I always look forward to the holidays to catch up with family. Whenever we get together my sister, Ava, always has center stage due to her line of work. We hear of the day to day stories of a rehabilitation specialist working for Community Connections in Washington D.C. Some of the most memorable include a story of a client eating a lightbulb and a former addict mending the relationship with her estranged children.
I am proud to call her my sister because I know how much she helps and cares for the people she works with. With social isolation practiced all over the world, I thought about those who do not have the privilege of having a roof over their heads. Remembering that the people my sister works with are high risk, I asked how her job is different due to the pandemic and how some of her homeless clients were coping.
L: What did your job look like before the pandemic?
A: I have 10 cases I work with regularly. They are high risk populations that have a mental health diagnosis –for example a lot of my clients have schizophrenia. The people I work with are involved in high risk behaviors like substance abuse, homelessness or poverty.
I support them by keeping their lives on track. I provide my clients with medication management, setting up job interviews, getting to doctor appointments, making sure they have enough food, keep in touch with their families, really anything you think of I probably help with that too.
L: How does your job look different during this time?
A: It has been very difficult and crazy. It is difficult because I am not allowed to see them. I usually take clients to their appointments and now we aren’t allowed to do home visits unless absolutely necessary. However, that is a big part of my job, making sure that their house is safe and well maintained. Now the only thing we can do is assist over the phone and deliver food.
L: Why is your role so important to your cases?
A: My role is even more important now; people who are the most vulnerable to the disease have nothing to do and boredom can lead to bad things. Because we are not able to check up on them, a lot more people are apt to use illegal drugs, and they do not feel like they need their medication, so they do not take it.
L: Why would someone you work with be having a hard time during this pandemic?
A: They don’t have the support systems that everyday people have. Unless I see them, they are usually by themselves.
L: What does this time look like for someone who is homeless?
A: There are two types of homelessness, shelter and street homelessness. The people on the street cannot get off these streets. A few of them do not even understand what is going on because they are not educated on the topic. Now they just sit in the streets and are vectors for the disease.
For shelters, they are normally open from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. but now they are keeping them open all day. Out of this rises a problem because you cannot be a new person in a shelter right now. Meaning people are not leaving to allow newcomers to have a shelter for the night. These folks are just so vulnerable.
L: What can the average person do even though we are stuck at home?
A: Donate, donate, DONATE! Donate food to your local food banks, donate to organizations and donate old clothes from cleaning out closets. Also, stay home! Some people do not have the privilege to stay off the streets, so we need to stay home to keep them safe.
If you would like to donate, click this link here: https://www.communityconnectionsdc.org/about-us/help
I am a relatively relaxed fellow in life, taking time to read and write poetry and listen to music between my studies. But this pandemic has me on edge, like it does a lot of my friends. So I decided to try something new. I asked myself, could meditation do what everyone says it can?
What can you turn to when you’re anxious, depressed and bored with lack of motivation? It’s difficult to be in the moment when your mind is in a state of panic, absorbed by worries and grief. So I wanted to think about the silver lining. We are in a position to turn inward and reflect on ourselves. I have never done meditation and yoga. I asked my friend Erin Nickerson, a yoga instructor who has experience practicing meditation, to virtually walk me through the steps. Erin and I met on Facetime and discussed how to deal with anxiety. She told me how doing meditation has liberated her from stress in the past.
In talking to her I learned that practicing routines like breathing and consciously moving allows emotions to move. “Whatever those emotions are, being in your body and moving and practicing yoga allows those emotions to flow through the body,” Nickerson said. “There are so many tools like breath work [that] can really relax that nervous system and bring you down to the present moment. It can really be nurturing for the nervous system.”
Our first session was about 10 minutes. While talking on Zoom, Nickerson asked me to find a comfortable place to sit. I chose to sit against a wall. She had me close my eyes and relax. We began by practicing muscle breathing. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. I was stressed out and anxious from all the external emotions. Simultaneously, there was a sense of uneasiness, my heart was racing as a result of the anxiety of being alone on campus and lack of moving. Thus, emotionally, I needed to breathe and release the tensions I carried. We practiced holding breath and letting it out. Also we did alternate nostril breathing where you use your thumb to close your right nostril, inhale through your left nostril. I did feel the effect of these forms of meditation; they lowered my anxiety and decreased my heart rate.
What made this first experience more helpful was practicing with somebody who not only guides you but becomes a human presence that relieves your loneliness and anxiety.
Our second session was about 15 minutes and we did breath awareness and body movement. Erin guided me to observe the rhythm of my breathing like slowly watching my breath and focusing on how my chest and belly felt, and allowing myself to feel grounded. Being in the moment means not thinking about negative experiences and getting out of your mind.
