Professor Jim Melcher Discusses Dean Danielle Conway’s Upcoming Law Talk

By Darby Murnane Contributing Writer

Dean Danielle Conway of University of Maine School of Law will be coming to UMF to deliver the lecture “Why Law Matters More Than Ever,” which will discuss themes such as equal rights and non-violent social activism in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

   One of UMF’s political science instructors, Professor James Melcher, expressed his excitement for Conway’s upcoming visit. “[Conway]’s amazing… her experiences are amazingly diverse,” Melcher said. “I think she’s doing great work at the University of Maine School of Law so I’m excited that she’s coming back here.”

   Conway became the dean of the University of Maine School of Law back in 2015. Conway was a professor of law with expertise in the areas of entrepreneurship, intellectual property law and public procurement law.

   Conway served 27 years of Active Duty military service in the U.S. Army, the Army Reserves and the National Guard. In November 2016, Conway retired from the military with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

  As a faculty member of UMF’s political science program and the pre-law advisor, Professor Melcher has a deep respect for Conway’s work. Melcher weighs in on the main idea of her lecture: the increasing importance of law in America’s current rocky political climate.

   Melcher pointed out that King called for civil disobedience when laws needed to be questioned, and when citizens needed to examine who those laws best served. “ I think [Conway] will argue that there are times when it’s appropriate to question law, and appropriate to call for a change in law,” Melcher said.

   Melcher believes that the troubled times Americans are currently living in is, to some extent, cyclical, and the discontent among citizens may also be attributed to “incivility rising than flat out disrespect for law.”

   Since America is a nation founded on ideals of religious freedom and ethnic diversity as opposed to ideals of blood, soil and war, there is the question of whether or not American laws have held true to these morals considering the controversies over immigration, a border wall with Mexico, and the recent race riots.

   Melcher states, “We’re more than just the sum of having been born here.” According to Melcher, American society has moved ahead of where the Founders were in such areas as the treatment of minorities and women. In terms of civic engagement and expectations of civility, Melcher asserted that, “I do think we’re falling down on that. We’re starting to see more and more people looking at their political opponents as an enemy, as people who are evil, as opposed to just, ‘I disagree with you.’”

   Melcher is also steadfast in his beliefs that, “There’s too much anger, too much hatred, too much willingness to believe the worst out of people, and I think the biggest piece of it is a lack of empathy.”

   Conway’s talk will take place on February 28th and will be held in the Lincoln Auditorium in Roberts Learning Center during common time.

Beavers Dance Team Performs at TD Garden

Beavers Dance Team Performs at TD Garden

By Sarah Lamb Contributing Writer

UMF Dance Team. (Photo courtesy of Sara Lamb)

 The UMF Dance Team recently went to the TD Garden to perform right before the Boston Celtics took the floor for their game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Dance Team, led by Co-Captains Charity LaFrance and Vanessa Schaeffer, has been performing at the Garden the past three years. LaFrance and Schaeffer collaborated on the choreography for this year’s dance routine. They danced to “Love on Me” by Galantis & Hook, and were on stage for three and a half minutes.

   “Last year [the performance] was pretty nerve-wracking,” said LaFrance. “I was pretty fine about [this year’s performance] until we were standing on the floor about to go on the court and seeing people 360° all around you. There is no other experience like it.”

   The team has practiced the routine for the past 6-8 weeks. Schaeffer said it was “thrilling knowing you’ve created all this choreography,” and that it’s “exciting and full of relief to be able to watch the film of the performance afterward.” During every performance, they film themselves so they can critique and find more points of emphasis to work on during the next practice.

   LaFrance added that “as a co-captain, it’s a pretty emotional experience watching your creation come alive, just knowing that you created this move and the counts. It’s a different experience than just dancing it. I think it’s pretty awesome that you get to let that happen in front of all these people and it’s really nice to share that experience with the other girls on the team.”

   Both LaFrance and Schaeffer said that dance was a huge part of their life growing up. When asked what dance meant to them, LaFrance said, “Dancing gave me that thrill” through life, and it is her “happy place.” Schaeffer said, “Dance is a very strong passion, it keeps me very grounded, knowing I can express who I am through movement. It’s something that keeps you more alive.”

