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Dorms on campus overcrowded, over 30 rooms tripled

USM Free Press News Feed - Sat, 2016-11-12 11:22

By Julie Pike

This year USM has experienced a 20 percent increase in enrollment from last year for housing. On the Gorham campus there has been overcrowding in the residential dorms to accommodate the 612 new residential students. The Office of Residential Life has created many triples in response to the overcrowding, which will serve to accommodate three students in a standard double room. Converted spaces such as lounges have also been made into large dorms.

Robert Stein, the executive director of Public Affairs, commented on the issue: “There are triples in the Gorham dorms on the account of the largest incoming freshman class in many years.We are expecting that that this is a one-year issue.”

There are currently 30 triples in traditional double rooms on the Gorham campus. Most of the triples reside in Upton Hastings, with some also in Woodward. Quad rooms, which house four students, have been created in the Anderson dormitory. These rooms have been converted from space previously used as student lounges.

“USM is looking to add additional housing on the Portland campus, that should take the strain off the demand for Gorham housing,” stated Stein. The new dorms are projected to take two to three years to complete.

A room on the third floor of Upton Hastings, which used to be a student lounge, was converted into a large dorm room. It can house up to six students, and currently five occupy it.

An older dormitory on the Gorham campus, Dickey Wood, was not considered to house students due to the high cost of renovations it requires. The two towers have been closed down since 2013.

“You have to consider if there is enough demand to warrant the need to open Dickey Wood,” stated Jason Saucier, director of Campus Life.

Housing for first year students was over occupancy by 60 students this year. Dickey Wood fits 400 students, and would not have been a good financial option to accommodate the high occupancy.

The Office of Residential Life first became aware of the major increase in enrollment in June. To help with the overcrowding they predicted, letters were sent out to new students to give them the option to volunteer to be in a triple.

“It’s quite cramped living in a triple,” stated resident of Upton Hastings hall Nicole Lenentine, a freshman with an undecided major. “It’s hard to find space to put all of our stuff in here, but we manage to fit everything so I can’t really complain.” Lenentine was assigned to a triple this year, even though she did not volunteer to be. Her roommates were chosen randomly as well.

“We all get along well and we’ve managed to get all our stuff in here. It’s just a little cramped,” Lenentine added.

Although Lenentine did not have a choice of being housed in a triple, she stated that this experience would not put a damper on her experience at USM.

“I’d have to say that the downsides of living in a triple are worth it. I do plan to continue living on campus next semester,” Lenentine said.

Students who were placed into a triple received several incentives. For the fall semester, those students received $500 off of their housing fees, bringing their fees down to $2000 per semester. They are also given priority housing selection for the next year.

Vice President of Enrollment Services Nancy Griffin awarded students in a triple with priority class enrollment for the spring semester.

Saucier predicts that the triples will only last for one semester, and will be broken up by spring. This is due to students who may transfer, move off campus or study abroad.

“Through all of that we often see enough attrition in the halls to be able to break the existing triples down,” Saucier stated.

About whole process of creating triples and several large dorm rooms, Saucier remarked,“The whole process has gone really smoothly. No issues out of the norm have arisen from the overcrowding.”

The overcrowding in first year housing was due in part to the high increase in returning residential students. In the spring of 2015, approximately 450 students returned for housing. That number jumped to 555 this semester.

Returning students get priority housing over first-year students. With an increase in returning students, the number of rooms available for first years decreases.

“I think the housing market in Portland for the returning students is a huge challenge,” Saucier said. “I believe that has facilitated the increase in returning residential students.”

To move forward, USM is working on creating housing on the Portland campus.

A brochure created by Residential Life was sent out to all incoming students concerning the increased occupancy they would experience in the campus dorms

In this brochure, the following is  stated: “We believe it is important to provide a residential living and learning experience to all first year, transfer, and returning students who require or desire USM housing.”

Residential Life is continuing its work to ensure that all students are able to get housing. No student was turned away this year.

Online classes use Voicethread as a new learning tool

USM Free Press News Feed - Sat, 2016-11-12 11:21

By Katie Harris

USM professors are relying on VoiceThread, an online communication discussion board,as a means to communicate with students through digital conversation. What makes VoiceThread stand out to professors is that it allows students to communicate through different forms. On Blackboard, students are only able to communicate through discussion board posts. VoiceThread, however, has many features that both professors and students can take advantage of.

