The Elm

Student newspaper of Washington College, where I served as copy editor (2009-2010), news editor (2010-2012), and editor-in-chief (2012-13).


For 84 consecutive years, countless student writers, photographers, and editors have compiled their school’s history into a series of hardcover yearbooks. The Pegasus entered the world of multimedia storytelling this summer, but its goals remain the same.

“A yearbook serves as a window into your memories, and I think that in its old, printed version, it was difficult to feel truly represented in such a formulaic way,” said Olivia Mott ’12, project manager for the 2012 Pegasus. “However, in the new online version, you can immediately find the things that you most remember and the people and events you hold dear to you.”

Dorm life can be messy, but with efforts from Buildings and Grounds, issues like mold and mildew can be addressed quickly and effectively.

According to Director of Buildings and Grounds Reid Raudenbush, recent complaints about mold in Minta Martin proved unsubstantiated, but his department is constantly aware of the threat of mold.

Washington College’s first annual Mental Health Awareness Week culminated in a towering wall of anonymous confessions from contributions of more than 100 students. The secrets ranged from “I have cried in IHOP 15 times,” to “I love when children fall down,” but no matter how funny or painful, they were all honest.

Although plans for Miller Library and Cain Gym renovations have been in the works for a while, it was not until April 11 that funds were approved by the Maryland General Assembly. The Maryland Independent College and University Association (MICUA) provides higher education institutions with finances each year through its Sellinger Program of Direct Aid and Capital Budget.

According to President Mitchell Reiss, Washington College is maintaining the $1,364,424 from the Sellinger Fund, which allots money for financial aid each year. Also, funds from the Capital Budget ensure that WC has the appropriate financial backing to start its Miller Library renovations this summer.

When Junior Maria Queen stood before a crowd of poetry-lovers this Friday, she was prepared to perform from head to toe. She not only spent the previous week rehearsing her poem, “Superfabulous,” by Molly Kennedy, but also came dressed for the occasion, complete with Superman t-shirt and rainbow socks.

After a careful eight-month investigative collaboration between Washington College Public Safety and the Kent Bureau of Investigation, three suspects have been charged with breaking into seven dorm buildings last winter break.

According to Howard Eveland, detective with the Kent Bureau of Investigation, two of the suspects charged are adults, and one is a juvenile. All three are residents of Kent County and two are from Chestertown. The team is still looking for two or three other individuals from the video footage of the break-ins.

The Washington College Jewish community is small but mighty. Although the members have no official area on campus or in Chestertown to meet, they manage to celebrate their faith and culture both as a campus group and with the local Jewish community, or Havurah.

Now, however, club activities and Shabbat dinners will have an official home. The Hillel House will hopefully be furnished and renovated by this fall, providing a space for members to socialize, cook, and practice their faith.

A group of Middle Hall residents are renewing the building’s image as an arts specialty-housing dorm. The students hope to attract a larger pool of interested applicants and eventually use the dorm as a forum for art clubs and performances.

Although Middle Hall is meant to be a creative arts dorm, many feel that it is not living up to its reputation.

Adjunct professors are an integral part of Washington College academics; it was not until recently, however, that the discrepancies between natural science adjuncts and full time professors came to light.

It was a story that gripped the world.

On Jan. 25, a group of protesters gathered throughout Egypt, specifically in Tahrir Square in Cairo. The ongoing protests, inspired by the recent Democratic Tunisian Revolution, are in an effort to remove 30-year President Hosni Mubarak from power.

“It’s a very complex situation,” said political science professor Tahid Shad. “It’s not a black and white issue…It has different dimensions to it. There’s an international dimension to it, there’s a dimension that is going to have an impact on the Middle East itself, and there’s a dimension that’s going to have an impact on the Egyptian state.”

A recent altercation between two Washington College students ignited controversy regarding how such incidents should be addressed and the prevalence of sexual discrimination on campus.

Verbal assaults regarding freshman Charlie Glowacki’s role as a homosexual teenager in the play, “Spring Awakening” ignited the conflict, and many question how the administration handled the situation.

America is buzzing with debates about Medicare, coverage reforms, and insurance benefits. Details about the health care bill, however, have overshadowed an equally important issue: the newly-approved student loan bill. The bill, as of March 25, has officially passed through the senate, and will go into effect this 2010-2011 academic year.

Aside from two damaged chimneys and some fallen tree branches, there is little physical evidence of the earthquake and hurricane that struck Washington College preceding this fall semester.

According to Dean of Students, Vice President of Student Affairs and Emergency Policy Group member Mela Dutka, the Emergency Operations Group (EOP) determined the proper course of action following these events. The EOG is a congregation of various faculty and staff members that meets monthly to “improve and examine crisis planning” on campus.

Although the rendition of Old Washington, Washington College’s official song, was a bit off-key, award recipients at this year’s Fall Convocation were proof of the value of a liberal arts education.

Washington College campus was not as quiet as usual this winter break. A series of thefts in various residence halls led to a collaborative, ongoing investigation by Public Safety and the Chestertown Police Department.

