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Noyes Street fire memorial approved by committee

Wed, 2015-10-28 13:43

On November 1, 2014, a fire engulfed a two family home on 20 Noyes Street killing six people. In the aftermath of the tragic event, some people in the local community have proposed a memorial for the victims: six diamonds comprised of small blue lights with a white orb in the center. However, recent neighborhood objections have come up, leaving the possibility of this memorial in the hands of the city’s arts committee.

Ashley Summers is a member of the coordinator committee for the Noyes St. fire memorial and wife of Steven Summers, who died tragically in the fire last year.

“The committee has been working hard since January, so over the past nine months has kept herself busy to not focus on the bad thoughts.” said Summers. “She has been one of the leading team members to get the “Starts of Light” memorial off the ground and into the trees of Longfellow park.

Summers said the team worked together with city officials and worked on the installation of electricity, but it wasn’t long before problems arose. Her team was able to raise $8,000 and install the lighting system in the park, but a day later she heard rumoured complaints from her neighbors who wanted the display taken down.

Summers said when her committee attempted to address the problematic situation, city officials accused the group of not following process. She stated that it should have gone before the committee months ago, and that it just wasn’t an acceptable answer for her.

“A few neighbors ganged up against us because they don’t want the lights in the park, but they are just contacting the city alone,” said Summers. “They are telling people they don’t want to change the nature of the park, but these lights will be in the tree’s above the park – it’s not changing the landscape. I mean, every other park in Portland has electricity.”

“When I heard it was USM faculty member Laurie Davis who was the leader of this anti-memorial group,  I couldn’t believe it. One of her jobs is to connect young people,” said Summers. “It upsets me to know they will say these hateful things about our way of memorializing our families and hide their names and faces from the public. The worst part is, these people are elected officials and they know what they’re doing is wrong.”

Davis was unavailable for comment on her point of view, and city hall failed to respond to our request for information on the subject matter.

Portland local Layne Waddell was extremely close with each of the victims who died in the fire. Although he believes the idea of the lights would be a great way to memorialize the lives of each victim, he’s not advocating for their installation.

“I would love to see [the lights] go up, but I personally memorialize my friends in my own ways so I suppose it wouldn’t make much of a difference if they went up or not,” said Waddell.  “I just am trying very hard to put this behind me and move on. They were all like family to me which is why it’s tough to talk about them.

What Waddell would like to see happen is to see some lights  near the tragic scene: something to brighten up the dump that they have left sitting there. She said that in the summer, it would also be a great idea to have a community garden there.

In an email exchange between occupants of Noyes Street and the City Arts Committee, many neighbors expressed concern on the idea that lights would, “intrusively be shining into their living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms from dusk to late evening every day.”

One member of the email exchange claimed there has been no neighborhood notice of changes to the park despite what claims made on channel 8 broadcast, saying, “there has been NO information provided and NO meetings have been held.”

Portland local April Quebedeaux, who knew three of the victims of the tragedy, can’t understand why they don’t complain about seeing the burnt down piece of property, but have a problem with six lights to help family and friends grieve.

“For them to say that it would ruin the parks character? I mean, what character? It’s a dinky park behind a gas station. Why not add some beautiful lights that many would love and support. It’s absolutely crazy.”

Portland local Marji Swanson only briefly knew Chris Conlee, one of the victims of the fire that engulfed the building on Noyes Street that night, but believes the memorial lights seem harmless.

“I didn’t know him long or well, but still felt heavy when the names of the victims were released,” said Swanson. “I’m unsure why people would want to stop something that shows support for the victims friends and families.”

The panel finally approved the memorial on late Friday evening, just in time for the one year anniversary. The installation can only be up for 90 days, and will only be lit up from dusk to 9:00 p.m.

According to a survivor who spoke on condition of anonymity, hardly a day has gone by since the fire at Noyes street. He explained that, “My opinion on a dispute over the lighting system in the park would be inappropriate,” but does have one thing he wants people to know.

“I treat my life differently. I check smoke detectors. I pay more money to avoid living next to a party house. I hope that regulations might change so that those six people might have had another way out,” said the anonymous survivor. “I hope that Maine actually funds it’s fire inspection system, so that properties with quite so many flagrant violations might not go unnoticed for quite so long. Thus far nothing has changed.”

A memorial celebration is planned for November 1 at 4:30 p.m.  at the park. A reception will follow at HopeGateWay on 509 Forest Avenue.

Metropolitian University: Does it work for USM?

Tue, 2015-10-06 16:55

By Zach Searles

Metropolitan University is an initiative that’s been around for a few years, but really started to surface and take hold last fall. MU has a complicated and entangled history as was evident with the moans and groans from the faculty when MU was brought up at last Friday’s faculty senate meeting.

One problem that Rebecca Tanous, student body president, has with the MU initiative was the timing of it all coming to light last fall.

“The big problem with the timing of MU initiative is that it happened at the same times as cuts, so the number one thing that students find is that it means more cuts,” said Tanous.

Tanous found this to be true when she went around campus asking students what they thought of MU and most responded in a negative way because they thought it was associated with cuts.

Lorrayne Carroll, Associate Professor of English at USM, stated that MU has a lot of initiatives tangled within it, one of them being an identity assigned to USM by the Board of Trustees under their one university model.

One thing that is clear is that there is a lot of confusion surrounding MU, so it begs the question: what does Metropolitan University really mean?

“In my eyes it means more resume builders as a student because we’re committed to helping our community and using that as a forum to get students experience,” said Tanous.

Others may feel that part of the problem lies with how MU was communicated to faculty and staff.

“The problem is that the conversation about MU never got outside this small group of people over the last two years. It never really got outside and explained and it got entangled with all the other things that were happening,” said Carroll.

Community outreach and working with the community to get students real world experience is a big part of the MU initiative, with programs such as service learning that are designed to get students out and working with the community.

“What the president thinks it means is that USM will be actively engaged with its many surrounding communities and community partners,” said Adam Tuchinsky, chief of staff for the president’s office.

Some faculty and staff have expressed concern that by using the term metropolitan, it may put the focus entirely in Portland and leave out the university’s other two campuses.

“It doesn’t adequately capture the full range of work that people do,” said Carroll. She then went on to mention the work that nursing students do in the Dominican Republic, which may not be directly tied to the Portland community but is still work done by students in the community.

President Glenn Cummings has stressed in the past that the MU initiative does not mean that USM is a regional university that only serves the southern part of the state.

As stated earlier, the MU initiative has been underway for a few years. Some may argue even longer than that, since USM has been recognized as a Metropolitan University since the 1980’s.

USM is already heavily engaged within it’s community. There are many programs that require internships and capstone projects, which require students to go out into the community.

