Letter to the Editor: A Response to “The Confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh”

By Brandon Marx


While I may not be a registered Independent, I still do make quite the effort to block out bias and so-called Fake News before formulating an overall opinion on anything political. In a past edition of the Farmington Flyer, an article was featured that conveyed the opinions of UMF students and staff on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The publication came under heated critique with a featured letter to the editor in issue 4 of the flyer. Dave Larsen, the author of the letter, was quick to call out the editor, asking why they didn’t “condemn this behavior.” Dave stated that it is a newspaper’s responsibility to “call out injustice” and to be honest, fair, and “let your readers decide for themselves.” All of this was in response to Dave’s perceived bias in the author’s original piece.

I find fault in Dave’s criticisms. He insinuates that the author and the editor’s political opinions blinded them from reporting the story objectively. Reading the original piece, the author refrained entirely from reporting their own opinions and did a superb job in ensuring the fairness of the piece. They reached out to multiple people, encompassing a larger perspective and reporting many opinions, not her own. Both Isaac Michaud, treasurer of UMF College Republicans, and Jeffrey Willey, President of the UMF College Democrats were interviewed, and their vastly differing platforms were reported, unedited and without any fake news. I would ask Dave rather if his political bias got in the way of digesting this piece as the truly fair article it was. I would argue that Dave’s predetermined opinion on the issue resulted in a “quick to judge” fashion of reading.

However, I would like to address a more troubling quote in the letter. Dave asks “who’s going to say something when [sexual assault reporters] come for us.” To this question, I offer one piece of advice— don’t sexually assault women. Kavanaugh, “one of the best of us,” according to Dave, was put on trial for sexually assaulting Dr. Christine Ford. It happened. It does happen. And not just by creeps and pervs, and they don’t all get caught. In fact, according to the criminal justice system, out of every 1,000 rapes, only 310 cases will be reported and a terrifying 994 perpetrators will walk free. These statistics should be frightening. So, instead of worrying about who will come to the rescue of abusers when women start reporting them, we should be more focused on helping victims report their assaults without fear.

Dave closes his remarks with a statement to the editor. He says, “…be honest, fair, then let your readers decide for themselves.”  I agree with Dave completely here. Editors and journalists should be just that: honest and fair. In fact, I don’t think the article in question could have been more honest or more fair. I praise the author for her objective, unbiased, and overall brilliant reporting of UMF’s student and staff opinions on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. I also praise the editor for their ability to see the true honesty and fairness in the publication.

UMF Students Speak Out Against Catcalling on Campus

UMF Students Speak Out Against Catcalling on Campus

Sophomore Alexis Pickens is one of many students who have encountered catcalling on campus (Photo Tania Bureau)

Tania Contributing Writer

   Many students at UMF have experienced catcalling on campus, feel that it is disrespectful,  and wish it would stop.

   Audrey Spear, a sophomore, was walking back from class when a silver car drove by and a guy called out the window and made a comment about her legs. “This made me feel objectictified and disgusting,” said Spear.

   Alexis Pickens, a sophomore, hates how she feels after getting catcalled. “It does not make me feel good and it does not make me feel beautiful, it makes me feel very gross,” said Pickens. “When it comes down to it, it is inappropriate and disgusting.”

   Claudia Intama says she gets catcalled when she walks on campus. “I live off campus and I walk everyday and sometimes it is really bad bad,” said Intama. “Sometimes people will slow down, roll down their windows, and yell things at me that are very inappropriate, and laugh, ‘ha ha ha’ and roll up their window and keep going.”

   Pickens made it clear that women find catcalling very offensive. “It’s not a cool thing to do. I don’t know if it’s because you’re showing off to your friends, or have nothing better to do,” said Pickens. “Either way it is not acceptable, at all. It does not make women feel good about themselves. It certainly doesn’t make them want to date you.”

   Intama doesn’t understand the energy it takes to catcall someone when they could just keep driving. “It’s much more than a funny game,” said Intama.“I don’t like it.”

   CVPC, which stands for “Campus Violence Prevention Coalition,” an organization on campus that works to prevent sexual violence. There is a lot of facility support, but it is student driven, and is run through student life.

   The group “tables” once a month in the student center and organizes activities. “CVPC creates an awareness that there are problems and there are things that we need to talk about even if they make us uncomfortable,” said Intama, who is also works for CVPC. “So really it’s just trying to bring awareness to different issues, that affect us here at UMF, and also affect us as a larger society.”

