma is a preventable but common disease

By Erica Jones/Free Press Staff

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons (

Binge drinking, texting and driving, unprotected sex, these are just a few risky or dangerous activities that many people partake in despite knowing what the consequences could be. Smoking cigarettes is another good addition to this list: In the United States, smoking is the leading cause of cancer, but 40 million citizens smoked in 2014. But there is another, often overlooked cause of cancer that is on the rise, and it makes you 70 percent more likely to develop cancers like melanoma or basal cell carcinoma: indoor tanning.

The demographic that has seen the biggest effects of indoor tanning is women aged 18 to 39, being the demographic with the most frequent use of tanning beds. The number of young women with new diagnoses of melanoma has skyrocketed, and these women are now eight times more likely to be diagnosed with this potentially deadly form of cancer.

Dermatologist Michael Swann explained what makes tanning beds so dangerous: “Tanning beds can be UV-B [light] (which cause sunburns and is the target of traditional sunscreen protection) or UV-A,” wrote Dr. Swann in an email response. “UV-A is naturally less intense than UV-B, but UV-A tanning beds can emit 12-times the normal dose of UV-A, which causes suppression of the immune system and mutations of the pigment producing melanocytes.  UV-A goes deeper into the skin and may be  more important than UV-B in the initiation of the mutations resulting in melanoma.”

The rise of skin cancer rates coincides with the growth of indoor tanning, combined with common misconceptions about the safety of tanning beds.

“Dermatologists have found that young women who use tanning beds are more motivated by beauty than by the fact that they cause skin cancer,” said Dr Swann.

He also noted that tanning “has been shown in studies to be addictive. People get a euphoric feeling and some people enjoy the quiet meditation in a tanning bed.”

Indoor tanning is a growing five-billion-dollar-per-year industry. Marketing strategies can lead people into believing that tanning is virtually just as safe, or at least only slightly less safe, than outdoor tanning with natural sunlight. “No matter what marketing you hear, UV radiation leads to premature skin aging caused by wrinkles, loss of elasticity, brown spots, blood vessel proliferation and sagging skin in addition to melanoma,” affirmed Dr Swann.

When asked if there are any positive aspects of indoor tanning, Dr. Swann replied, “Tanning causes immunosuppression and can be useful for some patients with skin conditions, but should be discussed with a dermatologist because generally safer methods should be utilized initially.”

For the rest of us without those certain qualifying conditions, the truth is that aside from the euphoria experienced by many when tanning and the beneficial production of Vitamin D from the UV rays, there are no benefits to indoor tanning. A single tanning session increases your risk of melanoma by 20 percent, regardless of age. Dr Swann also revealed that in some studies, indoor tanning has been shown to be more dangerous than cigarette smoking, and that when someone starts indoor tanning before age 35, their risk of melanoma increases by 70 percent.

“I don’t know anything about melanoma, except for what you just told me is kinda crazy,” said USM student Dalton Covel after hearing the statistics about melanoma for the first time. “I’m gonna tell my girlfriend, because she works at a tanning salon and maybe she doesn’t know it either.”

Another student commented that he had just recently used a tanning bed in preparation for an upcoming vacation.

There are things you can do to reduce your risk of melanoma. Simply staying away from tanning beds is one method of keeping your risk lower, with even a single tanning session causing significant damage. Another preventative measure against melanoma is consistent use of physical sunscreens, said Dr. Swann: “Chemical sunscreens don’t protect you as well as physical sunscreens, so look for the ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.”

Someday, Dr. Swann believes, melanoma will not be so prevalent in our country. “Smoking has sort of fallen out of vogue as we have become healthier as a culture,” he theorized, “and I think one day we will look back at tanned skin and see how ridiculous it looks and realize what people are doing to themselves.”

Advising Advice: How Your Faculty Advisor Can Help You?

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:27

By Janis Albright and Kim Charmatz, Professional Academic Advisors

Many times students ask, “Why do I need two advisors?”  Professional academic advisors help students navigate through the university, explore majors, and develop an academic plan.  While faculty advisors do this too, they can help you progress further, since they are experts in the field.  We asked two professors to share why it is helpful to work closely with your faculty advisor.  Here are their responses:

David Champlin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology

Why visit your faculty advisor?

Faculty advisors can help you make surprising connections to people and programs on campus.  We can also help connect you to people and organizations in the community.  

Faculty usually have been at USM for many years.  In a sense, we are “standing still” while students flow through their programs.  Because of this, faculty can help you make connections to other students and alumni on similar paths.

What should students do to prepare for a meeting?

Take handwritten or electronic notes to record suggestions during advising meetings. Treat learning about your career path with advisors like a course.  Some things you learn may not be relevant for a few years, and notes can help you remember ideas about things like courses, community connections, and internships.  

Do you have any other thoughts?

Student status is a key that opens a lot of doors.  Expressing an interest in a particular area can lead to many new opportunities.  Take advantage of your status as a student.  

You can also contact any professor in the department for advising.  Some students are shy in this setting, and we understand that.  Please remember though, faculty are “regular” people and look forward to talking with you!


Professor Dana McDaniel, Ph.D., Professor of Linguistics and Department Advisor and Chair

Why visit your faculty advisor?

