By Reese Remington, contributing writer
Farmington, ME – In a country where the Kyle Rittenhouse’s run free, Black people march for their lives, and a new culture is emerging where America’s inequalities are finally being highlighted for what they are, there lies a small campus amongst it all – the University of Maine at Farmington.
What does a small school like UMF have anything to do with this? Seemingly nothing, and yet everything. Like every university in America, it is a small piece of a much larger pie.
Similar to other minorities on campus, the beginning of the year looked different for me compared to my white peers. Yes, the first-day jitters are the same, followed by a silent prayer that I have a great semester. That my professors understand me, and I make some friends. However, I understood the risks that come with attending a Predominantly White Institution (PWI). This means also hoping that there are other like-minded minorities on campus, nothing racist happens towards me, and make peace with the microaggressions that will inevitably happen.
On campus, everywhere you turn there’s some kind of incident happening against minority students. Though I suppose we should be grateful that there isn’t any ‘KKK’ type of racism taking place here, the microaggressions and tone-deafness run rampant. In my first week, I heard students saying the N-word in a song. Later on in the semester, I was accused of stealing; like other minorities on campus who have been accused of crimes that they didn’t commit. There have been too many microaggressions to count – from comments about my hair, the way I present myself, down to interactions with other students. I have simultaneously been used as the Black spokesperson in my class while also being encouraged to use ’empathy’ and ‘compassion’ when responding to racist discussion posts. On campus, you either love or hate that I am ‘opinionated’ and always have something to say. But if Black people don’t speak up against racism, who will? My classmates, professors, and community members have shown that they won’t. Unless of course, it’s in the form of an Instagram story so everyone knows that they aren’t racist – outwardly at least.
This isn’t to say that UMF isn’t inclusive. It is – to an extent. UMF prides itself on being a strong LGBTQ+ friendly campus, striving to include everyone on campus. Though the tone-deafness outshines the efforts being made. UMF refers to their LGBTQ+ students as the minorities and diversity on campus. To be frank, when the campus is predominantly LGBTQ+, it is no longer a minority. The minorities on campus are the Black and POC students.
If you look around you, the tone-deafness is everywhere – though only if you want to see it. It’s in the buildings where they put posters of how “we appreciate our UMF students and the DIVERSITY they bring to campus” in all rainbow lettering for the LGBTQ+ community. They use the Black power fists for club posters without a single Black member in the club. It’s in the way they handle racist incidents privately and put other incidents [with white students] in a campus email. Don’t minority students deserve to know what’s going on around campus? And it’s especially in the way the school handled the ‘Ed situation’, yet lacks that same passion when it comes to the real minorities on campus.
However, times are changing. It’s been a year and a half since the BLM marches took place and we as a community decided it was time to rise and do better. For ourselves, and our underrepresented minorities in our community. UMF now has a Black Student Union for the first time in history. While other clubs have been up and running for years, the BSU has just begun. Even when established, it wasn’t without questioning whether white students could join and what would happen if there was racism in the club. Anything minority students have done or created on campus has been met with resistance, but this doesn’t stop us. Minority students are creating a more inclusive and safer community for future minorities on this campus.
So, where do we as a school go from here? First, you show up. Show up for your minority peers by calling out racism and microaggressions on campus – beyond posting a simple Instagram story. Forgive me for not expressing gratitude to those that do the bare minimum. As minorities strive to change the racist culture that still runs strong in America, we no longer accept the low-level work that is being done to ease any white guilt. Or at least I won’t. I would say most importantly, show up by educating yourself; Black people are not your Black encyclopedia, every Black experience on this campus is unique. We are not all the same.
Second, advocate. Advocate for more classes that properly teach the history of minorities in America. Advocate for Black and POC voices on campus. We need more minorities in leadership roles. From professors and within the administration, down to leadership roles in the clubs, sports, and elected positions among the campus. The representation we have on campus now – is only a start and not nearly enough. We cannot advertise ourselves as an inclusive school for minorities and then miss the mark when it comes to being inclusive.
Lastly, realize that this change doesn’t happen with just the minorities on campus pushing for it. This isn’t a quick fix situation, it takes time to break down a system that then needs to be rebuilt so that real change can occur. It may not happen overnight, but as a campus, we can do better. Know when to speak up for your classmates, and when to sit back and listen to them. Understand that in striving to be an inclusive campus, UMF has left a part of their own in the shadows: minorities on campus.
By Jessica Gervais and Sophia Turgeon, Contributing writers
Most students that attend UMF are not aware that it is one of three schools in the UMaine system that have actual police departments as a part of their campus safety force. According to a 2019 survey released by the Association of American Universities (AAU), there is a 13% rate of nonconsensual sexual contact at colleges. This percentage is alarming.
Haley Sewell, sophomore at UMF, was at the Halloween dance hosted by the ACE club on 22 October with a large group when she witnessed an incident involving sexual misconduct. According to Sewell, she had been dancing with her group of friends in a circle when she noticed an individual had joined her group and began dancing inappropriately, touching other friends in the group. “Everything was fine at first, but then the student started getting out of hand,” Sewell said.
