UMBC should pull the trigger

UMBC should pull the trigger

Trigger warnings encumber deep discussion

By Sara Khan

Contributing Writer

 A movement to have “trigger warnings” has been spreading rampant among colleges and universities. Should UMBC classes incorporate warnings in the syllabus before they delve into specific material?

Take a minute and think about a syllabus for a class. Does it say all the necessary information you need? When you are confused about a certain due date or topic, do you refer back to the syllabus? Does it act as your guide to succeeding in the class?

There is a movement, discussed throughout universities, to implement “trigger warnings”  – notices of potentially offensive content – before students dive into certain material. Some believe that these trigger warnings are an excellent addition to the educational system because they enable students to feel more comfortable in a classroom environment.

Students who have been victims of sexual assault, for example, may be sensitive to a rape scene being discussed in class. If a trigger warning were utilized, they would be able to avoid the discussion entirely.

Although they are a clever thought, trigger warnings prove to be unnecessary and troublesome. What many fail to understand is the danger of students abusing these trigger warnings. They may use these as an excuse to avoid schoolwork or skip discussions. Trigger warnings would just help these wrongdoers in their actions and faculty should be preventing this from happening.

But trigger warnings, if instituted, would also be more common in certain departments. Students typically choose classes for their major or for general education requirements, and they should know what to expect when they sign up for the class. For example, if a student takes a class in gender and women’s studies, they should understand that sensitive topics would be brought to the discussion. It is expected, and trigger warnings would serve no point.

Pritha Govindaraju, sophomore and information systems major, wholeheartedly believes that trigger warnings would be a waste of time for colleges and universities. “I believe that you should take full responsibility for the course you decide to take on,” she says, “College is about learning, not avoiding.”

College classes should include insightful and thought-provoking discussions. Students should be able to engage in those topics without sensitivity, and if not, they should be able to talk to the professor about it after class or in office hours. Higher learning is meant to challenge the mind, not tiptoe around the emotions.

Sophomore economics and political science major, Stuti Mainali, agrees. She says, “The best college classes are meant to stimulate and surprise you. If you steer clear of the most interesting topics, how are you supposed to gain the best educational experience?”

As college students, we should take a mature approach to learning. Trigger warnings are better suited for a high school, but definitely not for an honors university like UMBC. Trigger warnings could be useful in rare situations, but we should spend more time engaging in powerful classroom discussions, rather than trying to find ways to avoid the full college experience.


Staff Editorial

Compiled by the Retriever Weekly Staff

           Last year around this time, if one were to hear a cough or a sneeze or any weary look it would be expected that whoever it was must have a simple cold. Now, due to recent events, those same symptoms could be noted and a deadly disease would come to mind. The Ebola virus — once so distant and foreign to this country’s citizens — has now seemingly touched base in not only America but in the greater Washington D.C. area as well. It has caused an uproar which some believe to be justified and others do not.

The first step to determining whether the reaction is justified is knowing the facts of Ebola and how it spreads. The Ebola virus is an infectious disease discovered around 40 years ago near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ebola is marked by fever and severe internal bleeding. Although extremely contagious, it is only spread through direct contact with infected body fluids — meaning that those who contract the disease usually have made direct contact with another infected person’s mouth, nose, blood, vomit or sexual fluids. So, although it is not impossible to contract the disease, it is highly improbable to come that close into contact with an Ebola victim, as the epidemic is still mainly affecting West Africa.

Knowledge in fact may be the most important tool in squelching the Ebola Panic. In a Time article on the recent possibility of an Ebola patient at Howard University in Washington D.C., many described their reactions as scared and “shocked” as Howard University student Quencey Hickerson described her own when she first heard the news. “ I didn’t expect the virus to spread so quickly,” said Hickerson. Yet it had not spread that quickly as it was later found out that the patient did not actually have Ebola.

The students could not have that knowledge, though, because of reluctance of the Howard University hospital to release information on the patient’s case.  It is that same reluctance that has lead many to believe Ebola is on Howard’s campus, which is simply not true.

What about the teacher in Texas? Many retort in still making the case for how fast the disease can and is spreading. That teacher, Eric Duncan, is a native of Liberia, the West African Country hit hardest by the virus. What is even more relevant information necessary to know is that he had recently been in Liberia in late September.

Typically it takes Ebola anywhere from two to 21 days to show symptoms of Ebola. So when Eric Duncan was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital with symptoms of Ebola, it had been due to his interactions in his home country. Contrary to many who thought the disease found its way on American soil through the air.

Not everyone is in a state of panic. UMBC student Sim Cleveland-Rivers says “I think the amount of reaction is a bit absurd because people who are worried about it or very worried about it, and with the exception of the Howard case it really has not popped up around here.”

