A Study in Spaces (to Study in)

By Devon Hall – Contributing Writer

   As the season for intense studying arrives, UMF students may find themselves at a loss when trying to find the place that feels just right. Luckily for them, there is a myriad of places to study around campus with all different kinds of vibes.

   A solid place to start is the library. Books, a quiet atmosphere, and a café all make this a prime choice for many students. However, some might not realize just how spacious Mantor Library truly is. UMF junior Brooklyn Brown studies mainly on the first floor of the library by herself.

   “I found if I study in groups, we get distracted and don’t get much work done,” Brown said. “It helps me focus more if I just bring what I need here. I can get more studying done.”

   Mantor also has the mezzanine hanging out over the first floor, equipped with booths, chairs, and tables. A separate room attached to this space holds a 6-seater group room maintained at a toasty 70°F. The third floor is a designated quiet area. The only noises to be heard are the hum of the heating system hard at work, the occasional clack of the tech help desk keyboard, and muted voices floating up through closed windows from students passing the library.  The shades are left open to let natural light filter inside.

   Freshman Biology major Natasha says she likes the quiet, empty atmosphere. “Usually there’s just nobody up here,” she said. Sophomore Mecédaidh Phalen also attests to the emptiness. “I work every Saturday and there’s almost never anyone in there when I go upstairs,” Phalen said.

   Freshman Secondary Education major Jasper Emory has several favored study spaces, including the library basement and the basement of Scott South. “I like to study in basements,” Emory said. “Basements are better because I’m less likely to run into traffic.”

   Jasper also recommends the rainbow lounge in Scott as well as the Bjorn Plaza outside the Education Center in warmer weather. Just be warned, the door locks when it closes.

   Other students have their own preferences for study locations. Freshman Creative Writing major Alanna McGinty said, “people are loud,” and she prefers to study at home.

   One seemingly undiscovered gem lies in the third floor of Merrill, which is utilized by sophomore Rowan Bagley. “Just keep going up until you can’t find any more stairs that go up,” Bagley said.  This lounge space has whiteboards, a calendar, leather chairs in both black and chartreuse, art books, a piano, and a coffee maker.

   Along with big rooms with booths and couches, the library has many individual group rooms of different sizes, between small two-person rooms in the basement and bigger rooms or rooms with projectors. Students can schedule time in at http://library.umf.maine.edu/spaces.

With Happy Hands and Happy Hearts, a Sign Language Club Begins to Take its First Steps

By Devon Hall – Contributing Writer

The Happy Hands Sign Language Club is attempting to gain traction as their constitution is reviewed by the Student Senate. With many clubs already on campus, it can be difficult to create something new. Happy Hands plans to do just that with a club based on lessons in ASL as well as Deaf culture and grammar.

If approved, the club meetings will most likely begin with a discussion of any upcoming events being put on by the club or the Deaf community and then continue with a short lesson in ASL and some interactive practice in conversation. Meetings will most likely take place Thursday evenings.

Elizabeth (“Iggy”) Prescott, the hopeful President of the club, says she first noticed students’ interest in casually learning sign language while she was at summer experience. During the week, she participated in a talent show where she signed along to the song “This Is Halloween”.

“My original plan was to run the club like a class” said Prescott. “But then I figured that it wasn’t suitable for a bunch of students to try to go to another class”.

The club would most likely commence next semester if the constitution goes through. In order to introduce the community to ASL and advertise the club, Prescott plans to orchestrate signing events, during which any interested club members will sign along to songs ,“depending on how people take to it,” Prescott said.

In the event that Happy Hands is approved, club officials will be determined by vote. Prescott says the club currently has a pretty strong following.

“Most of the clubs I’ve been to have had 6 to twenty people” she said, “but there’s already thirty people in our Facebook group”.

Prospective secretary Emily Mokler, a Junior who recently transferred from SMCC, was introduced to ASL by Prescott during summer experience. “At mealtimes we chat and she teaches me words and phrases in ASL, which is really fun” she said.

Mokler says she mostly enjoys learning basic words and phrases, “so I could at least have a basic conversation.” She has enjoyed it all the more in learning with Prescott, since “there’s actually someone to sign back with!” Mokler also noted that she hopes learning ASL will help open doors and increase career opportunities down the road.

Learning sign language is not without its quirks, as Prescott admitted, “Sometimes when I’m tired, I start to sign when I’m talking”. Prescott says she also finds herself playing ASL fingerspelling games when she’s in the car, trying to spell words on street signs quickly before they pass her by.

Interested students can find out more by contacting Prescott or Mokler.