Final Phase of Learning Commons Opens

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The second and final phase of the Learning Commons project officially opened for business on Wednesday September 18th.

The first phase opened last semester and includes state-of-the-art science labs, a virtual dissector table and multi-configurable classrooms.

The newest phase, in the old science building, includes offices for Study Abroad, the Curry Speaking Center, the Writing Center and a new café, to name just a few additions.

The opening ribbon cutting featured Curry president Kenneth Quigley, provost David Szczerbacki and other members of the faculty, alumni and board of trustees.   The goal of the new building, according to Curry officials, is to provide the space and tools to facilitate the college’s approach to “teaching and learning through mentoring and empowering students to help them achieve their ambitions.” 

 

Finding the Words to Tackle Hate Speech

BY KELLY LEWICKI // MARCH 7, 2019 //

As most people at Curry College already know, a threatening message was scrawled on a bathroom stall in the Hafer Academic Building last week. But, like many of the previous hate speech incidents that have occurred on campus in recent years, students are questioning the manner in which college officials and the Milton Police Department have handled the situation.   

According to the college’s protocols for investigating bias-related incidents on campus, the Milton PD is notified when a possible hate crime has occurred. At that point, the investigation is turned over to them. This is what happened following last Thursday’s incident in the first-floor men’s bathroom in Hafer. However, the college opted not to share the actual words of the threat with the Curry community, and declined to provide it to the many area news organizations that covered the police investigation.

In a story by CBS News Boston, Milton Police Deputy Chief James O’Neil said the perpetrator, who has yet to be identified, according to college officials, could face up to one year in prison.

This begs the question: Given the severity of the repercussions, why refuse to admit to students the true nature of the crime?

According to a source familiar with the details of the investigation, but who was not authorized to speak about it publicly, the threat read, “I’ll kill you all. F*** all stupid n*****s.” The writing was so large that it took up most of an inside wall of one of the bathroom stalls. 

In an email to the campus on Friday, March 1, President Kenneth Quigley wrote, in part, “As I tell each and every member of our entering class at Convocation, acts of bias are contrary to everything that Curry stands for. Simply put, they will not be tolerated on our campus and those engaging in acts of bias will not be welcome as a member of the Curry College Community.”

Although Curry has suffered a string of bias incidents and hate crimes over the years, it has been rare for President Quigley to personally address them. The last time he issued a personal statement to the student body was September 2017, following a handful of incidents on two consecutive days.

That email read, “As I wrote to all members of the Curry community at the start of the academic year and shared directly with our entering class at Convocation, ‘Hate Has No Home Here.’ Simply put, acts of bias will not be tolerated on our campus.”

The similarities between the two have left the impression on some students that the college is merely going through the motions.

“Because I already knew what the bathroom stall said, his email just made me more upset because it seemed copied and pasted,” said junior Kevelle Toppin. “Based on prior bias incidents, those emails we received last week felt very similar. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but that was my initial reaction. And after the email, it felt like it was over and done with and no further action was going to be taken.”

Paul King, director of Public Safety at Curry, said his office and Milton Police were in agreement that the writings on the stall posed no “immediate threat” to the campus community. “If an immediate threat had been identified, Public Safety would have issued a shelter in place or evacuation notification to the community,” King said. But “given the nature of this incident, we decided to increase patrols.”

“There are many people in the Curry community who are working every day to make our community more diverse, inclusive, and equitable,” said President Quigley. “Just before learning of the incident, I was in a meeting with several terrific Curry students who were planning a diversity event. Our Student Government Association responded quickly when the incident was reported [in terms of] how students can move to action as part their “Let’s Talk About Our Curry” event. And, we recently had an important Black Lives Matter event on campus. I believe that when all parts of the Curry community work together to celebrate diversity and respond loudly to incidents like this, it helps diminish the impact of hateful acts.”

But Greg Estes, Senior Class president and a Criminal Justice major, said he wants the Curry administration to be even more proactive to prevent future heinous acts.

“In 886 last year, there were events that happened and they did put up cameras,” said Estes, referring to a residence hall. “They should consider doing the same thing in academic hallways.”

The college’s Policy for Responsible Installation and Use of Video Security Cameras on campus reads, “Cameras shall not be installed in — nor positioned to view through the windows of or entryways to — areas where individuals have a reasonable and legitimate expectation of privacy, such as private offices, spaces dedicated to health and counseling services, residence hall rooms, locker rooms, bathrooms and classrooms.” Cameras were first installed on campus for security reasons in August 2017, and, as Estes said, cameras were placed in the hallways of 886.

“I don’t see any problems with pointing it down the hallways to see who is going in and coming out,” Estes added.

According to King, the college continues to “assess such situations and determine priorities for additional cameras based on this incident and others that happen on campus.” He added that he believes common  hallways that lead to a bathroom is a public, rather than private, space. 

