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/
There’s a new club on campus making history with its formation. The Black Student Union (BSU) aims to create space for Black students- something that UMF hasn’t had before.
The BSU was founded by Junior Aman Hagos, who led three different BLM protests in Farmington last year. Hagos saw the need for a space for minority students to feel safe and seen.
This year’s freshman class is more diverse than ever before, and several Black students have confirmed Hagos’ feelings of a lack of space for Black students. Two freshmen on campus are excited to be a part of the change: Suki Fuzzell and Klaus Jacobs, originally from New York and Maryland respectively, came to UMF for the outdoors and a change of scenery from the city life. However, it hasn’t been a smooth transition.
Fuzzell recalls her time on campus as a minority as just okay. “I’ve had a couple of microaggressions here and there, but there’s nothing to do about it so you just keep going,” Fuzzell said. “However, I did drop my history class because it was kind of weird to be the only Black person in there and have them talk about slavery while being stared at so I dropped it for my own comfort.”
Jacobs shared a similar stance with their experience. “It’s been okay. Because I’m not as outgoing as other people it’s hard to make friends,” Jacobs said. “With white people sometimes they’re really close-knit – and that’s not a bad thing, but it’s hard to insert yourself into a close group. There have been people though who are understanding and can see that it’s hard being a Black woman on campus. It was a shaky start but overall good.”
Among other minority students on campus, the biggest issue Jacobs and Fuzzell have noticed at UMF is the lack of thoroughness and assertiveness towards racist events that take place. When asked if they believed UMF was inclusive, there was hesitation.
“I don’t think Farmington isn’t not inclusive but I think they could be a lot more inclusive,” said Fuzzell. “A lot of the issues that have happened with minority students have been brushed under the rug but if it’s a white student, it’s out in an email and everyone knows about it. It’s hard to not notice those types of things when there have been serious issues that aren’t being talked about.”
Jacobs and Fuzzell both agreed that Black students have a right to know what’s happening on campus, especially in regards to race.
“When you’re literally outnumbered by everyone on campus, your safety – it should be a top priority and sometimes it isn’t so you never really know what’s going on because you can’t prepare yourself for what’s going on if you don’t know,” Fuzzell said.
Despite the shaky start of the semester, Fuzzell and Jacobs both hope to see a difference by the time they are seniors, starting with the BSU.
“Honestly, I just want there to be more diversity by the time I’m a senior. I hope to see more cultural clubs that teach and celebrate different cultures – not just for us but for other students to learn about things that they might not really know because they aren’t taught about it here,” Fuzzell said.
Fuzzell also hopes to see more friends come out of the club. “When I came here, I was a little intimidated to go up to other Black students because they have been here longer than I have but having a club like this will open up that door and make it easier to find friends on campus that are other Black people instead of kind of feeling singled out,” she said.
Jacobs hopes for the same type of experience from a BSU on campus. “With a Black Student Union, it would be like having a little community – sometimes I need something for my hair or a product and I can’t ask my roommate or most of my friends so it’s little stuff like that, that matters.”
The Senate voted Monday, Nov. 1st, 2021 to make the BSU an official club on campus.
By Ashley Ward, Secretary and Assistant Editor
FARMINGTON 一 Over the next two weeks students at UMF will submit their final assessments and projects, bringing the Fall 2021 semester to a close. Finals are often a high-stress part of the school year for students, as they require a significant amount of effort and are typically worth a larger portion of the student’s final grade for a class.
Stress affects well-being in all aspects and mental health is just as important as physical health. For some students, their first experience with an academic final is in college and stress levels can skyrocket as a result. Sophomores Grayson Koelbl and Katelyn Ryan impart advice for any frazzled first year students:
“Remember to prioritize your mental health. This is easier said than done, because there are times when I don’t follow this. But have faith in yourself and make sure to check in with yourself mentally from time to time. Don’t forget, water is your best friend. Screaming into a pillow helps too,” Koelbl said.
“My best tip would be to really organize your time. Try to make a little schedule for finals week and the week before, making note of when you’ll be studying for exams or working on final projects and papers, as well as when you’ll be taking some time for yourself,” Ryan said.
Oftentimes, increased stress is followed by a lack of sleep as students scramble to find the time for everything they need to get done. Getting less than six to seven hours of sleep a night is not ideal and can lead to further stress-induced complications. Budget time to allow for sleeping/waking up at the same times every day, especially during finals week.
There is a hard cut-off deadline for turning in Fall 2021 assignments on Thursday Dec. 16 at 3:00 p.m.. Assessments or projects turned in after this point are not supposed to be accepted, so it would help to keep that deadline in mind when organizing your time.
By Paige Lusczky, contributing writer
If you have taken a Physical Education class on campus, you are aware that it is a requirement to go to an extra class, outside of class hours, on Bystander Intervention Training hosted by the campus Step UP! Program. For a lot of new UMF students, Bystander Intervention Training is all they hear from the campus Step UP! Program. So, why is it such a big deal?
