The Saint Mary’s dining hall, the only source of food on campus, continues to have limited healthy options and has caused multiple food poisoning illnesses just this week
By: Eden Llodrá
Contributing from Sports
What is the meaning of food, if not to enhance our well-being, increase our energy and be enjoyed? For too long now, there have been health complaints among students regarding the food served at the Saint Mary’s Dining Hall. Meeting with some students to talk about their experience gave perspective to the magnitude of effects that physical health can also have on one’s mental health. A one on one interview with the Sodexo general manager, Lorne Ellison, also gave insight on the changes being made from the inside.
On Tuesday, September 28th, three students from Saint Mary’s disclosed that they had gotten sick from eating an omelette at the dining hall. As rare as it may seem to get food poisoning, one of them added, “this was the second time we’ve gotten sick.” A mishap illness once in a while is understandable, however, three people admitting it to be far from a new experience gives reason for concern.
In an interview with Dr. Rubin, a health professor at Saint Mary’s College, provided the scientific explanation behind food borne illnesses and why the eggs might have caused the students to get sick. She said “Eggs can carry bacteria in a form known as E. coli, which can be found in most factory farms.” This is due to the fact that animal waste can leak and contaminate the water used to irrigate the crops, which are then fed to the farm animals.
Even though most of the food is local from the Central Valley, Lorne Ellison said, “typical proteins and produce are sourced less than 500 miles from the location.” It is the quality of the farm that determines the safety and grade of the food served. Local farms do not mean that the produce and meat is organic or free range.
Alongside the importance of sourcing organic produce and poultry, it is essential that the preparation of the food is done correctly. It seems to be a common pattern for students to steer towards food that is predictable and deemed “safe.” For most, the salad bar and the simple servings section has been a go to spot, yet many students are still left either unsatisfied or in discomfort.
A junior, Elizabeth Bermudez ‘23, said “the last time I got chicken from the dinning hall in the simple servings section it was practically raw and pink inside.” This reflects a fault in food safety guidelines and puts students at risk of getting sick from food borne illnesses. Raw meat should never be served, as it jeopardizes the health of the consumers and exposes them to illnesses such as E.coli and Salmonella.
In an interview with Ellison, on “a mission to understand the needs of the community and better the program,” he intends on including more readily available food sources around campus. His idea of adding two cafes on campus called ‘The Stomping Elephant’ to provide more food options for students is just that, an idea. The school board has yet to approve any changes, insinuating that improvements are not in the dining hall’s near future.
The plan of providing more ‘readily available foods’ raises apprehension, as food made quickly is not necessarily done with more care and correlates to fast food. In the dining hall, there is already easy access to a multitude of pizzas, burgers, fries, and ice cream. These foods are all highly processed and, as Dr. Rubin explained, “can cause students to experience mental fog and crashes in energy levels.” She also said, “it can be hard for students to maintain concentration when so much is happening biochemically.”
This level of connection between what people eat and the mind completely changes the way that the school should evaluate food. In order for students to perform at their best, it is vital for them to eat foods that are not just ‘readily available’ but, in fact, have all the micronutrients and vitamins that they need in order to maintain a balanced gut and healthy mind. Dr. Rubin pointed out that “90 percent of serotonin receptors are found in the gut.”
This means that gut health is not only directly connected to people's neurotransmitters, but also shows that our mental health is a mirror of our diet. People's moods are directly correlated to what they eat and how it makes their body feel. The solution seems to be to have access to more whole foods and complex carbs, not just the common “salt, sugar, and fat,” that Dr. Rubin says processed foods consist of. With more focus and value put on nutrition, there may be more positive outcomes in matters of the mental health of students on campus.
The health of students is vital, as it influences and has effects in every aspect of people’s daily lives. Without change from the head of the dining hall, without a focused priority in quality over quantity, and without striving for a healthy, balanced diet for on campus residents, students will not know what it is like to feel and perform at their highest potential. And at the end of the day, what are humans without the proper fuel and energy that bodies require?
By Brent Dondalski
Contributing News Reporter
January Term is a unique experience at Saint Mary’s that many students really look forward to. Typically, students register for one class that meets 4 days a week for all of January. A main attraction for students is the Jan Term study abroad program, which gives students an opportunity to travel for one month and explore the world in places like South Korea, Bonaire, and Rome, to name a few.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused the suspension of Jan Term study abroad in 2021. However, students were flummoxed to discover that—after they paid for Jan Term—the cancelation of study abroad would continue into 2022.