Cameras aside, Cotdell Tuning, Junior Class president and president of the Black Student Union, said she has bigger concerns about the moral compass of the campus as a whole.

“With all the free resources we have available to us, it’s surprising that people still don’t understand human decency,” Tuning said. “The way the issue was handled was insensitive as well….The black community [being] targeted is disappointing, but not surprising, because this college is an institution that is run by people who will never understand how it is to be a person of color.”

The words on the Hafer bathroom stall have long since been painted over, and in their place the college hung a flyer denouncing the act.

“We choose to remove vandalism, not to hide it, but in order to not perpetuate hateful speech,” it reads. “Help change the conversation and, in turn, make Curry College a truly inclusive community.”

But some students don’t want to change the conversation. They are eager to have it and to face the issue of racism head-on. To engage others in that conversation, though, there needs to be a more transparent accounting of the hate, they say.

The Department of Public Safety asks that anyone with information about the hate speech incident contact their office at 617-333-2222, or call the anonymous tip line at 617-391-5280 or email at publicsafety_tipline@curry.edu.

Kicking Out Commencement

BY KELSEY DAVIS // FEBRUARY 25, 2019 //

At the end of last year, Dean of Students Maryellen Kiley and the Class of 2019 started to assess whether Curry has outgrown the space that we have on campus. Curry students took a vote and this year, for the first time ever, Curry College is moving the commencement ceremony from Blue Hill Ave to The Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA.

With this news came questions and mixed feelings, not only from the senior class but from future classes, as they are concerned about their graduation experience.  

Holding the ceremonies at Curry College is important to many students, including senior Alex Landry. “I feel that this campus is a part of our identity as Curry students,” said Landry. “That’s why I voted to keep commencement here at Curry.”  

While many people feel similar to Landry, including Dean Kiley, she feels the move will only be beneficial to students and their families. “Commencement on campus has been wonderful in many ways, but one of the bigger challenges has been seating,” Kiley explained. “We could only allow 4 tickets per graduating student.”

The lack of seating has been a recurring complaint from students and their families in past years. The move to The Xfinity Center will allow students to have up to 8 tickets and, if needed, an additional 12 lawn seats will be made available to each student.

Kiley also mentioned a number of other concerns that will be addressed by the move, the most pressing being the safety of students and their families. “Last year there was some concern about safety. There’s, you know, thousands of people coming down…there’s one entrance and one exit.”

In the event of an emergency, with cars often lining the streets throughout campus during an event of this size, Curry is not as accessible as it should be to emergency response vehicles.

Surprisingly, according to Kiley it will also be cost efficient, although she was not able to disclose any of the costs or the amount of the actual savings. Renting the tent and other equipment for an on-campus ceremony is incredibly expensive. So supposedly, holding the event in Mansfield will actually be of equal or lesser cost to the school for more space.

Not only that, but one of the biggest issues in the eyes of a Curry College student was also addressed by Kiley. “And the parking…”

Case closed, see you in Mansfield.

With these changes, Kiley and the senior class officers are working to make commencement weekend as memorable as possible. Not only will The Xfinity Center be decked out in purple, but a special reception will be held on campus the day before for graduating seniors and their families. Students will get the chance to invite a staff or faculty member of their choice to meet their families and walk down memory lane together as they prepare to become Curry College Alumni.

The junior class has expressed concern about what their commencement will look like as we have moved through this process. Junior Connor Carignan told The Currier Times, “I think it’s only fair that we have a vote for our graduation plans, just like the seniors did this year.” In response to this, Kiley said, “I think we will see how this year goes, then we will have to determine if everything goes well and we are satisfied with the facility.”

Underclassmen, particularly members of the Class of 2020, are encouraged to attend Commencement to see what it’s like and help make an informed decision in the future.

Commencement will be held on Sunday, May 19th starting at 9:30 a.m.

Disabled Student Urges College to Remove Carpeting in Residence Halls

BY KELLY LEWICKI // FEBRUARY 15, 2019 //

You may have noticed the addition of some four-legged friends to our campus community.

Isabella Scott, a freshman Biology major, is legally blind. She was born with a juvenile form of macular degeneration. “It’s genetic, and started showing when I was around 8 years old. It affects my central vision, as well as some of my peripheral vision.” According to Scott, it can be explained as if someone were to put a thin layer of Vaseline over your eyes, preventing you from seeing clearly.

For the last year, her guide dog, O’Hara, has been by her side, giving her the independence she’s always wanted.

“I put all of my trust into her four paws.”

Scott takes pride in having always taken care of O’Hara entirely on her own. But since moving onto campus, she has discovered a challenge to taking care of a dog in a college dorm room: dogs sometimes have accidents.

