by Nevaeh Rush Vice President
Residents on campus have had to make adjustments this school year because of guidelines and policies set by UMF in regards to COVID-19.
There are many new policies that have been set in place for on-campus students that have changed their everyday lives.
The biggest change has been the mask wearing policy—masks must be on correctly unless you’re in the bathroom, off campus or in your own dorm—but it seems most people have been compliant. “It is something that is very new and you have to get used to,” said Duncan Farley, a Community Assistant (CA) living on campus. “You still see people occasionally forget to wear their mask when leaving their room, I myself have done it.”
Residents must also follow a new guest policy to ensure safety during the pandemic. “Normally you can have guests over during the day, basically whenever,” said Farley. “At the start of the semester they did not allow anyone [in the residence halls] for two weeks.”
Since the two-week period ended on Sept. 13., only UMF students who are a part of the UMF community have been able to visit each other—no outside guests. “The students must be enrolled in the fall semester and live in Farmington to be referred to as the UMF community,” says Farley.
Students living in the dorms this semester tend to feel isolated in their rooms, but meal times tend to lessen that. “We sit outside for lunch and dinner because there is not enough space in the North Dining Hall, but it is getting cold so I have been eating more in my room,” says Emily Thompson, a sophomore living on campus this semester.
Even though meal times are a good way to socialize, students can’t help but notice the difference of the indoor dining spaces on campus compared to before campus closed in March. “Going into these spaces like the Dining Hall and the Beaver Lodge is kind of depressing,” says Thompson, “we used to sit in there and eat and socialize and now they are so empty.”
Although the amount of changes everyone is enduring, CAs are still trying to make residential life as normal for students as possible and give that socialization through physically distanced programs. “Programs and events are either ‘grab-and-go’, where you can grab them and go to your room and do them independently, over Zoom, or outside where you can properly social distance,” says Farley.
Although we cannot change the policies, as they are keeping students safe, it is not always easy. “The best word to describe it has been strange,” said Farley. “The whole environment is all very new, which is to be expected.”
By Natausha Cogley Contributing Writer
Theo Griffin, an Early Childhood Education major, made the 27-hour drive from Colorado to UMF just to be stuck in her dorm room for 10 hours without any contact or food.
Upon arriving Griffin knew she had to be tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for two-three days. Only a day into quarantine, Griffin’s roommate moved out.
“I was left without a roommate, so I had to quarantine the rest of the time by myself,” Griffin said, “which was so extremely boring.” After Griffin’s roommate left, she had no in-person communication for 24 hours.
On Friday, August 21, Griffin realized that people were outside: she could hear voices in the halls. “I hadn’t been notified about anything. I had no idea that anything was happening. But I kept hearing people,” Griffin said, “There were a ton of people walking down the hallway and when I looked outside my window I realized there were people out there.”
When Griffin sent an email hoping to figure out what was going on, she was told that her test results had been lost. She would have to be tested and quarantined again.
Luckily, her test results were found, yet Griffin was not released from her room until Saturday, August 22.
“I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner on Friday, I went out Saturday morning to go grab food from where it usually was,” Griffin said, “but there was no food, they had forgotten about me. I was the only one still in quarantine.”
Luckily, Griffin had snacks she brought into her room. It took until 3 p.m. for her to be notified that she was all clear and able to leave her room.
Collin Regan – Contributing Writer
Recent college graduate and new hall director Dan Knox is looking forward to adding a new perspective to the Farmington community.
Knox is the new hall director that oversees the residence halls Lockwood, Dakin, and Stone. While he may be new to the Farmington community, Knox comes with a variety of experiences.
Fresh out of Ripon College with a dual degree in Business Administration and Politics in Government, Knox comes with three years of experience in residence life.
During his freshman year, Knox was a resident. His sophomore year, he was an RA, and during his junior year, he was a Programming Assistant where he essentially interacted with the whole campus. During his senior year, Knox was a Student Assistant Hall Director.
While all of these jobs involved working with residents, the responsibilities became greater as the years went on. These responsibilities did not seem to bother Knox. “I like interacting with residents, but I think I’m better at administrative work than most people,” he said.
Kathleen Simpson, a UMF Hall Director in her second year, was part of a team that hired Knox. “We were looking for somebody who added diversity to what we already had, knowing that our staff was going to be similar to what we had last year,” Simpson said.
The team saw that Dan would add that type of diversity to the staff, because of his experiences. “We saw his yearly growth as something that proved he wanted his own self-growth and the fact that his school thought he was good enough for this position was evident and good to see,” said Simpson.
Knox and Simpson both understand the importance of their jobs. Simpson points out that a
hall director “is responsible for thousands of lives on campus.” Knox describes the job as, “making sure residents are figuring out life and doing it in a safe and responsible manner.”
Knox is already helping impact the community through overseeing the Community Assistants (CA) in Lockwood, Dakin, and Stone. Sage van Eekhout, a third-year student and second-year CA in Stone Hall, has enjoyed working with Knox so far this year. “I think Dan brings in a really good and new perspective, being recently graduated and being in a Student Life Department while bringing some of his ideas into our staff,” said Eekhout.
First-year CA in Stone Hall Kendra Burgess has enjoyed getting into a new job, as Knox is settling into being a new hall director as well. “We’re both getting used to new positions but the communication has been great,” says Burgess.