Tuchinsky commented that in many ways, the MU initiative is just articulating on what faculty and students have been doing for years.

USM’s transition to this Metropolitan University and getting faculty and students into the community is going to come with a price tag, but how much will it cost exactly?

Last year, the Free Press reported that it was going to cost the university $900,000 annually, which is an estimation based on surveys and observations of other schools that have made similar transformations. That’s a price tag that could potentially cost $150.00 per student.

Tuchinsky was asked to comment on the cost of the MU initiative and if these numbers were still accurate, and responded by stating that it’s difficult to put a dollar value on something like a Metropolitan University.

With these added costs, something has to be done to generate money to afford this. One way this could be done is through enrollment. University advertisements have already begun to broadcast, marketing USM as a Metropolitan University to get the attention of prospective students.

Rebecca Tanous commented that this focus on community involvement could potentially bring students to USM.

“I think that offering the resources that we have from the community to our students is something that we have over other universities, it’s that winning factor for someone to choose here over somewhere else,” said Tanous.

Though it may be something that draws students in, Tuchinsky doesn’t believe that the sole purpose of MU is to boost enrollment numbers.

“In the end, this is about making USM more connected to it’s community and improving learning and making USM a better institution,” said Tuchinsky. “If those things help enrollment then great, but enrollment gains are really secondary to USM becoming a stronger university.”

International Socialist Organization gets new club on campus

Tue, 2015-10-06 16:47

By Nick Beauchesne

The USM branch of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) held its second on-campus meeting of the semester Tuesday night on the first floor of the Glickman Library.

The word socialism, in and of itself, is polarizing. Long marginalized in the American political system as radical, part and parcel to communism and a threat to democracy, strong stigmas have been attached to the socialist movement stretching back at least to the era of the Cold War.

The group came together to discuss its progress up to this point, as well as its

direction moving forward. New to campus, this group has several hurdles to overcome in order for it to become a viable and active organization among the many other student groups offered on campus.

Each club on campus seeks to establish a mission of sorts: something that it stands

for and represents. The ISO is no different in that regard, though its message has long been established. Pete Franzen, a graduate student studying clinical mental health, spoke about the agenda for the club, as well as the socialist movement as a whole.

“We are looking for a coherent way to make things better. There is this belief that the system that we have in place is working,” said Franzen. “The media conveys this message that all you have to do is pull yourself up by the bootstraps, work hard and you will achieve the American dream. We don’t see things that way.”

When asked about the difficulty in getting people to move past the stigmas and mischaracterizations so often attached to the idea of socialist politics, Owen Hill, head organizer of the USM branch of the ISO, sees the socialist message coming through more clearly now than ever before.

“People are already moving past [the stigma]. The rule of the few over the many has gone on for far too long,” said Hill. Hill spoke clearly about the aims of the movement in general, and the club in particular. “To replace the rule of the bankers and real-estate developers with the democracy of ordinary working people,” said Hill.

With one of the leading candidates for the 2016 presidential election, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, identifying as a socialist democrat, the movement finds itself with a bigger platform from which to work under.

All the while, the USM branch of the ISO will be conducting its weekly meetings, seeking to draw in support, and hoping to get its message heard.


Bayside could be location for future Portland dorms

Tue, 2015-10-06 16:41

By Sam Haiden

An initiative to allocate funds and contracts for a new student dormitory is gaining traction here on the USM Portland campus. John Jackson, Senate Chair of the Student Government Association, has completed his list of petition signatures to move the initiative forward and his comprehensive plan claims that it will improve many lacking aspects of the university infrastructure.

When considering a new dormitory in Portland is, where would it go? According to Jackson there is no shortage of space. “The USM Portland campus is actually very large,” said Jackson. “We actually have more square footage than Harvard.”

According to Jackson, a Portland dorm would be a nascent step in USM’s path to success.

Jackson also suggests that there are plenty of potential building sites for the dormitory that are within walking distance of the campus that are no farther than walking from Upperclass in Gorham to Dickey Wood in Gorham. Jackson says that these sites would be appropriate for a dormitory which would be comparable to Upperclass Hall.

Although he would not specify which sites were most likely to be used, he did mention that there would be no construction costs to speak of, due to the fact that the buildings are already in place. They would simply require a change of ownership and become contracted similarly to other dorms at USM.

For instance, a potential candidate in the decision-making process is the building known as Bayside, which has served USM students on some level for years now. The process of change-of-ownership would essentially entail a lease agreement in which USM provides student housing, but may or may not cover maintenance fees and labor.

“Those are things which will have to be worked out in principle between the owners and the administration before going to the Board of Trustees for final approval and a sealing of the deal,” explained Jackson, adding that it could happen by July of 2016, making it possible for students next fall to be living there.

As a student back in 2012, Tyler Gaylord was an eager freshman studying theatre. After realizing he wanted to live in California for experience, he has returned to Maine in hopes of seeking his life path on the big screen. For Gaylord, the idea of dorms on the Portland campus adds an attractive quality to the entire college experience.

“Being surrounded by an encouraging and exciting group of friends was the only way to balance out the stress of college courses,” explained Gaylord. “These people were the ones who inspired, supported, and uplifted me.  I couldn’t imagine my college experience being anywhere nearly as great without having lived on campus.”

Not only does he think it would increase enrollment, but it would also severely hurt USM’s ability to pull out-of-state people in if they do not choose to create dorms on the Portland campus.

“Portland is one of the nation’s fastest growing “cool” cities in the United States. People all the way across the country are hearing about Portland, Maine, none of them are hearing about Gorham, Maine,” said Gaylord.

Petition circling to bring a bar to Gorham campus: 200 signatures needed, SGA pushing for 500 to send a stronger message

Tue, 2015-10-06 16:40

By Thomas Fitzgerald

A referendum question has been circulating among USM that is asking for student support for a bar to be built on campus. Although there are not very many details regarding funding of this operation, or where it would be on the Gorham campus, students are being asked to sign.

“We are just circulating the referendum to get the conversation started and to see how students would feel about it,” explained student senate member Ashley Caterina. “With their support, we can hopefully use that information and bring it to the appropriate parties. Plans will start being developed once the results from the referendum are in.”

It is the lack of information that is leaving a lot of questions from students and staff that are wondering if this plan is economical for the school. The inability to have answers regarding budgeting and where the bar will be built leaves some unsure about what they are signing.

“It is an interesting concept, but without knowing the specific revenues, costs and risks that USM would be exposed to I really don’t have an opinion as to whether or not it is a good idea for USM,” said business professor, James Suleiman.

