Men’s Rugby Tackles Beast of the East

Men’s Rugby Tackles Beast of the East

Nolan Pakulski, Contributing Writer

   The Men’s Rugby Team recently tra

The UMF Men’s Rugby Team prepared vigorously for the Beast of the East tournament (Photo courtesy of UMF Men’s Rugby Team)

velled to the proving grounds of Rhode Island to participate in the Beast of the East rugby tournament.

   Beast of the East is the largest collegiate rugby tournament in the world. Teams from all over the country come to compete for the cup. Last year, the UMF Rugby team won the finals— a goal that they were hoping to accomplish again this year.

   The tournament began with a rough start. “The weather [on] the first day was absurdly wet and chilly. Beast is near the coast, so this is super typical,” said team member Tom Young in an email interview. “We at least had [a tent] this year, but it didn’t help much. At one point we even cut a hole in some trash bags and wore them as ponchos.”.

   Despite the bad weather, the team defeated Johnson and Wales University of Rhode Island, in an astounding victory of 75 to 0. Next, UMF played Franklin Pierce University of New Hampshire, with a final score of 73 to 0— another impressive victory for the men’s rugby team.

   The next day of the tournament was the finals matches for the cup, during which UMF played UMass Dartmouth in a very close and well-matched game. Patrick Powers, a second year on the team, said, “They came out and scored 13 points in probably the first ten minutes, and then we came back and scored five point. Then we scored two more times (10 points) in the second half. We were up 15-13 for the last 15 minutes, [but] in the last two minutes they broke through and scored.”

   Although doing remarkably well, the team fell slightly short of their goal. “We lost in our semi-final match match against UMass Dartmouth. That’s the team that we beat in the cup championship [last year],” said Powers. “It was very intense. They played really well and they definitely earned it.”

   Part of the reason they lost was due to situational components to the game. Opportunities aren’t made on the field, and sometimes the ball doesn’t go the right way, as is the same with all sports. “This is such a good team, full of great players, and we know what we’re capable of on the rugby pitch,” said Powers.

   One of the ways that the players prepared for the tournament was by cutting their hair as a way to raise funds for the team, and to simply continue the tradition. “Everyone is recommended to do it once during their four years,” said Powers. “It raises a good deal of money for us.”

    This fundraiser begins by deciding which players are going to participate, and then people bid to cut the hair of these players. The highest bidder gets to cut the hair of the player that they bid on in any way they want. Powers bid in the auction to cut Nikolai Lane’s hair, another player on the team, and he won the bidding and got to decide how it was cut. “It is a fun tradition… and a really great conversation starter,” said Young.

   Anyone interested in joining the Men’s Rugby team can contact, Jack Neary at john.neary@gmail.com.

Year in Review: Intramural Sports

Avery Ryan, Contributing Writer

Each season of an Intramural sport— including kickball, flag football, soccer, pickleball, and more— lasts three to four weeks, during which both student and staff teams compete against each other for t-shirts; a reward that has become cherished and intensely desired over the years.

   Spring Volleyball, the final intramural season of the semester, recently concluded with intense and exciting levels of play.

   Justin Davis, junior, has participated in every intramural season this year. “[Intramurals] have been a lot of fun to take part in. I love the competition, and the fact that after the game— no matter what happens— you’re still friends with the people you compete against.”

   Intramural Program Director, Jake Heimlich, participates in each season in addition to his responsibilities in scheduling and officiating. “I do intramurals to have fun with my friends, and to play sports that I normally wouldn’t do, like pickleball,” Heimlich said.

   Heimlich also emphasizes sportsmanship improvements within the program. “I would say that sportsmanship has come a long way. It has improved drastically. Sportsmanship has changed as teams get more friendly than competitive. With the exception of a few sports, people are able to keep it lighthearted and fun.”

   Leah Brackett, Assistant Director of the Fitness and Recreation Center, agreed on the topic of sportsmanship. “[It’s] been fantastic this year. Our expectations are more clear, and teams know that. The environment has improved.”