One of the worst parts of Ebola might be the panic that could ensue. Going forward, it is imperative that those who are scared know what Ebola is and how it is spread. That knowledge will be the people’s best ally with dealing with the disease.


EduPal gets major overhaul to be a better pal

Jasir Qiydaar

Technology Writer

 EduPal, the program created by Markus-Allen Proctor, a UMBC student, has recently received a major overhaul. This overhaul includes improvements of both aesthetics and performance

EduPal, which launched in August of this year at UMBC, is a tool used by college students to manage their busy schedules.

Students and professors are able to upload their syllabi to create a calendar that keeps track of due dates, as well as school-related activities.

This educational tool, created by Markus-Allen Proctor, interdisciplinary studies major and member of UMBC’s Class of 2016, has recently received a major overhaul that includes new features that streamline the user’s experience with EduPal, as well as aesthetic improvements, like color-coded schedules.

Apart from the aforementioned features, EduPal also offers coupons that can be used at UMBC’s Bookstore. For Homecoming Week, all EduPal users received an extra 10 percent off all UMBC logo merchandise.

To find one of these coupons, a student would simply need to sign up for EduPal and look under the “Timeline” section for a piggy-bank icon. Then, after clicking on the icon, a digital coupon which is to be presented at check-out will appear.

Proctor wants students and staff to know that EduPal is, “a stakeholder in the community,” as evidenced by the time and effort he and his team continue to invest in EduPal, and by their support for UMBC events like the Hackathon.

Proctor partially attributes the need to revamp EduPal to comparisons to Google Calendar. He knew that he would have to take steps to differentiate EduPal from comparable services by improving EduPal in such a way that comparisons wouldn’t be made.

To do this, he and his team had to not only evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of EduPal, but also those of other services. One step taken was rewriting “a large amount of architecture” for the website.

This overhaul includes the addition of a feature called Timeline, designed to simplify students’ schedules. The Timeline feature replaces the calendar-only system that was present in EduPal’s previous iteration.

According to EduPal’s website, Timeline allows students to, “View upcoming assignments, assessment dates and personal events the moment you log-in.” Timeline also comes with a task manager that can function as a to-do list.

Another major addition to EduPal is the development of an EduPal app. Though in its current version EduPal is easy to use, the creation of a mobile app will maximize functionality for the students who use it.

The app, which is expected to be available in Winter of 2015, will allow students to access EduPal on their smartphones and tablets with even more ease. Though this may seem like a long time to wait, an email sent by EduPal says, “In the meantime, you can add EduPal to your device’s home screen and open it just like any native application.”


To sign up for EduPal, click here:


Researcher of the Week: Sarah Hemler

Nimasha Fernando

 Sarah Hemler is an undergraduate student at UMBC, who is doing research with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, performing research entitled “Improving Community Ambulation After Hip Fracture.”

       UMBC undergraduates are becoming invested in their chosen fields of study as students pursue research opportunities both on campus and at neighboring institutions to achieve a functional, realistic knowledge of the material gleaned in a classroom setting.

Sarah Hemler, a senior mechanical engineering major with a biology minor, is currently performing research at the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science Department of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

“I am participating in an ancillary study [on] ‘Improving Community Ambulation After Hip Fracture’ which analyses the mechanistic factors that contribute to the rehabilitation of hip fracture subjects from post-hip fracture to independent community ambulation,” said Hemler.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, the number of hospital admissions in 2010 for hip fractures among senior citizens was 258,000.

With a growing elderly population in America, the number of hip fractures is estimated to increase 12 percent by 2030 reaching 289,000 injuries, making Hemler’s research especially relevant to today’s health field.

Hemler’s analyses will include the interpretation of data from dynamometers — devices designed to measure the force an individual can exert with a specific area of their body — in order to determine joint strength of subjects.

Joint strength plays an intricate role in ambulation, the activity of walking, which is a major goal following injury, but evaluation of joint strength additionally helps researchers further examine the healing process.

Data collection will occur over a 40 week period, with three separate collections over the course of the study.

“I aim to be able to find correlation between particular rehabilitation techniques and strength data so as to contribute to the recommendation of a rehabilitation program” said Hemler.

Despite many current rehabilitation programs designed for optimal recovery, one in three adults who experience a hip fracture and were independent prior to the injury will spend nearly a year in a nursing home, according to CDC data.

Even with meticulous care, CDC findings indicate that one in five hip fracture cases will result in death within a year of the injury due to complications from the fracture, making proper rehabilitation regimens an essential point of post-injury care.

In addition to her principal research goals, Hemler commented that by becoming involved in research, she hopes to further prepare herself for future endeavors beyond her undergraduate career.

“Another side goal of the research is to develop personal data processing, analyzing and presenting skills to prepare for graduate research and beyond,” said Hemler.