We continued with yoga which we started with standing arms swings. To do this I had to relax my arms while swinging side to side. Another yoga stretch was repeatedly taking my arms to the side and sweeping them up while inhaling and exhaling as my arms slowly glided back down to my sides. After we finished, I could feel my body relaxed, there was no tension or nervousness, and my mind was clear because all the thoughts and fear were reduced. I think focusing my attention on my arms while breathing stopped the cycle of self-rumination which is one of my problems.
Thinking about doing meditation alone? Follow these four tips.
Use resources. There are many ways to find resources on how to meditate alone. For example, these resources can be found on youtube. Bergeon wellness center can also offer these resources, there are online yoga classes for students until July 1.
Seek guidance. If you’re new to meditation it would be helpful to have some kind of guidance. “Having guidance and a network of support would be very beneficial especially during these times,” said Nickerson, who herself offers monthly memberships. (http://goodvibetribe.teachable.com?affcode=157895_f1c72ue3)
Commit to sit. For people who want to practice completely alone, commitment is important. “Even one to five minutes a day of setting time to sit by yourself is helpful”, Nickerson said. Finding a comfortable area in which to sit is especially beneficial.
“Bring items that are meaningful to you to place in this one designated area,” Nickerson said. “Come to this area everyday even if it’s just one minute, and sit, closing eyes and just check in with yourself. It’s a practice of self-inquiry, checking in with yourself physically. How do you feel? Do you have tensions in the body? Are your thoughts running like crazy? Am I sad today? Am I really tired today? Do I feel awesome today? Just a quick scan for a minute even.”
Experiment. Journaling, singing, and dancing are all forms of meditation, Nickerson said, describing them as a flow state where you connect with the present moment in your body.
Emma Merritt, 23, walks into her daily shift at the emergency department at the Berkshire Medical Complex in Pittsfield, Mass. Monitors beep as patients fill every room, while still more people wait to be seen. More and more patients around Merritt’s age, older and even younger, are finding themselves in the hospital. They struggle to breathe without the assistance of a ventilator. Even though attempts to keep COVID positive patients in air tight rooms have been made, the growing numbers of positive patients have left nurses like Merritt no choice but to use regular rooms to house these sick patients.
“In recent weeks, it’s been incredibly stressful. Supplies are low and there are new travelers [travel nurses for travel assignments that were hired as extra staff during the COVID crisis] in the hospital that aren’t used to the way we do things here. This new disease and these new faces make us feel like strangers in our own department,” said Merritt, a registered nurse.
While we all stay at home safe from potential exposure to COVID19, our nurses and doctors risk exposure everyday walking through those hospital doors. They work around the clock on the frontlines of this pandemic to care for not only those of us that have contracted COVID19, but the everyday patients that need to be in the hospital for other illnesses.
“Working in the hospital during this pandemic has been nerve wracking and scary. We all leave our families everyday knowing there is a chance regardless of how much PPE [personal protective equipment] we have on, that we could contract the virus and ultimately bring it home to our families” said Caroline Whitman, a Unit Assistant in the ED at Berkshire Medical Complex, as well as my cousin. “Thankfully now my hospital has begun providing us with hospital scrubs so my coworkers and I can change out of them and into our normal clothes before leaving work. Besides making sure all my things from work were cleaned, I have been disinfecting at least four4 times a week around my house.”
“We still have regular people come in, such as overdoses, trauma, and psych consultations, on top of a virus that we really know nothing about,” Merritt said through a phone interview. When these nurses come in for a shift, they risk exposing themselves to COVID positive patients, but they also risk the chance of exposing other patients to the virus.
To minimize the risk, the staff take extra precautions. “We are required to always have a mask and goggles on at all times. Going into a patient’s room suspected of COVID19, we need to use n95 masks. Wash your hands, not to touch anything, wear different gloves, just always be conscious of your surroundings,” said Merritt. Because there are too few masks, they need to reuse them rather than change masks between patients. “We get one at the beginning of a shift and need to have that one for the entire shift.” Not only do these nurses and doctors have to worry about exposing themselves and other patients, but their families they go home to at the end of a long shift.
“Another thing that keeps me going even when I’m tired or scared is remembering that my patients I help treat are also scared”
Caroline Whitman, ED Unit Assistant at Berkshire Medical Complex
When she treats patients, COVID positive or otherwise, Whitman said she follows every possible safety protocol to keep patients safe. “To be quite honest I don’t necessarily think about it. At this point in the pandemic we treat everyone as if they have the virus,” said Whitman. “We don’t allow ourselves to possibly expose another patient; washing hands and changing scrubs when needed, making sure possible COVID rooms are deep cleaned and UV ray treated.”
Being on the frontlines doesn’t allow much time to worry about oneself when taking care of others. Each nurse and doctor knows they can contract the virus, but try to keep fear at bay.