Unlike typing in a tiny text box on the discussion board, VoiceThread allows USM students and professors to communicate in many different forms. Like Blackboard, students can still type in a text box to get their thoughts across, but with VoiceThread, students can do a lot more than just type words. Some professors have expressed high praise for this online tool and are impressed with how students are enjoying interacting through it so far.

USM’s Communications Professor Leonard Shedletsky says that students have more variety to interact with their peers.  

“Voice that allows you to approach a normal conversation more closely than the Discussion Board,” Shedletsky stated.

Shedletsky also said he’s been using this tool for years, and that he likes how VoiceThread allows students to post content through video with a microphone, photograph and audio. He uses VoiceThread for all of his online classes that he teaches, but  mainly uses VoiceThread for his Intrapersonal in Communication and Research Methods in Communications classes. By having students introduce themselves at the beginning of the semester through this interface, students and professors are able to connect faces and voices to the words they share with each other throughout the semester. It gives both sides a better feel of different forms of online discussion

The main reason Shedletsky chose this as an online tool is for students to get more involved with their peers in the class he is teaching. He said that most of the students like VoiceThread and hopes that it will enhance the level of discussion in online courses

Media Studies Professor David Pierson uses VoiceThread for his Writing for the Media course. This is the third semester he is using it for this class and, like Shedletsky, he said it is a great tool for students to use that provides more than just one way of communicating. He thinks that it benefits students in the long run, but believes that there needs to be more student involvement. VoiceThread is a great way to ask questions or make comments to both other students and the professor.

“It could help benefit students, and is a good way to ask questions,” Pierson said.

Pierson also says if the student has a question about the course material, the student can always send him an a traditional email for further clarification.

VoiceThread is emerging as an online communication tool for professors to introduce students to another form of communication for their online classes. USM professors like Pierson and Shedletsky are among the group of USM professors that use it as a means to get more student involvement online. The Blackboard discussion board has become more difficult to navigate for students, with some choosing to not be a part of the discussion, which can be frustrating.

If VoiceThread continues to enhance the online learning experience at USM, it may be here to stay. The more USM professors introduce this, the more likely there will be an increase in of student involvement in online discussion in future online classes to come.

The ROCC finds a home

USM Free Press News Feed - Sat, 2016-11-12 11:21

By Jonathan Pessant, Free Press Staff

In tracking down interviews and information about the ROCC, or Recovery Oriented Campus Center, I was pointed in many directions. On the ROCC USM web page, I was led to the basement of Luther Bonney where the English department maintains space for two full time professors and a host of adjunct professors using a large room for student conferences. Next I tried another location, also rumored to be a place for the ROCC, rooms adjacent to counseling services in Payson Smith Hall. The last rumor was “somewhere on Bedford Street.” This description being so vague I ultimately dismissed the idea. That was Friday.

Over the weekend something miraculous happened, the ROCC found a permanent location: the second floor in Sullivan Gym. This week I entered Sullivan Gym, checked in with the attendant. When I asked if I could go up, she said “Sure, Anna’s up there!”

I climbed the stairs, and upon entering I was warmly greeted by Anna Gardner, collegiate recovery program coordinator. She offered to give me a tour of the recovery center. After seeing her office and the office of Diane Geyer, Coordinator of Substance Use Clinical Services, we entered an empty room at the end of the hallway.

“This will be our peer community room. I know it looks bare now but eventually we will have comfortable furniture. This space will be also used for group presentations and meetings.”

Gardner relayed that in the coming weeks a touchscreen computer monitor would be mounted to the wall in the room to ensure a seamless capacity for peers and  peer leaders (terms for members of the ROCC) to lead group meetings properly. The next rooms were for peers to study in, computers would be installed soon. The last room, the only one with chairs, was large and quiet. Here Gardner said mediation and support groups would be held.  The improvements intended for not only the peer community room but for the entire seven-room space dedicated for the ROCC is funded by a federal grant awarded to the recovery center.

In an email response, Geyer said, “The University of Southern Maine has provided space to house their new Recovery Oriented Campus Center. We are currently moving into the ROCC and expect to be occupying all the space in the next couple of weeks. We are already using our Group room.”

Geyer’s response also illuminated on some confusion about the permanent location for the ROCC. “USM reviewed many spaces over the last couple of month. Some of the spaces reviewed could not accommodate the student’s needs, some space was not readily available or needed to be renovated to accommodate the specific needs of the center’s programming.”

Student Intern and the “face” of the ROCC, Andrew Kiezulas, insists the importance of a permanent location for students in substance use recovery. He said that with the ROCC on campus it brings the group closer to the USM community, and in turn, brings all aspects of the USM community closer to each student in substance use recovery. Being located on the 2nd floor of Sullivan Gym, the recovery center is well situated to provide a successful environment.