The major is a student’s home.  Our buildings are the students’ space too—a place to hang out and feel a sense of belonging.   Our faculty want to get to know students in our major and want to advise them.  We can share course content, class progression, license requirements, and career pathways.  Faculty may be able to waive an introductory class, help you with an independent study or suggest work study options.  In addition, faculty are happy to review a graduate school application essay.

We feel it is important to your education to experience outside related opportunities.  Together, we can plan research projects, a senior thesis, observational internships, and independent studies.

What should students do to do to prepare for a meeting?

A student can review the department’s website ahead of time and think of questions.  But in the beginning, faculty are there to give a lot of help, and it is okay if a student isn’t sure where to start or what to ask.  In time, faculty hope you can be more self- directed, but if still unsure, please come see us anyway.

Do you have any other thoughts?

Faculty can be more helpful, if they know a little bit about the student.  It is good to know if the student is facing some challenges. If faculty knows about the student, from the beginning, they can usually be creative and suggest options or additional support.  Finally, any time a student is having difficulty with school, it is best to share rather than hide.


Hopefully these interviews will encourage you to meet your faculty advisor, if you haven’t already, or visit them more often.  In summary, faculty want to support your academic progress and help you develop meaningful career goals in life, that will help you feel fulfilled.

Huskies Little East Playoff Bids Snapped

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:24

By Erin Brown, Free Press Staff

After forcing overtime, the fourth seeded Southern Maine Huskies fell 61-58 to the fifth seeded UMass Dartmouth Corsairs in the Little East Conference Quarterfinal game Tuesday night at the Costello Sports Complex in Gorham.

Seniors Gretchen Anderson (Kittery Point, ME/ St. Thomas Aquinas) and Ella Ramonas (Portland, ME/ Deering) were crucial players in Southern Maine’s fight to the end. Anderson led the Huskies in points, scoring 17. She also led both teams in rebounds with 15, including 12 on the defensive end. Ramonas followed Anderson in points with 16 for the night and also tallied four assists during her team high of 44 minutes of play.

Southern Maine took an early lead over UMass Dartmouth and held onto it tightly through the first two quarters. The Huskies were able to end the first quarter outscoring the Corsairs 15-11. The Huskies extended their advantage in the second, securing  an eight-point lead heading into halftime.

As the second half began, UMass Dartmouth was down 27-19 and came out swinging. The Corsairs outscored the Huskies 17-12 in the third quarter, allowing them to head into the final quarter of regulation just three points behind Southern Maine at 39-36. UMass Dartmouth’s fight through the fourth quarter was not taken lightly by Southern Maine. While they were outscored 13-10 through the fourth quarter, the Huskies were not going down without forcing some extra basketball. The teams went into overtime knotted at 49.

The teams went back and forth throughout the five-minute overtime period, until UMass Dartmouth broke the tenth tie of the matchup with a jumper from junior Megan Ronaghan, giving the Corsairs a 60-58 lead with 21 seconds remaining in overtime. Ronaghan would then go on to go 1 for 2 on the free throw line to finish off UMass Dartmouth’s 61-58 quarterfinal victory.

USMMB #2 vs. Rhode Island College #7

The seventh seeded Rhode Island College Anchormen upset the number two seeded University of Southern Maine Huskies Tuesday night in the Little East Conference Quarterfinal with a close 64-63 victory. The Huskies started out hot, outscoring the Anchormen 9-0 during the first three minutes of competition. Things were looking good for the Huskies, but after fifteen minutes of play Rhode Island College came from behind to take their first lead of the game, closing the first half 37-31 in their favor.

The teams were neck and neck throughout the entire second half. While the Huskies outscored the Anchorman 32-27 in the second half, sophomore Malcolm Scott  drained two consecutive three-point jump shots to put the Anchormen above the Huskies 64-62 with 2:30 to play in regulation. Junior Atencio Martin (Kittery, ME/ Traip Academy) took to the free throw line with eight seconds remaining in regulation hoping to force overtime. Martin went 1 for 2, falling just short of tying the contest as the Huskies fell 64-63.

Junior Zach Leal (York, ME/ York) lead the scoring for the Huskies, totaling 18 points Tuesday night. Atencio Martin picked up 8 points for the night, leading both teams in rebounds with a total of 10. Senior Jose Nouchanthavong (Westbrook, ME/ Westbrook) followed Leal in points with 17. Twelve of Nouchanthavong’s points came in the second half fight the Huskies put up against the Anchormen.

Coach Karl Henrikson believes the team still possibly has a chance to go to make an appearance in an ECAC post-season tournament game, but also looks forward to next season:

“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back and they’re all enthusiastic about the following season. They’ll get back to work, back to the weight room, back to the gym, improve on some things and get right back out there for next season,” Henrikson says.

Women in the draft: An issue that has spanned 50 years

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:32

By Bradford Spurr/Free Press Staff

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in his epic masterpiece War and Peace. Few things in life are as inevitable as birth and death, save war. Back in 1968 the USM paper was known as The Stein, and an anonymous staff writer had been exploring the topic of “Should The U.S. Draft Its Women?” (Vol.1 No. 20, March 8, 1968).

