Category: OpEd

Why We Need Indigenous Peoples’ Day

By Kate Bennett


Across the country, Americans spend the second Monday of October celebrating Columbus Day. Why? Because it is a federal holiday and typically a day off from work and school. But does Columbus really deserve his own day? I don’t think so.

As children, we were taught that Columbus is renowned for discovering America and establishing civilization on the new land, and therefore should be celebrated and honored. In elementary school I was taught that Columbus found America, befriended the natives, and then society developed from there. Columbus was made out to be a hero, and the starting point for our country.

Later on, I learned the truth. Columbus and the Native Americans hadn’t gotten along so well, as he enforced his ideals and plans upon the land. In the FIG class I took at SMCC, I learned the truth about Columbus. If I’m being honest, Columbus was straight-up evil. Columbus began the process of colonizing the land that was already home to native people. Apparently he thought of himself as being superior to the native people. Columbus would punish the Caribbean Native Americans’ by cutting off body parts, including their noses and ears, both of which I find especially disturbing. Columbus would enforce punishments if someone did something against him. For example, if someone stole from him he might have punished them by cutting off one of their hands.

Columbus is not worthy of being recognized on the federal level every year. He destroyed the Native Americans’ culture and does not deserve this level of recognition. Instead, we should be recognizing the native people of this country by celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day would be a day to recognize the Native Americans, because they were the actual start of society here in America. From Columbus’s aggressive actions towards the Native Americans to the Native Americans losing most of their land and being forced into a culture that wasn’t their own, Native Americans have gone through a lot since people started migrating to their land. Instead of Columbus, Native Americans deserve to be recognized federally by changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Some cities have already started making this change, one of them being Portland, Maine.


What If…

By Lloyd Metcalf


What if SMCC were off the grid? If we throw out all budgetary concerns, what would the ripple effect look like for SMCC to go to a completely self-sufficient power and energy system?

We would be a shining jewel of a campus gleaming in the state at the forefront of alternative energy. It would not be a small feat, but it would be a milestone accomplishment. We would be launched into the spotlight as brilliant leaders with global thinking and application of ideals. We would be an example to our community. The ability of our students and staff would be highlighted everywhere.

What alternative energies, you may ask? This is not just a solar-panel scenario, but wind and tidal turbines as well. Wind turbines don’t need to be giant behemoths with tremendous propellers whop-whop-whopping away. Vertical-axis spiral turbines are far more efficient, eco-friendly and quiet. Tidal turbines can harness the ocean tides, operating off the ebb and flow without intruding significantly on aquatic life.

Even the equipment at the gym could feed the campus grid, or our doors (when we open and close them). Many other movements that people make could, with a little thought, be turned into energy to feed our learning and living spaces.

In recent years there has been an avalanche of new and exciting ways to create energy without burning coal or firing up a nuclear reactor. How would this affect other businesses in our community? How would it affect the way our state and college is seen locally? Globally? If we were completely removed from Central Maine Power dependency, what would that mean?

If we went one step further and considered taking our horticultural and agricultural programs into account, we could supply our own culinary system and cafeteria with fresh local produce generated by our own students. Such a complete undertaking would involve many of the SMCC student skill sets. Welders, builders, business managers, planners, designers, chefs, engineers, artists — all of these are found among the student body. Not only would the campus be at the cutting edge, we would be an exemplar in immediately putting the skills our students are here to learn to real-world applications.

Even writing this, I can already hear the groans of “How much would all that cost?” Such a thing is not the point of the “What If” column; it’s simply to ask the question “What if…” For a moment, let’s not think of ways something could never work, but of ways it MIGHT work.

As the planet warms up and we burn through carbon fuels at an unprecedented rate, eventually these “what if” questions turn into “we must” scenarios if we want to continue growing as a society. Oil is finite. So go ahead, ask “What if?” and start small.

Can we make our doors feed the grid? Sitting here in Hague Hall on the South Portland Campus on a Friday afternoon for a few minutes, the external door was actuated somewhere around 25 to 28 times; the internal stairwell door to the main floor, more than that. Why isn’t that motion being used to generate power?

We are a collection of people focused on the practical application of science and technology. We have more than 6,000 bright and motivated minds participating in the educational system at SMCC. I refuse to believe that some solutions couldn’t be found if we all asked “What if?” once in a while.

From the Desk of the Managing Editor: What Service Can Look Like

By Ben Riggleman


On Page 2, you read about Coach Brian Dougher’s no-nonsense approach to helping Hurricane Irma victims: “It doesn’t matter what type of environment we’re in; we’re down there to do a job and we do it well.” Dougher, you may have noticed, doesn’t talk about his motivations. It’s as if helping people in need is a duty so basic that it doesn’t need much discussion.

Most of us, it’s safe to say, don’t think this selflessly. At least, it doesn’t come naturally to us. But we could all take some inspiration from those SMCC staff — Brian Dougher, Nate Contreras and Clif Whitten — who went to Florida. Maybe we should follow their example and question the value we put on our own life and limb, our own time, our own aspirations.

