Spring ’14 Mack Meeting Live Blog: New Resident Village to be Built on Campus

5:33

That’s a wrap from the Mack Meeting. The crowd wasn’t quite as large or talkative as past meetings, so Hopey didn’t really have to break a sweat.

One quick note: students asked for grills to be placed in the New Hall quads, similar to those outside O’Brien and the Townhouses. It appears those will be added at some point and potentially even have some charcoal supplied for students.

Hopey ended with a parental “be safe, be smart, and have a good time” in regards to Spring Weekend, and wished graduating good luck and his congratulations.

5:28

More on the new buildings: They’ll be more sustainable. Andover and North Andover have pretty strict guidelines on sustainability, so that’s certainly a goal.

On Charlie Day: He’s an alum, and Hopey and his staff went down to visit him. Charlie was excited to come back to Merrimack, see some changes and speak at commencement. He’ll be available and around to meet people as well.

 

5:22 pm

Hopey just announced another Residential Village is going to be build on campus, and groundbreaking will likely take place in August or September. Hopey won’t reveal the location of the houses, but says people will “like where they’re going to go.” The reasoning is that plans have not yet been finalized with the town.

He also hopes to build another academic facility and more student commons and, once again, reiterated his desire for a bowling alley.

5:16 pm

Why don’t we have any 24-hour food services?

Answer: Hopey didn’t know that was the case. Neither did his Chief of Staff. But he says he will talk to Sodexo and work on changing that. Students then asked that the Warrior’s Den be the 24-hour option if one of the current dining options’ hours were to be changed.

Q: “If you take 3 classes, you pay for four. If you take 5 classes, you pay for 5.” Essentially, if you take 3 classes (12 credits) you pay for a full course load. The current overload fee sets in when you go above 19 credits. However, all classes are 4 credits, so this is a problem for any student trying to take a fifth class (20 credits).

Hopey – The school has been looking at this, and they hope to have a resolution soon. He thinks that the max you will pay for is 4 credits so students can overload at least one class without paying a fee, as was the original plan.

 

On Parking: “We don’t charge a lot of money for parking right now, so that is going to change.” Hopey says the school is trying to be environmentally conscious but hopes more spots could be created in coming spots. He added that they are continuing to look at priority parking (for upperclassmen or students with internships and jobs, for example), but “parking will always be difficult for us because of the land and the town community around us.”

He reiterated the immense cost of a parking garage and that he didn’t want to “charge $1,000 per spot, which we would need to do in order to pay for a garage.”

 5:12 pm

We’re underway.

First question: I came here because of the small school feeling. Where did it go?

Answer: Hopey says being “too small in the modern world isn’t good.” He cited needing more money for things like the $48 million in financial aid given out this year. The second reason is to meet a goal of 3,000 students, which Hopey aims to use for national recognition and making student degrees worth more. Finally, he cited adding new majors that are more up-to-date and current with this generation. With less students, he feels this is harder.

“We’re not going to be 10,000 students. We won’t be a Boston College or Villanova,  but we want to be a Providence or Quinnipiac, and they’re between 3,000 and 4,000 students.”

 

 

5:09 pm

Hopey is in the House a hopey

 

 

4:50 pm

Once again, it’s all eyes on President Hopey.

Hopey takes the stage in Cascia Hall at 5 p.m. for this semester’s Mack Meeting. For those who are new to the event, a mack meetingthe Mack Meeting usually takes place twice a year and is an open forum for students to ask questions of President Hopey about anything relating to the college. In the past, other notable members of campus staff and administration, including members of the IT team, Academic Deans and department heads, representatives from Sodexo, Student Government, and Police Services, among others, have been in attendance to better answer questions that Hopey himself may not have the most involvement in.

You’ll want to swipe in when you get here, because the first 100 students are entered for a door prize of more Mack Bucks. Let’s be honest: you want more Den food. If that’s not reason enough to come out, we don’t really know what is.

If you’d like to get reacquainted with some of the issues brought up last time, read up on our live blog from November

Some highlights: Last Mack Meeting, Hopey announced potential plans to put a dining hall in the first floor of O’Brien Hall and unveiled plans for a Deegan West Fireplace Lounge remodel. The remodel was supposed to take place over winter break, so how’s the process coming along? Past Mack Meetings have had other big announcements, such as the new Athletic Complex and Dunkin Donuts coming to campus.

Could there be a new residence hall plan in the works? How about that bowling alley Hope has wanted for so long? Those are just some of the topics that could come up tonight.

Side note: If you can’t make it but still want to have your question asked, tweet it to us @MCBeacon. You can follow us here for updates mainly, but we’ll update Twitter when we can.

Finally, there’s FREE pizza. And it’s here. Need we say more?

See you at 5.


Becoming Selene: Student Tells All About Gender Transformation

Karamarie Joyce ‘15, Editor in Chief 

Selene Cummings, a senior studying biology, is the first transgender person to be open about her gender at Merrimack. Over the past few years she has been through several changes both physically and mentally.

I sat down with her to learn more about the changes taking place in her life, and see how these changes affect her as well as the Merrimack community.

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Q: When did you begin to feel that you were female and not male?

A: I first started to feel that I was more female than male after I left my first school; I was going through the same thing most people go through, which is trying to figure out who you are. For a long time I had been questioning if I even existed, it got the point where I had to re-build myself from the ground up. Part of the building process was questioning everything, including gender, I realized even from middle school I was questioning myself, thinking “If I were a girl life would be easier.” I was thinking that at the time because I was looking at this group of girls, and they all seemed to be friends and get along, and at the time I had very few friends. I always seemed to get along better with the girls. That was the first time I ever really thought about gender. Men and women are basically the same to me, they’re just people. Since that point forward I questioned my own gender, my biological gender didn’t seem to matter as much as my mental gender.

