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February 2021

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By Lucas Persechino

Social Media Editor

You have probably heard the name GameStop a lot recently. You also might know that something happened with GameStop’s stock, GME. That’s because on Wednesday, Jan. 27, history was made on Wall Street. This time around, the average investor claimed their fortunes in what was a huge loss for hedge funds on Wall Street.

For those who don’t know, GameStop took a huge hit financially as their revenues decreased about 24% in 2020 when the Covid Pandemic reached the US, on top of a 3% decrease in revenues the year before according to Macro Trends. Hedge funds, who are groups of Wall Street investors who pool their money together for use in the stock market, started shorting GameStop (GME) stocks. In other words, making a profit off GME’s steady decline using the stock market. For years, hedge funds have made millions of dollars off shorting the stocks of companies like Blockbuster, Cinemark, and Bed Bath and Beyond according to The Hedge Fund Journal. However, a subreddit account on the popular app Reddit, called “r/wallstreetbets” made some of the biggest hedge funds in Wall Street panic.

Users on the server simply began discussing how unfortunate it was to see their beloved GameStop on the verge of bankruptcy, and called for everyone to pump money into the GME.

Users on the server simply began discussing how unfortunate it was to see their beloved GameStop on the verge of bankruptcy, and called for everyone to pump money into the GME stock. After the trend started to pick up, the GME stock price went from $37.37 Jan. 20 to $354.83 on Jan 27. This led to an anonymous user posting “yolo” as he put $50,000 into GME and turned it into $47.9 million. The surge of GME’s stock price caused a “short squeeze” which is basically a huge loss for hedge funds that shorted the stock. Because the price of the stock was going up rapidly, Hedge funds no longer made money off their prediction of the stock price staying low. In other words, by using social media to get a bunch of people together and invest in one company, average investors beat hedge funds at their own game. Melvin Capital, a hedge fund who shorted GameStop, was at a 53% loss in January following the GME surge according to cnbc.com.

Wall Street did not take the loss so well, and reasonably so. This led Robinhood, a brokerage app, to cease all sales of GME stocks in a statement that read “In light of volatility we’re restricting transactions for certain securities to positions” according to cnbc.com. Robinhood’s actions sparked outrage all over social media, especially twitter, regarding not being able to buy into GME.

This led to Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) condemning their actions, and senator Ted Cruz agreeing to the statement in the same twitter thread. AOC tweeted “We now need to know more about @RobinhoodApp’s decision to block retail investors from purchasing stock while hedge funds are freely able to trade the stock as they see fit.”

Ted Cruz retweeted AOC saying, “Fully agree.” The Twitter thread is something many people thought they would never see as AOC and Ted Cruz are on two opposite spectrums of American Politics.

After the situation calmed down, the question still remains: what does this mean for the future of investing? In the age of social media, it could mean a huge change in how people invest. Does GameStop’s example prove to be a bright future for the average investor? I certainly think so. After what happened with GME, the stock prices of AMC went from $3.29 on Jan. 20 to $20.34 on Jan. 27, and Black Berry’s stock price went from $13.23 on Jan. 20 to $20.25 on Jan 27. Neither AMC or Black Berry are comparable to GME, but all are part of the same trend. All three of these companies were in the top ten of most shorted stocks. I believe that people caught on to short squeezing hedge funds to make a profit, using social media. I think GME set an example of coming together on social media and driving up the stock price of companies that hedge funds feast on, thus changing the way we invest.

Everything you need to know about campus outages

By Sam Heyliger

Staff Writer

Saint Michael’s College students received a slew of emails regarding a network outage on Tuesday, Feb, 2. This outage caused campus-wide issues connecting to Canvas, Zoom, and other programs requiring an internet connection. While not an unfamiliar occurrence, this was the first outage since students returned to campus for the Spring semester. Three emails were sent out, which left some students wondering what caused the outage.

To answer this, it’s important to understand how the network functions on our campus.
“There are many pieces to our network, but as far as the internet goes, we have two internet connections that go through an internet service provider that we work with, called, First Light,” said Shawn Umansky, network engineer at Saint Michael’s College. “We have two paths for redundancy, so if one goes down, the other can stay up.” “When we’re talking about the network, we’re also talking about the services that may be connected to the network. Examples include wireless, Canvas, Knightvision, printing, Office365, and One Drive. Not all these services are handled the same way,” he said.