While service dogs are extremely well-trained, house training included, accidents do happen. And when that does happen, Scott is left to try to clean it up. And each time she can’t, she faces up to a $50 cleaning fee.

“Although I have some vision, I will still explain it this way: Imagine putting a blindfold on and then being asked to clean throw up off of a rug,” she said.

The color and material of Scott’s carpeted floors make it even more difficult for her to see what she is doing. Ultimately, Scott would like Curry College to move away from carpeting in its residence halls altogether, saying they’re generally unsanitary to begin with.

Jen Maitino, the director of Residence Life & Housing on campus, said while she is in favor of the move away from carpet flooring, it would be costly. “Certainly, it would not be cost-effective to go in and rip everything out all at once, especially in areas where it was recently replaced,” said Maitino. “However, it would be worth exploring how we approach alternative flooring as spaces come up for carpet replacement.”

The basement levels of a number of residence halls on campus — Mayflower, State House, Main House, and others — are already not carpeted, but some student leaders on campus feel it would be unfair to relegate disabled students to those undesirable rooms. Basement rooms are usually not carpeted due to moisture issues, which can cause mold and other allergens. 

“Students with disabilities should always be prioritized in regards to housing and accessibility within our campus,” said Student Body President Rachel O’Donnell. 

Although Scott has created an online petition to raise awareness of the issue — she is about halfway to her goal of 200 signatures — there doesn’t seem to be much progress being made on-campus in starting discussions about how to make the changes she seeks.

When asked about her knowledge of the campaign, O’Donnell revealed, “Unfortunately, until you are asking right now, there hasn’t been any mention of the petition or campaign to remove carpet from floors in [residence] halls during our student forum. Every Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. we meet in the Large Meeting Room and discuss various student concerns and topics, and this should most certainly be one of them.”

For more information about Scott’s petition, go to change.org

Elections Are Won By Those Who Show Up

BY PAUL GRIFFIN // NOV. 2, 2018 //

With midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6, candidates’ get-out-the-vote operations are in full swing. The question, as it is every two years, is whether young voters will actually turn out at the polls.

It’s no secret that many young people choose not to vote. In the 2016 presidential election, only about 49 percent of millennials — those ages 18-35 that year — reported to have voted, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s about 20 percentage points less than the baby boomers (people ages 49-72), of which 69 percent voted in the election.

At Curry College, voter apathy is even worse. According to Student Government Association President Rachel O’Donnell, only about 25 percent of the student population voted in the latest SGA election. Students could vote through the Curry portal, meaning they didn’t even have to get out of bed to cast a ballot. “It seems to be a generational thing,” says O’Donnell.

Curry Psychology professor Eric Weiser says it’s understandable that many college students are slow to engage in politics.

“Young people, 19, 20, 21 who are in college, are worried about exams,” says Weiser. “They’re worried about papers, they’re worried about friends, what they’re gonna do with their lives. They’re not as worried about things that influences political attitudes like taxes.”

Weiser says he doesn’t see a lot of political engagement in his students, but reiterated that it was typical for college students to be less engaged than older voters. A study out of Tufts University in Medford, Mass., last year reported that voter turnout among college students in the 2016 election actually increased by 3 percentage points, to 48 percent, compared to the 2012 election, but that too is well below most categories of older eligible voters.

Professor Andrew Horn of the English Department believes that today’s students aren’t particularly engaged in politics because they don’t see how it connects with their lives.

“They feel as though they have nothing at stake,” says Horn, who remembers the feelings of impending doom when he was an undergraduate student during the Cold War. “We were all absolutely convinced there would be nuclear war between the United States and Russia, and that we were going to die.”

Of course, young people have plenty at stake in this midterm election. For example, a ballot referendum in Massachusetts asks voters to decide whether there should be strict limits on how many patients a nurse can care for at any one time. Voting “yes” would impose a patient cap, which would arguable require hospitals to hire many more nurses, while a “no” vote would maintain existing laws and rules.

“This is going to directly effect me when I graduate,” says Yasmina Resendes, a senior Nursing major at Curry. “I agree there should be a limit on how many patients a nurse should care for, but I don’t like the way this [referendum] is worded.”

“I think I’m more motivated to vote because Question 1 directly effects what I want to do for my job when I graduate,” says sophomore Nursing major Olivia Francis. “My nursing instructors have really been trying to inform us about how this would affect us, but they try to avoid pushing us one way or another.”

O’Donnell of the Student Government Association says it would be great if students could vote in state and federal elections on campus at Curry. “I think a lot more students would vote if it were more accessible,” she says.

Ultimately, though, voting participation comes down to engagement. If students don’t understand what’s at stake, for them personally or for others, they simply won’t put in the effort to cast a ballot.

Says Curry English Professor Karrie Szatek, “No matter the situation, you have to be able to bring it home.”