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.
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.
By Michael Levesque, Contributing Writer
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.
By Marissa Goodwin, Contributing Writer
The FRC by Sam Shirley
As the spring semester is starting to gear up, students gather to safely play intramural sports with their friends to be active and take a break from the stress of classes.
Intramurals, which are tournaments of games organized by the students that are held at the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) on campus, are a great way to safely bring your friends together in a friendly competition. Jade Petrie, a junior, has participated in intramural basketball, pickleball, and kickball since her sophomore year. “It’s a fun way to get active while being with your friends,” said Petrie.
UMF has offered a variety of intramural sports such as basketball, volleyball, kickball, soccer, and pickleball. This year, the options are limited due to safety processions put in place for COVID-19. Petrie’s favorite part about intramurals is that she gets to be social and active simultaneously. “It’s a cool way to meet new people,” said Petrie.
Although intramurals are a little different because of COVID-19, students are still safely participating. “Students can stay involved while being active and social at the same time,” said Petrie.
Jared Smelter, a senior who has participated in intramurals since he was a junior, enjoys intramurals because he gets to have fun while playing sports with his friends. He agrees that intramurals have been different due to COVID-19 but says that he is happy UMF is still offering them. “We have less options for sports because we can’t have contact,” said Smelter, “but it is better than nothing and I am glad it is still being offered.”
The advantage of playing intramural sports is that it’s a low-stakes way to keep busy and take a break from academics. “It’s offering sports without actually playing a school sport at UMF,” said Jonah Sautter, a junior who has been playing intramurals for three years and is a referee at UMF intramurals.
Intramurals are great for those who don’t want to make the commitment to varsity sports, but miss the supportive, competitive environment of sports. “It is perfect for high school athletes who maybe miss playing sports or just competitive people,” said Sautter.
With all of the changes that are happening during the time of COVID-19, students are using intramurals as a way to get out and do something. “I think intramurals are helping students,” said Sautter. “It gives a sense of normalcy that is nice.”
To find more information about UMF intramurals, visit the UMF Intramurals Instagram page @umfimsports and directly message the account. Students are asked to fill out an application to sign up and pay a $20 deposit to hold their spot to ensure that they will show up to the games.
I have recently been at home, due to everything that has been going on. While I love my family and all, I can’t help but go absolutely insane when dealing with them. I have a part time job while I’m here, and while it gets me out of the house, I don’t know what’s worse–my family or my coworkers? Is there any way for me to last through these next few months without killing someone, or is that just crazy to think in itself?
I completely understand where you’re coming from. I too am back at my dam and I swear I’ve gnawed through at least 3 trees already. I’ve been coping by buying my little miracle in a bottle otherwise known as melatonin. That’s right, hibernation is coming early this year folks. Three of them and I’m out like a light, they really have been a saving grace during this time.
I have run myself into a small dilemma (or I should say my heart has). I have started becoming more interested in my teacher than the lesson, if that makes sense. My heart throbs for him and I can’t help but almost drool over him while he lectures. I have gotten to the point where I have to turn my camera off while in class because it’s THAT obvious. Any suggestions…?
-Heart Eyes For Him
Dear Heart Eyes,
Ask to stay after class for “extra help” on Zoom. Profess (no pun intended) your undying love for him, what’s the worst that could happen? He feels too awkward to fail you and risk having you in class again, so he passes you? Yes please! You got this, and remember, Zoom calls are recorded just for future record 😉
I am a faculty member here at UMF. Lately my students have been leaving my Zoom calls early. I feel like I’m just talking to an empty space (it doesn’t help that their cameras are off). Is there any way to engage my students more than I already am?
-Fuming While Zooming
I think you could benefit from reading this article. We have a student who can’t stop staring at her professor during Zoom and yours are running away from you. May I suggest taking more so a Magic Mike method of teaching. Now I’m not saying full on strip for your class (but I’m sure it would help) but just give them a little eye candy during the lecture and I assure you attendance will skyrocket.
I am currently in the Journalism class and I feel like no one reads my pieces. It feels like I’m putting my readers to sleep. Am I not interesting? Do the students at UMF not care about the rising water levels of the Sandy River during the rainy season? What can I do to make my articles more interesting?
As an old soul with The Farmington Flyer I often preview articles before they make it into the paper and let’s just say that I find your articles riveting, but your audience doesn’t. I can attest to the falling asleep bit because, well, I have taken a small nap while reading your articles. Try writing about some hot gossip, it’s what the readers want (dare I say need). Or you can stick to writing your dry articles and putting our readers to sleep. I mean, we all need help getting to sleep sometimes.