The article opened up with “While women are never drafted, they are now doing about everything else men do in this country.” This point of view is further explained  by lines like the following: “‘They have the right to vote for years now[nearly 50 years in fact], and, indeed, their numbers are the crucial factor in electing presidents, but they do not have to fight in the wars those presidents pursue.”

To put this in perspective, there was no public animosity surrounding the draft at the time of the Vietnam War,  since the last draft before that war was during World War II. The year 1973 marked the escalation of the Vietnam conflict, where nearly 650,000 men were drafted into combat roles which accounted for about 25% of the total in country service members.

On December 3, 2015,it was announced by the Pentagon that they would be opening up all combat roles to eligible women who passed the same prerequisite physical regimens that men were subject to. So naturally the next hurdle will be that since women are now able to serve in any and all combat roles, should they then be eligible for the draft?

The Stein argued that the “Pentagon is is overflowing with burly sergeants and corporals assaulting typewriters, filing papers, mimeographing press releases and going for coffee. Women could replace them with hardly any strain on the system, and they could certainly improve the manners around the place.”

The current climate of the military has just finished grappling with the issue of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” a standard of practice that had plagued the system for almost two decades. And with this last obstacle for military operations equality  behind them it remains hopeful that the antiquated format formed through necessity has finally entered this century.

In 2015 the Marine Corps was conducting research surrounding what impacts gender inclusion has on battlefield readiness and efficiency. At the end of the trial period all twenty nine hopefuls had fallen short of the Infantry Officer Course standards thatwhich the Marines use as the first benchmark for their training stratagem. This research will be used to help identify the most effective way to integrate women into combat roles.

This is a far cry from the Rosie the Riveter types where women were restricted to desk jobs and nurse duties. Currently women can fly helos and participate in a more active role in the military environment compared to their involvement in the past. The role of women in the military has grown leaps and bounds and this new policy change only proves to exemplify that.

In the real world women are now allowed to be on the frontlines and make the ultimate testament of bravery and lay their lives down in defense of this country, something that had been arbitrarily restricted to them by the archetypal patriarchy that had dominated Western politics since revolutionaries threw crates of tea in the Boston Harbour.

The  article closes with the sentiment that  “They [being women] have created the most bizarre role in our history for themselves and the rest of us have finally accepted it.” Women are no longer accessories to the times, simply a party to societal norms that dictated their role in the gentle fabric of the male ego. Assumptions and indoctrinated servitude have translated into thoughtful discourse between men and their equals, womankind. Semper fidelis. Semper paratus. Honor, courage, commitment. This they’ll defend, whenever it is that our country will call upon its brothers and sisters to serve. And they will be ready, men and women alike.


The pay gap between men and women is closing, but still exists

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:32

By Erica Jones/Free Press Staff

In 2001, an article was published in the Free Press by staff writer John McCarthy that reported on a study done in 2000 by the Joint Gender Equity Committee, which found a pattern of discrimination against female staff throughout the University of Maine system in terms of payment.

“In certain departments throughout the system, the committee found that men make approximately $2,000 more than women,” McCarthy wrote in his article. A monetary settlement was being sought for compensation at the time.

“The expected settlement is an attempt to correct the current pay difference but will do little to make up for past disparities,” concurred McCarthy. Understandably, it is difficult to attempt to even the field with such a long history of discrimination.

Years after that article, in 2016, the gender wage gap in the United States is an issue that continues to persist. Wage inequality is becoming increasingly untolerated as more people adopt ways of progressive thinking. It has become a hot subject in the 2016 presidential race.

And within those sixteen years, concerns over the wage gap have not disappeared from the University of Maine system. An Internal Salary Equity Study for the University of Maine published in May 2015 found that male faculty at the University of Maine “earned approximately 21% more than female faculty, almost all of the total wage gap could be attributed to differences between men and women in the faculty member’s rank, years of experience, departmental affiliation, and time in rank.”

The most recent national data from a 2014 report by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women make 82 cents for every dollar men make for doing the exact same job.

“In 2013, women who worked full time in wage and salary jobs had median usual weekly earnings of $706, which represented 82 percent of men’s median weekly earnings ($860),” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

In Maine, according to the latest data from the United States Census Bureau, the difference in pay was even greater. According to a release by the National Partnership for Women and Families, “women in Maine are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly wage gap of $9,647 between men and women who work full time in the state.”

Women in the U.S. have long been discriminated against in the workforce. Employers used to be able to advertise a job to strictly men or women. In 1963, The Equal Pay Act was passed to eliminate the gender wage gap and made it illegal to hire based solely on gender.

USM women and gender studies and economics professor Susan Feiner wrote an article for the Portland Press Herald in 2014 illustrating the nation’s persevering wage disparity in face of the Equal Pay Act. “Gender divisions in the world of work, complete with significant gender-based wage differences, are as stark as the color coding at Toys R Us,” wrote Feiner.

One proposed legislation in the direction of fair pay would amend the portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 the Paycheck Fairness Act, to “revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages,” according to Congress’ online legislative glossary.

Until the laws catch up with the progressive and fair ideals of a new generation, the wage gap will remain. The report by the National Partner for Women and Families states, “If change continues at the same slow pace as it has during the last 50 years, it will take nearly 50 more years – until 2059 – for women and men to finally reach pay parity.”