   The Fitness and Recreation Center is the largest student employment facility on campus with more than 100 student employees across all departments. Brackett noted improvements in student employee officiating this year. “We have high expectations for our officials. They’re all students, and we don’t have the resources for crazy amounts of training, so it takes a certain flexibility and willingness to stand out among your peers.” Brackett continued, “We’re always looking for people to participate as referees. Lots of [our referees] are graduating and there will be many job opportunities.”

   The average intramural season this year has had 10 registered teams, including the occasional staff team. The most popular season was basketball. Brackett has allowed for “free agents” to register and be taken in by teams in the case they could not put together a full team on their own. “The numbers this year were pretty average,” Brackett said. “We’ve had years with very few registered teams and years with crazy numbers.”

   “We hope to grow our numbers and to continue to focus on people enjoying themselves. Everyone wants to win a shirt, we get that, and we want to make sure that we stay competitive without people getting down on their teammates or the refs,” Heimlich said.

   “I would encourage anyone and everyone, new and old, to come out and play. It’s a ton of fun, and a great way to meet new people,” Davis said.

Ben White: Transforming How We Look At The FRC

Ben White: Transforming How We Look At The FRC

Ben White, the newest addition to the FRC, has plans to run it more efficiently. (Photo courtesy of UMF Website)

Contributing Writer

   As I walked into the FRC, Ben White, the new director of the FRC, greeted me with a smile, walked to the front doors, and turned to face the lobby and its commotion. After he told me he was “analyzing the visual appeal of the lobby area,” he asked me to stand next to him and observe the lobby. “What do you notice visually?” White asked.

   I instantly felt like I could be honest with him because of our common desire to be actively involved in change. I told him there was empty space. After asking an FRC student employee the same question, White concluded that there was so much empty space on the walls that all you could do was focus on the empty space. He wants to use his prior knowledge and current expectations of the FRC to leave an impression on its visitors the moment they walk in.

   White started working as the FRC Director just over a month ago, and is responsible for the Fitness and Recreation Department: from staff to programming to FRC memberships, as well as Mainely Outdoors. He will be filling the shoes of the previous Director and founder of Mainely Outdoors, Jim Toner, who passed away last summer.

   He has a lot of new, productive ideas for the FRC— including program additions and a deeper relationship between the FRC and campus wellness— but he’d like to focus on student staff development to better prepare student staff for graduate school or the workforce. “Having been at other schools and working with people and schools all over the country,” White said, “I’ve seen some student staff development programs that provide more leadership [and] graduate school opportunities to student staff.”

   White made it clear that he’s not expecting to enact major changes. “There are, and have been, so many amazing things happening by the staff that’s already there,” said White. “I don’t feel like I need to come in and be like, ‘Alright, we need to do these things.’ They’re already happening.”

   Heather McDonald, a senior Special Education and Psychology double major as well as an FRC lifeguard and swim instructor, has been impressed with White and what he’s done so far. “His openness towards learning the environment and the people involved in the facility was a great relief,” said McDonald in an online interview. “Since we had built our own flow and daily routine, it made [the staff] much more receptive towards him, knowing that we wouldn’t have to change what we already know.”

   Leah Brackett, one of the assistant directors at the FRC, was equally impressed after talking to White about his new ideas, such as the possibility of using DSE Rec software at the FRC’s front desk. “He’s met lots of people, so he has resources all over the country to help us improve our practices,” said Brackett.

   White is more than qualified for his new position, and he and the staff are ready for his leadership. “Jim Toner’s passing left a large space in our FRC community and environment, which also left a certain level of expectation to fulfil,” said McDonald. “But I have no doubts that Ben will not only fulfil those expectations, but will bring his own element and legacy to the FRC.”

Free the T Flourishing at UMF

Free the T Flourishing at UMF

Madison Lecowitch, Contributing Writer

Photo depicts left to right, Colby Stevens and Emilee Eustis surrounded by tampons in the Free the T office. (Photo courtesy of Madison Lecowitch)

Free the T, a student led initiative, aims to provide free tampons to UMF students, while promoting women’s health and providing professional development opportunities. There are now tampons available in 40 different bathrooms around campus, in both female and gender neutral bathrooms.

   “We offer the free tampons in the containers in the bathrooms and then we also do tabling during commontime, Monday through Friday, so that’s another way students can access free tampons that are in bags,” said Assistant Professor of Community Health Education, Katie Callahan-Myrick, advisor of Free the T.

