By Jenevieve Monroe
Saint Mary’s class of ‘24 McKenzie Minto takes on a new role as a dog agility judge. Minto is now a UKI Approved Judge, whose role is to score a dog and handler on their performance within a presented obstacle course. Part of the judge’s responsibility is to design the course that handlers and dogs will be tested on; these courses must be both appropriately challenging and safe for competitors. This includes mindfulness of tripping hazards, sharpness of obstacle turns, and momentum of the participants. Opportunities to utilize this skillset are just around the corner. “I was pleasantly surprised to have received a handful of invitations right away,” says Minto. One of these offers came from a tournament in North Carolina. “This is quite an honor considering that I have not yet established a reputation as a judge, so these invitations are purely based on my standing as a competitor.”
As a full-time student attending Saint Mary’s, Minto has learned to navigate life both on and off the course. She often competes on weekends, which means her free time is spent working diligently on school assignments and running through training exercises with her dog Safari. “Course designing also takes a decent amount of time,” says Minto. “I am sure to prioritize time for that and treat it as if it is a school assignment with a deadline.”
Minto is looking forward to embracing this new challenge of judging and growing alongside it as a handler, “I genuinely believe that being a judge will inform me as a competitor; it will help me understand dogs’ lines better, spot common off-course hazards, stay informed on course trends, and recognize the skills that get tested on specific layouts of obstacles.”
She admits that she is a bit nervous to be delving into something she's never done before, but Minto knows the agility community will be patient and supportive as she paves her new path. Ultimately, she is looking forward to seeing herself progress throughout the year and being able to reflect on a newly honed skill set.
Over the last decade of competing in dog agility, Minto has represented the United States at international events on six occasions and obtained podium placements at National level competitions. This coming May, she will be traveling to the Netherlands with her dog to represent Team USA at the World Agility Open.
One of the hardest parts of Minto's journey was obtaining a mentor judge who was willing to supervise her through her first trials, help her with course design, and answer all her questions. Since she is one of the youngest judges to be approved, it was important for her to find a mentor who was well experienced so that she could learn the best judging practices. According to Minto, “Agility is a rapidly evolving sport, and it is becoming increasingly important to handlers that judges are actively involved and in-tune with the changing trends.” Due to her previous accolades as a competitor, she was able to efficiently connect with someone for mentorship.
For anyone interested in following this career path, Minto advises “to have a deep understanding of the sport” and “compete for at least a few years before progressing into the role of a judge.” Saint Mary’s has aided her career in the agility world by establishing the Intercollegiate Dog Agility Club; Minto has expressed her appreciation for the college, saying “Saint Mary’s has been an enthusiastic trailblazer…[being] one of about 5 colleges across the country to have dog agility as a club sport.” She is grateful for the opportunity to represent our school and looks forward to her career ahead.
The latest developments in President Biden’s classified documents scandal.
(Image C/O New York Times)
By Jenevieve Monroe
Early November was a difficult month for President Biden, as several of his attorneys had discovered 10 classified documents at the Penn Biden Center in Washington. By late December, the president’s lawyers informed investigator John Lausch that more classified documents had been discovered in the garage of Biden’s Delaware home. These documents covered an array of foreign intelligence relations, including discourse on countries like Iran, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Although they were stashed during Biden’s term as Vice President, it is possible he will face accountability by the FBI in his current presidency.
President Biden’s inappropriate storage of classified information made headlines on January 9th. Americans have expressed mixed emotions on the topic; historically, Biden himself has publicly opposed the mishandling of documents. He expressed condemnation against former president Donald Trump during the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago investigation. When asked for his opinion on the issue in a 60 Minutes interview, President Biden said, “How that [misconduct] could possibly happen. How one– anyone could be that irresponsible… And I thought, ‘What data was in there that may compromise sources and methods?’ By that I mean names of people who helped or th — et cetera. And it's just — totally irresponsible” (New York Times, 2023).
Biden’s September statement has been viewed as hypocritical in light of the current investigation. As for former President Donald Trump, he is also in deep water with several failed appeals. On December 1st, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals removed several legal restrictions from Trump’s initial case and enabled the Department of Justice to move forward without litigation backpedaling the lawsuit. Critics of both Trump and Biden have questioned why those in executive power have neglected their responsibilities with respect to document handling.
