Photojournalism of “Take Back the Night” event.

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UMBC Students fill seats on the Commons Main Drive and wait for “Take Back the Night” to begin.

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Students listen to sexual assault survivors tell their stories and how they deal with their pasts.

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T-shirts created by survivors that tell their stories. These were entered into a contest and voted on.

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Some of the signs used in the March Against Sexual Violence from the Commons Main Street to the Sports Zone.

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Students forming the marching block for the march. Students chanted “Whatever we wear, where ever we go, yes means yes, no means no.”

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The Solidarity Performance in the Sports Zone after the march. The set featured UMBC’s own Last to Fire.

UMBC Professors Debate Sex Selection

Dr. Kalfoglu debates Dr. Lindahl about the ethics, advantages and dangers of sex selection through Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis embryo screening.

In front of a nearly full Public Policy lecture hall, two University of Maryland Baltimore County professors debated the ethics of parents choosing the sex of their child on Tuesday April 8 to inform the student body about the issue.

The UMBC Biology Council of Majors organized a debate between Dr. Andrea Kalfoglu and Dr. Lasse Landahl on whether or not humans should choose the sex of their child. This can be done multiple ways, but this debate focused on Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis embryo screening. Essentially this is a process that can be used to detect and eliminate diseases, or the correct chromosomes for the sex of a child. The debate focused on whether sex selection would be harmful or beneficial to the human race, and how humans should handle the issue.

“As the field of genetics grew, that opened up a new field for genetic technology,” Kalfoglu said, “I intended to argue that the government should not handle sex selection technology, primarily because I do not trust them. The use of technology should ultimately be left up to physicians…labs and the potential parents.”

The debate began with both sides presenting their opening arguments to the room, about the possible effects of sex selection on societies around the world. Both professors agreed on the first key point, which is the government should not be involved in deciding the future of sex selection. Kalfoglu used the argument that men in Congress do not know enough to tell women what to do with their bodies. Lindahl, who describes himself as a social libertarian, agreed that this is an issue that people must solve without government intervention.

Kalfoglu’s argument centered around the idea that sex selection can help deal with different social issues that plague the world. According to Kalfoglu, sex selection can improve sex ratio imbalances, for example 1.3 million men in China for every one million women, lead to fewer abortions and help women living in sexist societies. Lindahl countered with possible negative effects from the practice.

“Being a scientist, we should not always do something just because we can.” Lindahl said.

Lindahl argued that science can do as much harm as good, he cites the atomic bomb as an example. He also mentions how preconceived notions of gender roles can be heightened because parents expect certain behaviors out of the gender they chose. Kalfoglu fought back by claiming preconceived notions already exist in our society, and choosing the sex of a child will not amplify them.

“Grandparents were asked in a study and said, It doesn’t matter what you do to manufacture kids, they are going to disappoint you.” Kalfoglu said.

Students came away from the debate with mixed feelings about sex selection. Seniors Tumi Oludemi and Dijo Abraham both came into the debate with a small amount of background on the topic, and they both agreed that Kalfoglu used more empirical data for her argument, while Landahl used philosophical arguments. Oludemi came away agreeing with Landahl, however Abraham was conflicted.

“I’m still pretty fuzzy on my decision on the debate, I honestly do not think it is a big deal, but there is a stigma which is big cultural problem that is impossible to address. People are going to do this through abortion anyway.” Abraham said.

Laws are already being written in state legislatures about this topic, including one mentioned by Kolfoglu that bans selective abortion in South Daktoa. Selective abortion is when people abort their child if it is not the gender they wanted. Both professor believe this debate should not be solved by government intervention, so their goal for the debate is to spread awareness about the topic. Landahl wants to warn people about the potential dangers, so people willingly choose not to select their child’s sex. Kolfoglu wants people to be able to select their child’s sex if they want to.

When this topic was brought to the discussion boards on myUMBC by Biology Council of Majors President Dominick DiMercurio, it created a small controversy. On the online poll 55 percent of responders said they could not be convinced to change their minds. Despite the unwillingness to compromise their beliefs, the boards created a long discussion about the dangers and advantages of sex selection.

“We got little bit on the myUMBC discussion board, they divulged into the differences between sex and gender. There has been discussion and that is good, to take what you learn in a textbook and look at what the greater ethical issues are,” DiMercurio said.

Humans are still in the early days of sex selection technology, however the technology exists and it is part of the future that UMBC students will live through.

“It seems to be something that is coming up. Until I read up on some of the issues regarding this debate, I was unaware that the technology was as far along. It is the same technique we use on yeast cells in my lab, I was not aware that it was being used to sort sperm cells,” Lindahl said.

