This past Tuesday, Saint Mary’s Students participated in a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinic put on by SMC Health and Wellness Center.
By Evan Rodrigues
On April 7th, the Saint Mary’s College Health and Wellness Center sent out a schoolwide email encouraging students to get COVID-19 Vaccinations. Stating in part, “As you may be aware, Contra Costa County opened up vaccine eligibility to anyone over the age of 16 on March 30. We strongly recommend that you get your COVID vaccine.” reads the email from the Health Center. The message continues, “At this time we are not able to offer COVID vaccines at the H&WC, but will update you if that changes.” At this point, the Health and Wellness Center shared resources aimed at helping students make appointments at other vaccination sites.
The Health and Wellness Center, as promised, sent an update on April 16th. Stating in part, “We have some exciting news!” reported the H&WC, “The Health and Wellness Center will be providing a COVID Vaccine Clinic on Tuesday, April 20. We will be giving the Pfizer vaccine free of charge.” For students living on campus and in surrounding areas, this was great news. The ease of access and familiar location is appealing to busy students.
These weren’t the only attractive aspects of the event. “We will have a raffle, photo booth and much more fun planned!” Said the H&WC. The Health Center wanted to emphasize the celebratory aspect of the clinic, describing it as “a celebration of an important and hopeful milestone in the pandemic.”
On the day of the clinic, students were asked to complete the LiveSafe Health Screening, wear masks, and practice social distancing. Upon arriving at the Filippi Academic Hall check-in area, students were greeted with smiling faces. They were given vaccination cards with their next appointment date and handed packets with information on the Pfizer vaccine. After checking in, there was just a short wait in line before getting the Vaccine dose. The Process was very fast, with the longest part being the 15 minute wait time that comes after getting the shot. While waiting, students were given raffle tickets and told they could turn them in after their wait time was up. Aside from the check-in area, all of the vaccination stations were under tents outside in the corridor between Augustine Hall and the Filippi academic Hall.
There were popsicles, stickers, a photobooth and conversation from a distance, making the experience lighthearted in spite of the larger situation. The day ended with an email being sent out announcing “We have extended the COVID Vaccine Clinic to 4pm TODAY and have 5 vaccines left!” The next clinic day is on May 11th for those that need their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
On Thursday, April 22, multiple campus resource directors held a zoom session to go over the next steps for juniors transitioning to become seniors, and important events to keep on the calendar.
By Ally Sullivan
Listen up current Juniors, it is almost time to step into your last year at SMC and it’s time to start preparing. Thanks to the wonderful Judy Selland, multiple resources are available, and I’ve got it all wrapped up for you. Here is what you need to know:
Aeleah Soine, Director of Advising, works with both students and faculty on both planning and scheduling to keep students on track. To graduate, students must have completed 36 institute credits, as well as met all of SMC’s general requirements. However, going into your final year, you should not need more than 9 credits, and if this is the case, reach out to your advisor immediately to go over summer transfer course information. Soine reiterates that the most common issue among seniors is not having met the 36 credit requirements, making it so they may not be able to graduate.
Paula Conrad, from the Career Center, offers an array of excellent resources to focus on life after graduation from one-on-one appointments with career strategists to workshops for perfecting your cover letter, resume, and interview skills. Senior Career chats are mandatory through the Career Center, and more information will be coming your way regarding how to sign-up for one next spring. More information on these events and how to register or sign up can be found through the Handshake portal. Conrad shares that the Career Center will also be available in Fall 2021 for in-person sessions in Filippi Academic Hall 190.
Mark Tapiarene, Director of Student Accounts, maintains students financial accounts while fielding questions regarding billing and transactions. Tapiarene offered up a list of important dates I have included below:
End of May - Insurance waiver period
June 1- Optional fall payment plan opens
July 5 - Fall 2021 ebills launched
August 15 - Payment due for Fall 2021
August 15 - Insurance waiver deadline
December 6 - Spring 2022 ebills launched
January 15 - Payments due for Spring 2022
The best piece of advice for a current junior or any student is to check your email frequently for date changes or new information. Also, keep your head up for a bill notice of a $115 degree fee. After filing for graduation, it is important to make sure you pay this before the actual ceremony to ensure there are no setbacks on receiving your diploma.
