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

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:32

By Bradford Spurr/Free Press Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:32

By Erica Jones/Free Press Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:31

By Candice Isaac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USM has made big strides in providing rights for LGBT

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:30

By MaryAnn Silliboy/Free Press Staff

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

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

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

 

These were the questions they asked:

What is homosexuality?  

Who is homosexual?

Does a homosexual act make one a homosexual?  

How many homosexuals are there?

Can homosexuals be easily identified?

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

Is homosexuality unnatural?

Are homosexuals mentally ill?  

Are homosexuals criminals?

Are children seduced into homosexuality?

What causes homosexuality?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wars that shaped America bring students together at USM

Tue, 2016-02-23 22:29

By Zachary Searles/News Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then & Now Briefs

Tue, 2016-02-23 19:56

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

USM’s varied student demographic help to understand transfer rates

Mon, 2016-02-15 16:21

By Erica Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mon, 2016-02-15 15:59

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Police Beats 2/1/15

Mon, 2016-02-15 15:58

02/01/2016

Haw Haw!

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

Robot Doors Gone Wild

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

02/03/2016

USM’s Unwanted Undesirables Unite!

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

Drunk, Sleeping One Off In Hanny Hall

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

02/04/2016

Hamburglar Strikes Again

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

You Got Served Homie

Paper service, Anderson Hall. Court summons was served.

02/05/2016

Nobody Wants to Hear T-Swift That Loud

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

“Come at me Bro!”

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

Oh Wait, This Isn’t Worth Anything?

Security Alarm, Art Gallery. False alarm.

Green Dreams

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

News Briefs

Mon, 2016-02-08 07:30

Local & State

 

Presidential race may be causing Mainers to overlook ballot initiatives

 

The country will be electing a new president in 2016, but Maine voters will have a lot more to think about than just who they want to be their next president. Some believe that it’s possible that because it’s a big election year, some ballot measures are being overlooked.

 

In November, voters will be deciding on six potential ballot measures, including raising the minimum wage for the state, legalizing marijuana and mandating background checks on private gun sales.

 

As of now, only the establishment ranked-choice voting has qualified for the ballot. The other measures are still going through the validation process to make sure that all signatures are valid, and that the right amount of signatures were obtained.

 

While some believe that the ballot measures are getting pushed to the side because of the presidential race, others think that because it is a presidential election year, this will increase voter turnout in November, which in turn could help certain ballot measures.

 

Power company donates award-winning book to Maine schools and libraries for 16 consecutive years

 

Central Maine Power has donated the award-winning book Nana in the City to more than 600 public and private schools, as well as libraries, across the state. This is the 16th straight year Central Maine Power has been donating this book to schools and libraries.

 

“We’re happy to donate this wonderful book to the libraries and schools we serve,” Sara Burns, president and CEO of Central Maine Power, said. “We hope Nana and the City will spark a love for reading and creativity that lasts a lifetime.”

 

Nana in the City tells the story of a young boy who takes a trip to the big city to visit his grandmother. At first, the noises and crowds scare the boy, but with a little help from his grandma, that fear quickly turns into excitement.

 

Donating books is just one of the things that Central Maine Power does to help prepare children to lead productive lives: They also provide scholarships to those who plan on studying engineering or want to participate in technology programs.

 

Maine lawmakers to consider making punishments harsher for drug offenders

 

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills spoke in front of the legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee, proposing a bill that would make the possession of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and various other drugs a felony.

 

According to Mills, under the current law, the punishment for possession is nothing more than a “slap on the wrist.”

 

“I know that facing a lengthy sentence is sometimes the only motivating factor for someone to confront their addiction and get the treatment they need,” Mills said.

 

Rep. Mick Devin was opposed to Mills’ plan, stating that the state should be more focused on locking up drug dealers rather than on locking up people who have become addicted. Devin proposed that a first offense for possession should be left as a misdemeanor, but that a second offense could be charged as a felony.

 

National

 

Florida prepares for potential Zika virus outbreak

 

The Zika virus, a disease transmitted through mosquitos and that has been wreaking havoc in South America, has Florida officials preparing for the worst

 

Because of Florida’s warm climate, which can house mosquitoes year-round, and the amount of international travellers that come to Florida, the state is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the virus. Door-to-door inspections have increased in neighborhoods where 12 Zika cases have been reported, but officials say that these individuals contracted the virus while travelling abroad.

