By Paige Lusczyk, Contributing Writer.
An on-campus role typically reserved for upperclassmen has been offered to first-semester freshmen this year as the University of Maine at Farmington faces a shortage of student employees. Four freshmen joined the Community Assistant training earlier this semester, with only a campus tour and Summer Experience under their belts.
Typically a full CA staff would need 36 positions. When COVID-19 struck campuses nationwide in March 2020, many UMF residents had already applied and accepted CA positions.
Director of Student Life and current Scott Hall Professional Staff, Brian Ufford, explained that when Dakin Hall closed to become the allocated quarantine building, many applicants were brought into the other halls as extra help instead of firing a large group. That is the reason the third floor of Scott Hall North had three CAs for the fall 2020 semester when the number historically has been two.
When the spring 2021 semester started, many former CAs decided not to return. When asked, Ufford replied that the CA shortage is “a product of COVID more than anything.”
Ufford said the job was “not nearly as rewarding” due to COVID-19 restrictions and less on-campus resident interaction. As of right now, Scott Hall is short five CAs that will hopefully be filled before the fall 2021 semester ends. A few residents have already applied including more freshmen.
Hannah Levy is currently a CA in Mallet Hall and feels “very confident in [her] ability to be a CA.” She, like the other three current freshmen CAs, was approached during Summer Experience.
“Brian [Ufford] had mentioned in a big group that they were looking for CAs and that this was the first time that they were allowing freshmen first semester to apply,” Levy wrote in an email.
Levy has had a bit of experience already because she was an RA in high school and loved it “because [she] was able to be a part of people’s lives and hopefully make an impact on someone.”
Although Levy admitted to feeling nervous and intimidated at the beginning of the training week, she still exclaimed, “I am excited to take what I have learned from my high school and CA training and incorporate it into my hall.”
Hunter Kemp, who is currently a CA in Scott Hall, shares similar thoughts. Kemp also admitted a nervous feeling about the position. Fortunately, his confidence has continued to grow with more experience. He mentioned that in the beginning he “was nervous about becoming a resource figure on campus, mostly because [he] didn’t know the campus yet.” Kemp added that everyone has been helpful.
Both Kemp and Levy said they believe that they’ll be able to connect to first-year students on a more personal level than the upperclassmen CAs since they would be going through the same experiences other first-year students go through; newly found independence, real college classes, self-care, and time and financial management.
Ufford said he has full confidence in the freshman CAs, explaining that in his opinion all high school graduates have the skill sets for many jobs similar to the CA position. Coming into the job they just lack the “familiarity with campus resources, but [Ufford] thinks [UMF staff] did a good job [during training].”
As the Fall 2021 semester goes on, Professional Staff plan on interviewing and hiring potential candidates. As predicted by Ufford, the new applicants will start by being placed in Scott Hall and will most likely go through a mentorship process, on top of regular training, where they will be able to continue learning with returning CAs.
By Olivia White Contributing Writer
Purington Hall has stepped up its game since last year in its quest for a strong supportive community. Samantha Kane, current sophomore and resident, said, “Purington really embraces the idea of community that UMF tries to build in its residence halls.”
Kayla Falco, Residence Hall Director for both Mallett and Purington, said that there are many “residents that plan impromptu gatherings in the hall, from potlucks, to big games of Werewolf, to Super Bowl parties.” Abbi Libby, returning resident and sophomore, agreed with Falco, saying that “people are more involved and actually show up to programs.”
Falco also said that there are “different residents this year from last year, with different interests. Because of this, each CA will have different approaches to community building, which is true of all CAs. What worked last year might not work this year, and vice versa.”
Kane has lived in two other residence halls during her time at UMF, “and even though all CAs attempted to build a community, it is very different in Purington,” she said. “There are always people in the lounge doing homework or watching TV or playing a game and everyone is always very welcoming if you want to join. Everyone knows everyone and even though that makes it hard, living so close is nice because you always have someone to turn to.”
Jasmine Corkins, the current treasurer for Purington’s Campus Residence Council, said that “Purington’s community [is] really wholesome and good natured. Everyone gets along and can just talk without having to force it. I love being able to say hi to anyone, with or without knowing them super well. It’s a real sense of family in the hall.”
Falco praised a series of events that took place in the fall semester called “Back to School,” crediting its popularity with improved community life. Purington CAs held a themed program every day for a week at the beginning of the fall semester. They each ran a program a day, and did a program together on the 5th day. During this week-long event, CAs and residents traveled back in time throughout the week, participating in events relating to high school moving all the way back to preschool.
The CAs in Purington Hall have expressed their commitment to creating a supportive community in many ways. Kane believes that out of all of the events held in Purington Hall, the residents were brought together most by the “Diversity Glitter Jars,” a program put on by CA Josh Beckett, UMF psychology major.
By Caitlyn Raye Contributing Writer
Right now, many UMF students are either beginning the vigorous search for an apartment or choosing the easier option of life on campus in the residence halls.