Tuesday’s outage was caused by a failed switch, Umansky explained. “One of our core switches had a hardware failure, which any service that was tied to that was impacted. Wi-Fi was one of those services.” The engineers had to move all of the service traffic over to another switch after taking the non-functioning one offline. “There were certain components of our Wi-Fi infrastructure that were tied to that first switch. A lot of the Wi-Fi stayed up because some of the Wi-Fi was tied to the other switch,” Umansky emphasized.

An ongoing issue with network outages on campus is the pressure for students to keep up with classes in the midst of technical problems. “It’s important to be patient when the network goes out on campus because it seems like it’s something they can’t control, but it can be really frustrating when it happens in the middle of a class.” said Adrien Harwood ‘23, one of the many students affected by this outage.

“I think students should try to have a positive outlook if they can. There’s not much we can really do to control the situation but I do think they should be slightly critical.”
“Be generous to each other and try to be forgiving,” said Christina Root, professor of English. “Communicate with your teacher. It’s bound to happen when we’re in a pandemic.”

Can network engineers predict the timing of network outages on campus? Well, not exactly, according to Umansky. Routine checkups can be made to monitor potential problems in the future, but knowing when exactly an outage will occur is nearly impossible. Thousands of feet of cabling run underneath College grounds, allowing for network and service accessibility to every building on campus. Therefore, relying on detection systems is crucial in preventing outages on campus. Outages can also happen off campus, and will affect the ability to use internet services. “When there is an outage, what services are impacted are dependent on the location of the problem, and what services may be running in the area of the network,” Umansky explained. In Tuesday’s case, a hardware failure on one of the core switches caused the outage, he said.

However, the cause can vary. In fact, squirrels have been known to have bitten through cables on campus before and caused outages.

Considering the importance of network reliability, an outage is never good news. This outage was solved the same morning and students could continue classes as scheduled for the rest of the day. However, these network outages aren’t completely avoidable, so patience is important.

As a student, there are some measures you can take to help keep the network running smoothly. Pay attention to things like laundry machines, vending machines, printers, classroom computers, network jacks, and other services around campus that are connected to our network. If you see them unplugged or not functioning, and are experiencing network problems, contact the Help Desk. “We encourage you to bother us,” Umansky said. “Our job is to support you and make sure that you have a good experience on campus and you can do what you need to be successful in your classes, and outside of your classes.”

By Annie Serkes

Staff Writer

Although College students may be at the end of the line for the COVID-19 vaccine, questions about vaccine safety and hesitancy are being raised. While some students are excited to move past the pandemic and return to normal life, others want the same, but are skeptical of the vaccine.
Vaccine hesitancy is not a new concept, there’s always been opposers, known as anti-vaxxers, that refused to accept other vaccines for their own reasons. Now, with the COVID-19 vaccine, despite top doctors and scientists in public support of the vaccine, there are people who have displayed hesitancy towards its effectiveness and safety.

“My biggest concern is that it’s been less than a year since the vaccine was made. The side effects of the vaccine concern me more than actually getting COVID-19,” said Julia Fitzgerald ’22.
“Even though it seems that very little time has occurred to produce these vaccines, they have been in production for years, thus, needing less reconfiguration to match the COVID virus, the FDA is one of the most stringent clearing houses for approval of medicines and vaccines in the world,” explained Mary Masson, director of Bergeron Wellness Center.

According to Mark Lubkowitz, professor of biology, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.
“If you look at the risk benefit analysis and look at the number of people who have been vaccinated compared to those who have died from COVID-19, it’s not even close,” he said.
The CDC has also stated, there can be side effects after COVID-19 vaccinations, but they are said to only be temporary.

“Although there have been some reports of side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines, most subside in days, and they can be a good thing,” Lubkowitz said.

Having symptoms from the vaccine gives reassurance that your immune system is recognizing the virus in your body, and if you happen to come in contact with the virus, your immune system can fight it off.

“With my second dose of the vaccine I experienced headaches, muscle aches, and low-grade fevers, but that’s a byproduct of my immune system doing what it should,” Masson explained about her experience after her second vaccination.

When the vaccine becomes readily available to the general public, the goal is to reach herd immunity so life can revert back to normal.

“My biggest concern is that not enough people will get the vaccine to reach herd immunity, and it won’t be effective if there aren’t enough people getting it,” said Ava Albis ’23.

