Curry College Looks to Land Mount Ida Students

BY COLE McNANNA // May 3, 2018

Since Mount Ida College in Newton announced its impending closure last month, Curry College has been one of the leading schools aiding students in finding a new home.

Mount Ida President Barry Brown informed faculty, staff, and students via email in early April that the school will be absorbed by UMass Amherst. Mount Ida students would be granted admission to UMass Dartmouth, located in the southern tip of the state, approximately 60 miles from Newton and Boston.

Mount Ida previously explored merging with Lasell College, also in Newton, both the parties couldn’t come to an agreement. In the end, Mount Ida’s board of trustees decided that the last best option was shuttering the financially strapped college altogether.

“We were getting emails almost every day about what was happening…they were taking us step-by-step with it,” said Mount Ida sophomore Melissa Gilson, an Early Education major, about the potential merging with Lasell. “Then we got an email saying [the merger] wasn’t happening and then two weeks later it’s, ‘School’s closing now; sorry we got bought out.’”

Curry senior staff members and various academic departments quickly jumped into action. With more than 1,000 Mount Ida undergraduates needing a new college to attend, this posed an opportunity for Curry to good by those students while at the same time to do well financially through an influx of additional tuition and room and board.

Michael Bosco, assistant vice president of academic affairs at Curry College, who worked in Mount Ida’s Enrollment Management department from 2005-2010, led a team at Curry that included Financial Services as well as Admissions.

“We got faculty department chairs engaged in looking at how our curriculum and the Mount Ida curriculum align and where there could be some synergy between programs,” said Bosco. “Mount Ida had some specialized programs that we don’t offer here, and then we have some programs that are very similar.”

As an example, he noted the Psychology curriculum between the two colleges varied slightly, but “the department figured out how to make it work for students.”

“There’s a course here that is almost equivalent to the course they offered, so we’ve developed a portfolio assignment which allows students to demonstrate the proficiencies to meet that course.”

To date, more than 150 Mount Ida students have applied to transfer to Curry College, one of many areas schools that have courted the newly displaced undergraduates. A certain percentage of those students will be accepted, and a smaller percentage will actually enroll.

“I can’t predict what the yield will be on that yet,” said Bosco. “The goal is to help these students land on their feet. They’ve sort of had the rug pulled out from under them.”

He also noted that with most schools accepting applications throughout the summer, there isn’t a hard-and-fast deadline that students need to meet. However, “we’d like to see as many students committed by June 1 so we know how to proceed throughout the summer and what adjustments we may need to make in order to facilitate the students properly.”

Not only has the Admission Department stepped up to provide expedited review of applications, financial aid packages, and transfer credit review, but the Athletic Department has been busy recruiting prospective transfers.

“We didn’t want to feel like we were being vultures because we heard a lot of stories about schools that went in there just trying to pick away at people,” said Curry Athletic Director Vinnie Eruzione. “We didn’t do it that way. We had a nice conversation and asked them, ‘How can we help out? What can we do to service your students and, more specifically, your student-athletes?’”

Eruzione has a list of Mount Ida student-athletes, taking up more than two pages, who have applied or been on a tour of Curry since news of the school’s closure broke.

Controversial Children’s Book Author Talks About Social Change

BY SARAH SIMMONS // March 8, 2018 //

Michael Willhoite, author and illustrator of numerous children’s books about LGBT families, spoke to the Curry College Community about how art has the ability to advocate for social change.

Willhoite, who spoke on Monday during an Honors Program sponsored event, has composed 16 books, many of which have been challenged due to content relating to LGBT families.

According to the American Library Association (ALA), his most popular children’s book, Daddy’s Roommate, was the second most challenged books between the years of 1990 and 1999, resulting in its banishment from various libraries and schools.

Jayson Baker, a communications professor and Director of the Honors Program, said he asked Willhoite to speak on campus because he breaks the traditional stereotypes associated with both military veterans and the gay community.

“Michael is a pioneer in the mission to promote tolerance,” stated Baker.

Willhoite told the audience that much of Daddy’s Roommate grew out of his own sexuality. The protagonist in the book is unnamed and he explained that his idea was for the character to be “the everyone” for the children of LGBTQ parents.

While one of the intentions of his book was to promote tolerance, he explained that there were plenty of people who were uncomfortable with the book because they felt as though it promoted homosexuality.

“Yeah because Moby Dick is promoting the love of whales too,” replied Willhoite.

Willhoite’s works have subjected him to more adversity than just being barred from schools. He mentioned that he has received copious amounts of death threats both via voicemail and postal service.

In addition, every year for ten years, he got a postcard saying he should, “forget all that homosexual stuff and come back to Jesus.”

However, his career has endured because of a lack of willingness to give into these threats and went on to a question and answer session with everyone in attendance.

One student asked what advice Willhoite would give to someone facing adversity.

Stressing the importance of calling attention to injustice, he said simply, “Hang in there and tell everyone.”

