Residential Life’s apartment renovations continue

With the completion of the Hillside apartments this winter, the UMBC construction projects have entered their third phase. The renovations of theNanticoke, Gunpowder, Monocacy, Sassafras, Chincoteague and Tuckahoe Terrace apartments are currently in progress.

“I like the new apartments, they are much cleaner than the old ones,” said Julian Toliver, senior media and communications major. Toliver moved into the Casselman building in the Hillside community during the winter as phase 2 of construction came to an end.

Residential living spaces were not limited by these renovations due to the expansion of Patapsco Hall last year. Residential Life scheduled the renovations to coincide with the new wing’s opening to prevent the displacement of residents. Once phase 3 is completed, a total of 225 new spaces will have been gained.

Phase 3 is planned for a midsummer completion. Two additional projects in progress include the new Apartment Community Center, and a widened and repaved Terrace Circle. Also in the works are new trash and recycling enclosures, and a large patio area with seating and grills. Next fall, Potomac Hall will be updated, followed by West Hill apartments the following year.

Many Hillside residents are happy that their service desk, normally located in Terrace, has been moved to the Deep Creek building for the next nine months. “I’m happy that we are able to continue desk services while the renovations continue,” said Douglas Copeland, Terrace and Hillside community director.

“It is way more convenient that the desk is closer to us now,” said Jasmine Williams, junior psychology major, who has been a Hillside resident since last fall. “Now we’re definitely going to get our mail more often.”

When the community center opens in nine months, there will be more space available for community programming, studying, meetings, offices and laundry services. “That’s when I will really be excited!” said Copeland.


Hrabowski to speak at upcoming TED conference TED Talks

Published by The Retriever Weekly on 1/29/13

For the second time in four months, President Hrabowski is scheduled to speak at an upcoming TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. On February 26, he will discuss the importance of encouraging students to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and about the successes UMBC has had as an innovative institution.

“We must change the culture of science and teaching,” Hrabowski said at the 2012 TED Mid-Atlantic conference in October. His goal is to continue the growth in research and instruction atUMBC to prepare all students for success. “We are rethinking the approach in such a way that students are empowered to take charge of their education,” he said.

TED is a nonprofit organization that holds a variety of international conferences, events and talks pertaining to technology, entertainment and design. It aims to bring some of the world’s most talented thinkers and doers together to inspire change through ideas.

Hrabowski wants students to continue to work with one another to make the learning experiences associated with STEM majors more enjoyable. “It is possible for children of all races to succeed in the arts, to succeed in science and for America to help the entire world through brain power,” said Hrabowski during his speech in October.

“Most people don’t realize how important those in the STEM fields are to an economy and country as a whole,” said George Abumere, senior computer engineering major. “They play a big role in innovations and creating jobs. Hrabowski certainly understands that.”

With the success of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program and of the university as a whole,UMBC continues to rise as one of the country’s top colleges. Students have access to an abundance of resources and creative approaches to learning.

“I appreciate what he’s doing in terms of encouraging STEM majors,” said junior Ria Smith. As a member of a STEM program, she understands Hrabowski’s push to expand the academic field. “These majors do contribute a lot to society and will offer students great opportunities and experience,” she said.

UMBC looks back with civil rights leaders

Published to The Retriever Weekly on 12/30/12

The Dresher Center for the Humanities held a discussion on Wednesday, Dec. 5 in the Performing Arts and Humanities Building Theater during which panelists discussed the role of the youth in the Civil Rights Movement. Students, faculty and guests filled the theater at 4 p.m. to listen.

“As we look back at the past and at different parts of our lives, we see things differently,” said President Freeman A. Hrabowski. As a child in the1960s, Hrabowski participated in the children’s march for the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama.

“It was a painful and raw experience,” said Hrabowski during his speech. He discussed topics of social class, his privileges in a Deep South middle-class neighborhood as well as controversies about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the movement.

Joining President Hrabowski on the panel was Civil Rights Leader and Former Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Julian Bond, author Andrew B. Lewis and Taylor Branch, both an author and historian who moderated the discussion.

During his speech, Lewis, author of the book The Shadows of Youth: The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation, explained: “African Americans broke the law in order to be arrested and show the immorality of segregation. Young people should be inspired by the movement and use it to think of new forms of activism.”

Later on in the discussion, Bond took the time to explain the role of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which emerged during the 1sit-ins of the 1960s. As a founder of the organization, he described how the organization evolved and was a key factor in youth involvement in the southern movement.

“I think one of the things we see is that this kind of relative prosperity can make people more politically engaged,” said Lewis during the panel discussion. All panelists emphasized the importance of young people becoming actively involved in their communities.

The discussion came to a close around 5:30 p.m. and was followed by a Q&A as well as refreshments in the lobby. “This was definitely enrapturing,” said sophomore and economics major Valerie Parks. She and many other UMBC students were moved by the speakers. “The audience was gripped with emotion,” she said.