“To end the pandemic you need 60-70% herd immunity for all people to get an increased level of safety around it. One way we can get herd immunity is for everyone to get exposure to the virus, but that would take years, cost many more lives, and be a disaster economically,” Masson said. “Our best solution to this is a safe and effective vaccine.”

(Scene 1)

By Professor Dr. Mr. Glosherberg

Contributing Writers

INT. Post Office – Day

[Professor Glosherberg is shipping a questionable package through the US Postal Service. There is no accurate description of professor Glosherberg, he is a human enigma. The initial postal worker does not care for his job, but his supervisor is very dedicated to his craft]

GLOSHERBERG
Hello Post Officer.
(Throws body bag on the counter with great effort)

POSTAL WORKER
Hello Sir, how may I help you today?
(Visibly confused, slightly scared)

GLOSHERBERG
This is for my motha!
(With zeal, slaps rear of body bag; continues to rub rear throughout the scene)

POSTAL WORKER
I think you’re gonna need some stamps for this

GLOSHERBERG
Ah, yeah! I feel ya! Slap that baby on the scale

POSTAL WORKER
I don’t think that your… package is going to fit on the scale

GLOSHERBERG
My mother lives in Phoenix ya know!

POSTAL WORKER
Uhhh… Let me grab my supervisor
(Postal Worker leaves… comes back with the supervisor)

SUPERVISOR
(A bureaucratic man in a suit who looks condescendingly at Glosherberg. Turns to POSTAL WORKER)
Thank you, Neil, I will take it from here.

(Neil Leaves Returns to his Computer)
(Turning to GLOSHERBERG)
Hello sir, I am Thorton Henderson Reginald-Fairbanks Childs IV, a seventh-generation postmaster of the greater Weehawken area. How, sir, may I be of assistance?

GLOSHERBERG
I’m mailing this to my motha!

SUPERVISOR
Very good sir. To your mother you say?

GLOSHERBERG
Uh-huh, she lives in Phoenix, near the University

SUPERVISOR
Very good sir. I myself am a graduate of the Harvard School of the Postal Sciences. Mail deo paria. Mail, God, and country son, in that order.
(Walks from behind the counter and approaches the audience)

Mail deo et paria. Mail deo et paria. A nation without mail is not a nation. There is a reason, you see, that the postal service can be found in our Constitution. A nation, my boy, without the mail is a nation without laws, without order, without liberty. My God man, why did Rome fall? For want of mail! For when the roads did clutter with the discarded armor of the barbarian mercenaries hired to defend in her dying gasps the far-flung extensions of her then benighted empire, it prevented those brave couriers from their rounds.

For want of the mail, Rome failed.
(yelling now)
Mail makes the world turn! It is all that stands between man and beast, between the divine and the base. You, sir, see before you the pinnacle of human advancement, the post office! Man’s temple to his own greatness. By God’s grace alone do we enjoy the fruits of our postal prosperity. We are a society within a society, a band of brothers who have served as a great connection across space and time. We stand with Herodotus, who said in that creed we all now know…

(a legion of postal workers emerge and create a phalanx behind the SUPERVISOR. The lights dim.)

ALL THE POSTAL WORKERS, IN UNISON
“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from their appointed routes”.
(Light shines brightly on the face of the SUPERVISOR. Prolonged pause)

SUPERVISOR
(softly and emotionally)
Mail deo paria…
(Returns behind the counter, lights go up, Neil returns to the computer, extra postal workers exit the stage to the left and right)
You were saying something about a package?

GLOSHERBERG
Actually, it’s a letter!

SUPERVISOR
(Plops large book on the counter, flips through quickly)
May I draw your attention to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, e-CFR, which states in Chapter I, subchapter E, part 310, section 310.1 Definitions, which notes of letters that the term shall not be construed to refer to “(i) objects the material or shape and design of which make them valuable or useful for purposes other than as media for long-distance communications unless they are actually used as media for personal and business correspondence, and (ii) outsized, rigid objects not capable of enclosure in envelopes, sacks, boxes or other containers commonly used to transmit letters or packets of letters.”

GLOSHERBERG
Ah, but sir, if you turn your attention to paragraph a(3) of the same code, you will note that it is in fact a letter under the definition of a selective delivery plan.
(Supervisor flipping through the book, looking for this section)

SUPERVISOR
Ah, very good sir, you are quite correct. We are now obligated to weigh it, to ascertain how many postage stamps are required for the proper shipping and handling.