“I definitely have my concerns and worry being on the frontlines. But I always try to remind myself that not only can I catch it at work, but I could also catch it out in the community,” said Whitman. “Another thing that keeps me going even when I’m tired or scared is remembering that my patients I help treat are also scared, especially now that most hospitals aren’t allowing visitors. They need us even more. I try my best to be a backup family member to my patients and treat them like I would my own.”
Emma Merritt says the fear of the virus didn’t really hit her until more and more patients came into the ED. “I’m seeing people my age come in with it and I think ‘Oh my god’. I live with my parents so I could expose them to it. Thankfully we are able to take care of our scrubs at work and not have to worry about bringing them home.”
As for the actual count of COVID positive patients, there isn’t an exact number. “We never know if a person is truly COVID positive until about 5-7 days after we have tested them. The doctors and nurses at our hospital and within the Emergency Department are pretty good at determining if someone is going to test positive,” Whitman said. “I have been in direct contact with about 10, and those are the ones that I have been screened for. I’m sure there are more to come.”
Currently there is no known vaccine or cure for COVID19, however, many are working hard to develop a vaccine, or at least a solid treatment to combat the virus. Jenna Hamilton, also my cousin and a staff member in the manufacturing department at Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing in Lee, Mass., is doing just that. “We have the most physical contact with the product and are responsible for filling vials, syringes, and cartridges (depending on what the client wants). We receive product from the client and formulate it into a liquid form using pre-sterilized utensils and materials” said Hamilton. This product can come in powdered form, but cannot be explained further as Hamilton is under contract and cannot breach specific information.
When COVID19 made its debut in the U.S., those at Berkshire Sterile were eager to join the fight against the virus. “Work has certainly been very busy ever since COVID-19 has affected the world. “When clients came forward with plans to aid people who are affected (or could be) with Coronavirus, the president of our company decided to start doing the COVID-19 fills on the weekends (when we are normally closed). Staff from several different departments have been working longer or extra hours because of it, but are happy to help and are excited to be a part of these developments.”
While departments are working on developments, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no miracle cure, Hamilton said. “Some people envision that we have a miracle COVID-19 vaccine (only in a perfect world). I always try to explain to people that it’s important to know what Coronavirus targets in the body,” Hamilton explained, noting that the lungs are particularly vulnerable to this virus. “Pharmaceutical companies are developing products to help strengthen those parts of the body to combat this virus. These products are mainly to boost the immune system and/or support lung health.
“I’m very lucky to work in a clean room during this time, it’s probably one of the safest places to be!” Hamilton said, explaining that the environment for developing these products requires sterile environments that are cleaned daily. “There are several barriers before getting into the clean room and they are constantly being cleaned across shifts,” Hamilton said. “Staff have full gowning too, of course. We have been using social distancing and not letting rooms get too crowded. A lot more people who are able to work from home are doing so. We also keep Lysol and hand sanitizer on deck!”
While we grow tired of the same four walls, our nurses and doctors work around the clock on the frontlines to help us see a day outside of quarantine. Manufacturers such as Jenna Hamilton may be more behind the scenes, but they are tirelessly working on breakthrough treatments, so that COVID19 can no longer be such a threat.
They have a few words of advice for those that don’t think this virus is something to take seriously. “It’s frustrating because the reason that we are short on masks and having to have all these extra travelers is because these young people won’t stay away from each other,” said Merritt. “It can be up to two weeks from when you get exposed and when you start showing symptoms. We could expose 20-50 people and not even know! Just because you feel healthy doesn’t mean there isn’t something inside you.”
Caroline Whitman pleads for people to just stay home. She understands it’s no fun being stuck inside, but the more we limit the chance of the virus spreading, the sooner we can end quarantine and she can see fewer patients in the hospital.
“STAY HOME! Regardless of if you are asymptomatic you could be a carrier of the virus.Those around you who may have compromised immune systems will not be okay,” said Whitman. “My coworkers and I go to work every day to help fight this virus so that you and your family are safe. Stay home for us!”
Social distancing and self-quarantining in a global pandemic can be a lonely and anxious time for students. Without the ability to have face-to-face counseling during this time, students are instead getting teletherapy via phone or video. Teletherapy is nothing to be scared or worried about, said personal counselor Sarah Klionsky. “I ask students each time we talk how they like this tele-counseling and most really like it,” Klionsky said. “It is counseling without having to leave your room!”
Teletherapy allows students to have more choice in how long they meet with counselors and whether they prefer phone or video calls depending on their comfort level. “I am just so glad that I’ve been able to keep one part of my SMC routine going while being home,” said Alexandra Knight ‘22.