This incident went on for some time, even when Sewell was in smaller groups. The harasser would leave, but always return to make the girls uncomfortable. Moreover, they had made it obvious that no one was interested in the individual, but still, after all of this, the harassment persisted.
“We thought that he’d finally gotten the hint that he was making us uncomfortable, but he came back a little while later,” Sewell stated. “This time he was more aggressive in his approach. He continued to dance towards one of my friends, and this time reached out to grab her hips.”
Once this was happening, Sewell began looking out for her group of friends to make sure they were comfortable, even at times pulling girls away from him. “At one point we stopped for a water and bathroom break, where we heard from at least six other girls that the same student was humping, grinding, and groping girls. One girl even told us that her guy friend had to get between her and the individual and tell him to back off,” Sewell said.
After hearing this, Sewell and her friends decided to tell a chaperone, who was also an officer, exactly what had been happening during the dance. However, once the student was pointed out to the officer, he tried to weave through groups of students as an attempt to get away. Instead of being chased down though, the campus officer informed Sewell and her friends that he was going to back off and not engage. This decision angered the group. Why would one of our own campus officers simply back off and not stop this harassment immediately, they wondered.
After returning to her group of friends, Sewell said the harasser continued to follow her group around throughout the night, even at times targeting her directly. As the night progressed, the group lost contact with each other at times but finally joined back together to leave.
“After we left, we didn’t hear anything about what happened for about a month,” Sewell said.
According to Sergeant Wayne Drake, the department handled the situation correctly. In discussion, Drake said that he had followed the harasser and it was simply “poor bedside manner on the police department’s end.
In an interview with Brock Caton, the Director of Public Safety at UMF and the Police Chief for Farmington, Caton explained that in order for someone to be charged with anything, including sexual assault, there has to be “probable cause”.
“Probable cause” usually includes all elements of the crime in question. If there is “probable cause” present, then there are different ways that various crimes concerning sexual assualt are handled. This matter can sometimes include issuing a criminal summons forcing the person to appear in court and/or be arrested. Upon arrest, they’re transported to the Franklin County Jail to be booked. Once the booking process goes through, the case moves onto bail conditions along with other court proceedings later on. If the case goes as far as trial, the involved parties may be called to court to testify. Although most people bring along someone for support, the system prefers that interviews be done alone. The case being if they bring someone, especially another student along, the other person becomes a witness automatically in the investigation. This means they may be asked to testify in court. However, if the individual doesn’t feel comfortable being interviewed alone, the system will try to arrange the involvement of a Victim Advocate to be present and serve as support.
“… they (a Victim Advocate) will guide the complainant through the criminal justice process, to include assisting them with receiving resources and obtaining a Protection Order, if need be”, said Caton.
Thus, it can be extremely beneficial to have someone from Victim Advocate present for support if desired. If the complainant doesn’t wish for a person from Victim Advocate to be present, there is also the option of an informational brochure that is optionally provided. The brochure additionally provides information for the Victim Advocates just in case. All other witnesses will be interviewed alone in order to get the accurate and independent story version of what occurred in the incident.
For more information about the University of Maine Farmington’s safety department/Campus Police, go to https://www.umf.maine.edu/campus-life/campus-safety/
There’s a new club on campus making history with its formation. The Black Student Union (BSU) aims to create space for Black students- something that UMF hasn’t had before.
The BSU was founded by Junior Aman Hagos, who led three different BLM protests in Farmington last year. Hagos saw the need for a space for minority students to feel safe and seen.
This year’s freshman class is more diverse than ever before, and several Black students have confirmed Hagos’ feelings of a lack of space for Black students. Two freshmen on campus are excited to be a part of the change: Suki Fuzzell and Klaus Jacobs, originally from New York and Maryland respectively, came to UMF for the outdoors and a change of scenery from the city life. However, it hasn’t been a smooth transition.
Fuzzell recalls her time on campus as a minority as just okay. “I’ve had a couple of microaggressions here and there, but there’s nothing to do about it so you just keep going,” Fuzzell said. “However, I did drop my history class because it was kind of weird to be the only Black person in there and have them talk about slavery while being stared at so I dropped it for my own comfort.”
Jacobs shared a similar stance with their experience. “It’s been okay. Because I’m not as outgoing as other people it’s hard to make friends,” Jacobs said. “With white people sometimes they’re really close-knit – and that’s not a bad thing, but it’s hard to insert yourself into a close group. There have been people though who are understanding and can see that it’s hard being a Black woman on campus. It was a shaky start but overall good.”
Among other minority students on campus, the biggest issue Jacobs and Fuzzell have noticed at UMF is the lack of thoroughness and assertiveness towards racist events that take place. When asked if they believed UMF was inclusive, there was hesitation.
“I don’t think Farmington isn’t not inclusive but I think they could be a lot more inclusive,” said Fuzzell. “A lot of the issues that have happened with minority students have been brushed under the rug but if it’s a white student, it’s out in an email and everyone knows about it. It’s hard to not notice those types of things when there have been serious issues that aren’t being talked about.”
Jacobs and Fuzzell both agreed that Black students have a right to know what’s happening on campus, especially in regards to race.
