Thursday, April 29, 2021

Dog Grooming Area on Campus?

Written by Amanda Damon

    While Alfred State College is a pet-friendly campus, there have been concerns raised by pet owners about the lack of available space to wash their dogs. Many need to seek an off-campus groomer or wash their dogs themselves in shared dorm bathrooms. This can lead to issues with roommates or suitemates, especially since the pet-friendly dorm is now being used as a quarantine building. Some students have begun to ask if Alfred State could implement a shared bath space for dog owners to use. In the search for answers to this question, Tor Echo President Kimberly Wick spoke with Professor Bliss. Professor Bliss has been teaching Vet Tech classes at Alfred State for 20 years and has been the advisor for the Opt-To-Adopt club since she began teaching here. 

    Professor Bliss raised potential problems for putting this idea into action, as a grooming area for animals would need to be enclosed to be safe. Potential issues include finding someone to perform upkeep, providing signup times, inserting plumbing and drains, securing a space, having someone to monitor the space when it is in use, providing towels and/or dryers, and paying for water and heat. She suggested that the R/C residence hall would be the best place for a dog wash area as that is the designated pet-friendly dorm. This space would need to be renovated but could be monitored by the RAs of the building. Maintenance costs could be covered by extra fees for the residents of R/C, as they are the ones who would be utilizing the space.

    Even though Alfred State does allow pets in certain circumstances, students should be aware of the potential adverse effects of keeping a pet in a dorm room. Service and emotional support animals can be an important asset but keeping an animal for the sake of companionship alone may not be great in a dorm living situation. Animals, especially dogs, need a lot of space to be happy and healthy, so being cooped up in a dorm room may be doing more harm than good. Before bringing a pet on campus, consider if it will be the best situation for the animal and for the other people in that dorm or residence hall.

Because Survival is Insufficient

Photo by Kimberly Wick

Written by Zachary Butler

    On Thursday, April 16th at 7:00 in the Anthony Cappadonia memorial auditorium, the lights dimmed, and “Grease Lightning” faded into the opening scene of Almost, Maine, produced by the Alfred State Drama Club.

    A play in the pandemic may sound like a challenging proposition, beyond the mechanics of a COVID compliant production, shouldn’t we be reduced to only essential activities? The Drama Club did an indisputably thorough job managing concerns. The play consisted of a series of 2 people per scene with a socially distanced audience. This production transported the audience and actors away to unincorporated Maine in a recent time which now feels like a memory. For an hour and a half, the complicated and challenging world disappeared, and the audience thought only of love and meaning and our relationships. Refreshing cannot adequately state the experience.

Photo by Kimberly Wick

    The curtains open on Pete (Noah Neal) and Ginette (MJ Volpe) on a bench, in the snow. This scene could just as well take place in Alfred—much of the play could. Noah and MJ start the play and bring it full circle. Their scene asks the audience to consider the journey which we take to find each other.

“My name’s East and I love lasagna”

    Next, we see East (Seth Tinder) and Glory (Ruth Crowley). Seth delivers East’s dialogue marvelously, and from him, the audience and glory learn where they are, in Almost, the wildlands of Maine which never incorporated, under the northern lights. The set and lighting design for this scene, especially regarding the northern lights, was phenomenal.

“He was a good fish though”

    Surly in a bar, Jimmy (Noah Bastedo), portrayed with an accuracy that stung, the interaction of bumping into an ex—Sandrine (Ruth Hessinger). Ruth and Noah portray all the subtle awkward moments which one would experience in this scenario, while Villian (MJ Volpe) interjected, adding to the awkwardness.

Photo by Kimberly Wick

    Marvarlyn (Ashley Miller) and Steve (AJ Richardson) brilliantly depicted a scene that asked the audience to confront the reality of a bad situation by looking at it in its simplest terms. AJ and Ashley navigated this challenging scene skillfully. AJ’s delivery of innocent questions and apparent lack of understanding was compelling, and Ashley’s depiction of denial and rationalizing echoed frightfully through the auditorium—as did the crash of an ironing board against AJ’s head.

Photo by Kimberly Wick

    Gayle (Ruth Crowley) storms in and begins a scene that appears to be a heart-wrenching breakup. The scene transforms at the end with a heartwarming twist delivered by Lendall (James Abbott). This beautifully performed scene carries the audience into intermission.

Photo by Kimberly Wick

    Chad (Noah Bastedo) and Randy (Jacob Whalen) performed a scene that depicted the difficult process of understanding oneself. It grappled with the idea of modernity in a small town, which likely resonates with much of the student body. The performers did a really great job making the scene tangible and expressing the idea that who one chooses to love is a choice each person must make, and we must respect each other’s choices, there is no other way.

