By Ciera Miller, Staff Writer
Hannah Binder at Colby’s HT94 installation (Photo courtesy of Ciera Miller)
Since September, University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) students across five disciplines participated in filling out a total of 1,370 toe tags for the Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) installation at the Oak Institute for Human Rights at Colby College. A toe tag is a piece of cardboard or paper attached to the toe of a deceased person used to identify them. HT94 is an art project organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), directed by anthropologist Jason de León.
HT94 was born out of the term “Hostile Terrain”, a direct quote from the U.S. government’s Prevention Through Deterrence (PTD) policy. PTD uses the desert and mountains as a form of border patrol to deter people from migrating into the United States through Arizona. However, PTD has failed and migrants continue to flood in.
For this project, toe tags are filled out and pinned to a large wall map at the coordinates at which a dead migrant body was found. Orange tags belong to unidentified people and white tags belong to the identified.
Dr. Gaelyn Aguilar brought HT94 to UMF because she believes in “teaching justice in an unjust world.” She said, “I was hoping that filling out our toe tags would feel an awful lot like the naming of names,” which she compared to the most recent surge of Black Lives Matter protests throughout the country.
Cassie Donald, a UMF student who participated in filling out over 20 toe tags, echoed Aguilar. It made them feel more personally involved and was more than just an assignment. “Putting names to the issue made it very real,” they said. “It brought forward a lot of emotion that reading an article might not.”
Aguilar discussed the language used to dehumanize migrants coming into the U.S. from our southern border. “We call undocumented immigrants ‘illegal’―folks do that to avoid speaking the names of those who’ve died, or even having to imagine their faces,” she said. Aguilar believes contributing to this toe tag installation allowed herself, her faculty members, and her students to reinvision these migrants and give them their names back, not only in individual consciences but in our national conscience as well.
Senior Adriana Burnham knows what it’s like to experience this language. “I’m half-Mexican, and I get a lot of jokes about jumping the border,” she said. Due to Burnham’s heritage, it felt personally disrespectful not to fill out these toe tags. Living in the U.S., Burnham reflects that most don’t have to stress about crossing into a new country to start a new life and/or supporting families from afar. “It gives a reality to something we don’t see in Maine,” she said. “We have this chance to recognize these people who risked their lives.”
Laney Randolph, a senior education major, was blindsided by the amount of tags UMF received to fill out. She hadn’t realized how many people died crossing the border. “It’s horrifying to think that this isn’t something most people are aware of,” Randolph said. “I think Americans would have a much more empathetic attitude towards immigrants if they knew just how difficult and dangerous it was to get here.”
Their reactions are the purpose of HT94. This installation is a moment of global reflection and remembrance of those who’ve died on this hostile terrain, trying to cross into the United States. Donald said it best: “It’s important for people outside of the issue to gain awareness of the issue.”
by Ciera Miller, Staff Writer
Audience members watching Spilecki Spaloosa behind Merrill Hall. (Photo courtesy of Ciera Miller)
On Oct. 10, the National Theatre Honors Society (NTHS) and Alpha Psi Omega (APO) at UMF hosted their first Spilecki Spaloosa in the Emery Courtyard behind Merrill Hall.
APO consists of students who were specially chosen due to their avid participation in theatre on campus. They live and breathe in the theatre world, and they plan events to share that love with others.
Matty Bernard, president of APO, said, “The Spilecki Spaloosa was written in part by former UMF APO members many years ago, but was never performed until now.” Although the idea had been kicking around for so long, the current APO members still needed a little push to make it into an actual event. “The Spaloosa is named after Stan Spilecki, the technical director at UMF, because of his involvement and encouragement towards APO to do this. He had done a similar event in the past where it was treated like a competition,” Bernard said.
This year’s Spilecki Spaloosa wasn’t a competition, but it was simple in practice; any interested UMF student could participate, and they chose whether they wanted to act or to watch. If students wanted to act, their name went into a pink pumpkin head. From this pumpkin head, Bernard chose random names for a random 10 minute scene that one of the APO members was going to direct. Both the director and actors had never seen the script before, making the challenge even harder.
“You don’t know what you’re doing,” said Sam Wood, one of the APO members, who was directing the scene. “You just skip the scenes you don’t like―or you try to.” Although she didn’t like some of the content she was staging, Wood wasn’t completely upset with the directing process. “It was fun! You get to work with people you don’t usually get to work with,” she said. Eli Mowry, APO member and president of Student Theatre UMF (STUMF), voiced similar sentiments.
The impromptu actors were excited about the performances. They were given ten minutes to rehearse their scenes before going in front of a live audience. Emalyn Remington, secretary of STUMF, called it a magical and fulfilling experience. “It was hard trying not to laugh,” Remington said, in response to her fellow actor making chimpanzee noises in the middle of their scene. Another actor, Paul Riddell, put it more simply: “In a word―fun.” Riddell also discussed having this event in the COVID-19 era. “The two main challenging things during COVID-19 are projecting [your voice] through the mask and keeping six feet apart,” Riddell said.