“We don’t want students to have to choose between their classes and going to a recovery meeting. They can have both here.”

Kiezulas mentioned that the present administration is far more “recovery friendly” than when the Students and Recovery program, the precursor to the ROCC, started in 2013.

“It’s a very, very different atmosphere.”

Recovery friendly is just the first step in a longer process to destigmatizing substance use addiction and recovery Kiezulas adds. With understanding and education friendly soon turns to being an ally to the ROCC, and eventually with considered effort allies become recovery ready. Allies can be both individuals and groups on campus like the OAM, who combined efforts with the ROCC to provide substance free outdoor activities for both of its members.

“The opposite of addiction is connection,” Kiezulas proudly states. “That’s what we’re all longing for, a belonging, a fitting in, a purpose.”

Around campus students tended to feel the same way about the need for both connection and understanding. Many students see the need for the ROCC as a means for students in recovery to ensure their success at college.

“Substance use addiction can happen to anyone. It is important to have that resource for them,” Tim Gilman, a junior and technology management major, said.

Connection and building community is a big part of the ROCC’s mission. The center itself offers a multitude of services and support for its peers that include Student and Recovery groups, a mindfulness and meditation group called YesPlus, yoga,  and Young People in Recovery groups. They offer recovery planning, counseling, ways for its peers to be leaders in the community.  But a strong part of the center is the outgoing nature of  Andrew Kiezulas.

In an interview with a peer who wished to remain anonymous, they named Kiezulas as one of the ROCC’s best public advocates for connection with the USM campuses.

“Andrew is always giving hugs or high fives or just saying hi to everyone in passing. Reaching out can be powerful,” the peer reiterated, “You never know when someone is having a shitty day and that conversation or high five can lighten them up.”  


New Administration Brings Back Four Retrenched Faculty

USM Free Press News Feed - Sat, 2016-11-12 10:46

By Julie Pike, Free Press staff

USM has begun to work towards a better reputation with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) by rehiring several employees who were retrenched back in 2014.

USM is currently under sanction by the AAUP due to  an incident two years ago when 26 faculty members, including ones with tenure, were laid off. USM’s administration at that time, under President Flanagan, claimed the layoffs were due to budgetary reasons. A few of those employees have been recently rehired, including Provost Jeannine Uzzi.

These changes have gotten attention from representatives of the AAUP, including Michael Bèrubè, the head of the committee from AAUP who investigated USM.

The AAUP is a national advocacy group for faculty members. They monitor schools and universities to ensure that faculty with tenure have job security. A sanction from the AAUP is essentially a hit to a school’s reputation and credibility, with no monetary value.

“The AAUP sets the gold standard for what constitutes acceptable procedures in higher education,” Bèrubè stated.

When the AAUP investigated USM back in 2014, they declared a sanction on the university due to the way the administration handled the layoffs. They claimed that the university did not declare financial exigency, which would have permitted the termination of tenured faculty.

The representatives from the AAUP interviewed several faculty and went through a multitude of pages of mail, memos and budgets to reach their conclusion.

The AAUP came to the decision that the instance at USM was an unjustifiable firing of employees.

“The USM investigation was unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Bèrubè said.

After the AAUP released their findings in the investigation and issued the sanction on USM, David Flanagan, the former USM president, wrote a response to the AAUP. Flanagan felt their investigation was not done correctly and that their findings did not justify issuing the sanction.

“AAUP cannot refute the harsh reality that the University of Maine System and the University of Southern Maine, in particular, face enormous challenges as a result of demographics, competition, new technology and costly old buildings,” Flanagan stated.

Back in January of this year the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald reported that an arbitrator determined that USM followed the contract during the layoffs in 2014.

It was the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine (AFUM) that initiated the investigation into the layoffs. A representative from AFUM, Mark Irvings, conducted the investigation.

Irvings found that only one employee,of the 26 who were laid off violated contract. His conclusions differed drastically from the findings of the AAUP.

Today USM is moving forward from the setback in 2014. The new president, Glenn Cummings, and Provost Jeannine Uzzi have already made a positive impact.

Uzzi and Cummings worked together over the summer to try and overturn some of the retrenchments, and several faculty were rehired. Not all of the employees were hired back into their old department, however, as five different programs were eliminated back in 2014 as well.