Q: Who was the first person you expressed what you were feeling to?

A: That person was Elizabeth Harvey; she is my best friend. When I came out to her she said, “Honey, I know.” We went on to talk about how she knew, and she said she had noticed when I began to grow out my hair, and how I acted much differently than most 21-year-old guys. She assured me I was completely accepted and loved.

Q: What was the next step you made after coming out to Elizabeth?

A: I came out to my mother next on Christmas Eve — poor timing, but I just couldn’t hold it in any longer. She was quiet for a moment and then very calmly said, “I will always love you.” We kept it from my father for about a month; in that time I told my sisters. Their reaction was complete indifference. They assured me if I were a guy or a girl I’d still be their sibling and they supported me. My father was a little bit more difficult. We didn’t talk for a little while after I told him because he felt like he was losing a son. He came around eventually, especially after I spoke to his mother, my grandmother, about it. As the matriarch of the family, my grandmother’s acceptance set the tone for the rest of my family to follow.

Q: What was the first step in the process of changing your gender from male to female?

A: The first step for anyone going through this is to find a therapist. I found one and the process began to make sure I wasn’t making a mistake, and that I wasn’t, for example, a cross-dresser, which is a man who likes women’s clothes, but rather it was the issue of being one gender physically and another on the inside. After going to therapy for some time I was connected with a transgender doctor who prescribed me estrogen pills to begin my transformation.

Q: What effects did the estrogen pills have on you?

A: The most notable effect was the change in my emotions; they became much more intense once I began taking the pills. That took a long time to work out — because of the intense emotions I was feeling my doctor had to slowly increase the doses she was prescribing me. Other changes which took place over time were the softening of the skin and hair, and growth of breast tissue. Scientifically, adding the estrogen to my body made my brain suppress the production of testosterone.

Q: What was your birth name?

A: My birth name was Joseph Ryan Cummings. I legally changed my name to Selene Cummings

Q: How did the school respond to your arrival?

A: They had a very positive response. Once they realized I was transgender, many of the faculty went to see Gordene Mackenzie, a teacher who has done much of her research on transgender people. My advisers were still a bit wary and so were the Residence Life faculty, but after a few meetings most people got used to me. Res Life was particularly accommodating, allowing me to room with other women, and at my suggestion, as long as my roommate knew what they were getting into. Some of the most accepting people on campus have in fact been the monks, which was my largest concern. In fact I now feel more comfortable with them than the general student body.

Q: Have you run into any harassment?

A: I have only on a few occasions. New England is very accepting of the LBGT community compared to most places in the world. The only problem I ran into on campus involved a picture of myself and a rude comment taken by a student. When the administration found out about it, the picture was removed from Twitter and the student ended up apologizing to me. The whole incident made me feel more comfortable because it made me feel that the school would protect me if I ran into any more trouble in the future.

Q: What is the most difficult thing about transitioning?

A: In many ways, you are free to act like yourself, and look like what you want to look like when you begin to transition. Learning to walk with a sway in my hips has been fun, the clothes are so much nicer, and makeup is turning into one of my hobbies. For many male to female transgenders, removing facial hair and changing our voices is very difficult and takes a lot of time. Hormones take care of that when you’re a transitioning female to male.

Q: Why did you pick Merrimack, did you think it would be accepting?

A: Honestly I wasn’t sure about Merrimack College at first. It is advertised as a Christian school, not the most accepting bunch. They also don’t advertise their social diversity or acceptance that Augustinians in particular have toward the rest of the world and other ideas. The monks ended up being one of the most accepting bunch and the ones I’ve spoken with tend to greet me when we see each other around.

Q: Why did you decide to leave your old school and attend Merrimack?

A: I left Hesser College in order to study biology. They just didn’t have the facilities to teach it and I had heard that Merrimack College had a good biology program. It was as simple as that.

Q: Are you attracted to men or women or both?

A: I’m actually pansexual. No, that doesn’t mean that I’m attracted to frying pans. It means that gender has little to no meaning to me when I’m looking at a possible partner. This includes people who don’t identify as male or female. I do have other preferences though, so it also doesn’t mean that I’m just attracted to everyone. I still find confidence in one’s self, an intellectual mind and a healthy lifestyle very appealing.

Q: Are you involved in any campus activities?

A: I spend a lot of my time in the Media Center, one of the most accepting hangouts I’ve run across is in that office. From time to time I drop in with the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance), but I’m not one for being in a group or having a large friend base. I spoke in a panel the last time Merrimack hosted Social justice week and I make myself an open resource for anyone who wants to ask questions in a respectful manner.

Q: Are you in contact in any other people going through this transition? Are there support groups?

A: I do know a few people like myself. My primary physician is actually a male to female individual, which has helped a lot, as you might imagine. There is also a friend I have that doesn’t feel like they can transition because they would be rejected by their family. It makes sense to me; it’s quite frightening to put yourself in such a vulnerable position. I just try to be supportive and my friends are the same way with me.


Orange is the New Black Meets Blue and Gold

Schuyler Watkins ‘14, Associate Editor-in-Chief

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In just two short months, the Netflix original show “Orange is the New Black,” will air its second season, picking up where it left off: with Piper Chapman, an upper-middle-class, white female and her fate in an all woman’s prison.Prior to its premiere, last week the Merrimack community met the real Piper behind the survival comedy, Piper Kerman.