After the event, Willhoite explained the importance of media representation.

“I think the media has been a major influence in making LGBTQ issues comfortable for mainstream society,” he stated. “And of course, children in more traditional families can benefit by reading my book and others like it. Finding that different cultures and groups are worthy of respect is the true beginning of education.”

Although not everyone was so quick to hop on the bandwagon and acknowledge the work of an outlier in the community. April McAllister, sophomore and president of the Gender Sexuality Alliance, stated she was disappointed with the choice of the speaker.

“They picked the whitest, most privileged person from the LGBTQ community and it is not an accurate portrayal of the experiences of all members of the community.”

She emphasized the importance of discussing intersectionality and privilege in relation to these topics.

However, at the end of the day, Professor Baker took away more positives than negatives and stated he would love to have Willhoite back on campus in the future.

“Honors students need to recognize that our identities intersect rigid classifications,” said Baker. “Life is more complex than many dominant forces in the culture would like us to think.”

Curry Students Honor Trayvon Martin, Host Discussion to Inform Others

BY LUCAS FERREIRA // March 1, 2018 //

An informational session concerning the Black Lives Matter movement was held earlier this week to provide a space for students to discuss current racial issues, perceptions, and differences in a safe environment.

The event was sponsored by Women and Gender Studies, the Multicultural Student Union and the Black Student Union to commemorate the six-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder, widely believed to be the starting point for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The facilitators made a point to present various images of African Americans who were also subject to deadly force by police officers.

The conversation ended up turning towards students’ and faculty’s thoughts concerning racial perceptions on campus. Such thoughts that surfaced involved how students from different backgrounds interact on campus, and multiple questions that were aimed at specific societal expectations versus those of others.

Dr. U. Melissa Anyiwo, a Politics and History professor at Curry College, attended the event and was impressed by the collective efforts of students to discuss these issues that are often considered ‘sensitive’ for normal conversations.

“I thought [that] was an incredibly effective event,” Anyiwo stated in admiration of the talk. “…but more importantly, I think we learned how to communicate with each other.”

Beyond providing general information and dispelling disinformation about the movement, students were encouraged to talk about their personal views regarding police, personal safety, school shootings, and the distance students maintain by forming comfort groups to feel included within the school.

“I feel like what came out in the room was that both students, white and non-white, are afraid to actually communicate because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing or being perceived wrong,” Anyiwo noted.

A big topic that came up during the conversation was the idea of self-segregating groups of students, and the idea that while it provides comfort to be with people of similar races or ethnicities, it does not resolve the overall problem of unifying the student body.

Forcing students to come together and acknowledge there is a problem could be a solution, however, a forceful approach by faculty and staff to help this could also prove unhelpful if students don’t feel comfortable in breaching these topics.

Anyiwo suggests that perhaps meeting once a month could be beneficial to keeping these conversations active and at the forefront of students’ minds, especially if they’re established in a respectful, controlled space with regulated rules to keep the conversation civil.

Black Lives Matter was founded by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi in 2013 after nation-wide protests erupted after the killing of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and other notable victims of fatal force used by police.

Students present during the meeting were able to express themselves in an unguarded manner, specifically giving voices to problems on campus that normally wouldn’t be addressed, and providing the opportunity for new voices to be heard.

At the end, students were asked to write positive messages on rocks to later be placed in Westhaver Park, in front of the Student Center.

This event demonstrates that Curry College students want to be fully heard regarding diversity issues on campus, and are beginning to take that representation and voice into their own hands.

Sophomore Removed From Campus

BY COLE McNANNA // Feb. 16, 2018 //

Sophomore Psychology major, Michela Flowers, the subject of some of the first hate crimes reported on campus, was removed from campus Thursday following an expression of her frustration.

Ever since a note was left on her car, Flowers had been meeting with Student Affairs, Public Safety as well as the Diversity Coordinator in order to create change on campus. However, with not much change to show, Flowers was losing hope in those in charge of the school.

One of the movements Flowers was trying to push was a more lenient parking policy, citing she felt unsafe walking the campus after already being the target of a hate crime.

She mentioned that Thursday, she was running late to class after being in Health Services dealing with a stomach bug. Flowers said the Mayflower lot was closed off to those without a pass and she ended up parking in the Public Safety parking lot, earning her a $50 fine when she got out of class.

“I came back from class with a ticket. I got in my car, with all my windows down, and played ‘F— The Police,’” Flowers stated.

She explained that Director of Public Safety, Paul King, came outside and pointed over his shoulder, meaning to keep it down for the neighbors.

“So I turned up my music,” said Flowers. “He mocked me before I rolled up my window, so I played the music louder.”

After that, she left to go back to her room before having to come back for another class later on. She again pulled into the PS parking lot, playing the same song. However, as she turned out of 940 Brush Hill Road, a Milton Police Officer pulled her over, handing her a $55 noise complaint ticket.