All the information above comes from the Junior Jam session and can be found on the SMC Student Success page, included below. On behalf of the Class of 2022, I would like to thank all the individuals that took time out of their busy schedules to help get us prepared for the upcoming year and our fantastic futures.
For more information please follow the link below:
By Annika Henthorn
COVID-19 has drastically flipped our way of life upside down. Concerts with thousands of people and going to grocery stores without a mask have seemed like a crazy thing of the past. Society has quickly adapted to the new norm, hoping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and return to normal. This has become increasingly more possible through the distribution of the vaccine.
As of April 15, ages 16 and older are now eligible to receive the vaccine. The growing accessibility of the vaccine has allowed for life to gradually return to what we once thought was normal. Gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, and other places have begun to open their doors to customers. According to Los Angeles Times, approximately 43% of Californians have at least one dose of the vaccine, and over 25,982,377 doses have been administered. Experts have revealed that in order for the pandemic to be deemed “under control,” at least 85% of Americans will need to be vaccinated. Although this seems like a difficult feat, as more people become eligible to receive the vaccine, this goal becomes significantly more probable.
Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla, has revealed that the Pfizer vaccine will likely need a booster dose within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated, according to CNBC. Variants will play a huge role in how often these are required. Johnson and Johnson CEO, John Gorsky told CNBC that people might need to get vaccinated annually like a flu shot. It is unclear as to how long immunity can be sustained. Therefore, in order to “suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” according to Bourla, it could be essential to get vaccinated annually.
The Pfizer vaccine has been proven to be 91% effective in protecting against COVID-19. This data has been verified through 12,000 vaccinated participants, according to CNBC. Researchers have confirmed that more time and information is needed to prove whether the vaccine remains effective and immunity can be sustained after six months. David Kessler, the Biden administration’s Covid response chief science officer, has also affirmed that people should expect a booster dose in the future to preserve one’s immunity. Not only has Pfizer begun research on a third dose, but CEO of Moderna, Stephane Bancel told CNBC on Wednesday that they are hoping to release a booster dose by the fall.
Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johsnson are working tirelessly to develop vaccines that will propel society back into normalcy. The light at the end of this atrocious tunnel seems to shine a little brighter as each day passes. However, only time can tell, as data and long-term research is limited.
Saint Mary’s Cultural Weeks concluded with Expressions of Blackness, a week dedicated to celebrating and uplifting the identities of Black students on campus.
By Melanie Moyer
The cultural weeks brought to Saint Mary’s by the Intercultural Center concluded with “Expressions of Blackness,” an exploration of Black identity on and off campus. This is the sixth and final week of the Intercultural Center’s Cultural Weeks, which aim to celebrate the expressions of individual and collective cultural identities on campus. This week follows the virtual BASH, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Asian, and Middle Eastern and North African cultural weeks.
The theme of the week was “Lift Every Voice,” which, as stated by the sole Executive Student Team leader Nessa Lemay-Finister, “was chosen because, in the light of the heightened political climate surrounding Black Lives Matter, it’s important that we continue to hear and listen to the voices of the oppressed.” She continues that “the folks organizing this year's cultural week have dedicated their talents and creativity to ensure that every voice is heard,” and that she hopes “these incredible events will spark joy and shed light upon you all as you join us during troubling times.”
The calendar of events was kicked off on Tuesday with virtual presentations on a Langston Hughes poem, an analysis of J-Cole by Ryan Elston ‘21, and “A Walk Through the 90’s” by Lemay-Finister. On Wednesday, students engaged in a panel discussion on “What Does it Mean to be an Ally.” Panelists included Allen Canez ‘22, Gabby Kunkel ‘22, and Brianna Avarado ‘21, and the discussion was moderated by Legacy Lee. Thursday included a panel discussion on “Being Black and Educated,” which was moderated by Calvin Monroe, and included panelists Mubarak Haruna ‘22, Kimiko Kearney ‘21, Nessa Lemay-Finister ‘22, and Colin Fisher ‘23. The week finished off with a video performance by Colin Fisher ‘23 titled “Control,” a presentation by Samuel Poueu ‘21 titled “I Too, Sing America,” and an outro by Lemay-Finister on the takeaways of the week.
Lemay-Finister states in her outro that the theme of “Lift Every Voice” “helps aid every student who has spoken out during the week: whether via zoom or in a video, every student used their voice, their platform, and their identity to help raise awareness about the importance of expressing Blackness.” She encourages students to keep pursuing change in the SMC community as well as their own, stating that “Black lives do matter, and they are present in the Saint Mary’s community.” Her remarks ended with her thanking the late Chadwick Boseman, who inspired her and countless others to be proud of their Black identity.