A first hand account of Queen Elizabeth’s death, funeral, and the impact on the United Kingdom.
By Madison Sciba
On September 8th, 2022 the BBC announced to the world that the longest reigning British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away. The United Kingdom was thrust into a period of deep sadness and mourning, their beloved Queen ruling no more. Her funeral was held at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19th. Following the service, a procession carried her coffin from Westminster Abbey to Windsor Castle, her final resting place. Reports claim that over one million people lined the streets of central London the day of the Queen’s funeral to pay their respects. I had the great opportunity to be one of those one million people.
The funeral service at Westminster started at 11 am with the procession leaving the Abbey starting at noon. My friends and I took the London Underground (the tube), getting to the city center at 9:30am. The tube was jam packed with people just trying to get to the central stations and rushing to the road the procession would come down. After being told by an officer that Saint James’s Park along the route was at capacity, us and about a hundred other people were sent 2 miles through the city to Hyde Park. Once there, we were told that Hyde Park, where they had viewing screens up, was also at capacity. We were told to stand on either side of the road that ran parallel to the park, leaving us standing right behind the French embassy.
For hours we stood there shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world, all of us there to experience the historical event. I could barely see the road, relying on my 6ft friend to tell me what was going on. Sick of the crowd, one guy decided to climb a power control box, getting the best view of the road. “SHE'S COMING!” He screamed the second the hearse appeared in his sights. Around 1:40 pm, after standing in that crowd for almost 4 hours, I saw a few second glimpse of the Queen’s casket and the Imperial State Crown that rested on top.
Now, over a month later, the UK is still feeling the impact of the Queen’s death. Almost 2 months into his reign, King Charles III has already seen the resignation of a Prime Minister, rapidly growing inflation, the devaluation of the British pound, tension within the royal family, and a series of destructive protests. PM Liz Truss resigned after a record short 45 days in office after her economic reforms caused horrible problems for the British economy. One ongoing joke in the United Kingdom was a live stream that was set up featuring a head of lettuce in a blonde wig, mocking Truss. The goal of the live stream was to see which would last longer, Truss or the head of lettuce in a wig. Funnily enough, the lettuce had a longer shelf life than the former prime minister.
Now that we are starting to see an ease of COVID precautions and worries, Saint Mary’s study abroad program is back, and I am one of 4 students currently studying at Queen Mary University of London and there are many other SMC students studying at other universities all over the world. Studying abroad has given me the opportunity to live through these historical events as they are unfolding. Living in Britain at the very beginning of the reign of a new monarch is an incredible experience, British monarchs play such an important role in not just the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, but also in the world. Queen Elizabeth II, who ruled for 70 years, was a leading figure on the world stage and it is a great opportunity that I have to see King Charles III step into the role of king and try to live up to his mother’s legacy.
With Saint Mary’s upcoming Fall production right around the corner, I sat down with senior Xavier Romero to find out more about the production and what sets it apart from performances in years past.
By Ryan Ford
What is your name, major, and graduating year?
“My name is Xavier Romero (He/Him). I am a Theatre and Performance Major and a Sociology Minor, and I will be graduating this coming spring in 2023.”
What is the Fall production called, and what is it about?
“The Fall production this year is called The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht and is translated into English by none other than our director for the show, Domenique Lozano. In essence, the play is about a young girl who finds a child during war times. She is forced to take care of this child, which already possesses great difficulty on its own, but she runs into so many different problems throughout the play. She encounters many different evil characters and even when she meets decent people, no one will help her through the journey. This young girl is forced to persevere throughout this journey and save this child from the evils of the world during the war.”
How does this production differ from previous Saint Mary's productions you have been involved in?
“This production greatly differs from other productions that I have been in because I am actually playing the antagonist for the first time in my acting career. And not just the kind of forgivable antagonist that we can feel for, one of my characters is just an evil and cruel guy. I am also playing music within this production in addition to my acting, which has posed difficulties for me in trying to balance everything out. But it has actually been pretty refreshing playing guitar in front of a crowd again. I haven't performed guitar in front of a crowd since 2017, when I helped perform The White Album by The Beatles at the Crest Theatre at Sacramento Preparatory, Music Academy. On top of those aspects, this play is different in every way. It does have comedic moments, but there is always this sense of somberness in the air and doom and gloom, so the vibe is very different from what I have worked on in the past.”