Foothills is one of the many companies that students rent apartments through. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)
Kelsey Champagne-Smith, the Assistant Director of Housing and Academic Success at UMF, explained in an email interview that the number of students on campus compared to students off campus is about half of the UMF population. When asked if UMF loses students to apartment companies each year, Champagne-Smith explained, “I don’t know if I would say we lose students to apartments. If you mean from year to year how many students do we retain in our campus housing, then that would be around 63 percent.”
The price of living on campus varies depending on the type of room a student lives in and the meal plan chosen. The average cost of a double room is $2519 a semester and the meal plans vary depending on year at UMF. Freshmen, however, are required to have meal plan A, which costs $2148 a semester. For a room and a meal plan on campus, a freshman will be paying around $4667 a semester, totaling $9334 for a whole year.
Kimberly Day, a junior at UMF, explains the decision to move off campus by saying that “living on campus is ridiculously expensive and you can save a lot more money by moving off campus.”
Day is convinced that living off campus is cheaper. “Based on doing the math, you save a pretty good amount of money but it is different for everybody because it depends on what your financial aid package is too and how much you will be getting back as a refund at the end of it,” Day said. “For me, I know I will be saving at least a couple thousand dollars by moving off campus.”
Day will pay approximately $380 a month for her apartment. Day has also calculated that the apartment will cost around $4600 a year, not including outside expenses like groceries.
Day explained other reasons for moving, such as “having the responsibility of my own place and having my own space and not having to share things like bathrooms.” Day also explained that a big pro of being off campus “would be not having to eat dining hall food.”
Although a student may be off campus, they still have access to the dining hall. Students living off campus have the choice to purchase a voluntary meal plan.
Kelsey Brann, a sophomore at UMF, lives in the Frances Allen Black (FAB) residence hall. Brann explained that the decision to stay on campus next semester was due to campus being convenient.
“It’s good to live on campus so you know where things are for the first year or two but I wouldn’t recommend all four years,” Brann said.
Brann does plan to move off campus at some point, but described the advantages to living on campus. Brann said that “the dining hall and snack bar are close by, so I do not have to cook for myself, as well as having my friends a short walk away.”
Champagne-Smith agreed and provided the pros of living on campus by saying, “living on campus provides students with secure housing and access to food through our dining services. Additionally, students who live on campus are able to interact with their peers, faculty, and staff on a regular basis. Programming such as CA events, the Landing Events, and club events are also easily accessible by students who live on campus. In Student Life, we hope that living on campus encourages personal and professional growth for UMF students through leadership opportunities and involvement in the community.” Champagne-Smith however did not provide any cons of living on campus.
By Bryan Eldridge – Contributing Writer
Every residence hall at the UMF campus is preparing to open their doors for yet another Halloween, letting kids from the community come in and get candy from the students during the “Trick or Treat Through the Halls” event.
“Trick or Treat Through the Halls” is an event sponsored by the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) club on campus where kids and families from the community walk to each residence hall on campus, collecting candy from the festive Halloween spirited students in their halls. The event has been a UMF tradition for over 10 years, and always seems to keep the busy residence halls full of laughing children and happy students.
Mallett residents, Katie Franke and Becky Paradis decorate their dorm room in preparation for trick or treats through the halls.
(Photo courtesy of Bryan Eldridge)
Emily Hartford, a junior at UMF and current President of APO, finds the event to be a great connecting point for many students in the same school.
“They get to see kids they might not be able to hang out with outside of school.” said Hartford.
The event aims to provide a safe experience for the families in the surrounding community. “It’s a safer alternative because you’re not wandering through the streets.” Hartford said. “You know who’s passing out the candy [and] you know why they’re handing [it] out,” said Hartford with confidence.
Information regarding the event is sure to reach students and their parents. “We have flyers going out that have all the contact information on it that will be distributed to every school in the district,” Hartford said.
Stephen Riitano, second CA in Mallett Hall and a senior, finds the event engaging for the residents. “It gets people in the hall out of their room and engaged in a similar activity with other people in the Mallett community.” said Riitano. “They all have a similar goal.”
The event in recent years has been a hit, with many eager and busy feet flooding the halls. “The past two years have been a pretty good turn out,” Rittano said. “There’s a large number of kids that come through.”
Kierra Carmichael, a senior at UMF who has been a resident on campus for all four years, enjoys the variety of costumes and anxious kids that visit each year. “[The kids] seem so eager and excited and their costumes are adorable.” Carmichael said.
Carmichael feels the event is very important for connecting with others and brings UMF closer with its surrounding towns. “It connects us with the community so we’re not just a campus.” said Carmichael. “It made me feel like I was part of the community as a whole.”
There are other ways for the residents to be a part of the event besides handing out candy. “Just come down to the lounge and help people give out candy and interact with parents and kids.” said Carmichael. “I think it’s still important to try and be involved.”
The event is scheduled for Sunday, October 29th and will begin around 5:00 p.m.