“We can be with students to support them through this time of physical distancing, whether they are on campus or off campus with their families,” Klionsky said. “We get to meet students’ pets and support animals. We can meet for 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes or for a 45-minute session. We can do meditation and relaxation exercises over phone or video.” But there are limitations to the format, Klionsky said. “We can’t get you tea or water, give you access to our office, have the box of fidget toys, or offer tissues.” The tele-health platform is called Doxy-me and it is easy to use HIPAA compliant telehealth.
“Students need to have something in this time to smile about, laugh about, and to find the joy in even while being quarantined in your own house,” said psychology professor, Melissa McDuffie, who wants to remind students about the importance of structure, routine, and having a sense of humor. She expressed the importance of reaching out to Bergeron and using their resources if you’re struggling during this difficult time. There are several helpful links and information on mindfulness, yoga, relaxation, scholarly articles, and more on Bergeron’s resources web page.
“We will be here for you, regardless of what is happening with COVID-19 and we will work with each of you individually to help you continue services with us, connect with us now, or to help you to connect to local providers,” Klionsky said.
Bergeron Wellness Center offers several virtual classes including Radical Relaxation, Yoga for all Levels, and Mental Skills Training: Managing Stress, said Director of Counseling Kathy Butts. The details for these classes are on Bergeron’s Instagram page and it is super easy to join by clicking the Zoom link on the page’s bio.
“Bergeron Counseling has created an Instagram account to stay connected with our students, colleagues, and friends,” said counseling intern Tessa Boltz. “We offer tips, tools, and inspiration for meditation and stress management, as well as spread the word about SMC sponsored events like weekly yoga and mental skills training. We at @bergeroncounseling already have 123 followers, join us!”
Feeling challenged by anxiety or loneliness or other aspects of your mental health? Set-up an appointment by calling Bergeron Wellness at the office at 802-654-2234, even if it’s your first-time contacting Bergeron. The Center has also posted resources on their website and Instagram page @bergeroncounseling.
On Wednesday, April 15, The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) announced that it would be terminating its Developmental Academy, its main tool for scouting and growing youth talent across the country for more than a decade. The USSF cited the financial consequences of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as the reason for dissolving the academy; it could have cost upwards of $12 million to fund the program during 2021.
The termination of the academy may not entirely be a bad thing for the future of US Soccer. The idea behind the program made sense–replicate the template that the top leagues in Europe use for their youth competitions. However, the idea did not generate the results that may have been expected. Executives felt that the level of competition was not as high as it should have been and that more international games needed to be played in order to test the talent against stronger teams. The quality of competition may not have been at its peak because teams affiliated with the MLS –– America’s premier soccer league –– were being favored to be placed in the top tier of the academy’s system. Even after winning against MLS teams and proving to be formidable opponents, non-MLS clubs were placed in the lower tiers of the system. This prompted many non-MLS teams to leave the DA and join other youth leagues.
The DA had a rule that players in the academy could not play for their high school teams. Eric Wynalda, a former US national team player, said that the academy games felt “manufactured” and that they lacked the emotion that high school games had. In any sport, no matter how many scenarios you practice, no matter how many times, you can’t recreate the pressure and atmosphere of a real game. If the academy matches felt more like scrimmages and exhibitions than high-stakes games it is no surprise that the USSF was not seeing the results it wanted from the DA.
Regardless of the flaws of the academy, this can be a crucial turning point for the USSF if handled correctly. Nobody has the answers for how to optimize the youth development system of US soccer but a huge nationwide league like the DA is evidently not the solution. No matter what route the USSF decides to take in terms of its youth system, what matters is that it invests in its young players.
The Women’s National team has enjoyed great success recently, winning the last two World Cups. Even after manager Jill Ellis stepped down, the team does not look to be slowing down anytime soon and will aim to win its third consecutive title in 2023. The Women’s team has experienced a golden generation, but young stars like Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh, and Tierna Davidson seem ready to continue the rich legacy that their predecessors will leave behind.
The real concern is the Men’s National team who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, an embarrassing blow for US soccer. However, the team is brimming with young talent, with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKinnie, Tyler Adams, Sergino Dest, and Josh Sargent showing promise. The Men’s team has started building a squad that is focused on youth, similar to what other national teams such as England have been doing. But if the United States believes that a young team can secure their spot in the 2022 World Cup, then they have to put effort into the development of young players.
With the strength of other teams around the world, nobody should expect the team to challenge for the World Cup title just yet. The foundations for a good team are there, but it still needs a few more pieces to compete against the very best. If the Federation can create a functioning developmental network, the team could foster an identity, something that it seems to never really have had. The United States does not have a signature style of play, at least not a consistent one. Creating a rich American soccer culture and a viable youth system now could mean unprecedented success in the future.