 

“With 20 million people and over 100 million tourists, we need the CDC to immediately provide these kits to Florida so we can protect our families and of course all of our visitors,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at a Tampa news conference.

 

Gov. Scott has also asked the CDC for 1,000 kits to test for viral antibodies in pregnant women. The state currently has 500 tests on hand.

 

President Obama wants to impose fee to insure cleaner transportation of oil

 

President Obama wants oil companies to pay a $10 fee per barrel of oil transported, which will help fund investments for clean transportation that will help fight climate change. The bill will be presented to Congress on Tuesday and is already expected to face opposition from the Republicans .

 

Despite the opposition, Obama hopes that this bill will at least start a conversation about the need for energy producers to start helping fund efforts for clean transportation.

 

The $10 fee would be phased in over the next five years, and is projected to provide $20 billion per year which can be used for investing in cleaner transportation. The American Petroleum Institute states that the fee would raise the cost of gas by 25 cents.

 

Democrats debate just days before New Hampshire primaries

 

After Martin O’Malley dropped out of the presidential race, the Democratic debate, which took place a few days before the New Hampshire primaries, featured a head-to-head, with Vermont senator Bernie Sanders against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

 

Sanders began his opening statement by warning the American public that almost all new income that is created goes to the top one percent, all while Americans continue to work longer hours for low wages.

 

Clinton attacked Sanders for not being progressive enough on the issue of gun control, stating that he voted against the Brady Bill five times and that he voted to give gun makers and sellers immunity.

 

Sanders fired back, saying that Clinton is too influenced by Wall Street to follow through on her claims to break them up, pointing out that she has accepted millions of dollars in speaking fees from Wall Street firms, and that some of her top donors are big Wall Street banks.

 

International

 

WikiLeaks founder feels vindicated after U.N. panel ruled he was being arbitrarily detained

 

Julian Assange, founder of the website WikiLeaks, has been on the run from governments across the globe for the last few years after he stole documents and started releasing government secrets through the website.

 

Last Friday, a U.N. panel ruled in favor of Assange, saying that the Swedish and U.K. governments have been detaining him arbitrarily since 2010. While the U.N. ruled in his favor, Assange doesn’t appear ready to test his luck just yet. e remains at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

 

Assange is still wanted in Sweden on allegations of rape, and he said that he fears if he leaves the embassy he will be extradited to the United States to face the death penalty over allegations of revealing top secret government information.

 

Norway’s taking weapons away from police after allowing them for just one year

 

In November of 2014, Norwegian police officers were ordered to be armed at all times, whereas before that police officers were to keep their guns locked up in their cars. This new experiment last about 14 months, and last Wednesday, officers in Norway were ordered to go back to locking up their firearms.

 

The experiment started when a threat assessment made in October 2014 found that Norway was to be a likely recipient of a terrorist attack within the next 12 months. In 2015, another threat assessment was made, claiming that there was no longer any threat.

 

After the 2015 assessment, Norway got ready to lock their guns up once again, but after the terrorist attacks in Paris, they decided to temporarily extend the arming of police.

 

During the year of being fully armed while on the job, there was reportedly no increase in the number of incidents involving police firearms. Many officials credit this to the high levels of training Norwegian police officers are given to restrain from using their weapons unless absolutely necessary.

 

All information gathered for Briefs was taken from: The Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald, CNN and The New York Times.

What is Enlightenment? Kant’s essay 230 years later

Mon, 2016-02-08 07:29

By Zachary Searles

Last Wednesday afternoon, three philosophy scholars, along with an audience of about 20 individuals, gathered in Luther Bonney to discuss and critique  Immanuel Kant’s essay What is Enlightenment?, which was published in 1784.

The Enlightenment, which swept through Europe in the 18th century, was a time where philosophers were questioning the way the world had been working for centuries. They preached liberty and were tired of church and government officials hurling abuse at them.

In the opening of the essay, Kant claims that enlightenment is “man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage.” In other words, Kant says that in order for you to become a liberated individual, you must have the courage to use your own mind and think for yourself without the guidance and influence of others.

