Political Science Department Offers Students Perspective

Hilbert College is an institution known for three major factors: the Criminal Justice Program that helps to teach the next generation of Police, Security and Federal Officers;. the Forensic Science program; the small student to faculty ratio that creates an engaging and person experience allowing the student to feel like an individual not like a number. 

Unlike some colleges that have giant class sizes where the professor does not know your name, at Hilbert the faculty cares about each and every student, and how to make the learning easier for that student in particular. 

While Hilbert is known for its Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Program there is other majors on campus beside these which are the obvious ones, one of the great major programs on campus in the Political Science program.  Political Science is the study of how people form together to change the situations in which they live to make those situations equitable and how those systems fight against or work with these movements of people. 

While not as popular as the Criminal Justice major, the study of Political Science should matter to students studying Crimal Justice.  

“CJ and other disciplines are inter-related , so how people are treated  is a political question,” Dr. Andrew Kolin said. 

Politics effect each and every one of us in some way matter shape or form, it is what creates each and every situation in the world, he added.  

“If one is to understand decision making and ‘who gets what?  Political science is essential’ meaning that while things may seem dismal and dark there is ways to change the matter of who gets what,’” Kolin said. 

Kolin, is an academic who has taught and studied Political Science for many decades and takes a lot of pride in giving his students as much detail as possible, allowing them to strive and succeed. 

John Brandle, a Political science major at Hilbert College, said he is a political science major because he wants to help solve problems.

“I chose to study political science because I wanted to help my community,” Brandle said. “I thought that pursuing a degree in the field would help educate me on the ins and outs of our society and how we function both on a legal and political level. My personal end goal is to get involved in the field of politics, and try to make a change through that.” 

That is what many Political Science majors want to accomplish is to better the world they live in. However, to gain that perspective one doesn’t have to be a Political Science Major. They can merely take a course or two as part of an elective.

Brandle said he believes that Political Science matters on campus.

“I think political science should matter because we are becoming more and more of a society that refuses to look at our flaws,”Brandle said. “In doing so we also forget the accomplishments we have made fixing those flaws.”

Covid Causes Challenges for Volunteers

 Since late February, COVID 19 has turned the system of considered norms in the world and, has caused a change in which we look at those norms leading to a shortage of volunteers. These norms over a period as the virus spread systematically went away leaving behind a path of dried up dreams, hopes, futures, and aspirations, many without a family member and millions without a job.

 When most think of the impact  COVID 19 has had, they think of the economic, social, and financial ramifications that have occurred in our nation, their neighbors and even themselves.  However, the impact goes far beyond what many see or choose to acknowledge, as there is a shortage of volunteers in our region and in the world. 

Rachel Wozniak, the Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement at Hilbert College, said she has seen the impact the virus has had on the volunteer community first hand.

“The Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement has continued to offer limited, regular service opportunities with some of our long-standing community partners, such as Meals on Wheels, Resurrection Life Food Pantry and the Teacher’s Desk,” she said.

Wozniak said some of the typical service learning events on campus such as the Peace Walk and the Day of Service in a more remote way, experiencing and learning one story of St. Francis and by making scarf’s and blankets for the salvation army were still offered this semester.

Hilbert students as whole are conscientious driven individuals who strive to not just better certain organizations, they strive to better the community as a whole, she added.

“The services being offered by these Hilbert Community Partners have had a need even during this terrible pandemic to serve the needy, the poor, and the unprivileged. The essential services that many of our community partners provide are still are offered. However, many of our community partners are limited in the number of volunteers that can serve – both from a health and safety perspective (reduced capacity) and individual comfort-level of the volunteers,” Wozniak said. 

In the Hilbert Community, there is one group of students on campus whose task is to complete hours of service work each semester from Freshmen to Senior year. Dr. Amy Smith is the head of the Honors Program. She said that while the Honors Program has an emphasis on service, due to circumstances caused by the pandemic in recent months the necessary hours for the program from the spring semester have been forgiven.  The pandemic has meant there are fewer opportunities to have direct service. However, new and unique projects have come up as a result, such as opportunities to make videos reading to kids, or to make quick easy projects that parents at home with their remote learning student can do.   

