UMF Athletics Creates Racial Equity Committee

By Paige Lilly, Contributing Writer

    The UMF Athletics Department recently announced the start of its Racial Equity Committee (REC), which aims to create a safe environment where racially marginalized students can share their experiences while also working to make an impact here on campus. The REC announced its official presence on Monday in an Instagram post.

    The group began soon after Molly Wilkie was named the UMF Athletics Diversity and Inclusion designee, a new role the NCAA now requires schools to have. As part of a group of people with this same designation at their respective Maine Division III (DIII) Universities, Wilkie realized that UMF was one of the few schools yet to have a group of this type. “I learned that many of the other schools had coalitions and groups specifically for their student athletes of color [the names of the groups are all slightly different],” Wilkie said in an email. “After learning about what other schools were doing I thought it was something vital that UMF athletics should be engaging in as well.” 

    Wilkie then reached out to a number of students-athletes who she thought may want to be a part of the group. “Molly emailed us and asked if it would be something we were interested in,” said Chloe Horn, a junior, field hockey player and a member of REC. “I believe she got the list of our names from our various coaches. Then we were able to set up our first meeting.” 

    Wilkie stressed the importance of student leaders like Horn in the success of the group thus far. “Although I am facilitating this group, it is all about the student-athlete leaders and working to support and amplify their voices and ideas,” said Wilkie. 

    The group aims to provide students who identify as non-white with a safe space to discuss their experiences. “Our group … wants to create a safe space for racially marginalized student-athletes for support and advocacy,” Wilkie said. “The group also wants to play a role in helping to educate about and identify the racial inequities that exist on our campus.” 

    “It’s the start of a conversation many students here don’t realize needs to be had,” said sophomore Mullein Francis, who is a nordic skier for UMF and a member of REC. “Because we all go to a school that is mostly white, I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s rural Maine, we don’t have to worry about that here,’ but in reality we do,” said Francis. “There are a lot of people here who deal with this kind of thing, and it’s good to be able to talk about it with people who understand.” 

    In fact, it’s that understanding that sparked the friendship between Horn and Francis. “We didn’t know each other before the group, it kind of started our friendship,” Horn said, sharing a laugh with Francis.  

    In that way, they believe the group is already beginning to be successful in bringing students who identify as non-white together, but they won’t stop there. “We have a lot of big goals,” said Francis. “We are thinking about eventually hopefully having a system where we can include other students as well, not just student athletes.” 

    However, Francis and Horn both agreed that the group needs a strong foundation before they can move to that goal. “We’re so ambitious, but we know that if we get too excited and try to move too fast it might hurt us in the long run. We know we need to build the group so that it’s strong, doing little events before big ones,” said Horn. In these efforts, these student-athletes believe they will be able to start an important conversation that lasts even after they graduate from UMF.

    Any questions about REC should be brought to their Instagram account @umf_rec or emailed to Molly Wilkie at molly.wilkie@maine.edu. 

UMF Fall Athletic Teams Look Forward to the 2021 Season

By Abby Pomerleau, Contributing Writer

    After some sports weren’t able to play games during the fall 2020 athletic season, UMF is planning to have a successful fall athletics season next semester with scheduled games and events. 

    Teams who could play and practice were restricted to social distancing and wearing masks while practicing and student-athletes had to complete a form before every practice for a COVID-19 screening. 

    With the 2021 spring season approaching, the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) and the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC), the conferences UMF’s fall athletics play in, are planning competitive games and events. “Travel restrictions will be lifted by next fall, so all things point to us being able to travel and play outside of the state of Maine,” said Cynthia Pratt, head coach of the UMF field hockey team.

    Although competitions are taking place, there will still be possible restrictions during the season, such as wearing masks, and the success of the season may depend on factors related to COVID-19 vaccinations. “I am pretty confident about having fall seasons that look and feel more like a normal season,” said Julie Davis, UMF’s Director of Athletics, in an email. “So much will depend on the state of the virus, including the vaccination rate. I won’t be surprised if there is still some masking required we’ve learned when they are used consistently and properly, they work to protect both ourselves and others. I am just hopeful that the context doesn’t require them to the degree they are now.” 

    Games and events may be resuming as normal, but other aspects of the season may change. “I feel like bus rides and hotel stays are going to look a bit different with more spacing being put in place” said Jonah Sautter, a current junior who plays for the men’s soccer team. Bus rides and hotels are places where teams bond. Having this built-in team bonding time taken away or altered may affect the morale of the team. 