What roles and characters do you play in this production? How would you describe those characters within the context of the show?
“I play multiple roles, but the most prominent ones are as The Corporal and The Fat Prince. Both of the characters are antagonists in the show, and their actions are what lead the play into the events that really put the play into motion, specifically The Fat Prince. As I see him, The Fat Prince represents a man whose main goal has always been about gaining and maintaining power. He always wants more and more, regardless of how many people get killed and how many people suffer, and his power is what leads him to evil. The Corporal is a different type of evil, he is an army man who represents everything evil about war and the atrocities that are committed. He has no regard for human life and he loves hurting people.”
What has it been like preparing and rehearsing for this show?
“The rehearsals have been rough because there are so many moving parts in the play, every single cast member is playing multiple characters, singing, and constantly moving things on and off stage. Preparing has been a lot of work because this play is taking a lot of time out of our days. It can be hard to balance school, life, social life, work life, and on top of it all contributing nearly 24 hours a week to the rehearsal process. But we all do this because every cast member deeply cares about theatre and would actually contribute more time to theatre if possible. It just goes to show how dedicated the entire cast is.”
Who is the director of the show, and what is it like working with them?
“Domenique Lozano is a very different director to work with. She is very clear on the kind of vision she wants and is not afraid to keep her vision clear. At the same time, she has been very open about cast members' opinions on props and placement of material on stage. She also gives the actors leeway to make the character they have whatever we want it to be. [Domenique] gives us the imagination and freedom of exploring our characters.”
If you had to pick one reason for why Saint Mary's students should go see The Caucasian Chalk Circle, what would you say?
“I think it tells a story that students will be left questioning long after the play is over, not to mention it is a very gripping story where goodness triumphs against evil. I feel it is what people need during these negative times we are living in.”
When are your performances?
“Our performances will take place between November 3-6: November 3 at 8PM, November 4 at 6PM, two shows on November 5 at 2PM and 8PM, and November 6 at 2PM.”
For tickets and more information: https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/Caucasian-Chalk-Circle
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.”
Student groups encourage political engagement on campus and aim to hold school administration accountable.
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
Over the past eight months, Saint Mary’s has seen numerous displays of student activism and political engagement. As a school, we witnessed climate change demonstrations, theater performances, student speeches at open mics, opinions aired on KSMC, campaigns to encourage voter registration, students tabling for their political beliefs, and posters and flyers criticizing school administration and advocating for causes. For many, protests and activism are integral parts of the college experience.
Senior Politics major Grace Clinton has been involved with the group Climate Action SMC, since its inception at the beginning of this school year. She describes the group as a campus climate activism group focused on bringing about sustainable change at Saint Mary’s, and says that during their first year in existence they have focused their efforts on urging Saint Mary’s to divest their shares in fossil fuels.
Sophomore History major Thomas Weldele, also involved with the group Climate Action SMC, describes some of the events the group planned and carried out this school year. He says that the efforts of the group can be seen in the divestment proposal they prepared for President Richard Plumb and the Board of Trustees, the divestment petition that they made and distributed, as well as the events they planned.
Some of these events, like the Climate Action Theater event that took place last semester, were authorized events organized through cooperation with several different groups on campus. Others like the divestment day protest that took place on February 17th and included large banners strung across buildings on campus, were more of a grassroots student effort.
Weldele says that student activism is important because it is critical in order to make change.
“Students have a frontline view of what needs to be changed on campus and have the motivation to keep at it, even when things do not seem like they are going quickly,” Weldele said.
Clinton expressed a similar view saying that student activism is important at SMC because it has the potential to bring about long-lasting change. She notes that some spots on campus that make Saint Mary’s the inclusive and progressive college we enjoy today, like the Intercultural Center and the Center for Women and Gender Equity, were created in part by student activism.
Although student activism has been very influential in the history and climate of the college, it has not been without pushback or difficulty. Clinton says that this year her group has faced an unfortunate lack of response from the administration.
“Whether they are taking two months to respond to emails, canceling on us multiple times in a row, or giving us long-winded patronizing lectures, it does not seem like our initiatives are being taken seriously,” Clinton says. “This has been slightly disheartening given the grave and time-sensitive nature of the climate crisis. Our demands have not been unreasonable, yet the administration seems adamant about running out the clock on us.”
