By Jessica Gervais and Sophia Turgeon, Contributing writers
Most students that attend UMF are not aware that it is one of three schools in the UMaine system that have actual police departments as a part of their campus safety force. According to a 2019 survey released by the Association of American Universities (AAU), there is a 13% rate of nonconsensual sexual contact at colleges. This percentage is alarming.
Haley Sewell, sophomore at UMF, was at the Halloween dance hosted by the ACE club on 22 October with a large group when she witnessed an incident involving sexual misconduct. According to Sewell, she had been dancing with her group of friends in a circle when she noticed an individual had joined her group and began dancing inappropriately, touching other friends in the group. “Everything was fine at first, but then the student started getting out of hand,” Sewell said.
This incident went on for some time, even when Sewell was in smaller groups. The harasser would leave, but always return to make the girls uncomfortable. Moreover, they had made it obvious that no one was interested in the individual, but still, after all of this, the harassment persisted.
“We thought that he’d finally gotten the hint that he was making us uncomfortable, but he came back a little while later,” Sewell stated. “This time he was more aggressive in his approach. He continued to dance towards one of my friends, and this time reached out to grab her hips.”
Once this was happening, Sewell began looking out for her group of friends to make sure they were comfortable, even at times pulling girls away from him. “At one point we stopped for a water and bathroom break, where we heard from at least six other girls that the same student was humping, grinding, and groping girls. One girl even told us that her guy friend had to get between her and the individual and tell him to back off,” Sewell said.
After hearing this, Sewell and her friends decided to tell a chaperone, who was also an officer, exactly what had been happening during the dance. However, once the student was pointed out to the officer, he tried to weave through groups of students as an attempt to get away. Instead of being chased down though, the campus officer informed Sewell and her friends that he was going to back off and not engage. This decision angered the group. Why would one of our own campus officers simply back off and not stop this harassment immediately, they wondered.
After returning to her group of friends, Sewell said the harasser continued to follow her group around throughout the night, even at times targeting her directly. As the night progressed, the group lost contact with each other at times but finally joined back together to leave.
“After we left, we didn’t hear anything about what happened for about a month,” Sewell said.
According to Sergeant Wayne Drake, the department handled the situation correctly. In discussion, Drake said that he had followed the harasser and it was simply “poor bedside manner on the police department’s end.
In an interview with Brock Caton, the Director of Public Safety at UMF and the Police Chief for Farmington, Caton explained that in order for someone to be charged with anything, including sexual assault, there has to be “probable cause”.
“Probable cause” usually includes all elements of the crime in question. If there is “probable cause” present, then there are different ways that various crimes concerning sexual assualt are handled. This matter can sometimes include issuing a criminal summons forcing the person to appear in court and/or be arrested. Upon arrest, they’re transported to the Franklin County Jail to be booked. Once the booking process goes through, the case moves onto bail conditions along with other court proceedings later on. If the case goes as far as trial, the involved parties may be called to court to testify. Although most people bring along someone for support, the system prefers that interviews be done alone. The case being if they bring someone, especially another student along, the other person becomes a witness automatically in the investigation. This means they may be asked to testify in court. However, if the individual doesn’t feel comfortable being interviewed alone, the system will try to arrange the involvement of a Victim Advocate to be present and serve as support.
“… they (a Victim Advocate) will guide the complainant through the criminal justice process, to include assisting them with receiving resources and obtaining a Protection Order, if need be”, said Caton.
Thus, it can be extremely beneficial to have someone from Victim Advocate present for support if desired. If the complainant doesn’t wish for a person from Victim Advocate to be present, there is also the option of an informational brochure that is optionally provided. The brochure additionally provides information for the Victim Advocates just in case. All other witnesses will be interviewed alone in order to get the accurate and independent story version of what occurred in the incident.
For more information about the University of Maine Farmington’s safety department/Campus Police, go to https://www.umf.maine.edu/campus-life/campus-safety/
The Annual Halloween Dance allows students to take a break and hang out with friends. (Photo courtesy of ACE Facebook Page)
Sara Pinette Contributing Writer
Another year of Halloween activities, including the annual Halloween dance and Trick-or-Treating Through the Halls, makes its way to the UMF campus and community.
The Association of Campus Entertainment’s (ACE) annual Halloween dance is to be held on Friday, October 26 in the South Dining Hall from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. The event is free to all with their UMF student I.D. For those without I.D., as well as guests, the cover charge is five dollars.