“When you’re literally outnumbered by everyone on campus, your safety – it should be a top priority and sometimes it isn’t so you never really know what’s going on because you can’t prepare yourself for what’s going on if you don’t know,” Fuzzell said.
Despite the shaky start of the semester, Fuzzell and Jacobs both hope to see a difference by the time they are seniors, starting with the BSU.
“Honestly, I just want there to be more diversity by the time I’m a senior. I hope to see more cultural clubs that teach and celebrate different cultures – not just for us but for other students to learn about things that they might not really know because they aren’t taught about it here,” Fuzzell said.
Fuzzell also hopes to see more friends come out of the club. “When I came here, I was a little intimidated to go up to other Black students because they have been here longer than I have but having a club like this will open up that door and make it easier to find friends on campus that are other Black people instead of kind of feeling singled out,” she said.
Jacobs hopes for the same type of experience from a BSU on campus. “With a Black Student Union, it would be like having a little community – sometimes I need something for my hair or a product and I can’t ask my roommate or most of my friends so it’s little stuff like that, that matters.”
The Senate voted Monday, Nov. 1st, 2021 to make the BSU an official club on campus.
By Ashley Ward, Secretary and Assistant Editor
FARMINGTON 一 Over the next two weeks students at UMF will submit their final assessments and projects, bringing the Fall 2021 semester to a close. Finals are often a high-stress part of the school year for students, as they require a significant amount of effort and are typically worth a larger portion of the student’s final grade for a class.
Stress affects well-being in all aspects and mental health is just as important as physical health. For some students, their first experience with an academic final is in college and stress levels can skyrocket as a result. Sophomores Grayson Koelbl and Katelyn Ryan impart advice for any frazzled first year students:
“Remember to prioritize your mental health. This is easier said than done, because there are times when I don’t follow this. But have faith in yourself and make sure to check in with yourself mentally from time to time. Don’t forget, water is your best friend. Screaming into a pillow helps too,” Koelbl said.
“My best tip would be to really organize your time. Try to make a little schedule for finals week and the week before, making note of when you’ll be studying for exams or working on final projects and papers, as well as when you’ll be taking some time for yourself,” Ryan said.
Oftentimes, increased stress is followed by a lack of sleep as students scramble to find the time for everything they need to get done. Getting less than six to seven hours of sleep a night is not ideal and can lead to further stress-induced complications. Budget time to allow for sleeping/waking up at the same times every day, especially during finals week.
There is a hard cut-off deadline for turning in Fall 2021 assignments on Thursday Dec. 16 at 3:00 p.m.. Assessments or projects turned in after this point are not supposed to be accepted, so it would help to keep that deadline in mind when organizing your time.
By Paige Lusczky, contributing writer
If you have taken a Physical Education class on campus, you are aware that it is a requirement to go to an extra class, outside of class hours, on Bystander Intervention Training hosted by the campus Step UP! Program. For a lot of new UMF students, Bystander Intervention Training is all they hear from the campus Step UP! Program. So, why is it such a big deal?
“Step UP! is a prosocial behavior and Bystander Intervention Program that educates participants to be proactive in helping others” as said by the National Step UP! Program.
UMF Step UP! Program advisor and UMF counselor, Gavin Pickering, said “UMF prides ourselves on being a supportive and caring campus” and “this program provides tangible procedures and action steps to support.”
“Students will become each other’s allies and have the confidence to go to parties or walk around campus knowing that there is someone in the vicinity who has their back and is willing to step in,” said the original proposer of the program coming to UMF, Professor Kathy Kemp.
The Step UP! Program not only promotes Bystander Intervention but also the “Seize the Awkward” campaign about reaching out to those who may be suffering from mental health and trauma. When the program was originally proposed as an Honors Enrichment Proposal with Kemp, it was written that “[UMF] needs to talk about violence, and be able to say the words rape, consent, and abuse, without a backlash of scoffing, head-turning, and eye rolls.”
The program has a large group of UMF student involvement but has unfortunately been pushed to the background because of the pandemic. “We have a lot of big ideas but we can’t do as much as we would like,” Pickering said.
You can mainly see student workers promoting it by tabeling or getting involved with Community Assistants and the resident halls. Currently, the Step UP! Program is also working with the Campus Safety Project to evaluate what else they could be doing.
Around Halloween, the Step UP! Program was tabeling to inform students on what type of Halloween Costumes would be considered cultural appropriation. With UMF sitting on Native American Land, it is important to promote respect for all cultures and not use them as a costume. Last year, the group tabled for National Women’s Day as well.
Pickering believes that it is important that students be involved in the Step UP! Program because “getting information from peers is more meaningful to students than being told by authority figures” and students “have to help each other too.” This is why Step UP! is even considered a work-study job opportunity on campus.
The campus Step UP! Program is a “challenge for people to change the culture,” Pickering said. Pickering believes for those who want to see change, the program is an “opportunity to pay students to implement change on campus.”
There are three work-study positions available, if interested, please contact Pickering at email@example.com or if you would like more information about the national program, please go to StepUpProgram.org.