At about 9PM on Sunday September 19th 2021, Saint Mary’s students received an email from the school announcing the suspension of all non-local Jan Term travel courses for 2022 due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. Per the recommendation of the SMC Travel Risk Assessment Committee (TRAC) and the January Term Committee, the school decided that “forecasting the safety of each location in January would not be possible” and “committing the financial resources of our students to programs that have a likelihood of cancelation is not morally justified.”
Aaron Sachowitz, the director of the January Term program and chair of TRAC, spoke of the lack of reliability due to COVID-19 safety precautions when traveling to different countries. “I would hate to have an entire class to get quarantined trying to come back and then they're stuck for two weeks, then they miss the beginning of the spring semester,” he told me, elaborating that “if they were more consistent across countries, it would be much easier to plan.”
This announcement came as a shock to students across campus, many of whom were optimistic about study abroad in 2022. “My heart just fell” said Kyle Torneros ‘22 of receiving the email. Torneros, a data analytics major planning to travel to South Korea was not alone in his feelings of discontent.
Other students, such as business major Tyler Smith ‘22, emphasized how outright devastated they were. Seniors especially were heartbroken over seeing their last possibility for study abroad fade away, with Torneros explaining that “as first-years, you're not allowed to travel. As sophomores you don’t get priority registration. We didn't get to travel junior year. And then as seniors, it's taken away again. So that's where I feel like it's kind of unfair, especially for our class.”
Not all students were upset. “For the last 18 months every time I'm excited for something new to change that it doesn't actually end up happening,” explained sophomore biology major Keely Dumars ‘24. Though she is grateful she’ll have the opportunity to study abroad in the future.
Despite some skepticism of travel possibilities due to the pandemic’s persistence, many felt reassured by what they heard from professors, information sessions, and the Jan Term office prior to suspension. The announcement of Jan Term scholarship recipients as well as frequent info sessions on Jan Term served as a confirmation for some students. Hadley Peterson ‘22, an allied health sciences major, shared “the second I was awarded the scholarship is when I really was like ‘this is happening,’ I would be literally going to Greece.” However, according to Sachowitz, suspension was always on the table, explaining that he “tried to communicate this with the faculty from as early as April, that it was really going to be dependent on ongoing review of the risks associated with travel.” He discussed how the source of the school’s early optimism was their expectations of vaccination rates to rise and transmission rates to fall, both of which ultimately fell short of what they wanted to see.
Moreover, health concerns were only one of the reasons Jan Term study abroad was suspended. Sachowitz did not want to risk canceling later, which could result in financial loss for students since non-refundable fees such as airline tickets or tour providers would have already been paid. To TRAC, this was a worse alternative than canceling in September. “I really wish that we weren't in a pandemic, and that was not the kind of choice we were having to make,” Sachowitz explained. Though disappointed, some students generally understood that this decision was not easy. Psychology major Victoria Jacobo ‘22 as well as Torneros both expressed acceptance that the school had to “pull the plug” at a certain point before more financial or public health risks became imminent.
Still, the timing was less than ideal for students, with the announcement coming only 2 days after the $2000 deposit ($500 for those who got the scholarship) was due and with registration approaching in the next two days. Peterson detailed “I put down $500 of my own money, and it took them a week to email us about the deposit being returned. From there, it's going to take two weeks for it to actually get back into my account, which, as a college student, is a lot of money.” Additionally, students like Jacobo felt that the announcement did not give students adequate time to research what on-campus courses were available. According to Sachowitz, the announcement came after the travel deposit had been due because they wanted to spend as much time as possible weighing whether or not travel was possible while also making this decision before registration.
Despite the suspension of Jan Term study abroad, 2022 Spring study abroad is still supposed to take place. Sachowitz explained how “a lot of the risks related to Jan Term travel are less of a risk in a study abroad program,” citing how the Spring programs are supported abroad by institutional partners rather than a one or two faculty members. He also detailed how potential quarantine periods and other COVID-19 related complications would be less of a burden in Spring because the timeframe isn’t nearly as condensed as Jan Term is. He mentioned that “the health piece stays somewhat the same” but that “some of those other risks of injury or loss from students, or the interruption of the travel or the program are much reduced in a semester abroad versus Jan Term.”