Open to Listening: Dean Conway hosts her second forum with hopes to be more transparent

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:31

By Candice Isaac

Last week Dean Danielle Conway held the second installment of the Dean’s Open Forum for students in the law school’s moot courtroom. As the new dean of the law school, Dean Conway seeks to be transparent with students about the status of the legal field as well as what they can expect from their time at the law school. Conway welcomed ideas from those in attendance, which included students, faculty and staff.

As students, faculty and staff filed into the moot courtroom early Tuesday morning, the atmosphere was different than that of the inaugural forum which focused heavily on the bar exam. At that meeting, a couple third-year law students asked the administration to do more to ensure that they were in a better position than previous classes to pass the bar exam. During this meeting, the discussion centered around the dean’s initiatives, the students need for more faculty interaction and the best ways for the law school to communicate with students.

Dean Conway gave a high-level recap of her three initiatives: (1) Opportunities Through Law (OTL), a series of programming that seeks to introduce young people to the role and impact of the law,  (2) the Enrollment to Employment (e2e) initiative, which seeks to ensure that graduates are “career ready,”  and lastly, (3) the Lawyers and Entrepreneurs: A Partnership (LEAP) that encourages students to think like entrepreneurs and gives them the tools to work in nontraditional fields. Students and faculty in the room showed enthusiasm for the initiatives; however, something on several students’ minds were the need for more faculty interaction and better communication between the administration and students.

For Tara Ouellette, a first-year law student, learning about a faculty member’s prior work experiences and career path would help students explore options post-law school.

Ouellette believes that having those exploratory conversations will place her and other students in a better place to think holistically about a career.

Dean Conway and other faculty and administrators present in the room welcomed the idea. Dean Wriggins, the dean of academic ffairs at the law school, said the idea for programming can be added to already planned activities.

Ouellette’s idea inspired comment from Scott Silverman, another first-year law student. Silverman said that he would like to see more faculty at events outside of regularly scheduled classes.

Student organizations host a number of lunchtime panels and, for Silverman, attendance is lacking when it comes to seeing faculty at various events. Dean Conway agreed with Silverman and said that engagement with students outside of the classroom is being encouraged and was something on everyone’s radar.

Communication, and the best way to communicate, was also another topic of interest. What is the best way to get information to the student body? Students present suggested a training session during orientation where students are able to learn the ins and outs of the portal. The portal houses a master events calendar, law school policies, important contacts as well as career services information – to name a few. School administration says that the portal is really a one-stop shop for students;  however, they find that the portal is underutilized.

In addition to the portal, the law school’s Facebook groups are often utilized to get information to students. Nathan Thistle, a first-year law student, suggested that there be a unified Facebook group where silos are dismantled and every “class” could have access to the same information. Thistle believes that this would also lend a hand in community building within the law school where first-year law students do not always feel a direct connection to upperclassmen. Administrators seemed open to this idea as well.

Overall, the forum furthered and encouraged dialogue between students, faculty and the administration. The next forum is currently scheduled for March 14 during lunchtime in the moot courtroom.

USM has made big strides in providing rights for LGBT

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:30

By MaryAnn Silliboy/Free Press Staff

LGBT, initials for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons have contributed to Maine’s history long before “the birth of the gay rights movement” in the late 1960s. Although Maine has had known artists and writers of the twentieth century were LGBT; between the 1960s and 1970s, it began statewide.

It began at USM on October 2, 1975, when the first Gay Organization was founded.  In 1975, it was published in the USM Free Press that they were trying to understand homosexuality and if they could cure homosexuality.

The Gay People’s Alliance offered information about homosexuality. They received their information from the Institute for the Study of Human Resources of Los Angeles, CA, which was conducted by highly qualified panel of social scientists and specialists.  


These were the questions they asked:

What is homosexuality?  

Who is homosexual?

Does a homosexual act make one a homosexual?  

How many homosexuals are there?

Can homosexuals be easily identified?

They continued to print five questions and answers randomly throughout the Free Press in the late 1970s. The next series of questions they continued to help people better understand homosexuality. The second batch of questions:

Is homosexuality unnatural?

Are homosexuals mentally ill?  

Are homosexuals criminals?

Are children seduced into homosexuality?

What causes homosexuality?


USM was a very homophobic, and only in 1973 was homosexuality was removed from the psychological disorder list. The organization that was founded in October 2, 1975 was the Gay People’s Alliance. The students fought hard to get this student group started; the Student Senate opposed the request.  

“This is when society became more  open minded, recognizing the LGBT identified, that it’s not a choice, It’s not a lifestyle, it’s not anything like that, as we move over to the last 40 years, they recognize that there is bias, hate crimes, negative things that happen.”  

Sarah Holmes states. Holmes was one of the first coordinator for the LGBT community on campus. Which was encouraged after a few bias-motivated incidents in the 1999-2000 academic year.

The LGBT community wanted a full-time person to work on the campus issues and to help improve the campus climate for the LGBT. Sarah Holmes was hired in the summer of 2002. Holmes was the first coordinator for only two years before she moved out of state.  

