Dec 16, 2021 | Exclusive, Feature, News, TopStory |
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/
Dec 16, 2021 | Feature, News |
By Sophia Turgeon, contributing writer
UMF will be implementing a new curriculum and credit system in the fall of 2023; the Board of Trustees of the University of Maine System approved the campus to alter from a four-credit system to a three-credit system.
This system is one that many University of Maine System schools use, but it comes with a catch. Currently, full-time students take four classes a semester and earn a total of 16 credits (four credits per class). Beginning in September 2023, full-time students will need to take five classes to earn a total of 15 credits (three credits per class).
The overall intention of this change is to match UMF’s curriculum with other University of Maine System schools. This will allow UMF to begin increasing the amount of collaboration between other schools in the system. Additionally, it is also intended to make the transfer of students to UMF easier.
Provost and Vice Principal of Academic Affairs at UMF, Eric Brown, believes that students should not be too alarmed by this change. Program requirements will remain the same for students and the amount of credits needed to graduate will be decreased to accommodate this curriculum. With that being said, UMF faculty is currently reshaping their classes in order to account for the reduced amount of time spent in the classroom.
“No students should be adversely affected by this change in terms of program requirements or path to graduation,” Brown said. “And for many current students the change will likely mean a slightly lower cost for their UMF education, since they will only need 120 rather than 128 credits to graduate,” Brown said.
Brown also admitted that though this shift may be difficult, it will not be disastrous. “… there is time to adjust and anticipate what the changes will look like,” Brown said. “I was here at UMF when we shifted from 3-credits to 4-credits and the adjustment didn’t happen overnight. But at some point it will become a new normal.”
When it comes to students wishing to transfer to UMF, Brown trusts that this credit system will make the transition much smoother. According to Brown, more than half (55%) of the transfer students at UMF that were surveyed confessed that they had lost credits during their transition to UMF. Moreover, 45% reported being required to take more classes than they had initially planned.
“One of the primary reasons for making this change is actually to better align our curriculum with all of the other University of Maine System schools,” Brown said. “This will facilitate one of the System’s strategic goals in the coming years—more multicampus collaboration and more seamless movement for students between and among campuses. But what makes UMF special, in my experience—the close and authentic bonds between faculty and staff and students—will not change. And no one anytime soon will mistake Farmington for Portland or Presque Isle.”
When considering the kind of school UMF is, Brown believes that UMF has always been an amazing university for students to attend, even before the switch to a four-credit system. “UMF was a fantastic school before we switched to a 4-credit curriculum and will continue to be so once we have switched back to a 3-credit model,” Brown said. “It doesn’t mean the transition will be easy or always graceful but the core mission and values of this place will maintain. It really is a rare opportunity to reimagine our best practices collectively as an institution, and to continue to improve upon our well-established record of student success. And I do believe we can emerge stronger as a university once we are on the other side of the work to get us there.”
Nov 1, 2021 | Feature, Opinion |
By Sophia Turgeon, contributing writer.
Since March of 2020, COVID has impacted everybody at UMF drastically, including commuters. In fact, the effects of COVID have affected commuters very differently than it may have affected on-campus students.
After returning to campus in fall 2020, on-campus students had a lot of expectations including social distancing, wearing masks, sheltering in place, getting tested, and keeping social circles on campus small that consisted only of Farmington community members.
Commuters had guidelines that weren’t as strict, but may have suffered more in the grand scheme of things.
Tom Tubman, sophomore here at UMF, feels as though he hasn’t had the opportunity to build a community inside the UMF campus and feels detached as a whole. “It’s definitely made things a lot harder than I expected. Building a community has essentially been a non-starter since I live so far away from campus. Until this semester, I spent a majority of my time around campus hanging out in my car because my sister is immunocompromised,” Tubman said.
Luckily with COVID restrictions loosening up, Tubman has been feeling much safer. With that being said, Tubman’s 2021 fall semester has been a lot better than the previous semester. “Since so much of the campus population is vaccinated I feel much more comfortable being around on campus. I feel a lot more engrossed in my classes and overall have enjoyed college much more this year than I did last year,” Tubman said.