“The best part was the DJ and that it’s free for all students with an I.D,” said Gabriella Winslow, a senior and Elementary Education major, who went to the dance last year.
Money that is raised from this event will cover the cost of ACE’s annual trip to NACA, an event that gives the club ideas of which entertainers to bring to UMF for events. Music will be provided by the E.R. Tour, an entertainment company that does several events at campus colleges.
“We’re giving out glow sticks, doing glow in the dark face painting, and handing out temporary ACE tattoos and candy,” said Hopkins with pure enthusiasm.
ACE will be holding a costume contest for best male, female, couple, and group of three or more at the dance. Anyone who is interested in winning prizes, such as a tablet or a camera, will have to be present at the dance from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The winners will be announced at midnight. Typically around 400 students and their guests attend this dance but Hopkins expects the excitement of the costume contest to draw in more people.
“I’ve been to all of the Halloween dances since I’ve been here and I’ve always had a great time,” said Hopkins. “You get to hang out with your friends and just let loose for a night.”
After this event concludes, UMF transitions from a college Halloween celebration to a more family-friendly environment as it gears up for its annual trick-or-treating experience. The campus may be shifting in its atmosphere but students can keep their costumes on for the next event.
APO, a service club at UMF, will put on Trick-or-Treat Through the Halls for the community of UMF and Farmington on Sunday, October 28th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“Trick-or-Treat Through the Halls is an event where community members come with their children and they get to do a safe form of trick or treating,” said APO club president Emily Hartford, a senior and Elementary Education major. “The club will take small groups into the resident halls and UMF students can participate by handing out candy and decorating their hall and doors.”
This extravaganza has been an event for more than eight years and has consistently excited people from UMF and the surrounding community, according to Hartford. Hartford has been an active member of the APO club for over 3 years.
According to Hartford, Trick-or-Treat Through the Halls has always been a great opportunity to connect UMF to the town of Farmington, while also getting college students and little ones excited for the holiday.
“The Trick-or-Treating Through the Halls was fun because you get to see all the kids dressed up in cool costumes,” said Eliza Halbig, who was involved in the event last year.
“In past years, roughly 200 people from the community show up to this event,” said Hartford. “However, the event is still dependent on student participation because the more campus residents are involved, the better the experience is for the children.”
By Bryan Eldridge – Contributing Writer
UMF students all around campus transformed from their everyday selves into entirely new identities as costumes arose from the dead for another year of the spectacular Halloween Dance.
Every year, UMF holds a Halloween themed dance for students to help get into the holiday spirit and give creative minds on campus a spotlight during a fun and popular time of year. While many shared the intent of going to the dance, almost nobody arrived with the exact same costume.
“I thought it was really interesting to see all the different variations,” said Katie Franke, a UMF freshman dressed as Daphne from Scooby-Doo. “Some people came up with really creative costume ideas.”
The dance is often a great time for many friends to get together for the same event. “I liked how so many people came together,” said Franke. “It wasn’t just some event where no one showed up, everyone was there,” Franke said with enthusiasm.
Franke’s residence hall, Mallett, was one of many to hold fun social events before the dance to keep the students excited about the evening.
“We carved pumpkins, we played [ping] pong with skeletons, we had snacks and people talked [with one another]” Franke added.
Harry Potter even made the cut at the dance, as Dolores Umbridge was found within Mallett Hall. Tommy Hainsworth found the costume very fitting for the popular movie hit.
Tom Cruise from Risky Business and a friendly scarecrow shared a laugh together before they grooved their way into the Halloween Dance. For these two, the stress relief was a much-needed break from everyday life.
“Our favorite part was letting loose and having fun!” said Preston, a first-year student at UMF through an online forum.
The wide variety of costumes at the dance is something that many students look forward to each year and is what often brings them back. Rebecca Reed and Hope Faulkingham, both freshman this year, found this particularly true.
“I had fun with my friends. I think I would go back again next year to see the wide variety of costumes,” said Reed.
“I really wanted to go because it seemed like a lot of people were going and it seemed like fun!” Faulkingham exclaimed with excitement.
Three referees found themselves officiating the noise and excitement levels as they made their own rulings at the dance.
From L to R: Ian Kelly, Spencer Wilkinson, and Bryan Eldridge made their call on this year’s dance.
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Reed
The dance takes place each year at UMF around Halloween time and is sure to be an event you don’t want to miss. For more photos and videos from this year’s dance, visit the Entertainment Redefined Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/ERTour/