In the same year, the students and staff worked together to find a place the students can feel safe and supported. A year later the LGBT community found a home in the Woodbury Hall, in the spot we all know as the conference room. The name was changed to the Center for Sexualities and Diversity.  

The Center for Sexualities and Diversity even now has had some bias issues. LGBT students deal with something every day, whether it’s anti-gay graffiti, students in residence halls finding the word “fag” written on their whiteboards, bathrooms, and posters being defaced.  

The first one to two years the office was creating the news flush, if students saw that an out LGBT was featured or when the center was featured, they would find one or two nasty comments on them. 

Holmes passionately states,  “Small actions, speaks volumes. Could you imagine being the student that has been featured and you enter the restroom and you see your face on the news flush with derogatory terms or defaced.”  

It even happens in the classrooms. A transgender student not being recognized for who they are or by their pronoun, or even LGBT students trying to find a safe bathroom to access.  

The Center for Sexuality and Diversity has come a long way and USM tries to suppose and understand who they are.


Wars that shaped America bring students together at USM

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:29

By Zachary Searles/News Editor

The Free Press archives date all the way back to the 1960s. The earlier editions, known back then as The Stein, are full of politically charged editorials and letters to the editor about the Vietnam War, a war that most students at the university seemed to be against.

The archives span through three major wars: the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the second war in Iraq. All three wars shaped America to what it is today and they also brought students together around campus, both in terms of protests, rallies, discussions and student groups.

The Vietnam War started in November 1955 and spanned nearly 20 years until Saigon fell in April 1975. US involvement was ramped up in the early 60s, with President John F. Kennedy tripling the number of troops that were sent to fight.

There were nearly 1.5 million U.S. casualties in the war, with the average age of a man killed in Vietnam being 22.That  was part of the reason it hit home for so many college age kids: a lot of young men were drafted, and either had to wait until the war ended to go to college or never got the chance

An article from the early years at The Stein details the escalation of the war and increased draft quotas, which led to more protests and an increase in acts of civil disobedience.

On March 8, 1968, an article was published detailing a forum that was held on campus, which allowed  students and professors to discuss the war. The article even states that the library was putting out books about the war so students could read and be educated about what was happening.

“The program can best be summed up as a vigorous program on a vigorous issue for a vigorous campus,” the chairman said at the time.

When students returned that fall, Saigon was still years away from falling. So on Oct. 13, 1968, the front page of the paper read: “MARCH TO END THE WAR NOW.” Students were encouraged to march to city hall two days later to take part in Peace Action day.

One student who took part in the march, F. Wood, published an editorial in the next week’s paper, stating: “I hope that we will all work next month and the month after that and so on until the war has ended. I hope that we don’t stop then, we really can’t stop until peace is a household word… If we stop talking peace then there will be more Vietnams.”

One issue even published President Richard Nixon’s phone number, encouraging students to call him if there was anything that they wanted to discuss with him.

During the fall of 1971, a group came to campus to encourage students to register to vote, that week an editorial was published entitled: “Don’t Vote, Don’t Bitch.”

“It’s really a painless thing, but a very necessary act. We have so little time to straighten out some pretty horrible things,” the editorial reads. “You can bitch about taxes, the environment, and the War, but if you won’t even take the time to register, your complaining is going to ring hollow. If you don’t vote, don’t bitch.”

The final years of the war consisted of articles critiquing President Nixon and his inability to lead the nation as well as to end the war.

In 1990, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait sparking the beginning to the Gulf War which would last until February of 1991 and would cause the deployment of 700,000 US troops.

The country was divided at the President George H.W. Bush’s decision to enter the war, and USM was no exception. Some supported American efforts to protect their allies, while other criticized that it was not our war to fight.

Many protests erupted on campus and on campuses throughout the country. Protestors and ralliers filled the streets, frustrated because they felt that their government wasn’t listening to them. This spilt over onto USM soil and into the editorials and letters to the editor at the Free Press.

Andrew J. Levesque expressed his frustration in a column where he compared politicians to zits and claimed that they needed to be popped. He criticized the government’s inability to get anything done, to stick to a budget and for cutting programs, such as AIDs research, to fund the military.

“Instead of cutting valuable domestic programs, we should be cutting our military, but we’re not. It is a simple concept: if we stop provoking wars and being the world’s police officer, we could cut back on defense,” Levesque said.

Helen Foss also shared her frustration, writing a column that opened with: “Is it possible to keep a job that you don’t do?” She went on to say: “While they pursue personal advancement and reelection, we, the people, are forgotten. Somewhere along the line, people become secondary to the politics of a chosen few.”

Despite protests, President Bush  Sr. announced that he would be sending 100,000 more soldiers over seas, and even spoke on the possibility of reinstating the draft.

When that occurred, Free Press staff member, Mishe Pietkiewicz, wrote an article entitled “Hell no, we won’t go,” where she detailed how you could avoid the draft by registering as a conscientious cbjector, and explained that you could still receive your full financial aid benefits because you would still technically be registered for the draft.

Although the war raged on overseas, it was eventually  overshadowed by more pressing, local news when USM was facing its own problems with budgets.

In the fall of 2001, an event so tragic shook America to its very core when terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers in New York City and brought down the World Trade Center. This terrorist attack would eventually lead to the Iraq War and the War on Terror, with President George W. Bush promising to bring those involved to justice and to investigate rumors that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and would use them against the US.