The philosopher Peter Singer and others have been saying the same for years, arguing that we owe much more to the poor in the developing world than our culture tells us is appropriate to give. This belief was the germ of the Effective Altruism movement, which promotes doing the most good possible, measured quantitatively, as in the human life-years saved by the distribution of anti-malaria mosquito netting. (Often, members of the movement conclude that it is better for them to “earn to give” than to volunteer their labor directly.)

The ideas of Effective Altruism are still far from the mainstream, but, like Dougher, Contreras and Whitten, they can spur us to question what we take for granted. Being selfless is a tough sell, however, so maybe it’s best to start small.

At The Beacon, we consider our work to be a small but meaningful service to the public. We keep the SMCC community informed. Sometimes we’ve printed critical information, like the PSA to former DACA beneficiaries and their families that ran in place of this column in the last issue.

I’ll be frank: The Beacon needs volunteers. We need more students to step up and write about things that matter. The world outside this quiet campus is shifting — socially, environmentally, politically — and we’re involved, whether we like it or not. Ideally, we’re here at community college not just to further our careers, but to become more engaged citizens by informing ourselves. So I urge you to pick a topic you’re passionate about, get educated on it and take a stand: Write about it in the Opinion section of The Beacon. Interested writers should submit drafts to to as Microsoft Word or Google Docs files, and provide a word count. I look forward to seeing your thoughts in print, and so should you.

There are other easy ways to volunteer. For one, The Captain’s Cupboard, the student-run food pantry on the South Portland Campus, is in need of staff. Contact if you’re interested. You don’t have to travel to disaster-stricken areas or donate millions to be of service.

The Frozen Mac Lab


By Taylor Freeman


Day 1, Hour 1:

So far, I’ve spent a good 30 minutes working on the editing project for Video on Location. I’m currently sitting in the Mac lab of Hildreth, which has had some good and bad reviews, but it’s the open lab, so I don’t really have a choice in the matter. I’ve started sampling my visual shots and moving them into their respective folders. Hopefully, it won’t take me too long. I’ve never done an edit like this before, so it could take me some time.


Hour 2:

I think I should have come to this project a little more prepared. I didn’t realize how cold it would be in this lab, but I definitely should have brought a sweater… and socks. I’ve finished sampling my visual, and now I’m in the process of going through the audio. I suspect that this is going to take just as long, if not longer. I’m finding myself getting rather hungry, as it is growing closer to dinner. I hear it’s Wing Night tonight.


Hour 3:

I’m afraid I won’t make it to Wing Night tonight. I’ve finished sampling and now I’ve moved on to the actual editing part. This is going to be easier than the tedious process that sampling was. I’ve been sitting here for… three hours now? I can’t feel my feet, and I can see my fingers turning purple. This room is sapping my body heat… that’s probably what they power the Macs with: the heat of overworked media students.


Hour 4:

I’ve lost all feeling in my limbs. I’m afraid to move; my toes might break. I can’t feel anything, I have become completely numb. I can see the ice growing off of my body. If someone finds this journal, please… export my project and get it in to Corey Norman. I’ve worked too hard on this project to have it be late because no one knows how to turn up the heat in this stupid lab. Let me be a warning to any CNMS students who want to work in the Mac lab. Bring something warm.

Parking on Campus Is Nearly Impossible


By Kate Bennett


Parking on the South Portland Campus is a joke. Honestly. I follow the advice given to students, especially those commuting like myself, to arrive an hour early and to check out different parking lots around campus. And yet, I’m infuriated when I’m forced to circle the parking lots for 30 minutes trying to find a parking space. Often, I find myself and observe other students racing each other to try to claim an open parking spot.

Another problem is that since parking is hard to find, students get really creative and make their own spots outside the parking-space lines. These cars often end up getting ticketed, but I see where some students are coming from when they make their own parking stops. Sometimes, life happens and students get there with just 15 minutes before class and  have to improvise after circling parking lots a couple of times because there aren’t enough parking spaces.

I spoke with another first-year student at SMCC, Cassie Marceau, who lives on campus and explained her experiences with parking here. “The parking situation here is beyond ridiculous. If you don’t get here an hour early, at least, then the chances of you being late to class are very high. There needs to be something done, and soon, about the parking. It’s screwing a lot of people over.”

This parking situation results in students getting angry and driving in a cramped parking lot. Both of these factors lead to cars getting hit and students getting angry. I experienced this firsthand when I went to leave after the first day of classes and my car had scratches and a large spot of dark paint on the side from when I assume another car ran into it. That was not a great thing to discover on my first day here.

Cassie Marceau also explained another incident that happened to her in a SMCC parking lot: “My car was parked in the middle of the Spring Point parking lot. The weekend of the first week of school, the driver’s side window got smashed at some point during the night. The annoying part was that it was the first week I was here, and the first year that I was here. What a great impression I got of the school that first week.”

It is important that something is done about this. I can’t even imagine the impact on parking if the number of students were to grow.

I have a few ideas that could potentially help the parking problem. One, which I have heard spoken about from various students, is building a parking garage where the parking lot is off of Broadway. While building a parking garage can be expensive, I think it would be well worth it to the school and students. Even if it was just a few levels, it would make a huge difference and show that the students are being heard. It would give students fewer reasons to get angry when parking, and decrease the worry about cars getting hit.