During a question and answer session, followed by Kerman’s lecture, students, faculty and members of the area community discovered the truth behind the “Orange is the New Black” series, Piper’s memoir with the same name, and Kerman’s experience at the Federal Correctional Facility in Danbury, Conn., which inmates who have been convicted of charges related to murder, drugs, and in Kerman’s case, money laundering.

Those who attended Kerman’s lecture in the MPR of the Sakowich Center heard more than just a tell-all of her experience in prison. She clinched the attention of the room, discussing the real issue with her situation — the dehumanizing and immoral system which throws people into American prisons daily. Supporting her statement with unimaginable numbers, Kerman explained, “200,000 women are in jail today, two-thirds of which are there for non-violent offenses.”

Kerman, an active member of the Women’s Prison Association, continued to explain her concerns with America’s prison system, including a fact that shows an 800 percent increase in incarcerated women since 1980. It became clear that Kerman’s mission for these lectures is to educate those who are unfamiliar with the prison system, as she was when she entered Danbury.

Kerman brought up her largest issues with the system, and that was race, gender, and the hierarchy of wealth in our society. She said, “My book is framed as a fish out of water story because no one expects an upper-middle-class white woman to go to prison, which is a funny thing given we invest so much in creating the institution of prison, and if they aren’t intended for upper-middle-class white women, then who are they intended for?

“I’d suggest if you were a young man of color from a poor neighborhood you would not necessarily have the opportunity to write a fish out of water memoir like mine because many people would not be at all surprised that you were in prison, and I think that is tragic and a societal flaw and issue we should look at,” she said.

orange

Kerman said African-Americans are four times more likely to get arrested for smoking marijuana, when, “let’s face it, white people smoke just as much pot.”

Kerman’s advocacy allowed an audience unfamiliar with the justice system to open their eyes to an operation that seems moral but, she argued, lacks an ethical nature.

Asked about the one message she wishes her audience observes from her memoir, Kerman answered, “What I hope is at the end of the book, they have that different idea who is in prison, why they are there, and just that they see the people in jail as humans, and not as inmates or criminals. When you recognize the humanity of the people who are there it makes us feel differently about what happens.”

Kerman continues to advocate for prison reform and justice, expressing joy in the newest bill to pass in Massachusetts, which no longer allows pregnant women to be shackled when behind bars.

“Orange is the New Black” returns June 6 to Netflix. Kerman admitted the show is a little more farfetched than what actually happened, but is satisfied with the way things are going.“I served 13 months out of 15, I got two months off for good behavior,” she said. “I’m a little better behaved than Piper Chapman.”


Joke of the Week

CJ Flannery ‘14, Staff Writer

Two men were digging a ditch on a very hot day. One said to the other,
“Why are we down in this hole digging a ditch when our boss is
standing up there in the shade of a tree?” “I don’t know,” responded
the other. “I’ll ask him.”

So he climbed out of the hole and went to his boss. “Why are we
digging in the hot sun and you’re standing in the shade?”
“Intelligence,” the boss said. “What do you mean, ‘intelligence’?”

The boss said, “Well, I’ll show you. I’ll put my hand on this tree and
I want you to hit it with your fist as hard as you can.” The ditch
digger took a mighty swing and tried to hit the boss’ hand. The boss
removed his hand and the ditch digger hit the tree. The boss said,
“That’s intelligence!”

The ditch digger went back to his hole. His friend asked, “What did he
say?” “He said we are down here because of intelligence.” “What’s
intelligence?” said the friend. The ditch digger put his hand on his
face and said, “Take your shovel and hit my hand.”

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By: Lance Hill ‘15


Lake Merrimack

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Tera Thay ’15 – Decided to enjoy Lake Merrimack by fishing in it.

 

 


Muscaro Impresses In Rookie Season

by Chris Mason ’14, Staff Writer

Carly Muscaro 2Freshman Carly Muscaro ran away with Northeast-10 Rookie of the Year honors for Women’s Indoor Track, and broke her share of records in a remarkable first season as a Warrior.

It’d be reasonable to rename the Merrimack 400 meter record the “Carly Muscaro,” as she broke the school record for the 400m dash by three seconds… and then proceeded to break it five more times throughout the course of the season. Muscaro said that breaking this record was the most special of all that she’s broken, because “It is my main event and I train so hard for it. It is a tough race both physically and mentally.”

The 400m is longer than a traditional sprint like the 100m dash, but too short to be considered a distance race, so it requires a strong degree of mental toughness.

Muscaro ran the event with such speed that she qualified for Division II Nationals in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She ran the 400m in 56.87 seconds, which was good for a 10th place finish, and missed becoming an All-American by less than half a second. While she’s proud of her finish, the Ashland, MA native looks at the trip as a learning experience moving forward.

“Going as a freshman exposes you to the atmosphere that you want to experience again someday. This pushes you to train harder and stay determined,” Muscaro said. “Nationals are forever embedded in the back of my mind. I got a sense of what it means to be a real college athlete. I can’t wait to go again. Now I have the knowledge of what it is like to be there so next time will be a bit easier.”

Track may appear as an individual sport in many of the events, but Muscaro is quick to credit her teammates for her personal achievements, as she points out, “Without them I wouldn’t be as successful as I’ve been.” Muscaro explains, “Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t really have a lot of technique. The upperclassmen helped guide me with my form and block work.”