Of the 26 employees who were retrenched, not all of them will be returning to USM. Some decided to pursue jobs elsewhere, and others retired, but there were some that continued to want to return to USM.

Paul Johnson, a professor of social work and an AFUM representative, wrote a paper titled “To Hell and Back” that outlines the positive changes made by the new administration at USM.

“In the course of a year, I have witnessed a major transformation at USM. There is now a sense of optimism that the administration, faculty, staff, and students are working together,” Johnson stated. “I believe that USM is on the right path to once again being a great University.”

“We’re really glad, speaking as a representative from the AAUP, that the retrenched faculty are beginning to be brought back,” Bèrubè said.

The next step for the sanction to be lifted will be discussed at the AAUP’s next meeting in October.

“If the conditions that initially prompted the AAUP investigation improve, then we will look into taking USM off the list,” Bèrubè commented.

If all goes well, the AAUP would vote on the final decision of lifting the sanction in June.

USM’s new administration, working together with AFUM, have made efforts to rehire as many retrenched employees as possible. Johnson stated that the present administration has done well when working with AFUM.

While Johnson indicated that it is unlikely that any other retrenched faculty can be rehired, USM seems to be on a trajectory to move forward in repairing some of the damage done by the cuts and layoffs made two years ago and in restoring USM’s reputation.

A Day In The Life Of An RA

USM Free Press News Feed - Sat, 2016-11-12 10:44

By Jack Hahn

Possibly the most underappreciated people on campus, Resident Assistants (RAs) are an essential part of the college experience. From event planning to ensuring student safety, they are constantly at work to make residential life great for students.

The RA of Second Hastings-Wing, Justin Lapointe, a senior history major, described his role and how he contributes to the college community: “My duties are to ensure that my residents are connected with the school and have a great school year.”

To apply for an RA position, students must have and maintain a GPA of 2.5 and in good standing with USM. They must also have two recommendations, one from their own RA and one from another RA.

It is essential that college students develop a bond to the campus community. Many students who do not develop that bond feel discouraged and are more likely to leave the school. It is one of the RAs main functions to help residents develop these bonds. They will put together many fun events that anyone in the hall can attend. From game night, to arts and crafts, to pizza parties, these events help develop friendships and a sense of community within the dorms. Many residents also develop a bond with their RAs, just as you would to any other friend. They are always willing to talk with residents about issues they may be experiencing or just to hang out.

One student, Tracy Edwards, a first year health sciences major, had this to say about her interactions with the RA: “My experience with the RAs has been pretty good! They always say hello to me, and I say hi back. We always joke around. They’re really friendly.”

Another important aspect of the RA position is the enforcement of school safety, school rules and policies. These policies include the obvious, such as no underage drinking and no drugs, including marijuana. Smoking of any kind is not allowed on campus. In addition to these rules, there is also a quiet time policy in place where residents must keep their volume to a minimum from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 12:00 midnight to 9:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

“I had to enforce our alcohol policy a lot last year, along with our marijuana policy and noise violations,” Lapointe said.  

To some it may seem that they are a sort of dorm secret police force, actively seeking to ruin someone’s night. In reality, they are just like any other students, and what they want to is make sure no one gets hurt.

Nate Genrich, a junior theater major, enjoyed his sophomore year RA. “My floor RA last year was chill. He wasn’t overbearing but he let us know that if we were doing stuff, but he was fair about it,”  he said, “If something got broke or something he’d call a meeting and say ‘yeah, ok, we can’t do this.’”

Once a week, all of the RAs in a dorm convene to discuss topics such as residents in need of attention, the planning of hall events and the general state of the building itself. Along with RAs, their bosses, the LRAs, or Lead Resident Assistants, and the hall’s Residential Director also attend the meetings.

Lapointe described student confidentiality as one of the most important parts of his job. However, there are some instances where confidentiality would hurt the student more than not. In addition to their other duties, RAs are also “mandatory reporters.”

Lapointe described what this means: “Being a mandatory reporter means we have certain things we must report no matter what, like sexual assault, suicide, and other major concerns.”

With a stressful job like this comes some pretty impressive perks. As Lapointe  put it, “It looks great on a resume, you get to work with an amazing team, you get leadership skills, a single plus room and board, you get connected on campus, and you build great relationships with the residents”.

So next time you see your RA walking down the hall, say hi and maybe ask how their day has been going, because you know that most of it has been spent worrying about you in one way or another.