In the September 24 issue from 2001, the Free Press asked students what they would do if the country went to war over the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Tim Morris, a senior business major at the time, said that he would go if he was drafted. Malinda Fitzgerald, a freshman nursing major at the time, said, “As a mother and a nursing student, I would want to go and help the wounded.”

Nate Greene, a sophomore theater major at the time, said simply that he would “donate blood because they are going to need it.”

On March 10, 2003, ten days before the United States would officially declare war, peace demonstrations took place on both campuses after President Bush said that he felt the country had been at war since 9/11, giving students the idea that war was impending. They turned out to be right.

Just as the war kicked off, a large crowd gathered in Portland to protest, among them was a professor at the university, Richard Abrams, who was arrested during the rally. He had been a protestor of the Vietnam War as well.

A month after the start of the war, a letter to the editor was published in which the writer claims that they feel the start of the war was illegal and that the United States had no right to invade on preemptive terms.

“I think whatever good reason there might be to intervene, to overthrow a dictatorship, it is likely that more harm than good will come from the United States and Britain,” the letter said.

Even though U.S. troops still remain in the Middle East, the war was officially declared over in May 2011 with the capturing and killing of Osama Bin Laden, the man who was responsible for the attacks on the Twin Towers.

Whether you were for or against the wars, they shaped America into what it is today and brought students together to accomplish a single mission, to get out a single message.

Then & Now Briefs

Tue, 2016-02-23 19:56

Then November 3, 1997 USM enrollment skyrocketing Since its beginning in 1970, USM has increased its student population by 70 percent, according to information from the Portland Press Herald. The university has also added 17 new graduate and undergraduate degree programs since then and now supplies educational needs to more students than any other school in Maine. With new programs, enrollment is hoped to increase by 470 students over the next four years to a total enrollment of 10,700. By contrast, the University of Maine’s enrollment rates have dropped from a 1990, 11,895 peak to the current enrollment of 9,213. As the University of Maine lost about 1,000 students since 1993, USM has gained roughly 700. State Sen. Jane Amero. R-Cape Elizabeth, Republican minority leader, sees these figures as warranting a more proportionate distribution of state funds between schools. Legalized marijuana A vote may appear on the November 1998 ballot attempting to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, according to the Portland Press Herald. The Maine Citizens for Medical Marijuana hopes to collect 51,000 petition signatures between now and then to make it so. They are working closely with America for Medical Rights, the California-based group which successfully sponsored a similar referendum in California known as Proposition 215. Unlike Proposition 215, which allows broad-based medical application of marijuana, Maine citizens are proposing medical marijuana use only in cases of people suffering from AIDS, glaucoma, cancer or multiple sclerosis. April 5, 1999 National Alcohol Screening Day The first annual National Alcohol Screening Day will be held on April 8, 3pm-7pm in both the Brooks Student Center in Gorham and in Portland Hall. USM is one of 500 campuses nationwide participating in the event. The event is sponsored by University Health and Counseling Services and Student Life. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness and answer questions. “We’re not trying to diagnose people,” said Paul Dexter, Substance Abuse Counselor. “We’re just trying to address any concerns or red flags.” Self tests will be available. These tests can be reviewed with a health and counselling professional. Some of the activities at the event include the fatal vision goggle test, the alcohol 101 CD rom interactive program, two videos running throughout the day and a celebrity alcohol wall. November 1, 1999 Police get the boot One of the boots that the USM Police Department uses to hold cars was stolen from a vehicle on the Portland Campus. The lock was returned to USM Police the following day, but as of Thursday the thief was not found. The boot locks are used to hold cars of students who have acquired a large number of unpaid fines. The device locks onto a car’s tire, keeping the vehicle stationary and forcing the owner to visit USM Police and pay his fine. A safe net for Y2K bugs The USM Bookstore is encouraging professors to get an early start on ordering books for class, just in case Y2K complicates anything. “Our software and hardware vendors assure us that we will move into a new millennium without a glitch,” said Nicole Piaget, director of USM Bookstores, in a letter to the USM community, “but we have less confidence in publishers, suppliers and shippers.” Also, the way in which professors order textbooks has been changed, which may add to the complications and stress involved in ordering this year. Course packets take a minimum of six weeks from the time ordered to the time of availability, and the Bookstores would like to have that process finished before Jan. 1. April 24, 2000 Leave the vampires be… New lights installed on the back of the Costello Sports Complex for safety felt more like Hermes riding his sun chariot to Tower’s residence. “I can’t sleep at night,” said Barbara McPhail, a seventh floor resident of Wood Hall. Motioning with her arms stretched towards the ceiling, McPhail spoke of three white beams that penetrate her window each night, one shining directly into her face. The installation of the light was suggested by USM President Richard Pattenaude, who grew concerned for the area that is usually shrouded in shadow. McPhail agrees the area is dark at night, especially along the path to the baseball field, but she feels USM may have misjudged the strength and placement of the lights. Facilities Management had been concerned about lights shining into dorm windows during installation, wrote Dave Early, executive director of FM in a message to President Pattenaude. The Free Press was unable to reach Early for comment Friday. Now Protecting Maine from terrorism Last week Sen. Angus King held two roundtable discussions with public officials to talk about how they can protect Mainers from terrorist acts. The argument is that due to coastal tourist areas and big concert venues, Maine is potentially susceptible to an attack. “We’re facing a new type of terrorist,” King said. “It’s individuals. It’s lone wolves who are radicalized.” Some officials in attendance pointed out the difficulty with being proactive against terrorism, claiming that programs are constantly being cut whenever they lose federal funding, so the money just isn’t there. Sen. King recognized that it was going to be another tough budget year, but said that it was important to invest in public safety. Warming waters threaten lobsters A recent study shows that due to the warming of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, lobsters and other marine animals are becoming more susceptible to diseases. One species of sea star has already vanished from the coast of Washington and lobsters in southern New England have already been affected and it’s only a matter of time before Maine lobsters are at risk. These diseases are causing sea stars to turn to mush and are killing lobsters by getting under their shell and causing lesions, according to the study. Researchers are claiming that these marine animals have been harvesting these viruses for a while and the warming waters is just increasing its potency. Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia found dead at age 79 Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at his home on February 13 from an apparent heart attack. The justice was 79 years old and had been serving on the supreme court since the late 1980s. The judge’s death has sparked some controversy, since now there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Republicans are claiming that they don’t want President Obama to elect a democrat for the supreme court, some have even claimed to filibuster and any attempt made by President Obama to elect someone. A funeral service was held for Justice Scalia last Friday, mostly friends and family were in attendance, but President Obama decided not to attend, saying that he would pay his respects in private. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife were in attendance. Harper Lee dies at 89 Harper Lee, famed author of the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, was confirmed dead by a spokeswoman at HarperCollins last Friday. For a long time Lee was known for writing just the one book, which became a staple in almost all high school English classes across the country. To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and detailed social injustice through the eyes of a young girl. The book was a wild success, sparking a movie adaptation that would go on to win an Oscar, and many people wanted more. Lee gave them nothing until last year when she published a sequel to her 1960 classic entitled: “Go Set a Watchman.” Lee’s legacy will continue to live on through her words, just as her classic tale will continue to mold the minds of America’s youth throughout the country for the foreseeable years to come.