   Callahan-Myrick knows that Free the T is in many ways beneficial to the UMF community. “When the students showed interest, it all focused around the idea of period poverty. Tampons are expensive, about $6-$7 per box per month, and students don’t have a lot of money and are living paycheck to paycheck anyways,” said Callahan-Myrick. “I would also like to think that it alleviates emergency stress for when things happen that are unexpected.”

   Callahan-Myrick has been with the project since the Fall 2017 and has seen the hard work put into the program. “It has been a collaborative effort across the campus, and it’s just amazing to see the support we have had,” said Callahan-Myrick, “We have had help from the Campus Residence Council, and from faculty on campus. We’ve also had help from Student Senate and Student Life… They’ve helped us with containers, laminating and all of the things we needed to get to where we are at this point.”.

   The project began two years ago, when a group of students heard about Free the Tampons, a worldwide initiative to help women who have less access to necessary resources, and decided that they wanted to see the program benefit students at UMF. They worked with Proctor & Gamble in Auburn, who provided a donation of 33,369 tampons.

   Emilee Eustis, a junior double majoring in Community Health and Rehabilitation, understands the impact that Free the T has on many students across campus. “Having to buy feminine hygiene products is annoying and something I have to budget out each month,” Eustis said. “[Through Free the T] You get to learn about sustainability, partnerships and advocacy which is so important, especially in today’s society.”

   Libby Shanahan, a junior Psychology major and Art minor, believes that the project is a step in the right direction. “I think that this sort of program is long overdue for UMF,” said Shanahan. “We really pride ourselves on being progressive, so it’s nice to see that people are rallying behind the movement.”

   Shanahan understands the struggle of forgetting feminine hygiene products. “There have been plenty of times throughout the semester where I found myself without a tampon. It can be uncomfortable to ask for one in class, especially if there isn’t someone who you’re semi-familiar with,” Shanahan said. “Its takes the pressure off, and saves you from what sometimes can be an awkward conversation.”

   Callahan-Myrick realizes that not everyone uses tampons. “We would love to expand to pads, but at this point we don’t have the resources to be able to,” said Callahan-Myrick. “I anticipate we have enough tampons for the next two years and so that gives us a little bit of a breathing room. I’m hoping that Proctor & Gamble will be willing to work with us in the future once we show them all the good and awesome things this program has done.”

   Callahan-Myrick strongly believes that the project isn’t just about free tampons. “There’s a lot more to it than that. There is also the student opportunities [for those] who want to volunteer and work,” said Callahan-Myrick. “There’s professional development for any student who’s interested in health promotion programming— or nice volunteer activities— anything in terms of advocating for women’s health, or access for populations that don’t have access to resources.”

    If anyone is interested in joining Free The T you can email Callahan at umf.free.the.t.project@maine.edu. They can be followed on Facebook at, UMF Free the T Project.

College Democrats Disband in Response to Administrative “Confusion and Injustice”

Milo Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

In the wake of clashes with the administration this semester, the College Democrats have dissolved as a student organization, in protest of what one club member deemed as “censoring a club’s right to discuss a political topic.” This follows the series of Bangor Daily News (BDN) articles about the handling of sexual assault cases by UMF staff and administration.

   Prior to the BDN articles published earlier this year, an individual messaged former Secretary Hope Lash, senior, on Facebook in what she said was an “extremely disrespectful” and “inappropriate” manner. Lash, at the time on a May 2018 travel course, had never spoken to the individual before and declined his advances, then blocked him on her personal Facebook account.

   Sometime following the first BDN article, the individual reported to Student Senate that he was blocked from accessing the public College Democrats Facebook page. This accusation was not verified by the Senate before action was taken. In fact, it became clear that the individual was not blocked from the Facebook page, because he had sent messages to the page asking for meeting times. Because the College Democrats generally did not get much activity on the Facebook page, they were not checking the page very often.

   However, the individual reported the accusation to a member of the Senate, who directed the case to Student Life. The College Democrats were told by Marie Prevost, Graduate Area Coordinator for Student Life and their own club advisor, that the club would become defunct if they did not allow the individual to come to club meetings. After Lash discovered the messages sent to the Facebook page, Prevost declined to take any action and told her to take her complaint to Brian Ufford, Director of Student Life.