“Wait? What? Why?”

    Real relationships rarely blow up the way they do in a media where characters’ lives are dictated by a script. The portrayal of Phil (Ralf Jean-Franscois) and Marci (Grace Musingo) does not back down from this reality. Ralf and Grace deliver meticulously measured performances their tones growing in desperation building to the final devastating moment where Marci walks away, leaving Phil staring at the stars—and Jupiter, alone.

“A taxi all the way from Bangor!”

    If Ralf and Grace had not yet brought the audience to tears (which is unlikely) the performance of Hope (Katie Brooks) and Daniel (Noah Neal) certainly would. This story dealt with putting life before love and that “what if…” which tends to haunt those who do. Katie and Noah conveyed the palpable remorse and the feeling of finality which linger around such memories.

“You wanna know what comes next-next?”

    In the last, lighthearted story, the audience sees two fun performances of Rhonda (Jamie Roberts), and Dave (Alex Biondo) around the idea of recognizing love. The performers built on each other’s energy to reach a comical ending with an extremely rapid costume change.

    The show ended with a return to Pete and Ginette, who gave a heartfelt conclusion to the production. The performers came out to thunderous applause, especially for a limited and socially distant audience.

    This production showed what resolve in the pandemic looks like. The whole cast and crew went to great lengths to act in accordance with COVID guidelines, but they carried on doing an activity that brings performers and crew purpose and the audience great joy.

How New Legislation Affects Marijuana Use and Possession on Campus

By Amanda Damon

    On Tuesday, March 30th, New York lawmakers approved a bill that legalizes recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. As of right now, using marijuana recreationally is legal, and people in NY are allowed to have up to three ounces of cannabis, or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis oils. As soon as regulations are put in place, the sale of marijuana will be legalized as well.

    While smoking cannabis is legal in places where tobacco smoke is allowed, the drug is still not permitted on school grounds. All accredited schools, state and private, will treat marijuana usage as a violation of their code of conduct. Usage and possession will remain in violation of this code. Students living on campus will not be allowed to have marijuana and RA’s can write incident reports for any students caught with the drug. These rules extend to students travelling on school-affiliated field trips, as school rules still apply in these situations. While school rules do not apply to students living in off-campus residences, marijuana will not be permitted on school ground, in classrooms, or in dorms. 

A Farewell to President "Skip" Sullivan

By Amanda Damon

     In a recent interview with Tor Echo, Alfred State President Skip Sullivan discussed his upcoming retirement, plans for his future, and the hopes he has for the future of Alfred State.

    President Sullivan came to this position over 7 years ago when he was headhunted by a search firm. At the time he had been the president of a 2-year commuter institution in Atlanta, Georgia. While not initially sold on the position here, President Sullivan ended up taking it because he liked the idea of a residential campus with 2- and 4-year programs featuring hands-on education. This provided an opportunity to have more connections with students and watch them grow and graduate, which has been one of the aspects that President  Sullivan has appreciated most during his time here.

    President Sullivan has taken full advantage of the opportunity to really connect with students. He frequently walks around campus and always stops to have a chat with those around him. As a fun, down-to-earth guy, he encourages those around him to call him Skip and has made tremendous efforts to engage with students, faculty, clubs, and sports. Though Skip has made efforts to support as many extracurricular activities as possible, he has particularly enjoyed attending sports events and poetry readings.

    As for what comes next, Skip is moving back to Mobile, Alabama, where he grew up. He still has family in that area and is looking forward to reconnecting with them. Though he is retiring from presidency, Skip is a tenured faculty member and will be teaching psychology online. Skip stated that he is looking forward to slowing down. Having worked his way through college and through several positions after that, he is looking forward to being able to enjoy the rewards of his many years of hard work.

    President Sullivan hopes for “continued program development, continued enrollment, continued support for scholarship funds and that Alfred State is allowed to really keep their focus on the students and their successes”. He hopes that programs will be flexible as technologies change and that the focus remains on attracting students and developing graduates who are ready to transition into the workplace. He has tried to be a good steward of resources and suggests that those in power after him keep an attitude of service to better help the students and the college itself.  He hopes the next president is very 'student focused' and is willing to engage with students. Skip keeps in touch with students from throughout his over 7 years here and would love to see a similar level of engagement from his successor. He wants the legacy of Alfred State to continue and employers to continue to value and seek out Alfred State graduates.