Kant goes on to argue that cowardice and laziness are the reasons why large groups of humankind will remain “minors” for their entire lives, mainly because being a minor is comfortable.

Dr. Robert Louden, professor of philosophy at USM, was the first speaker at the event. Having published a book that critiqued Kant’s essay, he discussed the ten problems with Kant’s proposal for how one can reach enlightenment.

Louden defined enlightenment as a world where people think for themselves rather than one where people blindly follow authority and convention.

One of Louden’s big critiques is that Kant’s position rules out all forms of resistance, violent and nonviolent, including things like protests, hunger strikes and revolutions, which have no place in society, according to Kant.

“So what good is philosophy? Kant’s position forces people to sometimes act against their beliefs, and this implies that philosophical argument is sometimes inefficacious and impotent,” Louden said.

Kant is often interpreted as advocating for complete freedom of the press, but Louden said that this probably wasn’t the case. According to Louden, Kant wants a loosening of restrictions on the press, but not complete freedom.

“Publications alone are not going to bring enlightenment, and requiring absolute obedience to one’s government and employer is inconsistent with autonomy and human dignity,” said Louden in his conclusion. “Argue but obey is bad advice.”

David Cummiskey, professor and chair of the philosophy department at Bates College, was the next speaker at the event. He looked at the similarities between enlightenment and awakening, comparing Kant’s ideas to those of Buddha.

According to Cummiskey, Buddha insisted that people not just accept his teachings and should, instead,constantly be challenging them, which is similar to what Kant was arguing in his essay. Kant didn’t think you should just accept something because it came from authority. Kant and many enlightenment thinkers, like Buddha, wanted people to be constantly challenging ideas, especially those coming from the top.

When talking about Kant and his essay, Cummiskey used the definition of enlightenment given by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which states: “The faith of Enlightenment – if one may call it that – is that the process of enlightenment, of becoming progressively self-directed in thought and action through the awakening of one’s intellectual powers, leads ultimately to a better, more fulfilled human existence.”

The final speaker was Dr. Sarah Marquardt, professor of philosophy at USM. Her topic of discussion was questioning the inclusiveness of Kant’s concept of enlightenment, claiming that women were not included in his essay or under this concept of enlightenment.

Marquardt used some of Kant’s other writings to make her argument, including a section where Kant argues that women are fearful because fear is implanted into them when they are  embryos, making it impossible for them to think for themselves.

Another piece of Kant’s work states: “[Women] use their books somewhat like a watch, that is, they wear the watch so it can be noticed that they have one, although it is usually broken or does not show the correct time.”

As Marquardt pointed out,  these two works show what Kant’s ideas of women were, so it isn’t a stretch to claim that he didn’t think women couldn’t be enlightened.

As Louden pointed out at the end of the discussion, even though this essay is over 200 years old, the topics Kant discusses are still prominent today. Dozens of books about and critiques of Kant’s essay have been published, and yet one question is still left unanswered: What is Enlightenment?

 

 

 

Police Beats

Mon, 2016-02-08 07:29

01/25/2015

Driving 101: Give It the Corn Bub

Motor vehicle crash, 25 Durham St. M/V accident report taken

01/27/2016

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Suspicious incident, G12 parking lot. Unfounded.

If They Cared You Would of Gone to Maine Med

Medical emergency, Robie Andrews Hall.  Gorham rescue transported student to Mercy Hospital

01/28/2016

Biology Bores Hobo

Medical emergency, Science building. Report of a person passed out. Portland medical transported

Lawyers Are Despicable Lurkers

Suspicious incident, Law Building. Report of a person outside acting suspiciously. Unfounded

6 Cops Can’t Track Ghost Car

Attempt to locate for Gorham PD. GPD called to inform us of a vehicle driving erratically. Vehicle was found on campus unoccupied.

01/29/2016

This Campus Is Haunted By Prank Callers

911 call, 59 Exeter St. Emergency phone from elevator rang into dispatch. No caller on phone or in elevator

Do You Smell What I Smell?

Drug complaint, Upton Hastings Hall. Smell of marijuana reported from second floor. Officer investigating

 

01/30/2016

That’s Where I Left My Lunchable and Banana Peel

Suspicious incident, Glickman Library. Report of a suspicious grocery bag/package left behind. Checked by officer. Safe.