Ben Soulard ‘23 is a sociology major from Essex, Mass. who enjoys watching and playing soccer.
March 7, 2020, one of the most hated days in NCAA history, marks the day that spring sport athletes all over the country were informed that an entire season was being ripped away from them. College seniors were left to mourn the loss of their beloved college careers and coaches were left questioning how to go about doing their jobs. After processing the fact that I, a member of the women’s lacrosse team, am being deprived of my favorite aspect of St. Mike’s, I wondered how my first year coach, along with other spring sport coaches, are going to do their jobs. How were they going to prepare athletes for upcoming seasons? How are they keeping their teams connected and in touch? How are they going to recruit?
Since leaving the St. Michael’s campus on March 13 my lacrosse coach has hosted weekly zoom meetings and kept us all conversing through Groupme. We were given workouts to do and films to watch. Were other teams doing the same?
To answer my question I set out to talk with the other spring sports. “‘The entire staff interacts with the athletes throughout the week,” said softball coach Nicolas Goodreau, who wants to ensure that his athletes are doing well physically and mentally. “We have weekly Zooms with our mindset coach, our strength and conditioning coach, and myself,” Goodreau said. During this time Goodreau finds himself “upping the social media campaign” through posting workout videos designed by the strength and conditioning coach for athletes, families, and fans to follow.
Men’s lacrosse coach, Alexander Smith, also Zooms throughout the week to keep in touch with his team. Smith has a Canvas page set up to provide some structure to his coaching. There his athletes review film and post wall ball challenges. “We make an effort to communicate through our Canvas page and have our athletes meet as a whole team, as well as smaller groups, to keep in touch with each other during this time.”
A major responsibility of coaches is to recruit student athletes. Saint Michael’s heavily relies on the coaches of the college’s 21 sports teams to help fill their classes. How are coaches supposed to fill the class of 2025 if they are unable to go out, watch games and tournaments, and recruit from high schools?
My women’s lacrosse coach Quinn Rose said she finds herself referencing old game footage during this time. “Whether there will be summer recruiting tournaments is up in the air, all I have right now to pull from is game footage,” says Rose.
Coach Smith said he finds himself running into the same issues. “Not only can I not recruit on a larger national scale as I would like to, but even recruiting athletes locally is now a challenge I didn’t think I would have to face,” Smith said. Both Smith and Goodreau are hopeful they will be able to host fall prospect days in order to view some of the class of 2025’s talent.
While these coaches have a future of college athletes to look forward to, senior student athletes only have past seasons to reflect upon. “Having your senior season cancelled hits hard. Iit’s something you look forward to your whole college career,” said Julia Sevigny ‘20, an outfielder for the softball team. Sevigny is devastated by the loss of her season but cannot wait to see the places her team goes in the upcoming years.
“This season was something I dreamed of when I was young and what I looked forward to all of my four years, and it vanished,” said Katrina Pietz ‘20, midfielder for the lacrosse team.
For both athletes it’s the time cut short with their teammates that hurt the most the most. “My teammates and coaches are people I have formed incredible relationships with, but I know that will live on forever, no matter where we end up,” Pietz said.
I flew back home to Naples, Fla. on March 14 and upon opening my front door, I was greeted by one of my two dogs. It did not take long to notice Sully, my six year old Maltese, had acquired a new friend –a stuffed crab. Sully apparently found his new best friend in my family’s move somewhere along the way from Boston, Mass. to Naples, Fla.
As the days turn into weeks, I have observed just how attached Sully is to this random object. His behavior is such a surprise because as a puppy, he was never attached to toys. My family would buy him a new toy occasionally but within a week, they would disappear. He would take them outside and hide them somewhere in the seven acres of woods behind my old home, and eventually forget about them. You knew it was finally springtime when toys would slowly pop up from beneath the melting New England snow.
No one particularly knows how Sully’s stuffed crab came into our lives or why he became so attached. Moving across the country is a big change for such a small dog. Like COVID-19, the red crab showed up at our doorstep and now it is everywhere Sully goes.
Watching Sully hang with his new best friend has given me the chance to reflect on who our support systems might be during this uncertain time filled with big changes. Just as Sully counted on Mr. Crab for comfort during the move, we all began to lean on each other for support. With all of this “forced” free time there’s a greater chance of loneliness and that can be debilitating.
My best friend from high school, Tzippa Marchette, 22, told me about her experience quarantining in Boston.
“The loneliness and staying inside all day is exacerbating my sadness. I can keep myself occupied if I go out, be with friends, go to work or drive places that I really like. Now that all those things have been taken away, it’s been really difficult. It’s getting to the point where I can’t even get out of bed.”