GLOSHERBERG
Slap that baby on there!
(slaps rear aggressively)

SUPERVISOR
My good sir, I am delighted by your enthusiasm for the postal arts. What are you mailing today?

GLOSHERBERG
It’s a… a life-size Ralph Macchio doll
(The initial postal worker comes back)

POSTAL WORKER
Hey, hey… Ralph Macchio is 5’9” that doll is at least 6’1” you’re not fooling me, buddy!
(Outraged)

SUPERVISOR
Is this true my good sir?
(Shocked and appalled)

GLOSHERBERG
Alright, alright, you got me, it’s not just any Ralph Macchio doll. It’s Ralph Macchio… as a lady, those extra inches are the high heels

SUPERVISOR
Well, we still have to weigh it
(struggles to get doll on the scale, eventually gets it on)
(Scale breaks)
Not to worry, sir I was able to get a reading of the weight in time. It weighed 140 pounds, which exceeds the limit for a letter by 3 ounces… and 139 pounds.

GLOSHERBERG
But what if I told you I have two stamps?
(Aggressively slaps a smiley face stamp on the rear of bodybag, tenderly places the second next to thefirst)

SUPERVISOR
That is insufficient sir

GLOSHERBERG
Fine, I will take my business elsewhere

SUPERVISOR
It is your loss
(Glosherberg hauls body bag over his shoulder and walks off scene)

-End Scene 1-

INT. Car – Mid-day
[Glosherberg is driving with the body bag in the passenger’s seat.]

GLOSHERBERG
Well, buddy, we’re going to Arizona!

[Weird Al Yankovic’s “Amish Paradise” plays in the background. Glosherberg is bobbing his head up and down in rhythm with the music. The camera pans to a white guy (preferably Steve Buscemi type) with the Coolio haircut. He is driving in an inner-city neighborhood; the camera pans to a sign that says “This Way to Inner City Amish Community.”

GLOSHERBERG
(Rubs leg of body bag)
Maybe we can pick up some butter for the trip.

Greetings readers. The saga of Professor Dr. Mr. Glosherberg was written by six Saint Mike’s students working alongside their favorite professor. This being said, the original format was that of a screenplay, and therefore will include some (hopefully) humorous additions to the mere text. This will be the first of multiple installations of the Glosherberg Files. We hope you enjoy!

Why students at SMC are pushing for a Death Spire

By Connor Torpey

Arts & Culture Editor

A rusty spike laden tower pierces the sky, the bones of what was once a junior are being cleaned of their flesh by a rabid tiger, and fear grips the locals who see this mile high structure out in the distance from what should be the comfort of their homes. This is the dream of many students here at Saint Michael’s College.

When arriving back on campus this semester one would be met with a strange sight. Students with picket signs were marching up and down the campus sidewalks, brows furrowed in determination. “BUILD THE SPIRE OR WE WON’T TIRE!” they hollered as their signs bounced up and down, all bearing the name “DEATH SPIRE”.

This Death Spire movement supposedly started as far back as October when Saint Michael’s campus was locked down due to alarming amounts of COVID cases on campus. Students were looking for solace and hope in the bleak darkness that had covered the campus. In its depressing silence, an idea was sparked, an idea that would overcome the dullness of a COVID shut down. This idea was the Death Spire.

The Death Spire can be described as a giant rusty nail that extends almost a mile into the sky and would be located between the Three’s Field and Ross/Tarrent gym. Covered in spikes and nails of varying shapes and sizes as well as a plethora of deadly booby traps, it would immediately oppress anyone who dare have the courage to look upon its vastness. The goal would be to climb to the top and survive all the trials and obtain a valuable prize (A Cumberland Farms gift card, coupon for a free Dunkin Donut, a large stuffed bear, etc.) here are, however, many disagreements about the description of the Death Spire. What traps should it have? How many traps should it have? Should it have traps at all? The most divisive design choice is whether or not it should have an interior. The Interiorists and Purists are conflicting factions that cannot agree on the right option.

