Jewish Student Union Created at UMF

By Adrienne Foss, contributing writer

Student Karly Jacklin is currently in her third year at UMF and has worked hard to help form UMF’s first Jewish Student Union (JSU). The JSU became official on Monday, November 22.

The idea for a Jewish Student Union came from Jacklin, Jocelyn Royalty, Molly Ondich, and Professor of Philosophy Jonathan Cohen, who all became close over the past year. First-year student Ondich wanted to know if there was a JSU on campus and decided to take the opportunity to form one.

“We all were meeting at a Tashlich ceremony which is when you throw bread in the water to cast off sins for the Jewish New Year,” said Jacklin. The ceremony was an event held by Franklin County’s Jewish Union, which is known to its members as the Bagel and Dreidel Society.

“I’ve been hoping for one since I came to UMF in 1992,” said Cohen. “We’ve come close before, but never quite had the critical mass of sufficient students or the impetus of committed leadership to pull it off. I’m very happy that those conditions have finally been met…We’ve had a smattering of Jewish students at UMF every year that I’ve been here, and their number has been growing gradually over time.”

When trying to get the Union started, there proved to be challenges in getting approval from Student Senate. The first hurdle Jacklin went through was expanding the membership requirements.

“We couldn’t just keep it for Jewish students and allies if we wanted to get senate funding, and we had to take that out of our Constitution which we worried a little bit about,” said Jacklin. The constitution committee of the student senate said that it would be okay and assured that there would not be any anti-Semitism. If any anti-Semitism was to take place, it would go directly against the Student Code of Conduct.

The first meeting for the proposed JSU took place over Zoom on October 20, and a total of six people showed an initial interest. More people have been showing an interest in the Union since then, and more have gradually been joining.

“The main thing we are trying to do is connect Jewish students to the Jewish resources in the Farmington Area,” said Jacklin. “We just want to serve as the bridge between the Franklin County Jewish community and the students here at UMF… I’m a junior, and I had no idea that there was a Jewish group in Franklin County until I took a class with Professor Cohen…We have had discussions about going to Augusta or Waterville to go to one of the Synagogues there for more outreach.”

“I look forward to current and future Jewish students having an opportunity to connect with fellow Jewish students while in college,” said Cohen. “It’s an age at which people are figuring out their identities now that they’re no longer subject to the families they were raised in, so having the opportunity to explore their Jewish identity with fellow students in the same situation is really important for them… The club belongs to the students, so they can do with it whatever they like. I’ll be happy to work with them in whatever capacity they would like, and I look forward to doing so. It’s an exciting development!”

“People do continue to reach out to me, so the union is definitely growing,” said Jacklin. “It’s a small community here, but I think it’s going to flourish.”

If anyone has any interest in joining the Jewish Student Union, contact


Stories of the Non-Traditional Student– Who are they?

Stories of the Non-Traditional Student– Who are they?

By Charity Webster, contributing writer.

What do you know about the student sitting next to you? Has the student been here before? Can the student use Google Drive or Brightspace? Are they jumping hurdles daily just to be in class? Did they just receive a disturbing text as they entered class? Is the student playing a balancing act with non-student life and school? Maybe the student isn’t the typical student just out of high school and living on campus.

The non-traditional student always has a backstory of how and why the student has restarted or started at the given time. As a non-traditional student myself, my story is long and all over the place. I have never wanted to give up on my dreams though and always have been a hard worker. I feel my course was just derailed for a time. I found myself on a different road and successful in my social work career, but at a turning point in my life. When the road brought me back full-circle, I re-enrolled again in 2019 at UMF. Having been away from college for eighteen-plus years, I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started again. My life was in a totally different place than the average student and now I wanted to prove something to myself and to my family. I could do this!

The National Center for Education Statistics defines non-traditional students “as meeting one of seven characteristics: delayed enrollment into postsecondary education; attends college part-time; works full time; is financially independent for financial aid purposes; has dependents other than a spouse; is a single parent.”

Henry O’Shaughnessy is currently a non-traditional student at UMF and a sophomore in an Undeclared Liberal Arts Major. Even at his current state and being in college before, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, and being a part of the Americorp and Triple C, he still isn’t sure what he wants for a degree. He does know he wants to get an education and complete what he started almost 10 years ago. He too, has a story that has brought him back full-circle. O’Shaughnessy graduated from York High School and went to college right out of high school in a small town in Pennsylvania.

“College was a blast socially and academically, I was having a lot of fun. So much fun that I got kicked out not just once but twice. This was after I attended counseling to return to school but yet again got kicked out,” O’Shaughnessy said.  Several months after being kicked out, O’Shaughnessy  was in a major car accident as a passenger and broke his back in three different places. He lay there for several months in recovery. During that time he reflected and decided he wanted to give more of himself so he went into Americorp and Triple C for volunteering, traveled the country, and hiked the Appalachian trail. Now in his late 20’s ,he has decided to return to UMF and pursue a degree. “I had the realization of what I was going to do- I didn’t have a skill set or a degree. This is why I came back to get my degree so I can get a decent job and maintain the traveling lifestyle,” O’Shaughnessy said.