Your Car Was All Up In My Car’s Grill

Motor vehicle crash. Hit & Run. G16 Parking Lot. Student reported a vehicle was struck by an unknown vehicle. Report taken.

Narcs Galore at USM

Drug complaint, Upperclass Hall. Report of the smell of marijuana coming from the fourth floor. Officer investigating. Report taken.

 

Maine is one of 13 states that has a caucus, Here’s how it works….

Mon, 2016-02-08 07:28

By Bryer C. Sousa/Contributor

As the presidential hopefuls refocus their efforts upon New Hampshire following the virtual tie between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, as well as Ted Cruz’s win over Donald Trump in Iowa, one may be wondering how the caucusing process works in both parties in Maine.

Robert W. Glover, an assistant professor of the honors program and political science at the University of Maine at Orono, said that “the caucuses basically determine the number of delegates a candidate will be apportioned at the state and national party conventions (with a little bit of leeway—there are always a few delegates that are not bound to the results of the state caucus).”

In fact, Maine is one of thirteen states and three U.S. territories that makes use of caucusing in order to declare its states party members’ preferences for the Democratic presidential nominee and the Republican presidential nominee.

This process of caucusing that takes place in Maine and elsewhere is much more involved than participating in a primary, where members of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party cast secret ballots for their favorite candidates. The caucusing process is also different in each party.

For registered Democratic voters in the State of Maine, the Maine Democratic Party works with the local Democratic municipal and county committees to design the caucuses that will take place on Sunday, March 6, 2016. Nevertheless, once signed into the municipal caucus, the precinct caucuses convener will explain the rules, process and address required Democratic Party business.

Afterwards, the voters in attendance at the caucus split into groups based upon who they prefer of the candidates running. Finally, the results of the people’s presidential candidates preferences will yield an allocation of a number of delegates to be divided in proportion to the support garnered for each nominee.

The Maine Republican Party will hold its respective nominating caucuses on Saturday, March 5, 2016, across the State of Maine.  

Unlike the Maine Democratic Party, the Republicans conduct their caucus by way of voting via paper ballots, where any registered voter in the party can participate. Following the caucus results, the number of delegates each candidate receives will be determined by the percent of the votes they receive. However, if any Republican candidate receives greater than 50% of the ballots cast, they will be awarded all of Maine’s delegates.

For those among us who are not affiliated with a party, or in other words are unregistered or unenrolled, and would like to participate in a particular party’s caucus, there is still time to register to vote as a Democrat or Republican at a local municipal clerk’s office prior to caucus day.

Professor Glover also identified that “there are obviously positives and negatives with this method. A caucus demands greater participation and is more of a commitment of time and energy and forces citizens to advocate on behalf of their candidate.” Glover concluded by mentioning that the “primaries are simpler, but a less demanding and engaged political activity.”

 

Rent prices at all time highs while USM explores new options

Mon, 2016-02-08 07:28

 

By Bradford Spurr

Back in 2008, the world stopped and watched as the most powerful and democratically free economy was brought to its knees after several years of mismanaged financial practices from some of the nation’s largest banking and securities institutions, which led to big banks needing to be bailed out because of faulty housing loans.

In the metropolitan greater Portland area, nearly one-third of the state’s population calls the town home, and with limited renting space, this is causing a micro-housing boom. An independent real estate data firm, Zillow, estimated that between May 2014 and May 2015, the average price to rent an apartment rose 17.5 percent, which was the second greatest increase in the nation. The Southern Maine Landlord Association puts that increase at anywhere from nine to 11 percent.

Tyler Norod, housing planner for the City of Portland, attributes this rise to increased pressure on the market that simply does not have enough housing to accommodate surging need. Proposed efforts to invest in dormitory housing for the Portland campus by USM would have a dramatic impact on the city.

“It is hard to say what kind of an impact dorms in the Portland area would have without a concrete proposal in front of me. It would help take students out of the rental stock and create vacancies,” Norod said.

At the more local level, John Jackson III, senate chairman for the USM student government association, only sees dorms in the Portland area as a positive. After a recent referendum, dormitories in Portland ranked as the most important issue in students’ lives. After it was announced last semester that the school would be pursuing this plan and that the topic was now up for discussion, he spoke to the current state of potential dorms in Portland.

