By Ashley Ward, Assistant Editor and Secretary
FARMINGTON — Students are facing feelings of discomfort this semester as The University of Maine at Farmington campus makes an effort to return to how things were before COVID-19. Throughout the last 18 months, with the introduction and removal of COVID-19 barriers, students have been required to consistently relearn the changing social norms of the UMF campus.
Sophomore Katelyn Ryan said that the biggest change between the previous school year was the use of the campus dining hall. “I knew that seating was coming back but I didn’t realize the tables and chairs would be that close,” Ryan said. “I expected to have the option of grab-and-go more readily available too, it feels like a shock to be sitting down with people and using real plates and utensils.”
Second year students are now tasked with the challenge of relearning the social norms around campus. For upperclassmen, they likely have some amount of pre-pandemic college experience under their belt to pull from, but it can be especially daunting to be in to be a sophomore on campus and having no idea how to do anything, yet feeling pressured to have a sense of stability and social grace.
“It’s definitely something that I’ll have to get used to…I think I expected the adjustment to be more gradual rather than going from a 6-foot distance to a 6-inch distance…it’ll just take some time for me to adjust as someone who’s more introverted,” Ryan said.
Senior Brooke Miller said that one of the few obstacles left separating this school year from a pre-pandemic year is the mask policy. “The mask policy is interesting because it’s almost like a fusion between what I remember campus being like before and what I remember last year as,” Miller said. “It’s still a pandemic, but also feels like it’s not…Sometimes it generates a happy feeling in me, but sometimes it makes me feel frustrated because I want this to be over and for all of us to have done our accountability with COVID-19.
UMF, like all campuses across the country, was forced to adapt to COVID-19 in the spring semester of 2020 without much forewarning. Students, new and returning, waited for updates from administrators regarding what their school year might look like upon the return to campus for Fall 2020. This year, however, students have hope amidst their dismay surrounding the potential return of social freedoms, and such is reflected in the removal of social distancing obstacles campus-wide.
By Paige Lilly, Contributing Writer
The UMF Athletics Department recently announced the start of its Racial Equity Committee (REC), which aims to create a safe environment where racially marginalized students can share their experiences while also working to make an impact here on campus. The REC announced its official presence on Monday in an Instagram post.
The group began soon after Molly Wilkie was named the UMF Athletics Diversity and Inclusion designee, a new role the NCAA now requires schools to have. As part of a group of people with this same designation at their respective Maine Division III (DIII) Universities, Wilkie realized that UMF was one of the few schools yet to have a group of this type. “I learned that many of the other schools had coalitions and groups specifically for their student athletes of color [the names of the groups are all slightly different],” Wilkie said in an email. “After learning about what other schools were doing I thought it was something vital that UMF athletics should be engaging in as well.”
Wilkie then reached out to a number of students-athletes who she thought may want to be a part of the group. “Molly emailed us and asked if it would be something we were interested in,” said Chloe Horn, a junior, field hockey player and a member of REC. “I believe she got the list of our names from our various coaches. Then we were able to set up our first meeting.”
Wilkie stressed the importance of student leaders like Horn in the success of the group thus far. “Although I am facilitating this group, it is all about the student-athlete leaders and working to support and amplify their voices and ideas,” said Wilkie.
The group aims to provide students who identify as non-white with a safe space to discuss their experiences. “Our group … wants to create a safe space for racially marginalized student-athletes for support and advocacy,” Wilkie said. “The group also wants to play a role in helping to educate about and identify the racial inequities that exist on our campus.”
“It’s the start of a conversation many students here don’t realize needs to be had,” said sophomore Mullein Francis, who is a nordic skier for UMF and a member of REC. “Because we all go to a school that is mostly white, I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s rural Maine, we don’t have to worry about that here,’ but in reality we do,” said Francis. “There are a lot of people here who deal with this kind of thing, and it’s good to be able to talk about it with people who understand.”
In fact, it’s that understanding that sparked the friendship between Horn and Francis. “We didn’t know each other before the group, it kind of started our friendship,” Horn said, sharing a laugh with Francis.