    In the fall of 2020, teams did practices, but they were not able to compete. Having an entire year off of competition raises concern. “My only worries are for the players on my team and how taking an entire season off might affect them,” said Pratt. “Will they be ready in the fall? Will they once again regain that competitive spirit? It will be my responsibility as a coach to be sure they are focused and prepared. I can give them all the tools and then they have to commit to being the best they can be.”

    As the 2021 season rolls around, hopes are high for the competitive season to go as planned. “I’m excited and looking forward to a sense of normalcy,” said Sautter. “It’s crazy to think all of these guidelines and rules have been in place for over a year now, but I just look forward to things beginning to go back to normal.”

    The athletic department may have a new normal, but the importance of the game remains the same. “I am excited to coach games,” said Pratt. “I love competition and watching my players compete to the best of their ability. I love watching them get better at practice everyday and taking all the things we work on and apply it to a game situation.”

    The expectation regarding fans is that they will be able to attend outdoor games as long as they are wearing masks and social distancing. The plans for the season as well as the topic of fans are subject to change as the fall season becomes closer.

    To stay updated on fall athletics or get in contact with staff in the athletic department, visit athletics.umf.maine.edu. 

Virtual Fun: The New Normal

Virtual Fun: The New Normal

By Samantha Pond, Contributing Writer

The Farmington Recreation Department by Sam Shirley.

The Farmington Recreation Department by Sam Shirley.

    While school-age children are finding themselves stuck at home without access to activities and sports, the Farmington Recreation Department has stepped up to bring the community together.

    Farmington Parks and Recreation, also known as Farmington Parks and Recreation, is an organization that provides activities and facilities to all members of the community. This organization is where children often attend after school programs, sport practices, and fun activities. COVID-19 has created unforeseen struggles within the organization, but they have found a way to bring the community together through the Internet.

    The Farmington Parks and Recreation Facebook page has become an outlet for the community to learn new things, have access to arts and crafts, and partake in fun activities. Marissa Goodwin, a second year student at UMF, has been a part of the Farmington Recreation Department for two years now. She has also been a part of providing an outlet for children online. “We started creating online videos of all sorts of things so that the kids could watch them and learn new things,” Goodwin said. “We have all kinds of things like cooking, exercising, ice fishing, sign language, yoga, and the list goes on.”

    Each activity targets a wide range of people, not just the youth of the community. Parents can also learn new things from the short videos alongside their children.

    The videos have become weekly for the recreation department. At the beginning of each week one can find a day-to-day schedule of activities to watch for free. The Facebook page also provides updates on sports opportunities and updates for the local ice skating rink.

    COVID-19 has played a role in every decision this year and definitely brought some difficulties to the recreation department, as the usual activities for the recreation department came to a halt. “The [Recreation Department] decided that it was safer not to have the after school program,” said Goodwin. “So instead, we have been extremely busy trying to think of ways to keep the children active.”    

    Although this has overall been well-received by the local community, it will always be hard to replicate in-person activities because the energy isn’t the same. “Things are a lot quieter when I go in now. Normally there is lots of noise because of the kids,” Goodwin said. “I love going to work and joking around with the kids. I miss being able to run around and play games with them the most.” 

    The Farmington Recreation Department has been constantly coming up with new exciting ideas for the community. “We recently put together a February vacation box with a bunch of activities for the children to do over break.” Goodwin said. 

    These activities have provided a break for parents who have become overwhelmed with remote learning and those who are struggling to find activities for children to be involved in. “I think the kids are getting entertainment from the videos and activities we have been putting out for them,” Goodwin said. “I think it is a really great thing, especially for the kids who don’t have a lot to do at home.”

    If community members or UMF students are interested in getting involved with Farmington Parks and Recreation, Matt Foster can be reached via phone at (207) 778-6538 or you can email the Farmington Recreation Department at info@farmington-maine.org.

Students Turn to Off-Campus Housing for More Freedom

By Abby Pomerleau, Contributing Writer

    If on-campus housing is not the best fit for a student’s college experience, off-campus housing is a healthy alternative for UMF students. 