When asked about his opinion on the circulating referendums that students are constantly seeing, senior English education major, Dylan LeComte, seemed to have a similar opinion as professor Suleiman. LeComte believes that some of the people circulating the petitions have no idea what they were asking students to sign.

“As far as the petition for a new bar on campus goes, I’d be reluctant to sign it until the whole story behind its funding and location comes to light,” stated LeComte.

Despite the small amount of details that have been circulating, chief of staff Dan Welter offered some insight regarding the recent serving of alcohol at the parents weekend in Gorham.

“Given the small number of 21+ residents, and the cost of serving alcohol, it does not make financial sense to widely host the sale of alcohol at events,” said Welter. “We are continuing to consider pairing the serving of alcohol with events that we are going to have a large number of community members on campus.”

The wide sale of alcohol is likely never to reach our campus, but a pub that is similar to the Bear’s Den pub that is on campus in Orono is a more likely scenario. Orono alumni, Seth Albert, best described it as “how you would imagine Starbucks if they served beer and some food.”

Senior student and Technology management major Dan Jandreau weighed in on the situation as more of a positive lift for the student community.

“I think a campus pub would be a great addition to the Gorham Campus,” said Jandreau. “For students of age, there is not a lot to do in the Gorham area for nightlife, so providing an on campus solution is great. This also means less people going to the Old Port from campus which could result in less driving under the influence.”

Safety is an important focus to consider when thinking about the positivity that added night lift can bring to the Gorham campus. As opposed to students wondering how they will find a way back to campus after a night in Portland, they can instead have the opportunity to enjoy themselves while only a walking distance away from their dorm.

The required 200 signatures have already been reached for the referendum to be passed along, but the senate believes that 500 signatures will send a stronger message.

385 students opt out of sending vaccination records

Tue, 2015-10-06 16:34

By Erica Jones

In recent years vaccines have become a hotly-debated topic, leading to division in schools over whether students should be allowed to be exempt from getting vaccinated.

This year at the University of Southern Maine, 385 of the school’s 7,554 students opted out of sending vaccination records, according to Lisa Belanger, Director of Health Services at USM.

That is approximately five percent of students.

Currently, students do not need to provide any specific argument in order to waive out of sending records of their immunizations, or lack of. The reasons students opt out include religious principles, philosophical oppositions, as well as simply being unable to acquire their records due to significant inconveniences, such as an inability to access their records or no longer possessing them.

“That convenience becomes inconvenient if an outbreak does happen,” explained Cori Cormier, a University Health and Counseling Services staff member, referencing USM’s policy that all students without vaccination records are required to leave campus for the duration of the outbreak.

The concern of an outbreak is not met with the same reaction everywhere, with nation wide anti-vaccination movements expounding the dangers of these life-saving medicines based on refuted, false scientific studies, mainly a redacted paper by former British surgeon Andy Wakefield which insinuated a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

In his paper, Wakefield claimed that vaccines caused autism due to a mercury-containing compound called thimerosal which was an ingredient in earlier vaccines.

Despite there being no scientific evidence in favor of thimerosal’s relation to autism, the compound was eliminated from most vaccines in 1999 as a precaution.

The state of Maine’s vaccination exemption rate is one of the highest in the country at 1.7 percent, more than double the national average, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Low vaccination rates contribute to the spread of diseases such as measles, pertussis, and chickenpox. The dangers of these diseases, all made less prevalent by vaccines, have some Maine citizens concerned about their safety and that of their families.

“I think schools should require vaccinations. Anybody who doesn’t get vaccinated poses a risk for the resurgence of deadly diseases,” said Michael J., a Physics major and junior at USM.

According to the Bangor Daily News, Maine is one of the 18 states that allow parents to waive their children from immunizations for philosophical reasons.

Also reported in the Portland Press Herald were Maine’s school-by-school vaccination rates, released by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The troubling data revealed that 20 percent of students at South Portland’s Small Elementary School were opted out of vaccines by their parents, giving the school one of the highest opt-out rates in Maine.

The realization that the country is not as immunized as it could be has led to action from pro-vaccination movements, including groups within the state of Maine.

“It simply is not safe to have a large population of unvaccinated people,” said an anonymous USM student. “Maine is supposed to be a place where you dream of retiring – not catching measles.”

USM Faculty voting on tentative contract: AFUM has until October 1 to vote or it’s back to negotiations

Tue, 2015-09-29 17:15

By Cody Marcroft

A tentative faculty contract agreed to between negotiators for the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine (AFUM) and University of Maine System (UMS) is currently being voted on by professors for approval.

The contract offered addresses salaries, healthcare, tuition waivers, commuting between campuses among other matters. According to James McClymer, chair of the AFUM negotiating team and Associate Professor of physics at Orono, one of the biggest changes  was establishing a process to deal with the Cadillac Tax provision of the Affordable Care Act, if it were to impact the UMS in the future.

“In short, [the provision] is an attempt to rein in costs and to raise revenue by taxing plans that cost above a certain amount,” McClymer explained in an email. “The tax is large — 40 percent of the difference between actual cost and the tax level. The cost would be a burden on our members and on the UMS.”

The objective will be for both sides to negotiate plan design changes that will keep healthcare costs for faculty below the Cadillac Tax threshold. If an agreement can’t be reached, then an independent arbitrator will intervene, listening to both parties’ positions before determining how to stay below the tax level.

Other changes include healthcare for retirees being explicitly mentioned in the contract, waiving the unified fee for faculty members who decide to enroll in courses, and ensuring that professors who travel between more than one campus to teach courses will not have to make repeated trips during a day.

A Powerpoint created by the AFUM alleged that UMS negotiators wanted to spread the academic workload and require faculty members to be available year-round to provide student support with no additional compensation. Currently, professors have three months off, typically summer months.

The Powerpoint was shared via email with faculty earlier this month. It intended to explain not only the conditions in the proposed contract finalized in August, but also unsuccessful proposals put forth by both sides. Susan Feiner, President of the USM chapter of AFUM, said the changes proposed by the UMS were unacceptable.

“AFUM takes very seriously our commitment to teacher-scholars,” said Susan Feiner, “and scholarship requires large blocks of uninterrupted time. Everyone I know is using those months [away from teaching] for research.”

The contract is the first since numerous USM faculty and staff members were laid off to. The backlash the cuts received in the community made national headlines and warranted the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to censure USM’s administration.

Mark Schmelz, Director of Labor Relations and member of the UMS negotiating team, did not respond to the allegations in the AFUM Powerpoint. He explained that negotiations are conducted in an executive session, not publicly.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable, with the ground rules we entered into with the union, diving into any proposals we may have made or discussions we may have had,” said Schmelz.