According to Director of Public Safety Jerry Roderick, an on-duty PS officer noticed a number of items on the ground outside a dorm room window at 7 a.m. on Dec. 24., indicating a break-in. Later, after the officer started documentation on the occurrence, other potential crime scenes were discovered around campus, and the CPD joined the investigation.

The recently vacated position of Vice President of College Advancement has led to the formation of a search committee. The committee consists of an outside, executive search firm head, as well various on-campus representatives, according to Katina Leodas, from the Leodas Search Group.

There are numerous, specific qualifications that the committee is looking for in its applicants.

Involvement in the Washington College community should not stop after graduation. Recent, increased efforts to encourage philanthropy among alumni are starting to make a difference.

The Washington Fund, WC’s official annual giving fund, is a way for alumni to give back to the WC community through monetary donations. It is primarily used toward financial aid packages and scholarships, making it an integral part of the movement to increase alumni giving.

On Oct. 13, President Mitchell Reiss announced his decision to find a replacement for the integral position of Vice President of College Advancement and Alumni Relations.

Beth Herman, who could not be reached for comment and has not been seen on campus since her termination, had occupied the role for over five years.

In the e-mail Reiss sent out to his staff, he said that “the relationship between a college president and the Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations is a highly personal one. And so it is not atypical that new presidents often make changes.”

With various enticing flavors, Youtube videos promoting its potency, and a sudden rush of media coverage, it is no wonder that the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko has garnered celebrity status at Washington College.

Despite how tempting the drink may appear, its negative press exposure is not unfounded. After a publicized incident involving hospitalization after University of Washington students drank Four Lokos, many are speaking out against the drink.

Washington College students are more concerned with what and how much they eat than how they pay for it. This disinterest in the dining hall meal system can lead to problems for both students and workers.

Food service director, Donna Dhue-Wilkins, attributes much of students’ confusion to changes in the meal plan system, which students were alerted about last semester. The dining hall made pamphlets about these changes easily available, and also lists information on its website, at Despite this accessibility, however, students still question the system.

Washington College is one of many private liberal arts colleges that high school counselors recommend to graduating seniors. Standing out among all this competition may seem like a challenge, but WC has proven its status as a reputable college by rising 19 spots in the annual “U.S. News & World Report” best college rankings list. It is also one of the magazine’s top 10 up-and-coming national liberal arts colleges.

The names Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Michelle Obama, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Sonia Sotomayor have all become common household names. Although these women have made significant influences in American politics, political science professor Melissa Deckman is determined to change how they are represented in the classroom.

In the recently published, second edition of the textbook “Women in Politics: Paths to Power and Political Influence,” Deckman and co-authors Julie Dowlan and Michele Swers give students a unique resource for political science studies.

In recent years, many faculty members have felt that their role on campus has been kept within classroom walls. Now, they are speaking out, opening up lines of communication with administrators, and taking on greater positions in campus governance.

This burst of enthusiasm was spurred by a survey that the Ad Hoc Committee on Governance and Faculty Leadership conducted

Whether they need decorations for drag ball or props for writers’ theater shows, money is an integral part of keeping clubs running smoothly. Club leaders went through the annual budgeting process with the SGA this year, and many questioned how funding decisions are made.

Although their vibrant rain boots and tie-dye t-shirts may speak otherwise, Washington College students are not known for their haute-couture fashion. So why did “Project Runway” star Andrae Gonzolo decide to make the cross-country trek from Los Angeles, Calif. to Chestertown? For Poetry and Project Runway, of course.

It all started when Harvard University professor and poetry critic Stephen Burt published an essay comparing poetry and the popular reality TV show.

When the graduating seniors stride down the green each spring, with multicolored, vibrant cords draped around their necks, there is one question students fail to address: What does it all mean? For some, cords worn at graduation represent achievement in any number of areas; for others, it should be reserved for academics. With no official policy, however, many are seeking clarification.

After three years of flying back and forth across the globe, interviewing everyone from politicians to convicted terrorists, President Mitchell Reiss’ e-book Negotiating with Evil: When to Talk to Terrorists is finally online and available to readers.

Play Reviews

The lasting image from Nina Sharp’s senior directing thesis “PTERODACTYLS” was not a pterodactyl at all; it was the skeleton of a T-Rex alone in a ring of light and the ruins of a once animated, albeit dysfunctional, household. The contradiction between the title and the dinosaur onstage may have baffled some audience members, but Sharp wasn’t going for clarity so much as resonance.

Love was in the air in Decker Theater this weekend.

“The Voice of the Turtle,” a 1940s lighthearted comedy by John William Van Druten, brought New York romance to Washington College under the direction and design of drama Professor Jason Rubin.

A tree, some buckets of sand, a ramshackle cot and a Nativity set were all that greeted audiences when they walked into Tawes Theater for Tara Bancroft’s thesis production of “Tshepang: The Third Testament.”

In 1948, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published reporter Ray Sprigle’s recounts of his month-long journey as a black man traveling through the Jim Crowe South.