   Intama believes that a way to stop catcalling is education. “Education to get at people that this is wrong and I don’t think that society is at that point yet, and that’s why we are here at CVPC to help educate,” said Intama. “I think awareness is really important.”

  On October 26th, CVPC will be tabling for “Purple Day” where students wear purple for domestic violence awareness and prevention. CVPC has a Facebook page where students can leave messages and see future events. https://www.facebook.com/CVPCatUMF/

Student and Faculty Opinion: The Confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh

By Grace McIntosh Contributing Writer


     US Supreme Court Justice nominee Republican Brett Kavanaugh was officially confirmed by divided senators in a 50-48 vote. Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation has sparked heated debates and public outcry across the nation.

   Over the past few months, Kavanaugh’s name has been headlining news due to accusations of sexual assault. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick all came forward with allegations against Kavanaugh. The White House has stood by Kavanaugh’s denials.          

     Treasurer of UMF College Republicans, Isaac Michaud, explained mixed feelings on the situation. “On one hand, I believe that his judicial record and belief in precedence makes him a good candidate for the Supreme Court,” said Michaud. “On the other hand, I believe that the sexual assault allegations brought up by Dr. Ford made me not want Judge Kavanaugh confirmed.”

   Michaud stated that if it had been up to him he personally could not vote “yes” or “no”, he would have not been opposed if they decided to end the confirmation hearing to put another judge up for consideration.

     Jeffrey Willey, President of the UMF College Democrats, feels strongly that Dr. Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh were genuine. “Dr. Ford was clear and concise in her testimony and various people, including Mr. Kavanaugh’s college roommate, believed that the actions of Kavanaugh recounted by Dr. Ford were believable and truthful,” said Willey.

   Willey believes that the reputation of the Supreme Court’s reputation has been tarnished by the decision by the Senate. “This was a blatantly political appointment to a Court that is supposed to be non-partisan,” said Willey.

     Political science professor Scott Erb believed in confirming Kavanaugh before allegations surfaced. “I originally favored confirming him, believing he was intellectually solid and had a strong moral character,” said Erb.

   Erb changed his opinion when people began coming forward with accusations of sexual assault. “A lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court is a major honor, given only to people one can believe has true integrity,” said Erb. “Any doubt is enough to say no, this is not ‘innocent until proven guilty.” He said that when he saw Kavanaugh’s “hyper-partisan” and “anger laced” testimony, he strongly opposed the confirmation.

     Senior Aislinn Forbes, a registered Democrat, says that she is not surprised by the outcome. “It’s very clear that this administration doesn’t care whether a woman is telling the truth,” said Forbes. “They just want to win at all costs. Brett Kavanaugh is at the very least an extremely biased alcoholic, and unfit for the Supreme Court…”

   Forbes explained that Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing was not a trial of law, meaning the only “consequence” for him was the chance of not being appointed. “Anyone who claims this would have ‘ruined his life,’ is either willingly ignorant or purposefully trying to deceive you,” said Forbes.

   Maine Senator Susan Collins was one of the 50 senators to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “I listened to her 45 minute speech and could hear in her voice the long hours of thought, discussions, and research she put into her final opinion,” said Michaud. “I think she voted the best way with what she had to work with at the time of the vote.”

   Professor Erb simply stated, “She succumbed to pressure within her party, rather than deciding to the right thing.”

     With the upcoming election on November 6, there is the possibility that the recent events will cause an increase in voter turnout. “I hope it means more people will vote. I hope it will make people realize that we need ranked choice voting and more regulation of how people can run for office and how much they can spend,” said Forbes.  

UMF Students Experience Spiritual Renewal after a Fall Retreat

UMF Students Experience Spiritual Renewal after a Fall Retreat

By Haiyu Zheng – Contributing Writer


Seven UMF InterVarsity Christian Fellowship members were refreshed both physically and spiritually after a three-day fall retreat in Toah Nipi Retreat and Training Center in New Hampshire. Including students from 13 other campuses in Northern New England, there were over 100 students attending this fall conference.

