By Ashley Ward, Secretary and Assistant Editor
FARMINGTON 一 Extracurriculars at the University of Maine at Farmington have reported a struggle with student involvement and membership over the last 18 months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, group leaders believe that there is hope on the horizon.
For on-campus clubs, it was nearly impossible for students to engage in activities. Those that did join were faced with the responsibilities for several in-club positions.
“We took a hard hit last year with the pandemic and got all the way down to one member,” said Artemis Monteith, President of the Nightmare Club. According to Monteith, the club went all the way from 20 members to almost disbanding. Now the club has up to 16 members.
Learning Commons Coordinator William St. John noted increased difficulty in making new tutor hires for this academic year. “I’ve sent out dozens of emails…offering students jobs. Saying, ‘I’ll hire you! And you get to work your own hours, and get paid 12 bucks an hour!’ and most of them never replied,” St. John said.
St. John said that even though students haven’t been as aggressive at seeking out academic help from tutors, numbers are on the rise.
“…tutoring this semester is doing better than it was last semester at this time,” St. John said.
Despite the limited student participation last year, organizations on campus are optimistic about student interest levels returning to pre-pandemic levels with enough time. Advisor of the Student Senate Kirsten Swan said each incoming class of first year students brings a wave of reinvigorated enthusiasm back to extracurricular activities on campus. The increase of participation is observed in the demographics of several clubs and their members, as well as in the Student Senate.
“I think the future is pretty bright for the Student Senate. Everybody on the executive board is new, except for the President, and there are a lot of first and second year students that are Student Senators. There seems to be a lot of good energy in terms of wanting to get involved and wanting to find out what the Student Senate is all about,” Swan said.
Clefnotes President Gacie Vaughn by Sam Shirley
By Samantha Pond, Contributing Writer
Two of UMF’s acapella groups, Deep Treble and the Clefnotes, are finding ways to continue making music despite the pandemic.
In March 2020, both groups were thrown for a loop when schools started to close down and no one was able to rehearse together. All plans for Deep Treble and the Clefnotes were brought to a halt, as singing in groups was not recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Over the summer, both of UMF’s acapella groups worked online to plan for the fall semester. Working together was necessary for groups to stay positive. “We frequently Zoom to check in on each other and discuss future club plans,” said Gracie Vaughan, second-year student and the president of the Clefnotes.
Both groups on campus are not giving up on rehearsals and meetings during these challenging times. Third-year student and co-president of Deep Treble, Kaitlynn Tarbox, has shown great determination to help keep Deep Treble together. “We have still been meeting twice a week during the pandemic with heavily enforced COVID procedures to ensure everyone’s safety,” Tarbox said. “We have to keep 10 feet of distance between everyone while we sing and still be masked to follow CDC guidelines.”
Rehearsals for the Clefnotes are looking a little different than Deep Treble’s rehearsals. “We no longer have full group meetings and meet instead in smaller groups of less than six people,” Vaughan said. “While it has created some physical challenges, it has truly shown many of our members’ determination to keep Clefnotes fun.”
With constant changes in regulations, members not able to attend, and not being able to find spaces for each group to rehearse and perform as a whole, both groups have faced challenges. “It has been difficult to find performance opportunities that were not virtual,” said Tarbox. “It is very difficult to put together a virtual concert so in-person performances are preferred if we can.”
For the acapella group, Clefnotes have felt differing struggles as they continue rehearsals in small groups and on Zoom. “Additionally, the stress of the pandemic itself has only intensified the stress of being in college, as many of us are juggling jobs, clubs, and social lives,” said Vaughan.
Despite the hoops the Clefnotes and Deep Treble have had to jump through to be able to practice together, singing acapella has kept members optimistic about the rest of the semester. “We are remaining a positive, safe space…so that our members can have a break from academics and still be able to see each other,” Tarbox said. “All of our decisions are run by not only our [executive] board members, but by the group as well.”
Auditions have become a struggle for both groups, as there is no place for them to be held when taking into consideration the conflict of safety when doing so. “[Deep Treble] held auditions last semester and filled some of our available spots, but this semester, with COVID-19 getting worse, we decided to hold off on auditions until next fall,” said Tarbox. The Clefnotes accepted video submissions for their auditions. Those who have auditioned and qualified for callbacks will receive their callback confirmation via email by Feb. 12.
If students would like more information about either group on campus, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on Deep Treble or email@example.com for Clefnotes or DM them on Instagram (@umfclefnotes).
by Maxen Ryder, Contributing Writer
The Nightmare Club provides a pleasantly scary experience for their group by hosting activities and events in order to create a positive, safe community.
Every week, members of the club vote on a horror movie to watch together. The end result is a group experience with the intent of community, fun, and, of course, scares. The Nightmare Club is enforcing the same COVID-19 guidelines the rest of the school follows with masks and social distancing. Additionally, students who plan on going to the weekly events confirm they will be participating in advance to the meeting. This way, the club is still safe in regards to the pandemic.
The club is a fun way to safely spend a night with friends and meet new people in Farmington’s thrilling night life. “Nightmare Club has always focused on being an environment where everyone is welcomed and just getting to know each other through our shared interest in horror and the supernatural,” said club President Abby Young.
While the movies are often scary, the atmosphere in the room is much more lighthearted. “The meetings are often filled with lighthearted jokes and commentary about the movies being watched and really provide students with an almost humorous break from the stresses of college,” said Young.