The cancelation of Jan Term 2022 study abroad comes as a disappointment in general to the Saint Mary’s community, with both faculty and students wishing that a different decision could have been made. The announcement coming after the deposit was due was the biggest contention students had with the decision, with the seniors being devastated that their last chance for Jan Term study abroad had disappeared. Though the optimism for this study abroad program was not realized, a study abroad program for those who missed this opportunity is in the works for after graduation. Sachowitz detailed his aspirations for this make-up program, saying “nothing has been approved yet...I'm hopeful that we'll be able to, maybe in the beginning of spring, have something planned for summer and fall, that'll be a little bit more resilient.
For a group of Saint Mary's students on October 6, 2021, the redwoods brought ruin as they returned back to Saint Marys issued Vans to find the windows smashed and personal belongings gone
By Anonymous Contributor
The Redwood Groves located at the base of the Oakland Hills, just past the exit from Moraga, bring hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the tree's beauty and stature. However, what visitors don't expect is to return back to their cars to notice the windows smashed and all belongings of value missing.
In the afternoon on October 6th, a semi-large group of students ventured out for an activity in Saint Mary’s issued vans, leaving them parked in an open lot, locked, and seemingly safe. In a matter of what was recorded to be an hour, unknown individuals managed to smash the windows and rifle through their belongings, stealing phones, laptops, wallets, keys, and even passports. During this ravaging, there was only one witness.
Alone in the van, a young Saint Mary's student recalled seeing the two individuals start in on the first van and then look up to notice her watching. Startled, she grabbed her phone and ran away, a necessary tactic to avoid a more dire situation. Upon return to the vans with the group, individuals reported confusion on what had happened, and what to do next. Maintaining composure, they made it to a nearby fire station, where they received help to clean the glass out and reach the police.
Upon communicating with the police, the resourceful group members began using saved phones to track the stolen ones to help with an eventual discovery of their belongings. Distraught, the students returned to campus hopeful that the police were doing all they could to find the missing stuff.
As of the morning of October 7th, the individual's belongings had been found in a dumpster in Oakland by an anonymous person. Electronics and other devices were still missing, but multiple IDs and keys were recovered with backpacks and other valuables. As of now, there is an active investigation and all those involved are alert and working.
Thank you to all who contributed to this article
HIPPA privacy laws complicate the implementation of COVID-19 prevention policy at Saint Mary’s
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
With the return of students to campus, life may appear to be returning back to normal, but with three COVID-19 cases on campus within the last fourteen days and 25 cumulative cases this semester, the pandemic is not over yet. To protect students, Saint Mary’s has instituted a number of policy measures and precautions. Yet, with two major measures—the vaccine mandate and contact tracing—enforcement is lax and the responsibility belongs to the students.
While scrolling through the COVID-19 News and Resources page on Saint Mary’s website, students can find the form to self report a positive COVID-19 test result. This form asks students a range of questions, including a question asking them to list their recent contacts with whom they were within six feet of for fifteen minutes or more. Because of this current system, students are only notified that they have been exposed to COVID-19 if they have been listed.
According to Gina Zetts, the project manager for Saint Mary’s COVID-19 coordination council, the issue of contact tracing can be further complicated in a classroom setting, where a lack of assigned seats can make exposure to coronavirus unclear. Nonetheless, a “shared classroom space won't necessarily mean a close contact”
Zetts says that the responsibility of notifying the contact tracing team of possible exposures belongs to the person who tested positive. If the student is unwilling or unable to give information to the contact tracing team, the team will then work with the faculty member in a class. Despite this, students could have a classmate test positive for COVID and not be notified. Zetts says that this is because of privacy laws that are meant to protect the identity of the person who tested positive.
HIPPA privacy laws have led to other complications in Coronavirus prevention policy. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, nearby schools like San Francisco State, Stanford, and UC Berkeley have had trouble verifying the authenticity of vaccination cards. Few local schools are matching the cards against the state of California's immunization records. The records are only available to health center employees due to HIPPA privacy laws, which minimizes the workforce for this task.
At Saint Mary’s, the health center has been working in conjunction with Contra Costa County to verify the authenticity of vaccination cards. According to Zetts, vaccination cards from within Contra Costa County have been easy to verify, but cards from outside the county have been more difficult to check against immunization records.
