Student Talent and Charity at WUMF’s Upcoming “Show-offs” Concert

Student Talent and Charity at WUMF’s Upcoming “Show-offs” Concert

Nathan McIvor Vice President

    Later this month, just before Thanksgiving break, WUMF, UMF’s student-run radio station, will host a benefit concert they’re calling, “Show-offs,” to display student talent and raise money for the Colin Bradford Scholarship Fund, a student and WUMF Director of Rock Music who passed away this summer. The concert will feature live performances – including a dance number – and an appearance from the popular campus acapella group ClefNotes; various student-run bands bands and solo artists will also be performing. 

    The concert is “a way for WUMF to get our toes back in the water for doing events,” said WUMF President Kai Strine. “This is the first time we’ve done something like this and we’re building it basically from scratch, though we’d consider making it an annual event if it goes well,” he said. 

Sly Schulze (left) and Kai Strine (right). (Photo courtesy of Kai Strine)

    Wanting the event to have a “dressed down, have-fun, atmosphere,” WUMF elected to host the concert in Lincoln Auditorium so that there could be no volume restrictions on the music, according to Strine, who hopes the event will “get people together to have a good time before Thanksgiving.”

   The Colin Bradford Scholarship Fund was established in 2019 by Bradford’s family after his passing over the summer. “Colin was a rising junior studying secondary education.  He planned to return to his hometown to be a science teacher. He excelled academically and was also involved in several activities outside of the classroom. . . He was a talented musician, and was the winner of the Spring Fling Talent Show in 2019,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Christine M. Wilson in a July email mourning Bradford’s passing. 

    “He was part of our family, so we decided to give to the fund however we could. We’re very sentimental here. We consider the club close to family,” said Strine, who had served on the WUMF executive with Bradford during his time at UMF. A raffle will be held at the concert in order to benefit the fund.  

      “I wanted to get into radio before I even came here. I joined [WUMF’s]  e-board as soon as I was able to and it just kind of snowballed from there in the best way possible,” said Strine, who was the Director of World Music before becoming the club’s president.

    Originally from Holden, ME, he plans to “go into a school and be a language resource for people” after he graduates in the spring with a bachelor’s in K-12 French education. “[Though] if I end up in a radio career over the summer, or something like that, that’s going to be fantastic, too,” Strine said. 

   The Show-Off’s concert will be held in Lincoln Auditorium on Saturday, Nov. 23. Admission to the event will be free. Catch WUMF on air at 91.5.

New VP of Student Affairs Looks Forward to Responding to Student’s Needs

New VP of Student Affairs Looks Forward to Responding to Student’s Needs

Nathan McIvor, Vice President

    Dr. Christine Wilson, UMF’s new Vice President for Student Affairs, looks forward to making sure the university is more responsive to its students’ needs, especially in the wake of the recent LEAP building explosion on September 16th which displaced students after their homes were destroyed. Wilson, whose duties include coordinating communications, hopes to develop additional measures to enhance communication between students and the administration.

    “I’d like to have dinner with a different group of students every month, and have them ask me what they want to know. They can talk about whatever they would like and ask me questions,” Wilson said. Afterwards, she plans to conduct the necessary research to address students’ needs. 

Dr. Christine Wilson is ready to build a strong relationship with UMF students, faculty, and the Farmington community.

    Wilson would also like to establish an online assessment site where students can share their thoughts about particular aspects of the UMF experience. “I want to share the assessment results with students regularly, so that students know that we’ve heard from them,” she said. Students would see results, thus resulting in a hopefully open, ongoing dialogue regarding how well the school is addressing the needs of its students.

      An administrator with over thirty years of experience in higher education, she draws from her background in restorative practices, volunteerism and teaching to inform her management style. In her new role she oversees Student Life (which includes Residential Life), athletics, recreation, UMF Campus Police, the Center for Student Development, Student Health, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator, and student leadership and service.

    She focuses on her relationships with students, faculty and staff and “[makes] sure that procedures and infrastructure are solid.” The ultimate goal is “to make sure that students have a positive experience, that they’re safe, that their needs are met, so they can succeed academically, graduate and go on to make positive impacts in their careers and in their communities,” Wilson said. 

    She highlighted an early experiences with volunteerism after college which inspired her to work in higher education. “I spent a year as a VISTA [Americorp volunteer], during which I volunteered to set up adult reading programs. I recruited adults who didn’t know how to read or to speak English and I would recruit and train tutors to help them,” she said. 

