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.

New MD state budget will greatly benefit UMBC


O’Malley’s 2014 Fiscal Year budget for USM will advance UMBC campus


Summary: A new Maryland state budget is currently under legislative review and will potentially keep university tuitions low in order to increase enrollment rates and completion.


By: Ashley Edokpayi

This week UMBC’s conference committee returned to Annapolis, MD to continue in the legislative process for the new Maryland state budget. For the first time in five years, Governor O’Malley is increasing budget funds for the University System of Maryland (USM) to support enrollment growth and college completion.

“Higher education is so important and keeping tuition low gives students more incentive to finish their degrees” said Director of the SGA Office of Community and Governmental Affairs Meghan Carpenter. Carpenter currently interns for MD Senator Richard S. Madaleno who is one of many advocates for the USM budget increase.

“A lot of students are self sufficient, and if they can spend less time working to pay for tuition and more studies it will definitely be beneficial” said Carpenter.

UMBC will potentially receive $7.1 million in increased financial support from the state if the proposed budget is approved by the legislature. In addition, $3 million in additional tuition revenue will be allotted. The budget will enable the USM Board of Regents to hold in-state undergraduate tuition increases at 3 percent, keeping Maryland’s leading position in minimizing growth in college costs.

Since 2008, Maryland college tuition costs have only increased by 2%, leaving it as the number one state to keep higher education costs as low as possible. Public funding plays a pivotal role in low tuition, especially within the USM system.

“I think it’s great that the governor is trying to keep Maryland tuitions down” said junior pre-nursing major Ria Smith. Smith plans on continuing her education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore after UMBC and will be paying out-of-pocket for tuition and fees. “Keeping tuition reasonable takes away stress from students” she said.

The capital budget proposal also includes $35.2 million to complete the Phase 2 construction of the Performing Arts and Humanities Building, advances to the Interdisciplinary Life Studies Building fund for 2016 and $2 million to better design and reconstruct our campuses entrance in front of the Administration building.

Enhancement funding is also a major part of the new budget. The governor aims to make lectures more modern in terms of materials, further developments for STEM majors and improving connections between the University of Maryland campuses, particularly the Baltimore and College Park locations.

“Our school is always advancing and wanting to grow more so having this additional support is very rewarding” said junior psychology major Jasmine Williams. UMBC’s legislative testimony for the budget places advancing the university as top priority and continuing the increasing trend of degrees awarded to UMBC students.

“Here at UMBC it is important for us to offer affordable education and this will help support that” said Carpenter.

An inside scoop on SGA’s election board


SGA’s election board has recently been busy at work promoting the 2013-2014 candidate elections.

Summary: The election board plays a major role as an informant for students for the SGA election process every spring semester. As the current election is reaching its end, they are in full gear making sure that students vote.

By: Ashley Edokpayi

Throughout this spring semester, UMBC’s SGA Election Board has been working hard to ensure that students are informed and involved with the 2013-2014 election process. This Thursday April 25 the board will be revealing the results of the 2013 SGA election.

“I really enjoy engaging students in the election who have never been a part of the process before” said election board Chair Collin Wojciechowski. He spent time during this election going around and talking to students and also encouraging them to vote. “We are trying out hardest to break last years’ record turnout” he said.

Along with Wojciechowski, this years’ board members include: Nathan Rehr (Vice Chair), Corey Rudolph (two time board member, Election Operations), Yanil Escolastico (Commuter Students Operations), Kristen Shields (Marketing), Jason Lee (Graphic Design) and Briana Hall (Student Organizations Operations).

SGA’s election board facilitates the election from its start to finish. Before spring break, they recruit candidates and hold information sessions to remind students that all of the UMBC population is ideally a part of SGA.

“The board’s biggest concern is always reaching as many students as possible and getting as many we can to sign up and run” said Wojciechowski. He and the rest of the board use several methods, like setting up information tables and utilizing social media, to enlighten students about the process. “Everyone has a responsibility to aid in its [SGA’s] leadership” he said.

Following spring break, the board runs logistics of the actual election by marketing it, promoting students to vote online and also enforcing election board rules. Current board members are not working directly for the SGA, but three have worked for the organization in the past. Only one, Rudolph, has been a board member before.

“I think the SGA as an organization could better reach out to commuters because it seems like majority events are geared to on-campus students” said junior media and communications major Margaret Barker. “However I do think they create a fun and safe campus for UMBC students” she said.

Voting can be done this week before 4 p.m. this Thursday online at or on Commons Main Street from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free food and t-shirts will be available for students that come out and vote.

“We want to remind each and every student that this is their election, their future” said Wojciechowski.