“An interior provides an alternative option for those who are not as ready physically for the challenge of climbing the tower, and want a more mental challenge,” said Mille Hardwell, current junior and leader of the Interiorists. “The interior would be a maze full of puzzles and traps that only the smartest of students could figure out,” Hardwell added. Upon being asked about her opinion of the Purists she responded, “The Purists views on the spire are outdated. Their view that the tower can only be climbed on the outside, and that excludes people who may want to climb the tower, but aren’t able too because of the state of physical being. That is why we have the maze so it’s more easily accessible to people, but still just as deadly.”

When talking to Chris McArthur, a senior and leader of the Purist movement, he said, “The original idea for the death spire was for it to be climbed on the outside for the prize on top, as someone would scale a pizza hut for a whiff from the chimney. We want to keep this original vision, because we think it makes more sense. First of all building an interior filled with traps and puzzles would be extremely expensive. It would be very difficult to get that money and would make it far less attractive to the college to do. Also, the idea of the Death Spire is to watch and root on your friends as they defy death to go and claim victory against all odds. But, with an interior it’s no longer a spectator sport. You can’t see someone going in through the bowels of the tower. You just have to guess and wait to see if they make it out. Unfortunately, Millie and her followers have lost sight of this very important aspect of the tower.”

Administrators at school are not exactly fans of the prospect of this Death Spire. “The Death Spire is a ridiculous idea,” said Dr. Sosana Dourkoffski head of Student Proposed Structures. “The idea of students falling to their deaths on our campus under our watch. I mean who’s going to clean it all up? The grounds keeping staff have enough work as it is cleaning up after students, but now they have to clean up the students themselves! That’s just asking for too much.”

Despite the administrative backlash, students are still pushing hard for a way to counter the COVID blues. I have even been informed that as soon as The Student Government Association is back up and running there will be a bill passed to try to fund the Saint Michael’s Death Spire. Now I know I’m not supposed to give my opinion on this being a reporter and all, but personally I believe that this is a terrible idea. I mean a tower that people climb that leads to their death? That’s awful! Now an obelisk that people climb to their death, that I can get behind!

By Julia Callini

Staff Writer

On Feb. 9, students came together to celebrate the opening of the new ice rink outside of the townhouses. The rink is a SGA initiative that encourages students to get outside, and boosts their mental health.

The ice skating rink was first proposed during a town hall meeting on Jan. 13. Sierah Miles ’22 and Anna Witkowski ’22, co-secretaries of programming for the Student Government Association, decided to pursue the project as a result of student interest.

“Every year, the programmers’ goal is to put on events that bring students together, and give an option for fun on campus… and improve mental health” Miles said. “However, this year we can’t all be together in one space, so we revamped the way we spend our budget and put on programs.
This isn’t the first time the Student Government Association has endorsed and built a rink. Two years ago, the class of 2019 decided to build an ice rink near the townhouses using their SGA budget.

After a month of planning and communication, Lou Dimasi, former Men’s Hockey Coach, and the Saint Michael’s College Fire and Rescue Squad began the construction of the rink on Feb. 5.
Once the plans for ice rink construction were solidified, Miles reached out to Ice Breakers, a student group with a passion for ice skating. The group is looking to receive official club recognition through the SGA. The Ice Breakers will assist with programming and activities held on the rink, including a Hot Chocolate Night, and glow-in the dark activities.

“[The role of the rink] is to be able to go outside and do something fun and encourage people to stay safe,” said Nadia Racz ’22, Ice Breakers member.

Miles stated that although the rink still exists in a world of COVID-19, and proper protocols must be followed, the rink is meant to be an escape from everyday life.

“The goal is to give students a place to be away from school, away from COVID-19,” Miles said. “We have to have something that can boost [students’] mental health,” Miles said.

According to Miles, the driving force behind the ice rink was Saint Michael’s College junior and Ice Breakers member Kayla Riordan. Riordan has been looking for a fun and recreational way to skate with friends, and to her, the rink is a perfect solution.

“The only time you can spend with friends when outside your living space is outdoors,” Riordan said. “It’ll be a nice way to spend time with people you don’t normally see.”

With the SGA encouraging gathering, even outdoors, many are concerned about the possibility of COVID-19 transmission. However, Miles is confident this won’t be an issue, due to the rules of the rink which include maintaining a distance of at least six feet, and wearing a mask at all times while on or near the rink. Additionally, signs stating the rules will be placed near the rink.

“If we find out that people aren’t wearing masks and aren’t social distancing, we’re just going to have to become stricter on the regulations put in place, like lowering the maximum capacity,” Miles said.