    “It was probably the most important year of my career. . . these adults who didn’t know how to read, had nothing inherently wrong with them, it was just that our systems had failed them. I decided that I was going to go back to school so I could help prepare people who are going to be leaders to be effective and inclusive leaders. And I’ve been working with students ever since.”  

    An avid outdoorswoman, Dr. Wilson was excited by the natural beauty of Farmington when she drove to campus for her job interview. She enjoys kayaking and hiking, “so this is the perfect place for me,” she said. She also “loves to scrapbook,” and can be found attending scrapbooking retreats throughout the year. Before coming to UMF, she served as Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Connecticut. She lives in Farmington with her partner Patrick and their dogs Bastille and Bergeron.

“Rocky” Actors Share Their Thoughts on the UMF’s “Freeing” Production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

By Nathan McIvor, Vice-President

     Recently the annual shadow-cast production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” premiered in Lincoln Auditorium, exploring themes of sexuality while advocating for a safe space built on consent. The 1975 film was projected on screen while student actors lip-synched and pantomimed scenes with a small army of backup dancers.

   Keeping with tradition, Rocky “virgins” seeing the show for the first time that night had lipstick “V”s written on their faces, though their welcome did not end there. Director Nathaniel Red and Choreographer Charity LaFrance invited the “virgins” onstage to have their cherries popped, the cherries being red balloons placed between their legs.

   Red noted that “the show is a bit of a culture shock for people who see it for the first time. I think it’s really important for people to see it.” He finds that the sense of shock can clear a path for healthy self-expression. “‘Rocky’ is a wonderful show that lets people be free. It’s great that UMF has this,” said Red, who had worked as a co-director and assistant director of “Rocky” in previous years.


   Caitlin Hession, who plays the character Columbia in the show, echoed Red’s views of the show. “It’s freeing to see ‘Rocky.’ American culture is very constricted. Performing in this show, you can wear as much or as little as you want and no one will judge you for it,” Hession said.

   Hession explained that “consent is really important in rehearsal and even in auditions” due to the show’s risqué nature, actors must also confirm whether or not they are comfortable dressing in certain outfits or acting in particular ways at every step of the process.

   This year marked Hession’s first time playing main character, Columbia, which she enjoyed as “[She had] a chance to breathe as my character is not always on stage.” In the previous two shows, she was a dancer. She will graduate from UMF this spring.

  Other actors are performing in “Rocky” for the first time this year. McKayla Mirois, a junior playing Janet, is “really excited, as the show has pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way. My part is unique. She’s one of the more toned-down characters. She’s often scared or sexually confused. All the other characters are really into it.”

   Working behind the scenes, the show’s technical Assistant Director Vanessa Brown dealt with stage lighting and monitoring individual scenes. “‘Rocky’ is one of those shows that everyone comes to see and support their fellow students,” Brown said. “[It’s] excit[ing] to be working on the show because everything’s different each year.”

     The play “The Rocky Horror Show” premiered in London in 1973. A playful blend of tropes from horror and science-fiction genres, the musical embraces gender fluidity and the playful blurring of sexual norms as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the primary antagonist, seduces both Janet and her fiance, Brad. A film adaptation retitled “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and a massive cult following followed.

   Brown also commented on this production’s charitable cause. “All profits go to SAPARS [Sexual Assault Prevention & Assault Services] and we also do a raffle to raise more money.”

Students Share Their Pain And Demand Better University Practices at Protest in Olson

Students Share Their Pain And Demand Better University Practices at Protest in Olson

The student led group “Look Us In The Eyes” shared their experience while speaking out for better treatment of victims of sexual assault. (Photo by Keely McConomy)

By Nathan McIvor Vice-President

   On Friday February 15th, a crowd gathered in Olsen Student Center in movement of solidarity against sexual assault on campus, with President Eric Brown in attendance. Individuals stepped forward to share their stories of sexual assault, thoughts on how the culture treats women, or reforms the University must make in handling Title IX cases.  After someone finished their piece, the crowd shouted “Look Me In The Eyes!”

    The gathering was spurred by a Bangor Daily News (BDN) article that brought to light two sexual assault cases at UMF where the accused were found responsible, but the Title IX panel’s findings were overturned by former President Kathryn Foster, allowing the alleged perpetrators to stay on campus. “Look Me In The Eyes” formed immediately following the article’s release.