A Place of Unity

Exquisite sculptures, striking paintings and arresting drawings. A rich history lies within these lofty marble walls in the heart of the nation’s capital since its establishment in 1968. This is the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where master artists like Georgia O’ Keefe and Christo tell the American story through their works. This engaging aura is also present outside on 8th and F Street NW, where residents, passer-biers and tourists mingle collectively along the buildings’ stairs. Stories are also told here, perhaps a recap of the day’s fun or reminiscent memories from high school. This is a special place of gathering that is here to stay.

The UMBC Melting Pot

Sitting in The Commons on a weekday afternoon will usually offer a decent reflection of the student population at UMBC. Students are always either rushing to class, grabbing some lunch or chatting it up with their friends. There’s your occasional loner reading the daily newspaper or gazing into their glossy laptop screen. A distinct mixture of aromas constantly lingers in the air; scents of onion and spices from Mexican cuisine along with tangy scents from the days featured chicken dish at Jow Jing.

The dreadfully long lines that the lunch hour brings have shortened with an exception of the Salsarita’s line expanding and shrinking on and off. The sounds of friendly mingling range in volume, some conversations more private than others. Students might stop in their path to class for a quick hello and goodbye while others sit in groups discussing their anticipated weekend line-up of fun.

The fluorescent display of international flags hangs high above the long centered wooden tables creating the perfect visual array of diversity. Despite the unifying aura offered from the flags above, the same aura seems to be lacking down below. Individuals tend to cling to those most similar to themselves, creating little cliques; the “Commons Cliques”. You have your Greek life crews who gather at one table all matching in apparel representing which sorority or fraternity they commit to. Then you have your hipsters playing the latest music aloud with friends or with their Beats by Dre headphones draped over their ears. You have your techy Mac book kids who are all off in one corner glued to their laptops isolated from the world. Finally you have your lunch loners-those simply in The Commons to eat and proceed with their day.

It is safe to say that people gravitate to those they are relatable to. Being in The Commons on a weekday afternoon is a prime example of this, as students stick to who they know or the crowd most analogous to themselves, for the most part. And with this pattern, the “Commons Cliques” may never melt away.

UMBC New Student Book Experience shares a legacy

Healthcare ethics in the medical field have been and continue to be a controversial issue in the U.S. In lieu of the 9th annual New Student Book Experience a presentation was held in the University Center (UC) Ballroom at 7 p.m. on October 9 to discuss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and its relation to our country’s past and current healthcare dynamic.

“We were provided with an intimate look at the life of Henrietta, and at the same time, we saw how her life was impacted by science” said Assistant Vice Provost Jill Randles. Attendees of the program got a chance to see up close how research, health policy and stereotypes can influence a patient’s treatment and livelihood.

This year’s book choice tells the story of a woman named Henrietta Lacks who became infected with cervical cancer after moving to Baltimore, MD with her family in 1951. During her treatment process at Johns Hopkins Hospital, a doctor retrieved samples of her tissue without consent to conduct cell research. Author Rebecca Skloot tells Lack’s story in much greater detail in the book.

“The story of Henrietta Lacks raised many moral issues” said Ruth R. Faden from Johns Hopkins Berman Institution of Bioethics during the discussion. Faden gave a very detailed summary of the Lacks’ story, focusing on the biomedical and social justice aspects. “We should not let Henrietta Lacks’ scientific importance overshadow her human one” she said.

Lack’s story is especially significant because of the scientific breakthrough her cells offered after her death in 1951. The “HeLa cell” was created-an immortal cell extremely critical to the development of the polio vaccine and other life threatening diseases. These cells are still used in scientific research today.

“She was a giving person, someone who really loved people” said Sunny Lacks Jr., son of Henrietta. Sunny was joined by David Lacks, Henrietta’s grandson, for the closing discussion about her life and controversy in the medical field. “It’s a good feeling knowing she made a difference in other people’s lives” said Sunny.

The Lacks story continues as an issue in the biomedical fields due to the controversy revolved around patient consent and compensation. Her family has not received any true compensation or reward for the major medical benefits resulting from Lacks’ cell tissue.

“Her story is definitely touching and the discussion was informative” said senior psychology major Comfort Oke. Along with Oke and many other UMBC students were professors, administration and UMBC visitors in attendance who filled up the UC.

This year’s New Student Book Experience was made possible by its cosponsors-the Office of Institutional Advancement, Division of Student Affairs, Welcome Week Committee, the Dresher Center for the Humanities and the Office of Undergraduate Education- and UMBC campus partners.

All students, regardless of major, should take the time to read this year’s book choice, as we all live in a society affected by the U.S. healthcare system.“Henrietta’s story has given all of us the opportunity to learn from each other” said Randles.