Carly Muscaro 4Muscaro impressed in February’s Northeast-10 Championships at the Reggie Lewis Center finishing 3rd in her 400m with a time of 56.21 seconds. A week later she was even more remarkable in the NEICAAA Championships. The NEICAAA meet consists of all of the schools in New England, in all divisions. Muscaro finished 3rd again, against greater competition, posting her personal best (and new Merrimack record) of 55.03 seconds.

The three-time Northeast-10 Rookie of the Week has shown no signs of slowing down with the Outdoor Track season beginning. Muscaro won the 100m race against 71 other competitors at last weekend’s Tufts Snowflake Classic. She was also on the relay team that placed third in the 4×100 meter event, and the points she accrued helped Merrimack to a 4th place finish out of 24 schools in the Classic.

This won’t be enough for Muscaro though, as she’s an athlete that has no time for complacency.
“I have many goals for my track career here at Merrimack. I hope to return to nationals as an individual qualifier as many times as possible, to go to nationals with the 4×400 relay team, to break 55 seconds in the 400m, to be the NE-10 400 champion, to be the NEICAAA 400 champion, to and be captain of the team.”

But at the end of the day one objective stands out above the rest, as she summarizes, “My main goal is the become an All-American.”

Given the way she’s performed in her freshman year at Merrimack, I’d bet on Muscaro to achieve them all.


For Baseball: It’s All About the Team

by Justin Ruano ’15, Staff Writer

baseball3When you think of some of the best teams in sports it’s usually the case for a team to have an x-factor player or a few players on the roster to really watch out for. But that is not the case when it comes to the Merrimack baseball team, as this team has the mentality of a team atmosphere more than anything.

“We do not necessarily have an X factor player,” said fourth-year coach Jim Martin. “We really try to have a team mentality. From coaches to players, whatever your role is for the day or game we expect us to execute it. We don’t have one or two guys to look for. We may have great individual accomplishments during a game or week, but what matters to us is winning. We talk about doing what it takes to win and if we win individual accomplishments will come.”

This philosophy so to speak has really helped this team do well this season going an impressive 12-7 on the year with 23 games left to go, all of which will be going up against division and conference opponents. Fortunately for them, the team has done really well this year in conference play by going 6-2 on the year so far. They will be looking to keep up this great play by having a “headlight” approach and keeping everything in front of them for the rest of these 23 games remaining.

“The Northeast-10 is such a difficult conference and has so much depth. We have so many great coaches who work really hard and so many great players,” Martin said. “We just need to have a headlight approach and worry about what is in front of us and worry about what we can see. Continue to learn from our mistakes, play hard with great energy all the time no matter who we our opponent is.”

Having a team mentality and keeping everything in front of them has led them well this year. But if you are wondering what makes this team special you won’t have to wait any further to find out why.

“I think our family atmosphere is really special. It is now my fourth year so most of the players either went through the recruiting process with me or have been with me for four years. Me and my wife have dinners at the beginning of each semester at our apartment complex, we do many hours of community service including 5k for Haiti on Homecoming, the Mack Gives Back program in fall, a breast cancer walk in Boston (Martin and the baseball team won the community service award last year in the athletic department), team dinners at Fuddruckers/Panera bread, we have done team movie night,” said Martin.

“We have a great relationship with Father Jim Wenzel who is our team chaplain. So I would say the overall team camaraderie and relationships on and off the field contributes to our winning program.”


Men’s Lax Successful at Home

by Sean Talbot ’15, Staff Writer

The No. 8 ranked Merrimack Warriors lacrosse team is off to a 5-3 following a thrilling 11-10 win Wednesday afternoon against LIU Post. All three losses have come against ranked opponents, as the Warriors fell to top ranked and undefeated Le Moyne, in addition to one-goal losses at No. 3 Limestone (then No. 5) and No. 5 Dowling (then ranked No. 6).

Despite three early losses, Merrimack has not lost any home games this year. With a win Wednesday afternoon, the Warriors won their 16th consecutive home game, a streak that dates back to April 19, 2011.

This year’s team is looking to thrive under senior and junior leadership. Junior goaltender Moe Green talked about this.

“The team is looking really good. We’re young, but have a lot of depth,” he said. “Our goal for every season is to win the NE-10 tournament and make the NCAA tournament.”

Merrimack is a very good defensive team. Strong defenders like juniors Owen Jarem and Andrew Basler hold it down for defense coach and ground ball enthusiast Ted Biebeu. Merrimack averages 39.29 ground balls per game, the third-highest average in the entire country. The team is determined to win all the smaller battles in order to win the game.

“Coach Biebeu stresses consistency in the way we play,” Jarem said.

The Warriors won the ground ball battle again Wednesday (28-23) in their win against LIU Post. All remaining games will come against conference opponents for the Warriors, including three straight on the road. The Warriors’ next home match comes Wednesday, April 16 at 7:00 against St. Anselm.


Trying Year for Lady’s Lax

by Mathew Galvao ’17, Staff Writer

womenlax4This 2014 season for women’s lacrosse has been a trying one. With a 2-8 overall record and a 1-6 conference record, the Warriors stand 11th of 13 teams in the NE-10 conference. The Warriors also have played more games than any other conference opponent, meaning they have less time to try and make up lost ground.

With a new head coach in Michael Daly and many freshmen in the lineup it’s been a difficult year for the Warriors to rebuild with a new coach and new players. Daly feels that the inexperience and culture change has had an effect on his team’s struggles earlier on in the season.