“There are different and creative ways to look at community service, it can be community engagement or community advocacy”, Smith said. “They are still important experiences even if they aren’t community service.”

UB Football to Play for Championship

The University at Buffalo Football team has put together a great season defeating the defending MAC champions, the University of Miami Ohio Red Hawks, in spectacular fashion on Tuesday evening. Kyle Vantrease, a junior from Stow, Ohio, threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns in the 42-10 dismantling of the defending champs. This win comes just six days after the first victory of the season where the Bulls beat the 2018 MAC champions, the Northern Illinois Huskies.

Coming out of the gates, in a season that the players and coaches didn’t even believe was going to happen for a period of two months, and beating the last two winners of the conference is as impressive of a start as anybody could have predicted.

Adam Fron, a graduate assistant for the UB football team, described the chemistry that the team has developed throughout the rocky start to the season. “I think it has brought a lot of us closer together,” Fron said. “We are all doing our best to avoid being in close contact with people outside the program, which has set it up pretty nicely for guys to form strong bonds. This is the closest-knit group that I have ever been a part of”.

A short three months ago, Coach Lance Leipold and his staff were under the impression that there would be no season. The Mid-American Conference became the first conference to officially cancel its season on August 8th.

This caused a string of panic throughout the college sports world as many other conferences were quick to follow. It was not until close to two months later that on September 26th the conference made an announcement that there would now be a shortened season. Michael Peters, another graduate assistant for the Bulls said that the team was hoping that they were going to get to play, but they had their doubts as positive tests were still in abundance on campus and all over Buffalo.

“Coach Leipold is as professional as they come, He kept the players ready incase we were put in this situation,” Peters said. “We badly wanted to play as we have 25 seniors and four graduate students on the team whose careers could have been ended by a canceled season.”

Seniors that are currently playing in the five conferences that are currently playing college football, were in a tough spot because on August 21st the NCAA extended eligibility for all fall sports by a year. That means that the seniors currently playing could technically come back for another year even though they participated in a shortened season. It will be interesting to see if any players try to exercise that and how the NCAA will respond.

UB football hit the ground running this season despite having to deal with all the other things that 2020 has brought with it. Leipold and the rest of the staff have the team ready to compete for a MAC championship and according to multiple sports books including BetOnline and Ceasers, they are currently favored to do so.

Businesses Deal with Covid Restrictions

Covid-19 has had mass effects across all aspects of our lives. One thing that was greatly affected was business.

Different industries were hit in different ways, with the service sector, particularly bars and restaurants, being hit hard. Rules have been put in place that shorten their hours and reduce the amount of people they can have in their establishments, causing many service workers to lose their jobs, as owners of these establishments cannot afford to pay them even with the help that they have received from the government. Laurie Yeager, the manager at restaurant Deep South Taco, described the experience managing a restaurant during this pandemic.

“It has been rough to say the least” Yeager said. “Our busy season is the summer, so we missed out on a ton of revenue that we were expecting to have. The biggest killer was the revenue we lost on Cinco de Mayo, as are sales are higher that day than any other day all year”.

One thing that helped keep these businesses afloat was the boom of the delivery companies like Uber Eats, Door Dash and Grub Hub. Deep South Taco, even though they were not able to have anyone inside the restaurant, was able to do take out with online orders and orders through these companies. “They are not always the easiest to deal with, but without these delivery companies I don’t know if we could have made it through the pandemic.” Yeager said.

Although there are more new guidelines from Governor Cuomo, Deep South Taco is still open for business.

“Come visit us for some Nachos and Margaritas!” Yeager said. “We are doing our best to follow the guidelines and to make every customer feel safe, but we need your help and supporting local restaurants is the best way to do it”.