Both APO and STUMF have been trying to keep up with COVID-19 regulations while still having theatre events on campus. They’re trying their best to enforce the six feet apart rule, having everyone wear their masks, and being safe while performing. “Theatre has been very difficult in the current climate, so it’s just good for us to be here,” Mowry said. “I’m glad that people are here at STUMF meetings, at APO events, doing the Spaloosa.”
While being socially distanced can make things harder, the Spilecki Spaloosa was fun for everyone involved―directors, actors, and audience members. Elly Bernard, part of the audience, said she thought it was very creative and very entertaining. The scenes were performed wonderfully despite their short rehearsal time, laughs echoed throughout the night, and everyone left with smiles on their faces. They all agreed that it had been an enjoyable night. “And that’s what theatre’s about,” Mowry said. “Having fun.”
“I think that the event could be done in the future,” Matty Bernard said about more spaloosas. “We can normally open the event up to the entire UMF community, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, we were not able to do so [this time].”
So if you missed the Spilecki Spaloosa this time around, keep your eyes peeled for future spaloosas and theatre events hosted by APO. If you want to join a theatre club, Student Theatre UMF (STUMF) meets every Friday at 5:10 PM in the Emery Courtyard behind the Merrill Center and invites anyone interested in theatre to join.
by Sydney Beecher, Contributing Writer
Aiming to help students register to vote, UMF’s branch of the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) held a voter registration drive at the end of September. The drive was an astounding success, with 40 UMF students registering to vote over a span of two days.
This program was headed by senior Samantha Wood, CEEP Fellow and the voter drive event organizer, along with four volunteers. Together they led students through the process of filling out an official registration form. “It’s easy for on-campus students to register to vote because UMF sent a residence list to the town clerk’s office so students do not need to provide proof of residency,” Wood said. “For those who live off-campus, all we ask of them is to bring proof of residency such as a piece of mail or their driver’s license when they come to register.”
Creating a voter registration drive on campus helps to build a habit of civic engagement in students. Voters between the ages of 18 and 21 have the lowest voter turnout of any age group.
According to Political Science Professor James Melcher, this can cause the views of younger voters to be underrepresented. “Here in the 2nd Congressional District in Maine, voters have the chance to vote in some of the most hotly contested races in the nation,” said Melcher. “Maine’s 2nd District electoral vote, U.S. House race, and U.S. Senate race are all extraordinarily competitive and crucial votes.”
Ciera Miller, one of the volunteers at the drive, echoed this message and stressed the importance of voting. “I wanted to volunteer because it’s important that we vote in elections for who’s going to be given power in our town, state, or country… [and] I want to help others who were never taught the impact their vote has so they can be more aware of how important their voice is as a US citizen. They should know that their voice matters,” said Miller.
Another important aspect of the drive was to provide unbiased information to students who registered. CEEP is committed to being non-partisan and is considering creating a non-partisan club on campus in the future. “It’s important for students to get involved politically and having only political party affiliated clubs is going to scare students away,” said Wood. “We’re seeing a change in young people where they don’t want to affiliate with a political party; they just want someone to uphold their views.”
UMF’s branch of CEEP maintains a Twitter and Instagram account called ‘UMF Votes’ and a Facebook account called ‘UMF Students Vote.’ Here, they post information regarding voting information or campus events. They plan to participate in an upcoming virtual legislative candidate series on Monday, October 12th, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event will be hosted by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and the political party affiliated clubs on campus. The online forum will include candidates in District 17 such as Jan Collins and Russel Black.
Ciera Miller, Contributing Writer
On March 15, I flew into the capital of the United States from Paris, France. It was the second day of Coronavirus screenings in the U.S. The plane I was on taxied took an additional 45 minutes in its hanger to allow the airport time to accept us without accidentally infecting its other passengers. An elderly woman in her 70s with a chronic back condition begged the flight attendants to let her off because she couldn’t stand nor sit down without being in incredible pain; they told her there was nothing they could do to help her, she would have to sit and wait.
When my fellow passengers and I were finally allowed off the plane, we were separated from the inside of the airport. We followed a passageway whose windows looked into gates and terminals where passengers were waiting for their own flights to board. A little girl with a pacifier in her mouth waved at us as we walked by. Airport representatives wearing light blue gloves, some with masks over their mouths, gave us our customs papers and boarded us onto a shuttle that took us to the opposite side of the airport. There, we waited an additional ten minutes before we were allowed inside for the Coronavirus screening process.