“We graduated a lot of the starting lineup last year and a lot of veteran leadership. It’s been kind of remaking the whole team from scratch,” Daly said. “The culture change can be difficult. People have been put in roles they haven’t really been put in as far as playing more minutes, especially for younger players. That transition takes time and can be stressful and non-successful. Usually when that happens it’s going to be messy for a while.

Daly feels that he can see his team progressing offensively and defensively heading into the second half of the season.

“I’m seeing it on both sides of the ball. Our defense is really starting to gel. We threw a lot of defensive structures at them early which is a tall order to ask but we’re really starting to see that growth,” he said.

Daly is less worried about offense.

“Offense usually comes later, but we are finally starting to get some flow,” he explained. “Earlier we weren’t scoring enough goals. But offensively and defensively we are starting to click and that’s good.”

With a young team like Merrimack these growing pains and early struggles should be really beneficial down the road because of the experience the players are getting from it. These trials and tribulations could make the program that much better, and that is what Daly feels could benefit the program in the years to come.

“I think the experience they are getting now as far as on the field and learning a lot, I’m a strategic coach so I throw a lot at them. It’s always my philosophy for them to be the smartest players on the field. When you have smarter players on the field that’s the edge,” he said. “They are going to get so much game experience that by the time next year rolls around I think it’s going to make the program much, much better.”

Heading into the final third of the season and the rest of the year, Daly hopes that the team just keeps improving, keeps finding their identity on both sides of the ball, and he hopes they find some consistency.

“I’d like to see us continue to find our identity as a team offensively and defensively which I think is coming, and some consistency which I think is coming,” Daly explained. “I think we just started to turn that corner of consistency of effort. You have to compete to win.”


‘Team 30′ Poised for Great Season

by Lance Hill, Staff Writer

softball3Double plays, fastballs, pinch hitters, and home runs. We’re not talking about baseball; Merrimack softball will be like no other this season. With the adoption of their new inspiration of “Team 30” these Warriors are fine-tuning all their skills and working overtime to become a top contender in the NE-10 Conference.

Their record overall is 8-11, but the team’s recent performance does not justify their record. They have been getting after it in both practice and their past competitions. Junior catcher Jennifer Post and junior outfielder Courtney Ulak gave their feedback on the team, their performance so far early in the season and their individual strides and contributions to the team.

Post said, “We have adopted this term of ‘Team 30’. It is the 30th year of our program and 802 win of our program’s history and we want to tack on to that. We want people to know that we are a force to be reckoned with and that we are a team that deserves respect in the NE-10.

“Right now we are practicing what we are preaching,” she said. We, as a team, know if there is someone on second base we need to do whatever we can to move her over to third or to bring her in, and that is very important and needs to happen from here on out.

“Our coach is very good at making a line up plan paralleling our strengths and weaknesses,” she said.

Ulak gave her input on the team and how they perform.

“I honestly think we can take our division in our conference. We gotta be focused and ready to play. You have to be able to accept the fact you might fail and to be ready for the next opportunity. What I really like about the team is that we are very competitive in all aspects on our team. In both practice and inter-squads.”


Junior Formal 2014

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Junior Formal was held at Di Burro’s Function Facility in Haverhill


A Taste of Italy: Merrimack’s Pellegrinaggio Trip

James Sardella ‘15, 

Staff Writer 

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Recently, a group of about 40 Merrimack students and faculty members got to travel to Italy thanks to the Pellegrinaggio in Italia: In Search of Augustinian Community course offered here at Merrimack. The trip is a ten-day experience over the course of spring break, during which the group travels to Augustinian Italy and follow the footsteps of Saint Augustine, led by Father Jim Wenzel.

In order to get an idea of the trip, Matt Wilson (2015) offered to share his experiences. Matt explained that this is not just some spring break trip to Italy for fun, but rather, “It is an opportunity to travel while learning about a figure that is central to our college. You get a once in a lifetime experience while also having fun.”

Due to the extremely limited number of students that can attend this trip, students must fill out an application and then be interviewed before being selected for this experience. For those who are selected they must attend a class once a month, between September and February. This class, which runs two and a half to three hours each session, teaches the students about Saint Augustine’s life and the importance and relevance of all the places that they are going to visit in Italy.

When asked what the main purpose behind this trip is, Matt said, “Well, it is a spiritual experience. You get to experience an entirely new culture filled with places you have never seen and people you have never met and as you learn about Saint Augustine while following his footsteps, you begin to reflect on your own life and your own footsteps.” When Matt described his most memorable moment from the trip, he stated, “The best part was going to the incredible places and experiencing their wonder with the unique perspective that is only available through this trip. Father Jim has a lot of connections with the other Augustinians in Italy and it helped create a better feeling for everything.”

The Pellegrinaggio in Italia course satisfies the second institutional requirement in religios and theological studies and counts as a credited course for the semester. If you are interested in receiving more information about the Pellegrinaggio trip feel free to stop by the Office of International Programs and speak to one of the two study abroad advisors, Kathy Vaillancourt and Jessica Walsh.


Most Interesting Person: Timothy O’Leary

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

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Timothy O’Leary

 

Lauren Foster ’15, Staff Writer

If you’ve ever walked into O’Brien Hall on a weekend night, chances are this guy has asked to see your mackcard a few times. No, it’s not Mitt Romney, but rather the SRA of O’Brien, Tim O’Leary.

Last year’s recipient of The Ronald Reagan Memorial Award for “Worst Poker Face”, a superlative from the Student Government Association (SGA), is often complimented for his dreamy eyes, which are admired best, and most awkwardly, from close up. “Compliments on my butt are always weird, too,” he said.

