By Grace McIntosh Contributing Writer
Several members of UMF’s community, including both faculty and students, casted their votes on November 6th, to decide the fate of Question 4, which directly institutes $8.5 million in renovations on UMF’s campus.
Isaac Michaud, treasure of the UMF college Republicans, wrote in an email sent on the day of the election,“Question 4 is an unprecedented investment that would be a real game-changer for our campus.” The bond is set to renovate Olsen Student Center, upgrade residence halls, Merrill, Ricker Addition and Mantor Library, as well as assist in building a new Swett-Winter Education Center according to Michaud’s email.
Laurie Gardner, Chief Business Officer, said renovations will be taking place soon. “Studies and planning will begin immediately and we hope to break ground next year on as many of the projects as possible,” said Gardner.
Gardner said that the changes being made to campus will create a different atmosphere after the projects are completed. “The investment will enhance space and make much needed infrastructure upgrades that will improve campus facilities,” said Gardner. “The improvements will substantially improve the quality of space on campus and living environments.”
Students also expressed their hopes of future improvements on campus. Emma Casey, a first year student, voted yes on Question 4 and would like to see renovations take place in older residence halls especially.
“Purrington and Mallet are definitely dated and need to be modernized a bit,” said Casey.
Freshman Mckenna Lockwood thinks that updates will benefit residence halls as well. “Mallet is such a beautiful building and I wish that it was more wheelchair accessible. There is no elevator,” said Lockwood. “The wooden stairs gave me a splinter and contain a lot of graffiti on them.”
Lockwood also said that she was surprised the money wasn’t being used to increase parking availability on campus. “The parking lot behind the fitness center is really far away, I wish there was one closer to my dorm.”
Although senior Brandon Cardona will have graduated by the time renovations take place, he still voted yes. “I would love to see Merrill touched up a little bit. It’s old aesthetic is dope however, the classrooms could definitely be modernized,” said Cardona.
Some students hope that the bond will bring sustainable changes to campus. “I would love to see the dorms and other building, upgraded to have solar panels on the roofs,” said first year student Corbin Bouchard.
Nik Peterson, a first year psychology major, said that he hopes for better seats in the lecture auditoriums. “The Weird bending-swiveling ones [chairs] are terrible to sit in for long periods of time,” said Peterson.
In an email titled “A Happy Day”, Interim President Eric Brown wrote from Morocco with his gratitude for the passing of Question 4. “My deepest thanks to all of you for your support, promotion, and enablement of the state bond,” said Brown. “And special gratitude to the students who voted in town yesterday, as well as those who supported them. It’s a fine hour and worth a long celebration. I look forward to joining in that in person soon.”
The last times that campus has received renovations were updating the snack bar and cafe in 2017 as well as the construction of the biomass plant in 2016.
By Leah Boucher – Staff Reporter
Mitchell Walston is the man behind the lens of Humans of UMF, a Facebook page created early this fall that showcases pictures of UMF community members and tells their personal stories.
Walston, a senior Secondary Education Biology major, recently discovered his love of photography and was inspired by the Humans of New York Facebook page, where photographer Brandon Stanton chooses random people on the streets of New York to interview.
“I’ve always liked the Humans of New York series because it’s a great way to share stories through pictures as well as quotes,” said Walston. “I’ve gotten more into photography within this past year, so I put those two ideas together to form Humans of UMF in the beginning of October.”
At first, Walston only asked his friends to participate in order to get a feel for how to conduct interviews and take pictures. Now, he is reaching out to students he sees on campus that he may not know to allow for a diverse range of personal narratives in his project.
“Everybody’s got a story and a life that’s complex and interesting once we take the time to ask,” said Walston, “but that’s not something we think about often because we’re all so focused on ourselves.”
Sage van Eekhout, a junior Secondary Education Social Studies major who was interviewed by Walston in the beginning of his project, knows that the diversity Walston is trying to capture on campus is what makes it unique.
“Everyone brings their own story and experiences with them,” said van Eekhout. “It’s a great way to celebrate our differences while still showing we’re a community.”
Humans of UMF was recently asked to partner with TRIO and Upward Bound to celebrate the stories of first-generation college students, but Walston hopes that other organizations and clubs will ask to partner with him as well.
“I love that the UMF community wants to collaborate with Humans of UMF,” he said. “It reaffirms for me that people are interested in reading what I am putting out on social media; I already have about 400 followers on the Facebook page.”
Caption: Jasmine Athamni was interviewed in October as part of the Humans of UMF project.
Photo Courtesy of Mitchell Walston
Jasmine Athamni, a sophomore Early Childhood Education major, did not know Mitchell well when he asked her to participate, but she shared personal details from her life in an effort to let others know that previous obstacles and struggles can be left behind.
“I felt like joining Humans of UMF was a big way for me to feel comfortable with my past and remind me that I’m a better person now.” said Athamni. “I shared in my interview that I struggled adjusting to UMF, and I’m sure there are others who will read my story and know that sometimes, it just takes time to adjust.”
Although Walston is a senior and will be leaving next May to pursue a career in teaching, he hopes to make photography a summer job when he is not in the classroom. “This project has allowed me to get better with my communication and especially photography skills,” he said, “and if I continue this project through the rest of the year, I think I can look back to where I started and see major growth.”
He also hopes that after he leaves, another UMF student will be willing to step up and take over Humans of UMF. “My goal before I graduate is that I can find someone who is willing to commit their time to this project,” said Walston.” It’s not difficult to gather the interviews and pictures, but it can be time consuming, and I want it to continue long after I leave.”