   “There were many in the club uncomfortable around the person,” former President of the College Democrats, Jeffrey Willey, senior, said in an email interview.

   Dominic Stevens, former Treasurer, admitted that the individual had an “unsettling demeanor.”

   However, Willey added, “I told them that, due to University policy, we could not prevent the person from attending.” Because students are required to pay an activity fee, unless there is a legal restraining order, a student cannot be prevented from joining any club.

   The College Democrats planned their next meeting, which took place directly before the first Campus Violence Prevention Coalition panel on Wednesday, Feb. 6, wanting to discuss a range of topics, from budget hearings and the State of the Union Address to the Women’s March and “the importance of solidarity as well as unity when it comes to sexual assault,” Lash said in her personal statement to Brian Ufford. “Given the current events which have been unfolding for weeks on this campus, as well as the situation we had seemingly been placed in we felt we had a responsibility to those who attend our meetings to educate, protect, and discuss with members sexual assault and violence.”

   By discussing the topic at large, Lash continued, the goal was to “solidify where we as a group stood on the subject, making it clear to all those who attend our meetings that the College Democrats support victims in these cases, and will continue to listen to the voices of men and women who speak out in courage against their assaulters.”

   However, Lash and the other members were not allowed to speak about the topic of sexual assault during their meeting. Fifteen minutes before the meeting began, Lash reported, Brian Ufford pulled aside Willey for a private conversation. During this conversation, Ufford informed him that Title IX action would be brought against the club, which would result in its dissolution, if the College Democrats were to keep speaking out against the current sexual assault issues.

   “I realized quickly during our meeting Wednesday,” Lash said in her personal statement, “that Student Life cared more for censoring a club’s right to discuss a political topic as all conversation regarding sexual assault was avoided with the exception of a comment I had made when the CVPC forum was brought up, to which I was promptly interrupted by Miss Prevost who essentially told me to be quiet.”

   After realizing that she had no other option, Lash announced that she was resigning as the College Democrats’ Secretary. By that Friday, the rest of the E-board had joined her.

   “I refuse to be party to the confusion and injustice that the administration has caused as a result of the misuse of power when Title IX is involved,” Lash said. “I’d rather there be no club at all, than put members’ safety and comfort at risk.”

   Following the Wednesday meeting, Lash and the other members were contacted by Robert Pederson, President’s Council member and Director of Center for Student Development, on behalf of Interim President Eric Brown, asking for in person meetings or email statements about the dissolution of the College Democrats. “Eric Brown told him to get to the bottom of things,” said Stevens, who met with Pederson in person. Lash reported that she sent her email statement on Feb. 19, and has still not received a response from either Pederson or Brown.

   “I want people to understand how admin, particularly Student Life, sees and treats students,” Lash said in her personal statement. “We are tired of the neglect, we are tired of the lack of transparency, and most of all we are tired of being unheard. If UMF is to succeed it must listen to our voices and concerns with kindness, as well as respect.”

   Willey also voiced concern for the future. “While I will not be here next semester, I still do care about our University and those that will attend after myself, and I would not want this to ever happen to anyone again,” Willey wrote in an email interview.

   Hope Shore, Assistant Director of Student Life and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, declined to comment on the situation, as well as Prevost. Amie Parker, Director of Human Resources, did not respond to an email inquiry, and Brian Ufford did not respond to multiple email inquiries.

 

 

 

Section 402, the UMaine System (UMS) interpretation of Title IX, states that all UMaine universities “will not tolerate sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, or retaliation in any form. All conduct of this nature is considered a violation of this policy.” Retaliation is defined as “intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against an individual because of the individual’s complaint or participation.” Furthermore, UMF’s Student Conduct Code states that retaliation is an “action taken by the University or any individual or group against any person for opposing any practices prohibited by the Code or for filing a complaint, testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation or proceeding under the Code.” As stated, the College Democrats took no action to prevent the individual from accessing the Facebook page or attending the meetings. There is nothing in either of these official documents that would indicate a violation by the College Democrats.

 

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