Hearing Tzippa made me realize that now that we aren’t distracted by our everyday lives, there are so many things we take for granted –like the relationships and friendships we have. There are people I used to see in my everyday life that I don’t anymore, and it feels like there’s a large part of me missing. But then I remember my “Mr. Crabs.” These are the people that support me in times of uncertainty. My friends Charlie and Izzy never forget to see how I am really doing, my cousin Jennie’s quirky antics during our video calls remind me how good it will feel to laugh together in person once again and my mother and sister support me through my anxiety.
In this unnerving, upsetting and anxiety-provoking time it is okay to feel any sort of emotion. Watching Sully carry around Mr. Crab, reminds me to tell the people I lean on that I’m thinking of them.
When Haina Chen needs to take the subway to go to school, people often put their hands over their mouths and noses when they see her or choose to leave after she sits in a nearby seat. Chen a Chinese international student who studies in Spain, said she had seen discrimination increase in recent months since the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan, China. That was before Spain’s cases spiked and the country went into a lockdown. “A serious incident occurred when I was walking down the street with my roommate (also Chinese), and two people who did not sound like native speakers shouted ‘coronavirus’ directly at me and my roommate.” Haina Chen also said that she once took the subway alone. The man on Haina Chen’s right covered his nose and mouth when he saw her. Haina Chen did not respond to him, and then the man and the person sitting on the left of Haina Chen began to talk about her in a language that Haina Chen could not understand. Haina Chen said that she could clearly hear ‘coronavirus’ several times, and their laughter was very obvious. Later, as they were about to get off the bus, they got up and sang “coronavirus” to a melody.
So far, the total number of COVID-19 cases in China are about 82,000 according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Map. As the outbreak was contained in China, outbreaks began in other countries, such as Italy, South Korea, the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. In Spain, the cases are now above 135,000. Many Chinese students studying abroad suffer discrimination. In the United States, the president read from a press briefing where the word “COVID-19” was crossed out and the words “Chinese virus” had been written in.
“This is due to cultural differences, some people’s ignorance and misreporting of information in the media,” said Yuxin Yang. “I think you have to fight back if you are discriminated against.” Yuxin Yang, who studies in Syracuse University, said she has not experienced discrimination but she read a lot from media which said that Chinese international students experienced discrimination in the U.S and other Western countries.
Yifan Yu, who studies in University of Minnesota Twin Cities, said when she took a taxi, the driver wouldn’t let her in until she took off the mask she was wearing.
“When I saw the act of covering my nose and mouth I started to feel a little bit shocked, and I was thinking discrimination in this age is not okay,” said Haina Chen. “However, after seeing more, I got used to it. I would be very sad and angry, and even if I didn’t want to go out and see the crowd, I didn’t think to fight back. After all, I was in a foreign country and I was not familiar with people. I’m afraid of what I will get if I fight back.”
“When Westerners see an Asian face, they think that this person is Chinese and has the virus, so they want to flee far away,” said Haina Chen. But Westerners have long discriminated against Chinese people, particularly as China is developing and becoming stronger because the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, Haina Chen said, adding that Westerners seized the opportunity to discriminate against the Chinese.
International students need to learn to protect themselves, try not to go out alone and to pay attention to the environment, Yifan Yu said. For example, in a place like a school, the likelihood that someone will attack you for wearing a mask is very low, because everyone is highly educated, Yifan Yu said. Don’t argue with others until you have to.
Many Chinese international students want to return to China once the semester finishes. The Chinese government is requiring them to submit a daily health report for the 14 days before their flight to make sure that when they arrive they can be taken care of if they are ill.
*It is our duty as journalists to be the voice of St. Mike’s and our community. We have decided to release this story at this time, even with the recent events, because of the timeliness.*
At least once every semester we get an email from Public Safety that states the following: “Saint Michael’s College Public Safety received a report of a sexual assault reported by a XXX student. The incident was reported to have occurred XXX. An investigation by Public Safety and Student Affairs is ongoing.” Followed by a list of a bunch of numbers and sources, people can contact if they want to report any crimes or suspicious activity. They even include ways to prevent sexual assaults in the email, such as “Never pressure or coerce someone into sexual activity” and “When engaging in sexual activity, be sure that you and your partner(s) are coherent and not incapacitated for any reason.” Public Safety concludes the email with potential penalties if found guilty of sexual assault on a school level as well as criminal and further information regarding school policies on sexual assaults.
While this email is jam-packed with vital information to the St. Mike’s community and the victims of these horrendous acts, an email is not enough. Every 73 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in the United States, reports the Rainn organization, which is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. 11.2 percent of all college students in america (undergrad and graduate) will experience sexual assault. Only 230 sexual assaults out of 1,000 are reported to police. These are scary numbers and statistics for many reasons.