    Residence halls are where many students get their first taste of freedom. Although it can be a good fit for some, residence halls are not for everyone. This leads students to look elsewhere for living. The most common options are commuting from home or renting an apartment. Apartments in Farmington become more scarce in February and March when students begin to tour apartments and sign leases. 

    Many first-time renters don’t know where to start. What is considered expensive? Is this apartment a “steal”? Katelyn Rouleau, a sophomore, is living off-campus this year for the first time. “The process was overwhelming. I had no idea where to start,” said Rouleau. “I currently pay $470 a month for a two bedroom apartment.” Rouleau said this is all inclusive, which means that the apartment comes with heat, electricity, and other utilities. $470 a month is roughly the average cost of apartments. The quality of the apartment and the number of roommates will determine the price. 

    Signing a lease can be intimidating. Remembering to read each word is important before signing your name on any document, leases included. Although renters may be stressing about signing a lease, landlords are also stressed about signing renters. Tor Goettsche Spurling, a local landlord who owns Gotcha Apartments feels this way annually. “I always stress each year about filling the rentals with tenants, but I’ve never had an apartment go vacant,” said Goettsche Spurling. “However, what I would say is that the struggle is to find the good tenants.”

    Many landlords look for various things in a renter. Goettsche Spurling speaks about what interests him in a good tenant. “I primarily look for someone who pays rent on time, keeps a clean apartment, is self-sufficient and kind,” said Goettsche Spurling. “If they are students, I like to see that they have part-time jobs or are involved with something on campus.”  

    When looking for an apartment there are many physical things about the apartment that those looking to rent should look out for. “Some things I don’t like as a renter are stained rugs, water damage to walls and ceilings, mold, odors, and pets,” said Rouleau. “If you plan on having a pet, make sure your landlord is aware and approves of it.” More often than not, landlords have people pay an additional fee for pets. 

    There are some pros and cons when it comes to renting an apartment. “Some pros are that with COVID-19 you don’t need to wear a mask to go to the shower or bathroom, you can buy your own groceries, and you have your own space and freedom,” said Rouleau. “With that said, the cons are that you have to manage your money. Landlords expect a check each month, regardless of your situation. Expenses add up quickly, and you’ll find yourself having no choice but to prioritize the right things.” 

    If finding an apartment is so stressful, why not just stay on campus? “Living off campus allows you to have an independent lifestyle that you don’t necessarily have on campus,” said Rouleau. “As you get older you want to make more and more decisions for yourself. Living off campus provides that freedom.” Living off campus allows students to gain life skills such as cooking, cleaning, and money management. It even allows for an easier transition into post-college life. 

    Finding the right apartment can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. As the semester continues, students will be signing leases for apartments often. Students want the best apartment, and they waste no time finding it. Finding the right apartment for you depends on what you can financially afford, what environment you desire, and the amount of roommates you want, if any. 

 

UMF Tutors are “Zoom”ing to Help Students

By Paige Lilly, Contributing Writer

    Before the pandemic, tutoring was one of the most readily available services for students at UMF. At almost any time, students could walk into the Mantor Library and there would be a tutor waiting to help them with their needs. Additionally, students could set up times to meet with tutors in specific subjects.

    However, COVID-19 has made these services more difficult to access. Without searching, it would be easy for students to assume that tutoring services are currently available. However, tutoring is still a service that can be used by students if they need it. Cassidy O’Donnell, a sophomore actuarial science major who has been working as a tutor for the computer science department and the learning commons since the beginning of the academic year, has been a tutor since the beginning of this year. Therefore, pandemic-style tutoring through Zoom is all she has ever known.

    The style of tutoring is different for each job. “The computer science department creates a flyer of all of their tutor’s zoom meetings and the times. Then the department emails it out to their students,” said O’Donnell. “Students are free to come to the sessions whenever they need help.” 

    There are multiple tutors for the department, most of which do not overlap with each other. O’Donnell says that this is convenient because students can check the list and find a time with a tutor that works for them.

    With the Learning Commons, students control the schedule instead. “Students can schedule appointments using the Navigate app or online through Navigate, which is accessible through MyCampus,” O’Donnell said. In the Navigate app, students are able to select their tutor, the time for the session, what subjects they need help with, and any additional information they would like to provide to their tutor. This allows students and tutors to find times that work with their busy schedules.