Medical experts testify during the George Floyd murder trial, issuing shattering evidence against the defense’s case.
By Annika Henthorn
After its third week of testimony, Derek Chauvin’s trial is beginning to come to a close. He is currently faced with three charges, including second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges, according to NBC. This week, NPR has revealed that prosecutors have been fixated on the testimony of medical experts, tirelessly working to prove that the death of George Floyd was caused by Derek Chauvin.
Dr. Jonathon Rich, a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, testified this week, arguing that "Mr. George Floyd died from a cardiopulmonary arrest. It was caused by low oxygen levels. And those low oxygen levels were induced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxiation that he was subjected to.” This has been affirmed through Floyd’s autopsy, medical records, and careful analysis of the video recording of Chauvin suffocating Floyd, according to NPR.
Many people have argued his death is linked to a heart event or drug overdose. However, according to NPR, Dr. Jonathon Rich can “state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event and he did not die from a drug overdose." These potential factors that arose in the media had no influence in the death of George Floyd, the primary cause was Derek Chauvin.
Dr. Rich has ruled out the possibility of a drug overdose through meticulous analysis and observation of the videos that surfaced in the media and his medical records. He has said that many of the symptoms of a fentanyl overdose, like lethargy or slurred speaking, were not exhibited in George Floyd. Although there were traces of methamphetamine in his system, Dr. Rich believes it “played no substantive role” in his death.
Not only has it been reiterated by medical experts that George Floyd’s death was caused by Derek Chauvin, Dr. Rich has also claimed that “Mr. George Flyod’s death was absolutely preventable.” He continues to discuss the ways in which the officers, after hearing Floyd deliberately struggle for air, could have helped. One of the ways the officers could have assisted Floyd was by placing him in recovery positions to aid in his breathing. He goes on to say that if it weren’t for the disturbing and detrimental actions of Derek Chauvin, Dr. Rich “belive[d] he would have lived.”
Saint Mary’s College shifts into the Orange Tier for COVID-19 safety. Various on campus resources open back up for both residential and off-campus student communities.
By Evan Rodrigues
As of April 7th, Contra Costa County entered into the Orange Tier. This comes after factors of improvement were maintained for three weeks. The COVID19.CA.GOV webpage offers updates on California’s case rates alongside information on the tier system itself.
“Every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its positivity rate, adjusted case rate, and health equity metric. Counties must remain in a tier for at least 3 weeks before moving to a less restrictive tier. Counties must meet the next tier’s criteria for two consecutive weeks to move to a less restrictive tier.”
Saint Mary’s College administration has announced the campus changes corresponding to the tier upgrade. An email from Vice Provost for Student Life Jane Camarillo lists the changes students should be aware of.
“Here are the key changes with the Orange Tier:
Sporting events are now on the table for students, with modified seating and advanced registration. The LiveSafe health screenings are still required to enter campus, and social distancing protocols are still required. As noted at the end of VP Camarillo’s message, there is more information available on the Campus Services page.
While it is promising that businesses are now able to serve more guests, a press release from the Contra Costa Health Services highlights the need for continued caution. The April 6th article reads:
“Contra Costa Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said people should not let down their guard yet. He noted that case rates have plateaued recently, suggesting a slowdown in the recovery. ‘We are still in a pandemic and people should continue to act accordingly: Keep wearing masks in public and get vaccinated as soon as you can. I still strongly recommend people to avoid most indoor activities with people outside of their own household until they are fully vaccinated,’ Dr. Farnitano said.”
If you are uncertain when it comes to rules and regulations and how to stay safe, make sure to do your research before making plans to go out. For more information, visit the links below.
Derek Chauvin, the police officer responsible for killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck last May, is standing trial for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
By Ally Sullivan
The killing of George Floyd in May 2020, set off a catalyst of worldwide protests of police brutality toward Black Americans. The officer responsible for kneeling on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, entered Minneapolis court on March 29th, as the key actor in the homicide trial. The jury is addressing the issue of if Chauvin’s use of force exceeded what was necessary to make the arrest.