The AFUM negotiating team, comprised of professors from various UMS campuses, and UMS’s board of trustees were responsible for negotiating the proposed contract. Now, AFUM’s roughly 900 members have until October 1st to submit their vote to either ratify the contract or send the two sides back to the negotiating table.

If approved, the contract will stand until the final day of June 2017.

Lewiston-Auburn updates provide students real-world experience

Tue, 2015-09-29 17:14

In modernized classrooms on a campus that seems so separate from the rest, USM’s Lewiston-Auburn college has finally completed their laboratory and practicum/simulation spaces. These classrooms, which resemble medical rooms of real hospitals, will allow students to gain real-world experience while they work toward earning their degree.

Nursing and Occupational Therapy majors will be the students most likely to use these labs to their fullest potential for learning both inside and outside the classroom. The hope for these new innovations is to provide a supportive learning center as students progress in their learning stages.

In one classroom, hospital beds with all the necessary medical tools line the walls. Some of these beds even have life-like dummies that students can do things such as provide CPR, learn anatomy, check heart rate and much more.

As part of a 15.5 million statewide bond, the ultimate goal of this project is to improve lab and classroom experiences for students, faculty and staff. After it was approved by Maine voters in November 2013, $600,000 total was spent on the Lewiston-Auburn campus alone.

Tammy Bickmore, Director of MOT and Clinical Instructor at the L/A Campus said that these new renovations allow for students to work together in ways they never could before.

In one classroom, the bathroom wall was taken down and wheelchairs were added in.  This area allows students to practice helping their patients in day to day routines such as brushing their teeth, going to the bathroom, etc.

“When we first asked them to take down the wall, they thought we were crazy,” said Bickmore. “But this area has been exceptionally helpful in getting students to understand what it’s like to have to help someone with things they usually take for granted.”

Bickmore also explained that in addition to the simulated medical practices that students can perform on the dummies, one of the other newer rooms has diagrams, charts and models of the human body for students to use as an educational resource.

“We really needed these updated labs in order to provide our students with the necessary tools when they go out in their career field,” said Blake Whitaker, an associate professor of Natural and Applied Sciences. “Every student I’ve talked to is very excited to have the opportunity to use the new labs, so we’re glad to be a University that can provide that for them.”

Consolidation set to begin in Luther Bonny computer lab

Tue, 2015-09-29 17:13

By Krysteana Scribner & Zachary Searles

Students looking for a place to do homework and work on computers will no longer be able to utilize the space in the Luther Bonney computer lab, starting at the beginning of October.

“We did a whole press conference and sent out an email about the changes that were going to take place, and we announced that we were consolidating student services, financial aid, admissions, student success, etc,” said Chris Quint, Executive Director of Student Affairs.

The computer lab in Luther Bonney is being split up in order to make space to move offices, such as financial aid and student accounts, into a more central location for students to make them more accessible.

“Right now, services like financial aid, student accounts and advising they are all over campus in portland — we need to figure out how to consolidate one space,” said Quint. “We hear complaints that students don’t know where things are. So next year, when students come on campus, they will know that everything is located in one central space and it will make things easier for them.”

According to Quint, when these changes were first in discussion, the computer lab wasn’t even mentioned. The changes are being funded through money saved from the cost of heating in the recently evacuated white house that surround the portland campus.

“We didn’t go into this project with intentions of changing the computer lab – it just so happens there is a computer lab in there,” said Quint. “the reason is because we have to move it temporarily, at that point we decided to separate the computer lab into two locations.”

The beginning stages of construction started last week, with more to come at the beginning of October, as computers are starting to be moved out of the lab and into the third floor of the Glickman Library, where they will stay until construction is complete.

According to Quint, the point of these changes is to create a “one stop shopping center” for students for them to get all the questions they have answered in one convenient location.

Junior biology major Casey Fillmore explained that a lot of the changes going on throughout campus seem extremely unnecessary. He believes that doing renovation in a computer lab that is already being used by many students is an inconvenient choice.

“We’re sacrificing money on this project, but for what? Offices we already have in Payson Smith?” said Fillmore. “This is from the same administration that talks about our dire budget crisis’ and that we need to fix the problem. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Before renovations to the computer lab, both the student account offices and financial aid officers were in Payson Smith. The consolidation of these offices already exists, just in a different building.

Quint emphasized the importance of a one stop shopping center. A place where all the resources that a student would need are all conveniently place in one area.

“That’s a nice sentiment, but Payson Smith is right there – everything is in Payson smith that a student would need,” said Fillmore. “We’re a computer lab that is fully functioning, why change that?”

An anonymous faculty member at USM, who is fed up with USM’s ability to make good choices for a better campus, said It seems like they’re doing whatever they want and they could care less about faculty staff and students.

Even though the same number of computers will be available across campus and in a variety of locations, Fillmore explained that Glickman can not accommodate the amount of computers that Luther Bonney has.

Carol Sobczak, Assistant Director for Computer Services, explained that the same amount of IT help will be available to students, just the locations are changing.

“Some people are going to Gorham campus, some to the basement of Science Building and some of us will be placed on the 5th floor of Glickman,” said Sobczak. “As far as lab space, we have computers set up outside of Luther Bonney and we will have someone sitting there to help students if needed.”

Some staff members are more concerned with the time frame in which they have to completely move out before construction begins.

“When am I supposed to stop doing my job to pack my office? How do I continue doing my job? It’s getting down to the wire,” said an anonymous staff member in Luther Bonney. “The timing of this all is extremely inconvenient. We have two weeks to move everything around, and it’s stressing all of us out.”

While some believe that these changes are better for the university as a whole and these changes are in the best interest for the students, some do not agree.

“What makes me the angriest is that it’s in the shadow of a bunch of Professors being fired,” said Fillmore. “Quality teachers are more important than a ‘one-stop shopping center’. Whoever is calling the shots is making bad decisions.”

Other students believe that all these renovations will just simply be an inconvenience.

“I don’t like this at all because all of my business classes are in here in Luther Bonney,” said Laine Geistwalker, a senior business major. “It seems that the relocation of all these student services is, in turn, scattering the library services across this campus. This is all just so inconvenient.”

At all times of the day, you can always find students in the computer lab doing their assignments. Some may feel that students should have been asked before any changes were made.

“If they had talked to students first they’d find that this place is where most students go to study. It’s always full, even until 8:00 at night,” said Geistwalker. “They don’t need to be spending more money on relocating offices, especially when it takes away student accessibility during the semester.”

Chris Quint has made it clear that these renovations have nothing to do layoffs, faculty will just be relocated for a period of time and no one is losing their job, but that still doesn’t mean that everyone is happy with these changes.