Morgan Rogers, junior at UMF, has had some similar experiences with commuting that Tubman had. “Between driving to campus for some classes, but not all, I’d say that there were some negative effects, mostly my connection and immersion in those classes,” Rogers said.
From a different standpoint, Rogers feels as though the COVID restrictions placed upon students this semester haven’t been as drastic, but is excited to be back in the classroom. “The restrictions haven’t been all that impactful, for me, apart from having in-person classes again. That has helped hold my interest and allowed for in depth studies while in class. An interesting side effect from the covid-restrictions was a better class experience when we had to limit the number of students in a class. That meant that a professor was able to have more thorough interactions with fewer students at a time,” Rogers noted.
Though UMF has handled the harsh reality of COVID to the best of their abilities, Tubman believes that the restrictions put on who is allowed to visit campus are not as flexible as he’d like. “I’ve got a few friends at Orono and they want to come visit UMF, but they haven’t been able to since they aren’t a UMF student,” Tubman said.
Rogers however, found that though the accommodations were understandable, he felt as though there should have been more communication on where commuters should go between classes while waiting. “I found that their accommodations were acceptable. However, one thing that I would have asked for was more clarity as to where commuting students could be when on campus but not in class. I didn’t know that we had a commuter lounge until part way through last semester,” Rogers said.
Hopefully as the school year progresses, restrictions will lessen and commuters will feel more welcome on campus.
Sep 27, 2021 | Exclusive, Opinion |
By Sophia Turgeon, Contributing Writer.
The Maine Department of Education announced this summer that they are eliminating the Praxis for aspiring teachers.
The Praxis is a series of tests created to fully equip college students for a career in teaching. The Praxis tests consist of multiple tiers of testing in certain subjects. Students were required to get certain scores on each test in order to advance into their practicum semester. On June 16 Governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law that resulted in Praxis exams being eliminated as a requirement for teachers.
Paige Polley, a current junior at the University of Maine at Farmington who took Praxis I is relieved that there is no more testing.
“As a person who doesn’t test well, Praxis did create a lot of stress for me that I feel like was unnecessary because it doesn’t reflect my intelligence and my ability to teach. However, with that being said, I did take my Praxis I at a time, which was $270 and I failed two of them, so I had to retest. And right after my retesting with passing results, I found out we didn’t need to take them anymore. I was upset and annoyed but now I don’t have to worry about Praxis II and wasting more money,” Polley said.
Money is oftentimes a concern for college students who have to spend hundreds of dollars on these tests.
Emma Williams, also a junior at UMF has a different way of thinking about Praxis exams being eliminated. Williams completed Praxis I and passed on her first attempt. She also had completed two portions of the Praxis II exams before the exam requirements were removed. With these tests being removed, students are worrying that they may not be as equipped for educating as some other teachers may be.
“I like it but it also concerns me. I’m happy I don’t have that pressure anymore, but worry when thinking about the future and how it will impact me, how I teach, and what I teach. How will I be compared to others who took them,” Williams said.
Williams also has taken both of her practicums and feels as though the Praxis exams served more as a refresher for general knowledge than a key element to being a good teacher.
“I feel as though the classes I was taking in college during my practicums were more important and impactful while in the classroom rather than the Praxis exams,” Williams confessed.
Individuals that are in the teaching community have been told how important these exams are to become certified educators. Now, without these exams being mandatory, students may feel some anxieties about how they will be successful teachers without the confidence of passing.
The Associate Professor of Secondary and Middle Education here at UMF, Clarissa Thompason, believes that these tests, along with standardized tests as a whole, are not the proper way to gauge whether or not a student would eventually become a good teacher.
“[…] I don’t think they [Praxis exams] really mark how bright you are, how motivated you are, or how well you’re gonna do in college. It discriminates against English language learners, it discriminates against kids from less privileged backgrounds, it discriminates against kids from poorer schools. It becomes a gateway here and kids who might be fantastic teachers can’t get past that and spend tons of money on it. So, they measure something, but it’s really small,” Thompson said.
Currently, licenced future Maine educators are required to get fingerprinted, earn at least a bachelor’s degree in education, and be accredited by a university.