    The impact that Skip has had on Alfred State is clear. He is leaving Alfred State in a very strong financial position. The college has high graduation and retention rates. The programs here are highly ranked, and employment opportunities continue to expand through the creation of new programs. There have been very successful alumni fundraising events and the money raised continues to support the creation of scholarships. Skip is confident that he leaves the school in a great position.

Friday, February 5, 2021

KAPPA SIGMA EPSILON: Leaders of Tomorrow

Written by Shaheim Green

Greek Life at Alfred State College

Greek life at Alfred State College is a network for students to connect with organizations best suited for fostering their personal development and aspirations that will last a lifetime. Despite the various misconceptions about Greeks, joining Greek life is an opportunity for students to become campus leaders and grow as individuals. Joining Greek life unlocks new opportunities for on-campus and off-campus engagement. Greeks at Alfred State has taken on countless initiatives that promote various causes that are important to them in the form of different philanthropies

The Greek Senate is constantly creating events and initiatives that reflect the best interests of the Greek community and the college. The Greek Senate recently added the position of Diversity Chairman, illuminating the Greek Community’s forward-thinking and devotion to diversity and inclusion. The Greek Community gives back to the community of Alfred through various community service events on campus and off, such as town cleanups, Canned food drives, etc. Greeks proudly serve as role models on campus for Scholarship, Community, Philanthropy, and for maintaining friendly and respectful connections with other campus organizations. Greeks at Alfred State are hardworking and devoted students that aim for success in their fields of study, for the community, and to the houses in which they have pledged.

Impact at Alfred State College

Leadership, Missions, and Philanthropies

           Kappa Sigma Epsilon is a Greek Organization that is founded on values of Unity, Trust, and Tradition.  The members of this organization view themselves not as individuals but rather as one unit, one heart, one organization that works together towards common personal and organizational goals. The trust that we have developed with one another has allowed us to have faith that we will cover each other’s blind spots and bring out the best in one another. The traditions that we hold as our compass, remind us of the organization we love and why we wear these letters in the first place. The best part about Kappa is the fact that no brother is exactly the same. We acknowledge that each and every one of us is different in our experiences and perspectives and we use those diverse perspectives and differences to enhance our organization and the overall climate of the organization. Diversity plays an essential role in Kappa because we believe that diversity is an asset and furthermore the key to staying competitive in an institution where we are often encouraged to unite with other students to establish meaningful connections, and that’s what we’ve done here. In this organization, the word “brother” goes beyond a blood bond; it is a commitment to stay unified in our effects to protect our Organization and one another.

             Our two philanthropies—Teach Impact Empower and LUNGevity—has the potential to shape the experience of students preparing for their post-graduate careers and change the lives of those battling lung cancer worldwide. Our philanthropy T.I.E. was developed by a member of  the organization, Jerome Thomas, as a way to promote community outreach and designed to “teach individuals the importance of taking charge of their actions in order to positively impact their future, while empowering them to be optimistic and to create habits that will ensure success.” Our goal through T.I.E. we aim to prepare students for their post-graduate careers by helping them to create or improve resumes and by providing professional attire. We have also been working on various seminars to teach young individuals the importance of professionalism. Through our philanthropy LUNGevity, we raise money for a worldwide campaign against lung cancer and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges that have arisen from the worldwide pandemic this semester, Kappa Sigma Epsilon is devoted now more than ever, to support members of the college and community at large.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Ban on string lights in dorms- a necessary safety precaution or overkill?

By Amanda Damon

    Like many colleges, Alfred State doesn’t allow certain items in dorm rooms. In accordance with strict safety precautions, items like guns, knives, and space heaters are banned. While these items make sense to ban, the ruling against string lights is less understandable. In Alfred’s Guide to Moving and Packing, “Christmas/holiday lights and strip lighting” are listed under what NOT to bring. The college stresses the fire hazard that plug-in lights present. While there is some evidence to support string lights being a fire concern, LED lights are far safer as they emit much less heat. Despite this, and the fact that battery operated lights are also safe, all string/strip lights are banned in Alfred State dorms. 

    In a Tor Echo interview with Matthew Ryan, Senior Director of Residential Services, potential changes to this ban were discussed. Mr. Ryan stated that he did not have the final say in whether string lights could be allowed in dorms, and he voiced some support for an amendment to this ban that would allow battery operated lights. Any potential changes would hinge on guidelines being submitted to the Campus Round Table for discussion. 