In that way, they believe the group is already beginning to be successful in bringing students who identify as non-white together, but they won’t stop there. “We have a lot of big goals,” said Francis. “We are thinking about eventually hopefully having a system where we can include other students as well, not just student athletes.”
However, Francis and Horn both agreed that the group needs a strong foundation before they can move to that goal. “We’re so ambitious, but we know that if we get too excited and try to move too fast it might hurt us in the long run. We know we need to build the group so that it’s strong, doing little events before big ones,” said Horn. In these efforts, these student-athletes believe they will be able to start an important conversation that lasts even after they graduate from UMF.
Any questions about REC should be brought to their Instagram account @umf_rec or emailed to Molly Wilkie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Maine Farmington by Sam Shirley.
By Daniela Lilly Rodiles, Staff Writer
Chancellor Malloy announced to faculty, staff, and students of the University of Maine System (UMS) the return to normalcy through traditional and in-person college experience in the coming fall 2021 semester.
The prioritization and continuation of COVID-19 asymptomatic testing together with mask wearing and physical distancing will continue to be in place as a way to assure student and faculty safety for the ongoing spring semester and commencement plans.
“We’re kicking our planning into high gear to provide the most traditional, on-campus college experiences this fall that we can safely manage,” said Malloy. This return to normalcy is focused on resuming in-class instruction, campus activities for the community, and residence hall occupancy resembling pre-pandemic conditions on campus.
UMF students have regained a sense of hopefulness and confidence regarding the plans to return to the conventional college experience that most students knew before the start of the pandemic, and that we all continue to miss. “I feel relieved,” said Anika Slowing-Romero, a freshman majoring in Rehabilitation and Psychology. “This year has been extremely hard and not what I expected at all, college-wise. But I am very hopeful and excited for what’s to come in the next semester.”
Chancellor Malloy’s email became the topic of discussion and conversation between peers, lighting up the possibility of brighter days around the corner, whilst acknowledging the outstanding resilience and commitment that has led all of us to this great news. “Your health and safety, and the health and safety of our university communities, remains our top priority,” stated Malloy, as he confirmed the plans that rely on the pandemic-ending vaccines and health safety practices imposed by the UMS Scientific Advisory Board, as well as Maine’s public health authorities as the basis to keep the UMS community safe.
The plans for commencement at UMF continue to uphold a remote ceremony to celebrate the class of 2021 and their achievements. “We promise to create a wonderful, albeit virtual, celebration experience and program with distinct recognition and personal touches especially for you and your achievements,” stated President Edward Serna.
The University will continue asymptomatic strategies and monitoring for COVID-19 throughout the semester to assure the safety of all students and staff until the last week of the semester.
Brock Caton by Sam Shirley.
By Chelsea Davis, Contributing Writer
Parking passes are crucial at UMF. In addition to having one, it is important that students and faculty understand parking passes and tickets. The UMF Department of Public Safety gives students and faculty more insight on parking passes and related questions.
In order to park on campus, every student must have a parking permit. “When students return to campus for a new year and new students arrive they should either be going to the Public Safety office across from the Fitness and Recreation Center to fill out the form to receive a parking pass or preferably fill out our online parking permit application, which is on the MyCampus Homepage under the Student Services and Parking drop down menu and it is forwarded to the Public Safety Administrative Specialist,” said Caton.
There is also a form that can be filled out if someone wants to appeal their ticket. “The parking ticket appeal form is given to police sergeants Wayne Drake and Marc Bowering for review,” said Caton. “They will decide to accept or deny the appeal and email their decision to the appealing person.” If denied, cash or check payments may be made in person at the Public Safety office, or by mail.
The current situation in regards to parking permits and rules causes anxiety for some students. “There are many times when I want to have a friend from back home come visit me here at school,” said Olivia Paradis, a freshman living in Scott South. “I’m nervous they will get a ticket parking their car anywhere on campus.”