Senior Liesl Pieters from Belgium was surprised by how basic the process for COVID-19 vaccination cards are in the United States, and thinks it is a bit too simple.
“A vaccination card is not seen as an official document in Belgium,” Pieters said. “We all have to get a Covid-19 vaccination certificate from the European Union that is used for bars, restaurants, and travel. The document has a QR code that cannot be faked and must go through a whole verification process.”
Despite the possibility for unvaccinated students and faculty to submit fake vaccination cards, Zetts does not believe that this is a serious issue on campus, and instead thinks that this all comes down to trusting one another.
“Although we're continuing to do our best as cards come in,” Zett said, “at some point, we need to trust our community, trust our students that they're being honest with us, and trust that they're holding themselves to as high standards as we are”.
SMC Junior Skyler Clouse disagrees, believing that Saint Mary’s is putting too much trust into its students and should have more rules for who is allowed to come on campus while the pandemic is still going on.
“Although we should be able to trust our student body and faculty members when it comes to vaccination against Covid-19, there are always people who abuse our trust and can bring the virus onto campus,” Clouse said.
Pieters feels confused about the possible lack of verification of vaccine cards since she returned to campus with the assumption that everyone would be vaccinated.
“They were so strict about saying you cannot come on campus if you were not vaccinated, but in the end it does not seem like they are really verifying anything,” Pieters said.
Clouse’s objections on the schools policy of “trusting students” extends to the exemptions students and faculty could file to avoid getting vaccinated. She believes that while religious liberties should be respected, they should not be held in a higher regard than peoples safety and health.
“If you’re not getting vaccinated, respect the rest of your community and don’t come to campus until the pandemic dies down,” Clouse said.
Ryan Sullivan has been hired as Orinda’s new chief of police and is ready for the opportunity to serve Orinda and help make the community a safer place for all
By Ryan Ford
Contributing Sports Writer
After serving the community for almost two years, the Orinda City Council announced that David Cook was retiring from his position as the chief of police on August 18th, 2021.A month later, his replacement, Ryan Sullivan was sworn in as Orinda’s Chief of Police. After a thorough review of qualified candidates, Sullivan stood out as being the best for the job and expressed his excitement, “I’m very excited to be here,” he said.
The Orinda City Council claimed that they followed the normal protocols when searching for candidates to fill this important position. David Biggs, the City Manager of Orinda, described the hiring process as being routine. “Orinda has a contract with the county sheriff's department for policing services, who provided the city with three pre-qualified candidates for the position, all of whom had ranks of lieutenant or higher.” Biggs then conducted a process to have those candidates interviewed by Orinda’s executive management team and city council members to determine who would be the best fit from a community perspective. Out of that bin, Biggs extended the offer to Lieutenant Ryan Sullivan.
Before accepting this position, Sullivan had been working in Martinez at the Contra Costa County Emergency Operations Center as the Lieutenant responsible for internal affairs. When this opportunity arose, Sullivan was very excited, due in part to his family’s deep-rooted ties to the Lamorinda area. His family came to Lafayette in 1847, and growing up there always made the possibility of working in the area attractive to Sullivan.
When asked about what made Sullivan stand out during the hiring process, Biggs cited he was lucky enough to have three great candidates to choose from. But Sullivan’s experience with internal affairs in addition to his familiarity with the area made him the right choice for the job. “He brings the right tone to the job as far as being someone who would like to work with and engage in the community, which is very important here in Orinda.”
Fire prevention and emergency preparedness are some of the first day-to-day operations that Police Chief Sullivan will be working with the city council on, since Orinda has many areas referred to as “very high fire severity zones.” Continuing to reach out to the community will also be keyed on, as Orinda is working to bring back their neighborhood watch program. But, given the microscope that police departments throughout the country have been under ever since the murder of George Floyd, the chief of police may have more responsibilities than are listed in the job description.
Collin Fisher is a student at Saint Mary’s, and is the student co-chair for the Black Lives Matter Subcommittee on campus. When asked what he would like to see from the new chief of police, Fisher said that he believes there is a lot that can still be done by the Lamorinda police departments to help with racial injustice. “I would want to see more work towards lessening implicit bias and discrimination towards BIPOC individuals that live in the Lamorinda area.” Fisher added that having diversity training that educates on concepts like implicit bias and cultural norms is also important, because being able to understand these factors when dealing with people of different ethnic backgrounds will allow for better communication between the police and social justice groups.