    Instead of continuing to blame the ban on fire marshal rulings and trying to catch all the students who sneak in lights, Alfred State could work with the students’ wants and meet in the middle. Creating guidelines for safety while still allowing certain lights (either LED, battery operated, or both) would not be difficult for the school. Making these allowances would save time and energy of RA’s, despite Mr. Ryan’s belief that stipulations would increase the amount of time RA’s spend checking rooms. The RA’s would not have to keep trying to find and confiscate lights; they would instead be able to check for proper connections much like they do with fridges now. 

    There aren’t many stories about fires starting in dorms because of string lights, and if they were truly a problem, then more colleges would ban them. As it stands now, string lights are a very popular dorm decoration, with many stores and brands marketing these types of lights specifically to college students. As a student at Elon University states, ““If residents are abusing [string lights] or causing some sort of a problem because of them, then the RA should interfere, but other than that, I think there are more pressing matters at hand that [Residence Life] should be a little more concerned about.”

School Policies:

  • Geneseo allows battery operated lights, not plug in.
  • Wake Forest University’s housing policies do not specifically prohibit string lights.
  • Davidson College’s housing policies allow the lights with some guidelines: “Holiday lights should not be strung through suspended ceiling tiles or near fire suppression sprinkler heads and should not come into contact with any wrapping paper, metallic foil, etc. Decorative lights must be turned off and unplugged when no one is in the room.”
  • Alfred State does not allow Christmas/holiday lights and strip lighting
  • Niagara University allows string lights in dorms with certain requirements; however, according to a student there, little attention is paid to them as there are more pressing matters for Res Life to attend to

Potential Guidelines:

Plug-in Lights-

    Alfred State could allow string lights if they are kept above a certain height. Mr. Ryan cited a past incident where a student kept the lights under the bed. The student’s bedframe/posts had rubbed against the wires of the lights, exposing raw wires and sending an electric charge through the bed, heater, and window. Keeping the lights at a height higher than that of the beds at the highest setting would avoid damage from any of the furniture in the rooms. As this involved the window too, there could be a ruling on having lights plugged into the outlets farthest away from the windows. 

    Alfred could easily make similar amendments to the current rules to follow a policy like Davidson College. Stating that lights are allowed if they are not hung from the ceiling or sprinkler head, and as long as they do not come in contact with paper or metal. These rules could be easily checked by RA’s during the standard room checks. A concern of Mr. Ryan’s was that allowing lights with certain stipulations would create an increase in room checks, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Many students really want lights and are willing to sneak them in and try to avoid getting caught. If these lights were allowed, even with safety guidelines, I believe that students would follow them. 

Battery Operated Lights-

    Battery operated lights are a safe option as they don’t provide the hazard of plugging into an outlet. Other colleges allow these types of lights while banning plug-in lights. Alfred could easily reword their list to allow battery operated lights while still not allowing Christmas/strip lights. These are the safest option of string lighting, especially if they are LED as well as battery operated. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Protests Against In-Person Classes on Campus

By Amanda Damon

    With a pandemic still threatening public health, schools had to figure out a way to get students an education while still maintaining social safety guidelines. Alfred State chose to use the Hyflex remote system with hover cams, allowing professors to teach from home while students remain in class. This practice has been controversial, though, as some students feel that the school is still putting their health at risk. A protest has begun on campus, calling out the school for forcing students to physically be in classrooms. Starting on the 29th of September, student Brad Pensgen, along with other protesters, have been calling for change outside of the Central Dining Hall. They plan to continue to protest until they see changes. These students have created an online petition, hoping to get enough signatures for Alfred State to take notice. While students who are dorming on campus may not feel as worried about catching the virus, Mr. Pensgen commutes and worries about bringing COVID-19 home to his elderly father. These protesters want Alfred State to further limit social interaction, even to the point of completely closing campus and switching to online classes. The numbers of COVID cases are far lower in colleges that have moved to online learning compared to those that are still holding in person classes. While online learning isn’t the norm for Alfred State, all professors made the switch for the second half of last semester, proving this option to be feasible. 

    This issue also brings attention to the fact that some professors don’t agree with having physical classes, and others are staying home for their health and safety. Even though a number of students feel the same way, they aren’t all given the same option of staying at home while continuing their education. The school has been putting an emphasis on having students in the classrooms, having professors encourage students to come in to class rather than join online. Even with the rules that have been put in place, positive cases are still growing in number. Students feel that Alfred State is not putting the health of its student population first, creating this call for action.

Those interested in signing the petition can do so here:

Dog Grooming Area on Campus?

Written by Amanda Damon      While Alfred State College is a pet-friendly campus, there have been concerns raised by pet owners about the la...