Open Enrollment Exchange Helps Students Get Insurance. Edited Version.

With the open enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act approaching, the University of Maryland Baltimore County hosted an open healthcare exchange on Wednesday February 26, for students to explore their possibilities.

The law makes it mandatory for most Americans over the age of 18 to have some form of health insurance before March 31, 2014. If a person does not have insurance they could face a fine of either one percent of their household income or 95 dollars per person in a family, depending on which total is higher. Fortunately for most students, the law allows people to stay on their parents plans up to age 26, but even that will not help every UMBC student. Students have an option, through the exchange website to view plans that they can afford on student budgets.

“There are policies that run from catastrophic up to platinum. Students based on their income can either get Medicaid, because of the expanded Medicaid system. Or they could get subsidized premiums. If a plan is 100 dollars a month the government could offer to pay 26 dollars a month so you could get that coverage,” Cheryl Benitez of the University Health Services said.

The idea for the exchange came from the office of University President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, and the event was organized by Benitez and the UHS. Benitez invited two navigators from the state of Maryland to come to campus and walk students through the application process. Due to technical difficulties affecting the website, applying for coverage has been controversial over the last few months.

Marylanders are more fortunate than residents of other states, because Maryland has experience with health exchange websites. Even before the national law went into effect, Maryland had a similar website run on the state level, so difficulties here are less severe. Even so, having assistance with the website is important to UMBC senior Nnameke Onejeme who had difficutly figuring out the website on his own.

“I have been without insurance for a good year now, and I am looking to get through the process,” Onejeme said, “I have gone through the website a couple times but I have not been able to sign up because I always get slowed down.”

The event was not without its share of problems. Originally, UMBC wanted two navigators to assist, but only one showed up. This caused long waits and confusion for students who tried to have meetings in between their classes. Most students waited for about an hour before their meeting, and without a sign in sheet, the order of appointments was disorganized.

Benitez stepped in to fill the role of the other navigator and the exchange began to run smoothly. Most of the students at the event met with someone who could help them enroll, however a few students had to leave before they could be helped because they had to go to class.

According to ABCNews, only 22 percent of people signing up for the exchange are between the ages of 18-34, a number that the Obama Administration wants to increase to 40 percent. Young people see health insurance as too costly, and signing up is too time consuming, so events like this are being promoted at college campuses. At UMBC, the UHS sent out an email around campus to spread awareness, and have brought speakers to campus to talk about the law.

The Affordable Care Act is the center of on going controversy, but Benitez believes it will be essential for college students. She worked to make sure students could ignore the hype and understand the facts about the law. To her it was about getting students insured only, and she has an optimistic view of the future.
“Some people have never had health insurance because they were considered high risk, now everybody can go in and buy a plan that fits their needs,” Benitez said, “People do not realise how much being sick can change your life in an instance. In my opinion [the Affordable Care Act] is a very good thing to happen.”

Revision of “Experience at the Desk provides a solid foundation: Interview with a UMBC employee for ENG 380″

Jacqueline Scott controls the toilet paper and mailing for many students on campus, however most students rarely even enter her building.

Scott, a senior and three year veteran of the desk staff, currently works at the apartment center desk, after working in the dorms in the past. Scott decided to become a desk staffer to get a job on campus and hopes to work her way up the ladder and become desk manager. Scott hopes that the customer service experience from this job will help with her future in business. The position also helped her to better handle situations that she may be unprepared for.

“It helps with how to handle situations that just happen. You learn how to do things that are not by the book, being a desk staff prepares me for that,” Scott said.

Whether that unexpected situation is a student losing their credit card at two in the morning, or hearing a crime has occurred near or on campus. Those situations are not what she expected when she signed up for the job, but sometimes they are unavoidable.

Having experience with both dorm desks and the apartment desk, Scott found the two jobs to be quite different even if they sound similar. In the apartments the job is much more customer service based, while in the apartment it is more social. In the dorms students pass by the desk every time they leave or return, so Scott was able to get to know some students. At the apartment center, people only come in for packages, laundry and a few random questions.

“It is more like a customer service desk unlike the other desk which actually interact with the students. We interact with the Resident Assistants to do programs in the community,” Scott said.

Scott is majoring in Financial economics and a linguistics minor in French, she is hoping that her job will help her with future interactions in the job market.

“Everyone needs customer service experience, because regardless of your job you will need to interact with potential customers, so this job will really help in that aspect,” Scott said.