   The opportunity to perform at the TD Garden arose three years ago from a student had a connection to the Celtics event staff who happened to want a pre-game performance. The UMF Dance Team was asked if they were interested in performing, and they have been going ever since.

   If you are interested in performing on the same floor as the Celtics or perform here at UMF during halftime at the Men’s and Women’s home basketball games, you can contact for more information about the UMF Dance Team.

Frank Underkuffler Delivers Public Classroom Lecture

Frank Underkuffler Delivers Public Classroom Lecture

By Nathan McIvor Contributing Writer

Professor Frank Underkuffler (Photo Courtesy of Frank UnderKuffler)

Faculty member Frank Underkuffler’s Public Classroom lecture, “Social Change and The Crisis of American Law,” opened to a full house at UMF’s Emery Community Arts Center on January 30th. A livestream of the event aired in Ricker Addition to accommodate the overflow of guests.

   President Kate Foster introduced Underkuffler, a practicing lawyer by trade, to the assembled audience. Underkuffler discussed the United States’ current stark political division in historical and legal contexts, citing English common law, which was adopted by U.S. colonies, as the source of strife in the U.S. legal system.

   Recorded by influential English judge William Blackstone in 1765, common law arises from culture, rather than official legislation, and reflects the how actions between people actually occur. English common law grants men who own property the full rights of citizenship; meanwhile, married women and “idiots” received special protections such as being unable to be held accountable to contracts. Married women and slaves were classified as “property.”

   As a cultural creation, Underkuffler explained how the common law is incompatible with social change, as common law “exists for stability;” the social categories it established were not meant to be transgressed. Those seeking change, then, will always be held in suspicion.

   Underkuffler cites the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, with Justice C.J. Roberts criticizing the court’s decision to rule in favor of the issue as “disinheriting” and as against “constitutional law,” as an example of how the status quo would react to shifts in social norms.

   Underkuffler noted that “we inherited this system; we didn’t ask for it… you didn’t make it, I didn’t make it.” The divide between the status quo and those seeking to change it are vestiges of expired cultural standards. The divide between liberals and conservatives today derives from these embedded cultural traits; nothing in how U.S. society views changes to law and culture is conducive to an easy relationship between the two groups. He then advised the two groups respect and listen to each other regardless of preconceptions.

   After taking questions from the audience, Underkuffler walked to the Ricker Audition to take questions from the audience watching via livestream. Underkuffler’s talk was a part of UMF’s Public Classroom, a series of lectures aimed at engaging the broader community with the university’s intellectual resources and provides faculty members an opportunity to share their work.


Photo Contest Showcases International Travel Photography by UMF students

Photo Contest Showcases International Travel Photography by UMF students

By Haiyu Zheng, Contributing Writing

UMF Mantor Library recently held the “Live. Travel. Adventure” Photo Contest, which invited both professional and amateur photographers on campus to enter their best adventure photos for a chance to win a prize. Thirty-six astonishing photographs from twelve candidates were displayed on the gallery wall to ignite people’s sense of wonder by providing extraordinary stories.

   According to Mantor Library staff member Kelly Boivin, “Live. Travel. Adventure” is the theme of UMF’s annual reading program “On Our Minds” this year. Their goal is to get as many people on campus as possible reading and talking about the same book and sharing the reading experience.

The Lodhi Gardens (Brianna Martin)

   Boivin believed that there was no better way to get people involved than a travel photography contest. “This theme just begs for a photo contest,” Boivin said. “We got twelve people submitting the photos, and every single photo is somebody’s adventure.”

   UMF senior Brianna Martin was surprised when finding out that she won both the first and second place prizes of $75 and $25 with her images shot from her iPhone on her semester abroad in India. “I think people like [the photos] because they can be transported to that environment when seeing them,” said Martin.

   In the prize presentation ceremony, Martin was awarded by the sponsor of this contest, Ann Arbor, a local professional photographer in Farmington. Standing in front of the gallery wall, Martin told the stunning story behind her photos.