Other recent displays of student activism have been in the form of the Instagram page @SMCSurvivors, which describes itself as an anonymous group of Saint Mary’s students who are survivors of sexual assault. Over the past three days, the group has hung signs reading messages like “SMC PROTECTS RAPISTS”, “BELIEVE SURVIVORS”, and “DO BETTER”, and posted anonymous student testimonials of sexual assault and harassment taking place at SMC.
The group has got the attention of Vice Provost Anthony Garrison who emailed the SMC community saying “As the Title IX Coordinator, I want to thank our students for holding us accountable and take this opportunity to share updates on what we are doing to build a culture rooted in respect for each other and reaffirm our commitment to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual misconduct.”
Clinton says that this Instagram page and the conversations it is instigating on campus are true examples of student activism.
“Right now we are seeing student activism in action with the important work being done by the anonymous group SMC Survivors who are working to bring attention to Saint Mary's pernicious and pervasive assault culture,” Clinton said.
We at The Collegian, view our work as a form of activism and hope that our articles covering school events and policies, and investigating issues in our community, help keep students engaged and informed on matters that affect them. We encourage all members of the Saint Mary’s community to come to us with any and all stories they think should be covered or investigated by The Collegian.
Can Plumb hold his title, or will there be a new king in town?
By Vinny Paz
The upcoming Inauguration of President Plumb as 30th president of the college is a historic occasion. Why should students be interested in attending? Besides the complimentary snacks, there will be a spectacle to behold before the reception. As per Saint Mary’s tradition, the role of President can be challenged via trial by combat before the elected president is sworn in.
Rules of the bout:
The chapel lawn will serve as the venue for the bout. Duels will be started with the ringing of the Chapels bell. The fight is a no holds barred ordeal. The duel ends when a brother throws in a towel, or a contestant yells “Gael!”
Students may see President Plumb around campus this week preparing to defend his title. There have already been some verified student sightings of his training exercises. A pub employee claims that Plumb comes in at 5am every day, ordering a pint of raw eggs. The pub is considering putting this on tap. He’s been spotted running up to the tree of life with Brother Camillus on his back. Several seminar students have seen Plumb hop into their windows on the third floor, say, “G’day,” and let himself out through the door. Rumor has it that Plumb has also been sparring with Floyd Mayweather to sharpen his jab.
Word of the opportunity to seize the throne has spread far and wide. Gonzaga’s head basketball coach Mark wanted to give the position a shot, but is stuck in Spokane after he blew a BAC too high to start his car. Amateur fighters from around the world have flown in to Moraga for the opportunity to compete for the title. Some boxing legends including Rocky Balboa and Clubber Lang have voiced their interest as well.
Will Plumb’s egg smoothies and eccentric training pay off? What might happen to the curriculum if former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson steals the title?
Aristotle would be proud!
By Riley Mulcahy
Cold Case Detective
In a shocking turn of events, it has been revealed that a Saint Mary’s College professor in the Philosophy department indeed is the Zodiac Killer. “We didn’t see any red flags, the professor seemed to be level-headed, but he sometimes strayed from our Lasallian values. I mean can anyone be certain that your roommate is not a killer?” an unnamed source from the SMC administration asks.
Given the fact all of this is so new, no one would go on the record, but there are people taking bets on who the professor is. “I heard that it is a raccoon disguised as a professor,” one student said outside of Cafe Louis. If the professor is a raccoon, that would have severe ramifications for the students. For one, where do raccoons go to prison? How can anyone know what those think and why one would kill anyone? The Philosophy department, which is small but mighty, would not stoop so low as to hire raccoons as professors. Or would they?
At the time of the writing of this article, no arrests have been made in the case, leading to more suspicion that it indeed was a raccoon. The professor is out on bail until they can question him and look more into the raccoon theory. The Zodiac Killer was believed to be dead for years. However, we have been living with a killer amongst us for so long, and we never even realized his trick of cryptograms and ciphers until one day, another unnamed student saw someone walking suspiciously to class, and when the cops came, they saw the killer in the bushes near Becket Hall.
For the SMC community: if we don’t stay prepared, there can be a killer in our sights at any time. Read philosophical texts with a vengeance!
(Image Courtesy Vox)
Madison Sciba '24,