Police Chief Sullivan understands the importance of policing given the political climate that this country is in. One of the responsibilities that Sullivan believes police chiefs owe to their communities is being compassionate and ethical. “Ethical policing is every chief’s responsibility. Doing so at all times will provide the level of service that the community deserves. Everybody deserves this when dealing with the police.” Sullivan went on to say that he has high expectations for himself and his police department, and wants to have a police force that is highly vested in the community. “Although they [Orinda Police] might not live in the Orinda, I want them to police as if their kids were walking to school, or their significant other was going to work in this community. I expect us all to be present, visible, proactive, compassionate, and ethical.”
Ryan Sullivan’s impressive resume and family ties show a strong commitment for this next stage in his career. Having the honor to work in Lamorinda, given his family’s history in the area, made this opportunity a dream come true, “It’s incredible. If my grandfather was alive he would be extremely excited. He had an attachment from growing up in Lafayette as a child, so being able to work in the Lamorinda area and hold the position of Chief of Police would’ve made him pretty proud.”
Budget cuts cause a shift in the mental health services at SMC
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
After almost a year and a half of primarily online classes, September marked Saint Mary’s return to in-person instruction. Despite being celebrated by some as a mark of “returning to normal,” the return to campus has brought upon new mental health challenges for some SMC students. Students seeking mental health services on campus may find that their offerings have changed since last year. Due to budget cuts brought on by the pandemic, CAPS was forced to decrease the number of appointments offered to students. Founded this year, the Mental Health club aims to fill this void.
According to Cynthia Cutshall, the Associate Director of Clinical Services and Operations and Outreach Coordinator at SMC’s Counseling and Psychological Services, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted students' mental health and caused some students to seek services who hadn’t previously sought them.
“During the pandemic, students who were already struggling with mental health issues noticed an increase in their symptoms,” Cutshall said. “The folks who had never, you know, struggled with mental health stuff before were noticing some symptoms. And that's just been the broader context in which we're operating.”
This trend has been examined on a greater level, with many researchers interested in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. A CDC study conducted in July 2020, found that 40.9% of the 5,470 respondents surveyed reported adverse behavioral or mental health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 30.9% of respondents reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression. The prevalence of anxiety symptoms was three times higher than it was in a similar study conducted before the pandemic in 2019, and the prevalence of depression symptoms was four times higher.
Cutshall says that with the return to campus, many students have reported that although it feels good to be back in person, they are also feeling very overwhelmed.
Christina Giosso, the Public Relations Officer of Mental Health Club, believes that there is an increased need for mental health services on campus with the return of students to campus.
“The past two semesters everyone was online, either zooming from home or from their dorms, which was completely isolating,” Giosso said. “I think there has been a large adjustment with the transition from online to in-person, not only academically, but socially as well.”
Natalie Totah, the President of the Mental Health Club, agrees and cites the transition back into in-person learning, and the large adjustment first and second-year students may be facing being on campus for the first time this year, as reasons for an increase in the demand in mental health services.
Despite this perceived increase in demand, Cutshall says that the demand for services that CAPS is facing is quite average.
“I just ran the numbers last week, we're pretty comparable to what we were two years ago during the last sort of normal non-pandemic year. So we've seen a similar number of students compared to 2019,” Cutshall said.
Cutshall says that budget issues caused by the pandemic led to college-wide staffing cuts. She says that these staffing cuts have caused CAPS to reduce their session limit from ten sessions a year, to eight sessions, in order to meet the needs of the student population.
“So last year we offered 10 sessions, and before the pandemic, it was 12. We had some significant staffing cuts,” Cutshall said. “We've had to reduce our session limit in order to meet the needs of all the students who need these services.”
The exact figures of these budget cuts are not publicly available information. When contacted to comment on the issue, Susan Collins, the Vice President for Finance and Administration, said that as a matter of policy, Saint Mary’s does not provide information about specific departments’ budgets.
Cutshall emphasizes the importance of supporting the mental health needs of students during what she describes as a particularly difficult time. She hopes that once the college finds itself on firmer financial footing, CAPS will be able to refill the vacant positions.