In the past week, Dr. David Fowler, former Maryland medical examiner, took to the stand to testify about contributing factors to Floyd’s death. Originally he testified that Floyd had unrelated factors to the kneeling on his neck, such as a fentanyl addiction, and methamphetamine in his blood system, as well as possible “carbon monoxide poisoning” from the exhaust of the police vehicle. However, prosecutors pushed back and brought up the effects of Floyd’s paraganglioma tumor. Fowler originally stated that the tumor could have secreted adrenaline that compromised Floyd’s heart, but he revoked that statement and answered that Floyd did not die from the tumor. The importance of Fowler's statement followed that sudden cardiac arrest is reversible and that Floyd should have been given medical attention immediately.
Dr. Fowler continued to argue that the prone position that Floyd was kept in for nine and a half minutes was indeed dangerous. Several other experts confirmed that the position is well known among police officers to be dangerous, and the way Chauvin executed holding Floyd to the ground was constituted “deadly force”.
On Thursday, April 15th, both the prosecutor and the defense rested their case, as Chauvin invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Whether he would testify was a major question going into the trial.
Monday, attorneys will give their concluding arguments, and leave the jury to begin its own deliberations.
Women in Law and Justice event celebrates 50 years of women at Saint Mary’s by having alumni describe their experiences in the law field.
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
On April 13, 2021, Saint Mary’s Liberal Arts Bridge and CPDS held a Panel about Women in Law & Justice. The panel featured Saint Mary’s alumni who all have careers in Law fields The event was a part of the anniversary celebration of 50 years of women at Saint Mary’s College.
Fatima Silva, a Saint Mary’s Alumna from the class of 2004, facilitated the event. A politics major, Silva went on to become a criminal defense attorney. For the past four years, Silva has also appeared on the Investigation Discovery show Reasonable Doubt, where she looks at cases where families feel like their loved one was wrongfully convicted.
While describing her own career path from Saint Mary’s to hosting a true crime television show, Silva explained how she didn’t follow a linear career path but instead stumbled into opportunities after following her passion and her heart.
Silva said “When I was in college I had a clear plan and clear path I was going to follow. But that's not how life works, you're going to get a lot of curve balls thrown at you.”
Silva also emphasized the importance for women entering the law field to have a support network of other women. A support group of women is what Saint Mary’s alumni and 2001 valedictorian Stephanie Green has found at her job as Chief Strategist of Partnerships at The Women's Foundation of California.
“I feel like I have found my home. I started in 2016, and I knew that I had found my place. It took 16 years of doing things that all led me here,” Green said.
Green majored in English at Saint Mary’s, and discovered her passion for fundraising in the Women and Gender Studies Program (WAGS). She went on to pursue a graduate degree in WAGS at the University of Texas, Austin, one of the largest universities in the country. She credits Saint Mary’s seminar program for helping her get out of her comfort zone and excel in graduate studies and beyond.
“Seminar taught me that you don’t know everything other people have a lot to add to the conversation and how to talk for myself but also how to be humble,” she adds that the style of the classes was also very helpful. “The seminar classes are really graduate style classes.”
Another panel member, who like Green works within the law field but is not a practicing lawyer, is Evonne Silva. Silva graduated from Saint Mary’s in 2004 with a politics degree, and worked in a number of different organizations before getting her law degree. Like her former Saint Mary’s roommate Fatima Silva, Evonne Silva followed a delinear career path that gave her experience in many different communities. One experience Silva learned a lot from at Saint Mary’s was volunteering. She was challenged to learn from the community, by being a part of the community. Her belief that proximity to the issues better equip you to better solve the issues, helps her in her current work at Code for America, where she leads the Criminal Justice and workforce development work. One of the key initiatives she is working on, called Clear My Record, does work around the country to advance automatic record clearance. Although not currently practicing law, Silva believes she still works as a lawyer every day.
“I get asked often do I miss being a lawyer. The answer is that I am a lawyer everyday. I’m in conversations, I’m formulating questions to problems before me to try to make systemic changes is the way I tend to define it,” Silva said. “It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to practice in this way that is really nontraditional.”
The event concluded with Sarah Woolston, who has the most traditional law career out of all of the panelists. Woolston graduated from SMC in 2014 with a politics degree, and went on to receive her law degree from UC Davis school of law. Woolston currently works as an Associate at Matheny Sears Linkert & Jaime LLP practicing civil litigation. Woolston found her calling in law through a Jan Term she took her Junior year.