Another idea that I’m curious about is the field or park next to Broadway and across from our parking lot that is off of Broadway. I’m wondering who owns that land, and if it could be sold or leased to the school to turn into more parking.

If we all think about parking options, I know we can come up with a solution.

Embarking on a Self-Love Journey


By Jessica Spoto


Being told “you’re too fat” or “you let yourself go” or “you put about five pounds of cheese on that already cheesy mac-and-cheese” is never a worthy feeling. All these words fracture your confidence and pulverize it into dust. You know you are beautiful. You look in the mirror and say it straight to your face, but then again you also squeeze your stomach fat and tell yourself, “He doesn’t like this. He will never like this.”

Being told to go to the gym constantly and told that you are wasting that membership because you are not going at least once a day hurts. “You just think going to the personal trainer is just one big chore.” Yeah, it’s a chore when you are going for someone else, but you wouldn’t dare say that. “Sorry” is an everyday occurrence and guilt is etched into your mind.

You know this isn’t right. That gut feeling you instantly had when you met him, but so childishly pushed away, still lingers. One day your friend urges you to break up with him. You agree. You do, over text. You run back to him instantly, showing up at his apartment begging for him back. He won’t take you back unless, “I see that you are actually working on yourself. Going to the gym, eating better, losing weight.” “We will see what happens,” he says with a smug look plastered on his face.

Then after a couple days of barely eating and constant crying. You text him, “I don’t want to be with you.” He responses with an “ah okay.” You know you’re beautiful and worth it; somewhere inside of you, you know. So you trudge forward, let the positivity seep in and let the agonizing memories be left where they belong.


A Place to Call Home


By Sudeep Stauble


The room seems to spin around you as you sit alone in the dining hall. Figures flit about in your periphery, their voices seeming to meld into a cacophonous kaleidoscope of confusing sounds. A few tables from you is another student who is visually impaired. Elsewhere is a person who is wearing earphones, seemingly feeling just as out of place as you.

Scenes like this are common, familiar to some of us. Whether we want to admit or not, at some point in our lives we have encountered situations where we feel out of place, as if we don’t belong. We all have dealt with some form of loneliness. Yet many of us ignore feelings like this and, as a result, ignore those who are marginalized by default — individuals such as those with mental and physical disabilities, immigrants, or simply those who appear “different” from the rest of us.

Ironically, as I’ve observed and interacted with people on campus, some of those individuals in the aforementioned communities have told me they are perfectly content. However, I have sensed a divide, albeit subtle. This division takes the form of cliques. These factions reflect the types of people with whom we choose to interact. In turn, we tend to exclude others from one clique or the other.

So, we are aware of the issue. The question to consider is not how to find the solution, but how to improve social interaction among students; in particular, for minority groups isolated or excluded. Submitted here is a set of guidelines on appropriate ways to interact with those with disabilities.


Guidelines for Inclusion and Interactions


General Dos and Don’ts


  • Assume the person with a disability needs help; rather, let them figure it out for themselves; help only if they ask.
  • Assume that because they’re different, they are incapable of holding a conversation.
  • Be afraid to ask questions. In fact, it’s offensive if you are afraid of offending by asking questions.
  • Give special treatment to those with disabilities.


  • Talk to disabled individual as if you would anyone else who is not disabled. (Do not treat them with kid gloves or as if they’re fragile.) They’re just as intelligent as you or someone else.
  • When working together, whether in the classroom or otherwise, give them the opportunity to contribute. they’re just as capable of the work as you.



  • Describe in detail; give specific directions.
  • If you are acting as a sighted guide to a blind person, rather than touching the person, let them take your arm, preferably elbow.
  • Explain what’s going on (funny expressions, etc.)
  • Tell a blind person when you’re walking away, so that they’re not left talking to themselves.
  • Always identify yourself. (“Hi Sudeep, it’s John.”)
  • Do not play memory/guess who games with a blind person. (“Guess who I am. Remember me?”)
  • Do not disguise your voice and pretend you’re someone else.
  • If you’re joking, give hints that you are indeed kidding. They can’t tell if you’re smiling, and may take what you’re saying literally or seriously. So laugh after you say something that is meant to be humorous.
  • Do not nod or shake your head when responding to a question. I don’t need to spell out why, I hope.
  • Do not point or say, “It’s over there.” Again, be specific: “The bathroom is straight ahead, next to the water fountain which is on your right.”
  • Do not pet a service dog when it’s on duty. You can tell when they’re working if they are wearing a harness.
  • Do not purposefully step on or kick a service animal. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice classifies this as a felony. Violators are subject to criminal prosecution.


I acknowledge that we as humans seek out what we are comfortable with. After all, this is why we choose to exclude those who appear “different” from us. Deep inside we are afraid of them, so we stick with those who pose less of a threat. However, we as humans are innately social, intelligent beings. All any of us want is a friend, and a place to call home, a place to belong. So bear that in mind as you interact with those around you. I implore you to challenge your fears of those who are different from you. Be a friend to the ones who are in need of that connection.