    Mullein Francis, a sophomore biology major and tutor, is also employed through The Learning Commons tutoring program. She highlighted a few challenges that tutoring on Zoom has presented. “It can be hard when tutoring subjects like math, when you really just want to point to something on the paper to show them,” said Francis. “When you’re on Zoom, you have to work with the camera, switching between writing things on your paper and holding it up to show the person you’re tutoring.” Although this is a struggle, Francis said that tutoring over Zoom has generally been a positive experience. 

    One thing that Francis likes about tutoring over Zoom is the flexibility that it offers for both the tutor and the student. “It’s nice because Zoom meetings can be a lot easier to fit into my schedule,” Francis said. “When you’re in person, it can be harder to find a time that works, because you have to factor in the time to physically get to the meeting, which can make it tricky.”

    O’Donnell enjoys the positive impact that tutoring has on students. “The tutoring program is confidential so students don’t have to worry about tutors talking to each other or other students about them,” O’Donnell said. 

    Francis also encourages students who need some extra help to sign up for a virtual tutoring session. “School can be so stressful,” she said. “It’s rewarding to be able to help people get rid of some of that stress.”

    To schedule a tutoring session with the Learning Commons, download the Navigate app on your smartphone’s app store.

UMF Biology Class Helps Cultivate New and Rare Life

UMF Biology Class Helps Cultivate New and Rare Life

By Michael Levesque, Contributing Writer

Nancy Prentiss Biology Class

Photo courtesy of Nancy Prentiss, Biology Class

    The Natural History of a Maine Watershed class taught by Nancy Prentiss, accompanied by Maine aquatic professionals, ventured out to lay Atlantic salmon eggs near Avon, ME. 

    Classified as an endangered species, Atlantic Salmon are almost exclusively found in New England and waters north. These fish travel up rivers, like the Sandy, to lay their eggs and exit later to spend years of their lives out in the Atlantic Ocean. After their time in the ocean, they return to roughly the same area where they hatched from their eggs to lay eggs of their own and repeat the process.

    Nancy Prentiss, the professor of the Natural History of a Maine Watershed class, has now made this trip three years in a row. She looks forward to this trip every year. “I’m definitely a field person,” Prentiss says, “I really pushed hard to submit a form for approval.” Luckily for the class, approval was given. They were able to utilize the class’ small number of students and independent travel to help make sure that everyone involved stayed safe.

    Joining Prentiss and eight members of the class were the Department of Marine Resources, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Previously, the class prepared for the trip by practicing using snowshoes the week before. Despite frigid weather, COVID-19, and having to trudge through snow on snowshoes, the class persevered. 

    After locating a spot to lay the eggs, a gravel nest was made–similar to that made by actual salmon–to help protect the eggs. A tool resembling a funnel was used to create the depression in the ground. This process was delayed as cold temperatures made some of their equipment freeze. Although there were delays, Prentiss and her class embraced the challenges. “This is science,” Prentiss said. 

    Describing the eggs as similar to “Orbeez”, Hope Norton mentions she wasn’t expecting a class trip like this involving professionals to happen. The eggs were previously fertilized three months before. As eggs and young fish, they will call that nest home for approximately two years before making their own journey to the ocean. “I just love throwing students into a situation and then you learn by doing,” Prentiss says. “When [the students] are doing it themselves, that’s the best way to learn.”

    Lauren Preis, a student in the class, described the struggles these salmon face today. “They have trouble migrating because of dams and culverts,” said Preis. “For every 15,000 eggs, only one adult salmon fish will return,” Preis says. Because of these grim statistics, blockages are a problem for the Sandy River and for other places and species as well. 

    Although these rates are alarming and frustrating, some studies and efforts show these fish as possibly having a chance. “There are fish returning from the fertilized eggs they have planted,” Prentiss says. Efforts made by educational institutions like colleges and high schools in Maine as well as state and federal agencies have produced some hopeful results.

    For the class, this was an experience that shaped their student experience while getting them outside of UMF. “It was an amazing life experience,” Preis said. 

    Preis and her classmates perhaps didn’t imagine taking such a trip in the beginning of the semester, but are grateful nonetheless. “I wish I could do it with everybody,” Prentiss said. “We are always in a different stream and every time I go, I learn more.” 

    Prentiss is hopeful her class will be able to continue this tradition and have more people down the road lay salmon eggs. The shared goal of this class and others in the industry is to remove these fish from the endangered species list.