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.

 

“Rocky” Actors Share Their Thoughts on the UMF’s “Freeing” Production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

By Nathan McIvor, Vice-President

     Recently the annual shadow-cast production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” premiered in Lincoln Auditorium, exploring themes of sexuality while advocating for a safe space built on consent. The 1975 film was projected on screen while student actors lip-synched and pantomimed scenes with a small army of backup dancers.

   Keeping with tradition, Rocky “virgins” seeing the show for the first time that night had lipstick “V”s written on their faces, though their welcome did not end there. Director Nathaniel Red and Choreographer Charity LaFrance invited the “virgins” onstage to have their cherries popped, the cherries being red balloons placed between their legs.

   Red noted that “the show is a bit of a culture shock for people who see it for the first time. I think it’s really important for people to see it.” He finds that the sense of shock can clear a path for healthy self-expression. “‘Rocky’ is a wonderful show that lets people be free. It’s great that UMF has this,” said Red, who had worked as a co-director and assistant director of “Rocky” in previous years.

    

   Caitlin Hession, who plays the character Columbia in the show, echoed Red’s views of the show. “It’s freeing to see ‘Rocky.’ American culture is very constricted. Performing in this show, you can wear as much or as little as you want and no one will judge you for it,” Hession said.

   Hession explained that “consent is really important in rehearsal and even in auditions” due to the show’s risqué nature, actors must also confirm whether or not they are comfortable dressing in certain outfits or acting in particular ways at every step of the process.

   This year marked Hession’s first time playing main character, Columbia, which she enjoyed as “[She had] a chance to breathe as my character is not always on stage.” In the previous two shows, she was a dancer. She will graduate from UMF this spring.

  Other actors are performing in “Rocky” for the first time this year. McKayla Mirois, a junior playing Janet, is “really excited, as the show has pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way. My part is unique. She’s one of the more toned-down characters. She’s often scared or sexually confused. All the other characters are really into it.”

   Working behind the scenes, the show’s technical Assistant Director Vanessa Brown dealt with stage lighting and monitoring individual scenes. “‘Rocky’ is one of those shows that everyone comes to see and support their fellow students,” Brown said. “[It’s] excit[ing] to be working on the show because everything’s different each year.”

     The play “The Rocky Horror Show” premiered in London in 1973. A playful blend of tropes from horror and science-fiction genres, the musical embraces gender fluidity and the playful blurring of sexual norms as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the primary antagonist, seduces both Janet and her fiance, Brad. A film adaptation retitled “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and a massive cult following followed.

   Brown also commented on this production’s charitable cause. “All profits go to SAPARS [Sexual Assault Prevention & Assault Services] and we also do a raffle to raise more money.”

Fiddlehead Festival Back Again in Farmington

Alexis Wyman-LaBelle Contributing Writer

    The Maine Fiddlehead Festival is set to come back to Farmington for the eighth annual event in a new location with live music and activities on campus on May 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The new location for the festival is the Roberts Learning Center Courtyard and extending into the High Street parking lot, with use of the amphitheatre.

   The event is sponsored by the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition (SCC), Farmington Farmers Market and community members. This year’s theme is The Joy of Fermentation, with many different talks and demonstrations. Talks will include different topics such as: Sourdough and Hard Cheese, Kombucha,  Shoyu mushroom ferment, miso, sauerkraut, and an overview presentation on what fermentation is and does to preserve and enhance food, as well as its nutritive qualities.
   “We also hope to have a tasting area for folks to share their home fermentation projects,” said Casey Brackett, a Permaculture Consultant and Community Member,who has been actively involved with planning the event.
   During the festival, there will be performances of live music in the amphitheater by local artists like Sagittarius Rising, Merry Plinksters, Food Stamp Kidz, Franklin County Fiddlers, Invite the Wild, Jonboy Nemo, Crooked Bill, and Nuclear Salad.

  There will be a live cooking demo from Ashley Montgomery, a UMF professor and Assistant Dean of Testing and Learning, on how to prepare fiddleheads.

   The organizing group is excited about the event this year. “It’s also the first day of the outdoor farmers market,” said Brackett. “Vendors will be selling all kinds of food and farm related goods.”

   “In addition to the vendors, there will also be children’s activities, and baby animals,” said Luke Kellet, coordinator of SCC. The festival is expected to have baby goats, lambs, chickens, rabbits, and baby emus.  

   The event usually brings about 300-500 people coming to explore. “This year, we’re expecting a larger group to attend,” said Brackett. “We reached out to fermentation fans.”
   The tradition of the festival began eight years ago on a rainy day. It was organized by a large group of UMF professors, local business people, community food activists as well as others. “It was sparsely attended,” said Brackett, “but everyone who came was extremely enthusiastic.”

   The general idea for a celebration about local food stemmed from the growing threats to the safety of some food products in today’s society. The committee got together and decided it would be best to celebrate the locally grown food and to emphasize positive things about agriculture in the small community of Farmington.

  The rain location will be the Landing. The SCC meets every Friday during the semester from 11:45-1:00 pm in Education Center 113. For questions, the person to contact is Luke Kellet (luke.kellett@maine.edu), the group is open for anyone to join.

Wilson Scholar Talks About Her Personal Symposium Project

Robert Drinkwater Contributing Writer

   Symposium is right around the corner and that means many of the Wilson Scholars are preparing to present their research on that day, and Tegan Bradley, a junior at UMF is doing a project for symposium titled Hair: A Graphic Narrative.

   For this project, she is making a personal narrative in the form of a graphic novel about hair and how women modify their hair for others approval. “It’s about a woman’s feminine identity with hair,” said Bradley.

   When creating this graphic novel Bradley started with a twenty page rough draft. “It was important to get the words out,” said Bradley, “I had to choose out scenes and story board it.” Eventually her rough draft became fifty pages, “It took me three weeks for the first draft and two or three weeks to storyboard it,” said Bradley.

   Bradley hopes that in doing this project women will analyze their own relationship with their hair. Bradley also said that men and women will wear their hair in a way that society will say is normal. “I want women to take ownership of it,” said Bradley, “Not because it’s what everyone else wants.”

The Wilson Scholarship is for undergraduates and requires students do a research project independent of a class. Every Wilson scholar has a faculty advisor, and Bradley’s is English professor Sabine Klein. “I think it’s amazing,” said Klein, “Her artwork is really good. She is working consciously, it is verbal and visual at the same time.” Klein also mentioned that Bradley writes from  her own personal experience from shaving her head. “It tells a story well suited to the graphic narrative. It talks about how we look.”

   Klein stated that she hopes that this project will make people think about how looks are heavily gendered and she also hopes that people will look at the graphic novel as a genre, “It’s interesting exploring the graphic novel as a personal narrative,” said Klein.

   Bradley has expressed her excitement about the whole project, “You can’t just take a creative writing class and create a graphic novel,” said Bradley, “I’ve always wanted to do this.”

  Some of the other symposium projects include Hope Lash’s The Power of The Prostitute and The British Empire, Forest Meader’s What magma chambers can do fo you – a geologic study of the Twin Lakes Pluton, Colorado, and James Fox’s Snowpack Measurements and modeling in Temple Stream watershed.

   Symposium day will be held on April 24th. There will be no classes that day.

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