USM’s varied student demographic help to understand transfer rates

Mon, 2016-02-15 16:21

By Erica Jones

It has been a recent campaign by the University of Southern Maine to address its dwindling enrollment numbers and high student withdrawal rates, through recent efforts made such as the Enrollment Management program being founded in 2015 to improve student retention, and with a modern rebranding of the school’s image as “Maine’s metropolitan university” to attract prospective students.

But while enough students transfer, withdraw, or drop out of USM to provoke action from the university, particularly in the middle of the year between the fall and spring semesters, USM also receives many new transfer students each year arriving for the spring semester. So why are there so many students leaving USM, but also so many coming here for the second half of the year?

USM’s varied student demographics is useful to keep in mind when answering these questions. Over half of the undergraduate student population qualify as adults. “It is not unusual for adults in particular to [leave school and] not return,” said Bob Stein, USM’s executive director of the office of public affairs.

He listed examples such as needing to work more hours at a job, care for family, or even experiencing sudden car troubles as some of the reasons why people leave without returning; simply put, “Life gets in the way.”

The reasons that students transfer into USM are just as diverse. “I was going to SMCC for a couple years, and ended up transferring to USM in spring last year,” Jack J., a junior-standing student, explained about how he wound up arrival at the university mid-year. “I didn’t have enough credits to start in fall.”

The number of students transferring in for the spring semester has has remained stable recently, according to USM’s  director of technology for enrollment management, Jonathan Barker. “For Spring 2016, the number of incoming undergraduate transfer students is consistent with last year,” said Barker, citing 262 transfer students in 2015 compared to 260 in 2016. Recently, USM President Glen Cummings reported in a Monday Missive that undergraduate student enrollment for the spring semester grew by three percent.

Being a former spring transfer student to USM myself, I have personal experience in this area—I transferred because I got married and was moving back to Maine—but I don’t think that it takes first-hand experience to understand how transferring, especially mid-year, has the potential to feel overwhelming and stressful for any student, regardless of age.

Similarly, the decision to leave school and not transfer anywhere at all, whether at the end of the spring, fall, or anywhere in-between, is not always an easy choice. Students who are struggling academically may feel as though withdrawing from school is the only option  . USM has many resources available to students who are looking for academic support.

Academic advising is available in Portland at 119 Payson-Smith Hall; in Gorham at 119 Bailey Hall; and at the Lewiston-Auburn campus. The Learning Commons is a collaborative effort between the USM libraries and the Division of Student Success, according to USM’s website, designed as a space for active learning with access to reference librarians and tutors, located on the second floor of the Glickman Library in Portland.

Additionally, a great service for students to take advantage of is the Disabilities Services Center, which has locations in Portland at 242 Luther Bonney Hall, in Gorham at 119 Bailey Hall, and in Lewiston-Auburn. The staff at the DSC works closely with students to “create an environment of equal access allowing students to explore and recognize their full potential,” as described on USM’s website.