Along with his fashionable style, he is also known for his impersonations. Whether it’s a celebrity, politician, or public figure, nothing is off-limits for him: “I’m told I have a mean Bill Clinton impersonation.”

Most students choose to come to Merrimack, but Merrimack chose O’Leary to come here. “I love the people, I love the mission, I love the community.”Many members of the community have lined up to shake his hand, as he is the SGA Treasurer and quickly makes friends on campus.

When he’s not making duty rounds on the weekend or working on budgets, Tim likes to venture around campus and camp out on the third floor of the Sakowich Campus Center―which is much safer than the camping trip to Canada where he used his scout skills to avoid being attacked by a bear, a story he will gladly tell to anyone who asks.

Most people like to play on the safe side, but not Tim. “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”

Although many college students are not sure of what they would like to do after walking across the graduation stage, Tim does, but it can change like the unpredictable weather this spring. “One day I want to be Olivia Pope, the next day Robert Kraft, maybe the pilot of Air Force One, it changes every day. I’m weighing my options. I might dabble with Hollywood … We’ll see.”

One thing O’Leary is sure of is his ability to give endless advice. What advice would he give students on campus? “You gotta give it your best, laugh often, look for the solution, not the problem. You’re in the good ole days now, make a power move as much as possible, don’t interrupt anyone’s interview for Most Interesting Person.”

Often times the resemblance to Jay Pritchett and Frank Underwood is evident. “But if I’m doing my job right, you’ll think I’m Jay.”

What about a theme song for himself? “‘That’s Life’, by Frank Sinatra, because this world keeps on spinning around. You gotta pick yourself up and get back in the race.”

Lastly, what can we expect from Tim this semester? “A shot at the SGA presidency, if I am fortunate enough to be nominated.”He’ll also be making his acting debut in “Arrive Alive”, a drunk-driving accident reenactment on April 15th at 4pm in the Deegan West Lot. “Most importantly, I’ve got to continue to keep the peace in O’Brien on duty.”

 

 


The Phenomenon of Bitcoin

Vince Bellino 15’, Financial Editor ,  Nicole Morrissey ’14 Staff Writer 

Bitcoin is a proliferating virtual currency used as a means of anonymous peer to peer transactions. It operates through a decentralized network, which implies that there is no authoritative oversight by a central bank. Therefore, bitcoin is not considered to be a fiat currency (i.e. dollar or euro) because it has not been declared to be a legal tender of exchange. One may use the currency to buy merchandise or as an investment looking for capital appreciation. It allows for easy international transferability through mobile applications and minimal associated costs because bitcoins are not held in a bank or subject to fiat currency regulations.

Bitcoins are traded on a various exchanges, like equities on the NASDAQ or NYSE. Mt. Gox was a Japanese based exchange that handled around 70% of all Bitcoin transactions on global basis. On February, 7th, 2014, the exchange filed for bankruptcy protection because they allegedly lost nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of bitcoins due to hackers. The value of the currency nearly lost 25% of its value in one day based on this prevailing news. So, would you want to own this virtual currency?

An individual’s bitcoins are stored in a “digital wallet”, which is secured in cloud storage or on one’s computer. Although “secured” in the cloud, they are not FDIC insured like our bank accounts. The anonymity of bitcoins also puts into question the potential for illegal drug trafficking and money laundering. Transactions are recorded in a public log, but the only identification is that of one’s wallet ID. So, the opaqueness of transactions may lead to continued pessimism about the ability to harness the potential for virtual currencies. Bitcoin is clearly in its developmental stages, but if the government can conduce ways to regulate and tax it, we may dispel of paper money.


Do E-mail Accounts Graduate with their Owners?

Alexandria Kasper ‘14, Staff Writer

During students’ four years at Merrimack College, their email is their everything. From checking it the minute they wake up to see if a class is cancelled, to emailing companies about internship and job opportunities and even just to read the Daily Digest, it becomes a very important tool of communication for everyone in the Merrimack community.

As graduation quickly approaches for seniors, many wonder..what will happen to our beloved email addresses post graduation? Will I still be able to access my e-mail after my time at college is finished?

After talking to the Merrimack IT department, it was hard for them to say what is going to happen in the future. They are in the process of creating a new email policy and there is currently no rule in place . “ Before students loose email privileges, they will be given plenty of notice,” says Chip Styles, Chief Information Officer. He also suggests that seniors about to graduate create a new personal email address with their first and last name and back up any personal information from their Merrimack inbox.

The O’Brien Center for Student Success gives similar advice. They encourage students to use a non-Merrimack email post graduation. They also suggest that students create one using first/last name identifiers and be as professional as possible.

Having a lifetime Merrimack e-mail address is just not realistic. Our e-mail addresses cost the school money while there are plenty of free email providers out there (G-mail, Yahoo, and Hotmail, just to name a few).

As we continue into our future, as proud of our alma mater we may be, we should start creating new titles for ourselves. So seniors…..start making and using new email addresses!


OnStagers Present a Psychedelic Take on Tartuffe

Kali Tudisco ‘15Staff Writer

This weekend, pants will be dropped, screaming tantrums will be thrown and young people will experiment with drugs – and it’s all happening onstage at the OnStagers’ performance of Molière’s Tartuffe, a French comedy which is over 450 years old but will be receiving a much more modern treatment at the Onstager’s performace.