Sixty-three years later, drama lecturer and playwright Dr. Robert Earl Price’s poetic stage retelling of Sprigle’s story made its world premiere on the Washington College stage.

This weekend, the Decker Theatre will be host to a hypochondriac father, singing shepherdess, scheming apothecary, devious physician, saucy maid, and four ballerinas. Simply put, Moliere’s 17th century French play, “The Imaginary Invalid,” is far from boring.

Glitzy courtesans, bumbling old men, and dreamy-eyed lovers will be singing and twirling their way across a vibrant stage this weekend in a rib-cracking production of Stephen Sondheim’s one and only “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”


When the Elm editorial staff filed onto the Rose O’Neill Literary House porch for interview training this summer, the smiling man already settled into his armchair didn’t look like a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Instead of lecturing the small crowd of aspiring writers, he joked and told stories in a warm, gravely voice. Every few questions, he turned to his beloved wife Joan for a knowing glance or pat on the arm.

Two Sundays ago, a memorial service was held in his honor at Decker Theater. Like the Elm session, however, the gathering wasn’t a formal, solemn affair; rather, it was a celebration of the qualities for which Cramer was so admired.

Last month, Emily Chamlee-Wright, her husband, two daughters and 120 pound mastiff packed up their belongings, said goodbye to their friends of nearly 20 years, and made the cross country trek from Wisconsin to Chestertown. The move made for a busy summer, but Washington College’s newly appointed Dean and Provost is already settled in to life on the Eastern Shore.

She was appointed after a year-long search process led by search committee chair and political science professor Melissa Deckman. She and a team of faculty and student representatives scoured colleges nationwide and eventually narrowed the pool of candidates down to four finalists.

English Professor and Director of the Black Studies program Dr. Alisha Knight was first exposed to writer Pauline Hopkins’s novels, short stories, and nonfiction work during her undergraduate years at Spelman College. At the time, she never expected Hopkins to become the subject of her graduate school dissertation, let alone a full-length book.

For political science professor Dr. Melissa Deckman, election season is a whirlwind of activity, and not just in the classroom. In the last month alone, Deckman has been a guest speaker for three different political media programs.

Deckman made her first public appearance of the New Year on Jan. 11 with a Baltimore affiliate of NPR on “Midday with Dan Roderick.”

This Tuesday evening, Tawes Theater was filled with memories, friends, and laughter in honor of Charlie Glowacki, a previous Washington College student who passed away suddenly a week ago.

Although Glowacki was only a student for a year, his impact on those around him was long-lasting. Dean of Students Sarah Feyerherm and Drama Department Chair Dr. Michelle Volansky opened the memorial service with their own of Glowacki memories.

When Caroline Knuth ventures outside for one of her frequent nature walks, she doesn’t just see trees and birds; she sees poetry.

“Have you been outside in the spring when it’s nice out? It’s gorgeous,” she said. “I love being outside and I love the feeling that I get from hiking a mountain. The beauty of nature is so inspirational to me.”

Caroline, an English and art major, has used her love for the outdoors in nearly every aspect of her creative endeavors. Even before she decided to attend WC, Caroline was confident in her decision to study literature and art. It wasn’t until Sophie Kerr weekend, however, when Caroline discovered the Rose O’Neill Literary House, that she knew WC was for her.


I thought I was done with journalism when I graduated high school. Being editor of our newspaper had sucked my senior year dry; I was looking forward to four peaceful years of drama productions and club meetings and creative writing workshops – and then The Elm reeled me in as a copy editor the winter of my freshman year. There was no turning back.

When American University anthropology professor Adrienne Pine decided to breast-feed her infant in class earlier this month, she did much more than spark a debate about classroom decorum: She started a chain of events that would ultimately call into question the treatment of student journalists on campuses nationwide.

A college without a library is a scary place. The library is the nucleus of a college campus, or at least it should be. If a college values liberal arts learning to any degree, the building that houses its books is one of its most defining factors.

So of course, it was surreal returning to campus without a physical home for learning. It was strange to see the college’s academic centerpiece roped off for construction. It was stranger still reading over our first writing assignments of the year and realizing that we no longer had the option of browsing stacks of books for inspiration.

The following is just a handful of changes we’ve seen this semester: Commuter parking regulations; a web-only yearbook; SGA club volunteer requirements; a late-night café; separating alumni and commencement weekend; weekend bus trips; a renovated library; a new system for auditing club budgets; an updated school website; a higher minimum Dean’s list GPA; and, to top it all off, a new beach volleyball court.

And with any change comes opposition, especially on a college campus. In fact, in that long list of changes, there’s probably at least one that you disagree with. You’ve probably heard some of these subjects argued or ranted about at the dining hall, especially those that impact the wider Washington College community like club volunteerism and the new “Pegasus.”

The American Collegiate Press conference marked my first visit to the West Coast. Although the two-hour time difference knocked me into a coma, the Seattle coffee and sharp coastal winds perked me right back up, and I managed to have one of the most invigorating weekends of my life.


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