“Every teacher is angry, every faculty member is angry – so far, no one has had anything positive to say about the changes taking place,” explained Fillmore. “This may be because I’m a student and they’re not afraid to talk to me.”

Quint said that his office will continue to send out emails to keep students up to date on the changes around campus, along with where faculty were relocated. President Cummings will also begin a weekly memo that sends to all students to fill them in on some campus updates.

Bill passes the house to defund Planned Parenthood

Tue, 2015-09-29 17:13

By Thomas Fitzgerald/News Intern

The House of Representatives voted last week to take away all funding on a federal level from Planned Parenthood, while an investigation is pending that accuses them of selling aborted babies and their parts.

The US representatives approved the bill, as the defunding is imminent until the answers of this investigation come to a conclusion. If the investigation finds Planned Parenthood to be guilty, the funding ban will last a year.

Although these accusations are quite serious, there are a lot of US citizens that are being immediately impacted by this decision as the Independent Congressional Office released an analysis that estimated over 630,000 women would lose access to preventative health care through federal family planning money.

This is a number that has such a large volume that other healthcare providers may not be capable of covering leaving thousands of people uncertain when they will have access again.

Nicole Clegg, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, was confident that this issue was not going to affect women in need for very long and cited other forms of funding to still be an asset to their continuation.

“The defunding will pass at the house level, but it is not likely to appear in the senate. It will need to pass in both bodies in order for us to be affected by this in the long term,” said Clegg.

Title ten is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services, and it is designed to make health care for low income homes a priority. Regardless of what house voters believe in this situation, it is not an act that the public is going to stand for.

“It is our job at Planned Parenthood to notify our supporters about what is happening,” said Clegg.  “Elected leaders need to understand that they are not voting in support of what the citizens want.”

One tactic that was used as a deterrent for people in support of Planned Parenthood was put on display at the Republican debate, when candidate Carly Florina described a video viewed from planned parenthood as seeing “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

However, there is no evidence of this footage ever existing.

Mallory Pelton, Senior communication major at USM,  has done some research regarding this topic, and does not seem to believe what news media may be trying to tell her.

“I think there is controversy over what planned parenthood is doing with babies body parts. However, I think that some videos that are being posted are highly edited and are exaggerating the truth,” said Pelton.

Pelton does not believe that Planned Parenthood should have finding taken away since only 3% of their business is abortions and the other 97% is for birth control, STD tests, and check ups.

“If you take away funding it will only backfire and women won’t have any safe option which will create much bigger issues,” said Pelton.

Although the bill was passed by the US representatives, it has been clearly stated by President Barack Obama that any bill that reaches his approval regarding this defunding will be vetoed.

USM students weigh in on presidential canidates

Tue, 2015-09-29 16:08

By Sam Haiden

The time is coming, once again to decide who will lead this country. As we are approaching the primary elections in November, campus is all aflutter with the most recent political scandals involving our would-be future presidents. Now is the time that USM students will have to begin to make important decisions about how to vote.

According to FOX, CNN and the Washington Post, Donald Trump is leading in the polls for the Republican Primary Election.

Next in the polls is Dr. Ben Carson, a celebrated former head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. Having stated that Obamacare was the worst thing to happen to America “since slavery,” he has gained a gratuitous amount of support from grassroots conservatives.

On campus, a quick survey puts Rand Paul, the son of Ron Paul, at the top of the list of republican nominees; however political analysts and the polls say otherwise.

Pat Mahoney, a junior marketing major at USM described him as “the only adult at the table” amongst the GOP candidates, lauding his tax policy and making the statement that if Paul were president, “the constitution would mean something again.”

Jack Forbush, a biology major, also supports Paul’s tax policies, adding an appreciation for the fact that Rand, “follows in the footsteps of his father.” When asked to scout a likely Democratic candidate, both students chose Bernie Sanders.

Although Sanders is second in the DNC polls to Hillary Clinton, he seems to have the favor of the voters: at least here on the USM campus. His platform is getting big money out of politics, and he seems to be pretty strict about who he accepts money from, putting Clinton’s association with super PACs in the spotlight.

Michael Havlin, a UMass Amherst grad student and USM alumni who has been involved in many activist, political and policy issues in Maine, says he is “undoubtedly and proudly” voting for Sanders.

Havlin succinctly summarizes Bernie’s political career as “one of fighting against established monied interest and for the people, and winning.”

Trailing closely behind Sanders in the polls is Vice President Joe Biden; however Biden has not yet announced that he is running for nomination at all, as he deals with the recent death of his son, Beau.

As political platforms vary drastically, so do the backgrounds of each candidate and their cultures and heritages. Two months from now, the parties will select their gladiators, to pit against each other in the partisan coliseum in November of 2016. USM students will continue to represent their ideals and political beliefs to the nation by way of voting.

USM High School hopes to increase college enrollment.

Mon, 2015-09-21 12:09

The University of Southern Maine is in the early planning stages for an independent high school in order to support the decrease in student enrollment over the past three years. If this was to happen, the University would become an attractive aspect to international students, as it would be one of only a selection of colleges in this country that also provide high school education.

USM’s new President, Glenn Cummings, explained that the creation of a high school could become a reality in as little as two years. With enrollment decreasing to around 9,000 students total on all three campus locations, the addition of this high school would likely bring in the revenue needed to sustain student enrollment.

Although the placement of this high school is still uncertain, officials are looking into the possibility of utilizing the vacant Dickey and Wood Halls, two dorm buildings that once housed 368 students that is in dire need of renovations. Cummings explained that the cost of fixing these dorms could potentially cost $2 million, so the situation on its location is still uncertain.

The goal of this high school would aim to attract students interested in finishing up their education, particularly for students who come from overseas. Cummings explained that with over 100 international students on campus now, the goal of creating an educational outlet would also be to retain these students to attend at the university level.

Cummings wants to develop an easier transition for students into college, and hopes that a USM high school can provide that. Currently, Gorham High School students have the opportunity to participate and earn credits in some college level courses, but the goal is to expand this collaboration with surrounding school districts such as Westbrook, Windham and Bonny Eagle.

“We will be known not as a second choice, but we will be known where academic excellence combines with real world experience,” said Cummings.

UMaine system moving towards more efficient energy

Mon, 2015-09-21 12:08

By Zachary Searles / News Editor


Last Thursday, the University of Maine System released an energy and sustainability report that stated across the system, Maine campuses have reduced their carbon emissions by 26 percent since 2006.

In 2006, the UMaine system as a whole was releasing 97,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere. In 2010, a committee was formed with a representative from each campus, whose goal was to try and bring this number down.

By 2014, emissions were lowered 26 percent to 72,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide being released.

