Wi-Fi Upgrades at UMF Make Studying and Streaming Easier for Students

Elina Shapiro – Contributing Writer

The IT department at UMF plugged along this summer to upgrade the Wi-Fi in the library and several residence halls.

Students at UMF have been pleased with the improved Wi-Fi in the residence halls. “The new Wi-Fi improvements have definitely been a big improvement here in Stone because last year almost every 10 minutes I’d be kicked off from my computer and not be able to do homework,” Amber Chesley, a UMF Sophomore, and Stone Community Assistant said.

The Wi-Fi now works faster and allows buildings full of students to be able to be online at the same time without trouble.

“We’d always complain about it, ‘Oh, there’s someone else on it, oh there’s this horrible Wi-Fi’. This year it’s so much more efficient,” said Chesley. “There has been a significant decrease in complaints about the Wi-Fi here.”

Kelsey Dunn, a senior, said: “With the new renovations, I am finding speed is quicker, so it’s great that I don’t have to worry about the Wi-Fi shutting down and not starting back up.” Dunn mentioned that registration last year was an issue for some people, so she is hopeful that this year will run more smoothly.

Angel Allen, who works for the University of Maine system as a program manager, said that it was widely known that there were problems with the Wi-Fi.

“In 2015, there was a report written that did an assessment of technology needs throughout the University of Maine System. One of the of the needs that were clearly identified was better internet access, specifically better Wi-Fi access for students,” said Allen.

Residence Life does a student survey every year, and in last year’s survey of students there were a lot of comments about Wi-Fi in a bad way, Allen said. “We’re really hopeful that this year’s survey will show improvement.”

Though IT made progress this summer, there is still more work to do.

“The tentative plans are to do the same upgrade for the Scott residence halls next summer,” said Allen. “We didn’t have the capacity to do it all. We were also doing a lot of upgrades on other campuses throughout the summer.”

Allen hopes to extend these renovations across campus. “I think that the classroom buildings on campus all could certainly use the same sort of upgrades. Those are things that if at any point we come into more funding and have that funding – we’d really like to see every building on campus have that kind of internet wireless access,” said Allen. “There were places in the buildings that didn’t have any Wi-Fi coverage. Every nook and cranny in those buildings should have good coverage.”

There were some challenges while completing these Wi-Fi renovations during the summer because the campus was not empty. “We were coordinating around re-waxing the floors, and painting the rooms, and doing other things in the buildings that needed to be done and we didn’t want to get in their way,” said Allen. However, Allen thought everyone worked really well together to let everything go smoothly. “I would say that the residence life, conferences, and facilities management were great partners in this work with IT.”

Students Review UMF’s New Virtual Bookstore

Kelsey Dunn – Contributing Writer

UMF students, faculty and staff have mixed reviews about the University Store’s new Virtual Bookstore.

Some students said their experience went smoothly, while others are experiencing frustration and anger towards the new modernization of the campus bookstore.

George Miller, the Director of Advising, sent out a student body email recently stating, “I’m hearing from quite a few students that they are having trouble getting their books in time to get their work done, or don’t have money for books.” He also urged students to get in contact with their professors if they still do not have their books as soon as possible.

Linda Leiva, a practicum lecturer, and supervisor of student teaching has had similar observations.

“I’ve noticed that students have not bought texts due to costs and feeling that the teacher won’t use the book as much in class as they say they would,” said Leiva. “Therefore, they either purchase used books that are cheaper or they borrow a book from their friends.”

Katie Grout, a freshman, describes her involvement with the Virtual Bookstore as being something she would not like to endure again.

“I don’t like the virtual bookstore at all. It took me a week and a half to get one book and my next textbook was ordered on August 28 but was not shipped until September 8,” she said. “I was very angry with this and I felt helpless because I couldn’t do my homework.” Grout, had ordered some of her books through the virtual bookstore and the others were through Amazon.

Amber Chesley, a UMF sophomore, was puzzled when she first attempted to order her books through the virtual bookstore. “[Ordering] got easier due to previous experience ordering online. I heard from first-year students that it was confusing for them,” she said.

Chesley ordered all of her textbooks through the virtual bookstore this semester, although one of her textbooks was incorrect for one of her classes.

“I got the wrong book for one of my classes. All my books were delivered separately; two came in two weeks later than my other two books,” she said. “The books were in good condition.”