Both Burgess and Eekhout agree that Knox has done a great job creating community within the staff. “I think he’s really great at positive reinforcement and making our staff feel so close. He gives out gold stars to people at every staff meeting from shout-outs we give,” said Eekhout.
As the year goes on, Knox is looking forward to this experience and the personal growth that will come with it. While he has small goals of visiting more places throughout Maine, Knox also has some career goals. “I want to figure out more of my styles in leadership and supervision,” he said.
By Joshua Beckett, Contributing Writer
The third floor of Scott South Hall was transformed this past fall by adding a new Rainbow Alliance Floor which houses about 40 students. This floor provides a safe space for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to grow together.
People can be randomly assigned to live on the Rainbow Floor, but in order to live there, a Rainbow Alliance agreement must be signed. By signing the agreement, students give consent to support their neighbors to create a community that appreciates the variety and vivacity of gender and sexuality.
“I found out about the Rainbow Floor during my campus tour,” said Lily Hood, a resident of the Rainbow Floor. “Admissions gave me a book about campus and in the housing section, the Rainbow Floor was an option.”
“I honestly thought there would be rainbows everywhere,” said Hood, “but to my surprise when arriving, I found that it looked like any other floor.” Hood continued, “I actually didn’t select the Rainbow Floor when signing up for room placement for fear of my family finding out,” said Hood, “however I did want to be on the floor because I felt like it would be a safe and accepting place for me to live and explore my identity.”
Community Assistant Matthew Wyman found out about the Rainbow Floor because there had been a long push for LGBTQ-specific housing. “Being a CA on this floor has been a dream come true,” said Wyman, “I wanted to work on this floor since the second I decided to apply as a CA and I genuinely can’t see myself anywhere else. “Since coming to college, I’ve effectively immersed myself in the LGBTQ+ community because that is where my passion lies. I love my community and its members, so it only felt natural for me to go for the rainbow floor.”
Wyman says he would be devastated, not just for himself but for his residents if the floor was ever cut from housing. “I have the rare privilege of having a family that accepts who I am without hesitation,” said Wyman, “but there are some who can only be who they are in their hearts when they’re home on the floor. This floor and the community it represents is a safe haven for those people to be themselves without fear of judgment or rejection,” said Wyman, “and to lose the floor would be to lose that security, I think.”
Kelsey Champagne-Smith, Assistant Director of Housing and Academic Success, has been very involved with helping to create the Rainbow Alliance floor. “Since we began doing surveys last year, we have received a number of ideas from the students,” said Champagne-Smith. “If we find that there is a common interest in a particular theme, we try to work towards gauging student interest throughout the different residence halls.”
The Rainbow Floor will be an option for housing for the Fall 2017-2018 year as well as a few other new housing themes. The complete list of housing themes for next year can be found on the UMF website. There will also be an upcoming Housing Selection Night on April 6 in the North Dining Hall where students can select where they would like to live in the upcoming year.
Wyman is hoping to stay a CA on this floor in the coming year, but if that’s not possible, he would like to be a CA in an area very close to this floor because the community means the world to him. “We have something truly special here, and the residents are the cherry on top.”
By Joshua Beckett, Contributing Writer
Purington Hall will be welcoming UMF Dining Hall worker Eloise Wallace to the building for a reading of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.” This program, which is being held on February 16 at 6 p.m. by Community Assistant Ana Drew, will also include freshly baked cookies.
“It will be a different audience,” said Wallace, “but I’m looking forward to it.” Wallace is a retired teacher of 37 years who spent most of her time in Western Maine. She taught at Mallett School, Sweatt-Winter, Wilton Academy, and Gorham Head Start.” I knew nothing about her background, said Ana Drew who is hosting the event, “I asked around and others knew more about her.”
Eloise graduated 50 years ago from what was at the time called Farmington State College. Almost everyone in her family has graduated from UMF and she hopes that the tradition continues. Wallace worked in the dining hall that used to be located in Mallett Hall before she came to college. “I’m working on my 14th year in this dining hall,” said Wallace, “and I still like it.”
Wallace has been preparing for this program by reciting the book during her shift. “She knows the book by heart,” said Drew.
As a first semester CA, this will be the second program that Drew’s put on for the residents in her building. “I was just trying to think of programs that would get a lot of people to go,” said Drew, “and everyone loves Eloise.”
CAs and people in other buildings have already been gearing up for the event and have spread the word. Michaela Zelie, a CA in Mallett Hall, said she has already been telling everyone in her building about the event. They’re all so excited, said Zelie, “ it’s a fresh idea and who doesn’t love free chocolate chip cookies.” CAs in other buildings have also thought about the idea of stealing Wallace for a program.
“I’m hoping that this will get residents in Purington to come to my programs,” said Drew, “ so that more people can give me ideas on what to do next.” Drew still has at least three programs to organize for the semester and has thought about inviting Wallace over for more events. Drew also suggested the idea of maybe a new interactive Clue game.
Drew is hoping that twice as many people will attend this program compared to her previous one. “I want this to be the program that people talk about,” said Drew. Drew is planning on advertising for this program all across campus in all the residence halls, Mantor Library, and the Olsen Student Center.
Drew is hoping to plan an event with Wallace in a public venue such as the Landing so that members of the community can also attend. “She’s such a cutie pie,” said Drew.