“The administration is pushing it forward. They know that it is something that ranked heavily on the student’s radar during the referendum that we had. I think it was at 85 percent were looking for a dorm in Portland,” Jackson said.

With such a huge majority of USM students pointing to this issue as the one they’d like to see resolved, it is hard to ignore the current logistical nightmare of finding space within walking distance to the campus for more than 4,000 students.

“The university is actually taking it pretty seriously, they’ve looked a lot at Bayside. They have taken some tours, quite a few as a matter of fact, they’ve done facilities tours, tours in general to check out the apartments. The outlook and progress is looking really good at this time. I don’t know exactly where they stand as of this moment though because I am not privy to that information right now,” Jackson said. “It has been mentioned about Fall of 2016, but nothing is concrete because there is no contract signed yet. They are still in the negotiating aspect of the deal.”

With the holidays and the new year firmly behind us, it is now time to look to the future of USM as it grapples with an identity crisis that stems from fiscal troubles that have wracked the school for the past several years. Hopefully all does go as planned, and that the university will announce official plans soon.

 

Arbitrator rules faculty layoffs justified at USM

Mon, 2016-02-08 07:27

During the last weekend of January, the arbitrator reviewed last year’s retrenchments at USM and made a final decision about them, claiming that the process did not violate the collective bargaining agreement USM has with the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine (AFUM).

“We are terribly sorry that we could not deliver a better result for you,” Susan Feiner, a USM economics professor and president of the USM chapter of AFUM, stated.“We threw everything of this that we have. It was never a slam dunk but we were very clearly outgunned.”

President Glenn Cummings, who sent out an email to the university’s students, faculty and staff on Monday, agrees with the arbitrator’s decision that the retrenchments were financially necessary.

“I know this arbitration decision will have a mixed response within our campus community, but I am hoping, regardless of where you sit on the decision, that you will agree it is time for us as a university to move forward,” Cummings said.

Arbitrator Mark Irvings, who ruled on Saturday that the layoffs followed the contract, ordered the university to pay lost wages and benefits to one professor whose layoffs did not follow legal procedures. This individual was not identified. USM officials also claimed that the cuts were an effort to close a $16 million budget gap. Currently, the university has a budget of $128 million.

The 26 layoffs were a small cog in the machine of ways to cut costs, which ended in the elimination of 51 faculty positions and five academic programs. AFUM decided to challenge the decision to make such changes, which led to the arbitration. Irvings examined both USM’s and the entire system’s finances, and reached his decision on the basis that the administration was aware of the financial situation and was unable to change it without the cuts.

In the UMaine System, an estimated 500 positions have been eliminated over the past decade, with the most recent changes taking place last year at USM with the cuts of a graduate program in medical sciences, an undergraduate program in French, the American and New England studies graduate program, the geosciences major and the arts and humanities major at Lewiston-Auburn College.

“Reducing the costs at USM, including elimination of a number of faculty positions to better align expenses with the size of the student body, was an unwelcome but a necessary action to balance the budget of the university for the future,” former USM president David Flanagan, who made the cuts, said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald,. “We took great care to treat all affected members of our community as fairly as possible and to follow the terms of the contract with our represented employees to the letter.”

According to the university budget, the system has a current budget of $518 million and uses $7 million in emergency funds despite cutting 206 positions statewide.

During a retrenchment Q&A last Tuesday evening at USM, professors from a variety of departments across USM came together to discuss the outcome of the lengthy process, which lasted from April to September of 2015.

“The arbitrator said, early on, that one of the things that would have helped is that if there had been a court record,”Feiner said. “He said that in his email in mid-January. There is definitely no smoking-gun of evidence but there is suspicion felt toward administration.”

According to the documentation, there is language that states you cannot lay off faculty and then hire the retrenched faculty back to teach the same course load at a lower rate and/or hire newer part-time faculty as adjuncts to teach the same course load. Yet according to Feiner and many other professors at USM, this is exactly what the system tried to do.

“We actually have an ongoing grievance that is pending the outcome that pending the arbitration dealing with just that,” Feiner state. “It’s regarding faculty that were retrenched and that were hired back part time to teach the work. That grievance is ongoing on and will be revisited.”

According to a professor at USM, who preferred not to be named, the most striking part about the arbitrator’s report is his seemingly lack of understanding regarding how academia works.