Societal Issues on Social Media

USM Free Press News Feed - Sat, 2016-11-12 10:43

By Katie Harris, Free Press staff

Social media has been the place where college students express their feelings on issues that have happened or are still happening today. Lately, social media has been the main platform where societal issues have been discussed, such as abortion, political standings, abuse and racism. Students have mixed reactions on some issues such as racism and politics.  Most can inspire  a positive or negative response from others.

The problem with posting on social media is it’s never private. As a society, we question if social media is a healthy way to discuss specific issues such as these, and if it makes us safer than having a discussion face to face.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the most widely used sites for social interaction. USM students are seen using these platforms on their phones, tablets or computers. They are either updating their statuses or posting a photo that can be seen by millions of people across the world. Lately, all Facebook users see trending societal issues that either have to do with political views or racism. That’s something that many students do not want to see when they log onto their accounts.

USM Global Communications Professor John Muthyala, however, said that when students communicate and discuss societal issues, they create more awareness and public attention on social media platforms.

“It takes learning how to communicate and how to be more open,”  Muthyala said.

He also said that the emergence of social media allows students and younger generations to make themselves heard. Muthyala knows that when students have these discussions online, they have the option to say whatever they want on a platform such as Facebook. Once a student makes a post about an issue they feel strongly about, it can be seen by other users, who will then have the option to react to it or make a comment.

College students have different views on societal issues and how to express them on social media. One of the topics that is most talked about by college students on social media is the ongoing issue of NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, which was started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick. The action caused major outcry across the United States, as many people disagreed with his action. Other players from the NFL took notice and followed in his footsteps to send a message against systemic racism.

Connor Clement, a senior communications major, said he understands where Kaepernick is coming from. “He’s trying to make a point about social injustice, which is what makes America great,” Clement said. “You can have your own opinions, you can voice your concerns, you can stick to your own beliefs.”

As a communications major, Clement said it’s important for him to immerse himself in social media, because with this particular field of study, it’s always a great idea to be in the know about  what’s going on in the world of social media.

Some students try to avoid some discussion of societal issues.  But since our current culture relies on social media, it gives both young and older adults a voice to express their opinions and concerns despite the risks they are making when posting a comment on an issue that means a lot to them.

On the rise of social media, Clement said, “I think that’s the culture we live in now, it’s more behind the computer screen typing away than it is face to face.”

Student Thoughts on the Election

USM Free Press News Feed - Sat, 2016-11-12 10:42

By Johnna Ossie, Free Press staff

The upcoming presidential election has many young people concerned about the future, not just for our country but for the global community. For generations, college students have been known to be the ones rallied behind progressive candidates and to come together in protest against injustices.  

Many in the Baby Boomer generation look at Millennials as lazy, apathetic and coddled compared to the supposed do-it-yourselfers that came before them. The Bernie Sanders campaign showed that a large portion America’s youth is determined, vocal and desperate for systematic change.

With Bernie Sanders out of the race, and major criticism against both major party political candidates, how can students decide who to vote for, or whether to vote at all? What are the major concerns among students regarding the upcoming election, and the future of country?

Last week’s visit to USM by Presidential Candidate Jill Stein was well attended, but many at the event were unsure if they would actually vote for Stein, and mainly seemed interested in hearing what she had to say. When Chair of the Maine Green Independent Party Asher Platts asked who would be voting Green in the upcoming election, only small number of audience members stood up.

USM is a community of varied backgrounds, lifestyles and age groups. As a largely commuter school, many students are nontraditional, perhaps going back to school after a period off or to pursue a second degree. These students may all have different ideas about what is the most important topic in the upcoming election.

In a poll of 45 USM students of varying majors, ages and genders, 22 people reported that they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton, 4 for Donald Trump and 4 for the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. None reported that they planned to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, despite her recent visit to campus, during which she focused on eliminating student debt.

The upcoming election could have major consequences for college students, especially Millennials, as they comprise the generation that will bear the future burden of any choices made by the next U.S. president.

Emma Donnelly, a sophomore majoring in women and gender studies and social work, said that one of her worries surrounding the election is that young people won’t vote. In The Free Press’ student survey, 9 out of 45 students polled said they don’t plan to vote.

“One of my biggest concerns is that millennials will not go out and vote,” Donnelly said. “Many of us are very outspoken on social media about political issues, but rarely go out and vote. We have so much potential to really change the future of this country…our activism needs to extend beyond the long, passionate posts on Facebook.”

It is true that young people, by numbers, could have a huge impact on the election. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2015 that the population of people born between 1982 and 2000 is 83.1 million, while Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, have a population of 75.4 million. Millennials have the capacity to largely sway the election results.