According to Totah, although the budget cuts faced by CAPS were unavoidable, they have a detrimental effect on the student body. “I have heard comments around campus before the pandemic surrounding the lack of supply with high demand at CAPS, so I cannot imagine her students might be struggling with this major change,” Totah said.
Giosso echoed a similar point. “Already students have a hard time with scheduling appointments and it can take a lot of courage to do so,” Giosso said. They should feel supported and know that these services are there for them.” Giosso also notes that other mental health services are often expensive and can be inaccessible for many individuals.
The reduction in sessions offered by CAPS has motivated Totah to promote the Mental Health Club’s mission of supporting students. “This major change gives me more motivation and drives to expand our club on campus,” Totah said. “To give students an alternative if they are not able to secure a regular appointment schedule or an appointment at all at CAPS.”
Local puppy Falkor is a popular face around the Saint Mary’s campus.
Although Falkor may appear cute and harmless on the outside, he has a distinct purpose: to provide physical and emotional support to former combat veterans. His owner, Stephen Eberly, wants everyone to know about the benefits of a service dog, how they support veterans, and Falkor’s impact on the newly-opened Veterans Resource Center.
You’ve probably seen him around campus. He’s friendly, and good-looking, not to mention an aspiring IG model. The only drawbacks are that he’s a little short, very furry, and not terribly talkative. Meet Falkor, the service dog of SMC. Falkor belongs to Stephen Eberly, 43, a former Iraq War veteran and current SMC student.
Falkor’s journey with Stephen began back in March 2019. Stephen met Falkor through the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) for Vets in Walnut Creek. But being paired together didn’t mean that Stephen could take Falkor home right away.
“The way it works is that they have to test the dog to see if he has the aptitude to get trained” Stephen explains. “He has to go through tests to make sure that he’s able to perform the tasks that are asked of him. He has to go through a public access test, where we take him out in public to make sure that he’s well-behaved and doesn’t act the way other dogs would in public. The entire process takes about a year.”
Once the arduous process has been completed, Falkor is left with a wide array of skills. Falkor’s main responsibilities are to identify, alert, and alleviate. Falkor helps to calm down Stephen when he’s agitated, and reminds him when it’s time to take his medications.
“The way it works is that Falkor pays attention to what I’m doing” Stephen says. “They key in on your pheromones and start to figure out what’s going on. Service dogs chemically know when you’re getting to the point that you need their help.”
When Falkor performs a skill properly, Stephen captures it by rewarding him so that he can know to repeat it.
But Falkor’s closest activity has quite the calming effect on his owner.
“This is a process known as deep pressure therapy, and basically, that’s where Falkor lies down on top of me, and the pressure is meant to alleviate stress” Stephen says. “Where other dogs might run away, Falkor stays close by. Currently, I’m training him so that he can alert me when people are close by. But that one’s a work in progress.”
But Falkor’s impact on Stephen’s far surpasses practical needs. Falkor’s biggest effect is emotional.
“I like when you’re walking around campus with a dog, and it’s like he has a softening effect on you. Suddenly, you’re known as the guy with the dog” Stephen muses. “And it’s a great sign for other veterans to see when they’re on campus. Falkor tells them they can hang out, that they’re welcome.”
As Vice President of the Veterans and Military Affiliated Gaels (VMAG), Stephen works to make sure that student veterans feel supported after they return to the rigors of school and civilian life. Their designated hang-out spot is the Veteran Resource Center (VRC) in Filippi Academic Hall, which opened a mere two weeks ago.
“Veterans aren’t usually the type to advocate for themselves” Stephen admits. “But it’s good for them to be surrounded by other vets, who can relate a lot better to what they’re going through than the typical college student.”
Veterans at SMC often face unique challenges that can’t always be answered by the school. “One of the guys who came in here, the admin told him he didn’t have to take another Jan Term course because he was in his fifth year, but the other vets were like ‘No, you have to take Jan Term to count as a full-time student and get your maximum benefits’.”
Stephen appreciates the school’s efforts to set up a space for veterans, but feels that the VRC is still in its infancy.
“Eventually, I want the VRC to be like the next IC [Intercultural Center],” Stephen says when pressed on what he wants the ultimate vision of the VRC to look like. “You know the IC started out as a club back in 2009. And eventually more people got involved and it became what it is today. I’d like to see the same thing happen to the VRC.”
For now, Stephen’s main objective is to spread awareness of the VRC and to bring in other students to help set up events.