Luckily, Public Safety parking permits for these situations so students can follow the parking policy. “There is a free 48-hour guest parking pass that allows [guests] to park in lots 18, 21, 22 and 26,” said Caton. “We also allow frequent guests the option to purchase a first year student decal for 20 dollars.”
Regardless, sometimes students still end up in difficult situations parking on campus. “After returning back from winter break, the grocery store, or even from back home, I have a lot of stuff I need to bring into my dorm room,” said Morgan Noyes, a freshman living in Scott South. “I got a ticket for parking in the wrong spot for 10 minutes while unloading my things. I wish there was an unloading area for students.”
There are many actions for which a student or faculty member can receive a parking violation. Such transgressions include parking on turf, a reserved area, or a no-parking area, failure to display decal, obstructing a firelane, obstructing snow removal, having an expired decal, and overnight parking, among others. Violators are fined $10 per violation on their first ticket. These fine amounts increase to $15 per violation on their second ticket and $25 per violation on their third and subsequent tickets. The ticket must be paid within 10 business days.
Financial assistance for parking passes and tickets is possible. “Students that need financial assistance to pay for a parking pass and/or pay for a parking ticket can elect to have the parking decal payment and parking ticket added directly to their Student Account,” Caton said. “Also talking to the employees within the Merrill Center to see if they have other payment options.”
UMF’s Parking Policy, ticket appeal form, parking permit application, and more can be found on MyCampus under the Student Services dropdown menu. Campus Police also offers a brochure in the Public Safety office with answers to frequently asked parking questions and a map of the campus detailing where first-year students, resident students, commuters, staff and faculty can park. The Public Safety office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays and snow days.
By Malcolm Langner, Assistant Editor
On Jan. 20, Joe Biden, in his first day in office, officially signed the documentation which allowed the United States to rejoin the Paris Agreement, a deal which was originally signed back in 2016 by nearly 200 countries. The United States had been one of the many countries to sign on with the deal, but decided to leave the agreement under the Trump Administration on Nov. 4, 2019.
Marcia Hartwell, a political science professor at UMF, believes that The Paris Agreement holds plenty of importance throughout the world, especially with the recent and ongoing concerns over global warming. “I believe it is important for the U.S. to align themselves with the global issues, as no country is unaffected by climate change and related government issues.” said Hartwell. “Rejoining the Paris Agreement sends a signal that the U.S. acknowledges its national and global importance.”
Global warming has provoked extreme weather across the globe, and such weather is appearing to become more and more common. The U.S. is one of the greatest contributors to the effects of global warming. When the U.S. left the agreement, many feared industrial regulations would be limited and these worldwide concerns would only grow larger. “The 2019 UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction documented in their 2019 report ‘Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019’, that the extreme weather events experienced by the U.S. such as hurricanes, excessive rain and violent storms, extreme heat and cold, have accelerated worldwide in the past twenty years,” Hartwell said. “These events cross international borders and no country has escaped the human, social, and economic costs to its infrastructure.”
The ramifications for a widespread, unified coalition benefit the majority of parties across the world. Hartwell believes that maintaining close relationships globally will help combat cross-border environmental disasters. “Building international coalitions to assist with cross border emergency responses and collaboratively plan prevention strategies will help all countries manage and reduce current and future impacts and risks,” said Hartwell. Hartwell also notes that emergency response units like firefighters, paramedics, and the Red Cross will have greater capabilities in assisting those in need.
The Paris Agreement also creates a widespread sense of community. It helps send out a message of willingness to tackle one of this generation’s greatest obstacles. “The U.S. can also intensify efforts to increase climate change education, training, public awareness, participation, and access to information by utilizing transparent and relevant communication strategies on the local, regional, national, and international levels,” Hartwell said. “These are the first steps in the many needed to maintain and create a better global environment.”
The news comes during the transition of the end of Donald Trump’s presidency to the start of Joe Biden’s. Trump had little environmental plans and put greater emphasis on fewer restrictions, favoring the economy over the environment. Biden has already displayed vastly different ideals, putting the environment and the well-being of the planet ahead of economic value. Despite this, the Biden administration is seeking out environmental changes which can also help boost the economy.