“What tools do we have to combat that other than resolutions and objections?” the professor said. “As long as the Board of Trustees are such activists for their cause they just vote in whatever they want and ignore shared governance completely.”

Joseph Medley, an associate professor of economics at USM, stated that the university has been suppressing information about the number of employees in the UMaine system. According to his statements, the university used to report this information in October, but last year they reported in the middle of January and have yet to report on this past year’s faculty changes.

“What we’ve experienced with the new budget is that they take functions away from USM and in turn charge us more. That is one of the fundamental problems with the budget,” he stated. “They can cut revenue flows to us, increase charges and manipulate elements of our budget to produce deficits.”

Some asked what would have happened had the university won the decision. “We’d be celebrating,”  Feiner joked. But according to Lorraine Carol, an associate professor of English, it is just as probable that more retrenchments may have happened six months down the road.

“None of us thought we were going to get an outright win,” Feiner said. “I think some of us that are realists were at least hoping for a mixed bag.”

For some, the belief that faculty governance is under national attack is an all too truthful reality. “We’re holding onto faculty governance by a thread,”an anonymous source directly involved at the university stated. “We have to start acting as a statewide organization.”

According to Carroll, USM has to be communicating with other UMaine campuses and use relationships with legislatures to, in turn, build better relationships within the system—and many agreed with her statement.

“We need to get a governor in place who is going to make better appointments to the Board of Trustees,” Carroll said.

 

 

Academic horizons expanding for interested students. USM trying to make it easier for refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers to get an education.

Mon, 2016-02-01 08:48

By Thomas Fitzgerald/Community Editor

On Jan. 28, a collection of students and prospective individuals who are interested in attending school at a college level gathered together on the seventh floor of the Glickman library to discuss their options with many different representatives. This event was organized with the association of the Martin Luther King Jr. day of service, and is aimed to assist the diverse changes that USM is seeking in order to further pursue this school as a metropolitan university.

There are some challenges that are more difficult to overcome when entering the United States from a foreign country and Reza Jalali, the coordinator of multicultural student affairs, outlined many of these challenges when asked.

“The greatest challenges seem to reflect the workshops we are offering: Language, cost of education and paying for it, and transfer of degrees from other countries.” Said Jalali, who was present throughout the workshop to answer student questions and emphasize the programs that are being offered. “ Others include cultural adjustment and navigating the complex American educational system.”

It is still crucial that although USM is also finding solutions to these problems as well as recognizing them, and Jalali clearly stated with confidence that USM will do their part to assist cultural adjustment for all students who are adapting to a new lifestyle among the community.

“The best ways include changing USM’s culture to be more welcoming to newcomers is by offering courses on issues they seem to be familiar with,” continued Jalali. “For example, classes in Arabic, World religion, international politics, immigration, hiring staff and faculty members, who resemble them, creating scholarships to attract them and retain them, creating a one-stop-shop where immigrants can get their degrees from abroad looked at, evaluated and easily transferred, and so on.”

One example of financial assistance that was present at the workshop was the finance authority of Maine. FAME, as it is abbreviated, did a thorough job at explaining the important steps toward applying for financial aid, what kind of financial aid is available, and how to reduce college costs overall while spending time at USM..

From a national perspective, the amount of diversity in the college classroom is making great levels of progress. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, students that are Hispanic have risen by more than twenty percent since statistics were reported in 2010.  This growth has mainly been accountable of students who are attending public four year colleges or universities, such as USM.

The workshop also took time to examine the possibilities of education from a broader perspective: college for families who have young children, and are thinking in advance about how they can afford education once their child reaches the appropriate age. This program is called the NextGen College Investing Plan, and it outlines how parents can open an account with a small start-up fee, and collect financial assistance as years pass with grants that match the money being saved within the account.

Whether you are an immigrant, a refugee, asylum seeker, or just an individual who is concerned about their ability to financially afford college and culturally adapt to the change in surroundings of a new area, this workshop was incredibly beneficial.

Potential changes coming to USM after Board of Trustees meeting

Mon, 2016-02-01 08:48

By Zachary Searles

The Board of Trustees for the University of Maine System held their first meeting of the year, and of the semester, last Sunday and Monday, Jan. 24 and 25, at the University of Maine in Orono. During the meeting, the board voted on matters that will potentially impact the future of USM.