Something else for students to take advantage of is USM’s deadline for priority filing of the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). The priority filing deadline is February 15 for the 2016-2017 financial aid year.

Filing your FAFSA on time makes it easier for you to receive your financial aid and it is easy to make corrections when you file your tax returns. Go to to file. Call or visit USM’s Student Financial Services Office By phone at (207) 780-5250 or on the Gorham campus at 37 College Avenue with any questions.

A white man’s role in the Black Lives Matter movement

Mon, 2016-02-15 15:59

This is a perspectives new piece written by Zachary Searles, News Editor

Last week Eddie Moore Jr. was at USM, giving guest lecture and a workshop about diversity. Moore has published books, gotten his PhD and now travels around the country giving these lectures and workshops.

Moore grew up in Florida where he claims he wasn’t taught diversity skills, but, rather, was taught segregation skills, only ever interacting with black people and even claimed that if there was ever a time when he didn’t want to interact with white people, then he just didn’t half to, they were easy to avoid.

Some of Moore’s older brothers got into trouble with the law and in order to prevent him from getting in the same kind of trouble, his mother sent him off to Iowa, which was and still remains one of the whitest states in the nation. Moore joked that when he got to Iowa he had seen more white people than he ever thought existed, and now there would be no escaping them.

Moore opened his workshop by saying that he wasn’t here to preach to or convert anyone to his style of beliefs and view of the world, he also wasn’t here to “bash on white folks,” which was probably a good thing since he was talking to a crowd that was mostly white.

Moore’s ways of presenting diversity are much different than others that I had been exposed to, and I was personally touched by them, more so than just sitting at a rally and being preached to, praying on the crowd’s anger and frustration.

One of his claims that I found to be the most truthful was that no one is “color blind,” according to Moore, everyone has their own set of prejudices, that are likely caused by the environment that you grow up in, and it’s important to recognize those prejudices so you can work on them.

I have never really done a hard look at the problems of race in this country, and I feel that saying I’m from Maine is a bit of cop out because while, yes, 97 percent of the state is white, I still find myself interacting with non white people just about every day.

I am not a racist, I recognize that blacks and other minority groups are discriminated against on a daily basis. I am not an Islamophobe, I do not think that everyone who practices Islam is a terrorist, I don’t even think that one percent of those who practice Islam are terrorists, but I understand that most people are weary of them because of their own deep rooted and ungrounded fears.

Even as I write this I am skeptical of whether or not I should open my mouth, I am a white male and the least likely to be a victim of racist acts or discrimination, so what could I possibly know about racism in the world around us? I thought this way for a very long time, but I think that is starting to change.

I now see that by thinking like this, by having this frame of mind, I am only contributing to the problem and I think that is part of what Moore is try to say when he says recognize your own prejudices and work on them.

Part of me is still questioning what I have to contribute, surely I’m not ready to throw on a cape and be a civil liberties warrior, so how much is enough to contribute? Commenting back on blatantly offensive Facebook posts? Speaking up if I see something in the halls of dorm building? And the nihilist in me still questions if that one small action would really make a difference in the day-to-day fight to end racism.

So what is my role? I don’t know, but standing back in the shadows isn’t helping anyone. I used think who am I to stand up the rights of black people? I will never truly understand what they are going through and I will never pretend to. Some feelings still summoned themselves deep in me when a white person stands up and tries to point out all the problems with white people and points out all the suffering that they will ever experience, but I’m slowly starting to realize that maybe this is what is needed.

Minority groups have been speaking out for themselves for decades but no one is listening, so maybe now it is my turn to speak up and say “Hey, the way things are going, that’s not right. That needs to change.” And it says a lot about our society that we oppress a group of people to the point where we only listen to their problems through the mouth of someone else.

Eddie Moore taught me to look through my own prejudices and I think I’m starting to do that. A week ago I would have told you that I was white, what do I possibly know about racism? And I’m still not claiming to be an expert, but I do believe now that that line of thinking, is only adding to the problem.


Police Beats 2/1/15

Mon, 2016-02-15 15:58


Haw Haw!

911 call, Philippi Hall. Student stuck in the elevator in Philippi Hall. Assistance given.

Robot Doors Gone Wild

Security Alarm, Brooks Student Center. Interior door alarm. False alarm.


USM’s Unwanted Undesirables Unite!

Unwanted person, Wishcamper Center. Student reports harassment. Report taken.

Drunk, Sleeping One Off In Hanny Hall

Medical call, Abromson Center. Intoxicated person. Transported to Portland shelter.


Hamburglar Strikes Again

Theft, Woodbury Campus Center. Subject reports the theft of a credit card. Report taken.

You Got Served Homie

Paper service, Anderson Hall. Court summons was served.


Nobody Wants to Hear T-Swift That Loud

Disturbance, loud music Upperclass Hall. Warning issued for loud music.

“Come at me Bro!”

Disturbance, Sullivan Gym. Report of a fight in progress. Resolved. No complaint filed for charges. Report taken.

Oh Wait, This Isn’t Worth Anything?

Security Alarm, Art Gallery. False alarm.

Green Dreams

Drug Complaint, Upperclass Hall. The smell of marijuana reported on 4th floor. Summons issued for possession of drug paraphernalia.