Both O’Shaughnessy and I face daily challenges in our choice to return to college, each of us have our own stories. Maybe the student sitting next to you is a non-traditional student, one with a more unorthodox set of problems. For example, having five children all with their own disabilities or working full time at an elementary school as a music teacher. Or my elderly mom and ill sister-in-law living with me and my mother-in-law living next door. Or that my husband and I are the Children’s Pastor at our church. So why take on the new challenge of going back to College when I seem to have a full life? Well something was unfinished and my new career path–my destiny of sorts– required it. So here I am!

O’Shaughnessy is a man in his 20’s who has been all over North America and South America volunteering and doing things for the communities that are struggling, working when he can, and has an amazing circle of friends and family- so why return to school now? Again, due to unfinished business and needing a sense of completion and success.

What does UMF offer the non-traditional student? What makes UMF more desirable over other colleges?  “Well the cost was one of the biggest advantages, since I need to pay for it on my own and I have an apartment,” O’Shaughnessy said.  Proximity and cost was definitely a factor for me. Also, there is a well-developed education program, and that is my degree focus. However, the number one factor for me was the support I received to help accomplish my goals and complete my degree fast. Stephen Davis and Lori Soucie are on my side, both advisors that have both spent hours reviewing my transcripts and my path projection. They have given me pointers on how to finish and meet the requirements for the Maine Department of Education and my degree focus. I had the task of meeting the degree program requirements and the Department’s requirements to get my Music Education Certification.

What are some advantages that non-traditional students may have? They tend to be more ready for what college sends their way. Homework isn’t such a challenge and time management is usually not a problem. UMF offers some unique things to the non-traditional student such as the option of daycare right on campus for your children. Also, as non-traditional students commute to and from campus in Maine winters, they offer students a place to stay for $5 a night on campus. You just need to contact Campus Security and they can hook you up. Finally, as a non-traditional student, you may face challenges daily but why not do that on a campus that has your back 100%?


President Serna Speaks at SCC 20th Anniversary

By Paige Lusczyk, contributing writer

The Sustainable Campus Coalition (SCC) celebrated its 20th anniversary on Oct. 29th in the Landing. UMF’s President Serna spoke at the event.

President Serna congratulated the SCC for creating an impact at UMF. “…Walk around this campus-especially as a tour… as outsiders-and you really start to feel the impact you have had on the physical campus,” Serna said.

President Serna continued to list off the accomplishments of the SCC including the biomass plant, the community garden, the Thrifty Beaver, and the wells. The wells were installed in 2012 as ground source heating. The Biomass plant was completed in 2016 and will replace about 390,000 gallons of heating oil previously used annually. The Thrifty Beaver was also established in 2016, an active place for those who need help with food insecurity. The community garden was established last year to also raise awareness of food insecurity on campus while supplying organic produce to the community.

The SCC was founded in 2001 with an original focus on the Education Center and its Green design. Today, “the mission of the SCC has expanded to include public education, collaborations with the community, environmental planning associated with greenhouse gas emissions, improvement of recycling on campus, encouragement of local food, institutional composting, and sustainable transportation.”

“It’s not just how [the SCC] shaped the physical campus, I think it is also how [the SCC] shaped our values and culture here on campus,” President Serna said.

UMF’s Campus Sustainability Coordinator, Mark Pires, thanked all alumni and current students involved with the SCC over the past 20 years, then everyone else that were heavily involved in the project. “SCC projects and activities are driven by the interests and passions of UMF students who work in collaboration with a team of dedicated faculty, staff, and community members,” Pires said.

The SCC meets on Mondays from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in room 113 in the Education Center. Please contact Pires at for more information.

Meet Aaron Wyanski

By Adrienne Foss, Contributing Writer

Assistant Professor of Music Composition Aaron Wyanski recently joined UMF during the 2020 school year and has since been making extensive contributions to the music department.

“On one of my first days, I was asked what kind of classes that I wanted to teach during the semester,” Wyanski said. “All of the classes that I pitched ended up actually happening, which is new for me and I find very exciting.” He currently teaches three classes a semester, along with the piano lessons he provides to a select number of students.

“I like how interdisciplinary the arts division is here and how easy it is to interact with people all around campus,” Wyanski said. “Sometimes music can be really siloed, which is definitely not the case here.”

Wyanski has been teaching instrumental lessons for almost 20 years and has been teaching composition for five. He has had previous teaching experiences at The Hartt School, which is connected to the University of Hartford, along with Sweet Briar College located in Virginia.

“One of my missions in education is to make sure that no one should feel bad for not knowing something,” Wyanski said. “Very often in music, people feel intimidated to try something new in fear that they might make a mistake.”

Wyanski started to gain an interest in music when he was an early teenager, and he started out by playing the guitar. At the time he was more of a visual arts person, but he soon began to realize he wanted to pursue a career in music. At the age of 18, Wyanski became an early admission student at a local New York community college where he began to learn how to play the piano.