The board gave unanimous support for the plan of a two-year International Early College at USM. With their support, the plan for the early college can now move forward.

The goal of the early college program is to attract international students who are interested in studying at United States colleges. As of now the plan is to get 50 students to enroll, and these students would be housed in Anderson Hall on the Gorham campus.

“We have fantastic opportunities to grow our university and our state’s economy by strengthening our global ties,” Glenn Cummings, President of USM, said in an article in the Bangor Daily News. “Our International Early College program leverages our excess capacity and ingenuity to draw diversity, talent and tuition dollars to Maine.”

Students who enroll in the program will take 100 and 200 level classes at the university, and at the end of their two years, they would graduate with a high school diploma and two years of college credit that could then be used to transfer to another college somewhere else.

In his Monday Missive, a weekly email blast that goes out to all students, President Cummings thanked all who were a part of making this happen, and mentioned that the next step was to get visa destination approvals from the Department of Homeland Security, a process that could take a few months.

In his email, the president also noted that Provost Jeannine Uzzi took a trip to Thailand, Vietnam and Korea to recruit students for the new school and for USM.

“USM’s International Early College program is a creative approach to bringing new students, new perspective and new resources to Maine,” Gregory Johnson, UMS Academic and Student Affairs Committee Chairman, said in a press release last Tuesday.

The first class of students could be looking to come to USM as soon as the Fall 2016 semester. Any student accepted would be looking at a bill of $36,000, which includes tuition, room and board and other fees.

At the meeting, the Board of Trustees also liked the idea of adding the Muskie School of Public Service at USM to the graduate center that is in the works from Eliot Cutler. Although as of now a specific location has not yet been decided for the graduate center, it will likely be built somewhere in Portland, although as of now the location has not yet been decided.

In the past, Cutler has said there is support for having it on the USM campus, but noted that there is also support for it being somewhere in Portland. According to the Portland Press Herald, Cutler is more focused on finishing the plan, which he will be giving to Chancellor of the University of Maine System James Page in late summer early fall, than on deciding where the center will actually be located.

President Cummings said that Muskie faculty are interested in being a part of the new center, but he also believes that right now the Muskie school is fragile after all the cuts last fall and is still getting back on its feet.

According to President Cummings, the Muskie research center brings in between $20 and $25 million every year.

“We think it strengthens the attractiveness of the (graduate center) program if Muskie is united,” President Cummings said in a Portland Press Herald article. “They believe they will be better off as part of this graduate center as well.”

Chancellor Page also gave his support for adding the Muskie school to the graduate center, claiming that it would be a  meaningful addition to the center.

Even though there is no final decision as to where the graduate center will go, President Cummings would like to see it stay on campus.

He noted in his Monday Missive that he will be attending board meetings for the Alfond Foundation, which will provide most of the financial backing for the new graduate center, to answer any questions the foundation’s members might have about the center.

“If appropriate, I will reflect the strong feelings of faculty and USM’s student BOT representatives to keep the Center on campus and include all of our graduate programs,” President Cummings said in his weekly email to all students.

Could cost of books lead to more theft in bookstore?

Mon, 2016-02-01 08:47

By Bradford Spurr

Going to college is seen as an investment in oneself and in one’s future. Knowledge is power, and with that comes an educated constituency that forms the foundation of a well-informed democratic society.

However, with a commitment to any major, comes the implied obligation of increasingly expensive textbook and other bookstore materials. NBC News reviewed the Bureau of Labor Statistics data that shows that since 1977, textbook prices have increased by 1,041 percent . This trend is three times greater than what natural free market inflation normally would allow.

The College Board published its own findings that, on average, a student attending a four-year university will pay $1,250 a year for textbooks and materials alone. This cost has been mitigated in recent years with the advent of online retailers like Amazon, renting services Chegg.com and Textbookrush and with clever Google Chrome extentsions, such as Occupy the Bookstore, which is an extension that will automatically display six to seven alternative marketplaces for books based on a student’s university’s own bookstore website.

Regardless of how accessible responsible price comparison tools are, the bottom line is that textbooks have now become an inordinate expense because students fall into the special category of  captive consumers. This means that little marketplace competition exists because these textbooks are widely adopted by hundreds of universities and colleges, and one book is not the same as another.