“We’re welcome to anyone who is good at events or wants to help out, or spread the word to other students” Stephen says. “I was talking to one of the younger vets who comes in, and he says that everyone’s on Instagram now. Maybe we could make Falkor the face of the VRC Instagram” He adds with a laugh.
Artist Kari Marboe responds to artist William Keith; currently displayed at the Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art
By Kamryn Sobel
As of September 15th, a new exhibit is on full display at the Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art. This exhibit explores the artist Kari Marboe responding to the site-specific work of 20th century artist, William Keith.
The artwork presented at the museum explores questions of what has changed and what has stayed the same. Starting with the inspiration of Kari’s work, William Keith is known for creating large, majestic paintings of the American west. With these paintings, he helped advocate for the conservation of the land, as many people in the surrounding cities didn’t have access to these given landscapes. In an interview with the MOA manager, Britt Royer, she explains a particular painting of Mount Tamalpais that is currently on display: “Here, there is a very dramatic sky with the lighting and the mountains in the background. Approaching this painting once again gives us questions on what has changed and what has stayed the same.” Looking more closely, the Mill Valley Air Force Station was built on one of the mountains shown in the art piece, which physically changed its structure. Next to this painting are ceramic forms of Kari’s thought process on how to respond to what it would look like if the peak were to be restored.
In terms of Kari’s ceramic forms, her style as an artist is minimalistic and very interested in simple shapes and forms. She explores materiality, such as the brightness of the soil. Kari takes soil dirt samples of the earth or the places she explores and incorporates the material into the clay sculptures.
Another area that is currently on display is Conversations with Strangers at Stinson Beach. In this part of the exhibit, Kari interviews strangers on how this particular beach has changed for them since before the pandemic and now. Within these stranger inquiries, it explores how one place can have multiple meanings to different people. Subsequently, Kari says, “I went over to interview strangers about their experience in what had changed and what had stayed the same since they first visited. I gave each person a ceramic ring in exchange for their stories.” Below this text is a net of ceramic rings which describe the number of people and their experiences that they have had at Stinson Beach and how this landscape can bring a connection amongst its visitors. As for the ceramic ring art piece itself, the way in which it’s displayed represents the coastline alongside each narrative.
Unfortunately due to COVID, Kari’s original idea to explore Yosemite was no longer accessible. From this point, she restructured her narrative and began thinking about the aesthetic elements of the moon. In this section of the museum, another artist had sent Kari bowls which inspired the interest in the moon due to the shimmer of the glaze and how they showed a dark mysteriousness. To connect to the work she was creating, Kari contacted a professor to start this process of creating soil that is on the moon. With the seven ingredients she already had in her studio, she was able to replicate the soil for her artwork.
Kari also “remaps the boundaries of shifting fence lines surrounding Lake Lagunitas.” Throughout this part of the exhibit, she shows her fascination in how the fences reframe Lake Lagunitas and what it would be like to navigate in that space with the fence lines. In response, Kari created fence sculptures, as it speaks to the notion of what it would look like if it were to be restored. This portion of the display features an email correspondence between Kari and a mountain biker sharing photos of Lake Lagunitas.
Connecting to the Saint Mary’s community, towards the end of these displays is an area in which students can think about these larger questions and how it can be self-applied as students return to campus. With notecards and double-sided tape, students can draw a picture about how their relationship with the campus has changed or stayed the same.
To see more of the work on the Keith + Kari exhibit, head to the Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art. Available for viewing until December 12th.
Images Courtesy of Britt Royer, MOA Manager
Britney Spears continues to battle the conservatorship implemented by her father Jamie Spears.
By Annika Henthorn
After a grueling thirteen years of her father’s and many others’ dictatorship over her life, pop star Britney Spears has inched her way closer to freedom. The campaign to free Britney Spears from her conservatorship has begun to truly take shape this year with the advocacy of her dedicated fans. Not only has this issue been covered on a variety of media platforms, but even in the windows of De La Salle hall. The phrase “FREE BRITTANY” is plastered in pink duct tape across two windows facing campus, proving the tenacious and widespread support of her following.