For now, the rink is open to all students, 24 hours a day. Most of the time, those who wish to skate do not need to reserve a spot ahead of time, unless there is a sponsored event being held at the rink.

“We don’t want it to be something that you have to plan a week ahead,” Miles said. “We’d love for students to just throw on skates, and go outside for 15 minutes that day.

By Hazel Kieu

Staff Writer

It’s been almost a year since COVID-19 first rattled the U.S.. For students at St. Michael’s College, the future of study abroad programs still holds many uncertainties. What does the study abroad experience look like in the middle of a global pandemic? Should students even apply? Is it safe to travel outside the country and reside in another during a pandemic?
According to study abroad director, Peggy Imai, among the 50 to 60 Saint Michael’s students who had planned to study abroad this semester, only four decided to follow through. Between travel restrictions and public health concerns, the majority of study abroad programs have either been canceled or altered, and some college students have also made the decision to stay home on their own.

“It definitely stunk, especially on the day that I was supposed to leave,” said Megan Schneider ’22. She was supposed to study in Costa Rica this semester but decided to stay home within the last month before her trip.

This small percentage of St. Michael’s students choosing to study abroad seems to be the common trend amongst study abroad programs in the last twelve months. Wendy Lombardo, associate director of Institutional Relations at Arcadia University and study abroad program affiliate, reported a decrease from roughly 3000 students traveling abroad per year to around 100 students since the pandemic started.

Though many other colleges have shut down their entire study abroad departments as a response to the pandemic, Saint Michael’s College is one of the few that still keeps the program running.
“We haven’t done that on this campus, mainly because students are pretty good decision-makers,” said Peggy Imai. Students on campus can still seek advice about study abroad and make a plan for the future.

Imai’s point about good decision-making is not unfounded, as it was not an easy or straightforward decision to make. For many of these students who were considering study abroad this semester, this has been their dream for a long time. “I was even looking at study abroad programs when I was considering colleges, because I knew that was something I wanted to do in college,” Schneider said. Though she fell in love with her program in Costa Rica, she felt unprepared and didn’t receive enough information to form any real idea of what it was going to be like, she said.

While some students made the decision themselves to not study abroad, others were forced to stay because of travel restrictions. This was the case for Anna Bilotti ’22, whose initial plan was to study in Perth, Australia, only to find out that Australia had banned international travel in an effort to prevent another outbreak. As a result, her program was canceled.

Other programs have also been canceled this semester due to small turnout, or due to consideration of other countries’ healthcare infrastructure. “We made the right decision not to go [abroad] this semester because [we’re] thinking about how it’s going to affect students as well as the rest of the world,” Lombardo shared. On the other hand, students who are traveling abroad this semester have shared mixed feelings. Even though they are eager to immerse themselves in a different culture and learn as much as they can, they said, there is uncertainty about how their experience will unfold. Therefore, they are proceeding with a lot of caution. Alexyah Dethvongsa ’22, whose program consists of six weeks in Nepal and the rest of the semester in India, is hoping that in six weeks’ time, India will allow American citizens into their country. Maeve Kolb ‘22, who is studying in Kisumu, Kenya this semester, said that she is not only concerned about COVID-19 but also malaria and other diseases that she can contract, especially at a time when public health is already vulnerable.

Decisions to study abroad vary, but both students shared that they have been planning to study abroad for so long and they couldn’t give up that dream. “It’s so bad here…if I can go to the grocery store and get [COVID], why wouldn’t I just do what I have always wanted to do and not miss out on a valuable experience,” Kolb said.

Dethvongsa acknowledged this was a difficult decision to make. “People who are going are really passionate about this,” she added. Even though both of their programs have been altered because of the pandemic, they are still excited to learn more about public health and epidemiology during this critical time period.

Although the study abroad experience may not be the same, Lombardo from Arcadia University notes some silver linings to the situation. As a result of having to spend most time in their host city instead of being able to travel to neighboring areas, “students gained a much deeper understanding and appreciation for where they were studying abroad,” she said. Because of the pandemic, “people have to think about how what they do or don’t do affect other people around them,” she added, observing that students are moving beyond what they want to get out of a study abroad program to think about the global impact of their actions.

Studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult, but not impossible. There are many challenges and restrictions students have to navigate, depending on where they want to go. For those who are planning to go abroad, although it varies from program to program, there are usually health and safety staff available 24/7 for any students in need, as well as staff working closely on tracking the development of the pandemic. For those who couldn’t travel, there are still other opportunities in the future, as well as other ways to experience different cultures and get a global perspective, such as through virtual internships abroad. “If that study abroad experience is really important to you, it doesn’t hurt to apply and try. It might get canceled again but I think it’s worth it,” Bilotti said. She has much hope for the future and plans to apply again next Fall.

Sledding at Schmanska Park

By Will George

Photography Editor

Since the Covid-19 Pandemic, my days have consisted of me sitting in my room missing the time where I could see my friends without having to worry about a virus. I’ve been trying to change this by getting outside more and just doing something. Whether it’s a walk or going skiing at Sugarbush. I started taking my dogs for walks so I wasn’t inside all day, but eventually that too gets old. My friend group and I finally got our parents to let us go for hikes and we would bring lunch to eat at the top. Normally we would go to our friends house and hang out in his basement so it was a nice change of pace to have everyone go for a hike. Getting yourself outside during this pandemic can be hard, but there are many things you can go and do.

One of my favorite activities to do as a kid was to go sledding. Me and my friends would all have our parents drive us to this park in my town with our sleds. We would try to go as fast as we could and then run back up the hill. I would always try to find spots where it was icy, I liked to call those spots speed boosts like using a mushroom in Mario Kart.

Over winter break I realized that sledding is still fun. It may be an activity for kids, but who says it has to be. It was fun when we were kids so why wouldn’t it be fun now? A couple of my friends and I went sledding back in December and it was one of the best days of winter break. We made a jump and flattened the run-up just like we did back when we were kids. Since we are older now, we can go faster and the wipeouts are so much funnier than it used to be. Sledding is something everyone can do and is fun for all ages.

There are many places to go sledding within a short drive from campus. For example, Schmanska Park in Burlington has a great hill only six minutes from campus. When you get there, the parking lot is on the opposite side of the road and you will see a playground on the right and tennis courts on the left. Once you cross the road and go up the staircase, the sledding hill will be right in front of you. It has a perfect run up for a jump and big enough just to sled down. It is a steep hill, but there are multiple spots you can start from. The big hill at Schmanska Park isn’t that wide so it feels quite narrow, but it’s curved on both sides so you don’t go straight into the woods. As soon as the hill flattens out, there is a huge opening to either wipeout or ride away. We can’t become kids again, but we can do the things we loved as kids.

“Color” by Kelly Cullen was featured in the McCarthy Art Gallery from Feb. 8 through Feb.14. This exhibit featured geometric shapes painted on wood and canvas sheets. “Something For Your Mind” by Carly Huston is being featured in the McCarthy Art Gallery now until Feb. 21. This exhibit features paintings based off of lines from songs and poems.

“Something For Your Mind” by Carly Huston is being featured in the McCarthy Art Gallery now until Feb. 21. This exhibit features paintings based off of lines from songs and poems.

By Ashley DeLeon

Executive Editor

Kaylee Sayers ’23 recalls the day she discovered a disturbing social media post about a classmate of hers while scrolling through Instagram. The post exposed her peer’s full name, and publicly announced that someone wanted to engage in sexual activities with her. Sayers clicked on the account, and found over 200 posts targeted to multiple students at St. Michael’s College. “I hope I don’t see my name,” she said quietly.

The Instagram account, @smc.crushes, emerged on the social media platform on Jan. 28, 2021, accruing over 300 followers since its launch. The account’s content ranges from innocent crushes to fantasized sexual desires, with many posts highlighting specific body parts that people find most attractive about their peers. This information is posted nonconsensually, with the targeted individual’s full name attached. 

“This account is all in good fun, and is meant to be an anonymous way to show someone on campus you appreciate them or are thinking about them,” the account admin stated through direct message. The account admin, who did not disclose their identity, claims that a conscious effort is made to filter negative responses and censor content based on Instagram’s guidelines. However, sexually suggestive language is rampant throughout the page, with sexualized emojis and overt phrasing found all throughout. “We created this account because it was previously an SMC tradition that ran on Facebook, and we thought it would be fun to bring back on Instagram since that seems to be more of the platform of choice these days,” according to the account admin.