“It is incredibly important for students to care about the election. Our age group has more power than many would believe,” Donnelly said.  “We make up a large chunk of the population, and if we make our voices heard we can really make a difference.”

Pete Franzen of the USM Socialists is a graduate student in mental health counseling. He explained that one of the USM Socialists’ major concerns is that people will feel stuck in voting for the “lesser of two evils,” that is, that neither Trump nor Clinton appear to be viable candidates to many voters, but they choose to vote for whomever they feel to be not the best candidate, but the candidate who is not the worst.

“It is our opinion that lesser evil-ism leads to a situation where there is no genuine left alternative, and so that far right critiques are the only visible alternative the the status quo,” he said. “A lot of angry voters who don’t feel heard gravitate towards the far right because there is no organized left.”

The USM Socialists formally endorse Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein, and were seen tabling at her recent visit to USM, talking with students and audience members and handing out fliers explaining the concept of socialism to those unfamiliar or hoping to learn more. It is their hope that students and voters will look beyond a two party system for a third-party alternative.

“We do not think Stein will win the election,” Franzen said, “but we think support for Stein is valuable because it would increase the funding, visibility, and viability of an independent, anti-capitalist political party.”

Some students and voters, however, worry that a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump. This was also the concern in Maine’s last two gubernatorial elections, where the Left vote was split between candidates Independent Eliot Cutler and Democrat Mike Michaud. In these two elections, the result was that Paul LePage was elected governor, despite only having 48.2 percent of the vote in 2014, and 37.6 percent of the vote in 2010. Bernie Sanders recently told his supporters, “Now is not the time for a protest vote.”

No matter who students plan to vote for, everyone should take the time to research the candidates, their platforms, and what’s at stake.

Any student who wishes to register to vote can fill out a registration card in the Student Center on National Voter Registration Day, which is Sept. 27, at City Hall in Portland or at the Town Clerk’s Office in Gorham (located at 75 South Street). Students who pay out-of-state tuition can register to vote in Maine using their campus address. The last day to fill out a mail-in ballot is Oct.18. Students can also register at their polling place on Election Day.

“We are the future of this country,” Donnelly said,  “and we cannot remain quiet.”

Understanding Title IX and Mandatory Reporting

USM Free Press News Feed - Sat, 2016-11-12 10:23

By Johnna Ossie, Free Press News editor

Title IX has existed in the United States for over forty years, yet many students at USM have little to no idea what it means, or what rights they have as a result. A Free Press survey found that even the students who know the basics of what Title IX is don’t necessarily understand what rights they have or where to go to report a violation. Of twenty students polled in a 200-level women and gender studies class, fifteen of twenty said they knew what Title IX is, yet only 10 said they understood their rights under Title IX, and only seven reported they would know where to go on campus to report a Title IX violation.

Sarah Holmes is the Assistant Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator at USM. Holmes explained that Title IX laws were introduced in the 1970s as part of  federal legislation that focuses on sex-based discrimination. Though implemented in the 1970s, these laws were actually a part of the education component of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Specifically, Title IX is a set of federal regulations passed as a part of the 1972 higher education amendments. The law states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

One of the original purposes of Title IX was to promote equality among student athletes, making sure that female athletes had equal access to resources and opportunities. When USM upgraded its baseball field, for instance,under Title IX it was required to also upgrade its softball field. Title IX extends far beyond sports, however, serving to protect students from any form of sex-based discrimination.

In 2011, the Department of Education distributed what’s referred to as a “Dear Colleague” letter, which put public colleges and universities on notice that sexual assault and sexual violence are a form of sex-based discrimination. If colleges and universities are not doing the work that they should be doing to change the climate that perpetuates or allows these acts on campus, they are in violation of the rights of their students and are perpetuation systems of sex discrimination.

Currently, there are over one hundred schools in the United States today being investigated by the Department of Education for Title IX violations. Schools such as Harvard, Sarah Lawrence, Michigan State, University of California and many others made the list.

Under Title IX, all USM employees are considered mandated reporters. This means that if a student discloses that they have been the victim of sexual violence, are experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence or stalking, any USM employee they disclose that information to is required under law to report it to the Title IX coordinator, in this case, Sarah Holmes.

The Health and Counseling staff are not mandatory reporters. If a student wishes to disclose that they have experienced a Title IX violation to a confidential source, a staff person at the Health and Counseling Center would be the best option.

