By Benjamin Noel
In the past weeks, a group of sexual assault survivors has come out with their personal stories of cases being mishandled by the school. Some anonymously reported stories included lack of a proper investigation, and even being silenced with nondisclosure agreements for the sake of protecting a student-athlete. An interview with an anonymous student-athlete, and brief statements from others, unveil the attitudes of student athletes.
Although he’s not too familiar with the movement, and the cause for the outcry, save a conversation in his seminar, the anonymous student-athlete provided great insight on the matter.
He first commented, “I’m not surprised the school is covering it up.” There is precedent for schools covering up sexual assault cases, and Saint Mary’s is not the first to do so in recent times. Most recently, students of Santa Clara University and the University of San Francisco have come forward claiming the school protected student, in particular, athletes, from sexual assault accusations.
What happens in the dark is often neglected, and this movement led anonymously under the banner “SMC Survivors,” seeks to bring light to the issue. However, this student-athlete acknowledged this movement did not come as a surprise to him as, “It happens at colleges everywhere.” In many ways, St. Mary’s distinguishes herself from other colleges, providing quality education, nurturing students in mind and spirit, and creating strong connections. But this “Survivors” movement shows the school denies students more basic needs lower down on Maslow’s hierarchy. Safety and Security. “Everyone deserves the right to feel safe while getting their education, not having to worry about getting attacked or groped”
“Makes me feel really sad… I can't even begin to imagine the trauma these women (people) have gone through, and to be swept under the rug is horrendous”
The athlete explained that there is a financial incentive to silencing allegations against student-athletes. St. Mary’s D1 programs, especially men's basketball, bring in lots of money for the school, and the scandal and detriment to the team’s performance after “losing a star player is a big deal.” This can also lead to losing recruits scared to be associated with a team with a tainted history. As a result, schools act in favor of their financial interest to keep allegations quiet.
After explaining the demands of the movement, which include suspending an athlete who is under investigation, my interviewee was hesitant to agree. After some thought, he said he believes in “Innocent until proven guilty,” so students accused of sexual assault should not be punished until the investigation is concluded. He emphasized his point was, “Not to say an accusation should not be taken seriously,” but that cases “should be investigated thoroughly and quickly.” He still understood how the assumption of innocence could be taken advantage of as “there is an incentive to slow down the investigation [in order] to allow a player to continue playing.” After some pondering on a more appropriate process, the interview moved on without a conclusive solution.
Another athlete claimed he was extremely uncomfortable with the manner in which his teammate described to him his sexual encounters as if they were conquests. Yet another explained the team’s mandatory Title IX training would do little in the way of preventing someone from committing sexual assault, as at our age, a person is already set in their ways.
Concluding the interview, the athlete expressed his final thoughts on the movement of survivors rallying together remarking, “It’s very empowering. These women [survivors] are bad-asses.”
As the school year comes to an end, we reflect on the accomplishments of Saint Mary’s and its community
By Kamryn Sobel
Located in the small town of Moraga, California with over 3,600 Gaels, Saint Mary's is in its final stretch of the 2021-22 school year. At Saint Mary’s, the goal of the college is to, “achieve more and do better—in education, in community, and in service”. This school year, Saint Mary’s did just that, as it returned to campus in fall of 2021 after a year of mostly online and hybrid classes. Students were able to experience normalcy for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
In the beginning of the year, the Farewell BBQ and First-Year Olympics returned for first year students, while sophomores were welcomed back to campus with a makeup BBQ and a second year olympics meant to give second years experiences they may have missed out on online. Classrooms were once again filled with students while sporting events opened to all spectators. The Campus Activity Board hosted events ranging from inflatable games on the Chapel Lawn to a Semi-Formal Dance at the Soda Center. January Term was also filled with compelling courses, such as JAN 102-01 Fencing and Swords, JAN 053-01 Ceramics for Beginners, and JAN 128-01 The Art and Science of Beer. The 19th Annual Expressions of Blackness, the Holi Festival, and Cultural Nights also were seen back on campus this year. Student life was in full (Gael) force this school year.
Other achievements Saint Mary’s saw this school year include: Top 5 — Western Regional Universities - U.S. News & World Report: Best Colleges, Top 10 — Best Colleges for Veterans - U.S. News & World Report: Best Colleges, Top 10 — Best Undergraduate Teaching (tie) - U.S. News & World Report: Best Colleges, The Best 386 Colleges — The Princeton Review, The Best Western Colleges — The Princeton Review, and Colleges of Distinction recognitions for Best Colleges-Catholic, Business Programs, and Career Development.
Congratulations to those who are graduating and those who have successfully completed another academic year. As another school year comes to an end, we reflect on what it means to be a Gael!
By Theo Zittel
Imagine the thought that you are unable to communicate with someone else because of a language barrier. What will this entail for you and your family? Is it difficult for international students to converse with admins because English may not be their first language?
These questions led me to the scope of this investigative story. When I began my search for answers, the opportunity arose to speak with a friend who works in the admissions office here at Saint Mary’s. This was a great place to start, allowing me to open up the conversation surrounding the concern of options for ESL students and their parents. A current second-year standing History student, Isabella Ruiz, confirmed that two admins specifically work with the admissions office who speak Spanish fluently. Their names are Magaly Arias-Lobatos and Jenny Zuniga. The two admins are available to work with prospective students, their families, and current students of Saint Mary’s who may be ESL or feel more comfortable speaking Spanish in the Administrative offices. Isabella also assured that Karla Henriquez in the financial aid office also speaks fluent Spanish and is available to converse with these students if needed between various offices.
Following my discussion with Isabella, I was left with more questions concerning the experiences of international students who study here at Saint Mary’s. Therefore, I decided to reach out to Ashley Machado, the Director of International Student Services and International Student Advisor at the Center for International Programs (CIP) on campus, to discuss my investigation further. Ashley provided insightful information in response to my inquiries surrounding the different options available for international students at the college.
I was curious to know if international students ever experienced challenges with language barriers during their semesters at the college. She reported that they most certainly do, but it depends on the individual student. This is most often the case in their coursework and exchanges with others, whereas in other cases some international students may find it challenging to interpret what is said in the classroom by their professors or peers. The American curriculum, according to Ashley, can pose many challenges for those who may be ESL or enrolled in the international student program.
Many ESL and international students may make mistakes while speaking. While this may be frustrating and uncomfortable for anyone learning a foreign language, making mistakes is a learning experience for these students. If ESL or international students require assistance with challenges in communication or translation, the Student Engagement and Academic Success (SEAS) office, which is located on the first floor of Filippi Administrative Hall, is an option. English as a second language is one of the topics that they can assist ESL and international students with. In addition, the Tutorial and Academic Skills Center (TASC) and Center for Writing Across the Curriculum (CWAC) also assist with grammar if it is specifically asked for.
The Center for International Programs (CIP) is also available for international students to discuss the challenges caused by homesickness. As Ashley explained, the office tries to support students while studying at Saint Mary’s. Along with her colleagues, the CIP office allows students to visit if they need advice and support when posed with the hardship of being in a completely new environment outside of their own familiar culture.
Other opportunities for international students on campus are joining clubs and attending different activities on campus. In our conversation, Ashley told me that international students find community on campus with the Intercultural Center, student clubs, and athletics, stating that they feel integrated into the campus culture “wherever they can find their niche.”
Madison Sciba '24,