For the past two years USM has been talking about transitioning to another source of fuel other than oil. The conversion required a loan from the University of Maine System’s office for $3 million and that covered the cost of the removal and replacement of the heating system that has been used since the sixties.

“It does a lot of good things for us. It helps us, obviously, with our price point, it’s much cheaper than oil,” said President of the university, Glenn Cummings.

This conversion will save USM 11% on what they spend for heating costs, those savings can then be put towards scholarships, new investments, or even hiring new faculty.

“We have a chance to set a good example for our students, we’re reducing our carbon footprint and we’re using more sustainable, long term forms of energy,” said President Cummings.

Cummings did mention that this is only the beginning and university is looking into more ways than just this to be more sustainable and efficient when it comes to heating and fuel use.

“We’re looking at a master plan for the campus that would include much larger commitments to sustainability,” said President Cummings.

The oil burner was highly inefficient, by just installing these new natural gas boilers it will increase efficiency by 15 percent, meaning that per any one unit of energy, we can now get 15 percent more energy out of that unit.

The energy and sustainability report also stated that the UMaine system is going to decrease its dependency on oil by around 49 percent, going from over a million gallons of oil each year, to around 536,000.

“Oil is not sustainable in the long run, we know it’s a resource that has limits, it also has an enormous implication for our carbon production which threatens our long term survivability,” said President Cummings.

According to Cummings, this transition to more sustainable energy sources is a “triple win” for the university. “It saves money, it sets a good example and it allows us to attract more students.”

President Cummings mentioned a poll that stated 72 percent of students stated that a university’s commitment to the environment does play a role when they decide which college to attend.

“To the extent that we’re doing this kind of work means that the community, the nation, and the state begins to look at us as somebody who really backs up our commitment to the environment and to saving money,” said President Cummings.

Cybersecurity Degree Launched in UMaine System

Mon, 2015-09-21 12:08

By Cody Marcroft, Free Press Staff


This fall, the University of Maine System is offering, for the first time, a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity.

The establishment of the major was two years in the making, according to Raymond Albert, professor of Computer Science at the University of Maine Fort Kent and project leader of the degree initiative. Multiple UMS campuses combined resources to ensure it could provide an adequate Cybersecurity education.

A pivotal role in getting the degree approved by the UMS involved establishing credibility with the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before becoming approved by the academic governance body at each participating UMS campus, and lastly the board of trustees.

Meeting NSA/DHS standards was, “more challenging to a certain degree,” than any other step in the process, said Albert. It entailed identifying courses that aligned with the NSA/DHS requirements for learning outcomes, lab facilities and other resources, as well as collaborations with outside agencies and universities.

The UMS was certified by the NSA/DHS as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity in the fall of 2014. The degree was subsequently approved by UMS officials for the fall 2015 semester.

The curriculum includes courses in IT, networking, computer programming, as well as philosophy and ethics.

“If you think about Cybersecurity, you see everyone’s network traffic. What are the ethics around that?” posed Edward Sihler, assistant director of the Maine Cyber Security Cluster (MCSC).

Online courses will be utilized to bring students together from participating UMS campuses. For example, a class of seven students at UMA might meet in-class with a professor, while the professor simultaneously teaches the course online to a few students at USM and UMFK. That way, classes will be appropriately filled and students on campuses with lower enrollment won’t be delayed in their degree progress while waiting for a particular course to become available locally.

Currently, the major is offered at UMA, UMFK and USM. Eventually, Albert hopes to expand the major to other UMS campuses.

“There will be others we’re expecting down the road. Perhaps the University of Maine [Orono] and Farmington,” said Albert.

Maine Cyber Security Cluster

Lab experience is necessary for any field of science. Cybersecurity, a subset of Computer Science, is no exception. The three-year-old MCSC, which has a lab on the USM campus, has been and will continue to be an important asset to the degree program.

“We are, if you will, a center of research; a point of external activity,” said Sihler. “We act in support of the [Bachelor of Science] in Cyber Security.”

Last fall, the MCSC used grants from the National Science Foundation and Maine Technology Institute to build a new research lab. The following spring, groups of students from USM, UMFK and York Community College completed simulated exercises together, where they tackled various Cybersecurity-related problems. Two more exercises will take place this semester.

“It provides an excellent opportunity to engage our students,” said Albert. “They can work with things they normally wouldn’t have access to in a public computer lab.”

Are you safe online?

Recent breaches of privacy have raised concern among the public about the threat of cyber attacks. In December 2013, 110 million customers of Target had their information compromised. In July, Ashley Madison, an online dating service geared toward married people seeking affairs, was hacked. In August, the hackers released users’ information to the public.

How safe do people feel when browsing the Internet? Is there anything that individuals can do to avoid being hacked?

“If you order things online, like textbooks, I think it’s important to make sure the site is secured,” said Tristen Jordan, a general management student at USM. “They’ll have those symbols, which show that your information is encrypted in different ways. If I buy things online I try to make sure to use those websites.”

Other students are more trusting, and less mindful about the prospect of an attack.

“I know there’s always a possibility of my information being taken, but I like to trust the people [running the website] are taking the precautions to protect my information,” said Courtney Bowers, a sophomore biology student.

Some are not concerned at all.

“I understand identity theft, but what good are hackers going to do with my information? There’s no secret that I’m safeguarding,” said Daniel Morrissette, a junior nursing major.

Smart Forest Initiative to begin in Hemlock Forest

Mon, 2015-09-21 12:08

By Erica Jones / Free Press Staff

A publicly-accessible research forest is being developed on the Gorham campus of USM. Hemlock Forest, which already provides the university and the Gorham community with an area for hands-on learning and beautiful views, will be established as a research forest based on the United States Department of Agriculture’s Smart Forest initiative in order to provide live access to environmental sensor data online for climate change research, according to USM’s Office of Public Affairs.

USM’s Smart Forest Initiative is led by Dr. Joseph Staples, a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Also working on the Smart Forest project is USM graduate student Chelsea Malacara, who is studying  Policy, Planning, and Management.

“I see the forest as this hidden gem that the school has, and the more we do with it and the more students and faculty from all departments get involved, the more of a unique place it will become,” said Malacara.

As stated in the press release about the project written by Malacara, over the next three years USM’s Smart Forest project will receive $39,000 to deploy sensors throughout the forest. The sensors that are currently in place measure the weather conditions of the forest, including wind speed, rainfall, and air temperature, as well as soil temperature.

The data obtained from the sensors will be published online alongside sensor data from other forests in the USDA’s Smart Forest Initiative program.

“We also hope to add sensors and other technology that could monitor changes in canopy cover [or] gasses in the air,” said Malacara of future plans for the sensors.