Although this may be a bigger problem that should be addressed, it shows why the liquor industry has not dipped at all and is even thriving in some cases. Colonial Wine and Spirits in Orchard Park is one of the stores that has been consistently busy during the pandemic.

Manager Paul Gorcyzca said there have been many changes they have had to adjust to. With the store being packed all the time, these safety precautions are so important to follow and it sounds like it is this stores’ number one priority.

“It has been a lot of curb side orders that we aren’t used to, but anyway people want to come and shop here and support us we appreciate it,” Gorcyzca said. “We have tried to make it easy with our online orders and phone orders, and people have shown their appreciation for the safety precautions we take. Nothing is more important than our employees and our customers safety.”

Dealing With Midterm Stress

Midterm week is stressor for many college students, and the impact it can make on ones semester can be massive. Oftentimes, these mid-term exams account for 20 to 30 percent of a student’s final grade.

David Gullo, a sophomore here at Hilbert College, said most professors on campus do a good job of warning and preparing you, which is necessary as the first six weeks of the semester tend to fly by.

“We’ve only been in class for a couple weeks it feels like,” Gullo said when interviewed prior to the exams. “My professors have been stressing that we need to prepare for these exams, as it can put us (students) on track to succeed this semester.”

But, midterms can also put a student in a huge hole for the rest of the semester. Preparing for potentially four to six of these exams after being in class for just over a month can sometimes overwhelm and cause major stress and anxiety for students.

On top of the fact that these students are stressing about the exams they are taking, the adjustments to protocols in place for the pandemic have made for a difficult semester. Although school work has to be a main priority in order for a student to succeed, these are topics that can certainly not be ignored. Stephen Houghton, another sophomore here at Hilbert, spoke of his experience what it is like to attend college during the crazy events of 2020.

“With everything going on with the pandemic and trying to stay up to date on what’s going on in the election, sometimes it is hard to keep focus and give the attention I need to school work,” Houghton said.

He also said that this sometimes leads to major anxiety for him. Anyone that has ever dealt with anxiety knows that it is extremely difficult to be productive while experiencing it.

“Even getting a little bit behind on my work causes major anxiety for me,” Houghton said. “When that happens, unless someone is there who knows how to calm me down, it is a wasted night of studying for me.” 

During midterms a wasted night may be detrimental to a student’s chances on a mid-term exam.

Thomas Wolstencroft, a career guidance counselor who is speacializes in dealing with students that struggle with stress and anxiety at Gannon University and Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA, on how students deal with stress and how they can overcome it.

“Every student is different” Wolstencroft said. “There is no one solution in overcoming your problems dealing with anxiety. But there are some things worth trying that in many cases do help people a great deal”.

A few things he suggested for helping to deal with or avoid the stress altogether were to reward yourself after the completion of a homework or studying session, get enough sleep and eat healthy, as the better you feel, the more likely it is your work will get done, and most importantly keep an agenda. He said it is an absolute must for college students to keep a planner or agenda and write all big tests and due dates in it.

Coming from high school, everything is very structured and lined up for you to succeed. In college, this is not the case at all. If you have all of your assignments written down and accessible, you are much more likely to complete them, according to a study done Educational Leadership

Wolstencroft also said that the key is not to deal with the anxiety when it occurs, but to try and avoid it from happening all together.

“If you can minimize the anxiety from your school work, suddenly things such as the pandemic and the election seem more manageable as you have hopefully already taken care of that huge stressor,” he said.

College Students Hope to Avoid Another Covid Shutdown

As COVID-19 cases start to increase again, it’s apparent that a second shutdown is likely.

Most of Erie Country has been split up into yellow, orange and red zones, which identify the severity of cases in that town.  Almost all of Erie County has turned orange, leaving just a few towns in the yellow zone. 