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Open Enrollment Exchange Helps Students Get Insurance.

With the open enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act approaching, the University of Maryland Baltimore County hosted an open healthcare exchange on Wednesday February 26, for students to explore their possibilities.

The law makes it mandatory for most Americans over the age of 18 to have some form of health insurance before March 31, 2014. If a person does not have insurance they could face a fine of either one percent of their household income or 95 dollars per person in a family, depending on which total is higher. Fortunately for most students, the law allows people to stay on their parents plans up to age 26, but even that will not help every UMBC student. Students have an option, through the exchange website to view plans that they can afford on student budgets.

“There are policies that run from catastrophic up to platinum. Students based on their income can either get Medicaid, because of the expanded Medicaid system. Or they could get subsidized premiums. If a plan is 100 dollars a month the government could offer to pay 26 dollars a month so you could get that coverage.” Cheryl Benitez of the University Health Services said.

The idea for the exchange came from University President Doctor Freeman Hrabowski’s office, and the event was organized by Benitez and the UHS. Benitez organized two navigators from the state of Maryland to come to campus and walk students through the application process. The application through the health exchange website has been one of the bigger controversies over the last few months, due to technical difficulties.

Marylanders are more fortunate than other states around the nation, because the state has had experience with health exchange websites. Even before the national law went into effect, Maryland had a similar website run on the state level, so difficulties here are less severe. Even so, having assistance with the website is important to UMBC senior Nnameke Onejeme who had issues figuring out the website on his own.

“I have been without insurance for a good year now, and I am looking to get through the process,” Onejeme said, “I have gone through the website a couple times but I have not been able to sign up because I always get slowed down.”

The event was not without its share of problems. Originally, UMBC wanted two navigators to assist, but only one showed up. This caused long waits and confusion for students who tried to have meetings in between their classes. Most students waited for about an hour before their meeting, and without a sign in sheet people did not know what order the students arrived in.

Benitez stepped in to fill the role of the other navigator and the exchange began to run smoothly. Most of the students at the event did meet with someone who could help them enroll, however a few students had to leave before they could be helped because they had to go to class.

According to ABCNews, only 22 percent of people signing up for the exchange are between the ages of 18-34, a number that the Obama Administration wants to have near 40 percent. Young people see health insurance as too costly, and signing up is too time consuming, so events like this are being promoted at college campuses. At UMBC, the UHS sent out an email around campus to spread awareness, and have brought speakers to campus to talk about the law.

The exchange is important to Benitez, and she ignored the controversy about the law. She worked to make sure students could ignore the hype and understand the facts about the Affordable Care Act. To her it was about getting students insured only, and she has an optimistic view of the future.
“Some people have never had health insurance because they were considered high risk, now everybody can go in and buy a plan that fits their needs,” Benitez said, “People do not realise how much being sick can change your life in an instance. In my opinion it is a very good thing to happen.”

Experience at the Desk provides a solid foundation: Interview with a UMBC employee for ENG 380

Anyone who has lived on campus at UMBC has known their desk staff at their dorm, but most students do not get much more information than that. Most students never wonder why desk staff members choose the job or what they have to do besides provide them with toilet paper. Jacqueline Scott is a senior at UMBC and a three year veteran desk staff worker.

Scott currently works at the apartment center desk, after working in the dorms in the past. Scott decided to become a desk staffer to get a job on campus and hopes to work her way up the ladder and become desk manager. While this job may not be vital to her major, Scott believes it is important for everyone to have experience in customer service as it applies to a range of jobs. The position also helped her to better handle situations that she may be unprepared for.

“It helps with how to handle situations that just happen. You learn how to do things that are not by the book, being a desk staff prepares me for that,” Scott said.

Having experience with both dorm desks and the apartment desk, Scott found the two jobs to be quite different even if they sound similar. In the apartments the job is much more customer service based, while in the apartment it is more social. In the dorms students pass by the desk every time they leave or return, so Scott was able to get to know some students. At the apartment center, people only come in for packages, laundry and a few random questions.

“It is more like a customer service desk unlike the other desk which actually interact with the students. We interact with the Resident Assistants to do programs in the community,” Scott said.

Scott is majoring in Financial economics and a linguistics minor in French, she is hoping that her job will help her with future interactions in the job market.Image

Introduction for ENG 380

For ENG 380 I’d just like to post an intro.  I’m a junior at UMBC minoring in journalism, which is why I’m in the class. I write at the paper so I have a little bit of experience in new writing, but I hope this class makes me better. Also I want to get a better handle with finding new stories.