“Step UP! is a prosocial behavior and Bystander Intervention Program that educates participants to be proactive in helping others” as said by the National Step UP! Program.
UMF Step UP! Program advisor and UMF counselor, Gavin Pickering, said “UMF prides ourselves on being a supportive and caring campus” and “this program provides tangible procedures and action steps to support.”
“Students will become each other’s allies and have the confidence to go to parties or walk around campus knowing that there is someone in the vicinity who has their back and is willing to step in,” said the original proposer of the program coming to UMF, Professor Kathy Kemp.
The Step UP! Program not only promotes Bystander Intervention but also the “Seize the Awkward” campaign about reaching out to those who may be suffering from mental health and trauma. When the program was originally proposed as an Honors Enrichment Proposal with Kemp, it was written that “[UMF] needs to talk about violence, and be able to say the words rape, consent, and abuse, without a backlash of scoffing, head-turning, and eye rolls.”
The program has a large group of UMF student involvement but has unfortunately been pushed to the background because of the pandemic. “We have a lot of big ideas but we can’t do as much as we would like,” Pickering said.
You can mainly see student workers promoting it by tabeling or getting involved with Community Assistants and the resident halls. Currently, the Step UP! Program is also working with the Campus Safety Project to evaluate what else they could be doing.
Around Halloween, the Step UP! Program was tabeling to inform students on what type of Halloween Costumes would be considered cultural appropriation. With UMF sitting on Native American Land, it is important to promote respect for all cultures and not use them as a costume. Last year, the group tabled for National Women’s Day as well.
Pickering believes that it is important that students be involved in the Step UP! Program because “getting information from peers is more meaningful to students than being told by authority figures” and students “have to help each other too.” This is why Step UP! is even considered a work-study job opportunity on campus.
The campus Step UP! Program is a “challenge for people to change the culture,” Pickering said. Pickering believes for those who want to see change, the program is an “opportunity to pay students to implement change on campus.”
There are three work-study positions available, if interested, please contact Pickering at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you would like more information about the national program, please go to StepUpProgram.org.
By Adrienne Foss, contributing writer
Student Karly Jacklin is currently in her third year at UMF and has worked hard to help form UMF’s first Jewish Student Union (JSU). The JSU became official on Monday, November 22.
The idea for a Jewish Student Union came from Jacklin, Jocelyn Royalty, Molly Ondich, and Professor of Philosophy Jonathan Cohen, who all became close over the past year. First-year student Ondich wanted to know if there was a JSU on campus and decided to take the opportunity to form one.
“We all were meeting at a Tashlich ceremony which is when you throw bread in the water to cast off sins for the Jewish New Year,” said Jacklin. The ceremony was an event held by Franklin County’s Jewish Union, which is known to its members as the Bagel and Dreidel Society.
“I’ve been hoping for one since I came to UMF in 1992,” said Cohen. “We’ve come close before, but never quite had the critical mass of sufficient students or the impetus of committed leadership to pull it off. I’m very happy that those conditions have finally been met…We’ve had a smattering of Jewish students at UMF every year that I’ve been here, and their number has been growing gradually over time.”
When trying to get the Union started, there proved to be challenges in getting approval from Student Senate. The first hurdle Jacklin went through was expanding the membership requirements.
“We couldn’t just keep it for Jewish students and allies if we wanted to get senate funding, and we had to take that out of our Constitution which we worried a little bit about,” said Jacklin. The constitution committee of the student senate said that it would be okay and assured that there would not be any anti-Semitism. If any anti-Semitism was to take place, it would go directly against the Student Code of Conduct.
The first meeting for the proposed JSU took place over Zoom on October 20, and a total of six people showed an initial interest. More people have been showing an interest in the Union since then, and more have gradually been joining.
“The main thing we are trying to do is connect Jewish students to the Jewish resources in the Farmington Area,” said Jacklin. “We just want to serve as the bridge between the Franklin County Jewish community and the students here at UMF… I’m a junior, and I had no idea that there was a Jewish group in Franklin County until I took a class with Professor Cohen…We have had discussions about going to Augusta or Waterville to go to one of the Synagogues there for more outreach.”
“I look forward to current and future Jewish students having an opportunity to connect with fellow Jewish students while in college,” said Cohen. “It’s an age at which people are figuring out their identities now that they’re no longer subject to the families they were raised in, so having the opportunity to explore their Jewish identity with fellow students in the same situation is really important for them… The club belongs to the students, so they can do with it whatever they like. I’ll be happy to work with them in whatever capacity they would like, and I look forward to doing so. It’s an exciting development!”
“People do continue to reach out to me, so the union is definitely growing,” said Jacklin. “It’s a small community here, but I think it’s going to flourish.”
If anyone has any interest in joining the Jewish Student Union, contact email@example.com.