In addition, he informed Michela that she was to leave campus and not return until the Student Conduct Office got in touch with her to schedule a meeting.

Chief King confirmed the events but was unable to delve deeper into details due to the case’s open nature.

Flowers ended up staying the night at a friend’s house in nearby Taunton before receiving a phone call from Director of Student Conduct, Melissa DeGrandis, confirming her Tuesday afternoon meeting.

However, before that meeting in four days, Flowers was on the schedule at her off-campus job in Westwood which she will be unable to attend since the necessary belongings are still in her room.

“It’s like the system doesn’t care that these are real people with real-life situations,” Flowers noted.

The news was first reported on Facebook, with senior Samuel Piscitelli posting a message compiled by student activists with whom Michela was working with to create change.

Flowers Note
Credit: Samuel Piscitelli’s post in Curry College Class of 2018’s Facebook page

Piscitelli mentioned that the group had been growing as more and more found out about what happened.

That was put on display by the amount of re-posts and shares that the note got across social media platforms.

This story is developing and will be updated as details emerge.

 

Curry Invests in Academic Expansion

BY COLE McNANNA // Feb. 12, 2018 //

To the tune of $22 million, Curry College is building on its academic strengths in healthcare and the sciences.

The new Science and Integrated Learning Commons, the college’s first new academic building in 12 years, is scheduled to open in January 2019. It will eventually connect the Science Building and Levin Library, enclosing the southwest corner of the academic quad.

Following SILC’s debut, the Science Building will receive an interior renovation set to finish in August later that same year.

The Academic and Advanced Performance Center, which opened in 2006, was Curry’s most recently constructed academic building. Bell Hall, which opened in 2014, is largely a residence hall but also features classroom and learning spaces.

CBT Architects, which designed many of the college’s newer buildings, including the Student Center and Bell, produced a video of what SILC will eventually look like.

The addition has been in the administration’s sights for a long time, said President Ken Quigley, noting a need to improve academic facilities, especially the aging Science building. He said Curry is working to provide students with the best opportunities for success in their fields of study.

The new building will feature approximately 22,000 square feet over three floors, with classrooms, labs, offices and study spaces throughout. And although “Science” is in the building’s name—until someone makes a sizable enough donation to earn naming rights—the facility won’t be restricted to only those students.

SILC will feature individual study spaces and rooms for group collaboration, some of which will be open 24 hours of the day. In addition, the building will house a first-floor café.

Susan Pennini, vice president of institutional planning, said the college wants to “wow” students with architecture that revives the campus while at the same time better serving their needs.

She mentioned drawing students into the building and ultimately getting them to think, “Oh, this is here, too? I need this.” To that end, SILC will house various academic enrichment offices, including the Writing Center, the Speaking Center, and the Academic Success and Advising offices.

Pennini went on to echo President Quigley’s thoughts of creating the “Student Center of the quad,” giving students another option for study spaces, dining, and places to relax and take a breath.

Freshman Communication major Dan Coughlin said he looks forward to making use of the new space.

“I’m excited for it to go up because I’ll have a spot to do my homework,” said Coughlin. “I never do it in my room; I’m too distracted. But it’ll be good to go somewhere and bang it all out in one sitting.”

However, another student was hesitant to jump onto the bandwagon of acceptance for this new building.

“The issues Curry has been having with the student body and how they’ve been interacting with the hate crimes…is there a way to put [the money] towards that kind of stuff?” asked sophomore Communication major Mark Vranos.

“But if this building is going to be helpful in another way, then great,” he added.

Pennini said the building is part of an ongoing effort to bolster the college’s retention rate—the percentage of first-year students who return for their second year—and to improve academic support services.

“Buildings are a reflection of the ideas we have,” she added.

Those ideas clearly involve a lot of glass, as one side of the building is almost entirely windows, adding a modern touch to the traditional brick-and-mortar and Tudor-style campus.

IMG_4598.JPG
Windover Construction taking up valuable real estate in the parking game. // Image Credit: Cole McNanna ’18

The building’s extension into part of the library’s parking lot will force the disappearance of a handful of parking spots on a campus already dealing with parking issues. But with Public Safety now in the building previously used by Health Services, more parking spaces are available in the Mayflower lot.

Senior Maddie Libuda believes students will enjoy the new facilities and is only moderately disappointed that she won’t get to make use of them herself.

“I think I’m OK with it because the last four years we’ve had the new Bell building and a few new buildings come…1016 [Brush Hill Road] is nice,” the Sociology major said. “It would have been nice to have 24-hour study lounges on campus, but other than that I don’t really think we’re missing out on anything.”

If she’s going to miss anything, it could be the overhanging tree that always welcomed you to the Quad on a brittle 10-degree day; “I think the sad thing was that they ripped out one of the most beautiful trees on campus to put this building in,” the soon-to-be-graduate ended.