Aimee Degroat, the University Store manager, realizes that there are some problems with the first year of the Virtual Bookstore, but keeps a positive outlook.

“Although some orders were delayed due to hard findings, some books were back ordered at the publisher,” Degroat said. “The initial feedback from the community was well.”

Last year, the Flyer reported on the University Store using different business strategies and were considering turning to a virtual bookstore at the time.

To visit the Virtual Bookstore, go to www.umf.ecampus.com

New Allies Program Takes off at UMF

Cheyenne Judkins – Contributing Writer

This fall semester is the first for a brand new allies program created for incoming UMF freshmen.

The program is similar to having a peer advisor, but was created as a way to provide more resources and support for first generation students who aren’t education majors or Johnson Scholars.

Kirsten Swan, the Director of Student Leadership and Service, said she started planning last January, as that’s typically when she begins focusing on the fall program. Swan also noted that there used to be a similar program but they did away with it, so it’s been revised and revamped to fit the needs of UMF’s incoming students.

Swan is also on the Retention and Recruitment Committee, and they could see UMF was losing a lot of students. Although students leave for a variety of reasons, many of the students leaving appeared to be freshman.

“The number of freshman leaving campus fueled the drive to create the allies program,” said Swan.

The program is made up of 29 upperclassmen volunteers from the orientation staff, and each freshman was assigned an upperclassmen ally. The students were assigned based on their residential areas. Amanda Dwyer, a senior and Special Education major at UMF, volunteered to be an upperclassmen ally for the program and this was her fifth year on orientation staff.

“I personally was assigned 21 freshmen, but only four have showed up to meetings,” said Dwyer.

Allies continue to communicate with new students through the preregistration process. During that time, freshmen are able to meet with their allies or message them any questions they may have. Dwyer made a Facebook page for the students she was assigned, and she gets questions from them often via Facebook.

“Through being an upperclassman ally, I learned that sometimes freshman are shy and hesitant to ask questions in person, but they ask a lot more online via Facebook,” Dwyer said.

Kaitlyn Mitchell, a freshman Creative Writing major at UMF, enjoyed the allies program because it allowed her to ask questions and having an ally made her more comfortable, although she wished the allies would have been assigned based on major.

“It’s nice because it’s easier than going to your advisor,” Mitchell said. “It was good to be able to talk about how orientation was going and ask questions if we had them.”

Dwyer says it’s nice when she runs into her freshman allies on campus and they say, “hey Amanda! How are you?” Dwyer recalls,  “one of my favorite moments was when one of my freshmen came up to me and thanked me for telling them about the Employment Fair because they received a job offer and accepted it.”

Dwyer says she hopes they continue the program but states, “the first meeting should really be mandatory because if they don’t attend meetings, they’re not receiving the extra care and guidance the university is trying to provide.”  Swan plans to continue the allies program in the future and says, “I hope to involve other student leaders.”

International Students Adjust to American Life at UMF

International Students Adjust to American Life at UMF

Haiyu Zheng – Contributing Writer

UMF International students are doing a better job in adjusting to American campus life, despite various cultural differences for the first few weeks.

From L to R: Haiyu Zheng, Hui Shao, Clementine Leroy, Mana Abdi, Kasi Pratt, Cheyenne VanDooren, Pauline Barrier, Prescilia Ganache, and Elisa Ducept.
(Photo Courtesy of Cheyenne VanDooren)

The 14 international students/staff members initially had a hard time dealing with the differences in terms of the food, study, and lifestyle. In these 14, there are three language assistants, two staff members, seven exchange students and two J-1 students (International students study here for a degree).

These new members of the UMF community hail from various locations including France, Japan, China, Canada, Tanzania, and Argentina.

Chinese student Wenyi Lu became emotional after recalling an experience where she ran into financial issues.

“I almost wanted to cry when I found my bank account did not work here,” she said. “That was literally my hardest time since I came here.”

“There is a gap between my life in France and here,” said Prescilia Ganache, a French TA. “Everything is so different. The food, our thought patterns, even the way we dress,” she said. She recalled her initial shock when she found students wearing sandals and socks together. “In France, we always dress very formal,” Ganache said.

For some international students, the biggest adjustment has been the American food.