   The coalition advocates for improved sexual assault response policies and serves as a sort of community outreach “for students who feel passionate about sexual assault prevention and Title IX rights,” said Claudia Intama, an administrator for the Facebook group, in a previous interview for the Flyer (“Student Activists Make Themselves Known” Feb. 2019).

   Amanda Whitten stepped forward and asked the crowd, “Raise your hand if you know someone who has been hurt by sexual assault.” Everyone in the crowd raised their hand.

   “The school swept under the rug an assault that literally happened in the room right next to mine,” said Eila McCulloch, addressing the crowd. She criticized the school’s unresponsiveness to sexual assault before telling the crowd that “as a woman in college, I have to carry a jackknife in my purse.”

   “Look Me In The Eyes!” the crowd shouted when McColluch finished.

   Darby Murnane echoed McCulloch’s sentiment by saying, “Watch what you say if you won’t say it while looking me in the eyes!” Murnane talked about having to learn self-defense in order to feel safe as a college student before criticizing the school’s assurance to prospective students and families that UMF “has a crime rate of almost zero.” Murnane concluded: ”I’d rather be at a school that reports statistics [about sexual assault] honestly than one that tries to hide them. You have the ears of some important people, what do you want to say?”

   “There should be counselors here who specialize in sexual assault issues,” said Tim DiNinno, who stepped up next. DiNinno went on to argue that the services should be independent of insurance as “having insurance could be an issue for some people. Also, I don’t think people want their parents to see the kind of treatment they’re getting,” DiNinno said.

   “Most people consider this a safe space,” Whitten said.  “I think it’s good that people are listening to what we have to say and that Eric Brown is here,” Whitten said after she ceded center stage to someone else. “It’s really important for people to know that we’re not just here because we’re angry, but because we love UMF and believe it can be better.”

   Another student stepped forward and argued that “no one should shame people for having sex. Never make them feel as if they’re wrong.”

   “I’m very grateful for the invitation to listen to this. I’ve paid attention to what everyone’s saying,” said President Brown. “A lot of the ideas being talked about here are consistent with what I want to do and I think it’s an important opportunity to have this conversation.”

First-Gen Celebration Highlights Student Pride

First-Gen Celebration Highlights Student Pride

Claudia Intama is proud to be a first-generation college student at UMF (Photo courtesy of Andrea Sweidom)



   On November 8th, confetti rained down over Mantor Green as First-Gen Celebration Day began. Sponsored by UMF’s Johnson Scholars program, the celebration consisted of commemorative flag-making in Olson Student Center, trivia in the Landing, and concluded in Roberts where students stood on stage and shared their experiences of being the first in their family to attend college. Faculty members and former first-generation college students John Messier and Nick Koban both spoke at the event.

   “It was liberating, a celebration of things why often try to hide. It was great, being proud of our identity,” said Claudia Intama.

   “Sometimes first-gen students don’t feel like they belong. They arrive on campus faced with barriers that other students don’t have. The celebration reminds them that they belong,” said Lynn Ploof-Davis, director of TRIO programs at UMF.

   Ploof-Davis also manages Johnson Scholars, which serves 180 UMF students who are the first in their family to attend college. Her department provides advising, support, cultural opportunities, graduate school trips, and other programs to help those students thrive throughout their four years; students also attend an annual conference to share their experiences with other Johnson Scholars students from across New England.

    The program has a dedicated study lounge in Franklin Hall, where older Johnson Scholars students work as peer-advisors for other students in the program. Student employees also played a key role in setting up the event, where they also manned several booths in Olson where students could make DIY pins expressing that–at least from what this reporter saw–they are #firstgenproud.

   “I work with both high school and college students,” said Ploof-Davis. “[I prepare high school students to go to college after graduation and college students to be prepared [when they graduate.]” Ploof-Davis’s favorite aspect of her job is helping one group enter and the other leave–both at the same time.

   The annual First-Gen Celebration commemorates the authorization of the Higher Education Act signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. The bill funded programs to increase the financial aid given to students pursuing higher education as part of the administration’s War on Poverty, while also creating Federal TRIO programs to recruit and retain students from low-income families.   

   UMF has two TRIO programs: Johnson Scholars and Upward Bound. Ploof-Davis oversees both. Her work with Upward Bound takes her to 18 target high schools, where she engages students in the college application process while reinforcing good study habits and life skills that will help them on their way.