Britney Spears claims her father, as well as others overseeing her conservatorship, have controlled and manipulated her life, disregarding her humanity in the process. Big life decisions like children, marriage, and even medication were all made for her. She was disallowed from having any more kids, from marrying, and from removing her IUD, all under a legal premise (Rolling Stone). Additionally, she was forced to take Lithium without consent (Rolling Stone). According to Rolling Stone, she has compared her experience in the conservatorship to sex trafficking, an inmate in their legal lockhold. This devastating analogy is a testament to the unthinkable horrors that Britney has faced over the past 13 years. Pop singers like Mariah Carey, Pink, and Christina Aguilera have all continued to show their support in the fight for her freedom.
It was recently announced that Jamie Spears, her father, will no longer be in charge of Britney Spears’s estate (CNN). This position has been bestowed upon CPA John Zabel as a temporary conservator of her estate (CNN). Matthew Rosengart, Brittany Spears’s attorney has revealed the “cruel, toxic” nature of her father, and how the movement to free Brittany has greatly contributed to their success thus far. According to CNN, Rosengart thinks “the support of the #FreeBritney movement has been instrumental. To the extent that it allowed my firm to carry the ball across the finish line, I thank them as well."
Not only has the #FreeBritney movement propelled Britney’s story, but also the documentary “Britney vs. Spears,” which Netflix aired on September 28. Erin
Lee Carr, the filmmaker, has revealed that his intentions were not to exploit the mental struggles she endured in 2008, but to “move the story forward” and center it around one of the biggest “legal mysteries of our time.” Too many times Britney was dragged through the media for people’s amusement. This documentary targets the enigma of her conservatorship and uncovers the disturbing truths that have been concealed for far too long.
The next update that is still being awaited is her trial on November 12th. This is to determine the status of her conservatorship and potentially a full extermination of it all together.
“Grindadrap”: The fight between tradition and animal rights
The Faroe Islands have caught the eyes of animal rights activists this year, as their whaling tradition hit record high numbers this month. This hunt, known as “grindadrap” or simply, “the grind,” involves surrounding a pod of pilot whales on boat and coaxing them into a fjord where they are killed on the beach. This year, in a one-day hunt, fishermen participating in the hunt killed nearly 1500 long-finned pilot whales.
This tradition dates back to 9th century Norse settlements in the area. The Faroes, now a territory of Denmark, have allowed this tradition to continue, adding regulations through the years such as who is permitted to partake in the hunt and when the whales may be killed. The whale was a staple in the Norse diet, as the meat could be distributed throughout settlements and the blubber could be used as oil or for medicinal purposes. The skin of the whales was used to make ropes and even the penis was dried and used to make shoes (Marine Hunters). The early Norse did not allow a single bit of the animal to go to waste, finding a use for the entire whale.
Since the 9th century, while the concept and methods of the hunt have remained the same, the tools have greatly advanced. Now, fishermen use modern boats and communication devices, allowing them to more efficiently maneuver and capture larger pods. The government now requires whales to be killed in a certain way, banning harpoons for not being humane. Instead, a rod is used to sever the spinal cord when a whale is beached, making for an instant death. Given the advances in technology, the numbers from the hunt constantly increase, this year being the largest one-day hunt in recorded history, dating back to 1584.
In the last century, the Faroe Islands have been split into whaling districts, and after each hunt, the meat is distributed equally amongst the households of the district. But no longer is the entire animal used, as people now mainly consume just the meat for food and use the blubber for oil. The tradition is still maintained to an extent, however, whale is no longer a staple for anything other than food now.
The battle between tradition and animal rights brings to mind the case of Spanish bullfighting. This long-standing tradition predates the grindadrap by two centuries, having roots in gladiator battles. Bullfights involve a picador or matador who confuse, taunt, and spear the animal in front of an arena. Some believe that these fights are a staple to the culture and thus must be kept, others argue that the practice is cruel to the animals. This has led to the ban of bullfighting in certain regions of Spain, while it is still practiced to this day in others.
Now, a key distinction must be made between bullfighting in Spain and whaling in the Faroe Islands. The whales killed in the grindadrap are killed humanely and are not taunted before their death, nor are they kept captive for long periods of time like animals in factory farms. Additionally, this is not a spectator event, as those on the shores are the very men who kill and butcher the animals.
The grindadrap to this day provides meat and resources to the people of the Faroe Islands, but due to the sheer volume of the latest hunts, has raised serious concerns as to the extent the fishermen may go in efforts to preserve tradition.
Melanie Moyer '22,