“They have more fat, sugar, and salt in food here compared to what I am used to,” said Clementine Leroy, another French TA. “Also, there are so many spices. I feel frustrated when I get something spicy by accident,” she said.

“I’m glad they try to make International foods that cater to us,” said Yuewei Zhang, a junior from China. “Even if they are fully Americanized.”

Academics were another concern for the International students. They found it hard to get involved in the class discussion. Clementine Gondo-Lescaillet, an International student from France, said that she was so stressed out about her marketing class.

“There were a lot of times when I came up with some ideas but it was too late to share due to my broken English,” she said.

Despite the difficulties, the International students have a positive mind towards the challenges and are trying to enjoy the life and find the beauty of this university.

“I appreciate the relationship between the students and professors,” said Asako Miyazaki, the Japanese instructor. She was surprised to find out the students are very casual in class.

“In Japan, students tend to be polite and always bow every time we see someone who’s older than us,” she said.

Kesuma Mkare, a freshman from Tanzania, said “American students do more sports than the students in my country. I like the idea that everyone wants to try something new.” Mkare was very happy to join the soccer team in UMF. “I got to meet a lot of people and made friends who care about me,” he said.

The International students also get sufficient support from UMF students and faculties.

Leroy was impressed by people’s hospitality. “The people all around the campus are always so friendly. If you have questions, you just go and ask them for help and you could always get more than what you expect,” she said.

The advisor of International Department Lynne Eustis put much effort in helping her students settle in during the orientation week.

“We prior to help them get ready for school life before other students arrive and get to know each other as a group so that they have an immediate network of support from friends, and also get some time to get familiar with the campus, the local downtown area,” Eustis said.   

Stephen Riitano, a CA of Mallett Hall, also has a goal to help the International students adjust to the campus life more easily through some programs with them. “I am trying to be as open and inviting as possible,” said Riitano. “We like to invite the residents to come down and talk about some differences in the cuisine or anything interesting about their countries,” he said.

Sitting in on UMF’s New Patio Addition

Sitting in on UMF’s New Patio Addition

Bryan Eldridge – Contributing Writer

The newly installed patio next to Mantor Library
(Photo by Bryan Eldridge)

UMF students are fully embracing the new patio in front of Mantor Library that was constructed over the summer, giving the campus its newest popular gathering spot.

The patio consists of three umbrella covered tables overlooking the Mantor green. With four seats placed at each table, the spacious seating area is often fully utilized.

Keenan Farwell, the Grounds Facilities Manager for UMF, lead the team that built UMF’s newest addition. Farwell has been the Grounds Manager for a year and a half. Coming into this role felt quite familiar for Farwell, having to own his own business in the field of hardscape.

Farwell noted that the enhanced seating and continuous use of the patio are both effective outcomes of the new install. “It created more seating area,” said Farwell. “It gets quite a bit of use at this point, even the lower seating wall.”

The patio was intentionally built with more than just seating in mind. “We put power in also so, we can house bands on top of there to play out over the green,” said Farwell.

Matt Breer, a senior at UMF and a new employee for the Mantor Library this year, noticed the interest that’s being taken.

“I think people really enjoy the patio being there,” he said. “The patio’s installment has done more than just attracting students; it’s also attracting business. During normal school hours,  there is usually only one free table (in the library),” said Breer, adding that “giving people a choice of where they can sit gives them a lot more freedom, and when people have those kinds of freedoms they’re more likely to give business.”

The grounds crew are responsible for the patio’s construction but aren’t the only set of employees to thank for the campus’ upkeep and appearance. The grounds crew for facilities often collaborates with the maintenance employees to make UMF look the way it does.

Tim Burnell, a longtime custodian at UMF, works in Purington hall and noticed the comradery. “There’s a lot of teamwork that’s going on with all the groups here in facilities,” Burnell said.

Nick Richards has been the custodial manager on campus for 14 months and noted the importance of both aspects of facilities working together to maintain both the grounds and the building upkeep. “Those two groups have to work together closely to make sure that all these areas are taken care of,” said Richards.

Both UMF employees were very student-driven when it came to their favorite aspects of the job. “Trying to provide the best customer service that we can and making sure that the students are as happy as they can be,” said Richards.

Students that wish to speak to somebody about a maintenance or facilities issue around campus have multiple options including to email facilities directly at facilities.management@umf.com.