Between getting his undergraduate and his master’s degree, Wyanski took a lot of time off and focused on working as a musician. After going to graduate school for music composition, he eventually realized that he wanted to pursue a career as a music educator.

“I’m consistently impressed with the students here, which is a big part of my inspiration when it comes to teaching,” Wyanski said. “For me, teaching has always been so much more about teaching people rather than only teaching a subject.”

“Part of what I’m here [UMF] to do is to make new things happen,” Wyanski said. “It’s a challenge in its own way, but I get to figure out what makes sense for the music program here.”

Table Gaming Club to Host Biannual “Game Fest”

By Ashley Ward, Secretary and Assistant Editor

FARMINGTON 一 Table Gaming Club (TGC) is preparing to host their biannual Game Fest on Nov. 12, starting at 7p.m. and ending at 7a.m. the next day. Open to UMF students, TGC invites everyone to come by the South Dining Hall and enjoy games, food, and raffle prizes.

A club established in the 70s, TGC holds their meetings every Wednesday in Roberts 028 at 6:30pm. With an average attendance of 15-30 people per meeting, Table Gaming Club is riding the involvement high that several tabletop gaming communities have seen during the past 18 months.

“We think that part of it has something to do with the fact that tabletop games are very easy to translate into an online format. So, it’s not really just a phenomenon that our club has seen, it is tabletop gaming communities as a whole that have seen immense growth over the pandemic,” President of the Table Gaming Club Quinlan Boyle said.

Barring the last three semesters, TGC has hosted the Game Fest twice a year, once in the fall semester and once in the spring. Game Fest is a 12 hour-long table gaming marathon that runs from 7p.m.-7a.m. the following morning. UMF students are encouraged to stop by to play a wide variety of board games, participate in raffles, and have fun.

“We set them [board games] up so people can bop around playing whatever game they want with other people that have shown up. We have a raffle that goes on during Game Fest with prizes that we think people might enjoy. We usually bring out the Nintendo Switch and set up Smash Bros or Mario Kart for people to play together. It’s really just a bunch of the games that we have and take out of storage so that everyone can play them,” Boyle said.

Boyle said that Game Fest is always held on a Friday evening into a Saturday morning, so that waking up for classes the next day isn’t an issue.

Game Fest is TGC’s largest event, usually turning out an attendance number between 75 and 100 students. Another large event led by the TGC, Humans versus Zombies, hasn’t come close to the involvement that Game Fest pulls, not even with the record-high number of 57 participants this semester.

If you are unable to attend the Nov. 12 Game Fest, keep an eye out for the one next semester in Spring 2022. For more information about the TGC or Game Fest, contact club President Quinlan Boyle.

Construction, Detours Persist on High Street

By Michael Levesque, Contributing Writer

Recent construction on High Street addresses an important area of campus but some students feel a little unsure about how to navigate the project.

At the end of October, construction began on a section of High Street from Perham Street to South Street. This area of road runs directly through the center of campus at UMF. For some students, the construction has created a bit of surprises as they make the trip to their classes. Paige Lusczyk, a student at UMF notes some confusion about where students were permitted to walk. “I wasn’t sure if I’d get in trouble with crossing the road while they were working and was late to class by walking around the blocked off road,” she said in an email. “I don’t really hear much of the construction, even with my windows always open,” she said. Although Lusczyk doesn’t note the sound as contributing to the construction drawbacks, other students have. Zack Laflamme, a junior at UMF, says that  Francis Allen Black Hall has been affected less by noise from construction but has heard about complaints from the noise through social media. “I live in FAB, so I don’t hear it much but I’ve seen my friends say on their Snapchat stories how loud or distracting the noise is,” Laflamme said. Most students note that noise hasn’t been a terrible issue and that they will get used to the new scene on campus. “I haven’t found the construction all that frustrating,” said Lusczyk.

High Street’s location to UMF means careful planning must be implemented for the members of the community. Philip Hutchins, the public works department head for Farmington, has noted the goals and plans of this project. “The High Street project will last until 2022,” he said in an email. “This is split up in two phases. The roadway pave portion will be completed this fall; which will soon be open to traffic again,” said Hutchins. “[In] the spring of 2022, we will commence on the outside of roadway construction.” Many assets are expected to be added to the area around UMF in the spring. “An addition of over 30 new street lamps, new sidewalks, curbing and more parking accessibility, such as bus turn-outs for campus activities [will be added],” said Hutchins.

Hutchins understands the possible confusion and magnitude of the project. “I ask for everyone’s patience until the project is completed,” he said. As part of a “full depth reconstruction” project listed on the public works department website, the expected cost of this project is $300,000.“This project is funded by local municipal government and by the Maine Department of Transportation,” Hutchins added. As many people look forward to a potentially more quiet section of road, others look towards the improvements in the future. “This project will give the area a whole new welcoming and warming look”