Two years ago, the school installed virtual learning courses on two things: drinking and sexual assaults. Every incoming freshman is required to complete both of these before picking up their room keys. Doug Babcock, director of Public Safety, holds self-defense
classes for anyone who wants to participate. But why are these the only times that sexual assault is addressed at an administration level?
On March 5, 2020 a lawsuit filed by Plaintiff Jane Doe vs. the Defendant SMC and Defendant Daniel Dromeshauser surfaced in public records. Jane Doe filed a lawsuit against the school for negligence to her well-being after reporting being sexually assaulted in a classroom within the campus academic buildings on March 4, 2018, by Defendant Dromeshauser. The lawsuit asserts that the Defendant not only assaulted Jane Doe, but made a video of the assault and sent it to his friends and lacrosse teammates via Snapchat around campus. In 2018 when a campus investigation had been opened, Jane Doe claimed her well-being was not accommodated. Among the assertions:
The assault took place in a classroom in Jean-Marie where one of Jane Doe’s courses was scheduled. When Jane Doe requested that the class location be changed she said she was told to drop said class instead of the class being moved.
Defendant Dromeshauser was never restricted from certain areas on campus until later in the investigation, and even then was still allowed to attend classes and eat in the dining hall. The lawsuit asserts that the college’s negligence caused her further severe mental and emotional trauma. We reached out to Jane Doe’s lawyers for comment, however, they declined.
Public Safety is required by federal law to publish the Clery Report each year of all the reported crimes that take place at the college. The 2018 report shows that there were three reported cases of sexual assault (rape). Those statistics do not correlate to one another. While the Clery report provides us with a visual representation for the number of assaults reported on campus, the Clery report cannot accurately represent all cases of assault as many go unreported.
“We know that across all fields, that sexual assault is under reported. We know we don’t have everyone that has had something bad happen to them coming forward, and saying this has happened to them,” said Doug Babcock, director of Public Safety.
Let’s open up the conversation going back to why we only ever get one or two emails a semester about sexual assault. “It’s called a timely warning,” explained Babcock. “There’s requirements for what constitutes a timely warning. The first thing is, as a primary consideration, is a continuing or ongoing potential threat to the community.” Something that happened six months prior may not constitute an ongoing threat if that threat hasn’t been present since six months ago. If it were something that happened a week prior, then the potential for that threat to continue the upcoming weekend is more likely and would potentially be a timely warning.
While we don’t want an overload of emails as that could desensitize the seriousness of these incidents, we wish the conversation wasn’t limited to just these emails and then dropped. It would be nice to maybe hear that the investigation they opened has been closed and we can know whether or not the student accused is on campus or has been suspended. As well, it might be nice that there be support sent out like there is when someone passes away in our campus community. Grief counselors are made readily available for students and sometimes when the situation calls for it, Kathy Butts, the head of grief counseling, makes her way to individual classrooms to let students know what is available to them. They continue the conversation of this deceased member, not leaving it to be explained in one email. Why is sexual assault not done in this same manner? It is something that has affected one of our community members and could potentially affect others in the community. Let us know there is help.
Ways you can report
Even if you know how to go about reporting, are you aware of what happens once an incident is reported? Catherine Welch, St. Michael’s Title IX director, and Doug Babcock of Public Safety, both have different steps to take in order to follow the same Policy. For Public Safety, they take as much action as the reported individual wishes. They follow the individual and their choice to have an on campus investigation only or the choice to take further legal action with the Colchester police off campus. “The information the person wants shared will be shared with administration. If they want contact, then we follow up with them and we say ‘here are the rights and options you have’ and we go through this whole conversation of what we can do on campus and what we can do off campus” said Babcock.
“You have the right to not have your academic and educational experience interfered with or damaged. That means that if the person that is the respondent in the case is in a class with the person that is reporting in, we will remove the person that is the respondent out of that class. If there is not the evidence to start this way, they are removed from campus, academically or suspended.” In other words, according to Title IX, if the the reporter of the alleged sexual assault has a class with the person who they are accusing, the school will remove them to follow Title IX regulations.
So, the report has been made, Public Safety has spoken with the person who makes the report, and has given them their rights and options of what can happen on campus, what next? “You also have at the same time the option of also going to law enforcement. When you do that, they often want to be the interviewing agency first, their standard for evidence is higher than the campus. That will be a criminal court process, that is constitutional law,” explained Babcock.
Within the lawsuit, Plaintiff Jane Doe claims she was advised by Public Safety not to get police involved. Asking Doug Babcock if Public Safety ever advises against getting law enforcement involved during investigations, he denies they’d ever tell a reporter that. “We would say ‘we have our process on campus that is strictly on campus, if you want to talk to someone about a criminal process, we can bring someone down’.”