Students attending the UMF InterVarsity in fall conference. (Back row, l to r: Haiyu Zheng, Darci Goslin, Jacob Marcoux, Ben Daly-LaBelle, Abdi Hassan, Lillian Hunt) (front row, l to r: Armando Jaku, Yamah Dolo and Lindsay Marcoux)
Photo Courtesy of Jacob Marcoux

   For Christians, a retreat is a quintessential time away from daily activities which distract them from going deeper in their faith and spending time getting reacquainted with God. Combined with conferences and activities, it offers people a quiet place to find peace and experience renewal.

   The woods outside and the woody décor inside, along with little lights hanging on the wall, created a relaxing atmosphere. In the biggest meeting room of Toah Nipi Hebron, students from different cultural backgrounds converged to worship God in one voice and pray earnestly for each other as a community. Their faith affirmed the beauty of the unity beyond all ethnicity in Christ.  

   With the theme of “Hope and Healing in a Broken world: Find a way forward,” powerful testimonies and sermons were shared by different speakers, followed by small group discussions and prayer time. The reflection gave students encouragement and inspiration, leaving them with a new perspective in their walk with Christ.

   UMF freshman Lillian Hunt found strength and hope in other people’s stories.“It made me feel like more comforted to know that I’m not alone and there are a bunch of people going through what I’m going through,” she said.

   Annie Ahn, a sophomore from Colby College noted that the “silent time” with God was another indispensable part of this retreat.

   “I really enjoyed the silent time when I spent an hour and a half away from the noise just concentrating on reflecting on God and talking to Him individually.” Taking a sip of coffee, Ahn smiled, the overflowing joy in her heart written all over her face.

   Ahn was not the only person who felt reenergized during the silent time. Toah Nipi provides students numerous areas to sit, wander and pray. Scattering in different directions, some students chose to stay in their room reading the Bible, some sat at the picnic table outside praying while enjoying an incredible view of surrounding hills, and some lay on the grass meditating in the pleasant fall weather.

   In addition to the spiritual growth, recreation including sports, boating and board games also provided students with chances to make friends across schools and get to know people from their own schools better.

   Jake Marcoux, the leader of UMF InterVarsity group, expressed his willingness to include everyone in the group no matter what background they come from.

   “We have to relate to people in the group differently, to be intuitive and think about what they are thinking about, such as someone who came from International settings or someone who’s not a believer, ”said Marcoux.

   InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is an interdenominational, evangelical Christian campus ministry founded in 1941, working with students and faculty on U.S. college and university campuses. Retreats and mission trips are held all year round.

   There will be a Serve-Up trip intended to help with the recovery effort in places that were affected by the hurricane during spring break next year. More information can be found on InterVarsity website at: https://intervarsity.org

My First Corn Maze Experience: Wicked Fun!

My First Corn Maze Experience: Wicked Fun!

By Haiyu Zheng -Contributing Writer


   When the view of ten acres of cornfield finally came into sight as we drove, my friends and I started feeling thrilled about heading out to the field with excitement and an adrenaline rush.

   I was a little bit overwhelmed when standing in front of the massive landscape with piles of brown plants filled with ripening ears of corn. Looking up at these huge rippling stalks, I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, they are wicked tall.” This was my first experience of seeing a corn maze in person. It reminded me of the crop circle that I saw in a documentary when I was in China, before I came to UMF.

   That Sunday afternoon, instead of dying while doing my homework, I decided to have an adventure at the corn maze at the Sandy River Farm on Farmington Falls Road with UMF senior Elina Shapiro, and Chinese instructor Hui Shao.

From L to R: Haiyu Zheng, Elina E. Shapiro, and Hui Shao at the Sandy River Corn Maze.
(Photo by Hui Shao)

   Sandy River Farm is a vast fascinating landscape that consists of 600 acres of land in pastures, hayland, and rows of crops as well as approximately 1000 acres of forest land. The corn maze named “Amazing Maize” is held on the field south of the farm. In addition to the maze, the farm also offers a pumpkin patch and a “Cow Train” ride for kids.

   The first thing we noticed was the tower near the entrance of the maze. Visitors could go upstairs on a staircase ascending to the top of a tower to perceive the entire farm.

   Shapiro commented that “the view was as far as you could see and pretty much any direction you looked there was corn.” Surprised, she raised her voice and said, “even behind me I saw corn.”

   After that, we finally started our journey.

   I honestly didn’t know what I expected in the beginning, so I think I made a lot of stupid suggestions.

  “I’ve heard a theory that you can go out very quickly if you chose the same direction every time you have to make a choice,” I said. “Like you just stay to the right side.” I was as confident as a professional.