Inside was an unsterilized room with two lines: one for those who were staying in Washington, D.C., and those who had connecting flights to other parts of the country. I joined the huddle of passengers with connecting flights, who were all squeezed together with their hands in their pockets to avoid touching others. The screening took an additional half an hour, 20 minutes of which consisted of waiting in the large huddle. The door was about 100 feet from the front of the group and moving slowly. When I finally caught a glance of the screening process, I saw ten representatives (probably healthcare workers and/or doctors) from the Center for Disease Control dressed head to toe in blue scrubs, mouths and noses masked, sitting at two tables intersected to make an ‘L’. When they were ready for a new passenger, they waved a small American flag.
When I was flagged over, I saw the representatives wore blue gloves as well. I handed mine the document which said I’d been in Schengen Province (also known as mainland Europe) for at least the last two weeks, I hadn’t had any symptoms (as observed by myself), and that my last stop was in Maine. He asked where I’d been while in Europe, if I’d recently been to Italy or Iran as both countries are highly infected, and if I’d had any symptoms. I told him I’d been studying about an hour outside of Paris, no I hadn’t been to Italy or Iran, and no I didn’t have any symptoms.
He didn’t take my temperature. He didn’t wait to see if I dry coughed. He didn’t check my lungs for signs of trouble breathing. He took my word for it that I didn’t have any symptoms, put a sticker on my customs card, and told me to tell the security guards by the shuttle back into the airport that I wasn’t infected. He gave me a packet telling me about self-quarantine and what steps I should take since I’ve been in an infected country and waved the stars and stripes for someone else to move forward.
All of it took less than five minutes. The screening was a joke. I could’ve lied. I could’ve been ignorant of having symptoms. I could’ve spread the Coronavirus to the capital of the United States. The doctor wouldn’t have known because he just took my word for it without testing me for a positive or negative result. This is what was happening in American airports across the country for the first week of the country’s national emergency, and it might still be happening now. Though I hope that the screening has gotten far better, for the sake of other American citizens.
I have been self-quarantining for the last two weeks for the sake of others because COVID-19 can develop between 2-14 days from exposure, and if I do have the Coronavirus, I don’t want to accidentally spread it. After my quarantine is up, I plan to practice social distancing like the rest of the country to keep myself, my family and friends, and the rest of the country safe. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests the same.
Ciera Miller, Contributing Writer
Protesters for the Global Climate Strike took to the streets in cities all over the world at noon on Friday, Sept. 20, the people of Farmington marching among them. On the Mantor Green, students, professors and community members assembled just beside the bustling Club Fair with the intent to march through the Farmington area for the climate strike.
Strikers gathered outside the gazebo as part of their march through downtown Farmington.
The strikers were poised to raise awareness for the crisis that is global warming. The heart of the problem is the significantly increased rate at which greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are released into the atmosphere by human activity and causing Earth’s rapid heating.
The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (ICPP) created by the United Nations has found that global warming is a real threat to the world and human life, and that it is being accelerated by humans.
The strikers believe the planet’s warming can be slowed by a collective effort among all people and institutions to make large moves in reducing harm to the environment. As one of the last speakers said at the strike, “If we all work together and do big things, we can make big changes.”
The marchers began their climate strike on the green itself. They walked around one side of the Club Fair and then stopped beside the art gallery. Here, people put on headpieces made to look like elephants, reindeer, and other animals. A person in the mix shouted, “Are we ready to march for our current climate situation?” The strikers responded with a loud “Yes!” The attention of club members and fairgoers had been grabbed. They watched as the group raised their signs and moved forward toward Main St.
They marched down Main until they reached the gazebo across from the courthouse in downtown Farmington. Along the way, other strikers joined in and the line stretched fifty feet down the sidewalk. Passing drivers honked their horns and waved at the procession. At the gazebo, people of all ages had already gathered: there were elementary school children standing with their parents, middle and high schoolers, members of the UMF community and other residents of Farmington.
Éireann Lorsung, a professor in the English department at UMF, stands with her sign as part of the Global Climate Strike.
In their hands were their own signs: “10 Yrs to Change” on one lady’s fiery orange poster, “The Thermometer is Neither Conservative nor Liberal” on another. Professor Éireann Lorsung of the English department hoisted a sign displaying a modified line from Shakespeare, “Shall I compare thee to an unlive-ably hot summer’s day?. . .No planet, no poetry.” Her sign included the fact that July 2019 was about 1.2℃ (34.16℉) warmer than the pre-Industrial era.
As the protest gained attention, some ideological contentions arose when onlookers voiced differing opinions from those of the protesters. A group of motorcyclists drove by while a UMF student spoke and one of riders yelled, “Why don’t you run for president?” “Go Trump!” was yelled by some passing motorists as they revved their engines.
However, some commuters slowed to read each of the signs or gawk at the person in the fish headpiece who stood by the side of the road. A firefighter in his truck had asked a few questions about the strike while waiting for the stoplight to turn green.