The Nightmare Club originated from Professor Paul Gies’ English class on H. P. Lovecraft. “It’s a club for nerds,” said Gies, the Nightmare Club’s faculty advisor. “In Lovecraft class, I think I turn non-nerds into nerds every year.”
Gies uses the term in a positive, light mannered way. “A nerd in modern terms is just someone who is not ashamed of how interesting they find some author, some genre, some art form, some series, some game series, some mythos,” said Gies in an email. “Lovecraft, who’s sort of my bailiwick, was sometimes a great writer, unmatched really, but at other times he was mediocre; we forgive him even as we smirk at how horrible the good guys are in “The Hound” or how wimpy Randolph Carter is.”
The Nightmare Club is always looking for new members to make their community even better. “We really just aim to have everyone feel safe and welcomed and encourage everyone, even if you don’t like the horror genre, give us a try because we try really hard to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable,” said Young.
Students interested in joining the Nightmare Club should email firstname.lastname@example.org before going to a meeting or join their public Facebook group, “UMF Nightmare Club.” They meet on Friday nights in Roberts 023 at 7:30p
By Journey Bubar Contributing Writer
Buckland has been playing on the Women’s Rugby team since freshman year at UMF and is looking forward to another promising season with her teammates.
Since Women’s Rugby is a club sport, they usually don’t have enough players to fill the 15 field positions, but this year Buckland is happy to see a large number
The women’s Rugby team engages in a scrum. (Photo courtesy of Erin Buckland)
of new recruits. “Sometimes we wouldn’t have any subs, so by the end of the 80-minute game, we’d only have 13 players left on the field,” said Buckland.
Buckland mentioned that new players aren’t expected to know everything about the game, and that the coaches and fellow players are happy to teach the rookies everything they need to know. “If you put the time and work in, everyone can do it. That’s the thing about rugby, it’s a really easy game to fall in love with,” said Buckland.
Buckland explained that having rugby be a club sport presents some challenges. “I think that we’re sometimes looked at and treated differently for being a club sport,” Buckland said. “It’s hard to recruit varsity athletes because they want to stick with the level they’re playing at, so they don’t even take a look at rugby which is sad, because they should.”
Another challenge the team faces is that the UMF Fleet doesn’t always have enough passenger vans to fulfill the demand between clubs and other sports teams, even when filing the van application on time. “I don’t know the official order, but I know that club sports are last,” Buckland said.
Buckland explained that without consistent access to UMF vans, the team has had to rent passenger vans from a third-party which costs more, or they have to their personal cars certified so they can drive to their games.
Buckland explained how every position and player is vital to the game, and how people should give rugby a chance even if they aren’t sure about it. “Since it’s a team sport, every single person needs to be doing their job or we’re not going to succeed,” said Buckland.
Before their Saturday games, the team likes to have a Friday night dinner to prepare and bond. “We always try to have a rugby game playing in the background,” said Buckland. “It helps the rookies know what to expect.”
Practicing is also really important before big games. They warm up, do some drills, and scrimmage each other just like every other sport. But the team really focuses on building communication. “Everything you do in rugby requires communication,” said Buckland.
Buckland admitted that she still feels a little bit nervous before a game, even after playing for so long. “The previous captain said something that really stuck with me,” said Buckland. “She was like, ‘You have to go out and you have to want it the most.’ And honestly, if you do want it the most, the nerves just go away.”
“So even if I get my van request in on time, if academics or varsity sports wants the vans, they’ll take the Women’s Rugby vans away for them to have.”
By Andrew Devine President
UMF Political clubs such as the College Republicans and College Democrats are preparing events and efforts in anticipation for the November midterm elections.
While 2016 saw the Farmington campus very active in political efforts, fall of this year will see students involved in Congressional and local elections and campaigns.
According to Ballotpedia, a nation-wide election information website, in Farmington and Maine, items on the ballot will include: U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, State Senate, State House, and other state executives.
Patrick Fallon, president and chair of the UMF College Republicans (CRs), discussed the activities of the club this semester in an interview. As of this month, the CRs have had visits from Mary Mayhew and Shawn Moody, gubernatorial candidates, hosted the Field Director for the 2nd Congressional District from the Maine GOP various times, and attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. where they saw the President speak.
The College Democrats also have several upcoming events including an event hosting all four candidates for the 2nd Maine Congressional District on campus to campaign for their nomination and to debate pertinent issues in current political discourse.
Jeff Willey, President of the College Democrats, wrote in an email interview, “One of my favorite events this year has been Jared Golden visiting our club to discuss his campaign and what he wishes to do should he win the election.” Willey went on to write, “It personally feels as though I am making an important contribution to the future of this country and is stellar being directly involved.”
The CRs do not have any definite plans at this time for events in preparation for the election, but anticipate being busy in the fall. Willey stated that the College Democrats plan on doing voting registration drives to get as many young people here at UMF actively involved in the political process. Neither club will endorse any candidates prior to the Primaries leading up to the election. After that point, Fallon stated that the CRs would support any nominees held by the Maine GOP.
Willey concluded in stating, “I would love our club to be involved in the upcoming elections, and I am certain our members will be, myself included. However, what I am more focused on is simply informing the University student body about the candidates who they will be choosing between and trying to get as many people involved in the democratic process as we possibly can.”