One project currently underway is monitoring forest regeneration. “We are taking tree core samples, measuring diameter at breast height (DBH), analyzing the forest canopy,” explains Malacara, “and over the year, adding soil testing and analyzing debris and leaf litter.” There have already been four monitored plots set up.

Hemlock Forest was always an important part of the environment in Gorham, and with the Smart Forest Initiative, it will continue to remain an educational resource and community retreat.

Next year, project members hope to install trail signs in the forest and establish the trails on Currently, clean-up events are held intermittently and volunteers are encouraged to join the effort to rejuvenate the forest.

The hope for USM’s Smart Forest is that not only will it provide important environmental data to monitor climate change, but it will provide educational opportunities for students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (S.T.E.A.M.) fields, according to USM’s Office of Public Affairs.

“The forest has the ability to enhance student research, add to the Gorham community, and national climate change research,” said Malacara. “The USM forest can be a pixel in the grand picture.”

Portland women’s history gets its own app made by Professor

Mon, 2015-09-21 12:07

By Brian Gordon / Free Press Staff

Walking through town you’re liable to spot plaques on old buildings. Why’s that there? Who’s Lily Stephens? Now there’s an app for that. It’s called the Portland Women’s History Trail and it was created here at USM.

History professor, Eileen Eagan, and her students took what once was a 20 year old booklet of historic sites involving women across Portland and made it into a foot-friendly walkabout town that you can follow along with your smart phone. She thought it was time for our city to have it’s own history trail. USM received a grant from Maine Economic Improvement Fund.

“Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia all have history walking trails, it’s a good way to bring history alive,” Eagan said. “The idea is to get people out looking at sights and to feel what it felt like to be the people who were living there.”

There’s Portland history walking trails but none of them focus mainly on women.

“Half the people in the city have been women and their history is important,” said Eagan.

The professor would love to see more statues of working people, men and women on the many fishing piers or a worker in a cannery or at the old chewing gum factory, which is now Hub Furniture on Fore St.

Working class women’s history is not always talked about, Eagan says, but as some of the sights show, women endured terrible conditions and did jobs just as hard as men.

The Portland Star Match Company on West Commercial St. was home to many Irish-American women workers who contracted phosphorus poisoning, which was a disease that ate away part of their jaw. They worked in these terrible conditions from 1870 to 1908 earning wages that averaged $5 a week.

Eagan is quick to point out the tour does include some notable men as well, such as Thomas Brackett Reed, whose visage looks out on the Western Promenade. Reed was an advocate for women’s suffrage and also an anti-imperialist, Eagan adds.

Hans Neilson, a junior art major, helped on the project by going out and photographing the sites, so viewers online would get a feel for it.

“Women in Portland have occupied roles from Mayor of the city to the fishing industry on Commercial St.,” Neilson said. “I think the app shows that women haven’t always occupied the stereotypical roles that we often think of.”

Neilson’s favorite site on the walking trail is the Abyssinian Meeting House on Newbury St.

“I think it stood out to me because of its role in the underground railroad and also that it managed to not get burned down during the fire of 1866,” he said.

Another student who helped work on the app was senior history major, Tracey Berube. She was interested in the Eastern Cemetery because she has relatives buried there from colonial times. Berube said the app is important because it is “a readily accessible way to convey the history of women in Portland to visitors and to give these women a voice that they did not have before.”

The collaborative effort by staff and students left a mark on Professor Egan.

“I was really impressed by the work the students did and the faculty working together was really fun and productive,” Eagan said. “It also couldn’t have been done without the help of Stephen Hauser,” who was the executive director of computer services on campus. Hauser wrote the code to make the app actually work while Eagan and her students handled the history and artistic aspect of the app.

The app is free to download or if you don’t have a smart phone you can go to on your computer to check out the trail.

Pepper spray discharged in lower Brooks

Mon, 2015-09-21 12:07

By Thomas Fitzgerald, News Intern

The Brooks Student Center on the Gorham campus was unexpectedly evacuated last Saturday night, causing unrest among students and many still unanswered questions.

Carly Coombs, a sophomore communications major, was working in the building at the time. She recounts the moments before the evacuation happened, saying that she sat in Lower Brooks when students were suddenly told to evacuate the building around 10:30 p.m.

Little did she know that pepper spray had been discharged on the lower level of Brooks, and five students were required to seek further medical attention from Gorham fire and rescue.  

“I don’t know if they’re taking any criminal action and I’m still not really sure what even happened,” said Coombs. “I just know that it was an incident involving pepper spray and some students had a very bad reaction to it.”

Students that have asthma that were in the building at the time of the incident were the most affected by it. The negative reaction is common among people with asthma, as the active chemical in pepper spray can contribute to coughing and shortness of breath.

Although many students are still trying to put the pieces together, Joy Pufhal, Dean of Students and executive director of student life,  has been working hard to come up with solutions to the issue.

“Students and staff started to present a cough and itchy and burning eyes. The cause was later determined to be a small amount of pepper spray that was discharged at a table near the Husky Hideaway,” stated Pufhal, “USM Police Safety does know the names of the students who were involved. At this time Public Safety is still gathering information and a decision has not yet been made as to criminal charges.”

Briefs: Your weekly news round-up

Mon, 2015-09-21 12:06


The University of Maine System has reduced carbon emissions across its seven campuses and other statewide facilities by 26 percent since 2006, according to a report released Thursday.

During the 2016 heating season, the system expects to cut its consumption of heating oil by more than 500,000 gallons, a 49 percent reduction from last winter.

That was accomplished largely through two major conversions — one that will bring compressed natural gas to the University of Maine at Machias and replace 13 of its aging boilers, and another that will heat the University of Maine at Farmington with woodchips.

“We are working hard to be responsible stewards of the tax and tuition dollars entrusted to the university system and of the environment,” said Norman Fournier, chairman of the finance and facilities committee. “Our targeted investments and campus-led conservation initiatives are reducing our carbon emissions and our overall energy consumption.”

At the University of Southern Maine, the system is spending $3 million to replace the Portland campus’ 50-year-old heating plant equipment with natural gas-fired boilers.

USM students to present at TESOL conference

According to the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program, two students and five recent graduates have been invited to share their work at the Northern New England TESOL annual conference.

This conference will be held on Nov. 7, 2015 at the University of New Hampshire campus in Durham.

Presenters include Patty Jokie, Amy Kissel, Rebecca Graham, Heidi Haufe and Beth Skotarczak, along with their professor.

Seven new members of Husky Hall of Fame

The athletics department will add seven new members to the Husky Hall of Fame when it hosts the 30th annual Husky Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony on Sat. September 26 at the Brooks Student Center on the Gorham campus.