   “The picture with the powder on my face, that was during Holi, a Hindu festival which symbolizes the win of good over evil,” said Martin. “People walked on the street and threw colored powder on each other. The pink on this side of my face was from a random man who came to me and put his hand on my face and smeared the powder.” Martin laughed, and lifted her eyebrows as if she could still remember the initial shock that she received during that special moment.

   Martin thought that picture symbolized her full immersion in a different culture by trying something new even if it was not very comfortable, which was an adventure.

A Selfie of Brianna Martin in Holi Shenanigans in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Brianna Martin)

   The photo that won second place was shot in Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi. When capturing that scene, Martin stood in the darkness looking through the brightness of the gardens located on the other side of the path.

   “It didn’t seem real to me. It was so beautiful. It made me think of the Jungle Book in reality,” Martin gasped.   

   UMF Senior Sam Carignan, who submitted three photos of his trip in Germany, showed his appreciation to Martin’s photographs. “Knowing the whole story behind it helped me to understand the photo, but I think they’re already beautiful by themselves,” said Carignan. He commented that Martin did a really great job on the Lodhi Garden photograph. “The darker side narrows down the focal point, and that focal point was beautiful. I’m glad she won,” Carignan said, with a satisfied tone as if he himself won the competition, leaning back in his chair.

   The photo contest provided UMF students an opportunity to showcase people’s attitude and quality of life. Instead of merely showing scenes, it’s a buffet of different lifestyles. People learned more from the competition than what they expected. “I learned that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take pictures that make others feel happy or certain emotion,” said Martin.

   To make it completely open to everyone, the contest organizer offered two ways of voting. One was voting in-person in the library. The photos were all numbered on the wall and people who passed by wrote down the number of their favorite images. The other method was online voting. All the photos were posted on Facebook. Any reaction on Facebook was counted: likes, smiley faces, or comments. Boivin explained that they didn’t put any boundaries on the voting.

   The photos are still displayed in the library. More information about the coming activities held by Mantor Library can be found on its Facebook page at


UMF CAs Prepared to Help with Finals Week

By Alicia Davis, Contributing Writer

CAs in the UMF residence halls are mentally ready to help students during finals week, which  is one of the busiest for CAs throughout the entire semester. This is Josh Beckett’s third semester as a CA, this year in Purington. “We have a lot more duty hours because we have to be around to check people out of their rooms,” said Beckett. “The office is typically constantly staffed from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. For finals week, it’s staffed all day long,” he said. CAs feel they have more to do around campus than other college students, but especially during finals week.

Margaret Fogarty, a CA in Scott North, said, “I think we work all the time, so if I’m busy studying for my exams and someone needs me, I have to stop what I’m doing and help them,” said Fogarty. “I’m a lot busier than the average student, [especially] during this week,” she said.

   CAs also have to stay on campus longer than most other students. After finals week is over, CAs have to wait extra time before they can go home. “We stay until all the rooms are checked.We have to come back early in January for spring training,” said Beckett. “This gives us a shortervacation than a typical college student,” he said.

   During finals week, CAs have a few extra jobs. “There is a CA on duty throughout the day, in addition to the night shift in order to help people who are checking out,” said Loren Marshall, a CA in Dakin.

   Some students have been inspired by the work CAs do. Sage van Eekhout is a CA in Stone, and decided to become a CA starting her sophomore year. “I wanted to be a CA because my freshman year all of my friends were CAs, and I saw the impact they made on myself and others,” she said. “I wanted to be there for someone like they were for me.”

   Some residence halls have programs that are run during finals week to help students. “In Scott we have a program called De­stress Fest, where there are different activities,” said Fogarty.

“There will be yoga, Just Dance, bubble wrap popping, we have different ways to reduce stress,” she said. Collin Regan is in his third semester as a CA in Scott North. Regan said his favorite thing about being a CA is “making the connections and being there for people. Having the knowledge that I am a resource and I am available is a good feeling,” he said.

   These CAs work together to create the feeling of a community on campus and in their residence halls to help students feel at home. CAs are always available to help, whether it is tips on studying for finals or any other stresses in life.

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