Off-campus research opportunities offer a variety of research projects and mentors, all of which can aid undergraduate students in their quest for enhancement of their academic education.

An ugly election and a chance for change

A fireside chat with the SGA president

By Ganesh Mysore

SGA President

UMBC SGA is an organization that listens to your concerns and offers you opportunities and support to create the change you want to see. You have the very real power to change this campus. SGA is not a pretend government, and we advocate for that power.

Annoying. Corrupt. Harassing. Pretend. These are the words UMBC students have used to describe our Student Government Association in the past few years. In the wake of a well-publicized and scandalous election, these words may seem more appropriate than ever. What, if anything, do your elected student representatives do? Why should you care about an organization that only seems to surface every spring to get you to vote?

As a freshman, I got involved in SGA because I wanted to meet new people and do something that might make my resume stronger. I stayed involved because I found an organization that strives to offer every undergraduate student the opportunity and support to create change at UMBC and beyond.

The culture of student life at UMBC affords students a great deal of responsibility and recognizes our role as co-creators of this campus environment. But what does that mean?

It means that staff and faculty members at UMBC rightly see students as equals in creating campus change. You have the very real power to change UMBC and participating in SGA creates opportunities for students to amplify this power and enact the change you and others would like to see.

Unfortunately, the behavior you may have witnessed during the last election season might have you convinced otherwise.

In its most visible moment, the organization did not reflect the principles it espouses. Candidates harassed many of you and you were treated as if you were simply a number. In light of this grossly unacceptable conduct, SGA is embarking on a process this fall to update and revise its election policy to prevent future elections from proceeding in a manner that is disrespectful to the students of UMBC.

The goal is to develop regulations and processes to conduct our elections in a manner more consistent with the rest of the work conducted by members of SGA, and to better represent the voice of students in selecting its leaders.

The truth is that the work that SGA members do is real — our work and discussions revolve around how to make this campus tangibly better for all the students, faculty, and staff who call it home. We approach our work seriously, and advocate for students in all of the decisions that matter to us. We are not an organization that considers hypotheticals or invents political situations to mirror the inefficacies of our national government.

I truly believe that every student at UMBC has the potential and ability to create vast, positive change on this campus and beyond. That is the vision that enticed me to be a part of this organization. This is the culture that every UMBC student is a part of, and is the driving force behind the changes SGA is making to better serve UMBC and its undergraduate students.

This is our commitment to the undergraduate students of UMBC. This is your invitation to be a part of the conversations and decisions that affect campus life. Attend a Senate meeting, join a department or think up a totally new way to make UMBC better and apply for funding through Prove It! Getting involved is as easy as visiting our website (, so what are you waiting for?


Sonic’s Grand Opening

A four year plan becomes a reality

Brittany Meyer

Contributing Writer

After 4 years of rumors and intense discussion, a Sonic drive-in has finally been constructed on Route 40. Locals are very excited for this addition, which opens next week.

The wait is finally over. A Sonic drive-in is finally making its way to Ellicott City. Since 2010, rumors of constructing a new location of the popular fast food joint have been swirling and locals have been anticipating its arrival.

A lumberyard called 84 Lumber, located on Bethany Lane on Route 40, was torn down. Howard County residents became curious as to what would take its place.

Quickly after the remnants of 84 Lumber were demolished, a large sign took its place reading “Sonic: Coming soon!” Residents became ecstatic about finally being able to get the iconic burgers, fries, slushies and unique milkshakes delivered to patrons by Sonic’s iconic roller skating servers.

To help patrons enjoy the current fall season, Sonic offers some autumnal specials like the pumpkin milkshake.

According to Ellicott City Patch, a local online newspaper, the reason for the many delays was due to multiple other projects at the site. In many cases, problems arose during construction.Sonic was slated to be open by the summer of 2013. Unfortunately, that particular release had to be pushed back.

This delay made locals very antsy. The general consensus of Facebook comments and Tweets about the subject was that Ellicott City residents couldn’t wait any longer for the new Sonic.

Recently, Route 40 was also supposed to get a Glory Days bar and grille across from where the Sonic would be. The construction of Glory Days never went through, and instead an ice cream parlor and a sushi restaurant took its place.

This made locals question whether the plan of getting a Sonic would actually go through. The suspense was palpable.

Although Glory Days never went through with their project, locals will finally have their long-awaited Sonic. It’s about time—they’ve been waiting for four years.

People will now have the opportunity to enjoy the retro 1950’s style drive-in that, according to Business Insider, got ranked the fourth most popular fast food burger restaurant in the nation.

Thursday, Oct. 16 is the grand opening. Everyone is counting down the days. Since Howard County is known as one of the more crowded and congested counties in the state, it will be interesting to see what the turnout will look like for the first weekend of business.