Darby Murnane, Editor-In-Chief
We close out the year with the spring’s final issue of the Farmington Flyer. As with the previous issue, we are still solely online with our contributing writers and reporters scattered across Maine and the U.S. Our stories in this issue continue to look outward from the UMF campus and cover a greater range of material from as many regions as our writers reside.
It is strange not to be holding the final issue in my hands, not to be writing these words on campus but rather from six states away. This is certainly not the proper ending to my time on Flyer that I had imagined, but so very few endings ever feel right and proper. So I will take what I have and make of it what I can.
Though this may be an ending for me, it is a beginning for the new staff who will be taking the reins on the paper for the year to come. I’d like to introduce Portia Hardy and Colin Harris as the new Editor in Chief and Assistant Editor. The current Assistant Editor and Secretary Emma Pierce will be guiding the new staff into their roles with her experience and expertise, as well her unending patience from dealing with me.
And to Portia and Colin, I offer you some advice that hopefully can be construed as wisdom and thoughts to keep with you as you take this paper and make it your own: This is the time to practice looking at the world with a more piercing gaze than you would’ve looked with before. There is always another layer to a story, another question to ask, another perspective to seek, another angle to consider. Pay attention to the story itself- this might sound silly, what else would you be paying attention to? But sometimes the story knows how it wants to be told, how it needs to be told, and if you don’t pay attention, you run the risk of telling it wrong as some stories require a specific form and voice. You will miss things- constantly. But don’t be afraid of that. Learn to ask yourself, “What am I missing? How do I find it?” Ask for help. This is not a job done alone, and should never be. I would never have survived without my fellow editors and relied daily on the support of their teamwork. And beyond even the staff, remember that this job is done with the help of those who agree to talk to you. Never forget your sources and the favor they have done you by donating their time and voices. Remember your empathy. If you don’t have an honest connection to your sources, if you don’t earn their trust, you have nothing. If a story of some sensitivity and weight lands on your desk, your every decision should be made with respect, dignity, and care. Not every detail, not every piece of a person, is meant for a larger audience.
Remember your grit, your resilience, your spine. It is your job in your reporting to maintain accountability and transparency. It’s your job to ensure nothing stays hidden or swept under the rug. But sometimes doing that job will start a fire. Even a small student paper like ours can, and has, sparked change. There will be days when it feels like everyone and their grandmother is coming after you. And it may induce the urge to throttle someone. Resist the urge, I beg you. And listen. Has there been a mistake? If so, how do you fix it? If you can swear up and down that you’ve done everything right, you may very well feel a wave of righteous anger, a sense of how dare you, and feel as though you should express all those feelings in the strongest possible terms. Don’t. If you can, wait 24 hours to collect yourself. If you can’t wait and an immediate response is required, never underestimate the power of asking “Can you tell me about your concerns?” It’s when you refuse to listen that a real problem will arise.
An editorial position is a lot to take on and I will not hide that from you. Just take it one story, one issue at a time and have mercy on yourself.
And to you, dear readers, be gentle. A student newspaper staff is perpetually in the learning curve as roles change hands every year. But still, hold us accountable as we hope to hold the community accountable. We will never continue to grow if our faults are hidden from us.
Thank you for your time, your voices, and your stories. Until we meet again.
Goodnight and Good News,
Darby Murnane, Editor-In-Chief 2019-2020
Colin Harris Contributing Writer
Parking has been a long held complaint of many UMF students of all years, from freshman who dread the long walks from the parking lots by Prescott fields and behind the FRC to commuting upperclassmen who can never seem to find a spot. Another grievance is the sight of a parking ticket on the windshield. Annually, UMF collects roughly between $40,000 to $50,000 in parking-related expenses, including parking tickets, decals, and fines.
Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Brock Caton said in an email interview “I do not handle the finances for the University so I don’t know the specifics, but I do know that some of the revenue does support the UMF infrastructure to improve and maintain the parking lots on campus, including annual maintenance.” Such maintenance includes fixing the lots, painting lines, lighting and signage, among other things.
Caton has been working for the department of public safety since October of 2012. He was originally hired as the Police Sergeant before taking over as the Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police in July of 2013.
To avoid parking fees, Caton advises UMF students, as well as community members, to obtain a parking decal at the beginning of each year, to read the Parking Policy Brochure given out when given a parking decal, which is also available at Public Safety office located near the FRC, and to familiarize themselves with the parking lots around campus.
Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, Brock Caton. Photo Courtesy of UMF Website.
Amy Hodge, a first-year student here at UMF has obtained numerous parking tickets in just their first semester of college. “As of right now I currently have four parking tickets from being here since fall semester.”
Hodge attributes these violations to parking in lots that were not designated to her. “Most, if not all, of the tickets I’ve gotten were from lot 7 [located between Scott Hall and Old South Congregational Church],” Hodge said. With this many tickets, Hodge has had to pay over $50 in parking fees so far.
“Parking ticket costs increase each time a ticket is issued,” Caton said. “First offense is $10 per violation. Second offense is $15 per violation. Third and subsequent offenses are $25 per violation.” It is important to note that a UMF community member can receive multiple violations per ticket.
“Parking tickets not paid within 10 business days are assessed a $10 late fee, and the parking ticket is placed on the student’s account, which may create a hold on the account until paid,” Caton said.
First-year students at UMF are assigned parking lots P18, located near Prescott Athletic Fields, P21 near Alice James Books, P22 which is next to P21 and P26 which is behind the FRC.
Other repeat offenders of these parking rules include guests. Guests that plan on staying at UMF overnight or late at night need to obtain a guest parking decal. Caton said, “Guest parking decals are free and are good for 48 hours.”
The UMF parking brochure states that the objective of parking at UMF is, “to maximize the use of parking facilities so it is necessary to establish and enforce policies governing motor vehicles operating and/or parking on campus.
Colin Harris Contributing Writer
With books, homework, tests and quizzes piled high on already strenuously busy education majors, why not add more? The mandatory Praxis exam seems to be the answer.
The four and a half hour long test, composed of a reading section, math section and two essay prompts, seems almost unbearable for some education majors. It measures students’ capability with these subjects and must be completed before they start their student teaching.
Without passing the Praxis, education students may not be able to take certain higher level courses. In the special education department, students must pass the exam in order to take classes above the 200 level, according to special education major Heather McDonald.
The Praxis requires a minimum score of 156 in reading, 162 in writing and 150 in math. If these scores aren’t met, the student must retake the exam again until the benchmarks have been reached.
Brooke Valentin, a second-year rehabilitation service major, has mixed feelings about Praxis. “I was an [early childhood special education] major but I just recently made the switch over to rehabilitation services. I realized that being in the classroom isn’t for me and I like more one on one with children,” Valentin said.
She struggled with the Praxis exam and it impeded her progression through the education program. “I took math and writing twice. I’ve never been good at math so the math test was really hard for me and caused lots of anxiety and worry.” Valentin said. “I felt like I was stuck.” She attributes part of her struggle to her issues with standardized testing and the “high stakes” of these exams.
Valentin made an effort to improve her scores through serious study but was still challenged. “I bought a book designed for Praxis Core and met with a tutor in the Learning Commons,” she said. “It definitely helped, but it’s hard to teach all that math in just a month.”
“I think the Praxis should be re-evaluated,” Valentin said. “It should be more of a test about the learning standards and developmentally appropriate practices. The test should focus on what an educator is actually going to be teaching in their classroom, rather than general overall knowledge.”
Ripley Biggs, a third year early childhood special education major, has taken Praxis a total of four times as of now. “I took my first Praxis test at the beginning of sophomore year. I was able to pass two out of the three sections, but kept tripping up on the math section,” Biggs said. “I feel like I’m just repeating this test over and over again.”
Biggs has spent copious amounts of money preparing for the exam. “I bought the big textbook to get ready [and] I bought the online study service that is around $60 a month to study for Praxis.” She’s found these resources to be helpful, but not enough to bring her scores up where they need to be.
On top of expenses related to study materials, the Praxis Core costs $90 for each subtest or $150 for the combined test, according to the Praxis website. The high cost becomes a serious burden on students in financially unstable positions who are already struggling under tuition, fees and living expenses. To have to repeat the test in order to continue with their education only heightens this stress.
Biggs agrees with Valentin’s sentiment on the importance of Praxis as well as critiques on the content it tests. “I believe that Praxis should be required for education majors, however, the test needs to be fixed,” Biggs said. “The test should be focused more on what I need in the field.” For instance, Biggs must answer exam questions on statistics and probability even though the highest math she would be teaching is counting due to her concentration.