Orgon (David Lemay), the head of a wealthy family, has fallen completely under the spell of Tartuffe (Mike Semonelli). Orgon believes that Tartuffe is a saintly and pious man who can teach the whole family how to be exemplary Christians, and he invites Tartuffe to live in his house. The problem is Tartuffe is a fraud, a hypocrite, and an extremely unpleasant person – a fact that is glaringly apparent to everybody except Orgon himself! Orgon’s family is thrown into turmoil, but he still refuses to believe that Tartuffe could have done anything wrong until he’s seen it with his own eyes. Fortunately, Orgon’s clever wife, Elmire (Meaghan Looney) is willing to arrange for that situation…

Thanks to the vision of assistant director Kevin Welch, this production of the play is set in Boston in 1968, with a distinctive twist that reflects the time period: instead of a fraudulent Catholic holy man, Tartuffe is portrayed in this version as a faux Hindu yogi. In the late 1960s, after the Beatles had made their famous trip to India and popularized yoga and meditation in the Western world, many Americans were drawn to gurus who could help them improve their spiritual lives.

Though the play is a comedy and the supposedly Hindu characters are frauds, the directors have been careful to ensure that Hinduism is simply a framing device for the show’s natural humor, rather than the punch line of it. “Our intention is not to mock other cultural and religious traditions,” explains director Kathleen Sills. “Instead, we seek to poke fun at Orgon’s blind devotion to a man who is not what he seems.”

As the play is a farce, the moments of comedy are hilariously overblown and very physical as well, with nonstop action and several truly shocking and ambitious moments. “The appeal stems from the play’s universal themes and the fact that from the beginning of the piece, we are in on the joke, which instead of spoiling the fun, only adds to it,” says Sills.

Tartuffe will be playing at the Rogers Center for the Arts at 7:30 PM on April 3rd, 4th and 5th, with a 2:00 PM matinee on April 5th. General admission is $10, but tickets are only $5 at the door for students!

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Alternative Spring Breakers Livin’ the Farm Life

Mary Unis ’14, Staff Writer

While most college kids around the country were binge drinking in the tropics during their spring break; a select number of Merrimack students were participating in Merrimack’s Alternative Spring Break service trips.

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Merrimack’s Campus Ministry creates service opportunities for students to participate in during their weeklong spring break in March, each year. This year, selected participants where sent to different areas around the country to give back during their time off.

Each of the five locations had two student leaders that were responsible for coordinating schedules and plans on a daily basis throughout the trip. Merrimack students Millie Boye and Amanda Ryan served as leaders during their trip to the Bronx, where they performed homeless and interpersonal outreach. Erin Shellene and Madison Ward led their group to Camden, New Jersey to engage in social work to those in need while Mike McGee and Christine Neel traveled to Baltimore, Maryland for homeless outreach. Anthony Baccini and Alexis Johnston participated in Habitat for Humanity in Greenbriar County. Annie McDonnell and Theresa Walsh led the last group as they travelled to Vanceburg, Kentucky to work with Glenmary Farms: ministry of presence and physical service work.

It was at Glenmary Farms in Kentucky where Annie McDonnell was completely immersed in the culture of the local area. They took the term “simple living” quite literally when they were stripped of their mobile phones and sources of time so they would be completely dedicated to the trip. McDonnell and the rest of the Merrimack students enjoyed every second of their week away from their technology driven reality’s as they made sure to respect the resources that so many of us take for granted everyday. McDonnell explains, “We limited our showers to no more than twice during the week, we didn’t wear make-up, and we didn’t shave. We were very conscious of our portion-control throughout the week and during different meals; and in addition to the service we participated in throughout the week, we also had ‘farm duties’ to take care of on the farm.”

By day they volunteered in construction or served in local food pantries and by night they travelled to local hot spots such as “Thurman Brother’s” who served as a family-style band that played country/bluegrass music in their garage where they were able to dance and sing along. McDonnell’s experience was everything she could have hoped for in an Alternative Spring Break trip and more. If service interests you, please visit the Campus Ministry office located on the third floor of the Sakowich Center.


Newfound Bacteriophage Named After Hopey

Ashley Yenick ’14, Copy Editor

On March 3, a group of Merrimack students found a new bacteriophage in a muddy tire track sample found on campus: Hopey, named after, you guessed it, Merrimack’s very own President Christopher Hopey.

Professor Janine LeBlanc led the team of students from her HMMI sea phages who discovered the bacteriophage. “A bacteriophage is a virus that infects bacteria. The word ‘phage’ in greek means ‘to eat,’” she said.

The students who participated in the were Anthony Preston, Allison Langone (Honor), Gwendolyn Vasquez, Miranda Gagnon (Honors), Michael DiVito, Joshua Gallant, Daniel Gomez, Julie Joyce, Emilee MacLean, and  Nicholas Flaherty (TA).

The bacteriophage was sent to the Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute for sequencing. Last year, LeBlanc applied to be a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as a part of the Science Education Alliance (SEA). This course is sponsored by Howard Hughes Medical Institute and held in the Center for Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences.

As a part of the HHMI SEA Phages course, students collect samples of soil in different areas around Merrimack’s campus. Since finding the Hopey bacteriophage, students in the course found more phages that they’ve been researching. LeBlanc said the Hopey Phage is sequenced with 75,586 base pairs of DNA.

LeBlanc said that this type of research is not only done at Merrimack but across the United States at other colleges and universities as well. In June, the Merrimack students that discovered Hopey will be presenting their findings with other students from other universities and colleges at the Janelia Farms Research Campus in Ashburn, Va.