“I got the worst time and I wanted to take Harry Potter or the history of the bicycle or something fun but I ended up falling in love with my model UN class and we had a mock trial.”
The event was hosted by Dean of the School of Liberal Arts Sheila Hassell Hughes and the LAB Program who ended the event by having all of the women emphasize the skills and knowledge they gained at Saint Mary’s and the ways their time at Saint Mary’s has helped them in their career paths.
In recent months an estimated 170,000 people have arrived at the U.S.- Mexico border, the largest influx of individuals in one month in over a decade.
By Ally Sullivan
The largest question circulating for many Americans who are watching the ongoing crisis at the border is, why so many immigrants at the moment, and what is the Government doing about it? Fingers point at the Biden Administration as a result of a more relaxed stance toward immigration, however research has developed that the main motivator for the surge is due predominantly to climate change, corruption, and violent crime within Southern American regions.
The initial surge came after hurricanes devastated much of Central America, leaving many Hondurans and Guatemalans displaced without food and shelter. As they have accounted for the majority of the immigrants the group greatly consists of those traveling as unaccompanied minors.
Families of the unaccompanied minors are faced with sending teenagers, and even young children on the long journey to the border. The children are attempting to be unified with parents or guardians already existing within the U.S. The Biden Administration is struggling to guarantee housing for the unaccompanied minors, or being able to work fast enough to release the children to proper guardians at the rate that they arrive at the border.
This is not a new situation, but it is more prevalent than ever. At least 220 people died along the Arizona-Mexican border in 2020, considered the deadliest year recorded. Recent research done by the Southern Border Communities Coalition reported that since 2010, 199 of deaths at the border have been because of violence from U.S. Border agents, as well as several died in border custody. Rollbacks on policy changes such as the MPP or the “remain in Mexico”, that forces migrants to remain in their country while their cases are pending, are in effect according to government officials.
President Biden's initial response is to set up immigration triage facilities and shelters within the countries, so the individuals can begin to seek asylum within the U.S. to slow the influx of immigrants collecting at the border. However, Biden has yet to address an overall plan for the migrant surge and speculations circle as to what it will emphasize. Will the MPP be completely revoked? In the upcoming summer months, more will be revealed to the public surrounding the ongoing Border Crisis.
If you’re are interested in helping, you can donate to the IRC
Thank you for reading and continue to share so we can as a community spread awareness and support for those displaced.
Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz is being investigated by authorities for allegedly having sexual relations with an underaged girl and being involved in child sex trafficking.
By Annika Henthorn
In the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency, an investigation began into Matt Gaetz, a Representative from Florida, who has been accused of having sexual relations with a 17-year old girl and paying for her travel to him. According to The New York Times, it is against a multitude of federal statutes to coerce someone under the age of eighteen to cross state lines for sexual encounters in exchange for financial compensation. The New York Times has also stated that, if proven guilty, the Justice Department frequently delivers severe punishment for child sex trafficking, as they should.
Gaetz has denied the claims, stating in an interview with Axios that he has “definitely, in my single days, provided for women I've dated. You know, I've paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I’ve been, you know, generous as a partner. I think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not." He also claimed his family was the victim of an extortion racket according to USA Today. He firmly believes he and his family are “victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name,” according to a tweet made by him. Representatives of the Department of Justice and the FBI have declined to comment.
Gaetz has joked with those close to him about resigning from politics and becoming a figure on conservative television channels like Newsmax or other networks, according to The New York Times. This was simply rumored gossip; however, Axios confirmed last Tuesday that Gaetz is considering resigning from Congress.
It is unknown how Gaetz came into contact with the girl, but she was believed to be seventeen at the time of the incident. Three people are allegedly briefed on the matter and have claimed Gaetz is simply a piece of a larger investigation into Joel Greenman, a political ally of his and a local official of Florida.
According to The New York Times, in June of 2020, Greenman was accused of stalking his political rival, and federal authorities were able to seize his phone and laptop. After further investigation, they found Greenman had been creating false identification cards for both him and a teenage girl. He was accused of recruiting and soliciting a girl between the ages of 14 and 17 for sexual acts in exchange for valuable goods that have remained unknown. Greenman pleaded not guilty last year and was jailed for disobeying the conditions of his bail. This summer, according to The New York Times, he is set to go on trial in Orlando.
Ryan Ford '23,