   After the first few minutes, we found that we were back to the same spot we started from, which meant we didn’t go anywhere.

   This time I changed the strategy. I picked some corn up off the ground and made signs with them. I thought I was pretty smart.

  A few minutes later, I heard Shao’s voice. “Oh, no! I think we’ve been here before!” Yes, we got lost in the circular trails created by these tall plants.

   “What if we cannot find the way out?” Shao asked. Well, this was a good question.

   One of the things that I was hyper-aware of was how confusing it was. After failing so many times, I realized that I was probably not a “puzzle” person so I totally gave up and let my friends lead me to whichever direction they thought fit.  

   We came across several families with distinctive, interesting approaches. Many families enjoyed getting lost in the maze. One family said  quite casually, “we were just wandering.” Another used their Google map to direct their way, and one just enjoyed playing with their kids while they were walking.

   Shapiro suggested taking on the philosophy of wandering instead of being nervous about figuring out which way to go. We all thought that was a good idea, so we ended up following the family using the Google map. (Technology is good.)

   I remember how excited we were when making a significant breakthrough of going through the intermediate part of the maze. As the maze went on, we passed through the paths more easily when we found that there were signs of numbers placing strategically throughout the maze. In another twenty minutes, we found the exit!

   I couldn’t believe we made it! We celebrated our victory by taking a lot of selfies with a werewolf statue at the exit, which was also near the entrance.  

   Before leaving, we had a short tour exploring the other parts of the farm. Walking through a sea of pumpkins of all kinds of shapes, we got on a truck that took us to a place with some animals. I approached a goat and pet his fuzzy head. Embraced by the unexpected natural grace, I forgot all the clutter and clatter of life in this bright, breezy Sunday afternoon. It was an awesome trip.

   There will be a haunted maze going at the end of October. It freaks me out when thinking about encountering creepy clowns or vampires who suddenly pop out of a corner. But for students who have a resilient heart, more information can be found on the Sandy River Farm’s Facebook page.


UMF Students Reveal How They Deal With Stress

By Kelsey Dunn – Contributing Writer

The time has come when UMF students experience stress due to crunched and overlapped deadlines, mountains of homework and hours that seem to just zoom past. Stress can be overwhelming at times and make us want to just scream and give up, but we can’t. Are there ways to relieve stress?

Some UMF students have reported their ways to relieve their stress. Benjamin Cloutier, a junior at UMF, has to juggle his academics with his two jobs.

“I am usually stressed roughly six days a week. Saturdays are what I like to call my stress day off” said Cloutier. “When I become stressed, I go outside and try to take my mind off things.”

Like Cloutier, Elina Shapiro, a UMF senior, also enjoys being outside. Shapiro has a lot on her plate this year between her internship, planning for life after graduation, academics and a social life.

“I play the banjo for an instant stress relief. I also exercise and watch comedy shows” said Shapiro.

Dr. Natasha Lekes, an Associate Professor of Psychology, revealed that “students coming to college should expect to experience stress.” Dr. Lekes noticed that many students at UMF work long hours in addition to maintaining a full-time course load. Due to all the responsibilities that students have to endure, it is natural for them to feel overwhelmed. Dr. Lekes noted that many people turn to exercise, meditation, laughing or playing when stressed. She also said that students should seek help when needed.

“Students often wait to seek help and yet there are many people willing and wanting to provide it at UMF, [such as] advisors, mental health counselors, professors and career counselors,” said Dr. Lekes.

Tessa Walsh, a junior at UMF, experiences social anxiety, which along with her schoolwork, triggers her stress. “I get stressed roughly four to five days a week. When I do get stressed, I listen to music, watch TV or I simply switch to a new activity to get my mind off things” said Walsh.

Students are not the only ones who experience stress on campus. “We need stress in our lives!” said Dr. Lekes, who also experiences stress in her daily life.

“You will likely find that the things that make your life worth living also cause you stress,” Dr. Lekes explained. “For me, that’s being a parent, a professor, a wife, a friend. Yet, I wouldn’t want to change my work or family life. Students may find that their relationships, their area of study, their work and being involved in sports brings meaning to their lives, and yet these activities likely also bring stress into their lives,” said Dr. Lekes.

To view UMF’s counseling page go to the following link: http://www2.umf.maine.edu/counseling/


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