Once Holmes receives a report, she will reach out to the student through phone or e-mail, with her main goal being to provide support and resources. She emphasized that her focus is on supporting the student. She will attend counseling sessions with students if they feel more comfortable talking that way. Her goal is to give the survivor as much agency as possible.

“If at all possible I keep the survivor in the driver’s seat. Unless there’s a greater threat to campus safety, they aren’t forced to file a report,” she said.

Holmes explained that a “greater threat to campus safety” would mean multiple reports filed about a particular person on campus, or multiple reports filed surrounding a particular place on campus, such as a particular dorm.

A large part of Holmes’ job as the Title IX Coordinator is to help the student as much as possible with access to resources and assistance. She also helps to implement safety plans for the affected student, such as helping them switch classes if the perpetrator is in a class with the victim, helping a student find new housing. She may also work with students and professors to help create plans for a student to finish classwork, or anything else the student may need assistance with on campus with regards to the Title IX violation that took place.

So why do so few students understand Title IX and mandatory reporting? Holmes explained that USM is still navigating the process of helping students and helping understand everything they need to know.

Rodney Mondor, director of Transitional Programs and New Student Orientation, said that Title IX is covered in new student orientation, as well as their rights under Title IX and how to report a violation. It seems staff are working to help students understand Title IX. Why, then, are students so unsure of the their right and how to access resources?

“We never know how we’re going to respond to something until the unthinkable happens,” Holmes said. Her job is to do her best to help students navigate through what to do if the unthinkable happens. Under Title IX, the university’s job should be to help stop the unthinkable from happening in the first place.

Students who wish to learn more about their rights under Title IX can visit knowyourix.org or usm.maine.edu/campussafetyproject.



USM Popular Queries - Thu, 2016-11-10 14:01


USM Popular Queries - Thu, 2016-11-10 14:01


USM Popular Queries - Wed, 2016-11-09 11:01

Re: Networkmaine Maintenance - Orono Nov 09, 2016

Outages - Wed, 2016-11-09 06:51
This maintenance has been completed.

On Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 11:40 AM, wrote:

> Where: Orono
> When: Nov 09, 2016 0500
> Expected Duration: 2hrs
> Scope: Bennett Hall
> Summary:
> Fiber will be relocated within building resulting in a brief
> outage for the entire building.
> Details:
> Networkmaine Contact Info during the window for this work:
> scofield@maine.edu
> NOC 561-3587
> Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
> NONE / Unknown at this time

human resources

USM Popular Queries - Tue, 2016-11-08 19:01

Networkmaine Maintenance - Orono Nov 09, 2016

Outages - Mon, 2016-11-07 11:40
Where: Orono
When: Nov 09, 2016 0500
Expected Duration: 2hrs
Scope: Bennett Hall

Fiber will be relocated within building resulting in a brief outage for the entire building.

Networkmaine Contact Info:
NOC 561-3587

Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time

Networkmaine Maintenance - Orono/Portland Nov 12, 2016

Outages - Mon, 2016-11-07 11:23
Where: Orono/Portland
When: Nov 12, 2016 10PM
Expected Duration: 10hours
Scope: UTSC Queue

UTSC Queue will be unavailable after close of business on Saturday night until beginning of business Sunday morning due to maintenance.

Networkmaine Contact Info:
NOC 561-3587

Local/Campus Contact Info during this window of work:
NONE / Unknown at this time

rural health

USM Popular Queries - Sat, 2016-11-05 13:01


USM Popular Queries - Fri, 2016-11-04 11:01


USM Popular Queries - Fri, 2016-11-04 11:01


USM Popular Queries - Fri, 2016-11-04 11:01

Presidential Election 2016: On the issues

USM Free Press News Feed - Thu, 2016-11-03 11:38

The 2016 Presidential Election is upon us, and American Citizens continue to battle with the decision of who will be the next President of the United States, it’s important to analyze and understand the stance each viable candidate has held on particular issues that could highly influence the future of  our country and its relations with the rest of the world.

Donald Trump, Republican Nominee

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, has offered a controversial perspective on the election through his extreme stances on issues such as abortion rights, gun laws, immigration, foreign policy, and so on. In regards to his stance on immigration, he wants to build a border at the wall between Mexico and the United States and deport all Muslims. He wants to enforce the system that allows immigrants to enter our country, as he believes they are flowing in illegally “like water.”