Sophie Loschiavo, a freshman at Daemen College who started her first year mostly online, said she has not been able to get the fullest experience of college.  She now is fully remote as all the other schools and colleges are and is frustrated about the start of a second shutdown.

“I can’t believe we are about to go into lockdown again” Loschiavo said, “I really hope this doesn’t last as long as the last one.”

Daemen College sophomore Gianna Baia said she has felt outrage and sadness of the start of the second shutdown.

“I wish people would just stay home and follow the procedures put in place so we could all have things go back to normal,” Baia said. “I hope Erie County or towns in Erie County don’t turn red.” 

Baia had high hopes that if people stay home that the world will return to normal again and that she will be able to go back to playing soccer and her job, being a hostess at a local restaurant. 

Its clear that many people don’t like the second shutdown, but it is clearly needed with rising COVID-19 cases in New York State.  Baia stated,

“Hopefully 2021 is a better year,” Baia said.

Peer Leaders Help Freshmen Adjust

Hilbert College peer leaders are making an impact on the new freshman even with the new COVID-19 protocols and restrictions.

Peer leaders are helping many freshmen around campus and making their first-year experience even better.

Peer leaders are like a professor’s helper in the class where they get to connect one on one with the new freshman, helping them navigate things around campus, meet new students and help their class with needs or concerns they have as they are starting their first year of college.  With COVID-19 this year, things are a little different this year but are mostly the same.

Peer leader Sydnea Schiede said that she is like an older sister to her class helping them whenever and however she can.

“Formally if a freshman needs anything like help dropping a class or catching up in a class, I will help them,” Schiedel said. “But if they just need someone to vent or talk to while experiencing their first year of college, I’m there to help them too”

Makenna Payton, another peer leader, said the duties and responsibilities of a peer leader include weekly check-ins, teaching some lessons and just being there for her students.

“I help/assist my professor with any lectures or structured classes,” Payton said. “For example I present and lead a few classes myself like I did a PowerPoint on time management and study tips”

Freshman Paige Wagner said her peer leader has helped her navigate a strange first year of college.

“My peer leader has helped me a lot especially when figuring out blackboard and juggling my assignments,” she said. “My peer leader is very easy to talk to and they usually have 15-minute meetings with each student frequently to check in on them.”

Mix of Excitement and Frustration Over Presidential Election

This year America saw one of its most contentious election cycles in decades. For many Hilbert students this was their first time voting in a presidential election.

On Hilbert College’s campus there was a mix of excitement and frustration, as students were happy to be participating in the process, but put off by some of the rhetoric around the election and anxious to know the results as ballot counting took much longer than a typical year due to the high volume of mail-in ballots because of the pandemic.

A Senior at Hilbert College, Brianna Stegmeier shared her thoughts and said the slow process of counting mail in ballots made for a less-than-ideal first time voting experience.

“This was my first time voting this year, so it was very exciting but at the same time frustrating,” Stegmeier said in an interview conducted before results were finalized. “I just wish everything were more organized and we find out soon.” 

Stegmeier shared how she is frustrated in the system and the many conspiracies that came with this year’s election and hopes everything was fair and accurate.  

Hilbert Sophomore, Grace Zabawa, said it was also her first-time voting.

“I voted by mail this year,” Zabawa said. “It was my first time, so it felt pretty cool and convenient to be able to do it all from home since I am all online.”

Zabawa was thankful for the opportunity to be able to vote from home and was excited to be able to exercise her right to vote for the first time.  

Sophomore, Anna Hagner said she was glad to vote, but was ready to look forward to the future.

“I was really excited to vote this year but now I would just like the election to be over,” Hagner said in an interview that came before results were certified. “I hope we find out the official results soon so we can all finally move on with our lives”.  

Students’ Express Concerns About Covid Protocols

Quarantine has become a main process for preventing the spread of covid-19 for many colleges, with remote learning options put in place at most schools across the United States.