When an assault is reported and Public Safety is involved, their main concern is for the well-being of the reporter, Babcock said. “As much as it is a physical act, it’s a crime of power. When a person has this very intense experience that’s emotionally traumatizing, where their power is removed, the process to work through that can’t continue taking power away.” Babcock said he could not comment on the lawsuit as he was not aware of it.
Once the initial meeting with Public Safety is conducted the next steps that are taken are the person reporting going and talking to Catherine Welch, the Title IX coordinator. “I am not a decision maker in the process, I am kind of the shepherd to make sure the process runs smoothly, help students, provide any accommodations that the student might need, make sure that we follow the process,” Welch said.
If the student does want to follow through with an investigation, a team of trained lawyers who handle sexual assault cases on campuses across Vermont and New York come in, interview both parties involved, friends of those people, gather text messages, photos, videos, or Snapchat that may have been exchanged about this incident, and compile all the information together. Before further steps are taken, both students have the opportunity to see the materials and say whether or not there is more information that needs to be looked into. After all the critical information is gathered, both students have the option to write a statement to the determination panel and a letter of character. “The determination panel are three faculty or staff members that are trained to look at all the materials and make a decision. Their decision is simply to determine if the St. Michael’s College Sexual Misconduct Policy has been violated or not, and then that goes to the dean of students for sanctioning,” Welch said. This is a rotating panel of trained people from across campus. So if both student or panel members do not feel comfortable being a part of the case, they can rotate people out and put in another member.
St. Michael’s College is an educational system so when it comes to sanctions if the panel finds that the sexual misconduct policy has been violated, two things could happen, suspension or dismissal from the college. For more information on St. Mike’s Title IX and Sexual Respect Policies, please visit
Moving forward, with this new-found knowledge, we as women in college feel like this is a slap in the face, clearly there are holes in the system. This is our wake up call to open up a conversation on campus around the topic of sexual assault. By doing that maybe, just maybe, more people will feel comfortable reporting what they saw or standing up before things escalate that far. If our campus is informed and up to date around the topic of sexual assaults, students can have a say in the sexual respect and sexual misconduct policy. We can keep both of those policies up to date and make sure they are doing what is best for our campus. In a perfect world, these crimes of stripping power would not happen, but the world is not perfect and no one deserves to deal with this alone. By opening up the conversation, people might not be so scared and not feel so alone.
I didn’t know stress until it hit me in the final hours of my study abroad trip to Indonesia, stuck in a rural village with no cell service, trying to book my third plane ticket home after just learning my program was cancelled.
I’d spent the weeks leading up to my last days in the program doing my best to remain somewhat oblivious to the only thing the rest of the world was talking about. In a remote, rural village in Bali, it was easy to maintain a willful ignorance as the people around me – the teachers leading my program, my host family, the president of Indonesia himself – acted like life was carrying on as normal. I’d come home every night to dinner with my host mother and sister, and graze over cooked rice and tempe, chatting about our days, when I’d bring up half nervously the fact that my school had extended spring break because of Coronavirus. I was met with blank stares and a small murmur of “oohh’s” before we carried on conversation. The next day, I’d up the ante with news that school was online for the next few weeks, and may be cancelled altogether, only to be met with the same underwhelming response, not sure they understood the severity of the situation. This continued until I walked in for dinner one night to my host mother staring at me with wide eyes. “Tom Hanks has Corona. This isn’t good.”
The reality of the world slowly started to creep up on me as I watched my friends get plucked from their programs abroad one by one until I was the last man standing. I’d wake up in the morning to find alarming texts from my friends and family asking me when I was being sent home, news reports on the declaration of a national pandemic coming from the United States, and the addition of several more cases reaching Bali day by day. The narrative quickly turned from “I want to stay” to “Why haven’t we been sent home?” I was in a constant internal battle between desperately wanting to stay and a nagging urgency to leave.
The Sunday of the week that we would be sent home, we were meant to leave our homestays for a five day trip to a rural village in Bali when we were asked to meet up with the director of our program for a meeting about the Coronavirus before we left. We sat down expecting to hear the news that we’d be the final few to finally be sent home, when she told us that we’d been asked by SIT to continue as normal until further notice, and that we were planning on finishing the program in May.
Several hands shot up, questioning the safety of this decision. Many of us had received news from our loved ones that the borders may be closing altogether. Plane ticket prices were rising by the minute. Connecting flights were hard to find because international flights were canceled.
Another question burning in the back of everyone’s mind was: What’s the reality of actually getting sick in Bali? Given our status as white Americans, we’d likely be cared for above any Balinese people – a slap in the face to those who had been so selfless towards us over the past two months.
The endless questions and inevitable result of our program ending lead many of us to book flights before the announcement of our program being cancelled two days later, after one final pleasant morning of farming in the rice paddies.