Student consumers are then placed in the difficult position of being stuck between a rock  and a hard place. Compounding this economic struggle is the uncertainty of whether or not this current trend will continue. All that is clear is that book prices will certainly not drop anytime soon.

With the implementation of a newly revamped security policy, the inescapable reality of increasing textbook prices has been on full display at the USM bookstore for the past several weeks. Official uniformed USM police guard the entrance of the store with an intimidating authority that seems excessive for a place that sells stuffed animals. These police officers ask each and every student  to leave their backpacks in a series of small, black cubbies before the student can go off to locate his/her $200 McGraw Hill biology book.

Catherine Johnson, bookstore manager here at the USM Portland campus, has been involved with the university in some capacity for nearly 16 years. She was the one who decided to have a security presence in the store in order to, as she said,“cut down on theft.” Johnson also stated that “most theft is done by non-students,” citing an alleged textbook theft ring operating along the coast.

The bookstore does not necessarily have a way to track these ‘book lifting’ crimes because, according to Johnson, “It is not an obvious thing, it is not something entered into the computer.Seeing people lift books, happens more often than I’d like.”

And as far as what kind of profit margin is seen on these high-priced commodities, Johnson said, “Well we have to make a profit to pay our staff, I’d rather not comment on the profit. But it is probably not as much as most people think.”

The bookstore is not an independant company in the respect that it does not have any affiliation with big-box stores like Borders or Barnes & Noble. However, in her closing statement, Johnson remarked, “We are directly an extension of the school, because we work for the school and for the students.”

Workshop aims to dispel stereotypes around disabilities

Mon, 2016-02-01 08:47

by Erica Jones/Free Press Staff

Last Wednesday, the University of Southern Maine hosted an interactive workshop on disability education and disability ally work, “Moving Beyond Pity & Inspiration: Doing Disability Ally Work.”

The workshop was facilitated by author and disability activist Eli Clare and focused on “exploring both what we need to unlearn and how to disability ally work.”  

The workshop was made also possible through collaborations between the USM Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity, the Disability Services Center, USM’s Dean of Students, and USM’s Women and Gender Studies department, as well as the University of New England and the Maine College of Art.

“Disabled people are everywhere, and yet are mostly invisible to the nondisabled world,” reads the first line of Clare’s workshop hand-out. It is true that disabled people are prevalent in our population; according to 2010 Census data, about 56.7 million people in the United States — 19 percent of the population — had a disability, “with more than half of them reporting the disability was severe.”

Yet people with disabilities are very often subjected to a world that does not accommodate them, alongside stereotypes that are often harmful and also limiting. These generally masked as positive assumptions, such as that all disabled people are inherently optimistic or inspiring and this is just some of what Eli Clare hopes to change through his workshops.

Sarah Holmes, USM’s Assistant Dean of Students and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, attended the workshop and the dinner held afterwards with Clare and many other people passionate about changing the way disabilities are perceived by able-bodied people, and about teaching able-bodied people how to be supportive allies.

“In its essence, it was a workshop on how to do ally work around disability issues,” said Holmes. “Eli really focused a lot on what we need to unlearn, like what are our assumptions and stereotypes about people with disabilities, both positive and negative, and what are some of the implications of some of that language.”

Workshop participants went over how actions or words that may not seem intrusive or offensive to an able-bodied person could very much seem that way to a disabled person. Clare emphasized that it is important to always ask before attempting to help a disabled person, because while assistance may sound or look like a good idea, if unwarranted, for the person on the receiving end this behavior can be demeaning and upsetting.

Stereotypes such as disabled people being objects of pity for their condition or sources of inspiration for “overcoming” their disability  may seem positive, but as Clare explained, these and other “positive” assumptions can be just as limiting for people with disabilities, and still propagate ableism and ableist language. Participants listed some disability-related words they have heard used, and also created hypothetical scenarios in which ableist slang is used in conversation, and having participants in small groups brainstorm ways to “educate and challenge” in each scenario.

Clare has held his ““Moving Beyond Pity & Inspiration” workshop at many other schools across the country with the aim of educating more people on disabilities and training inclusive able-bodied allies.

 

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