For some students have quarantine guidelines and remote learning have been in place since the pandemic started. Most colleges, including SUNY schools, are transitioned to remote learning after the Thanksgiving break. Schools established protocols in an effort to stay open until the start of Thanksgiving break, but many, including Hilbert College, were able to make it that far with cases rising across Western New York.

These precautions include limiting class sizes, wearing masks and sanitizing.  Colleges also prepared for outbreaks of covid-19, by designating certain locations on campus for students who need to quarantine.

Last month the Chancellor of SUNY schools Jim Malatras stated annouced widespread testing requirements for the state school system.

“All students who are living on campus, taking at least one in-person course, or utilizing campus facilities must test negative for COVID-19 before leaving campus at Thanksgiving break,” Malatras said.

This test was required to be taken 10 days before students left for break. Students who test positive were mandated to quarantine for 14 days, ultimately making them stay on campus for thanksgiving break instead of going home.

Since some classes are strictly online, some students did not step foot on campus this semester, making them exempt from testing.

Buffalo State College Junior Keke Scott, who takes online courses and lives off campus, said she has not been impacted by this new policy.

Scott stated she felt bad for students who may possibly have to quarantine.

“I don’t have to worry about having to miss thanksgiving with my family, since I have my own place, she said.”

Another student at Buffalo State College, Bryanna Wilson, said she didn’t feel like students’ feelings were taken into consideration when the decisions were made.

“I understand the Chancellor means well, but I just wish they would ask for students’ opinions first before making a decision about us,” Wilson said.  

Since the pandemic has started institutions have been forced to make drastic decisions. Niah Price, a Junior and student athlete at Buffalo State, said she is fed up with this school year. Not only did the cost of tuition increase but her softball season was cancelled. Schools have taken away traditional breaks and now she had to miss celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with her family.

Overall, students from SUNY schools believe this new protocol is unfair and their opinions and thoughts should have been taken into consideration.

Private schools such as Hilbert College have not made testing mandatory for students. If Hilbert were to make testing mandatory before the Thanksgiving break, students would likely have the same reaction and thoughts as SUNY student, Malik Abdus-Sabr, a Hilbert student, said

“I believe we have been put through a lot this semester and school year as a whole, and to make students stay on campus to quarantine instead of going home is unfair,” Abdus-Sabr said.

Hilbert Community Members Pleased with Covid Protocols

Hilbert College students, staff and faculty have been living through the many different changes the campus has had to make since COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, surfaced.

From wearing masks all throughout the school day to hybrid classes, and a heavy load of online schoolwork, this is not the typical day students are used to at Hilbert College.

Sanitization has been one of the biggest changes in the life of Hilbert College students and staff, with precautions being taken to keep people safe during this pandemic. Specifically, Hilbert College is sanitizing every desk and chair before and after classes. Hand sanitizer stations are located all around campus, and it is required for students to take part in the precautions and sanitization at hand.

Maintenance at Hilbert has gone out of their way to put sanitization pads on all door handles. This is for self-sanitization to keep all students and staff safe during such a time of panic.

Vincent Cascio, a junior Forensic Science major, said he felt safe at school.

“No, all the precautions that are being taken are the best that could be done,” Cascio said. “In my opinion, it may be a little overboard.”

Junior Katilina Cordova, a criminal justice major, said she too feels like the school has done a good job in preventing outbreaks on campus this semester.

“There’s not much more to be done besides wearing a mask, social distancing, sanitizing, etcetera,” Cordova said. “I think the precautions are the best they can be at the moment.”

With vaccines unlikely to be widely available until spring at the earliest, it is likely that most of these protocols will remain in place for the spring semester, when the college plans to welcome students back with in-person instruction again.

Erin Warford, an assistant professor of history at Hilbert College, said she thinks the measures are working.

“I think the way things have been going speaks for itself,” she said, pointing to the low number of cases for the fall semester.

“It hasn’t gotten bad enough to take drastic measures, so the precautions are pretty adequate,” she added.