While Trump is pro-life, he also believes in de-funding planned parenthood after hearing controversial rumors that they sell babies body parts. While this was debunked, and statistically it is known that abortions only make up 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides, he still continues to believe that abortions can be performed merely days before the due date of the child (another belief that is also incorrect). He supports the right to the second amendment to bear arms, and wants to “clean up the streets,” of violent criminals and provide a stronger array of mental health services to those who are in need.

In Foreign policy, Trump has proclaimed he wants to “make American safe again,” by destroying what he believes to be radical Islam. Although he wants to end the nuclear deal with Iran, he has also very casually and openly talked about using Nuclear weapons as a form of war. When analyzing his stance on taxes, he wants to cut the business rate by 15 percent and reduce the individual rates in three percentage brackets – 12, 25 and 33 percent.

While Trump himself noted that, “he knows a lot of wealthy people who aren’t paying their taxes and it’s unfair,” he himself has admitted to not paying his own, which he noted makes him “smart.” In 2014, Trump’s stance on global warming was that it was, “an expensive hoax,” but has since changed his perspective, noting that “all individuals deserve clean air and water.”

Hillary Clinton, Democratic Nominee

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Presidential Nominee, has offered perspective on issues that similarly reflect those of President Obama. While her deleted email controversy has given uprise to Trump’s label of “Crooked Hillary,” she arguably has a strong political background and a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. Clinton believes we need to have a comprehensive immigration reform that leads to a path of equal citizenship, rather than deport individuals. In regards to abortion, she believes that the government has no right to interfere with a woman’s body and her choices over it.”

Her stance on gun laws shows the staggering statistic that over 33,000 people in America are killed by guns each year, and that in order to fix this problem, we must close the loophole on gun purchases and provide stronger background checks for those who wish to purchase weapons. When speaking on taxes, Clinton notes that “the wealthy pay the least amount of taxes,” and that America needs to provide tax relief for those who suffer in poverty and for middle-class Americans.

Clinton stands for an affordable college curriculum and higher focus on providing a world-class education to all students. For her stance on crime and safety, she argues that we must end mass incarceration and put body cameras on police for higher accountability access.

On Foreign policy, Clinton differs from her Republican opponent. She never references wanting to end “radical Islam,” as we see Trump proclaiming, but rather wants to, “maintain a cutting-edge military, strengthen our alliances and be firm with our rivals, defeat ISIS, and enforce the Iran nuclear deal.” While many are still looming under the uncertainty of her potential presidency after 30,000 of her emails were released from a private server, the investigation has since been “debunked.”

Clinton continues to hold a strong stance that supports “quality, affordable health care for all American Citizens, and hopes to increase American Energy by expanding the use of solar power energy to half a billion panels by 2020. She also believes that “supporting [our] veterans is a sacred responsibility” and plans to provide veterans with world-class health care and increase education opportunities in order to prevent veteran homelessness and suicide.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Presidential Nominee

Johnson, who accepted the nomination at the 2016 Libertarian Party National Presidential Nominating Convention in Orlando this past May, has a stance on political issues that both align and directly differ from both the Democratic and Republican nominee. When addressing concerns of education, Johnson thoroughly believes that it is in the best interest of young, learning minds to to move control of K-12 education from the federal level to the local and state level. On the topic of the American economy, he blames both idealized parties on the 20-trillion dollar deficit in national debt. In correlation, he opposes increasing taxes, especially on wealthy individuals, and hopes to keep the minimum wage at its current standing.

While he does note a belief in climate change, he doesn’t think rules and regulations should be implemented to slow it down if they will affect the current economy. On Foreign policy, he does not want to expand on military advancements and to instead focus on domestic partnerships. He is an opponent of gun control, he strongly supports all uses of marijuana and states that, “government should stay out of individuals healthcare concerns,” when addressing commentary on abortions and, from his perspective, a failed Obamacare campaign.

Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential Nominee

Stein believes in raising taxes for wealthy individuals and wants to cut taxes for poor and middle class Americans. She opposes unwarranted government surveillance, strongly supports the legalization of marijuana, and wants to guarantee tuition-free public education from pre-school to college for all American citizens. On climate change, Stein hopes to end the use of fossil fuels and begin a transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy use by 2030.

On health issues, Stein would like to make free healthcare available to all in a “Medicare for All” program that requires no co-pays, premiums or deductibles. By eliminating private health insurance, she hopes to reduce prescription drug prices and the overall costs that are often associated with healthcare. For criminal justice, she opposes jailing youth and would like to end the death penalty. She wants to cut military spending by 50 percent and cut off foreign aid to nations she deems to be “human rights abusers,” which consists of allies such as Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.


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