Women are disproportionately targeted on this platform more than men, according to Sayers. This has led some to question the true intent behind this account. “Almost the entirety of the page is committed to boiling down intelligent, talented, and kind women, many of whom I have had a class with or know, to their bodies,” she said. Though she recognizes the demeaning nature of comments directed to men, Sayers noted that the amount of content sexualizing female students is overwhelming. 

According to an anonymous male student, however, it is believed that the intentions of this account are not so blurred after all. “I think this page overall has simple intentions, and does not necessarily purposely objectify the subject. However, it does post direct quotes. This gives it an objectifying effect,” he said. 

Few people have commented under the page’s sexualized posts to bring awareness to the claimed objectifying nature of the account. Some women have even conceded to sexualized posts directed towards themselves, and comment in support of them.

According to Traci Griffith, lawyer and associate professor of Media Studies, women have always been seen as objects, and it has been a long time technique (often used in the advertising business). “Social media makes it even worse because anybody can produce it. It’s called citizen journalism,” she said.

A 2018 research study conducted by Stef Davis Kempton, associate professor of Communications at Pennsylvania State University, observed two Instagram accounts and its impact on one’s identity, gender, and sexuality constructs. The study, titled, “Objectification, Sexualization, and Misrepresentation: Social Media and the College Experience,” observed the posting rituals of two college-targeted, sexualized accounts. Content, comments, and popularity were examined closely.

Kempton detected patterns in the objectification of female college students and their submissiveness to men. “The view of women as objects rather than individuals re emphasizes the idea that men should be able to determine a woman’s worth by her use-value. Men use and gaze upon women as they see fit, disregarding any individuality,” according to the textual analysis.

In an exclusive statement to The Defender, Kempton explained that “women tend to self-objectify to earn a sense of validation, acceptance, or attention,” especially from men.

“The collegiate environment perpetuates this because there is a disproportionate amount of young people in that population and they are all competing with each other,” she said. This competition spans farther than academic and athletic competition, as vying for friendships, social status, and romantic or sexual attention becomes a social competition.

Kempton agrees that the objectification of women has been normalized in mainstream media, and how “it’s easy to see how women would normalize self-objectification in an attempt for male attention,” she explained. “Many times, this objectification comes in the form of sexualizing ourselves and portraying ourselves as sex objects to stand out from the competition. Social media, especially, perpetuates self-objectification because we get instantaneous validation through likes and comments.”

A number of submissions were submitted jokingly, according to Sayers. “I could tell which posts were submitted as jokes, likely between friends from the way they read and feel, and others as well. The joking aspect of the page was not lost on me,” she said. However, she noted a clear divide between friends submitting their other friends, and people taking the opportunity that anonymity provides to objectify women at the College.

Lily Denslow ‘22 agrees. “I have noticed that many people are submitting complimentary things about their friends and crushes on campus,” she said. “In that way, I think it’s a great venue to lift up members of our community.”

The rapidly emerging account has raised questions about ethics and legality. “You don’t have a right to anonymous free speech in the First Amendment. There’s a court that might interpret that into the First Amendment, but there isn’t a right to anonymous speech,” Griffith said. The second part to this issue, she noted, is an administrative obligation to protect and ensure a safe learning environment for students. 

Dawn Ellinwood, vice president for Student Affairs, agrees that the College has an obligation to ensure a safe environment for students. However, “…if the account is anonymous and not affiliated with SMC, we may not be able to do anything,” she said. “Please know we would investigate and attempt to find the person responsible but in past cases that involved social media, we were not able to get the information we needed unfortunately.” 

“The decision to comment on another person’s appearance is insensitive, a sign of unexamined privilege. And to do so on a public, anonymous online platform? Well, even if it feels innocuous (or potentially empowering) it really isn’t okay,” said Maura D’Amore, professor of English and program director for Gender Studies. “The person you name and describe didn’t have any say in the matter. There’s no way to consent, no two-way communication,” she stated.

“Although these submissions are most likely meant to be complimentary and flattering, it’s important to remember that another person’s body is not your business, unless that person consents to share it with you,” D’Amore emphasizes.      

According to Denslow, the community needs to re-evaluate what is considered acceptable on social media. “Posting that you want to get with someone or that someone is ‘gorgeous’ or ‘beautiful’ or even ‘sexy’ is one thing, but posting about how big someone’s assets are is something else entirely,” she said. “As a community, I think that we need to think long and hard about what it means if we are ok with objectifying both men and women in our community on a public platform.”