To be enshrined as part of the Class of 2015 are former soccer standout and All-WMAC selection, Carl Holmquist, Class of 1985; field hockey all-region selection, Erika Allen Gould, Class of 1998; a pitcher on the 1997 NCAA Division III National Championship baseball team Denny Webber, Class of 2000; a former track and field All-American, Michael Bunker, Class of 2006; the men’s ice hockey program’s all-time leader in points and goals scored, Mark Carragher, Class of 2007; the starting point guard for the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Division III women’s basketball Final Four teams, Katie Sibley, Class of 2007; and long-time women’s basketball coach and former Associate Director of Athletics, Gary Fifield.

The seven new inductees will bring the total number of former Southern Maine standouts in the Husky Hall of Fame to 197.

Hillary Clinton visits King Middle School

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told an adoring crowd in Portland on Friday that the United States will return to what she called the failed Republican policies of trickle-down economics unless voters keep a Democrat in the White House in 2016.

“I want the American people to understand what the choice is,” said Clinton. “[Republicans] want to return to the failed policies of trickle-down economics. We can’t let the hard work that has been done by President [Barack] Obama to be ripped away.”

Clinton went to great lengths to associate herself with Obama. She started her speech by describing the nation’s struggling economy that greeted Obama when he took office in 2009, according to Bangor Daily News reporters Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd.

“I don’t think President Obama gets the credit he deserves for keeping us from falling even further,” said Clinton. “The recovery is proceeding, but we haven’t finished what we need to do.”

Clinton cycled through a bevy of familiar Democratic principles, such as increasing funding for schools, creating partnerships between students and businesses, raising taxes and eliminating tax loopholes that benefit the rich, along with some ambitious energy goals that mirror rhetoric from Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Clinton also focused on a couple of issues that many don’t think find their ways into political campaigns enough: increasing treatment for mentally ill and drug addicted people.

Clinton is the fourth presidential candidate who has visited Maine in recent weeks, though her visit last year in support of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud came well after she was presumed to be vying for the White House.

Science Exhibit in Portland uses real body parts

Mon, 2015-09-14 13:20

By Samuel Haiden / Contributor

An anatomical exhibit described as a mix of “art, science, and circus freak show” will inspire and educate audiences here in Portland starting Friday, September fourth.

The exhibit features real live human corpses, which have been voluntarily donated to the cause by the deceased- in most cases. These corpses are preserved by a process called plastination, developed by the anatomical artisan himself, Dr. Gunther von Hagens, to display the complexity of the human body, frozen in perfect composure to allow for a deep and pensive look into the clockwork of our very own bodies.

The process imbues organic tissue with silicone, leaving the musculature with a waxy and plastic appearance; but the lack of robustness does no injustice to the incredible complexity of the human anatomy.

In fact, the artificiality of the experience makes it much more approachable. Human legs are referred to as “lower extremity with knee-joint prosthesis.” The blood and gore expected with the display of disembodied human flesh is absent, bearing no resemblance to the zombie-like appearance of traditionally preserved cadavers.

In fact, the plastinated cadavers have become so popular that multiple European universities have purchased them for the study of human anatomy.

Hagens presents his exhibit as a “living anatomy,” in contrast with the traditionally preserved “anatomy of the dead,” and his fascination with the study of living anatomy has been compared to the zealous study of physicians in the Renaissance period.

The nature of Hagens’ pursuits, however, carry with them a series of criticisms. The primary material in the process of making plastinated cadavers, of course, is dead people. The obvious criticism is that the exhibit is discomforting and nauseating: many complaints were made about the exhibit during the first several years of its debut, and it was protested in both Europe and Asia.

These claims are quickly quelled by emphasising the overwhelming educational benefit that the experience provides especially for University students studying medicine.

Some claims, however, are not so easily overruled. Within the first two years of the exhibit’s debut in 2004, many questions were raised about the source of the bodies. These questions are detailed in a Guardian article from the same year indicating that at least two of the 647 corpses stored in his Chinese plastination facility were executed by a shot to the back of the head: implying that the corpses belonged to executed Chinese prisoners. Von Hagens admitted to these claims and returned the bodies to be buried.

Two years later and to the contrary, he states in an NPR article, “What I certainly never use for public exhibitions are unclaimed bodies, prisoners, bodies from mental institutions or executed prisoners.”

The exhibit has become a rampant success: and with good reason. Due to the highly academic nature of the plastinated corpses, the exhibit is very educational. It ran in Boston in 2014 and many members of the USM learning community made the pilgrimage to attend.

David Champlin, an Associate Professor of Biology at USM, found the exhibit to be an excellent learning tool. He was surprised to find that even within a group of science students, some were intrigued and some were repulsed.

“There are a small set of people who find the body fascinating whether it is healthy or ill or large or small,” he said. “Lots of them are heading into careers in health care and will help take care of us when we get sick, injured, or old.”

Ben Stone, a Pre-Med student here at USM agrees, “I saw the exhibit in Boston and really enjoyed it,” said Ben Stone, a junior pre-med major. “I believe there was a piece portraying the development of a fetus, which was really cool.”

When asked about his opinions on the discomfort exhibited by some attendees, he seemed perplexed by the notion that anybody should be grossed out by it, adding, “it’s what’s inside of us.”

Students Connect at 15th Annual Husky Fest

Mon, 2015-09-14 13:19

By Rahma Ali, Community Editor

Last Wednesday, the lawn between Payson Smith and Luther Bonney was filled with students eager to learn more about USM through student information tables, great food and upbeat music at the 15th annual Husky Fest.

For students, the Husky Fest is a way to meet and connect with faculty members and student groups. According to Dean of Students Joy Pufhal, the event is aimed at making connections between student resources in the surrounding community.

“We want them to connect to USM and find ways to be involved that will enhance their skill,” said Pufhal. “What’s important is the experience they gain and the networks they build.”

Over thirty clubs and organi dents, could benefit from what the Husky Fest has to offer.

“Students will benefit by getting to know all the resources available to USM students, and learn about all the opportunities USM offers,” said Loeurm-Ho, “this event was definitely aimed at making students feel welcomed and I had a fun-filled day.”

Reza Jalali, Coordinator of Multicultural Student Affairs said that this festival offers students a helping hand in the club recruitment process. He explained that most student activity groups are in need of new members all the time. The Husky Fest becomes a platform for active veteran members of groups to find new members to replace them.

“Meeting the new University President and witnessing the excitement that our need students had upon arrival to the campus really proves just how much life this University still has,” he said.

For Pufhal, the ultimate goal of the festival each year is to bring positive energy to incoming students by associating the beginning of a new academic year with the free food, friendly people and the ability to create a community feel amongst students.