Bacteriophage Press Release: http://www.merrimack.edu/live/news/1538-a-phage-named-hopey

 


Questions on the Quad

What do you think about Charlie Day being selected to speak at Commencement?

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Matt O’Neil ‘14- That’s who it is?! That’s fantastic!

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Pat Bradley ‘14- I’m not an Always Sunny fan but he’s funny so it should still be good.

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Sarah Whooley ‘14- It’s really exciting that a Merrimack alum who became so successful is coming back to speak to Merrimack students.

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Laura Martinez ‘14- Who is that? Is that the guy in Horrible Bosses?

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Tony Brunco ‘14- I’m really excited about this! Getting someone this big does wonders for the school, and lines us up to continue to get big names to speak at the college.


Movie Review: Blue Jasmine

Roger McCormack ’14, 

Staff Writer

“Blue Jasmine,” Woody Allen’s latest film, for which Cate Blanchett recently garnered an Oscar for best supporting actress, cleverly anatomizes modern American society. Exploring themes of class and manners, the film stands as a worthy addition to Allen’s venerable oeuvre.

The film charts the story of a déclassé socialite, Jasmine, played by Blanchett. Her cheating husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) has recently run afoul of the law through engaging in business pursuits that are dubious at best. Fraudulence leads to a prison sentence, followed swiftly by suicide.

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Jasmine has lost the wealth and cachet her husband provided, including manors and elegant fashion. Moving in with her working-class sister Ginger, played by the comely Sally Hawkins, places Jasmine in a more plebeian world. Nothing provoking more resentment than a bourgeoisie fall from grace, Jasmine attempts no adulteration of the contempt in which she holds her sister, her life, and her choice of partners. Jasmine’s character and values come out with clarity when her sister asks Jasmine how she can be broke, since she has come packing Louis Vuitton luggage and a Chanel suit. Jasmine can only respond with perplexity to the question; indeed, with horror, as these brands constitute the core of her existence. Like Mrs. Bucket (bouquet) on Masterpiece Theater’s “Keeping Up with Appearances,” Jasmine’s real name is Jennet.
Allen’s skills come to life in his witty contrast of upper- and lower-class life. Rather than adopt the orthodox liberal view of a virtuous — both spiritually and materially — underclass, Allen pitilessly evokes a world of cheap pleasures and violent, albeit passionate and devoted, men. Ginger, though young, is divorced, and has taken up with a new suitor only nominally different from her former husband.

The film relates Jasmine’s previous life with her husband Hal through a series of flashbacks, indicating that, though inordinately prosperous, malaise and discord also abounded in the couple’s life, nay, were a very part of their prosperity. Ginger’s later generosity in taking Jasmine in is effectively contrasted with the disdain in which Jasmine holds her sister and then- brother-in-law, Augie, when they had come to visit. Loathing her time with Ginger, flashback-Jasmine confides to Hal that she looks forward to the exit of her unfashionable sister. Bereft of any devotion to family — but, not, of course, when she is in dire need — Jasmine’s days consist of shopping and lunches with affluent friends, followed by soirees at the couple’s palatial manor.

Predictably, Jasmine’s interior life is impoverished, with no real culture or solidarity to sustain a flourishing existence. Her existence with Hal depicts the superficial values of the family. Engaging in what Heidegger called “idle talk,” Jasmine is also easily placated by baubles and jewels from Hal, reflecting the profound depths of chauvinism and patriarchalism that masochistically enliven her. Allen raises a pointed question: Is wealth a true arbiter of class and moral values? The answer is clearly no — at least wealth unaccompanied by a broader set of commitments, both ethically and culturally.

Thus, the superficial differences between Ginger and Jasmine are soon exploded by the arc of the film. Jasmine gives thought to going back to school, which she says she had dropped out to marry Hal, but her rhetoric arouses a correct posture of skepticism. Unable to find the vigor to accomplish the task of completing her degree, Jasmine goes to work as a secretary in a doctor’s office, to diminishing returns. She is incompetent and when her boss makes overtures in the office, the results are disastrous, leading Jasmine to leave the job.

In a flashback, Hal’s many brazen infidelities are revealed, with Ginger witnessing Hal taking a woman out to lunch in Manhattan. She debates with her husband whether she should tell Jasmine — a dialogue loaded with ambiguity, recognizing the perils of the situation. Jasmine eventually learns of Hal philandering from another friend, and is predictably shocked. Rather than depict Jasmine as a cuckolded lover, without a clue, Allen instead portrays Jasmine’s boundless skills of self-deception.

While Allen directs barbs at typical targets — wealth, bourgeois values, materialism — the clichéd liberal/progressive solutions he offers in so many of his films are nowhere to be found in “Blue Jasmine.” The principal antagonists in the pantheon of Allen’s films, from “Annie Hall” to “Midnight in Paris,” have typically been of a conservative ethos. Whether the purported anti-Semitism Allen finds in Diane Keaton’s hick family in “Annie Hall,” to the right-wingers of “Midnight in Paris,” foiling and heaping ordure on protagonist Owen Wilson’s dreams to be a writer in Paris, Allen’s cultural criticisms have mainly emanated from the left. How pleasing than, to see him dig a bit deeper in “Blue Jasmine,” reflecting profound questions about culture, morals and values that cannot be legislated away. While a move to the right would be the most unexpected of Allen’s many career metamorphoses, the implications of “Blue Jasmine” demonstrate that it is never too late to transition to the dark side of the political spectrum.


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